Top News Stories for Today – January 13, 2017

Top News Stories for Today – January 13, 2017

Paul Ryan on repealing ObamaCare

Paul Ryan on repealing ObamaCareAt a CNN town hall forum on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) aligned himself with President-elect Donald Trump’s urging to replace the Affordable Care Act as soon as possible, preferably simultaneously. “We want to do this at the same time, and in some cases in the same bill,” he said.

Republicans are moving “as quickly as they can,” Ryan said — the Senate has already started the repeal process — and when it comes to a replacement law, “we’re working on this as fast as possible.” Republicans will act “definitely within these first 100 days” of Trump’s administration, he added. Ryan also laid out some of his ideas for an ObamaCare replacement, saying “people with pre-existing conditions, no matter how much money they make,” should have access to health insurance. Specifically, he backed state high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions like cancer. CNN, The Week



Mattis, Pompeo talk tough on Russia

Mattis, Pompeo talk tough on RussiaTwo of President-elect Donald Trump’s top security team nominees, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), took strong stances against Russia during their confirmation hearings on Thursday. Mattis, Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, expressed concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s efforts to “break” NATO, and said the US should maintain the “strongest possible relationship” with the treaty organization.

Pompeo, nominated as head of the CIA, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee and agreed with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that Putin has done “a really good job of creating chaos, division, instability in the American political process.” Both expressed confidence in the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind the hacking of Democrats ahead of last year’s election, a notion Trump hesitated to embrace. The Washington Times, CNN, The Week



Biden surprised with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Biden surprised with Presidential Medal of FreedomPresident Obama honored Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday with a heartfelt send-off ceremony, which concluded with Obama surprising Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama awarded Biden the medal “with distinction,” a degree of recognition Obama noted has only been bestowed upon three individuals over the last three presidencies: Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Biden accepted the honor with tears in his eyes, and said he “had no idea” it was coming; the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian award. The event had been billed as a farewell for Biden, and Obama kicked it off by joking this would give “the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.” The Hill, Talking Points Memo, The Week



Obama ends visa-free path for Cubans

Obama ends visa-free path for CubansBarack Obama said Thursday he is immediately ending the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy that let any Cuban who steps foot on US soil remain in the United States without a visa. Obama said in a statement that the 20-year-old policy was designed for a “different era.”

“By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries,” he said. “We will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.” Obama called it an important step in normalizing relations with Cuba. Cuba praised the measure as “intelligent.” VOA



Thailand changes constitution on royal powers

Thailand changes constitution on royal powersThailand’s military-ruled legislature has approved constitutional changes desired by the newly enthroned king that would reserve more powers for him. One change made Friday by the National Legislative Assembly allows King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun to decide whether or not to appoint a regent in his absence.

The constitution previously stated that if no regent was appointed, the head of the Privy Council – the king’s advisory body _ would become regent. The amendment effectively keeps royal power in the hands of the king or a trusted confidante when he is abroad. Vajiralongkorn traveled frequently before becoming king in December. A second amendment makes it easier to implement the king’s desired changes in the next constitution, which passed a referendum last August. The government says the changes concern royal powers. VOA



Clinton email probe to examined

State Department seeks delay of Clinton email releaseThe independent watchdog at the US Justice Department said Thursday he is launching a probe of the agency’s handling of the investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, one of the most contentious issues of last year’s presidential election campaign that she lost.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would look at how Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey conducted his year-long probe of Clinton, the top US diplomat from 2009 to 2013 who was trying to become the country’s first female president. VOA



Protein discovery could help diabetics

Protein discovery could help diabeticsScientists have discovered that a protein that plays a crucial role in healing broken bones is not fully functional in diabetics. By applying the protein directly to fractured bones, researchers showed they could improve the healing and strength of bones in diabetics.Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California found that a protein called “hedgehog” helped mend bones in diabetic mice by stimulating the activity of skeletal stem cells.

Michael Longaker, a professor of surgery and co-director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford, helped make the discovery and co-authored a study on the topic, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. VOA


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