Top News Stories for Today – April 20, 2017
Bill O’Reilly fired from Fox
The Murdoch family, which runs Fox News, has decided to remove host Bill O’Reilly from the network, 21st Century Fox said in a statement Wednesday. O’Reilly had been on “vacation” since reports broke that he and Fox paid around $13 million to settle sexual harassment and verbal abuse accusations made by five women against the host since 2002.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the statement read. O’Reilly wished Fox News “only the best” in a statement Wednesday, though he said it was “tremendously disheartening” to be fired “due to completely unfounded claims.” O’Reilly’s show The O’Reilly Factor was Fox’s biggest ratings draw. Tucker Carlson will reportedly move into O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. ET slot starting April 24. New York, The Week
Russian drafted ‘road map’ to sway US election
A Russian think tank linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin created a “road map” for how to tip the US presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing seven current and former US officials. Two confidential strategy documents were reportedly created by the think tank and “circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government.”
The first, distributed in June, reportedly recommended the Kremlin “launch a propaganda campaign” nudging American voters toward a candidate who would be sympathetic to Russia; the second, drafted in October, apparently predicted Hillary Clinton would win and suggested pushing voter fraud claims to undermine her power when she assumed office. US intelligence agencies declined to comment to Reuters on the documents, and the agents did not reveal how the US obtained them. Reuters, The Week
Jason Chaffetz won’t seek re-election in 2018
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) announced Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in 2018. “After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” the House Oversight Committee chairman said in a statement. .” He said he remains “confident” he could be “re-elected by large margins,” and that he maintains the “full support” of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
As chairman the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz has drawn attention and criticism for his handling of conflicts of interest investigation into Hillary Clinton and potential investigations into President Donald Trump. Some of that criticism bubbled over in recent months, with angry constituents lambasting Chaffetz at a packed town hall over the February recess.
Chaffetz is at least the seventh House Republican to resign this year or announce plans to retire, including four who left to join Trump’s Cabinet. Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota is running for governor, and Reps. Sam Johnson of Texas and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas are retiring. Syracuse.com
3 killed in Venezuela protests
At least three people have been killed in Venezuela in protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. A teenager in the capital Caracas and a woman in San Cristobal, near the Colombian border, were shot dead. A national guardsman was killed south of the capital.
Tens of thousands of people rallied to demand new presidential elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians. Mr Maduro accused the opposition of attacking police. He also accused them of looting shops, saying that more than 30 arrests had been made. Supporters of the government held a rival rally in Caracas. Meanwhile, opposition leader Henrique Capriles has called for further mass protests on Thursday.
Despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela has suffered for several years from high inflation, rampant crime and a shortage of basic goods. BBC
Russia vetoes on N Korea’s missile tests
Russia has derailed a proposed UN Security Council statement that would have condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch test, using its veto to torpedo the motion. The statement, which was tabled by the US, would also tell North Korea not to conduct further nuclear tests. It has conducted five so far, and last week analysts warned that the country’s nuclear test site was “primed and ready” for a sixth.
Instead, North Korea tested a missile Sunday, which was said to have failed, provoking more calls for the country to cease its hostile acts. UN diplomats said the proposed statement of condemnation had consensus from the other 14 Council members, including China, North Korea’s biggest ally and a Council permanent member.
Russia has a long record of vetoing resolutions pushed by the US. Last week, it used its veto power to block an attempt to condemn the killing of dozens of people in a suspected Syrian chemical attack. In that instance, China abstained. CNN
China criticizes N Korea and praises US
China may be getting fed up with continued nuclear bluster from long-time ally North Korea and tilting toward the United States. A day after North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister said Pyongyang would test missiles weekly and use nuclear weapons if threatened, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing was “gravely concerned” about North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile activities.
In the same press conference, spokesman Lu Kang praised recent US statements on the North Korean issue. “American officials did make some positive and constructive remarks… such as using whatever peaceful means possible to resolve the (Korean) Peninsula nuclear issue. This represents a general direction that we believe is correct and should be adhered to,” Lu said. CNN
Trump will attend Asian summits
US Vice President Mike Pence announced in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday that President Donald Trump will attend three summits in Asia in November. Pence, who is on the latest leg of a ten day tour of Asia, said Trump plans to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia summits in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.
After meeting with the secretary general of ASEAN, Pence said the Trump administration will collaborate with ASEAN to “promote peace and stability in the South China Sea” to ensure “unimpeded flow of commerce” in the area.
Southeast Asian nations are seeking a long term agreement to settle disputes in the South China Sea. The region faces new challenges as China moves to extend its regional influence at a time when the US’s Asia policy is currently focused on rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. VOA
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