Top news stories for today – Dec 18, 2017
UN to vote on Jerusalem
Rejecting the Americans as a possible broker in a Middle East peace process, Palestinian leaders have shifted tactics, aiming for the United Nations to nullify President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while simultaneously trying to get other countries to recognize a Palestinian state.
A UN Security Council resolution trying to annul Trump’s announcement, introduced by Egypt, could be put to a vote early this week, according to Israeli officials, though the US will almost certainly veto the resolution. That vote could come as early as today. CNN
Power failure at Atlanta airport
At 1:06 p.m. on Sunday, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport went dark, after an electrical fire damaged two Georgia Power substations serving the airport, including its “redundant system” in case of power failure. Thousands of passengers at the world’s busiest airport were trapped for hours on grounded airplanes, electrical trams between terminals, or in the dark airport.
FAA quickly declared a ground stop at the airport, causing the cancelation of about 1,000 flights in and out of Atlanta Sunday, with hundreds of flights scrapped for Monday, a week before Christmas. Power crews restored electricity at Concourse F at 7:30 p.m., and fully restored power at about 12:30 a.m. The cause of the fires is unknown. CNN, USA Today
Turkey hopes to open embassy in East Jerusalem
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that Turkey hopes to open an embassy to a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem in the future. The comments come just days after Erdogan hosted a summit of leaders of Muslim-majority nations to denounce US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel following the 1967 war – a move that has not been recognized by the international community. Turkey currently has a general consulate in Jerusalem, and has full diplomatic relations with Israel but, like all other nations, its embassy is in Tel Aviv. VOA
Trump has no plans to fire Robert Mueller
Despite new public tensions between the White House and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, and increasingly strident criticism from conservative pundits of Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation, President Trump told reporters Sunday night that he is not planning to fire Mueller. He said that how the investigation is being conducted is “not looking good,” adding, “my people were very upset to see” emails from his presidential transition team handed over to Mueller.
Earlier Sunday, several White House officials said there has been no discussion of firing Mueller. “There is no consideration about firing or replacing the special counsel with whom the White House has fully cooperated in order to permit a fully vetted yet prompt conclusion,” said White House lawyer Ty Cobb. The Washington Post, USA Today
Trump and Putin thanks each other
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone Sunday, marking the second time in a week that the leaders have reached out to exchange praise. The call Sunday involved the Kremlin thanking the CIA for intelligence that prevented an Islamic State terrorist attack at the Kazan Cathedral, one of the most famous buildings in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
“No Russian lives were lost and the terrorist attackers were caught and are now incarcerated,” the White House wrote. “President Trump … told President Putin that he … [was] pleased to have helped save so many lives.” Last week, Trump reached out to Putin to thank him for praising America’s “strong economic performance,” and briefly discussed tensions with North Korea. AFP, Office of the Press Secretary
John McCain to miss GOP tax vote
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) returned to Arizona on Sunday, after spending four days at Walter Reed Medical Center amid receiving chemotherapy for a malignant brain tumor. McCain’s office released a statement from Dr. Mark Gilbert at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute, saying McCain “continues to improve” after responding well to treatment for a viral infection and is “responding positively” to the cancer treatment.
McCain’s office also said the 81-year-old senator “looks forward to returning to Washington in January,” confirming he will miss this week’s vote on the Republican tax plan. McCain’s absence doesn’t appear to put the $1.5 trillion tax bill’s passage in jeopardy, as all 51 other Republican senators have indicated they will vote in favor. The Washington Post, CNN
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