Top News Stories for Today – April 17, 2017
Mike Pence visits the DMZ
During a visit Monday morning to a military post near the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Vice President Mike Pence said the “era of strategic patience is over” when it comes to North Korea. Tensions are high in the region, following a missile test Sunday by North Korea that failed moments after launch.
Pence, who earlier called the unsuccessful test a “provocation,” told reporters he wants to see China, an ally of North Korea, use “extraordinary levers” to persuade the country to give up its ballistic missiles. Pence is on a 10-day trip to Asia, and arrived in South Korea on Sunday. NBC News, The Week
Referendum gives Turkey’s Erdogan broad new powers
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Sunday’s referendum that replaces the country’s current system of parliamentary democracy with an executive presidency. The country’s electoral board said that with 99.45 percent of the ballots counted, the “yes” side received 51.4 percent of the vote.
The ruling Justice and Development Party put forward the 18-article reform package, which will allow the president to hold executor powers and lets them appoint five of 13 Supreme Court members. The opposition has said it will contest around 37 percent of the votes cast, due to the High Electoral Board announcing while voting was underway that it would change the rules to accept unstamped ballots unless they were proven to be fraudulent. BBC News, The Week
President Park indicted on corruption charges
On Monday, prosecutors in South Korean announced that they have indicted former President Park Geun-hye on corruption and abuse of power charges that could send her to jail for life. Park, 65, was impeached in December, formally removed from office March 10, and arrested on March 30 amid a national scandal.
It has also swept up Park’s longtime friend and confidante Choi Soon-Sil and several top business executives, including Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong and, on Monday, Shin Dong-bin, the chairman of South Korea’s fifth-largest business conglomerate, Lotte Group. Park has been housed in a detention center since her arrest, and during her expected six-month trial, South Koreans will see her stand trial in handcuffs and bound with rope, possibly in prison uniform. South Korea will vote for her successor on May 9. The Associated Press, CNN
China’s 1Q economy growth fastest since 2015
China’s economic recovery is gaining traction, with growth rising to its fastest pace in over a year in January-March. The 6.9 percent annual pace of expansion for the world’s second-largest economy, reported Monday, surpassed economists’ forecasts and was an improvement from 6.8 percent growth in the last quarter of 2016.
Growth last was that strong in July-September of 2015. Analysts said government spending and a property boom spurred by easy credit were the main factors helping to driving stronger demand. China saw its slowest growth in nearly three decades in 2016, at 6.7 percent. The official full-year economic growth target for 2017 is 6.5 percent. VOA
UK’s Prince Harry describes mental problems
Prince Harry has broken with royal tradition of maintaining silence about mental health issues by speaking candidly of his severe emotional problems following the death of his mother Princess Diana. The 32-year-old prince told The Daily Telegraph in an interview published Monday that he had nearly suffered breakdowns since his mother’s 1997 death in a car crash and had needed counseling in his late 20s.
He told the newspaper he “shut down all his emotions” for nearly 20 years and had been “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” He describes a long, painful process of refusing to face his sense of loss that only came to an end when he was in his late 20s and sought professional counseling to cope with the pressures and unhappiness. Harry has never before spoken publicly about his problems dealing with Diana’s death. VOA
Facebook live killing
A manhunt is underway in Cleveland for a suspect who killed an elderly man on Sunday and streamed it on Facebook Live. Police identified the suspect as Steve Stephens, and they said the video of the shooting was up on Facebook for nearly three hours before it was removed. He told his mother he was shooting people at random because he was mad at his girlfriend.
Stephens is 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighs 240 pounds, and was last seen wearing a dark-striped polo shirt and driving either a white or cream-colored SUV; police say he is considered armed and dangerous and anyone who sees him should call 911 immediately. Police say Stephens claimed in a second Facebook Live stream that he murdered several other people, saying he snapped and “messed up.” Authorities said they have not verified any additional homicides or found any other victims. Cleveland.com, CNN
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