The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:00 am


Homelessness in California targeted

Wire Services

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has ordered White House officials to conduct a sweeping crackdown on homelessness in California, citing the state's growing crisis, according to four government officials aware of the effort.

The planning has intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use. It is also unclear whether the state's Democratic politicians would cooperate with Trump, who has sought to embarrass them over the homelessness crisis with repeated attacks on their competency.

Trump's directive is part of his broader effort to target California and a number of major U.S. cities in recent months, including Baltimore and Chicago.

He has complained about what he says are years of failed Democratic leadership that have led to sustained poverty and crime.

EPA moves to end mammal testing

The Environmental Protection Agency is aiming to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mammals to test the toxicity of chemicals, a move backed by animal rights groups but criticized as irresponsible by a leading environmental organization.

A directive signed Tuesday by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that “scientific advancements exist today” that permit the agency to better predict potential hazards to humans while reducing or avoiding animal testing.

The plan approved by Wheeler said the EPA will cut back on its requests for and spending on mammal studies by 30% by 2025 and eliminate all requests and funding for animal testing by 2035.

The agency did not immediately provide information about how much it spends on animal testing or how extensive it is. 

Among the options to animal testing that Wheeler mentioned are computer modeling and in vitro methods, which involves tests using human cells and tissues.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement that it's a mistake to scale back animal testing, which can help scientists discover life-saving treatments and identify chemicals harmful to people and the environment. 

Ex-FEMA officials, another arrested

Federal authorities said Tuesday they have arrested two former officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the former president of a major disaster relief contractor, accusing them of bribery and fraud in the efforts to restore electricity to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The U.S. attorney's office in Puerto Rico said that Donald Keith Ellison, the then-president of Cobra Acquisitions LLC, gave FEMA's deputy regional director airline flights, hotel accommodations, personal security services and the use of a credit card.

In return, Ahsha Nateef Tribble “used any opportunity she had to benefit Cobra,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, including accelerating payments to the company and pressuring local power authority officials to award it contracts.

Ellison also gave a job to a friend of Tribble, Jovanda R. Patterson, who had been FEMA deputy chief of staff in Puerto Rico before resigning in July 2018 to work for Cobra Energy LLC, according to the indictment. 

Approval rating for Trump falls

President Donald Trump is ending a tumultuous summer with his approval rating slipping back from a July high as Americans express widespread concern about the trade war with China and a majority of voters now expect a recession within the next year, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Trump's approval rating among voting-age Americans stands at 38%, down from 44% in early July but similar to 39% in April, with 56% now saying they disapprove of his performance in office.

Among registered voters, 40% say they approve of Trump, while 55% disapprove.

Trump's handling of trade negotiations with China is a particularly weak spot, with 35% in the new poll approving of him on this issue and 56% disapproving.

And 6 in 10 people think a recession is at least somewhat likely in the next year.

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