Top News Stories for Today – March 30, 2017
US first lady presents International Women of Courage award
US first lady Melania Trump, in a rare solo public appearance, presented the International Women of Courage Award to 13 women in Washington on Wednesday. The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award honors women around the world for exhibiting courage and leadership in their advocacy for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.
2017 awardees are from Bangladesh, Botswana, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Vietnam, and Yemen. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, the Vietnamese green blogger and environmental activist known as “Mother Mushroom,” could not attend because she’s been in prison since October 2016. The US State Department has consistently called on the government of Vietnam to provide for Quynh’s immediate release.
After the ceremony, the women will travel to a number of American cities on individual International Visitor Leadership Programs before reconvening in Los Angeles to discuss further collaboration to improve the lives of women and girls across the globe. VOA
Climate change’ banned from Energy Dept.
Employees at the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy were told by a supervisor this week not to use the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” or “Paris Agreement” in memos and other written communication, Politico reports.
During a meeting on Tuesday, the same day President Trump reversed many of former President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, senior officials told staffers such words gave Energy Secretary Rick Perry and White House advisers a “visceral reaction.” Staffers in the State Department and other Energy Department offices said they have not been told to stop using specific phrases, but “people are doing a lot of reading into tea leaves,” said one State Department official. A spokeswoman for the Energy Department said “no words or phrases have been banned for this office or anyone in the department.” Politico, The Week
Xi Jinping will meet Trump at Mar-a-Lago
China’s foreign ministry confirmed Thursday that President Xi Jinping will travel to Florida April 6-7 for his first meeting with President Trump. The leaders of the world’s largest and second-largest economies will meet at Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago, where Trump also hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February.
Unlike Abe, Xi will not stay at Mar-a-Lago, Lantana Police Chief Sean Scheller said on Monday, before the long-expected meeting was officially confirmed. Instead, China’s president will be staying at the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa. Xi and Trump are likely to discuss trade, North Korea’s nuclear aggression, China’s military buildup in the disputed South China Sea, among other topics. CNN, Palm Beach Post, The Week
China’s politics reforms
With major political changes on the Communist Party’s agenda in 2017, China is expected to avoid taking decisive reform measures that could result in large scale job losses and put pressure on the leadership. One of the measures suggested by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), which released its “Economic Survey of China” last week, is the complete closure of money-losing, state-run companies.
The report from the OECD also called for changes in the bankruptcy law to fill loopholes that allow laggard enterprises to survive at public expenses. Such companies have piled up an amount of corporate debt equal to 170 percent of China’s gross domestic product. Some experts say there is a conflict between the need for reforms and the political goals of Chinese leaders. VOA
Good health leads to economic prospects
Blue Cross and Moody’s Analytic used data from millions of insurance customers to draw a statistical relationship between health and prosperity in the US, and release the report. The report shows healthy population is a key ingredient in a healthy and growing economy.
In counties throughout the 50 states where the population had top health scores, per capita incomes were nearly $4,000 a year higher than in counties where people had just average health scores. Unemployment showed a similar pattern: The healthiest counties had a jobless rate eight-tenths of a percent better than communities where health was average. Economic growth also was measurably stronger in the healthiest areas. VOA
Amazon CEO is world’s 2nd richest person
Move over Warren Buffett! Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is now the second richest person on Earth. The latest tally by Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index shows Bezos is now worth about $75.6 billion. Another ranking compiled by Forbes has Bezos’ value at “just” $75.2 billion.
He added $1.5 billion to his net worth after Amazon (AMZN) gained $9 billion in market value during trading hours Wednesday. The company received a generous stock bump after a Barclay’s (AGRPY) analyst declared Amazon will “likely to be one of the first trillion-dollar market cap companies.” Its shares hit a record high shortly after. CNN
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