Top News Stories For Today – Jan 18, 2018
Global views of US leadership fall
After a year of President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, the image of American leadership has dropped to a new low, according to a Gallup World Poll report. America’s median leadership approval rating across 134 countries in 2017 was 30 percent, 4 points below the previous 2008 low, and 18 points lower than the 48 percent approval in 2016.
Disapproval of US leadership also hit a new high, 43 percent, greater than the disapproval number for any global power over the past decade. Views of American leadership actually rose by more than 10 percentage points in four countries — Liberia, Macedonia, Israel, and Belarus — but fell by more than 10 points in 65 nations. Germany is viewed favorably by 41 percent, China by 31 percent, and Russia by 27 percent. Gallup News
South and North Korea to march together at Olympics
North and South Korea will march under a unified flag at the opening ceremony for next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Seoul confirmed Wednesday that the two technically warring nations will march together under a single Korean Peninsula flag. Additionally, North and South Korea will field a joint women’s ice hockey team, and the two nations’ skiing teams will practice together at a resort in North Korea ahead of the Games.
The moves are a sign of the most significant thaw in relations on the Korean Peninsula in a decade, though Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono cautioned against overvaluing the symbolism: “It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea,” he said. The New York Times, The Associated Press
India successfully tests new long-range missile
India says it has successfully test-fired its most advanced long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. The defense ministry announced in a tweet Thursday that its Agni-V ICBM was launched from Abdul Kalam island, off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha.
The Hindu Business Line newspaper said the three-stage missile, launched from a mobile launcher, traveled nearly 5,000 kilometers and flew for nearly 20 minutes. This is the fifth test of the Agni-V since it was introduced in 2012, the latest conducted just last month. VOA
US Government shutdown looming
Will there be a government shutdown? GOP leaders say it’s not going to happen and plan a vote on yet another short-term spending bill today to keep the lights on for a few more weeks. But Democrats won’t vote for that without a DACA deal, so the GOP will have to get this done with just Republican votes. But that’s no guarantee either. Conservative House members feel these short-term spending fixes are hurting the military, so they may vote no, too. If a shutdown happens — the deadline is midnight Friday — political observers believe Republicans will ultimately be blamed because they’re running the show in DC now.
If the government were to shut down, the military is considered essential and would still report for duty. However, the troops, including those in combat, will potentially not be paid during a shutdown. In addition, many civilian Department of Defense employees will not be working during a shutdown. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team would continue to operate. All National parks, zoos or museums will be closed. The shutdown would especially affect residents of Washington. US Postal Service won’t stop serving residents. Garbage collectors could be placed on furlough too. CNN
Trump disputes Kelly on border wall demands
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told House Democrats and Fox News on Wednesday that President Trump wants a deal to protect DREAMers but also $20 billion to build 700 miles of “physical barrier” along the US-Mexico border. Trump has “evolved” in his “uniformed” immigration and border wall ideas since the campaign, Kelly said.
“The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning, adding it was “never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection” like rivers and mountains. “The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly … by Mexico,” he added. A lack of progress on a bipartisan DACA replacement plan is holding up spending legislation. The Washington Post, The New York Times
Britain appoints Minister of loneliness
Britain has appointed a minister of loneliness to combat social isolation experienced by one in 10 Britons. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch will add the job to her existing portfolio to advance the work of slain lawmaker Jo Cox, who set up the Commission on Loneliness in 2016.
The British Red Cross says more than 9 million Britons describe themselves as being always or often lonely, out of a population of 65.6 million. Most people over age 75 in Britain live alone, and about 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month, government data show. VOA
Mueller’s team to interview Bannon
Steve Bannon has struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and will be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury, two people familiar with the process told CNN. He is expected to cooperate with the special counsel, the sources said.
The sources did not say when the interview will take place or if the subpoena would be withdrawn. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist for President Donald Trump, is expected to talk openly to Mueller’s team. Bannon’s attorney told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Bannon would answer questions when he goes to the special counsel because executive privilege would not apply, according to one of the sources. CNN
Muslim Americans’ involvement in violent downs
Fewer Muslim Americans were involved in acts of violent extremism last year, despite fears that the Trump administration’s hard-line policy on terrorism could set off a backlash from Muslim militants and lead to further acts of violence at home and abroad, a new report shows.
The number of Muslim Americans charged, convicted or associated with violent extremism dropped to 33 in 2017, down from 46 in 2016 and 81 in 2015, according to “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2017,” an annual study conducted by University of North Carolina sociology professor Charles Kurzman. VOA
Trump accuses Russia of helping North Korea
US President Donald Trump has accused Russia of helping North Korea evade international sanctions, and said Pyongyang is making daily progress in its quest to develop ballistic missiles that can reach the United States.
In an Oval Office interview with Reuters Wednesday, Trump praised China for its efforts to restrict oil and coal supplies to North Korea but said Beijing could do much more to help constrain Pyongyang. But he said Russia appears to be filling in the gaps left by the Chinese. VOA
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