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MAGAZINES / SPECIAL EDITIONS

National News

A North Dakota junior college has a senior statesman on its football team. North Dakota State College of Science has a 49-year-old backup defensive lineman named Ray Ruschel. He is a freshman who is a year older than his coach. The Army veteran is a night-shift mechanic at a local sugar beet factory. He is seeking a degree in business management after his most recent deployment with the National Guard. He hopes to become a supervisor at work. For now, he is holding his own with 19- and 20-year-old football players on a team with national title hopes.

A regional leader says seven Russian rockets have slammed into residential buildings in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, killing two people and trapping at least five in the city close to Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant. The predawn strikes Thursday came hours after Ukraine’s president announced that the country’s military had retaken three more villages in one of the regions illegally annexed by Russia. Zaporizhzhia is home to Europe’s largest nuclear plant, now under Russian occupation. The city of the same name remains under Ukrainian control. The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog is expected to visit Kyiv this week to discuss the situation at the power plant.

Even as the Kremlin moved to absorb parts of Ukraine in a sharp escalation of the conflict, the Russian military suffered new defeats that highlighted its deep problems on the battlefield and opened rifts at the top of the Russian government. The setbacks have badly dented the image of a powerful Russian military and added to the tensions surrounding an ill-planned military mobilization. They have also fueled fighting among Kremlin insiders and left Russian President Vladimir Putin increasingly cornered.

The unusually low water level in the lower Mississippi River is causing barges to get stuck in the mud and sand. That's disrupting river travel for shippers, recreational boaters and even passengers on a cruise line. The lack of rainfall in recent weeks has left the Mississippi River approaching record low levels in areas from Missouri south through Louisiana. The U.S. Coast Guard says at least eight grounding of barges have been reported in the past week, despite low-water restrictions on barge loads. The National Weather Service says nearly all of the Mississippi River basin, from Minnesota through Louisiana, has seen below-normal rainfall over the past 30 days.

Ukraine’s presidential office says that at least five civilians have been killed and eight have been wounded by the latest Russian shelling. A statement on Wednesday says Russian troops used six Iranian suicide drones to strike the town of Bila Tserkva in the Kyiv region. The attack left one person wounded. The strikes were the first on the town since March when the Russians retreated from the areas near the Ukrainian capital after a failed attempt to capture it. Russian forces also shelled the areas on the western bank of the Dnieper facing the Russia-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in the Donetsk region.

Russia’s retreat from a key Ukrainian city over the weekend elicited outcry from an unlikely crowd – state-run media outlets that typically speak glowingly about Moscow’s war. A series of embarrassing military losses for Moscow has presented a growing challenge for prominent hosts of Russian news and political talk shows scrambling to find ways to paint Kyiv’s gains in a way that is still favorable to the Kremlin. The less conciliatory tone from state-run media comes as President Vladimir Putin faces more than just battlefield losses; there is widespread Russian discontent about his partial mobilization of reservists and officials are struggling to explain plans to annex Ukrainian regions while they are being retaken by Kyiv’s forces.

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As authorities in Florida try to reach people who have been trapped by floodwaters or isolated on barrier islands since Hurricane Ian came ashore last week, concerned members of the public have been springing into action to aid the official rescue efforts. One such group, Project Dynamo, has rescued more than 20 people, many of them elderly residents who became cut off when the Category 4 storm washed away a bridge connecting the Florida mainland with Sanibel Island, a crescent-shaped sliver of sand popular with tourists that was home to about 7,000 residents. Others have joined in the rescue efforts, using boats, paddleboards, jet skis and other resources to find people stranded by floodwaters or cut off by damage.

A libertarian group in California filed a legal challenge to President Joe Biden’s plan for student debt cancellation on Tuesday, calling it an illegal overreach that would increase state tax burdens for some Americans who get their debt forgiven. The lawsuit was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation and is believed to be the first targeting Biden's plan. It was filed in federal court in Indiana, one of several states that plan to tax any student debt canceled by Biden’s plan. It argues that some borrowers will automatically get tax relief but then face a state tax increase. Some other federal programs offer to forgive their debt without any tax.

The last operating reactor at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been shut down to reduce the threat of a radiation disaster amid the continuing fighting. The move became possible after Europe's largest atomic plant was reconnected to Ukraine’s power grid on Saturday. Only one reactor had remained operational to power cooling systems and other crucial equipment in so-called island mode after the facility was knocked off transmission lines on Sept. 5 following a fire caused by shelling. Experts say “island mode” is very dangerous. They noted that a core meltdown could occur within hours if the diesel generators fail.