Top News Stories for Today – Aug 31, 2017
The remnants of Hurricane Harvey are (slowly) pushing out of Texas and Louisiana, but the damage that the storm leaves behind will be with us for years. Right now, at least 37 people are dead (and many people are still missing), tens of thousands are sitting in shelters, and untold numbers are still trapped in flooded homes. About a third of metro Houston sits under water.
And the misery is spreading. Communities to the east of Houston are hurting. Beaumont may be without drinking water because the city’s water pump station has failed. In Port Arthur, evacuees had to be evacuated again after flooding drove them from a shelter. There’s fear that a flooded chemical plant northeast of Houston could explode. And one of the largest pipelines between Houston and the East Coast had to be shut down.
But there’s help of all kinds for survivors: two US Navy warships are on their way with disaster relief supplies; a monster truck is helping to rescue people; gospel singers are lifting spirits at shelters; a doctor braved the flood waters in a canoe to perform emergency surgery on a teen. CNN
Mueller Russia investigation
Members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been sharing evidence about a potential case involving President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, Politico reports. Both teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including possible money laundering, one source familiar with the matter revealed, although they have not made a decision regarding filing charges and “nothing is imminent.” Trump has no pardon power over state crimes, and state and federal prosecutors think the prospect of a presidential pardon could affect whether or not Manafort cooperates with federal investigators working on a Trump probe, one person familiar with the investigation said. Politico, The Week
Fox News poll on Trump
President Trump hit a new low in a Fox News poll released Wednesday, with 55 percent of voters disapproving of his job performance versus 41 percent who approve. In April, Trump’s approval was just 3 points underwater, 45 percent to 48 percent. Only 35 percent of voters say they are satisfied with how things are going in the US, versus 64 percent who are dissatisfied, and by a wide margin, voters say Trump is “tearing the country apart” (56 percent) versus “drawing the county together” (33 percent).
Trump’s best numbers were on handling the economy (49-43 percent) and his worst were on race relations (33-61 percent). The poll was conducted Aug. 27-29 among 1,006 registered voters, and its margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. Fox News
US troops in Afghanistan increased
The Pentagon on Wednesday finally revealed that there are close to 11,000 US troops currently in Afghanistan, much more than the 8,400 acknowledged under the Obama administration’s troop cap. To keep the public count low, military officials used creative accounting techniques, including labeling some troops as “temporary” and moving soldiers around, The Associated Press reports. The Pentagon is getting ready to deploy thousands of additional troops to help train Afghan forces and launch counterterror operations against the Taliban and groups linked to al-Qaeda, and it’s believed that within a few months, there will be 15,000 or so US troops in Afghanistan., The Associated Press
US Tax reform
Wall Street is in pretty good shape right now, so President Trump pitched his vision of tax reform as a chance to help out Main Street. Speaking in Springfield, Missouri, Trump laid out his goals in broad terms: simplify the tax code and make it more competitive, deliver tax relief for the middle class, and repatriate offshore profits.
The President and GOP leaders in Congress plan to get together soon to work on the details, including the business tax rate. Trump wants it dropped to 15%, but congressional leaders think that’s too low. Democrats, who don’t exactly have much power in Washington right now, said Trump’s plan would just turn into a big ol’ tax cut for the rich. CNN
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