Headlines: August 29, 2019
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Hurricane Dorian has intensified into a Category 4 storm as it hurtles toward the US. NASA announced on Twitter that the storm is, “packing heavy rain as it moves toward the Bahamas.” The hurricane is expected to pack wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour as it heads toward Florida. There is comprehensive scientific consensus that climate change has made hurricanes stronger, more frequent, and more destructive. In spite of this President Donald Trump’s administration has relentlessly pushed to worsen climate change through the dismantling of regulations and this week announced that it would roll back rules governing methane emissions. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Trump has also diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in disaster relief funding to build a border wall between the US and Mexico – a project he considers essential to making the case for his reelection.
According to the Washington Post, which covered Trump’s plan to build his wall by any means necessary, “When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying ‘take the land,’ according to officials who attended the meetings.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move, “stunningly reckless,” and added that, “to pick the pockets of disaster relief funding in order to fund an appalling, inhumane family incarceration plan is staggering.” Still Pelosi has adamantly refused to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.
A global survey of attitudes toward climate change has found encouraging signs among young Republicans. The Amsterdam-based Glocalities poll surveys hundreds of thousands of people in 20 countries. According to the surveyors, “Since our first wave in 2014 more and more Americans say they worry about the damage that humans cause to the planet, just like people from all over the world. In the USA this percentage has gradually risen from 61% in 2014 to 69% in 2019. In the U.S. the rise is strongest (+11%) among republicans. In 2019 58% of U.S. republicans say that they are concerned about human cause damage to the planet and only 17% of republicans explicitly say they don’t worry about this.” And the world’s most famous young environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, has arrived on the shores of the US in a highly anticipated visit. It took the 16-year old Swedish activist more than 2 weeks on a zero-emissions sailboat to travel from Europe to New York to push for climate action.
The Trump administration this week issued a new immigration rule that would deny citizenship to some children of military and diplomatic service members born abroad. Currently those children born to government employees are automatically considered US citizens. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services published the rule stating that it, “no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as ‘residing in the United States’ for purposes of acquiring citizenship.”
Only ten Democratic Presidential contenders have qualified for the next candidate debate, taking place on September 12th. Candidates were required to reach a certain threshold in polls released this week and those who qualified included former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar, as well as former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang. There will now only be one day of debates instead of two. Senator Kristen Gillibrand has officially dropped out of the presidential race. Meanwhile, Senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, has announced his resignation this week. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, also a Republican, will appoint his replacement who will serve until next year. Democrats can now make a play for that seat in 2020 instead of 2022 when Isakson’s term would have been up.
In other news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced that the US is on the verge of losing its Measles elimination status from the World Health Organization (WHO) given the on-going resurgence of the easily-preventable disease. A CDC spokesperson said, “It certainly is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status, because we do have a safe and effective vaccine.” Another CDC adviser told CNN, “We’re embarrassed. We’re chagrined.” According to the outlet, “As anti-vaccine sentiment has grown on social media — some of it propelled by Russian bots and trolls — more and more parents have opted to not immunize their children.” It’s not just the US. The WHO has also announced that there has been a “dramatic resurgence” of measles in Europe, also fueled by anti-vaccine hysteria. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause blindness, encephalitis, and death. The social media platform Pinterest this week decided to only show official World Health Organization or CDC information when users type in measles or vaccine related keywords.
In international news, 26 people were killed at a nightclub in Mexico in the state of Veracruz when a fire was ignited with dozens of people trapped inside. Authorities say that armed men lit the fire – which many suspect is related to a resurgence of drug-related violence. In Brazil as the fires in the Amazon rage on, indigenous tribes have been protesting Jair Bolsonaro’s government. There are thousands of fires burning on nearly 150 indigenous territories in the rain forest. And elsewhere in Latin America, Colombia’s FARC negotiators have announced they are once more taking up arms. The former rebel group had participated in a historic peace treaty with the Colombian government but now they have accused the right wing President Iván Duque for allowing hundreds of FARC soldiers and leftwing activists to be killed since the peace deal was signed.
And finally in Britain, Boris Johnson’s government is in chaos over his decision this week to suspend parliament as he wrestles with Brexit negotiations. With only 9 weeks left before the hard deadline of October 31st to negotiate an exit plan from the EU, Johnson has suspended MPs from working for 5 weeks. According to the BBC, “People who want the UK to remain in the EU are calling it a coup – and even some in favor of Brexit have criticized the move.” Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to Johnson’s move. Mass protests were held across the country and one and half million people signed a petition against the suspension of Parliament.