Top News Stories for Today – February 22, 2017

Top News Stories for Today – February 22, 2017

N Korean diplomat linked to Kim Jong Nam killing

N Korean diplomat linked to Kim Jong Nam killingThe Malaysian police on Wednesday said they want to question three new North Korean suspects, including a North Korean diplomat, in connection with the apparent assassination last week of Kim Jong Nam, the older half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. At a news conference in the Malaysian capital, Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the new suspects include Hyon Kwang Song, the second secretary in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The other suspects named were Kim Uk Il, who works for the North Korean airline Air Koryo, and a North Korean man identified as Ri Ji U, but no other details were given about him.

Bakar said the suspects are still in Kuala Lumpur and police will compel them to cooperate if they do not come in voluntarily. Police have also asked Pyongyang to return four other North Korean suspects who are believed to have fled Malaysia to Pyongyang. VOA



Venezuelan food crisis

Venezuelan food crisisHere’s the clearest sign yet that Venezuela’s food crisis is taking its toll — people are losing weight, and not in a healthy way. We’re talking 19 pounds, on average, per person in just the past year. A national survey finds that the number of people who say they eat two or fewer meals a day rose from 11% in 2015 to 33% in 2016.

That’s now an estimated 9.6 million people. Goods of all kinds are in short supply in a crisis fueled by years of financial mismanagement by the government. President Nicolas Maduro, who in the past wouldn’t even admit to a problem, just announced an increase in food vouchers. CNN



Judge blocks cutting funding Planned Parenthood

Federal Judge blocks cutting funding Planned ParenthoodA federal judge in Austin issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that keeps Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood over videos released by anti-abortion activists. In his ruling, Judge Sam Sparks said state health officials did not present any evidence of any violations and “such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.”

There are 34 Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas, serving more than 120,000 patients, including 11,000 on Medicaid. In 2016, following the release by an anti-abortion group of heavily edited videos it claimed showed Planned Parenthood representatives discussing prices for fetal tissue collected from abortion, a Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. Reuters, The Week



Support for ObamaCare growing

House fails again on ObamacareThe American people are warming up to the Affordable Care Act, even as Republicans move to repeal and replace the program, a new Politico/Morning consult poll shows. In January, before President Trump took office, just 41 percent of voters approved of ObamaCare, compared with 52 percent who disapproved. Now, that divide is evenly split: 45 percent of voters approve of the law, and 45 percent disapprove.

“As the threat of the Affordable Care Act’s repeal has moved from notional to concrete, our weekly polling has shown an uptick in the law’s popularity, and fewer voters support repealing the law,” noted Morning Consult’s co-founder, Kyle Dropp. Of nine ObamaCare provisions, most voters only want to repeal the individual mandate that Americans buy health insurance. Two-thirds of voters want to keep laws prohibiting insurance companies from denying patients with preexisting conditions, and another 63 percent believe people under 26 should be able to stay on their parents’ plans. Politico, The Week



Ex-Hong Kong leader sentenced on corruption charges

Ex-Hong Kong leader sentenced on corruption chargesHong Kong’s former chief executive Donald Tsang, the highest-ranking ex-official to be charged in the city’s history, has received a prison term of 20 months for misconduct in public office. Wrapping up a six-week trial, the court found Tsang guilty of having failed to disclose a conflict of interest. Tsang had deliberately concealed private rental negotiations with property tycoon Bill Wong between 2010 and 2012 while his cabinet discussed and approved a digital broadcasting license for a now defunct radio company, Wave Media, in which Wong was a major shareholder.

High Court justice Andrew Chan praised Tsang for his four-decade-long dedication to public service before reducing the sentence by 10 months. “Never in my judicial career have I seen a man fallen from so high,” Chan said during sentencing, as Tsang stood in the dock with his teary family in the public gallery. Chan concluded that Tsang had breached the trust placed in him by both the people of Hong Kong and the people of China. VOA



US expands enforcement of immigration laws

Federal appellate court weighs travel banThe US Department of Homeland Security has outlined policies that could result in the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released the guidelines Tuesday specifying how his department will carry out a pair of executive orders President Donald Trump issued last month.

Under the previous administration of President Barack Obama the focus on deporting people who entered the country illegally was on those who committed serious crimes. Kelly rescinded those policies, saying now priorities for deportation are people who are convicted or charged with any crime, have committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense, abused a program to get public aid, or in the judgment of an immigration officer pose a public safety or national security threat. VOA



Life expectancy to continue rising

Life expectancy to continue risingSouth Korean women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy of 91 years, a new study predicts. Imperial College London and the World Health Organization analyzed lifespans in 35 industrialized countries. The study found all would see people living longer in 2030, and the gap between men and women would start to close in most countries.

While women and men in South Korea led the study, Americans continued to have one of the lowest life expectancies of any developed country. The study estimated that the US, which already lags behind other developed countries, will fall even further behind by 2030, when men and women are projected to live to 80 and 83, about the same as Mexico and Croatia. According to the study, this was partly due to a lack of universal health care in the United States, and also due to factors such as relatively high child and maternal mortality rates, and high rates of homicides and obesity. The study was published online Tuesday in The Lancet medical journal. VOA

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