Friday morning news – August 7, 2020

Beirut struggles in aftermath of devastating blasts » Beirut remains a city on its knees following Tuesday’s devastating explosions at a port warehouse. More than a quarter of a million people in the city are now homeless and hospitals are overwhelmed. 

Dr. Firas Abiad is director of a hospital just outside of Lebanon’s capital. He said the blasts have stacked one crisis on top of another with intensive care beds now unavailable to COVID-19 patients. 

ABIAD: Some of those ICU’s which could have been allocated to COVID patients now have been diverted to treating casualties from the explosion. 

At least 137 people are dead and more than 5,000 are injured. 

A small explosion was followed by a massive blast that shot a mushroom cloud into the sky and sent shockwaves rippling miles inland with the force of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. 

Hans Bederski is Lebanon National Director for World Vision. He said the destruction of the port is crippling some relief efforts. 

BEDERSKI: Most of the non-perishable foods are imported goods and the majority of them were coming through the port. Now that severely impacts our operations and our ability to continue providing food assistance to the most vulnerable. 

The European Union said it’s activating its civil protection system to send firefighters and rescue equipment to Beirut. 

Officials are still investigating the storage of nearly 3,000 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate at the port. Authorities placed several port officials under house arrest over reports of negligence. 

Unemployment claims dip slightly » The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims dipped last week. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department reported Thursday that almost 1.2 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week—fewer than expected. That’s a 15 percent drop from the week before and the lowest since the beginning of coronavirus lockdowns.  

But it also marks the 20th straight week more than a million Americans have applied for unemployment. During the Great Recession in the early 2000s, weekly jobless claims never topped 700,000.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Trump visits Ohio plant, signs executive order to buy essential medical supplies in U.S. » President Trump visited the critical battleground state of Ohio Thursday—a state he easily won in 2016. 

Trump touted economic prosperity America enjoyed before the pandemic. And he told workers at a Whirlpool plant that he’s the right man to lead the economic recovery. He told them he’ll “stand up to the foreign trade cheaters and violators” and took a shot at his Democratic rival. 

TRUMP: Joe Biden’s policies put China first and America last, and that’s what he’ll continue to do if he ever got the shot.

While in Ohio, the president signed an executive order. It directs the federal government to buy certain drugs and medical supplies from American manufacturers rather than foreign companies. 

The order instructs the government to develop a list of “essential” medicines and then buy them and other medical supplies solely from U.S. manufacturers.

Ohio Gov. tests positive for COVID-19 » The president was supposed to meet with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in Cleveland Thursday, but that didn’t happen. That’s because just hours earlier, the Republican governor tested positive for COVID-19.

His office said he took the test as part of standard protocol before meeting Trump at an airport. 

His office said the 73-year-old DeWine had no symptoms, but returned to Columbus where he plans to quarantine at his home for at least two weeks. 

NYC prosecutor sought records from Trump’s bank » The New York prosecutor who has been fighting, unsuccessfully so far, to get President Trump’s tax returns reportedly had better luck last year getting a bank to turn over his financial records. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance sent a subpoena last year to Deutsche Bank as part of its probe of Trump’s business dealings. That according to The New York Times.

The bank reportedly complied with the subpoena, turning over records including financial statements Trump gave the bank when he was borrowing money.

The Democratic prosecutor was among several officials in New York who launched investigations last year. That after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, claimed Trump made a practice of misleading tax officials about the value of his assets.

Vance also asked Trump’s accountants to hand over eight years of his personal and corporate tax records. The accounting firm has yet to comply amid an ongoing court battle.

Trump has said Vance’s investigation and other Democrat-led probes are politically motivated.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA » New York’s attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to put the group out of business. 

Latita James, a Democrat, has accused high-ranking NRA executives of diverting millions of dollars for questionable spending, including luxurious personal trips.

JAMES: For these years of fraud and misconduct we are seeking an order to dissolve the NRA in its entirety. 

James’ lawsuit alleges misspending and self-dealing by the NRA and its longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre. 

At the same time, Washington, D.C.’s, attorney general sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the group designed to provide programs for firearm safety. That suit accused the foundation of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by its top execs.

James said the issues started to come to light as the NRA’s deficit piled up and it struggled to find its footing after a spate of mass shootings eroded its support. The organization went from a nearly $28 million surplus in 2015 to a $36 million deficit in 2018.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Whirlpool Corporation facility in Clyde, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. 

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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