On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Russian police arrest hundreds at mobilization protests
Dissent is hitting the streets in Russia. Plus, Italy elects a far-right government, reporter Celina Tebor looks at legal human composting, Tropical Storm Ian could become a serious hurricane and reporter Marina Pitofsky talks about Rosh Hashanah.
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Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Monday, the 26th of September, 2022. Today, more protests in Russia as dissent hits the streets. Plus a far-right government is coming to Italy and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- The British pound has dropped to an all time low compared with the US dollar. The currency has lost more than 5% of its value against the dollar since Friday.
- At least six people are dead and 20 injured after a school shooting in central Russia. A motive is unclear.
- And there are just two 3-0 teams in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles are still perfect. The New York Giants at 2-0 could join them with a win tonight.
The US is again warning Russia of the consequences if nuclear weapons would be used in Ukraine. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday: “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively. In private channels, we have spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean.” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he did not believe Putin was bluffing when he said last week that he would be justified in using any force necessary.
Meanwhile, protests continued across Russia this week after President Vladimir Putin announced a new military mobilization, a kind of draft. Russian police arrested nearly 750 people on Saturday.
Taylor Wilson translating for Russian protester:
“Tell me, why are you taking me? What for? Why are you taking her away? Why?”
The New York Times is reporting that Russia is also trying to force Ukrainians in certain regions to fight against their own country. And the Institute for the Study of War said Russia may be about to coerce Ukrainian prisoners of war to fight for Russia.
Italy appears on course for its first far-right led national government since World War II. The Brothers of Italy, a party with neo-fascist roots won the most votes in the national election with most votes counted. Its leader, Giorgia Meloni is set to become the country’s first woman premier. Yesterday she spoke of bringing pride back to Italy.
Taylor Wilson translating for Giorgia Meloni:
Those who dream of a proud Italy are not afraid. Those who want to be proud once more of their nation, of its people, of its flag.
Though considered a Euro skeptic, Meloni is pro-NATO and will likely support continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons as it fends off Russia’s invasion. She may split with much of Europe on migration though. Meloni has called for a naval blockade to prevent migrant boats from leaving North Africa. Meloni is chair of the right-wing European conservative and reformist group in the European parliament that includes the Sweden Democrats, which just won big in elections there with a push to limit immigration.
Turnout for Italy’s elections was a historic low 64%. Pollsters have suggested that voters stayed home with a lack of motivation after backroom deals created three governments since the previous election.
California is the fifth state to legalize human composting following Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Vermont. Advocates say the process is a more environmentally friendly option than casket burials and cremation. And experts say it’s not dissimilar from many culture’s traditional practices of returning a body to the ground. National reporter Celina Tebor has more with producer PJ Elliot.
Human composting, I would say is a relatively new funerary practice, so it’s not super common yet. Cremation and casket burials are still wildly more popular options. In my reporting, I spoke to two funeral homes. One of them has a wait list of over 1000 people who have signed up to do human composting after they die. And the other funeral home who I spoke with, they, since it was legalized a year ago in Colorado, that funeral home has done about 30 processes of human composting in the past year.
So what are the benefits of going that route versus a traditional burial?
Yeah, so most people that I spoke with said that this is a really good option for people who want to make sure they are stewards of the environment. I think it is a decision that a lot of people make to that it aligns with their morals of environmentalism, but there’s also more practical benefits of going this route rather than something more typical. It can be a lot cheaper than a casket burial. Those can get up into the tens of thousands, so those can be quite expensive. Human composting averages around $7,000 and it’s also just much more environmentally friendly. So in 2017, Paris’s Municipal Governments Funeral Service Unit found that the greenhouse gas emissions of standard coffins and tombstones are about equal to a carbon footprint of a car traveling over 2,400 miles. And cremation also has a big carbon footprint. It’s equal to about a car traveling almost 700 miles. And cremation also releases toxic pollutants into the air like nitrogen dioxide and mercury.
Well, let’s get into the process of all of this. How is it done? How do these funeral homes handle composting?
Yeah, so it depends on the company, but there are a couple funeral homes that I spoke with that do this, and basically what happens is that the body is placed inside a container. It could be metal or it could be wood, and over time it decomposes and it’s placed in there with other materials so that it makes that process easier. So one funeral home that I spoke with, their process takes about 30 days because I think they handle the body a little bit more and turn it over so that it can decompose. But another funeral home I spoke with, their process for human composting takes about four to six months. And then once that process is complete, you’re left with a ton of soil and the family of the loved one who died, they either have the option of taking the soil or they can choose to donate it back to the earth and the funeral home will plant that soil somewhere for the family.
Tropical Storm Ian continues to gain strength. Ian was about 400 miles from Cuba last night and was forecast to reach hurricane status by this morning. And as it approaches Florida, AccuWeather said the storm could reach Category 4 status, meaning sustained winds between 130 and 156 miles an hour. The state’s Governor Ron DeSantis told residents to stock up on food and supplies, but that it was too soon to see if the storm would make landfall. The National Hurricane Center though, has already issued a tropical storm watch for the lower Florida keys. NASA has also canceled a launch set for tomorrow because of the storm.
Rosh Hashanah began at sunset yesterday and will continue through tomorrow evening. The celebration of the New Year is the only Jewish holiday that’s two days long, both inside and outside Israel. PJ Elliott spoke with reporter Marina Pitofsky to learn more.
Rosh Hashanah is one of the most important holidays for Jewish people across the country and around the world. It is the Jewish New Year. It translates from Hebrew to mean the sort of the head of the year, and it’s the beginning of a sort of reflection period for Jews before another very important holiday in the coming weeks, Yom Kippur.
So how is it celebrated?
So some Jews will go to synagogue or other worship spaces, say special prayers, sing special songs. Some will gather for festive meals with friends and family, eat certain foods that represent a good new year, a good start to the new year, things like that.
Well, let’s get into the foods. What are some of the traditional foods for the holiday?
Probably the most traditional one, at least for some groups in the US, is apples and honey, which together represent a sweet new year. Another really classic example is round challah. Challah’s a kind of braided bread that’s very, very common for Jewish celebrations. It’s eaten in a sort of round loaf on Rosh Hashanah to represent the cycle of the year, beginning the year again, things like that.
What else should people know about Rosh Hashanah that maybe they don’t know or haven’t ever heard of?
Yeah, maybe just as I was talking to Rabbis and other Jewish educators about this year’s Rosh Hashanah celebrations, many of them are really excited that this year is going to bring a return to some more normal, large scale celebrations that we’ve seen in the past because celebrations in 2020 and even 2021 were very paired down because of the pandemic.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us every morning right here, wherever you get your audio. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.