Top News Stories For Today – Dec 1, 2017
Japan’s Emperor Akihito to step down in 2019
Japanese Emperor Akihito will step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne April 30, 2019, the government announced Friday. He will be succeeded by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. The Imperial House Council made the decision Friday about the date of the abdication. Last year, the emperor said he was becoming too old and frail to carry out his duties.
In recent years, the emperor has had heart surgery, bronchitis and has been treated for prostate cancer. Legislation was passed earlier this year allowing for the emperor’s abdication, but the timing of the move was left to the Imperial House Council, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Akihito will be the first emperor to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne in 200 years. VOA
WH plan to replace Tillerson
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job again appeared to be in jeopardy Thursday following fresh reports that President Donald Trump wants to replace him with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo in the coming weeks.
Several news publications, citing senior White House officials who declined to be identified, reported the relationship between Trump and Tillerson had become strained over the past year and that the president favored replacing him with the CIA chief, with whom he has a better rapport. VOA
Slavery markets in Libya
The UN urged Libya to “take urgent action” to end the slave trade there, a practice exposed by CNN, which shined a light on human slave auctions in the country. Many of those being sold are migrants like Victory, a 21-year-old man who fled Nigeria and spent his life savings in hopes of reaching Europe. He made it as far as Libya when he ran out of funds, he told CNN, and smugglers sold him as a day laborer to make back a profit. Victory was sold as a slave several times; the smugglers also demanded ransom payments from his family before they eventually released him.
Undercover CNN reporters witnessed a dozen men being sold at auction outside Libya’s capital of Tripoli. The report let to protests outside Libya’s embassy in Paris and widespread calls for an investigation. CNN
World’s biggest lithium ion battery activated
The 100-megawatt, world’s largest lithium ion battery, built by Tesla, was officially activated on Friday in South Australia. “This is history in the making,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said on Friday. Tesla boss Elon Musk has described it as three times more powerful than the world’s next biggest battery. Located near Jamestown, about 125 miles north of Adelaide, the battery is connected to a wind farm run by French energy company Neoen.
When fully charged, the battery can power up to 30,000 homes for an hour. However, it will mostly be used to support and stabilise existing electricity supplies. Next year, a battery storage facility 50% larger than Tesla’s in Australia will be turned on in South Korea. Chinese firms and many other renewable energy firms are also installing many battery storage systems for power suppliers around the world. BBC
US tax overhaul
The GOP effort to remake the nation’s tax code was rolling along nicely in the Senate. A final vote was set for last night, and even maverick Sen. John McCain said he was on board. Then, the whole thing hit a trillion dollar-sized pothole. A nonpartisan analysis of the Senate tax bill said yes, it would generate some economic growth, but the massive tax cuts in it would still add $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. That flies in the face of White House claims that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.
So, deficit hawks like Bob Corker — Tennessee senator and Donald Trump nemesis — demanded some changes. The big vote was delayed until later today, and the tax writers went back to work. Corker wants to find ways to raise more revenue if the tax package indeed doesn’t create enough economic growth. So, the GOP is looking at things like gradually raising the corporate rate after the initial tax cut or not completely repealing the alternative minimum tax. CNN
Venezuelan airline banned in Europe
Venezuela’s Avior Airlines has been banned from European Union skies after a commission determined it no longer meets international safety standards, another blow to troubled nation’s already struggling flight industry.
An Avior flight made an emergency landing in Ecuador earlier this month after passengers described seeing fire and smelling smoke. Avior operates flights within Venezuela, throughout Latin America and to Miami, Florida, and lists an office location in Madrid on its website. VOA
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