Headlines: August 13, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:17 — 7.6MB)
President Donald Trump is visiting a Pennsylvania town this week to promote manufacturing in a state that helped him win the White House in 2016. He intends to tour Shell’s Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, a massive plant that will convert natural gas into plastics. Critics are worried that when built, the plant will be the largest polluter in the state. Associated Press explained that, “The focus is part of a continued push by the Trump administration to increase the economy’s dependence on fossil fuels in defiance of increasingly urgent warnings about climate change. And it’s an embrace of plastic at a time when the world is sounding alarms over its ubiquity and impact.” The US Geological Survey just released a study entitled, “It’s Raining Plastic,” showing that rainwater samples from the Colorado Rocky Mountains shockingly contained multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. According to a Guardian Newspaper report about the study, “Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards.”
Meanwhile a report by the government together with the American Meteorological Society has found that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide were found to have accumulated in their highest concentrations in recorded history in 2018. The annual State of the Climate report also estimates that 2019 will be the 2nd or 3rd hottest year on record. And the Washington Post this week published a lengthy climate analysis of the United States, concluding that “[e]xtreme climate change has arrived in America.” In it, researchers found that New jersey “is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Its average temperature has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states.” The paper’s analysis of “more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.”
Some states are fighting back against the Trump Administration’s relentless drive to accelerate climate change. A coalition of nearly 2-dozen Democratic-controlled states is suing the federal government over the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Trump’s replacement rule is called the Affordable Clean Energy and was written to try to keep coal plants open for longer. The states suing the government say the new rule violates the Clean Air Act.
In other news, more details about the death of billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have emerged. CBS is reporting that according to one source, “there was shouting and shrieking from his jail cell,” on the morning of his death. Additionally, “One of Epstein’s guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on the night he died was reportedly not a regular corrections officer.” Congress is now calling for an investigation into Epstein’s death, a day after Attorney General William Barr accused the Metropolitan Correctional Center of failing to prevent Epstein’s death. As Attorney General Barr oversees federal corrections facilities such as MCC. Meanwhile FBI agents raided Epstein’s privately owned Caribbean island on Monday as part of the on-going federal investigation into his sex trafficking ring.
Associated Press is reporting on multiple accusations by women against Spanish opera superstar Placido Domingo. The 78-year old who has performed more times than any other opera singer in history has, according to several sources, used his influence, “to pressure women into sexual relationships by dangling jobs and then sometimes punishing the women professionally when they refused his advances.” Several women have accused him of sexual assault and coercion. Domingo is director of the Los Angeles opera but, “his accusers and others in the industry say there is a troubling side to Domingo — one they say has long been an open secret in the opera world.” Domingo released a statement denouncing the accusations as “inaccurate.” In light of the report the Philadelphia Orchestra rescinded its invitation to the opera star for a performance in September.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has concluded in a new report that federal government childcare subsidies to low-income families are not nearly enough to cover the rising costs of childcare. The cost of caring for more than a million children in low-income families nationwide comes from the $8.2 billion Child Care Development Fund which advocates say is severely underfunded.
Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro has paid for several advertising spots on Fox News in Bedminster, New Jersey. The ad will run multiple times on Wednesday during Trump’s favorite Fox show and directly addresses Trump who plans on spending the week golfing at his New Jersey resort. Meanwhile Democratic Congresswoman Norma Torres slammed the new proposed Trump rule to deny legal immigrant visas to low-income applicants saying that his intention was to rid the country of people who look like her. Trump’s Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cucinelli went as far as rewriting Emma Lazarus’ famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty to make the case for limiting immigration to wealthy people. In an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, this is the exchange between the interviewer and Cucinelli.
A new SurveyUSA poll has found that in a match up between the top two Democratic presidential contenders, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, Trump would lose by large margins. Both Sanders and Biden in a hypothetical matchup to Trump would beat him by 50 to 42%.
Unrest continues in Hong Kong where the cosmopolitan trading port’s airport has now become the target of protesters. After two straight days of occupying Hong Kong’s airport and preventing travelers from checking in for flights, protesters are facing a violent police crackdown by Hong Kong police with tear gas and arrests. The United Nations has urged Hong Kong police to act with restraint after documented abuses of power emerged. And China has released a video showing armed military vehicles gathering near the border with Hong Kong, ominously saying that protesters are “asking for self-destruction.”
And finally the Russian government has recommended that residents of Nyonoksa evacuate their village after a nuclear rocket accident last week in a neighboring city released dangerous levels of radiation. A government agency released a report saying that radiation levels increased by up to 16 times in the village after the accident. Russia appears to have entered into another nuclear arms race with the US after President Trump withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.