Top News Stories for Today – July 24, 2017
Senate healthcare bill appears headed for failure
Senate Republicans plan to vote this week on revised healthcare reform legislation, but a number of serious problems mean that the chances of getting that bill passed are slim to none. The latest wallop of bad news for Republicans came Friday when the Senate parliamentarian announced that key provisions of the revised bill would not pass muster under the special budgetary rules that Republicans are using to pass the legislation with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.
There is no indication yet from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was diagnosed last week with brain cancer, that he will be back in Washington in time for a vote — which means GOP leaders may be starting one vote short. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has already announced her opposition to the Senate healthcare bill, on Sunday criticized what she called a confusing and disjointed process. The Hill
WH says Trump supports Russia sanctions
President Trump supports the punitive congressional sanctions on Russia, said incoming White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been tapped to move up from a deputy role to replace Sean Spicer, in an ABC News interview Sunday.
“The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting the sanctions in place,” she said. “The original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate … and we support where the legislation is now.” The sanctions were negotiated Saturday and were expected to garner continued opposition from Trump. The Hill, The Washington Free Beacon, The Week
9 found dead in trailer at San Antonio Walmart
Nine people were found dead, 20 injured, some critically, and another 10 comparatively unharmed in the back compartment of a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, early Sunday morning. Police were alerted after someone who had been inside the truck, which did not have working air conditioning or water supplies, approached a Walmart staff member to ask for water.
A Walmart security guard then found the bodies and alerted authorities. “We’re looking at human trafficking crime here,” said Police Chief William McManus, adding that the migrants will be investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they receive medical care. The truck’s origin is currently unknown; its driver, 60-year-old James Mathew Bradley Jr. of Clearwater, Florida, is in custody. NBC News, The Week
2 Jordanians killed in Israeli embassy shooting
A shooting at the Israeli embassy in Amman Sunday killed two Jordanians and wounded an Israeli, police said. The Jordanians, employees of a furniture company sent to a residential building at the heavily-guarded embassy to do repairs, arrived before the shooting started, authorities said.
It is not clear what started the shooting. Thousands of Jordanians protested in Amman on Friday, following the installation of metal detectors by Israel at the Temple Mount, a sacred place for both Muslims and Jews in East Jerusalem. The metal detectors were put in following the shooting of two Israeli policemen earlier this month, and sparked protests in Israel that left at least six people dead.
Poland’s President Duda vetoes judicial reforms after protests
Polish President Andrzej Duda has announced he is vetoing a controversial law to replace Supreme Court judges with government nominees. Three key judicial reforms have been passed by Poland’s parliament, prompting days of demonstrations across the country. Before they become law, they require approval by the president. The changes have also set Poland’s right-wing government on a collision course with the European Union.
The European Commission had threatened to impose sanctions this week if the reforms were not scrapped. European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, had warned of a “black scenario that could ultimately lead to the marginalisation of Poland in Europe”. Duda said he was vetoing two of the new laws but approving a third, which gives the justice minister the right to name the heads of Poland’s lower courts. BBC
McCain’s former primary challenger calls for his resignation
A former primary challenger of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on him to step down from his post in multiple statements this past week following his announcement of a brain cancer diagnosis. Kelli Ward unsuccessfully challenged McCain for his Senate seat in the 2016 Republican primaries and will challenge Arizona’s other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, for his spot in 2018.
“The medical reality of [McCain’s] diagnosis is grim,” she said in one statement, posted on her website, arguing “Arizona deserves to be represented by someone who can focus” on Senate work. In a radio interview, Ward suggested herself as McCain’s replacement. The Hill, The Washington Post
Taliban captures 2 districts in central Afghanistan
Heavy fighting is raging in central Afghanistan where officials say the Islamist Taliban has captured two key district headquarters and is assaulting government outposts in nearby areas. Insurgents stormed Taywara district in Ghor province early Sunday, after seizing control of the border district of Kohistan in the adjoining northern province of Faryab, according to Afghan and Taliban officials.
The Taliban has intensified insurgent activities across the country as US President Donald Trump’s administration is about to complete its much-awaited comprehensive review of Afghan policy. The Trump administration is also expected to take a tougher posture towards neighboring Pakistan that Washington blames for the military stalemate in Afghanistan. On Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that the Pentagon has withheld 50 million dollars in military assistance to Pakistan because the country was not taking enough action to counter activities of Haqqanis, Taliban’s dreaded ally. VOA
South African child ‘virtually cured’ of HIV
A nine-year-old infected with HIV at birth has spent most of their life without needing any treatment, say doctors in South Africa. The child, whose identity is being protected, was given a burst of treatment shortly after birth. They have since been off drugs for eight-and-a-half years without symptoms or signs of active virus.
The family is said to be “really delighted”. Most people need treatment every day to prevent HIV destroying the immune system and causing Aids. Understanding how the child is protected could lead to new drugs or a vaccine for stopping HIV. BBC
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