5 things for September 19: Trade, Kavanaugh, Korea summit, Cameroon, Tesla

Posted at 4:21 AM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-19 06:40:44-04

Nearly 10.7 million teens are at risk for e-cigarette use and potential addiction, and now the FDA is trying to combat the fad by putting awareness posters in high school bathrooms across the country. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Trade war

Prepare for another round of tariff-swapping in the ongoing trade escalation between the US and China. Starting next week, President Trump will impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. That’s the biggest round of tariffs so far, and it will affect consumer goods ranging from dishwashers to Fitbit fitness trackers to food seasonings. China is expected to respond with tariffs worth $60 billion. This tit-for-tat has worried investors for a while, but now some are REALLY starting to get uncomfortable. US markets are up right now, but a new pair of investor surveys show some experts think the US economy — and the global economy in general — will slow down soon. The CEO of FedEx isn’t happy about the trade scuffle either. He told analysts this week that the US-China trade spat “is worrisome to everyone.”

2. Brett Kavanaugh

There’s been another major twist to the Kavanaugh confirmation saga. The SCOTUS nominee’s accuser now says she wants the FBI involved. Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers in the 1980s, said yesterday in a letter that their client is not prepared to testify in a public hearing that had been set for Monday unless the FBI first investigates her allegations. This raises the stakes for Republicans. Should they delay the confirmation, potentially setting themselves up for a big political defeat? Or should they move forward with the confirmation, say they gave Ford a chance to say her piece and risk appearing like they aren’t willing to respect a woman’s accusations against a powerful man?

3. North and South Korea

A breakthrough on the Korean peninsula: During a joint news conference today in Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to an “era of no war.” The leaders committed to a series of joint diplomatic efforts, and both countries’ defense chiefs signed an accord in which the two countries vowed to “cease all hostile acts against each other.” Also, the subject of nuclear de-escalation came up in a big way. South Korea announced that North Korea would close a key missile test facility in the presence of “international experts” and potentially destroy its primary nuclear complex — but only if the United States agrees to corresponding measures.

4. Cameroon

There’s been a “horrific escalation of violence” in the central African nation of Cameroon. About 400 civilians have been killed this year in attacks between armed separatist groups and security forces in English-speaking parts of the country, including cases of kidnapping and a beheading, Amnesty International said. Most people — and the central government — in Cameroon speak French, and English speakers say they’ve been marginalized in educational and legal systems. Some English speakers want to secede, but Cameroon’s government has alleged used its military to tamp down that sentiment.

5. Tesla 

It seems more troubles are on the way for Tesla and its embattled CEO, Elon Musk. The automaker said yesterday that the Justice Department is looking into a tweet sent by Musk last month about Tesla’s trading status. Musk tweeted that he was thinking about taking the company private, even naming a share price and saying he had the backing to do so. That never happened, but Tesla stock shot up right after his announcement. Some shareholders think he was intentionally trying to goose it. Meanwhile, a diver involved in July’s Thai cave rescue filed a defamation suit against Musk this week after Musk repeatedly and called the diver a “pedo” (that’s short for pedophile) on Twitter.


Merriam-Webster adds new words, including ‘rando,’ ‘hangry’ and ‘adorbs’

Don’t you love it when the dictionary makes you feel old?

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to Hurricane Florence relief

Jordan is a Bull, a GOAT* and a Tar Heel — he grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Stormy Daniels shares XXX-rated details of alleged Trump affair

Don’t click on this. You can live a full life without any of this information.

The new ‘Captain Marvel’ trailer is here

That sound you hear is the elated screams of millions of Marvel fans — and Marvel accountants.

Sesame Street: Bert and Ernie are not gay, they are puppets

We support B&E however they want to live their lives, but is Sesame Street trying to tell us puppets don’t have sexualities? What about Kermit and Miss Piggy?! Don’t make me Google “puppet romance” — because I WILL.

* “Greatest of All Time,” and yes, Merriam-Webster has that, too.


The President visits the Carolinas 

President Trump will visit Hurricane Florence-affected areas in North and South Carolina today, giving him a chance to flex some empathy and apolitical muscle.


“If Texas elects a Democrat, they’re going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas.”

Senator Ted Cruz, joking with his supporters after PETA showed up, unaffiliated with any candidate, to one of his campaign events offering samples of barbecued tofu



The amount a Massachusetts gas company is donating to a relief fund to help residents displaced by a series of gas explosions last week that burned 40 homes and businesses and killed one person. Columbia Gas is now facing a Senate inquiry and a class-action lawsuit.



I’ve been really into videos of people making stuff lately, but I don’t think we’re gonna find better than this guy, who makes an equine masterpiece out of glass in less than two minutes. (Click here to view.)