Headlines: September 11, 2018
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In today’s news headlines about 1.5 million people have evacuated their homes in North and South Carolina as the states brace for a powerful storm that is being dubbed “potentially catastrophic,” and “life-threatening.” Hurricane Florence is so far the most powerful storm this year and has developed into a Category 4 hurricane. Governors Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Henry MacMaster of South Carolina spoke at press conferences in their respective states on Monday issuing warnings to their residents. Maryland, Virginia, and other East Coast states are also warning their residents about the impact.
According to the Washington Post, “Meteorologists and government officials say the hurricane will bring powerful winds and storm surges to the coast, but the threat doesn’t stop there: Torrential rains across the broader region are likely to bring significant flooding to low-lying areas, including to communities more than 100 miles inland. Any stall as the storm heads northwest could lead to conditions reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Houston with more than four feet of rain in August 2017.” AP pointed out additional dangers: “The storm’s potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.”
On the opposite side of the nation, Tropical storm Olivia is approaching the state of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, just weeks after Hurricane Lane dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the Big Island. Olivia may result in 10-20 inches of rain across the islands.
Despite evidence mounting all around us of the impacts of climate change the Trump administration remains determined to exacerbate our greenhouse gas emissions and on Monday news emerged that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would make it easier for energy companies to dump methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. According to the New York Times, which reported the news, the proposal would be, “the third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change.”
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres issued a strongly worded warning on climate change in a speech at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday. “Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment.” he said. “Scientists have been telling us for decades. Over and over again. Far too many leaders have refused to listen. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change.”
In California, one bright spot on the climate was the state’s passage and Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval of a bold new bill to transition the entire state to 100% clean renewable energy by 2045. Brown is convening a major Global Climate Summit in Northern California today.
In other news, the white female police officer charged with manslaughter over the shooting death of a black man named Botham Jean, will face a grand jury. Amber Guyger, a Dallas, Texas police officer, could be slapped with more charges as a result. Guyger fatally shot Jean in his own apartment last week saying she thought she was walking into her apartment and had encountered an intruder. Allison Jean, the victim’s mother spoke at a press conference on Monday followed by family attorney Benjamin Crump, a well-known lawyer in cases of police brutality against African Americans.
TheWashington Post reported on Monday that Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican gubernatorial candidate and Trump favorite, had spoken several times at conferences organized by a known racist. DeSantis had served as a Florida Representative since 2012 until his announced resignation from Congress on Monday. According to the Post, he “appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.”
In 2015 DeSantis spoke glowingly of David Horowitz, saying, “David has done such great work and I’ve been an admirer. I’ve been to these conferences in the past but I’ve been a big admirer of an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.” Horowitz has hosted known right-wing racist trolls like Stephen Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Sebastian Gorka and has said in the past, “that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.” DeSantis will face off against a Bernie Sanders’ endorsed Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum. Gillum is African American.
In other election-related news, New York’s gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon has lashed back against incumbent Andrew Cuomo and the state’s Democratic Party for sending out a mailer to thousands of New Yorkers questioning Nixon’s defense of Jewish people. Cuomo, who controls the state Democratic Party, says he did not know about the mailer. Nixon told press, “The idea that they would accuse me of being soft on anti-Semitism is an outrage. The idea that Andrew Cuomo didn’t know this was happening is completely bogus and I think he actually owes an apology not just to say it was a mistake, but that it’s factually wrong…This is fear-mongering for political gain at its worst.”
A federal judge on Monday ordered accused Russian agent Marina Butina to remain in jail. Butina had requested a release pending her trial but the judge in the case called her, “a very real flight risk.” The judge also ordered a “gag order” on media coverage after prosecutors said that Butina’s lawyer had violated the rules of the court by discussing evidence in public. Butina is facing charges of acting as a Russian agent to influence US policy in favor of Russia.
In international news, the Trump Administration has announced that it will close the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s office in Washington DC. The move is apparently retaliation for Palestinian reluctance at entering into US-brokered peace talks with Israel. Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton announced the PLO office closure at a speech to the Federalist Society on Monday night.
And finally, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that 30,000 people had been displaced from the Syrian city of Idlib as the government pounds the rebel stronghold in an effort to oust the last bit of resistance to President Bashar Al Assad. The UN office fears that as many as 800,000 people could be displaced in total. There are nearly 3 million people living in the region that the Syrian government is actively bombing with the help of its Russian and Iranian allies. According to Reuters about half of those residents have already been displaced from other parts of Syria.