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August 13, 2019

Plastic is officially everywhere.

U.S. Geological Survey researcher Gregory Wetherbee was studying nitrogen pollution in Colorado, and found plastic in 90 percent of the water samples he collected across urban and mountainous sites, identifying small fibers, beads, and shards.

The conclusion of his study? "It is raining plastic."

Rainwater collected in urban areas had the most plastic, but the discovery of fibers at Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park leads scientists in the study, published by the USGS, to warn that plastic in rainwater is "not just an urban condition."

Ninety-one percent of plastic is not recycled, reports National Geographic, and it takes more than 400 years to degrade, meaning most plastic that was ever created still exists.

Plastic fibers break off clothes when you wash them and are byproducts of many manufacturing processes, Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher and sustainability coordinator at Penn State Behrend told The Guardian. These miniscule pieces of plastic are present in the atmosphere, then "incorporated into water droplets when it rains," effectively spreading plastic across Earth's surfaces.

The potential effects of plastic in rainwater on nature, animals, and human health are unknown, according to the USGS study. Even if humans halted all plastic usage and production, it's unknown how long it would take for nature to return to its plastic-free state. "I would guess centuries," says Stefan Krause, professor of Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham. Read more at The Guardian. Taylor Watson

6:17 a.m.

The reporters covering the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, were briefly ushered into the working session on climate change, oceans, and biodiversity, and one chair was conspicuous empty.

At a bilateral meeting afterward with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had attended the climate session, a reporter asked Trump why he hadn't attended, and he said, "We're having it in a little while."

Trump "didn't appear to hear when a reporter told him it just happened," according to the White House pool report. The pool reporters also noted that while meeting with Merkel, Trump said when he hosts the 2020 G-7 summit, he might host it at his own private golf resort, Doral, in southern Florida.

"They love the location of the hotel," Trump said. "We haven't found anything that's even close to competing with it." Trump had apparently raised the idea of hosting world leaders at Doral before, and The Washington Post reported in June about all the ways Trump himself would profit — and does profit richly, directly and indirectly — by hosting such events at his properties, and even just visiting his resorts, as he has more than 125 times while in office. Peter Weber

5:36 a.m.

President Trump said Monday that unidentified Chinese officials had indicated overnight they want to resume trade talks. "China called last night our top trade people and said, 'Let's get back to the table', so we'll be getting back to the table, and I think they want to do something," Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France. He said his trade team fielded two "very good calls" from China, adding, "This is the first time I've seen them where they really want to make a deal. And I think that's a very positive step." Trump wouldn't say if he's been in direct contact with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though he called Xi "a great leader."

China's lead U.S. trade negotiator did say earlier Monday that Beijing is willing to resolve the trade war through "calm negotiation." Before Trump's comments, stock indices around the world were sharply lower on uncertainty about the U.S.-China trade war and what Trump might say. Peter Weber

5:01 a.m.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), now a conservative talk radio host, announced Sunday that he's challenging President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. People are skeptical of his motives but mostly his chancesNew York Magazine called it a "beyond-long-shot primary bid," a "quixotic mission" undertaken with "Bill Kristol, a onetime mighty Republican figure who has become an avatar of GOP Establishment impotence in the face of Trump's party takeover." Another prominent #NeverTrump conservative, George Conway, is also on board, figuratively if not officially.

Trump's campaign doesn't seem very concerned about Walsh's bid. "Whatever," communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News.

Walsh told ABC News his campaign's big gamble "is that there are a lot of Republicans who feel like I do," that Trump is "nuts, he's erratic, he's cruel, he stokes bigotry, he's incompetent," and "he's a child," and they're also "sick of this guy's tantrum." He added that he thinks his campaign "will catch on like wildfire." "And if you're wrong?" host George Stephanopoulos asked. "If I'm wrong, it was the right fight, because somebody had to do this."

Journalist Kurt Eichenwald put it this way:

It's true Walsh that "possesses the conservative bona fides" and grit Trump's other GOP challenger, former Gov. William Weld (Mass.), lacks, and "some previous primary candidates have found some success against weak incumbents; think Ronald Reagan in 1976 or Pat Buchanan in 1992," New York adds. "The problem for Walsh — or any other conservative challenger — is that Trump remains extremely popular with GOP voters." Walsh bets the polls are wrong — an idea Trump supporters, at least, can respect. Peter Weber

2:44 a.m.

