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September 4, 2019

Ireland should be very, very green by 2040.

In June, the government released its climate action plan, which proposed the planting of new trees to capture carbon emissions. The Irish Times reported over the weekend that the government has an ambitious target: to plant 22 million trees a year over the next two decades, for a total of 440 million trees by 2040.

The government is asking farmers to join the cause and let Dublin use some of their farmland for future tree planting. Along with planting more trees, the government's plan also calls for more people to use electric vehicles, with the goal of having almost one million on the road by 2030. Catherine Garcia

5:17 p.m.

The early results of Israel's elections are in, but the country's future seemingly remains almost as uncertain as it did when the day began, aside from the fact that Israeli Prime Minister's bargaining power appears to have weakened.

Initial exit polls Tuesday reportedly indicate Netanyahu failed to secure a parliamentary majority. And while Israel's three major television stations had challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party holding a slight lead over Netanyahu's Likud party, neither will reportedly be able to control a majority in the Knesset — at least without the support of former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, which refused to join Netanyahu's coalition in April. Lieberman may very well end up playing the role of kingmaker, Reuters reports, as the predictions that his party should capture somewhere between eight and 10 seats means he'd have the ability to form a coalition.

He reportedly wants to forge a unity government with Blue and White and Likud, though if he were to sign off on it, the government would reportedly have to exclude ultra-Orthodox parties, whose influence Lieberman is seeking to limit. Gantz has also ruled out participating in an administration with Netanyahu if the latter is indicted on corruption chargers. Basically, there's no easy path to a government at the moment.

Israel's exit polls can be imprecise, The Associated Press reports, but the consensus among the three stations implies that the forecasts might hold true. If that's the case, complicated political maneuvering could ensue while Netanyahu remains a caretaker prime minister. Read more at The Associated Press and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

5:00 p.m.

President Trump's border wall is putting archaeological discoveries at risk before they're even discovered.

Trump's border wall has jeopardized several government projects as he aims to drain military projects to fund its construction. It has raised protests from environmental groups who say it'll run through wildlife refuges. And as an internal National Park Service report obtained by The Washington Post reveals, it's likely to destroy or damage 22 unexcavated sites containing artifacts of the ancient Sonoran Desert peoples.

The sites in question are all within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 330,000-acre area of protected wilderness that sits along the Arizona-Mexico border. It has been home to "desert-dwelling peoples" for at least 16,000 years and contains well-preserved artifacts thanks to its arid environment, the Post reports. There's currently a five-foot vehicle barrier along that section of the border, but Trump plans to turn it into a 30-foot steel wall. Two miles of that wall surrounding a border crossing in Lukeville, Arizona have already been built.

In its report, the National Park Service says some archaeological areas have already been damaged as the Trump administration's amped-up enforcement measures lead border patrol agents to drive recklessly through Organ Pipe Cactus. If construction continues, experts warn damage could get even worse. The several salt springs in the monument area could also dry up if groundwater is pumped to build the concrete wall, NPS continued.

CBP said it looked at "most" of the archaeological sites in question and said just five are within 60 feet of the proposed border area, and that only one showed signs of artifacts buried nearby. Read more at The Washington Post, and find the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:48 p.m.

Corey Lewandowski didn't even wait until the end of his congressional testimony Tuesday before launching a website for his potential 2020 Senate bid.

President Trump's former campaign manager appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday for its first official impeachment hearing, mostly declining to answers Democrats' questions. During a break at one point, Lewandowski tweeted a link to a brand new website promoting the campaign for Senate he has been publicly mulling. Although Lewandowski asks his followers to "sign up now," the website he links to highlights no clear place to do so, which sort of defeats the purpose of the plug.

On the website right now is just a picture of Trump and Lewandowski with Trump's quote that Lewandowski "would be fantastic" in the Senate, a quote Trump gave in an interview last month, although the president has not actually officially offered an endorsement. Lewandowski would be running in New Hampshire against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Along with the website, the Super PAC Stand with Corey has also been filed with the Federal Election Commission.

