Top News Stories For Today – Dec 15, 2017
Russia sets presidential election for March
Russia’s presidential election will take place March 18 following a vote in the upper chamber of the country’s parliament. President Vladimir Putin last week ended weeks of speculation, saying he will run for the fourth term. Putin’s 80 percent approval ratings make his victory all but certain.
His most visible adversary, anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, has declared his intention to run, but a criminal conviction bars his from running for president. Navalny has been convicted on two separate sets of charges largely viewed as politically motivated. Despite the implicit ban, he has mounted a grassroots campaign, which reached the most remote corners of Russia. VOA
The end of net neutrality
Net neutrality is no more, so what happens now? The repeal could change how you are billed for your internet services. For example, T-Mobile has been criticized for effectively making it cheaper for its customers to stream Netflix and HBO videos. That puts Hulu and other streaming services at a disadvantage. The end of net neutrality means those type of practices might spread to other companies. And there are worries that up and coming companies — like, say, the next Netflix — would suffer if they have to strike deals with providers and pay up to have their content delivered faster.
The net neutrality rules were approved by the FCC in 2015 amid an outpouring of online support. The intention was to keep the internet open and fair. Under the rules, internet service providers are required to treat all online content the same. They can’t deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor can they put their own content at an advantage over rivals. CNN
Peru’s president refuses to step down
Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is vowing to fight on amid calls for his resignation over decade-old payments his consulting business received from a Brazilian firm. In a televised speech Thursday, Kuczynski said he had no role in management of his firm Westfield Capital when it received nearly $800,000 in payments from Odebrecht-led consortiums between 2004 and 2007. At the time he was serving as finance chief and prime minister in a previous government.
Surrounded by his Cabinet, Kuczynski said corruption in Peru is systemic but he would defend his honor and not be pushed out by his political rivals. Kuczynski’s explanation for the large payments comes as Peru’s two biggest parties have called for his resignation. Kuczynski has repeatedly denied any ties to Odebrecht. VOA
Rubio demands more generous child tax credit
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) could complicate things for the Republicans as they try to pass their tax overhaul, having told reporters on Thursday he won’t support the legislation unless it increases the refundable portion of the child tax credit. Senate and House Republicans say they have reached an agreement on a tax bill, which lowers the corporate tax rate to 21 percent and top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 37 percent, and are just ironing out the final details.
As it stands now, the bill sets the child tax credit at $2,000 per child, and Rubio wants it to be refundable against both payroll and income taxes. He “can’t in good conscience support” the legislation unless this happens, Rubio said, adding, “There’s a way to do it, and we’ll be very reasonable.” The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate. Politico, The Week
Rumors swirl that Paul Ryan may retire
Many Capitol Hill insiders believe House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) intends to retire at the end of his term, both HuffPost and Politico report. The idea is that Ryan would leave Congress after he passes some of his personal legislative priorities, like a tax overhaul bill — on which House and Senate Republicans reportedly reached an agreement Thursday — and entitlement reform, which Ryan has said he’d like to tackle in 2018.
Mueller asked Trump campaign data firm for documents
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly requested Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that worked for President Trump’s presidential campaign, turn over the emails of all employees who were involved with the campaign. Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee via video call this week as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In October, The Daily Beast reported that Nix sent an email to a third party that said he contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about how he could assist his website with releasing some of Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. Assange told The Daily Beast he was able to “confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica and can confirm that it was rejected by WikiLeaks.” The Wall Street Journal, The Week
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