Monday Sunrise Briefs: G7 and the Amazon, drones, a pumice raft

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, sunrise briefing. 

Here are four news events that happened this weekend (while you were picnicking, or meteor watching, or pitching a tent at Burning Man, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to watch for in the news this week. 

REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
A burning tract of Amazon jungle in Porto Velho, Brazil August 25, 2019. Brazil deployed 44,000 troops to fight nearly 80,000 Amazon fires this weekend.

Seeking assurance: Is the U.S.-China trade war going to get worse? What about Brexit? Slowing economies and uncertainty about trade tariffs are feeding indecision by CEOs. This weekend, the Group of Seven leaders didn't reassure investors and businesses with much economic cooperation. But they did issue a statement of support for Brazil in battling wildfires in the Amazon, which scrubs the atmosphere of 25% of global carbon dioxide. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country and others will offer funds for reforestation in the Amazon once thousands of fires there have been extinguished. The G-7 is scheduled to end Monday.

2. Drones for security? Israeli fighter jets struck Syria Saturday night in what Israel described as a pre-emptive attack on "killer drones" supplied by Iran. On Sunday, two Israeli drones reportedly crashed in Beirut, triggering threats from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. There's been a rise in the use of drones in the Middle East because they risk no pilots and can be small enough to evade air-defense systems. The escalation coincides with growing tensions between Iran and the U.S., and Saudi Arabia. 

3. Path to progress? The struggle over how to best secure their demands – through peaceful or forceful means – played out in the streets of Hong Kong this weekend. After two weeks of relatively peaceful marches and strikes, pro-democracy protests turned violent, as demonstrators tested police resilience. Protesters charged riot police with sticks and rods, and threw stones and bricks. They were met with copious tear gas, and – for the first time – police drew handguns Sunday and fired a warning shot. They also used a water cannon. Chinese military troops stand ready nearby but most observers only expect their involvement if the Hong Kong authorities fail to negotiate or restore order. 

4. A healing pumice raft: A huge 58-square-mile raft of pumice, spewed into the Pacific from a volcano in Tonga, could help rescue the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Queensland University of Technology geologist Scott Bryan tells The Guardian that the raft will quickly become home to billions of marine organism as it drifts south. “Based on past pumice raft events we have studied over the last 20 years, it’s going to bring new healthy corals and other reef dwellers to the Great Barrier Reef,” Professor Bryan said.

REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy
Members of the African Queen Mothers participate in a sunrise service and spiritual cleansing ceremony Aug. 24, 2019 in Hampton, Virginia, in remembrance of the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Virginia of the first enslaved Africans.

Look ahead

Monday, Aug. 26

Opioid justice: An Oklahoma judge is expected to rule on whether Johnson & Johnson should be held liable in a $17 billion lawsuit by the state’s attorney general who argues the drugmaker is guilty of fueling the opioid epidemic.

Tuesday, Aug. 27

Bracing for Dorian? Tropical Storm Dorian could strengthen into a hurricane, and is currently forecast to pass near Puerto Rico with strong winds arriving by Tuesday evening. 

Wednesday, Aug. 28

A shrinking field: This is the last day for Democratic presidential candidates to qualify for the September TV debate. Candidates must receive contributions from at least 130,000 individuals, coming from at least 400 unique donors in 20 or more states. They also need to reach 2% in at least four DNC-approved polls. So far, only 10 candidates have qualified. 

Saturday, Aug. 31

Nurturing the Polish alliance: President Donald Trump and the first lady will leave for Poland to attend commemorative ceremonies and visit memorial sites in Warsaw on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. 

Generosity watch

Success starts with kindness: Kevin Lynch has made a few mistakes in life. Divorce. A felony conviction for mail fraud. And in 2012, it looked like opening a restaurant in Stony Point, New York, with inexperienced staff was going to be another mistake. “We were bad,” admits Lynch. But generosity turned it around.

First, Lynch’s restaurant gave free meals to four families staying at a nearby shelter. Then, they hosted a fundraiser to help an injured school teacher. Superstorm Sandy hit and Lynch’s was the only place in town with power, so people came to eat and charge their phones. 

Today, Lynch gives away about 200 free meals a year to struggling families and veterans. It sponsors some two dozen fundraisers a year. “We started with this idea,” Lynch told the Rockland/Westchester Journal News. “We don’t serve food. We serve the community. It changed everything about us.”

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor editors and readers: For these young socialists, it’s all about local control.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about African Americans digging into their ancestry 400 years after the first slaves arrived in the U.S.

Finally, the Monitor’s five best stories in Friday’s subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. NASA eyes the ocean: How the deep sea could unlock outer space
  2. Why Saudi-UAE alliance is cracking: Yemen, Iran, and Trump
  3. As trade war escalates, Iowa soybean country is front line
  4. Atlanta refused to give up on homelessness. It’s working.
  5. What does The Boss's music have to do with immigration?

This is a beta test. This is an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.