Thursday morning news: October 10, 2019

White House says impeachment inquiry “constitutionally invalid” as Trump predicts a Supreme Court case » The White House has declared the impeachment inquiry “constitutionally invalid.” And it has informed House Democrats that it will not cooperate with the probe. 

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats this week. It accused them of violating the due process of law by not holding a formal vote in the House to open the impeachment inquiry.

And President Trump on Wednesday predicted that the standoff with Democrats could be decided in the nation’s highest court. 

TRUMP: Probably ends up being a big Supreme Court case. Maybe it goes a long time, I don’t know. 

But Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, says in reality, the fight will be decided in the court of public opinion. 

VLADECK: Even if every Democratic senator is inclined to vote to remove the president, you would need 20 Republicans to get to the two-thirds threshold that the constitution requires. That’s why so much of this is politics. 

The executive branch can make it much harder for House Democrats to get the information they want. The Trump administration has blocked some officials from speaking to investigators, and the State Department has not handed over requested documents. Democrats are responding with subpoenas and will look to the courts to referee.

Fewer migrants at southern border after historic surge » The number of arrests at the U.S. southern border in the last fiscal year was one of the highest on record. Acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan announced the numbers at the White House. 

MORGAN: CBP’s enforcement actions on the Southwest border totaled nearly 1 million in fiscal year 2019. 

The fiscal year ended September 30th. 

But Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that measures designed to curb the surge on the border appear to be working. Border officials detained about 52,000 migrants at the border last month. That’s down about 65 percent from May’s peak of about 144,000. 

MCALEENAN: The number one change has been the partnerships we’ve been able to establish with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to stop the human smuggling. 

McAleenan also said detention facilities at the border have vastly improved.

In June, Congress passed a bill providing nearly $5 billion to address what had become a humanitarian crisis at the border. 

California utility shuts off power amid wildfire risk » Residents in Northern California stocked up on water, food, and gasoline ahead of the largest planned blackout in the state’s history. 

Summer heat stretching into fall along with swirling winds put the region at a high risk for wildfires. So to keep its equipment from sparking a fire, Pacific Gas and Electric temporarily shut off power Wednesday to nearly 800,000 customers.

PG&E’s Sumeet Singh said the company did not make this decision lightly. 

SINGH: This is the measure of last resort, and given the extreme nature of what has been forecasted, we think this the appropriate approach from a risk reduction perspective to, again, ensure the continuous safety of our customers and our communities.

PG&E is shutting of power in stages, depending on the weather in each area. The blackout may last up to five days. And it could expand the blackout to Southern California as well.

Ecuadorian president moves government amid street protests » In Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno has moved his government out of the capital city of Quito as angry protesters clash with security forces. 

AUDIO: [Sound of protests]

WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Protesters marched outside the National Assembly and other government buildings, waving flags and shouting. Some demonstrators threw rocks at government forces, who fired tear gas into the crowd. 

Marchers took to the streets last week after the government scrapped fuel subsidies that cost more than a billion dollars each year. Fuel prices spiked by more than 100 percent. 

Students and indigenous people joined the violent protests that started with transport workers. Authorities arrested more than 500 people and imposed a state of emergency.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Developers of lithium-ion batteries win Nobel » Three men won the Nobel Prize this week for their roles in pioneering the lithium-ion battery. 

An engineering professor at the University of Texas became the oldest person ever to win a Nobel Prize. John B. Goodenough is 97 years old. 

GOODENOUGH: Life is a journey and I’m very grateful for the invitation I had to come to the University of Oxford and pretend I was a chemist. [laughs] 

He shares the prize for chemistry with two other men: British-American chemistry professor M. Stanley Wittingham and Japanese scientist Akira Yoshino. Both are in their 70s.

Each made a separate breakthrough contributing to the capacity, safety, and usability of the batteries.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump tours a section of the southern border wall, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif. 

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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