Top News Stories for Today – February 24, 2017
Mexican tell US about worry irritation
Amid worries about a wall and deportations, Mexican officials expressed their concerns to two visiting US Cabinet secretaries on Thursday. “We do not agree on the different measures that recently were stated by the government of the United States that affect Mexico,” Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.
“There exists among Mexicans worry and irritation about what are perceived to be policies that could be harmful for the national interest and for Mexicans here and abroad,” Luis Videgaray Caso, the secretary of foreign affairs, said.
The comments were made amid their meetings with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Tillerson and Kelly appeared with their two Mexican counterparts before the media at the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, but took no questions from reporters. VOA
Israel denies entry to human rights official
Israeli authorities have rejected a request from Human Rights Watch to grant a work permit to its regional director, accusing the group of engaging in Palestinian “propaganda,” the group said Friday. The decision was Israel’s latest step against human rights groups and other advocacy organizations that it accuses of bias against the Jewish state.
Israel’s Interior Ministry issued its ruling this week, some six months after Human Rights Watch asked for permission for its New York-based Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, to be able to work in the country. In a letter dated Monday, the ministry said the group’s reports “have engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of human rights.” The decision, it said, was based on a recommendation from Israel’s Foreign Ministry. He said the decision was connected solely to the group’s activities and had nothing to do with the ethnicity of Shakir, a US citizen of Iraqi descent. VOA
Boehner speaks on Obamacare
Former House Speaker John Boehner said “They’ll (GOPs) fix Obamacare, I shouldn’t have called it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen. They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it.” at a conference hosted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in Orlando, Florida.
Boehner’s comments come as his former colleagues face an uncertain path forward on dismantling then-President Barack Obama’s signature achievement. The party has yet to settle on a replacement plan, and many members are facing criticism at town hall meetings this week from constituents who are upset about the potential ramifications of Republicans following through on the campaign pledge. The former speaker noted the difficulty Republicans would confront in getting everyone on board. CNN
Trump to speak at CPAC
Trump is set to take the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon teased Trump’s speech to the crowd Thursday, hinting that the theme would be “appreciation.”
“Trump may either accomplish more than Republican presidents did in terms of a conservative agenda, despite all the chaos and drama … or he will redefine conservatism,” Rick Tyler, a GOP strategist, told NPR. “The movement is at a crossroads, and it remains a known unknown where it is going.” Trump speaks at 10 a.m. and will be broadcast live on CSPAN and cable news channels. While Trump pulled out of speaking at the conference in 2016 at the last minute, he addressed the group in 2011, where he was booed for claiming Sen. Ron Paul could not get elected, and also in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Fox News, NPR, The Week
FBI refused WH request on Trump-Russia stories
After several news organizations reported that Donald Trump’s advisers were in constant contact with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House requested that the FBI publicly denounce the stories, several US officials told CNN Thursday.
The White House wanted the FBI and other agencies investigating the matter to say that the Feb. 14 reports from The New York Times and CNN were false and the two sides never communicated, the officials said, but FBI Director James Comey rejected the request, made by White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, because of the ongoing investigation of ties between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence. The White House is not supposed to directly communicate with the FBI, and such a request violates procedures that limit contact with the FBI over pending investigations. CNN, The Week
Kim Jong-nam was killed by VX nerve agent
The substance used in the killing of Kim Jong-nam was a “VX nerve agent”, a highly toxic liquid used only in chemical warfare, Malaysian police have said. The inspector general, Khalid Abu Bakar, said later that one of the two women suspected of involvement in the poisoning also suffered its effects: “She was vomiting.”
The findings follow a preliminary analysis of swabs taken from the face and eyes of the victim, who is the half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. More items linked to the attack at Kuala Lumpur airport were still being analysed and the terminal would be decontaminated, police said. VX – also known as ethyl N-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate – is classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction. The Guardian
Duterte’s loudest critic arrested on drug charges
Sen. Leila de Lima, a Philippine opposition senator and leading critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly anti-drug crackdown was arrested Friday on drug charges but professed her innocence and vowed she would not be intimidated by a leader she called a “serial killer.” The Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa city in the Manila metropolis issued the warrant for her arrest along with other officials who have been charged by state prosecutors for allegedly receiving bribes from detained drug lords.
De Lima has denied the charges, which she said were part of an attempt by Duterte to muzzle critics of his crackdown, which has left more than 7,000 drug suspects dead. “If they think they can silence me, if they think I will no longer fight for my advocacies, specially on the truth on the daily killings and other intimidations of this Duterte regime, it’s my honor to be jailed for what I’ve been fighting for,” she said before policemen took her into custody at the Senate. VOA
136 Turkey diplomats seek Germany asylum
Germany says it has received 136 asylum requests from Turks holding diplomatic passports since the July coup attempt against the Turkish president. Turkey has urged Germany not to grant asylum to any military officers. Some posted to NATO bases in Germany are thought to be among the group. In Greece, two more Turkish soldiers have requested asylum. Last month a Greek court rejected Turkey’s request to extradite eight other Turkish soldiers who fled after the coup attempt. Turkey is appealing against that ruling.
The German interior ministry did not identify the 136 Turks who requested asylum. Not only diplomats but also their spouses and children hold diplomatic passports. It is not clear if any of them have been granted asylum yet. BBC
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