International news brief: Floods trap many in Florida; Royal Mint unveils first coins and more
Washington, Sep 30: Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through inundated streets Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings left by Hurricane Ian, which crossed into the Atlantic Ocean and churned toward South Carolina.
Hours after weakening to a tropical storm while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained hurricane strength Thursday evening over the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would hit South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane Friday.
The devastation inflicted on Florida came into focus a day after Ian struck as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the U.S. It flooded homes on both the state's coasts, cut off the only road access to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out electricity to 2.67 million Florida homes and businesses - nearly a quarter of utility customers.
Four people were confirmed dead in Florida. They included two residents of hard-hit Sanibel Island along Florida's west coast, Sanibel city manager Dana Souza said late Thursday. Three other people were reported killed in Cuba after the hurricane struck there on Tuesday.
Putin recognises independence for 2 more Ukraine regions
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognised the independence of two more Ukrainian regions, a precursor to their annexation by Russia. Putin issued decrees early Friday recognising the independence of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. He took similar steps in February regarding Luhansk and Donetsk and earlier for Crimea.
Russia's plan to annex more of Ukraine on Friday is an escalation of the seven-month war and is expected to isolate the Kremlin further, draw more international punishment and bring Ukraine extra military, political and economic support.
The annexation - and planned celebratory concerts and rallies in Moscow and the occupied territories - would come just days after voters supposedly approved independence in Moscow-managed "referendums." Ukrainian and Western officials have denounced the votes as illegal, forced and rigged.
Presidential commission recommends stamping of H-1B visas inside US
A presidential commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has unanimously approved a recommendation for the provision of stamping of H-1B visas inside the US, a move if accepted by President Joe Biden will come as a big relief to thousands of foreign professionals, particularly from India.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
As per the current mandatory practice, one needs to apply for a visa stamp at a US Consulate or Embassy abroad before one's H-1B status can be activated.
Royal Mint unveils first coins to feature King Charles III
Britain's Royal Mint has unveiled the first coins to feature the portrait of King Charles III.
Britons will begin to see Charles' image in their change from around December, as 50-pence coins depicting him gradually enter circulation. The new monarch's effigy was created by British sculptor Martin Jennings, and has been personally approved by Charles, the Royal Mint said Friday. In keeping with tradition, the king's portrait faces to the left - the opposite direction to his mother's, Queen Elizabeth II. "Charles has followed that general tradition that we have in British coinage, going all the way back to Charles II actually, that the monarch faces in the opposite direction to their predecessor,'' said Chris Barker at the Royal Mint Museum.
Charles is depicted without a crown. A Latin inscription surrounding the portrait translates to "King Charles III, by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith.
(with PTI inputs)