Top News Stories for Today – Aug 19, 2017
Stephen Bannon fired from the White House
President Trump on Friday decided to fire his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, two administration officials told The New York Times. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Bannon and Chief of Staff John Kelly “have mutually agreed that today would be Steve’s last day.”
The Times reported that “a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.” The former Breitbart executive chair is expected to return to the far-right website. The New York Times, Drudge Report, The Week
Trump elevates US Cyber Command
On Friday, President Trump elevated the US Cyber Command to become the 10th unified command in the US military. Trump said the move was intended to “strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation’s defense.”
He added the elevation will “help streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of such operations.” Cyber Command will continue to be led by the director of the National Security Agency, Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, though Defense Secretary James Mattis will reportedly consider further separating it from the NSA with a recommendation to come at a later date. Politico, The Washington Post, Theweek
Democratic lawmakers propose censuring Trump
On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed censuring President Trump over his response to the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. “The president’s repulsive defense of white supremacists demands that Congress act to defend our American values,” she said in a statement.
Censure is a formal statement of disapproval; it does not mean the public official in question must give up their office, but it “would be a formal and historic rebuke from Congress of Trump’s remarks,” ABC News explains. Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.) intend to introduce the censure resolution against the president, with 79 co-sponsors, on Friday. ABC News, The Washington Post, Theweek
Ousted Venezuelan chief prosecutor flees to Colombia
Venezuela’s ousted chief prosecutor and her husband — two of President Nicolas Maduro’s most outspoken critics — fled the country and landed Friday afternoon in Colombia. Luisa Ortega Diaz and German Ferrer arrived in Bogota aboard a private plane traveling from Aruba, Colombian migration authorities said in a statement. The couple didn’t request asylum, according to a senior Colombian official speaking on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to discuss the politically sensitive case.
Ortega and Ferrer have long been aligned with Venezuela’s ruling socialist party but recently broke with Maduro, publicly denouncing his push to convene a constitutional assembly that was installed in early August and is now going about the task of upending Venezuela’s institutions. VOA
New manhunt for Barcelona attack
The driver in Thursday’s van attack that killed 13 people in a tourist area of Barcelona may still be alive and on the run, Spanish police say. They are hunting for Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, now named by Spanish media as the suspected driver.
A man previously reported as the key suspect, Moussa Oukabir, 17, was one of five men killed by police after a later attack in Cambrils, west of Barcelona. Police say the suspects had been planning more sophisticated attacks. They said blasts on Wednesday at a house in the town of Alcanar deprived plotters of bomb material, so they carried out simpler attacks using vehicles. Abouyaaqoub, 22, lived in the town of Ripoll to the north of Barcelona. Three people have been arrested in Ripoll and one person in Alcanar. BBC
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