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In the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly Monday over the warm waters of the Atlantic, growing from a Category 1 to a Category 5 storm in a single day, threatening Puerto Rico and other islands already suffering from Hurricane Irma’s landfall earlier this month. On Monday evening, the storm’s eye passed directly over Dominica, where Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wrote online, “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.” He later said he’d been rescued, but that the island had been devastated. The storm also brought high winds and flooding to Guadeloupe, the staging ground for relief efforts for islands ravaged by Hurricane Irma earlier this month. Maria now threatens the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan, with a possible direct hit as a major hurricane. The storm also prompted hurricane warnings in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, where residents scrambled to collect debris from massive damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Officials warn that shards of metal and glass from the rubble could be turned into deadly projectiles as Hurricane Maria passes.
At the United Nations, President Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said Monday the U.S. would withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord as planned. His comments came as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said climate should be a top priority at this year’s General Assembly.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “We see the consequences daily. We count the costs in lives, livelihoods, damaged economies. And since 2008—and you know better than me—some 20 million people a year have been forcibly displaced by floods, storms, fires and extreme temperature. But many more are on the move due to the droughts and sea level rise, and climate change is not a distant problem for future generations. It is here, it is now, and we need to deal with it.”
Guterres’s call was echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who joined President Trump on the sidelines of the General Assembly Monday in a meeting that was cordial despite the pair’s disagreement over the Paris Agreement. Speaking to reporters alongside Macron, Trump praised a military parade he witnessed during a trip to Paris in July.
President Donald Trump: “I was your guest at Bastille Day, and it was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen. It was two hours on the button, and it was military might and, I think, a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France. … It was a tremendous thing. And to a large extent, because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue, if I have your approval.”
Trump also met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming there’s a “good chance” for Middle East peace, and strongly hinting he’s prepared to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. And Trump also repeated a threat to intervene militarily in Venezuela to oust President Nicolás Maduro, saying the U.S. would take “additional steps,” if necessary. Trump is set to deliver his first address to the U.N. General Assembly later today, where he’s expected to single out North Korea and Iran.
A last-ditch Senate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act got a major boost Monday when Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey said he’d support the legislation. The governor’s backing prompted Arizona Republican Senator John McCain to say he would “reluctantly” vote yes on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. In July, McCain cast one of three Republican votes to narrowly defeat another effort to repeal Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office won’t be able to fully score the latest bill’s impacts on the healthcare system and the U.S. economy by a September 30 deadline, meaning senators could vote on legislation whose full effects aren’t understood. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the Graham-Cassidy bill would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, gut Medicaid, eliminate or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and increase out-of-pocket healthcare costs to individuals, all while showering tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.
A group of six young undocumented immigrants sued the Trump administration Monday in a San Francisco federal court, challenging the president’s decision to end DACA—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the United States. The suit argues the Trump administration failed to follow proper administrative procedures in rescinding DACA and that revoking the program violates due process laws.
The lawsuit was filed as undocumented activists and their allies shouted down Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a San Francisco news conference, accusing her of using DREAMers as “bargaining chips” in a meeting with President Trump last week in which she sought to win legislation protecting young immigrants in exchange for a more militarized U.S.-Mexico border. The protesters demanded protections not only for DREAMers, but for all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. After headlines, we’ll speak to Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez and a DACA recipient suing President Trump.
CNN is reporting investigators wiretapped Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort both before and after the 2016 election, including during periods when Manafort spoke by phone with President Trump. CNN reports the FBI sought and won a FISA warrant from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2014 and later got a second warrant that extended at least into early this year. The FBI also reportedly conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Manafort. He is a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump officials colluded with Russian officials to sway the outcome.
In Nigeria, suicide bombers killed 12 people and injured at least 26 others Monday in an attack in the northeastern state of Borno. There was no claim of responsibility, but the area is home to the Boko Haram insurgency and has seen at least 200 people killed since June 1.
India’s government asked the country’s Supreme Court Monday to allow the deportation of more than 16,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Burma, where human rights groups say the government is waging an ethnic cleansing campaign. The threatened deportation came as Human Rights Watch distributed before-and-after satellite photos it says show the near total destruction of 214 Rohingya villages in Burma, with tens of thousands of homes burned to the ground. The photos echo the stories of the more than 410,000 Rohingya who have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Chaman Bahar: “The military torched our houses. My husband, along with my daughter and her husband, were killed in the clashes. I somehow was able to flee, taking my grandson, along with all these villagers.”
Back in the United States, the Trump administration is planning to shrink 10 national monuments and open them up to mining, logging, drilling and other forms of extraction. A leaked memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shows the plan would cut hundreds of thousands—or perhaps millions—of acres from protected reserves, including Utah’s Bears Ears and Nevada’s Gold Butte National Monuments. The plan would also open the Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments to commercial fishing.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is laying the groundwork to open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The Washington Post reports the Interior Department is modifying a 1980s regulation to allow for exploratory drilling and seismic surveys in the nearly 20 million-acre reserve.
And in Atlanta, Georgia, police officers arrested three people on riot charges Monday evening as they clashed with students at Georgia Tech over the police killing of the president of a gay and transgender student group last Sunday. Video of the killing shared online shows officers ordering 21-year-old student Scout Schultz to drop a knife, as Schultz refuses to comply, at one point shouting, “Shoot me!” After a brief standoff, one of the officers then kills Schultz with a single shot to the heart. Schultz had dialed 911 to report a man with a knife and gun, though Schultz’s family says the student was armed only with a small multipurpose tool and was having a mental health crisis. Schultz was president of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance and identified as “bisexual, nonbinary, and intersex.”