Thursday morning news: September 5, 2019

Dorian bearing down on Carolinas » Dorian is bearing down on the Carolinas this morning. The storm could slam the coast of South Carolina today—and North Carolina tonight. 

Officials on Wednesday remained hopeful that Dorian will instead bend farther to the east, remaining well offshore. But Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday the threat is very real. 

MCALEENAN: We are worried about significant impacts to South Carolina from Charleston to Wilmington, as well as the Outer Banks. And it’s that triple threat of potentially hurricane force winds, certainly tropical storm force, as well as storm surge, four to seven feet, and a significant rain event. 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said while he hopes for the best, his state is prepared for the worst. 

COOPER: We will be ready and we will not underestimate the damage this storm can cause. 

The hurricane spent Wednesday scraping the Atlantic coast as it moved north—packing winds of more than a hundred miles per hour—but largely sparing Florida and Georgia. 

But Dorian did not withhold its wrath from the Bahamas. Large swaths of the northern islands now lie in ruins. 

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Wednesday—quote—”We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.” They’re asking for international aid for relief and recovery. The United States is among the countries vowing to help. 

Pentagon pausing construction projects for border wall » The Pentagon plans to put more than a hundred military construction projects on hold  to divert about three-and-a-half billion dollars toward building the border wall. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has more.  

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Defense Department officials said the Pentagon is delaying, but not cancelling, 127 projects. The Defense Department will divert about half the money from projects abroad, and half from domestic projects.

President Trump declared a national emergency in February to gain access to Defense funds for building the wall. He used executive action to appropriate $8 billion total for the project and earmarked $3.6 billion from military construction funds.

Democrats continue to blast the move. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that diverting the funds “is a slap in the face to members of the Armed Forces.” 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler. 

President announces $1.8 billion in funding to fight opioid crisis » Speaking at the White House on Wednesday President Trump announced almost $2 billion in grants to states and local governments to help fight the opioid crisis.

TRUMP: The battle has only just begun. We must continue fighting side by side to stop the menace once and for all. Together we’ll save thousands and thousands of our fellow Americans. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration is awarding about $930 million to states and some U.S. territories. That will help pay for treatment and recovery services.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is getting $900 million dollars.

AZAR: This money will help states and local communities track overdose data and develop strategies that save lives. 

That’s part of a new, three-year CDC program. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia will share about $300 million in the first year.

Judges toss out North Carolina legislative district maps » A panel of three judges in North Carolina tossed out state district maps this week, sending lawmakers back to the drawing board. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones reports. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The judges said legislators drew an extremely partisan map—with zigzagging district lines designed to elect more Republicans. And they gave the lawmakers two weeks to try again and redraw nearly half the state’s House districts and Senate maps. 

The state trial judges unanimously ruled that courts can step in if legislators gerrymander district maps to the point that it jeopardizes democracy. 

That ruling comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that it’s not the job of federal courts to decide if boundaries are politically unfair. But it said state courts could consider whether gerrymandering stands up under state laws and constitutions.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Hong Kong chief exec formally withdraws controversial bill » After months of protests in the streets of Hong Kong, the region’s chief executive Carrie Lam is caving to one of the protesters’ key demands. 

Lam announced Wednesday that the government is formally scrapping the controversial bill that triggered the demonstrations. That bill would’ve allowed Hong Kong to extradite suspects to mainland China for criminal trials.

AUDIO: [Lam speaking Cantonese]

In a televised address, Lam said the government is removing the bill “in order to fully allay public concerns.” 

But many activists said the move does not fully allay anything. They say they’ll continue to take to the streets until the government accepts other demands. Those include an independent investigation into alleged police brutality against protesters and releasing activists who have been detained. They’re also demanding direct elections.  

But Lam said the government will not concede to those demands.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Washington, to announce state opioid response grants. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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