Beyond the Bricks: Week of 3/25


<strong>Russian Collusion Investigation Concludes with 300-Page Report

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and the allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign at the time. He has concluded that "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The quote, supplied by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, comes from a 300-page report of which Barr provided a brief summary for Congress on March 24, 2019, which can be found here.

While the document fails to find evidence of collusion, charges were brought up against members of the Trump administration, BBC News reports. Evidence of unreported meetings between Trump’s team and Russian officials was uncovered during the investigation. Barr quoted again from the Special Counsel to say that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” A public version of the report is expected to be released sometime within the next few weeks, according to The Associated Press.

Ongoing Crisis at U.S.-Mexico Border

On March 27, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Pressure (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan announced during a press conference that “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border.” Over 12,000 migrants were held in custody by CBP that week, twice the number of people considered to indicate a crisis level. that “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border.” Over 12,000 migrants were held in custody by CBP that week, twice the number of people considered to indicate a crisis level.

The agency expects to have apprehended 100,000 individuals during the month of March 2019 alone — the highest number in a decade. BBC News reported that roughly 40,000 children are set to enter CBP custody during March 2019, and over 60 migrants are taken to the hospital every day.

The press conference came one day after the Pentagon authorized one billion dollars in funding for construction of Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, BBC News said. The financial transfer was authorized under the national emergency declared by Trump, bypassing requirements for Congressional approval. While Congress passed a resolution to overturn the state of emergency, it was vetoed by Trump. A congressional bid on March 26, 2019 to override Trump's veto was unsuccessful.

WMO Releases State of the Climate Report

The World Meteorological Organization released its 25th annual statement on the state of the Global Climate (“State of the Climate”) Report, on March 28, 2019. The document can be read in full here.

Several points are highlighted in the foreword of the report: the years of 2015 through 2018 were the four hottest years on record, the average global sea level has risen, the mean global temperature hit about 1 degree Celsius above its pre-industrial level and more. The brief list of facts ended with a direct statement: “We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases.”

The report is divided into two primary sections: "State-of-the-climate indicators” and “Climate risks and related impacts overall.” The first section summarizes 2018 findings on global temperature, greenhouse gases and the ozone, the oceans, the cryosphere, extreme weather events and “drivers of interannual variability” like the El Niño Southern Oscillation. The latter half focuses on the effect the changing climate has had on agriculture and food security, population displacement and human mobility, heat and health, as well as general environmental impacts.

In a statement near the beginning of the document, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres announced plans for a Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019.

“Specifically, I am calling on all leaders to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020 and reach net zero emissions around mid-century,” Guterres said.

The summit is set to occur one year before countries that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement are required to fulfill their national climate pledges, the United Nations stated.