On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Primaries test Trump strength in Alaska, Wyoming
The former president has endorsed a number of candidates. Congressional reporter Ledge King looks at Rep. Liz Cheney’s chances against one of them. Plus, states take action as drought dries up rivers, national environmental reporter Dinah Voyles Pulver talks about a report on how temperatures are expected to rise over the next 30 years, R. Kelly faces another sex crimes trial and Tiger Woods pushes back on LIV Golf.
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Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 16th of August, 2022. Today, Trump at the center of primaries in Alaska and Wyoming, plus severe drought, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- President Joe Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act today. The bill includes record spending on clean energy initiatives along with measures to reduce prescription drug prices and a major tax overhaul.
- An 88-year old woman was killed in an alligator attack in South Carolina yesterday. It’s at least the fourth fatal gator attack in the US this year, and came after the woman slipped into a pond while gardening.
- And Deputy President William Ruto has been declared the winner of a narrow presidential election in Kenya over long-time opposition figure Raila Odinga. His campaign has signaled he may challenge the results.
It’s a primary Tuesday in Alaska and Wyoming today, and the presence of former President Donald Trump will again loom large. In Alaska voters will select nominees and primaries for senate, governor, and the state’s only House seat. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski faces a Trump-backed challenger after Murkowski voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial after the January 6th insurrection. The challenger, former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Shabaka, has spread false claims of election fraud. Meanwhile, former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, is back on an Alaska ballot today. She’s also backed by Trump, and finished first to qualify for a special election aimed at replacing Congressman Don Young, who died in March. Elsewhere, all eyes are on Wyoming and Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation.
Chaney has been an outspoken critic of Trump, and now faces a competitive primary challenge that she’s not expected to survive. Senior Congressional Reporter Ledge King has more with producer PJ Elliot.
This is probably, maybe unquestionably, the primary of the year, pitting Liz Cheney – a seasoned, veteran Wyoming Republican Congresswoman, who has a celebrated father, the former Vice President, Dick Chaney, who himself was a Congressman from Wyoming – against Donald Trump and his allies. She has been his chief protagonist within the Republican party. She’s on the January 6th Committee. She has been vocal about how she thinks he, meaning Trump, should no longer be, should hold office. She’s voted for his impeachment. She is just the most prominent figure of the anti-Trump force in the G O P.
The problem for her is that she is running in the state that gave Donald Trump his biggest victory in 2020. It is a state that has many Republicans who are sympathetic and supportive to Trump, and she is facing long odds to win reelection. She, according to most handicappers, prognosticators, analysts is going to lose and lose by a fairly significant margin. She will be aided by the fact that it is an open primary, which means that Democrats are allowed to cross over and vote for Cheney as a Republican. But there aren’t that many Democrats in Wyoming, and it’s, it doesn’t look like at this point, she has a great shot to win another term.
Has representative Cheney said what she plans on doing if she is to lose this primary?
No. She won’t speculate on something like that. Most politicians, most good politicians don’t venture into the what if I lose school of, or train of thought. At this point, she’s at least publicly talking about doing her best to win another term, and that’s what her focus has been. She’s not speculated on what happens after this. Plenty of other people have, but she hasn’t.
If Cheney were to lose, there is a lot of speculation that her political career would not be over. She’s been mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2024, or perhaps some other kind of activist role where she could continue espousing conservative principles, and at the same time, talk about how she doesn’t think Trump should be part of the GOP in the future. So, she’s a well known… she’s a national figure. She has the Cheney name. She has money. She’s raised an incredible amount of money here, which she could use for a presidential campaign if things go sour. She still has a lot of options, and I think a lot of people will still be interested to hear what she says, whether or not she wins this campaign.
Seven states are expected to draft a plan by today that would reduce the use of water supply from the Colorado River basin, and the federal government has threatened to intervene. The US Bureau of Reclamation, which owns and operates major dams and reservoirs in the country announced earlier this summer that the seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River basin for water supply had 60 days to agree on a plan to use less water. Droughts, linked to climate change, continue to severely strain water resources in the West, and drought is pushing further and further east too. In the Northeast climate change has often meant wetter weather, with rising sea levels and storm surge, but some areas are also experiencing serious drought this summer, as Brown University’s Timothy D. Herbert explains.
Timothy D. Herbert:
The context for this drought starts in the winter and spring. What we’ve had a pattern for the last several years is very little snowfall in the winter and very low rain in the spring. One of the things that the land surface does as the temperature get hotter is of course evaporate the water that was delivered in the winter and spring, and we haven’t been getting that for the last several years. So, we are sort of seeing a baked parched landscape. The earth is trying to cool. It’s evaporating that water, but there’s not a big reserve there to evaporate. So, we have drying soils, stress on agriculture, stress on drinking supply.
The pattern of these sustained droughts, lack of rainfall in the spring, small snow accumulation on our winters here does seem connected with this sort of lock jet that you may have heard of, this Arctic vortex that brings a big wave of atmospheric dry, cold air from the Arctic, but that air is so dry it hasn’t been giving us much snow in the winter, and then the spring that follows have been unusually dry. So, climate scientists associate this change in our weather patterns with the warming in the Arctic, which is clearly due to us.
