Top News Stories for Today – February 14, 2017
Mexico threatens US with trade war
Mexico is one of the top buyers of American corn in the world today. And Mexican senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.
It’s one of the first signs of potential concrete action from Mexico in response to President Trump’s threats against the country. American farmers sent $2.4 billion of corn to Mexico in 2015, the most recent year of available data. Experts say such a bill would be very costly to US farmers. FOX News Insider
National security adviser Michael Flynn resigns
Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night as President Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, left just a few hours after The Washington Post published a story about the Justice Department warning the White House that Flynn had discussed sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump’s inauguration, and could be subject to blackmail.
In his resignation letter, Flynn said he “inadvertently” briefed Vice President Mike Pence with “incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.” Russian officials maintain that Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak did not discuss sanctions, and blamed his departure on “Russophobia” and an anti-Trump campaign by the US mainstream media. Keith Kellogg, a retired general and NSC chief of staff, has been named acting national security adviser. Kellogg and former Gen. David Petraeus were two of the three people floated to replace Flynn, but Vice Adm. Robert Harward is now considered the frontrunner.
Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser removes an immediate political headache for the White House but will do little to dispel suspicions about his ties with Russia that now threaten to envelop President Donald Trump’s nascent administration. Time, CNN, The Week
Justice Dept. warned White House about Flynn
In late January, Sally Yates, then serving as the acting attorney general of the United States, warned the White House that she believed President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his talks with the Russian ambassador to the United States and Flynn was potentially susceptible to Russian blackmail, current and former US officials told The Washington Post.
Flynn had said multiple times that the sanctions against Russia imposed by former President Barack Obama in response to meddling in the 2016 presidential election never came up in his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but a spokesman for Flynn told the Post last week that he “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.” It is unclear what White House counsel Donald McGahn did with the information from Yates. The Washington Post
Kim Jong Un’s half brother killed in Malaysia
Kim Kong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was assassinated Monday in Malaysia, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. The official did not provide additional information. He reportedly was killed by two unidentified female agents who used poisoned needles at Kuala Lumpur International Airport before hailing a cab and fleeing the scene.
Kim Jong Nam was once considered the heir apparent to lead North Korea, but he fell out of favor with his father Kim Jong Il after a failed 2001 attempt to enter Japan on a forged passport to visit Disneyland. Since then, Kim Jong Nam has lived in virtual exile, primarily in the Chinese territory of Macau. VOA
New Mexicans say 1945 Atom bomb test caused cancer
Residents say the world’s first atomic bomb test caused generations of southern New Mexico families to suffer from cancer and economic hardship, according to surveys gathered by an advocacy group seeking compensation for descendants.
The surveys released Friday detailed residents’ stories from areas around the 1945 Trinity Test and argue that many Hispanic families later struggled to keep up with cancer-related illnesses. The health effects of the test have long been debated in New Mexico.
Members of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium have long contended that those living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test in 1945 weren’t told about the dangers or compensated for their resulting health problems. Since then, they say, descendants have been plagued with cancer and other illnesses while the federal government ignored their plight. VOA
Federal judge in Virginia blocks travel ban
US District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Monday granted a preliminary injunction against President Trump’s executive order on immigration, ruling that there is evidence the travel ban violates the First and Fifth Amendments and would cause “irreparable injury” to Virginia residents and institutions. The executive order’s section 3(c) barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days, and Brinkema’s order prevents the Department of Justice from enforcing that section against Virginia residents and those who work at or attend public universities in the state.
Brinkema said she did not issue her injunction on a nationwide basis because she wanted to “avoid any claim” that it is “defective because of overbreadth.” Earlier in the month, a judge in Seattle blocked the ban nationwide, and last week the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against reinstating it. WTVR, NBC Washington
Trump and Trudeau talk trade and immigration
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning for his first in-person meeting with President Trump. The North American leaders discussed free trade and shared economic interests amid Canada’s concerns about Trump’s plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We understand that both of our countries are stronger when we join forces in matters of international commerce,” Trump said during a joint press conference Thursday afternoon. Trump and Trudeau struck very different tones on immigration, however, with Trudeau emphasizing Canada’s commitment to openness and Trump reiterating his commitment to national security. During the visit, Trump and Trudeau also announced the United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs, a new task force to “promote the growth of women-owned enterprises.” The Associated Press, ABC News
Over 680 arrested in US immigration raids
The US Department of Homeland Security says immigration officers have arrested more than 680 people in recent raids targeting illegal migrants, most of them criminals. US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said 75 percent of those rounded up for deportation have criminal records, and he described the operations as routine. The raids took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York.
Kelly said the crimes committed by the undocumented migrants included homicide and aggravated sexual assault. He said the focus of the recent raids was on dangerous criminals, but said it also included anyone who had broken immigration laws. VOA