Top News Stories For Today – Dec 14, 2017
Taiwan responds to China’s military exercise
On Monday, Chinese jets carried out “island encirclement patrols” around Taiwan, with state media showing pictures of bombers with cruise missiles slung under their wings. Taiwan responded quickly to the Chinese drill this week. Taiwan said, denouncing the rise in China’s military deployments as irresponsible. China considers Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring what it views as a wayward province under Chinese control.
Tensions have risen in recent days after a senior Chinese diplomat threatened that China would invade Taiwan if any US warships made port visits there. And on Tuesday US President Donald Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorizes the possibility of mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States. VOA
Putin said Russian scandal is harming US
Russia’s president has accused opponents of his US counterpart Donald Trump of harming the US by “inventing stories” about contacts with Russia. At his annual news conference, Vladimir Putin said contacts between the Trump team and Russian officials before last year’s election were normal.
He said the US opposition was not treating those who elected Trump with respect.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow tried to sway the presidential election in favor of Trump, but Putin denies the allegations. “It’s all invented by those in opposition to Trump to make his work seem illegitimate,” Putin said, when asked about the investigation. BBC
South Korean President Moon visits China
South Korean President Moon Jae-in met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday during a visit to Beijing aimed at repairing ties frayed by a dispute over the deployment of an American anti-missile system, known as THAAD. China continues to demand the removal of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), saying it allows South Korea and its US ally to spy on military activity in northeastern China.
Moon has tried to balance South Korea’s close political and military ties with the US with its economic dependency on the Chinese market. While South Korea has resisted China’s demands to withdraw THAAD, which it says is needed to counter the threat of North Korean missiles. VOA
GOP reached an agreement on taxes
Republicans in the House and Senate reached an agreement for the final version of their tax overhaul. Aides told The Associated Press that while certain details still need to be reviewed, the final legislation will likely be unveiled later this week. Lawmakers had been working on getting the bill to a final vote next week that would lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent and the top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 37 percent, The New York Times reports. But, Trump repeatedly said the tax cut will benefit middle class and the rich will not be gaining at all.
The versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate lowered the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. The individual rate is being lowered due to the concern of wealthy taxpayers who are afraid that because the Republicans want to eliminate several individual deductions, their taxes will go up. The New York Times, The Associated Press
Internet regulation of US could change
Today could be the day that the internet as we know it begins a major transformation. The FCC is expected to approve a repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections. These rules, OK’d just two years ago, were meant to keep the web open and fair and stopped big internet service providers from speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps.
There’s a big political divide on this. Democrats oppose the repeal. But the FCC is led by Republicans, and Trump appointed its chairman, Ajit Pai, who has been a critic of net neutrality rules for years. Pai wants the rules repealed to stop the federal government from “micromanaging the internet.” CNN
Disney to buy 21st Century Fox
On Thursday, the Walt Disney Co. agreed to buy a passel of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV assets for $52.4 billion, giving Disney the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight studios and Fox television studios, FX, and the National Geographic Channel. Disney CEO Robert Iger will stay on as head of the combined companies through 2021, Disney also announced.
The acquisition will require Justice Department antitrust approval. Analysts say that Disney wanted 21 Century Fox’s content for its upcoming video-streaming services. The deal also gives Disney a 60 percent stake in Hulu. “It gives them a little more leverage to compete against new studios such as Netflix,” says Boston College law professor Dan Lyons. USA Today
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