Top News Stories For Today – Feb 8, 2018
Billionaire Soon-Shiong to buy LA Times
Tronc has agreed to sell the Los Angeles Times and its sister publication, The San Diego Union-Tribune, for $500 million to billionaire physician and Tronc investor Patrick Soon-Shiong. A Californian, Soon-Shiong takes over during a turbulent period at the paper, “which has seen three editors in six months, its publisher placed on unpaid leave amid a sexual harassment investigation, and a historic vote to unionize the newsroom,” the Times writes.
With the purchase, Soon-Shiong will succeed Tronc head Michael Ferro, whose tenure was deeply unpopular among the newspaper staff. “It’s hard to imagine the new boss being worse than the Tronc era has been,” wrote CNN’s media critic Brian Lowry, formerly a staffer of the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, CNN
Kremlin successfully penetrated US voter system
Last September, the Department of Homeland Security informed 21 states that the Russian government had targeted their voter registration system before the 2016 election, and on Wednesday, the DHS’s head of cybersecurity, Jeanette Manfra, told NBC News that of the 21 states, “an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”
She did not name any of the states, since the report is classified, but she said she has “no doubt” it was the Russian government, not just Russians, behind the cyberattack. There is no evidence that Russia tampered with any voting rolls in the 2016 election, federal officials say. But there are concerns that states are not doing enough to protect their electoral systems for 2018 and 2020 elections. NBC News
ICC to investigate President Duterte
The International Criminal Court launched an inquiry into Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, Duterte’s spokesman said. Rights groups long have accused Duterte of human rights violations in his anti-drug campaign, which Human Rights Watch estimates has killed 12,000 people since June 2016.
Duterte “welcomes” the inquiry, the spokesman said, because he’s tired of the accusations. The ICC didn’t return calls seeking comment. CNN
Trump’s approval rating is on the rise
Bolstered by the strong economy and quickly shifting numbers on tax reform, President Donald Trump’s approval rating hit 40% in a new Quinnipiac poll on Wednesday, his best score in this survey in seven months.
A slim majority of voters, 51%, say they approve of how Trump is handling the economy, his highest mark on this question since his inauguration. Seven in 10 American voters, 70%, say the US economy is excellent or good — the best mark on this question since 2001. Three in four, 75%, have positive views of their own personal financial situations. And for the first time, voters say Trump, rather than former President Barack Obama, is primarily responsible for the state of the economy, 48% for Trump vs. 41% for Obama. This is a reversal from Obama’s 49-40% advantage last month and a stark contrast to Obama’s 67-19% spread last March. CNN
Senate strikes bipartisan budget deal
The Senate has struck a two-year budget deal, the White House announced Wednesday. The bill includes “whopping spending increases to both the Pentagon and domestic federal programs,” and is worth over $400 billion, The Associated Press reports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hailed the deal as a “significant bipartisan step forward” while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lauded it as “a genuine breakthrough.”
However, because the bill doesn’t include a path to citizenship for DREAMers, the undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, it still faces stiff opposition from Democrats in the House. If the bill does not pass a Thursday vote, the government will shut down by the end of the week. The Associated Press, Roll Call
WH staff secretary Porter resigns
White House aide Rob Porter, who served as staff secretary to President Trump and was an ally of Chief of Staff John Kelly, resigned on Wednesday after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of physically and verbally abusing them, providing photos and police reports. The White House originally said Porter wouldn’t leave immediately and a statement from Kelly offered full-throated support for Porter. By Wednesday night, Kelly had issued a new statement saying he was “shocked by the new allegations.”
The ex-wives say they told the FBI last spring about Porter’s alleged abuse, and by the fall, many Trump aides, including Kelly, were reportedly aware that Porter’s lack of a security clearance was tied to the wives’ abuse allegations. The Washington Post, CNN
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