Wednesday morning news – August 5, 2020


Deadly explosions rock Beirut » AUDIO: [Explosion]

Multiple explosions rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, killing at least 63 people and injuring thousands. 

As residents of Lebanon’s capital city looked on at the first explosion from what they thought was a safe distance—a more powerful blast occurred, shooting a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. 

AUDIO: [Explosion]

The blast overturned cars and blew out windows for miles. The death toll is likely to rise as officials sift through the rubble. 

AUDIO: [Sirens]

Hours later, ambulances still carried away the wounded as army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.

The sudden devastation overwhelmed a country already struggling with both the coronavirus and an economic crisis. Beirut hospitals quickly filled beyond capacity, pleading for blood supplies and generators to keep their lights on.

Early reports blamed the explosions on a fire at a warehouse for fireworks, but other reports refuted that claim. Officials are still investigating the cause.

Isaias kills at least four people » Tropical Storm Isaias killed at least four people on Tuesday as it spawned tornadoes and dumped heavy rain along the East Coast.

Isaias made landfall in North Carolina, where Governor Roy Cooper told reporters…

COOPER: The storm ripped ashore with 85-mile-per-hour winds and storm surge of 3 to 5 feet, leaving behind a trail of damage. 

Two people died when a tornado rampaged through a North Carolina mobile home park. Authorities said two others were killed by falling trees toppled by the storm in Maryland and New York City.

The National Hurricane Center also warned Tuesday of flash flood threats in New York’s Hudson River Valley and moderate river flooding elsewhere in the region. 

Republicans and Democrats continue combative coronavirus relief talks » Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday struck a slightly more optimistic tone about ongoing talks for a new coronavirus relief bill. 

SCHUMER: We came closer together on several issues. However, we remain far apart on a number of issues. But we’re finally moving in the right direction. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the closer we get to the November election, the harder it is to get both sides together, but no one’s giving up. 

MCCONNELL: It’s not going to produce a Kumbaya moment like we had in March or April where everybody voted aye, but the American people in the end need help. 

Republican Senator Pat Roberts Tuesday said he’d back a food stamp benefit increase and said agreement on that point could help lead to compromise with Democrats. 

Trump signs Great American Outdoors Act » While lawmakers still can’t agree on a new stimulus package, many of them did agree on the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act. The legislation allocates nearly $3 billion a year for conservation projects, outdoor recreation, and maintenance of national parks and other public lands. 

President Trump signed the bill into law on Tuesday. 

TRUMP: This is a very big deal. And from an environmental standpoint and from just a beauty of our country standpoint, there hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect. 

The law requires full, mandatory funding of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the maintenance backlog facing America’s national parks and public lands. 

The House and Senate both cleared the bill by overwhelming margins earlier this year.  

DOJ awards $35 million in grants to provide housing to human trafficking victims » Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday announced $35 million of grants to groups that help victims of human trafficking. 

BARR: These grants, the first ever federal program dedicated exclusively to providing housing for survivors of human trafficking, are part of approximately $100 million dollars that the department anticipates awarding this year to combat human trafficking.

Barr heard there during an event at the White House, alongside presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and members of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. 

Tonya Gould is one of those council members and a trafficking survivor. 

GOULD: Immediately following our trafficking experience, we need a safe place where no one needs anything from us because so much has been taken. 

Seventy-three organizations will share the grants to provide up to two years of housing assistance to survivors. That will include funds to pay rent, utilities, or related expenses. 

The money can also be used to provide counseling and help victims find permanent housing and a job.

Statue of Rev. Bill Graham to stand in Capitol’s Statuary Hall » A statue of the late Rev. Billy Graham will soon join the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol. 

More than 100 statues are scattered throughout the Capitol—two notable people from each state. Graham’s likeness will replace that of former North Carolina Governor Charles Aycock, who was a white supremacist. Both the state and the federal government want to remove it. 

A sculptor is now working on a life-size statue of Graham. It will be installed sometime next year.


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) President Donald Trump signs the H.R. 1957 – “The Great American Outdoors Act,” in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Washington. 

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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