Wednesday News: Lock him up!


CONGRESS BEGINS FORMAL IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY OF DONALD TRUMP: Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives opened a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Tuesday. North Carolina’s three Democrats in the House have supported an impeachment inquiry for months. Trump’s handling of foreign aid to Ukraine and whether he held it up to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter are at the heart of the latest impeachment debate. “The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said.

UNC BOG CHAIR HARRY SMITH TO RESIGN, BUT WILL REMAIN ON BOARD: Harry Smith, chairman of the University of North Carolina system's Board of Governors, announced Tuesday he is stepping down as chair, but will remain on the board. Smith's resignation is effective Oct. 1. “It just takes a ton of time and effort,” he said, explaining that the politics of the job have worn him down, as well as the ongoing conflict over the "Silent Sam" Confederate statue at UNC's flagship campus in Chapel Hill. Smith also said he started a private equity business about three months ago, and he has two other businesses as well that require his attention. “It all works on you,” he said. Smith was appointed to the Board of Governors in 2013 and was elected chairman of the 24-member board last year. His four-year term on the board ends in 2021. He said he's leaving now instead of serving through next July 1, when his two-year term would be up, to give whomever is hired as the new system president continuity. He said he would support current vice-chairman Randall Ramsey as his replacement.

NC AG JOSH STEIN JOINS LAWSUIT IN SUPPORT OF CALIFORNIA'S VEHICLE EMISSIONS STANDARDS: California had a waiver that allowed it to impose requirements on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles that are more stringent than the federal government’s. The Trump administration revoked the waiver last week, the Sacramento Bee and other media outlets reported. California and other states sued. “Our office joined this lawsuit to support states’ authority to fight climate change and protect public health,” Laura Brewer, spokeswoman for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, said in an email Tuesday. Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s standards, according to the The Washington Post and other media outlets. North Carolina is not one of them. In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration is considering a clean energy plan that includes strategies for increasing registered electric vehicles in the state to 80,000 by 2025, The News & Observer has reported.

RUDY GIULIANI WAS THE MAJOR DRIVER OF THE UKRAINE FIASCO: “Rudy — he did all of this,” one U.S. official said. “This s---show that we’re in — it’s him injecting himself into the process.” The former New York mayor appears to have seen Zelensky, a political neophyte elected president of Ukraine in April and sworn in in May, as a potential ally on two political fronts: punishing those Giuliani suspected of playing a role in exposing the Ukraine-related corruption of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and delivering political ammunition against Biden. After the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election, Giuliani turned his attention to Ukraine, officials said, and soon began pushing for personnel changes at the embassy while seeking meetings with Zelensky subordinates. He also had his own emissaries in Ukraine who were meeting with officials, setting up meetings for him and sending back information that he could circulate in the United States. In Washington, officials outside Trump’s inner circle who were dismayed by Yovanovitch’s ouster reacted with growing alarm and confusion over Giuliani’s subsequent activities. Then-national security adviser John Bolton was outraged by the outsourcing of a relationship with a country struggling to survive Russian aggression, officials said. But by then his standing with Trump was strained, and neither he nor his senior aides could get straight answers about Giuliani’s agenda or authority, officials said. Bolton declined to comment.

CLIMATE CHANGE'S EFFECTS ON OCEANS ARE DEVASTATING, U.N. REPORT REVEALS: Earth’s oceans are under severe strain from climate change, a major new United Nations report warns, threatening everything from the ability to harvest seafood to the well-being of hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts. Rising temperatures are contributing to a drop in fish populations in many regions, and oxygen levels in the ocean are declining while acidity levels are on the rise, posing risks to important marine ecosystems, according to the report issued Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking. In addition, warmer ocean waters, when combined with rising sea levels, threaten to fuel ever more powerful tropical cyclones and floods, the report said, further imperiling coastal regions and worsening a phenomenon that is already contributing to storms like Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston two years ago. The potential for these heat waves to wreak havoc in coastal communities is already becoming noticeable in areas like the North Pacific Ocean, where what became known as a “blob” of unusually hot water in 2013 and 2014, partly fueled by global warming, killed thousands of seabirds and helped spawn toxic algae blooms that forced fisheries to close down from California to British Columbia. Last year, officials in the Gulf of Alaska had to reduce permitted cod catches by 80 percent to allow stocks to rebuild in the wake of the heat wave, roiling the local fishing industry.