Top News Stories For Today – Jan 12, 2018
Walmart and Sam’s Club
Walmart announced it was raising its minimum wage and handing out bonuses to employees because of the GOP tax cuts. The new minimum wage is $11 an hour, and workers can get a one-time bonus of as much as $1,000. But then later in the day, Walmart announced it was closing 63 of its Sam’s Club stores. Walmart spokesperson Greg Hitt estimated that roughly 9,450 people are employed across the 63 stores.
Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin thanked Walmart for raising wages and pointed to the move as evidence that the new Republican tax law is good for American workers. When asked about the workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the Sam’s Club closures, however, Mnuchin responded: “Different companies will do different things. CNN
Trump calls Haiti and African countries shithole
During a bipartisan meeting with senators on Thursday, President Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries,” a Democratic aide told NBC News. Lawmakers were in the Oval Office discussing changes to the visa lottery system when talk turned to immigrants from Africa and Trump asked why they would want people from “all these shithole countries” coming to America.
Trump, who met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday, said the US should try to instead attract people from Norway and similar countries. In a statement, the White House did not dispute the remarks, merely saying Trump “will always fight for the American people.” Trump tweeted Friday that “the language used by me … was tough, but this was not the language used.” NBC News
German agree to forming government
Leaders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats agreed early Friday on the basis to move ahead with coalition negotiations, after marathon overnight talks.
Social Democrat spokesman Serkan Agci told reporters outside his party’s headquarters, where the talks took place, that there had been a “breakthrough” agreed upon by the party leaders but said final revisions were still being made on the document by negotiating teams, which would also need approval. Details were to be announced later Friday. VOA
FB changes system to favor friends
Facebook said Thursday that it plans to change its algorithm to give its two billion users more content from friends and families, favoring it over news and brands. “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote.
“But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments.” The change marks a major shift from Facebook’s long-held focus on user engagement, which has been credited with pushing its revenue to a record $34 billion last year. The change follows complaints that the old strategy spotlighted too much inflammatory and misleading content. Quartz
Pakistani protest over rape case
People took to the streets in Kasur, Pakistan, to express their outrage over the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl, whose body was dumped in garbage. Zainab Amin was led away from her home last week by a man while her parents were away on a religious pilgrimage. She was strangled. Torture marks were found on her face, and her tongue was crushed between her teeth.
Protesters say authorities haven’t done enough to keep children safe; there have been 11 other killings of young girls in the same area. The protests turned violent, and two people died in clashes with police. The hashtag #JusticeForZainab spread quickly on social media in Pakistan. CNN
White House Immigration talks stall
Bipartisan immigration talks stalled on Thursday after Trump threw “gasoline to the fire,” in the words of Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), by dismissing immigrants from “shithole countries.” Trump’s frustrations boiled over during talks about the visa lottery program and the temporary protected status program, which his administration just ended for some 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the US for more than a decade.
The Congressional Black Caucus chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), claimed the president’s comments are “further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda.” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who was present at the meeting, confirmed Trump did not approve of the bipartisan plan, adding: “I don’t know what happens next.” The New York Times, The Washington Post
Trump cancels February trip to Britain
On Thursday night, President Trump announced on Twitter that he has called off a February visit to Great Britain, explaining the “reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
Trump had been widely expected to attend the US embassy’s opening as part of a state visit, but the White House had never “nailed down the details of the trip,” BBC News reports, and Trump was reportedly concerned about massive protests. The visit may be rescheduled. BBC News, The Daily Telegraph
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