Top News Stories for Today – June 21, 2017
Obama Issues Statement on Otto Warmbier
“During the course of the Obama Administration, we had no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas,” Obama spokesman Ned Price said in the statement. “Their tireless efforts resulted in the release of at least 10 Americans from North Korean custody during the course of the Obama administration.” Added Price, who was National Security Council spokesperson during Obama’s administration: “It is painful that Mr. Warmbier was not among them, but our efforts on his behalf never ceased, even in the waning days of the administration.
Warmbier’s father blasted Obama during a news conference at the time of his son’s release. Trump similarly asserted this week that “the results would have been different” had Warmbier been brought home sooner. He did not elaborate but added, “He should have been brought home that day.” Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being found guilty of trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel during a January 2016 visit to North Korea’s capital. Deadline
Republican wins Georgia House special election
Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in a high-stakes special election for a Georgia House seat on Tuesday, denying Democrats their first major victory of the Donald Trump era. Handel bested Ossoff by 5 percentage points in the most expensive House race in history.
The district is a traditional Republican stronghold, and the special election was held to fill the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Price won the district by double digits when he was last elected. CNN
Saudi names a new crown prince
In a shakeup, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as crown prince, removing his nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from the line of succession and stripping him of his crown prince title and position as the country’s counter terrorism czar.
Mohammed bin Salman, 31, is already defense minister and head of the council aiming to reform Saudi Arabia’s economy, and had been the deputy crown prince. In a royal decree issued over the weekend, the king restructured the country’s systems for prosecutions, which took away Mohammed bin Nayef’s power to oversee criminal investigations. The Associated Press, The Week
Uber founder CEO resigns
Travis Kalanick stepped down Tuesday as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company. Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors. After talking with some of the investors, Kalanick agreed to resign, but will stay on the company’s board of directors.
Uber has been dealing with allegations of sexual harassment at the company, lawsuits, and a federal inquiry into a tool it used to avoid law enforcement in places where Uber wasn’t allowed to operate. Last week, Kalanick, whose mother died in a boating accident in May, took an indefinite leave of absence. The New York Times
US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue
The first round of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue kicks off in Washington today. The United States is urging China to play a more prominent role in combating global terrorism and help “change the calculus” on North Korea, ahead of high-level security talks with Beijing.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will host a Chinese delegation led by State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s Joint Staff Department. VOA
Record heat recorded worldwide
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports the planet Earth is experiencing another exceptionally warm year with record-breaking temperatures occurring in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the US.
At least 60 people have been killed in the devastating forest fires in central Portugal. One of the factors contributing to these wildfires are very high temperatures that have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius. Near record heat is also being reported in California and in the Nevada deserts. North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing extremely hot weather with temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius. WMO spokeswoman Claire Nullis says the hottest place on Earth appears to be the town of Turbat in Pakistan, which reported a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius in May.
The WMO says it expects global heat waves will likely trigger more deadly wildfires. If necessary precautions are not taken, it warns many people will die from the heat, as happened in 2003, when heat waves across Europe killed 70,000 people. Scientists predict climate change will cause heat waves to become more intense, more frequent and longer. VOA
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