Start Here: Puerto Rico braces for Tropical Storm Dorian and Brazil rejects G-7 aid
It’s Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Let’s start here.
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1. Puerto Rico in the path
Tropical Storm Dorian is barreling toward Puerto Rico today, nearly two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory.
Tens of thousands of Puerto Rican homes are still covered with blue tarps and there are concerns about how the island’s power grid will handle possible hurricane conditions, according to ABC News’ Victor Oquendo, who joins “Start Here” from Puerto Rico.
“Puerto Rico’s power grid, while it has been beefed up and it’s improved … it’s still very fragile,” he says. “A storm, no matter what strength, could put that thing at risk.”
The U.S. territory has already declared a state of emergency and Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez said more than 7,400 generators and three mega generators are on the island. Dorian is expected to move through Puerto Rico today and toward the Dominican Republic later tonight.
2. Amazon inferno
President Donald Trump is backing Brazil‘s Jair Bolsonaro after he faced criticism for rejecting $20 million in aid pledged by the G-7 to save the Amazon rain forest from massive fires.
“He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!”
I have gotten to know President @jairbolsonaro well in our dealings with Brazil. He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!
Nearly 2 million acres of the “lungs of the world” have been destroyed by the rapidly spreading flames and scientists are fearful of the fires potentially changing the nature of the habitat, according to ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman.
“They will char so much area, so much forest that it’ll put Brazil, or parts of Brazil, past a tipping point turning forest into savanna,” he says. “That’s a major concern here.”
3. Epstein’s accusers speak
More than a dozen alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein shared their stories in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday with many urging prosecutors to “finish what you have started” as the accused sex trafficker’s criminal case is closed in the wake of his death.
“The reckoning must not end, it must continue,” said Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an alleged victim of Epstein who said she was “recruited” as a teenager. “He did not act alone. We trust the government is listening and the others will be brought to justice.”
Prosecutors vowed in court to pursue charges against any co-conspirators.
Epstein’s lawyers called on the judge to launch an investigation into their client’s death, criticizing conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he died by suicide. Prosecutors said there’s an ongoing active investigation by a Southern District of New York and FBI team, as well as a grand jury investigation.
4. Trade theft case
A former Google executive is facing charges of trade secret theft for allegedly stealing Google’s self-driving car technology and giving it to Uber.
Anthony Levandowski is accused of removing thousands of files from Google’s autonomous car program before leaving the company without prior notice, according to federal officials. He has denied he stole secret documents.
“What this really shows is the underbelly and dark world of Silicon Valley dealings,” ABC News’ Alex Stone tells the podcast. “The competition is fierce, especially with autonomous vehicles.”
Uber is not facing charges and has been cooperating in the case, investigators said.
‘I am actually considering it’: U.S. women’s national team star Carli Lloyd tells “Good Morning America” in an interview airing Wednesday that she’s considering trying out for a role as a kicker in the NFL after she became a viral sensation when video emerged of her kicking a 55-yard field goal at a Philadelphia Eagles practice.
‘Answering can run afoul’: Deutsche Bank revealed in a filing in a New York court that tax returns are among the financial records the bank has that are related to a congressional probe of President Donald Trump, his children and his businesses.
‘They are restoring friendliness to the hospitality industry’: An ice cream shop in Dallas is run mostly by 13 employees, ages 16 to 31, who all have special needs, after the company’s founder came up with an idea to employ those with Down syndrome and autism.
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