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Sept 10, 2020: Thousands Flee Western Fires
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

As the American West burns, scientific experts warn of rising global temperatures. At least one Democratic governor has had it with climate change deniers.

Meanwhile, Why did Donald Trump spend so much time on the phone with Bob Woodward? Someone must have warned him it might not be a good idea – I mean, right?

And lastly, police leadership in Rochester, New York, takes early retirement after public outrage over another killing by officers. More and more cops are doing it: resigning, that is.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Thousands flee Western fires

Nearly one hundred wildfires are burning millions of acres across the American west, destroying towns and prompting mass evacuations. Eerie images showed red and orange skies filled with ash from the San Francisco Bay to the outskirts of Portland and beyond. In Colorado, the fires still smoldered under a fourteen-inch blanket of snow that fell suddenly in a storm the other night.

California and Oregon are suffering some of the worst at this time, but fires also raged across Washington State, Nevada, Utah, and Montana. Compared to the same point in last year’s fire season, state officials said, California has endured a two thousand percent increase in acres burned. And there are still four months left in the fire season. California Governor Gavin Newsom said he had no more patience left for climate change deniers. Oregon Governor Kate Brown said her state was facing what could be the largest loss of life and property due to fire in its history. The entire county of Clackamas (Clack-Uh-Mass) outside of Portland, comprising over four hundred and twenty thousand people, was put on notice to evacuate. The entire city of Medford, population eighty-two thousand, was also under an evacuation order, along with prisons and nursing homes elsewhere in the state. Tens of thousands of people lost power due to downed lines in Oregon; in California, more than one hundred thousand are waiting to have their electricity service restored.

Hot, dry, and windy weather accelerated the spread of the fires and slowed containment efforts. In Oregon, six of the largest firefighting helicopters were unavailable to aid in the all-hands effort because they had been sent to Afghanistan to help with the ongoing military occupation, according to the Portland Tribune. In California, at least fourteen firefighters have been injured, and one is reportedly in critical condition. For those directly threatened by the fires, local news radio is proving to be indispensable.

Separately, the United Nations World Meterological Organization reported that global temperatures risk exceeding a limit set by the Paris climate change agreement in 2015. And some twelve thousand people in Europe’s largest refugee camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos, were left homeless once again after a fire tore through their tents. Arson was suspected.

Trump blabs to Woodward

It’s a big week for books about Donald Trump. First Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, came out with his tell-all. Now excerpts are coming out from veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s book on Trump, titled “Rage.”

Trump apparently spoke on tape with Woodward for eighteen hours, and even more than usual, seems to have let his guard down. Among Woodward’s revelations are an apparent secret nuclear weapons development program, possibly in violation of international treaties. But what captured headlines yesterday was Trump’s open admission to Woodward that he purposefully played down the threat of the coronavirus even after being briefed on its deadliness in January. At a time when Trump knew the virus would be deadly and dangerous, he was telling the public it was no more serious than a seasonal flu.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was quick to respond to the revelations. Speaking at a United Auto Workers training facility in Warren, Michigan, Biden lambasted Trump’s fatal negligence, noting that the news came on a day when America hit one hundred and ninety thousand dead from COVID. Biden said Trump, "knew how deadly it was. He knew and purposely played down. Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months. He knew how deadly it was. He had the information. He failed to do his job on purpose. ... If he acted two weeks sooner, fifty-four thousand lives would have been spared in March and April alone. ... It's beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace." Well put, Joe.

Rochester police leaders resign

Top police in Rochester, New York, have voluntarily resigned amid protests and scrutiny of the department’s treatment of Daniel Prude, a Black man suffering a mental health crisis who died after officers put a hood over his head. Prude was forty-one years old. He died in March but video footage was released by his family’s lawyers last week, sparking outrage.

Seven police officers have been suspended from the city’s force, according to the Washington Post. And New York attorney general Letitia James said she would impanel a grand jury as part of an ongoing investigation. Then on Tuesday, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito sudden announced their imminent retirement. Per the Post, they are only the latest in a growing list of police resignations: Chiefs in Atlanta, Louisville and Seattle lost their jobs or resigned amid the public outcry, and also on Tuesday, the police chief in Dallas announced her plans to step down later this year.

An attorney for Prude’s family, Antonio Romanucci, called Chief Singletary’s retirement an important step and said Prude’s treatment was inhumane, and the subsequent coverup was unacceptable. Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother, has said he called 911 seeking help after his brother disappeared. He told NPR, " I didn’t call them to come help my brother die. I called them to come help me get my brother some help.".

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

A new whistleblower complaint alleges top Homeland Security officials doctored intelligence assessments to suit Donald Trump’s agenda. The complaint, reported by CNN, says acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told officials to play down Russian interference and instead focus on China and Iran. Agents were also told to downplay the threat posed by white nationalist groups and instead hype the threat from Antifa and anarchist groups. Surprise!

US military commanders announced the draw-down of forces in Iraq by approximately one-half, to three thousand soldiers. The withdrawal will begin later this month and has been long in planning. At the height of the war, the US had more than one hundred and fifty thousand troops in Iraq. So while Trump will brag about this on the campaign trail, the biggest military draw-downs took place before his tenure.

Vice President Mike Pence will attend a fundraiser in Montana next week hosted by a wealthy couple who have promoted the Q-Anon conspiracy theory. Caryn and Michael Borland have both shared Q memes on social media, according to the Associated Press. Together they have donated more than two hundred and twenty thousand dollars to Trump’s reelection campaign. Cukoo money is still green.

Attorney General Bill Barr yesterday defended as "perfectly legitimate" the Justice Department’s shocking decision to intervene in a defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump. The complaint was filed last November by E. Jean Carroll, who says Trump lied about raping her in the 1990s. This week the Justice Department effectively took over Trump’s defense in the case, an unprecedented intervention that Barr told NBC News was perfectly normal. Nothing to see here folks, provided you think there’s nothing wrong with the Attorney General using public resources to clean up after Trump’s many abuses.

That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

Sept 10, 2020 - AM Quickie

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn