Top News Stories for Today – July 17, 2017
Secret Service denies vetting Trump Jr. Russia meeting
On Sunday, one of President Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, tried to bring the Secret Service into the meeting Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials had last June with a Kremlin-linked lawyer offering negative information on Hillary Clinton. “Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” he said on ABC’s This Week.
“The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.” The Secret Service responded Sunday evening: “Donald Trump Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June 2016,” said agency spokesman Mason Brayman. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.” The meeting, at Trump Tower, also included Jared Kushner, Trump’s then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, publicist Rob Goldstone, and at least two other people. New York Post, CNN, The Week
S Korea’s proposes military talks with N Korea
South Korea on Monday proposed military talks with North Korea, the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, to discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarized border.
There was no immediate response by the North to the proposal for talks later this week. The two sides technically remain at war but Moon, who came to power in May, has pledged to engage the North in dialogue as well as bring pressure to impede its nuclear and missile programs. Reuters
UAE hacked of Qatari government sites
In late May, Qatari government websites were infiltrated by hackers as part of a plan orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates shortly before the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with the country, US intelligence officials told The Washington Post Sunday. It is unclear if the UAE hacked the sites on its own or contracted the task out to someone else.
On May 24, a story appeared on the Qatar News Agency’s website that included fake quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir that were pro-Iran and Hamas. The government said it sent out alerts within 45 minutes saying this was a hoax and the website had been hacked, but Saudi Arabian news agencies still reported on al-Thani’s alleged comments. The UAE’s ambassador to the United States told the Post its report was false and his country “had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article.” The Washington Post, The Week
McConnell delays health vote over McCain’s surgery
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday night his intention to delay the coming week’s planned vote on the Senate version of the GOP health-care bill. McConnell cited as his reason that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will be at home, recovering from a Friday surgery in Phoenix to extract a blood clot near his left eye.
“While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act,” McConnell said. The health-care bill is already on the edge of failure thanks to two GOP defections; as the whip list currently stands, without McCain’s vote, it cannot pass. The New York Times, The Washington Post , The Week
EU-Britain begin divorce proceedings
The European Union and Britain have begun the first substantive round of negotiations on their separation, with both sides saying it is time to proceed quickly. Speaking to reporters Monday at the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters, British Foreign Secretary David Davis said at the start of a four-day session on the divorce proceedings that “it is incredibly important we now make good progress.”
EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that “We will now delve into the heart of the matter. We need to examine and compare our respective positions in order to make good progress.” Barnier and Davis declined further comment, but the EU envoy said they would brief the media Thursday. VOA
California lawmakers to decide fate of landmark climate law
California lawmakers are nearing a vote on a climate change initiative. The decision Monday could give another decade of life to California’s expiring cap-and-trade program. It has global implications as the largest US state looks to be a model for reducing carbon emissions at a time when President Donald Trump is pulling back from fighting global warming.
Gov. Jerry Brown has pitched the legislation with nearly apocalyptic rhetoric, calling it essential for the survival of civilization. But his plan has infuriated some environmental groups who say progressive California should be far more aggressive in combatting harmful pollution. The legislation is one of Brown’s highest priorities as he nears the end of his fourth term, but he’s struggled to line up support from the two-thirds of lawmakers needed to pass. VOA
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