Top News Stories for Today – July 15, 2017
GOP Healthcare bill still struggling to pass
Trump turned up the heat Friday on fellow Republicans in the US Senate to pass a bill dismantling the Obamacare law, but with their retooled health care plan drawing fire within the party even one more defection would doom it. Mitch McConnell has planned for a vote next week on revised legislation, and he needs 50 “yes” votes to pass. Republicans control the Senate by a 52-48 margin and cannot afford to lose more than two, but two Republican senators already have declared opposition.
The top US doctors’ group, the American Medical Association, on Friday called the new bill inadequate and said more bipartisan collaboration is needed in the months ahead to improve the delivery and financing of health care. Hospital and medical advocacy groups also have criticized the bill. VOA
US budget deficit to spike to $702 billion
The White House said Friday that worsening tax revenues would cause the budget deficit to jump to $702 billion this year. That’s a $99 billion spike from what was predicted less than two months ago. The report from the Office of Management and Budget came on the heels of a rival Congressional Budget Office analysis that scuttled White House claims that its May budget, if implemented to the letter, would balance the federal ledger within 10 years. The OMB report doesn’t repeat that claim and instead provides just two years of updated projections.
The White House budget office also said the deficit for the 2018 budget year that starts on October 1 would increase by $149 billion, to $589 billion. But lawmakers are already working on spending bills that promise to boost that number even higher by adding to President Donald Trump’s Pentagon proposal and ignoring many of his cuts to domestic programs. Last year’s deficit registered $585 billion. VOA
Trump Jr. Russia scandal
Former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin was present at Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, NBC News reported Friday. Akhmetshin, who was implicated by the US in a 2015 hacking scandal, denies any current association with the Russian government, though he did confirm his presence at the meeting to The Associated Press.
Akhmetshin told AP that Trump Jr. asked Veselnitskaya for “evidence of illicit money flowing to the Democratic National Committee,” AP wrote, but Veselnitskaya said she “didn’t have that information.” A translator and an individual identified by Trump Jr.’s lawyer as a “friend of Emin [Agalarov]’s” were also present. Agalarov, an Azerbaijani pop star who once featured President Trump in a music video, is represented by Rob Goldstone, who arranged the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya. NBC News, The Associated Press, The Week
N Korea may have more bomb fuel than thought
Thermal images of North Korea’s main nuclear site show Pyongyang may have reprocessed more plutonium than previously thought that can be used to enlarge its nuclear weapons stockpile, a US think tank said on Friday.
North Korea manufactures atomic bombs using uranium and plutonium and has tested five nuclear bombs. Officials and experts say it could test a sixth at any time, despite US-led international efforts to curb its program. VOA
Roger Federer is one win from a historic eighth Wimbledon title after beating Czech 11th seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the semi-final. He won 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to reach his 11th Wimbledon final, having last won the title back in 2012.
Federer will face Croatia’s Marin Cilic after the seventh seed beat American 24th seed Sam Querrey 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 on Centre Court. Cilic, 28, is into his second major final after winning the 2014 US Open. BBC
US Kills ISIS leader Abu Sayed
The top Islamic State official in Afghanistan has been killed in a US airstrike, the second such targeted killing in the past four months and third in the past year. US military officials said Friday that Abu Sayed, newest ISIS leader, was killed July 11 in a strike on the group’s headquarters in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar. Other IS members were also killed.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the strike a sign US efforts to counter the terror group in Afghanistan were going “in the right direction.” VOA
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