Top News Stories for Today – March 6, 2017
Who really are Americans?
A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Republicans believe only early European Christian immigrants are Americans, and Democrats believe mixing of immigrants from around the globe and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted are Americans.
While there’s disagreement on what makes up the American identity, 7 in 10 people — regardless of party — say the country is losing that identity. There are some points of resounding agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents about what makes up the country’s identity. Among them: a fair judicial system and rule of law, the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, and the ability to get good jobs and achieve the American dream.
About 65 percent of Democrats said a mix of global cultures was extremely or very important to American identity, compared with 35 percent of Republicans. Twenty-nine percent of Democrats saw Christianity as that important, compared with 57 percent of Republicans. VOA, NORC
Pollution kills 1.7 million children every year
Environmental pollution kills more than 1 in 4 children under the age of five every year – that’s 1.7 million children worldwide. The World Health Organization warns these child deaths will increase dramatically if action is not taken to reduce environmental risks.
Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, notes that young children are most at risk of dying from a polluted environment. WHO reports the most common causes of death among children aged one month to five years are diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. WHO warns that temperature rise due to climate change and rising levels of carbon dioxide will increase pollen in the atmosphere, resulting in higher rates of asthma in children.
WHO warns harmful exposures to environmental pollutants can start in the mother’s womb and can lead to “increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases, asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer” later in life. VOA
FBI asks Justice Dept. to reject Trump’s wiretapping claim
The FBI director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law, the officials said. A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper on Sunday denied President Trump’s allegations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election.
Americans want special prosecutor for Russia investigation
President Trump’s favorability and job approval ratings have proved pretty steady since his inauguration — both numbers up to 45 percent, from 44 percent in January — according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday. But a prospective special prosecutor to investigate any ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign or business interests has gotten a boost, with 65 percent of American adults backing a special prosecutor to handle the investigation versus 35 percent who think Congress can handle it.
A majority of respondents, 55 percent, say they are very (37 percent) or somewhat (18 percent) concerned about the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russian operatives, with 17 percent saying they are not very concerned and 28 percent saying they are not concerned at all. Political party affiliation drives that split, with Democrats and independents strongly worried about any Trump-Russia ties and Republicans largely blasé. That polarization on Trump and Russia has increased since his inauguration. CNN, The Week
North Korea fires missiles into Sea of Japan
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, with three landing in his country’s exclusive economic zone. A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said “several projectiles” fired from North Korea’s North Pyongan province flew about 620 miles.
The US and South Korea are conducting annual joint military exercises, which are viewed by North Korea as being practice for an invasion; during last year’s exercises, North Korea fired several short- to medium-range missiles, and said the country was capable of putting nuclear warheads on its weapons. In February, North Korea launched a new type of medium-long range ballistic missile, which traveled 310 miles. CNN, The Week
German government condemns Erdogan’s Nazi remarks
Germany’s government on Monday condemned remarks by Turkey’s president accusing officials of “Nazi practices,” days after a local authority prevented a Turkish minister from addressing a rally there. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statements “absolutely unacceptable.”
Diplomatic tensions have been rising in recent days amid Turkish plans to have government ministers address rallies in Germany and the Netherlands in support of the referendum that would give Erdogan new powers. Erdogan had said Sunday in Istanbul that “Germany, you don’t have anything to do with democracy. These current practices of yours are no different than the Nazi practices of the past.” VOA
Republicans to unveil Health Care bill this week
US lawmakers expect to unveil this week the text of long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law, one of President Donald Trump’s top legislative priorities, a senior Republican congressional aide said on Sunday. Since taking office in January, Trump has pressed his fellow Republicans who control Congress to act quickly to dismantle Obamacare and pass a plan to replace it, but lawmakers in the party have differed on the specifics.
The Obamacare law has proven popular in many states, even some controlled by Republicans, and it enabled about 20 million previously uninsured people to get medical insurance, although premium increases angered some. VOA
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