Top News Stories for Today – April 7, 2017
US takes military action in Syria
The United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, Syria, on Thursday night, in response to Tuesday’s chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Idlib, including several children. The Pentagon said the strike “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment” at the airfield.
The Syrian military says the strike left six people dead. The US has blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for Tuesday’s chemical attack, and believes the planes that dropped the chemicals took off from al-Shayrat; the Syrian government denies responsibility. On Wednesday, Trump said the chemical attack “crossed a lot of lines for me” and his “attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”
Two Arab countries UAE and Bahrain are backing the US strike on Syria. Both countries have opposed the rule of Assad. Top European Union officials are supporting the US missile strikes on military targets in Syria as a means of deterring further chemical weapons attacks by Damascus.
Iran’s head of parliamentary on national security and foreign policy, said “Russia and Iran won’t be quiet against such acts which violate interests of the region.” The office of Syria’s President is calling the strike “reckless” and “irresponsible.” The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin will chair a meeting of his Security Council to discuss the US strikes on Syria. The strike “causes significant damage to Russian-American relations, which were already in a deplorable state,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Putin said, adding that Putin sees the airstrikes as a violation of international law. The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
US lawmakers call strike against Syria unconstitutional
In the wake of President Trump ordering a strike on an airfield in Syria, several lawmakers, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), are calling for Congress to vote on authorizing any future military operations against the country. “While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” Paul said on Twitter. “The president needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.
Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different.” Kaine called it “unconstitutional” for Trump to wage military action without a vote of Congress, and Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, called airstrikes an “act of war,” adding that the “atrocities in Syria cannot justify departure from [the] Constitution, which vests in Congress power to commence war.” The framers of the Constitution “divided war powers to prevent abuse,” he continued. “Congress to declare war; president to conduct war and repel sudden attacks.” The Week
Senate expected to confirm Gorsuch today
The Senate is expected to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, in an 11:30 a.m. ET vote Friday after Republicans voted Thursday to end the filibuster. Republicans can now use their 52-48 majority to speed along Gorsuch’s confirmation, joined by three Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).
Gorsuch’s addition will restore the Supreme Court to nine members for the first time since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Gorsuch is expected to join the judges on April 17 for the end of the 2016-2017 session, and could be a deciding vote if the court considers the constitutionality of President Trump’s executive order on travel from six majority-Muslim countries. The Wall Street Journal, Fox News
UN condemns N Korean missile test
The UN Security Council on Thursday strongly condemned North Korea for its ballistic missile test this week. In a statement, the council said it was concerned about Pyongyang’s “highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council.”
Earlier Thursday, the European Union imposed new sanctions in retaliation for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, including its launch of a rocket into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday. The new sanctions include investment bans on aerospace, metalworking and conventional arms-related industries, as well as prohibitions against providing computer services to people involved with mining and chemical industries. VOA
Trump and Xi summit talk
President Trump said to light laughter at a Thursday evening dinner he hosted for Chinese President Xi that after a long discussion, “I have gotten nothing, absolutely nothing” from his guest. But Trump added that the two leaders, who chatted earlier at the president’s Florida resort, had quickly “developed a friendship,” and he predicted that “long term we’re going to have a very, very great relationship and I look very much forward to it.”
Xi did not make remarks while reporters were in the Mar-a-Lago dining room, and Trump did not answer questions about Syria or North Korea directed at him by journalists. Earlier, Trump and members of his administration made it clear they hope to pressure Beijing into doing more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. VOA
Mexico’s missing people rises to 30,000
The number of people in Mexico disappearing under suspicious circumstances, often related to drug violence, rose to 30,000 by the end of 2016, the National Human Rights Commission said Thursday. At the start of 2013, shortly after President Enrique Pena Nieto took office, the Mexican government reported there were 26,000 so-called “disappeared” people.
The Commission said the number had risen to 30,000, with the drug-ridden northern state of Tamaulipas registering 5,563 missing, the highest state total. The Commission also said it had accounted for 855 mass graves across Mexico over the last decade, finding 1,548 corpses, the large majority of which were male. Just over half of those bodies have been identified, it added. Well over 100,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico over the last decade. VOA
Fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure
Eating fruits and vegetables can lower your blood pressure, according to a new research. Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California have found potassium-rich vegetables like sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, beans and bananas could help lower blood pressure.
Decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure,” said professor Alicia McDonough. “But evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension.” To reach her conclusions, McDonough reviewed studies that looked at the link between potassium and sodium, which has been known to cause hypertension.
She found that people who had more potassium tended to have lower blood pressure regardless of sodium consumption. Her research indicated that the body does a “balancing act” using sodium to control potassium levels in the blood. Potassium is important for normal muscle and nerve function. VOA
US employment rate drops to 4.5%
The US economy added fewer jobs than expected in March while the unemployment rate dropped to a new post-crisis low. In March, nonfarm payrolls grew by 98,000, well below the 180,000 that was expected by economists and down from February’s revised job gains of 219,000.The unemployment rate, however, dropped to 4.5%, a new post-crisis low and the lowest since May 2007. Wages also rose in-line with expectations with wages rise 0.2% over last month and 2.7% over the prior year. The labor force participation rate, which has been rising in recent months, remained flat at 63%.
Also in March, the broader underemployment rate, which captures not only those out of work but those working part-time that would like full-time work, fell to 8.9% after hitting 9.2% in February, which marked a new post-crisis low. Friday’s report also saw both the January and February jobs numbers revised down by a combined 38,000, and over the last three months job gains have now averaged 178,000. Overall, this is a mixed — but still solid. abc Good morning America
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