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5 things to know for August 22: Trump, mass shootings, Giuliani & Biden, wildfires

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One more day of heat and storms for the Northeast before a cold front brings a taste of autumn to the region and our next tropical system could form by this weekend.

Posted: Aug 22, 2019 9:40 AM
Updated: Aug 22, 2019 9:40 AM

If you've seen a message going around Instagram warning people about a privacy policy change, don't bother sharing. It's a hoax.

Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. President Trump 

Donald Trump's week of unusually controversial and contradictory statements rolls on. The President yesterday told reporters he is "seriously" considering ending US birthright citizenship, even though such a move would face immediate legal challenge and is at odds with Supreme Court precedent and, well, the 14th Amendment. This is far from the first time Trump has talked about ending the process by which babies born in the country automatically become citizens, and such hard-line anti-immigration proposals are popular with his base. What might not play as well? Using messianic language -- about yourself. Speaking to reporters at the White House about trade relations with China, Trump paused and pointed to the heavens, saying, "I'm the chosen one." He'd earlier thanked a conspiracy theorist who described him as being like the King of Israel and said Jews "love him like the second coming of God." He also joked to a group of veterans about giving himself the Medal of Honor, which recognizes the highest levels of military valor.

2. Foiled mass shootings  

The aftershocks of this month's mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso continue to reverberate in frightening ways. At least 27 people have been arrested over threats to commit mass attacks since the pair of shootings a few weeks ago. A significant number of these threats have come from teenagers making violent promises from the perceived anonymity of the internet, and several more credible threats were racially motivated: A 35-year-old man was arrested in Seattle after threatening to kill people and calling for the "extermination" of Hispanics, and a self-described white nationalist threatened to attack an Ohio-area Jewish center. After the two shootings in early August, the FBI announced it would ask agency offices nationwide to conduct new threat assessments to hopefully thwart more mass attacks. The agency said in a statement it was concerned extremists would see the attacks as an opportunity to "engage in similar acts of violence."

3. Rudy Giuliani 

It appears Rudy Giuliani is still invested in getting the Ukrainian government to investigate President Trump's political enemies. The former New York City mayor said he spoke with a Ukrainian official about 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden's possible role in that government's dismissal of a prosecutor who investigated Biden's son. Giuliani has directly pursued Ukrainian investigations into American politics for the better part of a year now, although he claims he hasn't done so at Trump's request. As for how that relates to the Biden situation, Giuliani has long been pressuring Ukraine to investigate a 2016 call Biden made to remove a prosecutor who at one point had been investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Biden's son, Hunter.

4. Officer shootings

In the last seven days, there have been several shootings of police spanning five states, from California to Pennsylvania. Luckily, none was fatal, but the cases have caught national attention and demonstrate the range of dangers officers face. The incidents unfolded in varying ways: a routine traffic stop in Texas, a deputy targeted by a sniper in California, a standoff in Missouri and a search warrant execution gone wrong in Illinois. Last week, police serving a narcotics warrant in Philadelphia were ambushed by a barrage of gunfire that left six officers wounded and sparked an eight-hour standoff; the suspect was eventually arrested.

5. Wildfires

Forest fires are ravaging two very different parts of the world. In Alaska, the McKinley Fire has now spread to more than 4,300 acres and destroyed at least 80 structures. It's one of more than 50 wildfires burning throughout the country right now (summer is peak wildfire season in the US.) An even more ominous blaze is tearing through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Fires are raging at a record rate in the region, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. The Amazon is the largest rainforest on the planet and produces 20% of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. As trees fall to the fires, so too does the source of that oxygen. The forest is also home to uncountable species of plants and animals, all threatened by the blaze. There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region. That's more than 80% more than the same period last year.


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