Hurricane Dorian Now a “Dangerous” Category 3 Storm - Taking Aim at Florida’s Central Coast This Weekend - That’s in the news Friday August 30, 2019


Hurricane Dorian strengthened Friday into a Category 3 storm with top sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center said Dorian is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 with winds of almost 140 mph (225 kph) and slam the coast late Monday or early Tuesday — nearly 10 mph faster and a day later than previously forecast, as Dorian’s forward motion began to slow. Even a Category 3 hurricane would be the strongest hurricane to hit central Florida in more than 30 years. Forecasters said the storm will grow more ferocious as it gains strength from the warm waters off Florida. The track of the storm could change, but if the forecast issued Friday verifies, hurricane force sustained winds would affect the entire width of Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday urged Floridians to stock up on at least a week’s worth of food, water and medicine and to prepare to lose power and cellphone service for days after Dorian makes landfall. DeSantis has activated 2,500 National Guard troops, with another 1,500 on standby. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in 12 neighboring counties to assist with storm readiness, response and recovery. Florida officials also were making sure all nursing homes and assisted living facilities had generators. President Donald Trump canceled a planned weekend trip to Poland, sending Vice President Mike Pence in his place, so he can make sure federal resources are properly directed for the storm.




Hong Kong police arrested two prominent pro-democracy activists on Friday ahead of what is expected to be another weekend of protests. Police said Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow were being charged with inciting and participating in an illegal assembly. The charges stemmed from their alleged involvement in a June 21 protest at police headquarters. They were released on bail and the case was adjourned until Nov. 8. The arrests of Wong and Chow were part of a broadening crackdown on the pro-democracy movement that has raised tensions in the Chinese territory. Activist Andy Chan, who leads a banned pro-independence party, was arrested late Thursday trying to board a plane at the Hong Kong airport. Sha Tin district council member Rick Hui Yui-yu was also arrested Friday on suspicion of obstructing officers during July 14 clashes at a shopping mall.




North Korea's Kim Jong Un has tightened his grip on power following the second session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly. Seoul's Institute for National Security Strategy said Friday the North Korean leader was given more powers that will allow him to separate or distinguish himself from other members of the assembly, while strengthening his legal status as chairman of the North Korean cabinet. INSS said the changes mean Kim is in control of the standing committee of the Supreme People's Assembly. In addition to Kim's power consolidation, INSS said top North Korean diplomats could have been conferred more power, "strengthening their status and responsibility" as the regime seeks to maintain the diplomatic channels it has built in the past two years. However, Kim is to exclusively make decisions on their appointments. Kim did not appear in state media images of the assembly by Friday.




Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan was facing mounting legal, political and diplomatic challenges on Friday as Ireland accused Britain of being unreasonable and former British leader John Major sought to stop the suspension of parliament. A Scottish court will hear arguments on Sept. 3, and a Northern Irish court will hear a separate case on Sept. 6. Ultimately, the cases could be combined to go to the Supreme Court - the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom which hears cases of the gravest constitutional importance. Johnson, the face of the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum, has promised to lead the United Kingdom out of the European Union in two months with or without a divorce deal, a threat he hopes will convince the bloc to give him the exit deal he wants. The government said British negotiators would hold twice-weekly talks with EU officials next month in an attempt to rework the Brexit agreement that Britain’s parliament has repeatedly rejected.




As problems with vaping and e-cigarettes continue to climb, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned users to not buy e-cigarettes on the street or modify the products in any way. The CDC is also advising multiple groups to not use e-cigarettes at all, including "youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.” The CDC said if you do use e-cigarettes to monitor yourself for symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain and if experienced, seek medical attention. The recommendations, in a CDC Health Advisory released Friday, come after 215 possible cases of an unidentified pulmonary disease were reported among e-cigarette users. The CDC said one Illinois patient died from a severe pulmonary disease and had a history of recent e-cigarette usage. According to the CDC health advisory, an exact number isn’t known, but “many patients have reported using e-cigarettes containing cannabinoid products such as THC or CBD. The CDC said it is currently conducting epidemiological investigations across multiple states to gain a better understanding of the disease, it’s causes, etc.




More than 2,000 people have died from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the last year. In an update released Friday, the report also said the nation has recorded 3,000 confirmed cases of Ebola. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern made more complicated by instability and mistrust in the Congolese government. The health crisis is the second worst outbreak after one that killed more than 11 thousand people between 2013 and 2016. Doctors Without Borders said those involved with stopping the spread of the virus must build trust with the local communities. Officials said health workers have given an experimental Ebola vaccine to more than 200 thousand people, and it's believed to have a near 98 percent efficiency rate for 12 months.




A federal judge on Thursday dismissed criminal charges against convicted sex offender and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in his jail cell as he awaited trial for alleged sex trafficking of teenage girls. Southern District of New York Judge Richard M. Berman made the decision two days after a hearing where at least two dozen of Epstein's alleged victims read statements expressing anger and frustration over Epstein's alleged crimes and called for the investigation of people suspected of helping Epstein recruit young women to abuse. "Because Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, died while this case was pending, and therefore before a final judgment was issued, the Indictment must be dismissed under rule of abatement," Berman wrote, referring to the rule wiping indictments clean when a defendant dies while a case is pending.




President Trump's personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, resigned abruptly Thursday after Trump learned she had shared details about his family and Oval Office operations with reporters at an off-the-record dinner, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with her exit. Westerhout also had recently faced pushback from some White House and Cabinet officials by trying to expand her responsibilities, with one adviser close to the White House suggesting she was trying to act like a "de facto chief of staff," Politico reported. Westerhout was distrusted by some Trump loyalists because she came over to his team from the Republican National Committee right after the election. Her office had been right outside the Oval Office, and she served as a key gatekeeper for access to Trump.




President Trump on Thursday formally authorized establishing the United States Space Command, describing it as a step toward forming a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. Trump, who still is pushing Congress to create the Space Force, called the creation of the Space Command a "landmark moment" in the effort to "defend America's vital interests in space, the next war-fighting domain." "The Space Force will organize, train, and equip warriors to support Spacecom's mission," he said in a Rose Garden ceremony. Air Force Gen. John Raymond, confirmed by the Senate in June as commander of Space Command, said protecting space assets such as satellites key to everything from missile defense to communications is a focus of the new command's mission. "There is nothing that we do in the joint coalition force that isn't enabled by space. Zero," he said.




Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced Thursday he has completed his chemotherapy treatments. He's now "on the mend" and back working on the 36th season of Jeopardy!, he said in a video message for the show's fans. Trebek revealed his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March, pledging that he was "going to fight this." But that didn't mean he was leaning toward retirement, joking at the time that "under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years." Just about three months later, Trebek announced his cancer was in "near-remission." Trebek filmed the end of Season 35 while undergoing cancer treatment.




And that's your update for this Friday August 30, 2019 - I will be taking some time off for vacation starting next week - so this podcast will not be available again on a daily basis until mid September. I appreciate the support received from listeners worldwide, and I am delighted that some of you are using this podcast to sharpen your English language skills. I am grateful for your continuing support with donations through the Podbean app, and hope you will consider making a monthly pledge - or a larger one time donation to support this effort. Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.