The leaders of the Group of Seven nations were all smiles during Sunday's photo shoot on the beach in Biarritz, France, "eager to present a show of bonhomie after so many previous meetings ended in discord," Peter Baker reports at The New York Times. "But behind the scenes at the annual gathering of some of the world's leading powers, President Trump still found himself at odds with his counterparts."

This year, on issues from trade to Iran, Russia to climate change, Baker adds, "ever so gingerly, as if determined not to rouse the American's well-known temper, the other Group of Seven leaders sought to nudge him toward their views on the pressing issues of the day, or at least register their differences — while making sure to wrap them in a French crepe of flattery, as they know he prefers."

After Trump said his fellow world leaders "respect the trade war" he is escalating with China and wouldn't tell him otherwise, for example, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson first congratulated Trump "on everything that the American economy is achieving," then appended "the faint, sheeplike note" that Britain is "in favor of trade peace on the whole, and dialing it down if we can," adding, "We don't like tariffs, on the whole."

"Johnson wasn't even the only one to gently contradict Trump," Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post. For a president used to "throwing his weight around — even if to no other end than making his counterparts squirm and cater to him," Trump "found himself on his heels and fumbling throughout much of the first day of the Group of Seven summit."

At the same time, "Trump seemed even more intent on countering press accounts that he is increasingly isolated on the world stage and that his relations with historic U.S. allies are deeply strained," Politico reports. And for the most part, G-7 leaders "have managed to keep their disagreement behind closed doors and out of the views of television cameras," USA Today says. "Yet despite Trump's claim that all is well, the summit is expected to end Monday without proffering a formal agreement from the G-7 leaders — the first time that has happened in the group's 44-year history." Peter Weber

2:14 a.m.

It took more than a decade, but Maggie Welz knew that her cat Tiger, who slipped out the door of her New York home 11 years ago, would one day reunite with his family.

They were "heartbroken" when Tiger escaped, Welz told ABC New York, and a year later, after moving 10 houses away, she told the new owners to "keep an eye out for him, but he never returned." No one knows what Tiger was up to during his first few years on the streets, but in 2016, he appeared for the first time in Carol O'Connell's yard. O'Connell works for the Dutchess County SPCA, and said it wasn't until this spring that the cat would let her come close.

She wasn't sure if the cat was feral, had been abandoned, or was missing, and when she scanned him for a microchip, she learned that Welz was his owner. The 14-year-old cat was in great shape for having been on his own for 11 years, and after being examined by a vet, Tiger was able to go home. Welz told ABC New York she is "grateful" to O'Connell and her family for their "persistence and their dedication and for making sure that our cat was okay. I have no idea where he was for the years in between, I'm sure he could tell us many tales, but the thing is that he is now home with us and he will be with us for the remainder of his life." Catherine Garcia

1:34 a.m.

By Tuesday, Tropical Storm Dorian, now headed toward the Lesser Antilles, could be nearing hurricane strength, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Sunday.

Dorian, the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to move into the eastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday. The Lesser Antilles should expect to receive two to four inches of rain, forecasters said. Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and the Grenadines are all under a tropical storm warning, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Grenada and Martinique.

Forecasters said it is too early to know if Florida should brace for anything, but Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Virgin Islands need to keep a close watch on Dorian's progression. Catherine Garcia

1:18 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said leaders at the Group of Seven summit are close to reaching a deal that provides Brazil with "technical and financial help" to fight the fires devastating the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest, and produces about 20 percent of the planet's oxygen. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who campaigned on a promise to open the Amazon up for mining, logging, and other businesses, was slow to react, and environmentalists and researchers say cattle ranchers and loggers, emboldened by Bolsonaro's rhetoric, are behind most of the fires. On Friday, Bolsonaro finally said the military would fight the blazes, and told world leaders to let him deal with the crisis on his own.

Last week, Macron said the fires are an "international crisis," and on Sunday, Pope Francis said they are worrisome, and he wants people to "pray so that with the commitment of all, they can be put out soon. That lung of forests is vital for our planet." Catherine Garcia

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