Top News Stories for Today – April 25, 2017
Trump signals willingness to drop border wall
President Trump said Monday evening that he is open to postponing his demand for Congress to finance his border wall with Mexico, journalists for conservative news outlets said after a White House reception. The White House confirmed the comments.
The $1 billion request by the Trump administration for a down-payment on the border wall, a project estimated to cost more than $20 billion, has been a major sticking point in negotiations to avoid a shutdown when the current funding runs out at midnight on Friday. NBC
First double execution in US since 2000
On Monday, Arkansas put to death two prisoners, Marcel Williams and Jack Jones, the first time a state has carried out a double execution in 17 years. Jones, convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1995, was put to death shortly after 7 p.m., and Williams’ attorneys then asked for a stay, saying that Williams’ obesity would make it too difficult for an IV to be placed and questioning if Jones’ execution went according to plan.
A judge temporarily blocked Williams’ execution, but lifted the stay an hour later. Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m., 17 minutes after the procedure began. He was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman he kidnapped from a gas station. Arkansas is ramping up its executions, scheduling eight over 11 days, because its lethal injection drug supply will expire at the end of the month. Associated Press
WH briefs all US Senators on North Korea threat
All 100 US senators have been invited to the White House on Wednesday for a classified briefing that will primarily concern North Korea, the administration announced Monday. The briefing will be conducted by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford. While lawmakers often receive classified briefings on Capitol Hill, it is rare for them to take place at the White House and for the entire Senate to be involved in one event.
Meanwhile, a third US citizen, Kim Sang-duk who had been teaching accounting at the privately-funded school started by evangelical Christians, was detained Friday by North Korean authorities as he was about to leave the country. At least two other US citizens are known to be held in North Korea. The US State Department said it is working with Swedish diplomats on the case. The United States and North Korea have never had diplomatic ties. Sweden’s embassy in Pyongyang represents the interests of American citizens in the country. VOA
Trump’s approval rates in his 100 days in WH
Several recent polls provided some sobering news for Trump as he prepares to mark the 100 days. A survey by ABC News and the Washington Post found Trump’s approval rating at 42 percent with 53 percent disapproving. That is the lowest rating for any president at this point in their first term since pollsters began asking about public approval in 1945. By way of contrast, former President Barack Obama registered 69 percent approval eight years ago during his first few months in office.
The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll has Trump at 40 percent approval, 54 percent disapproval. And the most recent Gallup Tracking Poll also had Trump at the same numbers. Trump can take some consolation from the ABC/Washington Post poll that found 96 percent of those who voted for Trump say it was the right thing to do, while only two percent said they now wished they had not. VOA
US F-35 fighters to train near Russia
The US Air Force is sending its newest fighter jets to Russia’s doorstep as part of a program set up after Russia annexed Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014. F-35A stealth Joint Strike Fighters will fly from UK to NATO-ally Estonia in the coming days, the official said. Estonia, a former Soviet republic, shares an almost 200-mile-long border with Russia.
F-35s will also deploy to Romania, another current NATO member and former Warsaw Pact ally of the Soviet Union, the official said. Both Estonia and Romania are wary of Russian aggression following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. The official said the F-35A deployment to Europe is part of the European Reassurance Initiative set up in the wake of that annexation. CNN
Thai man kills child and himself on FB live
A man in Phuket filmed himself killing his child and then himself on Facebook Live, Thai police said on Tuesday (April 25), the latest example of the social network’s live-streaming function being used to broadcast grisly crimes. Police said they believed the man had previously argued with the mother of the murdered child, an 11-month girl. The man had hung himself and his daughter, they said.
The killing comes just days after Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg vowed to work to keep the world’s leading social network from being used to propagate harrowing acts like murder and suicide. Zuckerberg was responding to pressure after a man in the US state of Ohio used Facebook Live to broadcast footage of himself walking up to a stranger in the street and shooting him dead. The killer went on to fatally shoot himself after a massive manhunt and police chase. Facebook was not immediately available for comment. Straits Time
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