Top news stories for today – Dec 20, 2017
UN General Assembly on Jerusalem status
The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim states on Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said the General Assembly would vote on a draft resolution calling for Trump’s declaration to be withdrawn, which was vetoed by the US in the 15-member UN Security Council on Monday.
The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention US or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally. VOA
Myanmar bars special UN envoy
The South Korean-born UN special human rights envoy to Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, says Myanmar government is barring her from visiting the country to assess the current situation of illegal Bengali immigrant crisis. The Bengali are also known as Rohingya. It coincides with Myanmar’s military revealing the discovery of 10 bodies in a mass grave in northwestern Rakhine state, where more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims once called home before fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. The grave was discovered Monday in the village of Inn Din. The army says it is conducting an investigation.
The Bengali, also known as Rohingya minority has been denied citizenship and other rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. All Myanmar citizen view the Rohingya as immigrants from Bangladesh. VOA
EU court deals major blow to Uber
The European Union’s highest court handed Uber a major defeat on Wednesday by declaring that the ride-hailing service must comply with the same tough rules as conventional taxi companies. Uber had argued that it should be exempt because it is really just a digital services provider, helping to connect riders with independent drivers through its ride-hailing smartphone app.
The decision threatens to hamper Uber’s plans to expand in Europe by forcing it to spend a fortune on licensing fees and employee benefits. It also could signal broader changes in store for the gig economy, in which a growing number of people work as freelancers or under short-term contracts rather than as full-time employees with clear rights and benefits under established labor rules. The New York Times
Senate passes giant GOP tax bill
After midnight on Wednesday, the Senate passed the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax plan along party lines, 51-48, sending the legislation back to the House for final approval. The House had passed the bill, 227-203 — with 12 Republicans and all Democrats voting no — on Tuesday, but arcane parliamentary rules will force the lower chamber to vote again on the bill Wednesday.
Overall, the sweeping tax law slashes the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, lowers the top rate for the richest Americans, and gives more modest temporary tax cuts to everyone else. It is projected to add $1.46 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Week
Virginia Democrat wins House seat by 1 vote
Democrat Shelly Simonds beat incumbent Republican David Yancey by one vote, 11,608 to 11,607, to represent Virginia’s 94th District in the state House of Delegates, after a recount from November’s election was completed Tuesday. In the initial vote count, Yancey came out ahead by 10 votes.
Assuming the one-vote victory is certified Wednesday, as expected, the House of Delegates will be split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, each with 50 seats, ending GOP control of the state legislature. Republicans control the Senate 21-19, and they had controlled the House for 17 years, until they lost now 16 seats on Election Day. “Fifty-fifty is an unprecedented event in the 400-year history of the House of Delegates,” said David J. Toscano, the House Democratic leader. NBC News, The New York Times, The Week
Americans hold favorable view of US economy
Nearly two-thirds of Americans have a favorable view of the US economy, according to a new poll, even as they give negative reviews for his handling of the economy and other issues. In its latest poll, Quinnipiac University said 63 percent of voters consider the US economy to be “excellent” or “good,” while 34 percent say it is “not so good” or “poor.”
The pollster said voters, by a 51 to 44 percent margin, disapprove of Trump’s handling of the economy. 45 to 43 percent, voters say that Obama deserves more credit than Trump for the favorable state of the US economy. Overall, Quinnipiac said voters, by a 59-37 margin, disapprove of Trump’s presidency, almost identical to Gallup’s 59-36 negative reading. By wide margins, the pollster said Americans do not think Trump is honest. They believe he does not have good leadership skills, does not care about average Americans, is not level-headed and does not share their values. But Quinnipiac said that by a 57-40 margin, Americans view Trump as a strong person, and by a 52-45 edge, that he is intelligent. VOA
- Blaming Suu Kyi will not end the Rohingya crisis
- Conspiracy theories in Myanmar's Rohingya crisis
- Rohingya refugees as pawns in a geopolitical game
- Slaughtered Hindus testament to brutality of Rohingya terrorists