As the hearing resumed, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) slammed Lewandowski by reminding him that "this is not a Republican primary campaign" but a congressional hearing and he should "act like you know the difference." Still, later in the hearing, Lewandowski dropped a reference to "maybe someday" being in "the upper chamber" of Congress. Brendan Morrow

3:33 p.m.

Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez was arrested in Pittsburgh on felony charges of pornography and soliciting, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Tuesday.

The FDLE's investigation reportedly began in August after the department obtained information that Vazquez allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in Lee County, Florida, and that the pitcher continued the relationship by texting with the minor, who is now 15-years-old.

The police affidavit, obtained by ESPN, says the girl's mother found texts, photographs, and a graphic video sent by Vazquez on her daughter's phone.

Vasquez has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball, although ESPN reports that the league will not launch an immediate investigation into the matter because it plans to use the police's findings in pursuing discipline for Vazquez. Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, said the franchise is taking the matter "extremely seriously," but no one involved in the organization can comment any further since it's an ongoing legal proceeding.

The news comes at the end of what turned out to be a nightmare season for the Pirates, who have been dealing with numerous locker issues, including a fight between Vazquez and fellow reliever Kyle Crick, which, in light of the severity of Vazquez's charges, now seems trivial. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

2:57 p.m.

Edward Snowden's book, Permanent Record, was only released Tuesday, but it's already causing trouble for the author.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit the same day against Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked classified information from the NSA in 2013. The lawsuit is centered on Snowden publishing the memoir without approval, which the Justice Department is alleging violates non-disclosure agreements Snowden signed with the government.

The point of the lawsuit, however, is not to prevent the the publication or the distribution of the book; the Justice Department just wants to make sure Snowden doesn't get paid for it. Therefore, the department is seeking the proceeds Snowden earns from the book's sales. "Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit," G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. "This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him."

Permanent Record reportedly reveals new details about Snowden's decision to steal files from the NSA's collection of phone and internet metadata and release them to journalists. Read more at The Washington Post and NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

2:35 p.m.

Corey Lewandowski came to Capitol Hill Tuesday to passionately defend President Trump while dodging congressional Democrats' questions, and Trump appears to be loving it.

Trump's former campaign manager testified Tuesday as part of the House Judiciary Committee's first official impeachment hearing, in his opening statement nostalgically recalling the president's decision to "ride down the golden escalator" in 2015. Lewandowski said it was an "honor and a privilege" to be a part of Trump's "historic campaign," even getting in a dig at Hillary Clinton with a reference to deleted emails and claiming there has been "harassment of this president from the day he won the election."

As the hearing proceeded, Lewandowski frustrated Democrats like Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) by dodging basic questions, such as whether he met with Trump in the White House in June 2017, by asking for specific citations and quotes from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. The White House had directed Lewandowski to not provide information outside of the Mueller report, although Lewandowski was never actually a White House employee. At one point, Lewandowski asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) to repeat a question because "I didn't hear it. Just a rant."

Much of what Lewandowski said sure seemed to be directed at Trump himself, who was indeed watching and tweeted his approval for the "beautiful" opening statement, which he subsequently posted a video of. Lewandowski is currently mulling a 2020 Senate run, which he used a pre-hearing tweet to plug Tuesday morning. Trump previously expressed his support for the potential campaign, saying Lewandowski is "terrific on television." Brendan Morrow

1:50 p.m.

Bing Dwen Dwen is here, and he's surprisingly not frozen to death.

On Tuesday, Beijing unveiled its mascot for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Bing Dwen Dwen is a uncharacteristically round panda who, despite being encased in a transparent ice suit, can somehow move well enough to be expert at every winter Olympic sport out there.

Bing Dwen Dwen comes with a superhero-esque backstory, told through a wordless animated video. After plunging through a mysterious glowing orb that came from space, Bing Dwen Dwen emerges in his ice suit with the ability to fly, soars through some winter Olympic events, and shoots off into the galaxy to deliver what's presumably world peace to an astronaut.

Bing Dwen Dwen's introduction comes as the objectively boring mascots Miraitowa and Someity gear up for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Bing Dwen Dwen is undoubtedly an improvement, but no matter how bright his eyes sparkle, he only wishes he could be as adorable as PyeongChang 2018's mascot Soohorang. Kathryn Krawczyk

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