Top News Stories for Today – March 16, 2017
Federal judge blocks Trump’s revised travel ban
On Wednesday, US District Judge Derrick Watson ruled in favor of Hawaii’s request for a temporary restraining order against President Trump’s revised executive order to restrict travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees from entering the United States. The ban was slated to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but this ruling blocks it nationwide.
Several states, including Washington, worked to stop the ban, with Hawaii arguing that it would keep residents from being able to have relatives from the affected countries visit and it would hurt the tourism industry. On Thursday morning, a Maryland judge also intervened to suspend the part of the order that prevents visas from being issued to people from the six banned nations. Time, The Week
Trump’s budget cuts everything except military and border
On Thursday, President Trump sent his 62-page-long, $1.1 trillion spending plan to Congress. In it, he seeks to raise spending on the Defense Department by $54 billion and give more modest boosts to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Homeland Security Department — including $2.6 billion for the Mexico border wall and hiring more border agents in fiscal year 2018 — and cut everything else.
The State Department and Environmental Protection Agency would see the steepest cuts (29 percent and 31 percent, respectively), and the budget would eliminate all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR), the Legal Services Corporation, the Chemical Safety Board, Amtrack long-distance routes, Meals on Wheels, Energy Star program, and other agencies and programs.
Health, education, and workforce funding would see $25 billion in cuts. Congress almost certainly won’t agree to most of the cuts, although the budget serves as a blueprint for how Trump wants to change Washington. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Week
Anti-Muslim nationalist party beaten in Dutch election
With more than half the votes counted in Wednesday’s national elections, center-right Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is projected to keep his job with a commanding victory over far-right anti-Muslim nationalist Geert Wilders, whose anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV) had recently led in the polls. Analysts say the unusually robust turnout — about 82 percent of Dutch voters cast ballots — harmed Wilders, as did Rutte’s rhetorical shift toward Wilders on immigration and the prime minister’s recent standoff with Turkey.
“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” Rutte told supporters at a Wednesday night victory party. Rutte’s VVD party is projected to win 32 of the 150 seats in the lower house, a drop from 41 seats, while Wilders’ PVV is expected to win 19 seats, up from 15. Rutte will have to form a coalition government with at least three other parties, though not the PVV, a process that will take weeks or even months. The Associated Press, Reuters
Fed raises rate as US economy improves
The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time in three months and forecast two additional hikes this year. The move reflects a consistently solid US economy and will likely mean higher rates on some consumer and business loans.
The Fed’s key short-term rate is rising by a quarter-point to a still-low range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent. The central bank said in a statement that a strengthening job market and rising prices had moved it closer to its targets for employment and inflation. The message the Fed sent Wednesday is that nearly eight years after the Great Recession ended, the economy no longer needs the support of ultra-low borrowing rates and is healthy enough to withstand steadily tighter credit. Associated Press
Trump’s favorable poll in Fox News
A Fox News Poll released Wednesday shows Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Planned Parenthood, ObamaCare, and Vice President Mike Pence are all viewed more favorably than President Trump. The poll of 1,008 registered voters was conducted March 12 to 14, and found that 43 percent approve and 51 percent disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, with 30 percent strongly approving and 45 percent strongly disapproving.
Respondents were asked to say if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of several people, groups, and items, and Sanders came out on top, with 61 percent having a favorable reaction and 32 percent unfavorable, followed by Planned Parenthood (57 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable); ObamaCare (50 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable); and Pence (47 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable). Only 44 percent had a favorable view of Trump, compared to 53 percent with an unfavorable view. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Fox News, The Week
Russian hackers charged in Yahoo breach
Two Russian intelligence agents and a pair of hired hackers have been charged in a devastating criminal breach at Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts, the Justice Department said Wednesday in bringing the first case of its kind against current Russian government officials.
US Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said the four indictments include two FSB (Russian Federal Security Service) officers and two hackers who helped them in the intrusion. The FSB officers, identified as Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, “protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in US and elsewhere,” US Justice Department said.
Saudi Arabia and China sign $65b deal
World’s second largest economy China and Saudi Arabia Thursday signed memorandums of understanding and letters of intent potentially worth about $65 billion during Saudi King Salman’s visit to Beijing, a senior Chinese diplomat said. Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the agreements involved investment, energy, space and other areas, but did not give details.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Salman his visit showed the importance he attached to relations with China. “This visit will push forward and continue to improve the quality of our relations and bear new fruit,” Xi said. VOA
New blood test can prevent heart Attack and stroke
Scientists can tell by your blood whether you have cancer cells, how well your organs are functioning, and if they’ve been affected by cancer. Now there’s a new blood test that could help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Jeff Meeusen, Ph.D., developed the test at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Meeusen told VOA in a Skype interview that the test will determine who’s at risk for a heart attack or stroke, “and it seems to have a chance to determine who’s at risk. Meeusen said the test provides an incentive to patients to take better care of their health. What’s more, the test is available to doctors and their patients outside the Mayo Clinic hospital network. VOA
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