Top News Stories for Today – February 1, 2017
EU identifies Russia, China, Trump as top threats
European Union President Donald Tusk says China, Russia and the new US administration of President Donald Trump are among the top external threats facing the bloc. His remarks came in a letter to 27 EU leaders ahead of a summit Friday in Malta.
“Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,” Tusk said. He ended the letter by saying the EU cannot give in to those who want to “weaken or invalidate” the bond between the US and the EU. Tusk wrote, “We should remind our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall.” VOA
South American Bloc calls Trump a strategic threat
Donald Trump’s migration policy and trade protectionism are threats to South America and the region must take a stand against them instead of appeasing him, the head of UNASUR regional bloc said on Tuesday. Latin America has warily watched as Trump insisted he would force Mexico to pay for a wall between the United States and Mexico to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He has also threatened to tax Mexican imports and tear up the regional trade deal NAFTA if he cannot renegotiate it to gain more benefits for the United States.
“This is a wall that will separate us Latin Americans from the United States because if you affect Mexico you affect Latin America,” Ernesto Samper, a former centrist Colombian president, said in a farewell speech to the South American bloc at UNASUR headquarters in Ecuador. His term at the helm of UNASUR formally ends on Tuesday. Last week Peru and Colombia vowed to stand with Mexico, but otherwise the region has been largely quiet about Trump’s early days in office. VOA
Fox News deletes tweet after Canada complains
US TV network Fox News has removed a tweet saying a suspect in the Quebec mosque attack was of Moroccan origin, after a request by the Canadian prime minister’s office. Justin Trudeau’s communications chief, Kate Purchase, said Fox was “spreading misinformation” with the tweet, which was based on early reports.
Six Muslim worshippers were shot dead as they prayed and 19 others wounded. French-Canadian student Alexandre Bissonette was subsequently charged. BBC
Ban Ki-moon not running for presidency
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he will not run for president of South Korea. Ban had generated interest as a top candidate to succeed Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in December over a corruption scandal, but his support in opinion polls has been falling. He told reporters Wednesday he was disappointed by the country’s political establishment.
“I have decided to give up the pure intention of trying to lead political change and accomplish national reconciliation,” he said. Ban served for two years as South Korea’s foreign minister before leading the U.N. for a decade. A court is considering Park’s impeachment, and if it upholds the decision, then a presidential election for her replacement would come two months later. VOA
Trump picks Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court
President Trump on Tuesday nominated Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Colorado, to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Like Scalia, Gorsuch is a conservative and believes in a strict, originalist interpretation of the Constitution.
Gorsuch, at 49, is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in 25 years. He is a widely respected jurist, but still could face a bitter confirmation battle. His confirmation would restore the court’s 5-4 conservative majority. Some Democrats questioned Gorsuch’s record on women’s rights. Others vowed to fight Trump’s nominee because they felt former President Barack Obama should have been the one to fill the vacancy. Obama nominated another highly respected judge, Merrick Garland, for the seat last year, but Republicans blocked the nomination, refusing to consider any Obama nominee. The Week
1 in 4 believe Trump’s baseless voter fraud claim
One in four voters in the United States believe that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, despite there being a dearth of evidence that proves such claims to be true, a Politico/Morning Consult survey has found. The allegation, most prominently promoted by President Donald Trump, suggests that several million people committed voter fraud last year; 25 percent of registered voters said they agree with these claims.
But “if the election was subject to voter fraud, 35 percent say it’s more likely any improper votes benefited Trump, and 30 percent say they benefited Clinton,” Politico reports. Last week President Trump promised to sign an executive order to investigate the baseless claims of voter fraud, but the action has so far been postponed. Politico,The Week
San Francisco sues Trump over immigration order
San Francisco filed a lawsuit against President Trump on Tuesday over his executive order threatening to yank federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration agents and provide protection for undocumented immigrations.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera called Trump’s action unconstitutional and “un-American.” There are about 400 jurisdictions around the country that meet some descriptions of sanctuary cities, although there is no official designation. The White House says such cities “willfully violate federal law” by shielding from deportation people who are in the US illegally. Los Angeles Times, The Week
Apple considering legal action over travel ban
Apple could be the next big tech company to take legal action against President Trump’s travel ban. The iPhone maker is considering legal options regarding Trump’s executive order, which has affected hundreds of its employees, CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Cook didn’t provide details on what approach Apple (AAPL, Tech30) might take other than saying that “we want to be constructive and productive.” Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. His comments follow moves this week by Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and Expedia (EXPE) to join a legal challenge to the travel ban, which affects refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Apple is one of the many tech companies that have spoken out against the ban, which caused chaos and confusion around the world and triggered protests in airports. CNN
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