Trump, Biden clash over wildfires, climate change – TUE 15Sep2020 National & International News

A burned out fire truck in Oregon.
September 15th, 2020     Today's News Summary

Trump, Biden clash over wildfires, climate change. US blocks imports from China’s Xinjiang over Uighur forced labor. Brexit legislation widens UK’s internal, international divides… That and more in National & International News.


Trump, Biden clash over wildfires, climate change

This election year has been marked by several extreme weather events, including the Australian bushfires earlier this year and this summer’s unusually active tropical cyclone season. Most recently, fires across the western US have killed at least 35 people, destroyed thousands of homes, and razed 4.7 million acres. Satellite images show the smoke from the fires burning in California, Oregon and Washington has reached as far as Michigan.

Inevitably, the climate change debate is now generating campaign talking points for President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

While touring fire-ravaged areas in California, Trump downplayed the role of climate change in the wildfires, suggesting temperatures will “start getting cooler”. When told that most scientists disagree with this conclusion, Trump responded, “I don’t think science knows actually”. Meanwhile, in Delaware, Joe Biden attacked Trump’s climate change denial. In a speech to supporters Biden asked, “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?”

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Historic number of tropical storms forming in Atlantic

For only the second time in history, 5 named tropical cyclones systems are currently forming in the Atlantic. The last time such an event occurred was in 1971, when, at one point, 6 tropical cyclones formed simultaneously. The current cyclones are Hurricanes Sally and Paulette; Tropical Storms Vicky and Teddy; and Tropical Depression Rene. The nearest of these is Hurricane Sally, which is currently bearing down on the Gulf Coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had predicted in May that this would be a record-breaking season, spawning anywhere from 13 to 19 hurricanes. In August, NOAA revised its estimate upwards, to between 19 and 25. However, even this estimate may prove inadequate. Tropical Storm Vicky is now the 20th, beating the previous 20th storm in a given season by 3 weeks.

Scientists blame the unusual number of storms on a number of factors including, but not limited to, global climate change. These factors included unusually active monsoons over Africa, as well as the formation of a possible “La Niña” phenomenon in the coming months.

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US blocks imports from China’s Xinjiang over Uighur forced labor

The US has announced a partial ban on imports from China’s Xinjiang region over allegations of “forced labor” by Muslim Uighur minorities. Mark Morgan, acting head of Customs and Border Protection, says the products are sourced from “concentration camps” where China has imprisoned nearly 1 million Uighurs in recent years. The ban includes garments, cotton, computer parts and hair products from five entities in Xinjiang and Anhui provinces. China has repeatedly dismissed international concerns of human rights abuses at what it calls “vocational centers”. Beijing also insists that all inmates had “graduated” from the camps as of December, despite numerous videos purporting to come from prisoners at these camps in recent months.

Speaking of one of centers in question, the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang, acting Homeland Security deputy Ken Cuccinelli says: “This is not a vocational centre, it is a concentration camp, a place where religious and ethnic minorities are subject to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions with no recourse and no freedom.” Cuccinelli compared conditions in the camps to “modern-day slavery.”

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Brexit legislation widens UK’s internal, international divides

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservatives have passed controversial legislation, which critics say breaks international law. Britain is currently in a transitional phase, having officially severed ties with the EU earlier this year. During this transitional phase, negotiators are hammering out agreements that will govern trade and other relations between Britain and the EU after an end-of-year deadline.

The new legislation, dubbed the International Market Bill, has stirred controversy for two reasons. Firstly, it creates a window for Britain to potentially alter the terms of an agreement signed earlier this year. The initial agreement attempts to prevent a “hard” border between Northern Ireland, a UK possession, and Ireland, which is remaining in the EU. Critics, including many within Johnson’s own party, say these changes subvert international law at a time when Britain needs to be building trust and goodwill with its partners abroad.

Secondly, the legislation alters the nature of Britain’s internal markets between the nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The legislation states that any one of these nations must accept goods at the standards set in any one country. This provision has prompted fears that things like quality control for food could be reduced to a lowest common denominator across the UK.

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