Thursday morning news – May 21, 2020

Flood waters overtake Michigan dams » Record high flood waters have overtaken dams in central Michigan, sending a wall of water downstream and forcing 10,000 people to flee the area.

Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd told WJRT… 

DODD: We have a substation at the mouth of Sanford Lake that leads into the Tittabawassee River and that is totally underwater. 

The Weather Service urged anyone near the river to seek higher ground following “catastrophic dam failures.” The affected structures are the Edenville Dam, about 140 miles north of Detroit and the Sanford Dam, about 7 miles downriver.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer told reporters Wednesday…

WHITMER: Experts are describing this as a 500-year event. It’s going to have a major impact on this community and on our state for the time to come. 

The Tittabawassee River crested in Midland County last night around 38 feet. That topped the previous flood record of 34 feet set in 1986.

Whitmer said the state will investigate Boyce Hydro Power, which operates the dams. 

Pompeo says firing of State Dept IG was not retaliation » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged on Wednesday that he asked President Trump to fire the State Department’s inspector general. But he pushed back against allegations that his recommendation was retribution.

POMPEO: There are claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general’s office was engaged in. That is patently false. I had no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the inspector general’s office. 

The probe reportedly centered on allegations that he may have mistreated staffers by instructing them to run personal errands for him.

President Trump fired Steve Linick on Friday. Pompeo did not provide specific reasons for his recommendation.

The secretary also took a shot at the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, saying leaks and allegations were coming from his office. He noted that Menendez was once prosecuted by the Justice Department on corruption charges, but his trial ended in a hung jury in 2018.

POMPEO: That’s not someone I look to for ethics guidance. 

Menendez said Pompeo is trying to distract the public and that the secretary faces an investigation—quote—“into this improper firing and into his attempt to cover up his inappropriate and possibly illegal actions.”

India, Bangladesh slammed with powerful cyclone » A powerful cyclone slammed the coasts of India and Bangladesh Wednesday, and experts warn it could trigger a humanitarian crisis. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: More than two-and-a-half million people fled to shelters in a frantic evacuation made even more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cyclone Amphan is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Bay of Bengal. It pounded the shore with heavy rains, powerful storm surge, and winds greater than 100 miles per hour.

The region, with 58 million people, is home to some of the most vulnerable groups in South Asia: poor fishing communities and over a million Rohingya refugees living in crowded camps in southern Bangladesh.

Relief organizations say the one-two punch of the storm and the coronavirus could trigger a humanitarian crisis. Many are forced to huddle together in shelters, risking a wider outbreak of the virus.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Planned Parenthood affiliates reportedly received $80 million from Paycheck Protection Act » Planned Parenthood affiliates reportedly received $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program meant to help small businesses. 

Affiliates of organizations with more than 500 employees are not eligible for the loans, which are part of the $2 trillion CARES Act.

The Small Business Administration is now asking each of those affiliates to repay the money.

And Republican Senator Marco Rubio is one of multiple lawmakers calling for an investigation into how Planned Parenthood was approved for a loan in the first place. 

RUBIO: How did somebody at SBA approve this knowing that it violated the affiliation rules. It’s as simple as that. And that’s a question that we’re going to ask. Beyond the politics, they do not qualify for this loan. 

Rubio said if Planned Parenthood, the local banks, or staff at the Small Business Administration knowingly violated the law—quote—“all appropriate legal options should be pursued.”

Johnson & Johnson pulls talc off shelves in U.S., Canada » Johnson & Johnson is ending sales of its iconic talc-based Baby Powder in the United States and Canada. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story.

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER:  Demand for Johnson’s Baby Powder has dwindled amid thousands of lawsuits claiming it causes cancer. 

In a statement, the company said declining sales have been—quote— “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

The company faces nearly 20,000 cases alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

Of the cases that have been tried, the company has had 12 wins, 15 losses, and seven mistrials. All of the losses have either been overturned on appeal or are still being appealed.

The company insists talc baby powder is safe. And it will keep selling it outside the U.S. and Candian markets. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) A view looking west on North Saginaw Road as the Tittabawassee River overflows, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Midland, Mich. 

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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