Top News Stories for Today – April 13, 2017
Trump shifts stance on China, NATO, trade
On Wednesday, President Trump publicly contradicted several long-stated policy views, bringing his stances more in line with Washington orthodoxy. Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said of the military alliance: “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” A week after calling China the “world champion” of currency manipulation, a common refrain on the campaign trail, he told The Wall Street Journal, “They’re not currency manipulators.”
Trump also shifted positions on the US Export-Import Bank, telling The Journal it’s actually “a very good thing, and it actually makes money,” including for smaller companies. He also suggested he might re-appoint Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, whom he has previously criticized. This all comes a week after Trump appeared to abandon his campaign views about foreign intervention by bombing a Syrian government air base. “Circumstances change,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said when asked about the 180-degree turns in several major policy areas. CNN, Politico, The Week
Trump threat to drop Obamacare subsidies
President Trump confirmed on Wednesday that he’s considering canceling some $7 billion in ObamaCare cost-sharing subsidies for low-income insurance buyers to force Democrats to help replace or drastically reshape the health-care law. “ObamaCare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t want people to get hurt,” he added. “What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “should be calling me and begging me to help him save ObamaCare, along with Nancy Pelosi,” the House minority leader, Trump said. Schumer criticized Trump’s “cynical strategy” of “threatening to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans … to achieve a political goal of repeal that would take health care away from millions more.” The Wall Street Journal, Politico
Paul Manafort to register as a foreign agent
President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is registering as a foreign agent following “formal guidance” from the government. Manafort reportedly earned millions of dollars from 2006 to 2009 secretly working for a billionaire Russian aluminum magnate close to Russian President Vladimir Putin; Trump was allegedly unaware of Manafort’s work.
Manafort is reportedly a “leading focus of the US intelligence investigation of Trump’s associates and Russia.” Ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn registered as a foreign agent last month after lobbying he’d done on behalf of a Turkish company came to light. Additionally, it was reported Tuesday that the FBI received a FISA warrant last summer to monitor the communications of Carter Page, then a foreign policy adviser to Trump, because of Page’s potential ties to Russia.
US’s first female Muslim judge found dead
Abdus-Salaam, the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge was found dead in New York’s Hudson River on Wednesday, police said. Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington, D.C., became the first African-American woman appointed to the Court of Appeals when Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo named her to the state’s high court in 2013.
The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History said Abdus-Salaam was the first female Muslim to serve as a US judge. She had been reported missing from her New York home earlier on Wednesday. Attempts to reach her family were unsuccessful. A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School, Abdus-Salaam started her law career with East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a New York state assistant attorney general, according to the Court of Appeals website. VOA
Russia vetoes on Syria gas attack
In a vote of 10 in favor, two against and three abstentions, Moscow blocked the measure put forward by Britain, France and the United States. China, in a rare break with Russia, abstained, while non-permanent members Bolivia voted no, and Ethiopia and Kazakhstan joined China in abstaining. VOA
N. Korea nuclear test could come soon
North Korea appears to have a placed a device in a tunnel at its nuclear test site that could be detonated Saturday or even sooner, US government and other sources said Wednesday. North Korea on Saturday will observe the “Day of the Sun,” marking the 105th birth anniversary of its founder, Kim Il Sung.
Commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from Wednesday showed continued activity around the north portal, new activity in the main administrative area and a few personnel around the command center, according to the 38 North website, which is run by the US-Korea Institute of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
United Airlines passenger files legal action
Lawyers for the passenger dragged from a United Airlines plane in Chicago filed an emergency request with an Illinois state court on Wednesday to require the carrier to preserve video recordings and other evidence related to the incident.
Chicago’s Aviation Department said on Wednesday that two more officers had been placed on leave in connection with the April 9 incident, during which airport security officers dragged Dao from his seat aboard a United jet headed for Louisville, Kentucky. One officer was placed on leave on Tuesday. Paul Callan, a civil and criminal trial lawyer in New York, said the public outcry over Dao’s treatment would likely push the airline to a quick and generous settlement. VOA
Scientists to sue EPA
The Union for Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club and Earthjustice plan to jointly file a motion Wednesday to intervene in a lawsuit filed by fossil fuel groups in March that asks the Environmental Protection Agency to delay or reconsider a rule that places more regulations on chemical plants. The chemical plant regulations were signed into the Federal Register in January as a direct response to the fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas that killed 15 and injured more than 160 in 2013. CNN
Scientists tout possible cure for HIV infection
Scientists are touting a discovery that they think might cure HIV infection. They’ve engineered an antibody that blocks the virus from entering and infecting key immune system cells. The process, developed at the Scripps Researcher Institute in California, involves tethering an antibody, which fights infection, directly onto T cells, the immune system cells that are targeted by the AIDS virus.
Eventually, if enough immune cells become infected and destroyed by HIV, the disease progresses to AIDS, which leads to certain death. The antibodies, however, block the receptor on the T cells that HIV uses to enter and destroy them. It’s what immunochemist Richard Lerner called a form of “cellular vaccination.”
He said the genetic alteration of the T cells with tethered antibodies does not interfere with the immune cells’ ability to fight other pathogens. Lerner is the senior author of a study describing the work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. VOA
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