Top News Stories for Today – Aug 4, 2017
West Virginia governor announces he’s switching parties
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced during a rally with President Trump on Thursday that he is leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican. “Today, I tell you as West Virginians, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor,” Justice said. “So tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican.” Justice is the state’s only billionaire and made his money in the coal industry, and did not support Hillary Clinton during last year’s election.
Elizabeth Pearson, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said Justice “deceived the voters of West Virginia when he ran as a Democrat eight months ago,” while Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) of the Republican Governors Association said the group was “thrilled that Gov. Jim Justice wants to join our efforts.” ABC News
Trump pleaded Mexican President on border wall
President Trump pleaded that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto stop saying that his country would not pay for a wall on the border in their first telephone discussion, according to a transcript of the Jan. 27 call obtained by The Washington Post. “You cannot say that to the press,” Trump told Nieto, urging him to refrain from the public statements because of the political damage it would impose on Trump.
“If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that,” Trump told Nieto, according to the transcript obtained by the Post. In a line likely to surprise some Trump supporters, the president described the wall as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.” The conversation is one of several Trump held with foreign leaders as he took office. Details of the calls have been made public, but this is the first time entire transcripts have leaked out. The Hill
Senators push bill to protect Mueller
Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, plan to introduce a measure Thursday that would bar the President from directly firing any special counsel — retroactive to Mueller’s appointment in May.
“The President would maintain the power to remove the special counsel, but we would just want to make sure that it had merit and have that back-end judicial process,” Tillis said Thursday morning on CNN’s “Newsroom.” “And if there is a termination, we just want to make sure, through judicial review, that it was warranted,” he added. The measure would also effectively shut down another avenue for firing Mueller — mandating that only an attorney general confirmed by the Senate would have the power to remove the special counsel. Tillis said if bipartisan proposal passes through Congress and Trump decides to veto the legislation, “it means that we’d have work to do potentially override a veto.” CNN
Temperatures in western US near record highs
A heat wave hitting the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle, Portland, and other major cities, is expected to bring record heat to the region through Friday. Excessive heat warnings cover the western third of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington state.
Inland temperatures are expected to reach as high as 110 degrees. “We are talking about one of the major sustained heat waves in a long time around here,” writes Cliff Mass, professor of meteorology at the University of Washington. The high temperature forecast for Seattle on Thursday is 100 degrees; the city has only had three triple-digit days in 123 years of record keeping, including the record high of 103 on July 29, 2009. The Washington Post, National Weather Service, The Week
China joins search for missing US sailor
Chinese and US Naval ships are working together in the South China Sea, in a search and rescue mission for a missing American sailor, the military said in a statement Thursday. The sailor, whose name is being withheld, was reported missing from the USS Stethem destroyer around 9:00am local time Tuesday. The ship was “conducting routine operations” in the South China Sea at the time, according to a Navy statement.
The Chinese Navy said it was joining American and Japanese search and rescue efforts “in the spirit of humanitarianism”. VOA
Majority on new Harvard University not white
More than half of Harvard University’s next student intake will not be white, for the first time in its 380-year history, official figures show. The varsity, which has educated more US presidents than any other, will take 50.8% of its freshmen from minority groups. That compares to 47.3% last year.
Asian Americans make up 22.2%, followed by African Americans at 14.6%, Hispanic or Latino students at 11.6%, and Native American or Pacific Islanders at 2.5%. The milestone figures come just days after Harvard was drawn into a row over affirmative action between the US justice department and the New York Times. BBC
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