Top News Stories for Today – Aug 3, 2017
Trump lashes out while signing Russia sanctions bill
President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea — then harshly criticized the legislation and the 517 lawmakers who voted for it. Trump’s words reveal anew his growing irritation at Republican lawmakers’ inability to pass legislation he prefers and Democrats’ unwillingness to help. A statement issued by the White House after he signed the sanctions bill includes this line: “Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking.”
And in a sign of a growing rift between team the Republican president and Republican lawmakers, the president ended the statement with a jab: “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.” Roll Call
Dow tops 22,000 points for the first time
The Dow Jones industrial average topped 22,000 points for the first time ever, right after the opening bell Wednesday morning. The roughly 0.2 percent overall surge was spurred by big gains from Apple, which posted a 6 percent bump based on optimism about the latest iPhone, bringing the company to a record high.
On Tuesday, one day before the record-setting trading day, President Trump tweeted about the impending milestone, noting the “stock market could hit [an] all-time high (again) … was 18,000 only six months ago.” The Dow is up more than 3,600 points since Election Day, CNN Money notes. CNN Money, ABC News, The Week
Trump suggested firing US commander of Afghan War
In a July 19 meeting with his top advisers on US strategy in Afghanistan, President Trump suggested multiple times to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford that he favored firing Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, because he is not winning the war, senior administration officials told NBC News on Wednesday.
Trump, who has never met with Nicholson, also directed his anger at Mattis, the officials told NBC News. During the two-hour meeting in the White House Situation Room, a frustrated Trump also complained about China making money off of Afghanistan’s rare minerals, and tasked the advisers with finding a way to get American businesses in there quickly to get rights to the minerals. NBC News, The Week
Trump introduces bill to slash legal immigration
On Wednesday, President Trump and Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) introduced the RAISE Act, a skills-based immigration system that the White House says would “make America more competitive, raise wages for American workers, and create jobs.”
The bill, a modified version of one Cotton and Perdue introduced in February, would favor applicants for permanent US residence with certain job skills, education, English proficiency, and family ties in the US It would halve the number of green cards issued each year, to 500,000 from more than a million. It faces staunch opposition from Democrats and immigrant advocates, and economists say cutting immigration would lower US economic growth. The Washington Post, The Week
Brazilian Congress votes down corruption trial for president
The lower house of Brazil’s Congress voted Wednesday to block corruption charges against President Michel Temer, with critics of the embattled president falling far short of the 342 votes needed to suspend him and send his case to trial at the Supreme Court.
In June, Temer became the first sitting president charged with criminal activity, in this case corruption for allegedly receiving $12 million in bribes including $150,000 from a meatpacking magnate. He has worked hard to shore up his support in the Chamber of Deputies since the charges emerged. A recent poll found that 80 percent of Brazilians want Temer tried, and his approval rating sits at about 5 percent. More charges are expected to be filed against him, requiring another vote in Congress. The Washington Post, BBC News, The Week
Researchers successfully edit human genes in major science first
Scientists edited genes in human embryos to eliminate a mutation that causes the heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a study published Wednesday reports. It is the first time researchers have successfully edited genes so that all the cells were mutation-free and no extra mutations were formed.
“It feels a bit like a ‘one small step for (hu)mans, one giant leap for (hu)mankind’ moment,” biochemist Jennifer Doudna wrote in an email to The New York Times. The research is still a long way from clinical trials, however, which would be illegal under current law. “[T]here will be societal issues that have to be considered and discussions that are going to have to happen. Now’s the time,” said MIT’s Richard Hynes. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy affects about 1 in 500 people. The New York Times
Senate Republicans appear to be cooling on Trump
In ways big and small, congressional Republicans are defying — or simply ignoring — President Trump. Trump and his aides have been hectoring Senate Republicans to reconsider legislation to repeal ObamaCare, and GOP senators are saying no; the House and Senate passed new sanctions on Russia opposed by Trump with veto-proof majorities; senators are defending former colleague Attorney General Jeff Sessions from Trump’s attacks with increasing vigor; and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) just published a book highly critical of Trump and the “Faustian bargain” Republicans made with him.
The ramped up criticism of Trump is mostly in the Senate, where few Republicans have competitive re-election fights next year, while Trump’s proficient fundraising for the Republican National Committee is keeping many other Republicans in line. The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Week
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