What you missed: Week of Sept. 20 round-up

A lot has happened in the world over the past week. Let’s catch up on the major news headlines:


New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez Indicted

On Friday, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bribery, making this the second time that the senator has been indicted for corruption. They allegedly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of money and goods, including gold bars, a luxury car and more in exchange for Menendez using his position as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to benefit the Egyptian government.

Menendez has denied the allegations so far and has refused to resign despite many notable politicians, including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Sen. Cory Booker, calling for his resignation. Some have gone so far as to challenge Menendez, such as Rep. Andy Kim who announced on Saturday his intentions to launch a campaign for Menendez’s Senate seat in next year’s election.


Tropical Storm Ophelia Slams East Coast

Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall over the weekend, affecting much of the East Coast from North Carolina to the tri-state area. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression on Saturday night and impacted the coast with heavy rains, floods and nearly 70-mile-per-hour winds at times, according to The Washington Post. While the storm left the East Coast soaked and without power in some places, there were no fatalities reported.


Authors Guild Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI

Last Wednesday, 17 fiction authors, including George R.R. Martin, Jodi Picoult and John Grisham, joined the Authors Guild in signing a class-action lawsuit filed against OpenAI. According to CNN, the guild accuses OpenAI, the company that owns ChatGPT, of copyright infringement for illegally downloading famous works and using them to program their A.I. systems for profit while the original authors earn nothing. Additionally, they claim the use of A.I. endangers authors’ abilities to get work and earn money from their writing.

This is not the first instance of the publishing industry voicing concerns about A.I. In July, over 10,000 writers signed an open letter from the Authors Guild to Microsoft and OpenAI requesting that the companies obtain consent before using an author’s writing in their systems. So far, OpenAI has not been receptive to the criticism against them.


Federal Government to Reinstate Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests

The Biden Administration announced last Wednesday that the federal government will once again offer free rapid COVID-19 tests to every household. Starting Sept. 25, households can request up to four tests through COVID.gov. The government, which ceased providing free tests in June of this year, is restarting the program amidst increased COVID hospitalizations in recent weeks and the approaching colder months.


New Jersey to House Largest Hindu Temple Outside India

The world’s largest Hindu temple located outside of India will soon reside in Robbinsville. Called BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, the temple spans over 185 acres and was built over an eight-year span, according to Ani News. The temple has not been without controversy, though, as it was the target of a 2021 lawsuit alleging that the leaders of the project were exploiting their workers and were involved in a human trafficking scheme.

New Jersey is home to over 1 million Asian Americans — more than any other U.S. state — with Indian Americans making up the largest ethnic group. Around 40% of that South Asian population hails from Middlesex County and the larger Central Jersey region, where the temple is located. Akshardham will be inaugurated on Oct. 8 and will officially open to the public on Oct. 18.



Featured photo courtesy of @kendizzzall, X