Headlines: September 5, 2019
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The record-breaking storm Dorian is pounding South and North Carolina as well as Georgia with some areas expecting an 8-foot storm surge and up to 15 inches of rain. There are winds of up to 110 miles per hour and 200,000 people in South Carolina have been without power. The city of Charleston is expected to be hard hit. President Donald Trump, who had insisted that the state of Alabama would be hit by the hurricane, on Wednesday showed a map that appeared to have a black line extending over Alabama that some speculated had been drawn in by hand just to be consistent with the President’s statements. Meanwhile in the Bahamas, which have been totally destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, the official death toll has crept up to 23 but thousands remain missing. Search and rescue teams of the US Coast Guard and British Royal Navy are assisting in recovery efforts. A website called DorianPeopleSearch.com has been deployed to help people find their loved ones. One estimate for the cost of rebuilding Bahamas was $7 billion.
As Hurricane Dorian rained destruction in the Atlantic coastal areas, ten Democratic contenders for President participated in a climate change forum hosted by CNN. Over 7 hours, CNN hosts aired back-to-back interviews with the top ten candidates. Audience members were also able to participate in questioning candidates and some members of the youth-led climate organization Sunrise Movement challenged candidates like Joe Biden on his links to fossil fuel executives and companies. Meanwhile President Trump, in between his tweets about the record breaking hurricane that is clearly driven by climate change, spent time mocking the CNN forum on Twitter and making a number of false claims. We’ll have more coverage on the climate forum on our show.
A federal judge has ruled that the government’s so-called terrorism watch-list violates people’s rights and may be unconstitutional. The F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center has been maintaining the list for years and currently lists about 4,600 US citizens who face severe travel restrictions. The majority of people on the list, which numbers a total of 1.2 million people, are non-American. The judge’s decision was made on a case brought by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on behalf of 19 Americans who are on the list.
Yet another Republican politician is retiring – Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. The GOP lawmaker has served more than 20 terms in Congress and cast more than 23,000 votes. He now joins a growing list of his fellow party members choosing to not run again. According to the New York Times, “Sixteen [Republican] lawmakers, including Mr. Sensenbrenner, have said they intend to retire or seek another office in 2020. Just hours earlier, Representative Bill Flores of Texas, said that he, too, would not seek re-election, citing a commitment to term limit himself. And more lawmakers are expected to follow suit.”
The man who may be the Republican Party’s second biggest liability after Donald Trump – Steve King – is in the news once more. The openly white supremacist lawmaker who has even been denounced by his fellow party members in the past, told a group f supporters that he drank water out of a toilet at an immigrant detention facility. He said, “I took a drink out of there….” The water was “actually pretty good,” he said, adding, “I smacked my lips.” King’s words were in direct response to assertions by Democratic Representatives including New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who maintained that immigrant detainees were being forced to drink water from toilets. In fact King drank out of the water fountains that are attached to toilets. Ocasio-Cortez slammed him on Twitter for his stunt.
In other immigration news, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services issued a damning report about the mental trauma that immigrant children being held in detention are suffering. The government watchdog group quoted one medical director who had assessed children saying: “Physical symptoms felt by separated children are manifestations of their psychological pain. You get a lot of ‘my chest hurts,’ even though everything is fine [medically]. Children describe symptoms, ‘Every heartbeat hurts,’ ‘I can’t feel my heart,’ of emotional pain.” Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal published a report this week detailing how immigration courts in the US are overwhelmed with asylum applications of tens of thousands of people who have been ordered to wait out their processing times in Mexico – known as Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. There are currently 38,000 people, mostly from Central America, waiting for their cases to be adjudicated. The huge backlog has created confusion and caused many errors according to the report.
In news on the #MeToo front, Associated Press has an exclusive report featuring women who have accused the international opera superstar Placido Domingo of sexual assault. After AP broke the story of allegations against Domingo, 11 more women have come forward with stories about how he groped them and damaged their careers if they did not respond to his overtures. According to the outlet, “employees described for the AP how they strove to shield young women from the star as administrators looked the other way. Taken together, their stories reinforce a picture of an industry in which Domingo’s behavior was an open secret and young women were left to fend for themselves in the workplace.” Meanwhile Michigan State University has been fined $4.5 million for failing to protect students from the now-disgraced doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar was a doctor to the US gymnastics team and was found to have engaged in widespread sexual abuse of his patients. And, a woman named Chanel Miller has revealed herself to be the victim of a vicious rape that garnered headlines some years ago at Stanford University after the convicted rapist Brock Turner served only 3 months for the crime. Miller has decided to publish her story as forthcoming called “Know My Name.”
In international news, US Vice President Mike Pence met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson while traveling through Europe. Pence apparently “tiptoed” around the Brexit issue that has consumed Britain’s government. He thanked Johnson for meeting him, “at a very busy time here in the United Kingdom.” Pence told Johnson that Trump, “supports the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union” and “is ready, willing and able to immediately negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.K.” Meanwhile Johnson is struggling to push for snap elections on October 14th – a move that MPs have rejected.
China has announced that it would send high-level representatives to the US next month to restart stalled trade talks with the Trump administration. The news buoyed the stock market. Matthew Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation issued a statement saying, “We urge the administration to end this trade war and come to an agreement that results in a complete roll back of the existing tariffs. This trade war has gone on far too long, and the harmful consequences for American business and consumers continues to grow.”
And finally, just as the US announced it is nearing a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, a car bomb in Kabul took the lives of ten civilians as well as a US soldier and a Romanian soldier serving under NATO. The Taliban took credit for the attack. The US soldier was the fourth to die in the past 2 weeks alone in Afghanistan. The Taliban has been relentlessly bombing areas in Afghanistan while negotiating a deal with the US for troops to leave. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who was once backed by the US but is being sidelined out of the peace talks said, “Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless.”