Top News Stories for Today – February 21, 2017
Gen McMaster tapped as national security adviser
President Donald Trump has named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, The Associated Press reports. McMaster replaces Michael Flynn, who resigned from the post last week. The announcement came after Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, interviewing four candidates for the position before settling on McMaster, whom he called “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”
McMaster is a respected military strategist known for his knowledge in counterterrorism, reports The New York Times. Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he discussed Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump had been inaugurated. Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence the discussions never happened. The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Week
Thousands rally for “Not My President” day
Their signs said it all — “Not My President,” “Happy Presidents Day, President Putin,” and “Resist.” In Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and more than two dozen other cities on Monday, thousands of people gathered for “Not My President’s Day” rallies, sharing their messages for President Trump.
This was the fifth day of protests in Manhattan, with demonstrators standing outside of the Trump International Hotel singing “We Shall Overcome” and chanting “No Ban, No Wall.” One protester, Sayief Leshaw, 22, told NBC News he was “really concerned for where our country is headed. We’ve sold out to corporate interests, and Donald Trump’s policies are downright offensive.” NBC News, The Week
Plane crash in Australia kills 5
On Tuesday morning, four American tourists and their Australian pilot were killed when their twin-engine Beechcraft Super King airplane crashed into a shopping mall in suburban Melbourne, right after takeoff. The Direct Factory Outlet mall, adjacent to the airport, was not yet open, and nobody else was injured in the crash, said Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane.
“Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt.” The four Americans were on their way to a golfing vacation on King Island, 160 miles away. Family members have identified two of the American victims — Greg Reynolds De Haven and Russell Munsch, both from Texas — and the pilot was Max Quartermain, owner of the charter company. Quartermain reported “catastrophic engine failure” right after takeoff, police said. The Associated Press
Arctic Antarctic sea ice extent hits record low
Sea ice normally melts in the summer in the Arctic and Antarctic, and recovers in both poles in their respective winters. But not this year. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that sea ice extent in the Arctic and Antarctic was the lowest for the month of January since satellite records began 38 years ago. David Carlson, World Climate Research Program director, calls temperatures in the Arctic “extraordinary.”
WMO reports global heat continues, with January coming in as the third-warmest month on record, after January 2016 and January 2007. Meteorologists say January 2016’s record temperatures were caused by a very powerful El Nino, which warmed the waters of the Pacific Ocean and added extra heating to the planet. VOA
Israeli soldier sentenced for killing Palestinian
An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across the country has been jailed for 18 months. Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, last March. Azaria had told a colleague that Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier, “deserved to die”.
Military chiefs condemned his actions, but others praised them. The case fuelled debate in Israel over when and how soldiers are entitled to use lethal force against attackers. The shooting occurred amid a wave of attacks by Palestinians that had killed 29 Israelis over the preceding five months. BBC
Jewish Community Center threats
The White House slammed a string of threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country. This is significant because President Trump’s been accused of not forcefully denouncing acts of anti-Semitism that have occurred since his election. Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish, spoke out too, tweeting that “we must protect our houses of worship & religious centers.” Eleven bomb threats against centers were reported on Monday alone.
President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are both Orthodox Jews, as are his grandchildren. Eleven bomb threats were reported by various centers on Monday alone, according to the JCC Association of North America. CNN
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