Top News Stories for Today – April 24, 2017
French presidential election
Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen will advance to the second round of voting in France’s runoff presidential election. As of Sunday night, Macron is estimated to have 23.9 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of Le Pen with 21.4 percent of the vote, center-right François Fillon with 19.9 percent, and far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon with 19.6 percent.
US government shutdown looming
President Trump is aggressively pushing his agenda ahead of his 100-day benchmark at the end of the week, while Congress faces a Friday deadline to approve a budget or the government shuts down. On top of the expected flurry of executive orders, Trump has signaled that deep tax cuts are coming this week as well as a renewed attempt to repeal ObamaCare.
A thorny battle could erupt over Trump’s border wall, which is included in the proposed budget but not supported by a single border-state congressperson. “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall,” Trump tweeted, but such a promise could do little to assure Congress now. Time, The Washington Post, The Week
Xi urges to calm on N Korea tension
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged President Trump to show restraint as tensions rise over North Korea. The two leaders spoke by phone on Monday as the Hermit Kingdom prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of its military on Tuesday. Korea experts fear that Pyongyang will mark the occasion with another provocative missile or nuclear weapon test.
North Korea said Sunday that it was prepared to bomb the USS Carl Vinson, a US aircraft carrier leading a Navy carrier strike group toward North Korea in a show of force. Xi said he hoped “all sides exercise restraint and avoid doing things that exacerbate tensions.” President Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called on Pyongyang to end its “dangerously provocative actions” after it marked its last major holiday a week ago with a failed missile test. The New York Times, The Washington Post
Sean Hannity accused sexual harassment
Less than a week after Fox News fired Bill O’Reilly, another Fox News host, Sean Hannity, is being accused of sexual harassment. Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel told Oklahoma radio host Pat Campbell that Hannity had asked her back to his hotel room twice, once after a book signing he invited her to in Detroit and then after she appeared on his Fox News show.
After she turned him down the second time, she said, Hannity called her and yelled at her, then never invited her back on Fox News. “This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News and anything that has to do with Sean Hannity,” she said. Hannity denied the allegations, calling them “100 percent false and a complete fabrication.” Art19 Talk Radio, New York Daily News
Workers shortage in US farms
President Trump’s hard line against immigrants in the US illegally has sent a chill through the nation’s agricultural industry, which fears a crackdown will deprive it of the labor it needs to plant, grow and pick the crops that feed the country. Fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and cattle farmers and owners of plant nurseries and vineyards have begun lobbying politicians at home and in Washington to get them to deal with immigration in a way that minimizes the harm to their livelihoods.
Some of the farm leaders are Republicans who voted for Trump and are torn, wanting border security but also mercy toward laborers who are not dangerous criminals. Farming uses a higher percentage of illegal labor than any other US industry, according to a Pew Research Center study. Researchs show US-born workers have little interest at laboring in the dirt and the cold at the crack of dawn. VOA
Afghan defence chiefs resign over deadly Taliban attack
Afghanistan’s defence minister and army chief of staff have resigned in the wake of a Taliban attack that left scores of soldiers dead, the presidential palace says. The attack happened on Friday at an army base near Mazar-e Sharif. Insurgents targeted troops leaving Friday prayers at the base’s mosque and in a canteen, the army said.
It was the Taliban’s deadliest attack on the armed forces since US-led forces drove them from power in 2001. The resignations coincided with the arrival of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on an unannounced visit to Kabul. He is due to meet both Afghan officials and US troops. BBC
Bill O’Reilly returns with new podcast
Bill O’Reilly is coming back. The former Fox News host is set to appear Monday with a new episode of his No Spin News podcast. The news was revealed in an update to O’Reilly’s personal website Saturday night.
The podcast, available to premium subscribers of O’Reilly’s website, would be the former cable news host’s first time speaking publicly since his ouster at Fox News last week following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. O’Reilly was previously the host of The O’Reilly Factor on the network, anchoring a steady ratings winner for the network for over two decades. Fox News took The Factor off the air Friday night, with Greg Gutfeld filling in for the final broadcast. USA Today
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