As droughts continue in the US and in Europe, a new report shows just how dangerously high temperatures could increase over the next 30 years, and reveals a grim outlook for much of the country. National environmental reporter, Dinah Voyles Pulver has more with PJ Elliot.
Dinah Voyles Pulver:
The report looked at the hottest seven days in communities across the country, and looked at what the heat index is for those days. Heat index is a combination of temperature and humidity. In places like Miami, they see seven days a year with a heat index of 103.5. The report projected those forward using its climate model and determined that Miami could see as many as 34 days at a heat index of 103.5 in another 30 years. They also calculated the number of in increases that might be seen in counties across the country, so that even Glacier National Park will see more of their hottest days of the year, and Martha’s Vineyard could see more hot days. But the big concern, as far as some of the experts and the folks at First Street Foundation are concerned, was this big increase in the most intensely hot days in the Central US.
The Central US doesn’t have the benefits of the sea breezes that places like the Southeast or the West Coast do. Jeremy Porter with the First Street Foundation described the situation in the Central US like a big bowl. It’s a lower elevation, and they get heat from all sides, and they don’t have the kinds of ocean breezes that could bring down the heat content. So, a heat index that may not seem like a big deal in hotter parts of the country, say a 95 heat index, would be hotter there because people aren’t used to it. In Texas, Texas is used to seeing triple digit numbers. Arizona is used to seeing triple digit numbers. It gets up into the high 90s in some of those places in the Central US, and it just, it feels really hot to them, so they may not be as equipped.
One of the experts we talked to said folks in those areas may not have as much air conditioning available as we do in the South and other places where we’re used to getting that kind of intense heat.
So what do these projections mean?
Dinah Voyles Pulver:
The projections are based on a model, so their thinking is that a community could see two or three times the number of heat days that they do now. In some cases, those might be all in a row. So, consecutive heat days are a real concern as far as human health is concerned, because the body doesn’t have a chance to recover if it doesn’t get cooler at night. Gabriel Filippelli, the Executive Director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute was making the point that people can survive heat, hotter temperatures if it’s hot for a couple of days in a row, and then they get a break. If it’s hot for three or four days in a row, and they don’t get a break, it makes it more difficult for humans to be able to withstand that kind of heat, and the body systems may break down, especially in youth and people who are more vulnerable.
Jury selection continues today in the federal trial for disgraced R&B star R. Kelly. The trial opened yesterday in his hometown of Chicago, and centers on whether he threatened and paid off a girl with whom he allegedly videotaped having sex when he was around 30, and she was 14. Jurors in a 2008 child porn trial acquitted Kelly, and some leaders said that they felt they had no choice because the girl did not testify, but that’s different this time around. The woman, now in her 30s, will be the government’s star witness. The AP’s Michael Tarm has more.
In many ways, this trial is a do-over of a trial R. Kelly had in 2008 at which he was acquitted. He was acquitted of all child pornography charges at that time. This time, the key difference is the charges are a little different, and the main charge is that he and an associate tried to rig that 2008 trial by paying off key witnesses. One of those witnesses, who did not testify in 2008, is testifying at this trial. At the 2008 trial, that trial focused on one individual and one videotape. The individual, prosecutor said at the time, was a girl of no older than 14, who they say was videotaped having sex with R. Kelly. At that 2008 trial, she did not testify. She is testifying this time, and that could really be decisive.
Kelly has already been sentenced by a New York federal judge to 30 years in prison on charges that he used his fame to sexually abuse young girls.
Tiger Woods today is set to meet with a group of PGA tour players to talk about LIV Golf and it’s increasing encroachment on the tour status at the heart of pro golf. LIV is a competitor with the tour and is funded controversially by the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia. LIV has already taken a number of major golf stars away from the tour, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and others. Tiger will meet today with a number of top-20 ranked players. He’s already spoken out against LIV several times, including when he said Greg Norman, the breakaway tournament CEO has done things that he does not think are in the best interest of the game. USA TODAY Sports’ Andy Nesbitt has applauded many of Tiger’s comments.
For Tiger, the winner was getting $180,000 a week in the tournaments, now, from 1.2 to like 3.7. So, Tiger is the man responsible for all this, and it’s very personal for him to be in this, right? Like, all these guys leaving this tour and bashing this tour, it’s something that he built. So, there should be more respect to Tiger Woods. And I hope some of the younger guys listen to him and what he said, because there is a chance that some of these guys, we don’t know what’s going to happen down line. There’s a chance that some of these guys might not be able to play in majors, and those are the tournaments that matter the most. So, if these young guys miss out on this, they’re going to regret these decisions big time. So, it was great to hear Tiger speak out.
But others have said they see LIV as an opportunity to shake up pro golf, with huge paydays for players, and unique entertainment factors to bring in young fans, despite massive ethical questions with money from the Saudi Kingdom. For more on the debate, stay with USA TODAY Sports.
And you can find 5 Things every morning, right here, wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism