Top News Stories for Today – January 11, 2017
Trump to hold press conference today
The last time Donald Trump held a press conference, in July, he suggested that Russia should hack the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Now president-elect, Trump is scheduled to face the press at 11 a.m. ET, and he will undoubtedly get questions about Russia again, after his briefing last week on Russian election meddling by the top US intelligence officials and new, unverified reports that Russia has been grooming and sharing information with Trump and has collected “compromising financial and personal information” on him.
Trump is also expected to face questions about how he intends to resolve his business conflicts of interest, his thoughts on replacing ObamaCare, the proposed US-Mexico border wall, whether he plans to continue communicating via Twitter, and whether he believes the debunked claims about vaccines causing autism. NPR, Politico, The Week
Ortega sworn in for Nicaragua’s President
Daniel Ortega was sworn in for another term as Nicaragua’s president Tuesday while his wife, Rosario Murillo, became the new vice president, giving a married couple the reins of power for the first time in the Central American country’s history. Ortega, a 71-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla fighter, took the oath in Managua with the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Taiwan in attendance.
Ortega and Murillo were elected in November with 72.5 percent of the vote, but with a high rate of abstentions. Their party won 71 of the 92 seats in parliament. Ortega alluded to when he entered power in 2007 with the country’s business community against him. “The businessmen and a segment of the country were scared of our return because of the seizures, the war, the chaos, but we have shown that it’s not like that,” he said.
Sociologist Oscar Rene Vargas, a dissident Sandinista, predicted Ortega will struggle with economic difficulties. And he criticized the married couple administration installed by Ortega, who was one of the leaders of the rebel movement that ousted the four-decade Somoza family dictatorship in 1979. “A new dynasty has begun,” Vargas said. VOA
Senate hearings enter second day
The second day of Senate confirmation hearings begins Wednesday morning, with a slightly slimmer slate than had originally been planned. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, former ExxonMobil executive Rex Tillerson, will face heavy questioning, especially due to his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tillerson has downplayed his relationship with Russia, though, and his prepared remarks claim “Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests” and that “common interests” will be sought. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, will return for his second day of questioning, and Elaine Chao, Trump’s choice for transportation secretary, will also face a line of inquiry from advocates on both sides of the aisle, but is expected not to be a heavily-challenged choice. Hearings for Betsy DeVos and Mike Pompeo have been rescheduled. The New York Times, The Week
Russia denies having compromising information on Trump
After reports surfaced Tuesday that Russian operatives may have “compromising personal and financial information” about President-elect Donald Trump, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday denied the reports and called them “an absolute fiction” and “a total bluff.”
Trump was reportedly informed of the allegations last week when he and President Obama were presented with a joint intelligence report on the Russian cyberattacks ahead of the US presidential election by the heads of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency. The information was given to the US by a former British intelligence operative, who is considered a “credible” source by US intelligence officials, CNN reports, though the FBI is reportedly still investigating the “credibility and accuracy of these allegations.” On Twitter, Trump called the report “a total political witch hunt.” CNN, RT, The Week
Japan to allow Emperor’s abdication
Japan’s government is planning legal steps that would allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate and his son to ascend the throne in two years, media reported on Wednesday, potentially setting the stage for the first abdication in two centuries.
Japanese Emperor Akihito, 83, hinted in August that he wanted to abdicate, saying he worried that age might make it difficult for him to carry out his duties fully. Abdication is not possible under current Japanese law.
However, media reports said the government was considering steps that would allow Akihito to abdicate and for 56-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito to ascend the throne on Jan. 1, 2019. The abdication itself would take place on Dec. 31, 2018, or Jan. 1, some reports said.
Obama delivers farewell address
President Obama delivered his farewell address at Chicago’s McCormick Place in front of 20,000 people in person and millions more watching at home. He opened his speech by telling the American people that his conversations “in living rooms and schools, on farms and factory floors, diners and on distant military outposts” are “what have kept me honest and kept me inspired and kept me going.
Every day I have learned from you — you made me a better president and you made me a better man.” He spoke for less than an hour, touching on highlights from his eight years in office and his hopes for the future. The White House
Dylann Roof sentenced to death
Dylann Roof, who was convicted in December on all charges related to the 2015 killing of nine black worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, was sentenced to death Tuesday. Roof represented himself during the sentencing phase of the trial and told the jury, “I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it,” though he still asked jurors to spare his life.
“From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyway,” he said. “But what I will say is only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors.” The decision to hand Roof the death penalty was unanimous on all fronts, including that the crime was racially motivated and that he showed no remorse for his actions. Roof, 22, is the first person sentenced to death for a federal hate crime. CNN
Asylum seekers in Germany drop
Germany says 280,000 asylum seekers arrived there in 2016, a drop of more than 600,000 on the previous year. The German interior minister said that the decrease was due to the closure in 2016 of the Balkan route and the migrant deal between the EU and Turkey. The record influx of 890,000 people came as migrants and refugees travelled through Greece and the Balkans.
“This shows that the measures that the federal government and the EU have taken are taking hold,” said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. “We’ve been successful in managing and controlling the process of migration.” He was referring to the EU’s deal with Turkey to halt the influx of migrants and refugees into Greece, as well as the decision by Balkan countries to close off the route towards Western Europe. BBC
Mammograms lead to unnecessary treatment for some
A new study says that one in three women diagnosed with breast cancer detected by a mammogram are treated unnecessarily, continuing a debate over the issue of mammograms. The Danish study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine said the screenings lead to so-called false positives in as many as a third of women, who have tumors so slow-growing they’re essentially harmless. It also said the regular mammograms did not catch more advanced cancers.
The chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Otis Brawley, said in an editorial accompanying the study that the findings show that some cancer screenings can lead to radiation, chemotherapy and surgery that is not necessary.
Medical groups currently offer differing advice on mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends women get annual mammograms from age 45 to 54 followed by screenings every other year after that, while the American College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 40. The US Preventive Services Task Force ignited much of the recent debate when it recommended in 2009 that women wait until age 50 to get mammograms and do so only every other year. VOA
Trump wants Obamacare repeal fast
Trump demanded Tuesday that his fellow Republicans act immediately to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He told The New York Times that he wants a repeal vote to happen “some time next week” followed by a vote on a replacement bill “very quickly or simultaneously.” But Congressional Republicans aren’t anywhere close to proposing a replacement plan. They’re worried that they’ll catch the political fallout if millions of Americans lose their health insurance with no immediate substitute already in place.
This shows the incoming President’s lack of understanding about the process that is already unfolding on Capitol Hill to repeal large parts of the law — a first procedural vote is expected some time this week, but a final repeal bill was not expected to be voted on for weeks or months. CNN
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