Top News Stories for Today – March 7, 2017
Republicans release proposal to repeal ObamaCare
On Monday, House Republicans unveiled the American Health Care Act, their long-awaited bill to repeal and replace the major tenets of the Affordable Care Act. The proposal calls for freezing enrollment in the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program on Jan. 1, 2020, and moving forward, capping federal funding for Medicaid.
Until the end of 2019, states would be able to sign individuals up for expanded Medicaid. The proposal includes refundable tax credits, based on age and capped at a specific income threshold, for people who want to purchase health insurance, and repeals most taxes that were used to fund ObamaCare and the penalty for individual and employer mandates to buy insurance. Reuters, The Week
North Korea bars Malaysians from leaving
Tensions continued to escalate between North Korea and Malaysia on Tuesday over the investigation into the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur’s airport last month. After the two countries expelled each other’s ambassadors, Pyongyang barred Malaysians from leaving, and Malaysia responded with tit-for-tat travel restrictions for North Koreans.
The moves came as Malaysian investigators looking into the killing of Kim Jong Nam, who was killed with banned VX nerve agent, tried to question three men hiding in the North Korean embassy, including a senior North Korean diplomat and a state airline employee. Reuters, The Week
American Indians to protest Trump’s pipeline
Members of American Indian tribes from around the country are bringing their frustrations with the Trump administration and its approval of the Dakota Access oil pipeline to the nation’s capital. Tribal members were planning to gather at the National Mall on Tuesday to begin four days of activities culminating with a Friday march on the White House dubbed the “Native Nations March on DC.”
Tribal members and supporters plan to camp each day on the National Mall, with teepees, a ceremonial fire, cultural workshops and speakers. Native American leaders also plan to lobby lawmakers to protect tribal rights. “This fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has been the tip of the spear of a powerful global movement calling for the United States government and Donald Trump to respect indigenous nations and people in our right to water, land, sovereignty, and culture,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. VOA
China warns US missile defense system
On Monday night, the “first elements” of a US anti-missile system arrived in South Korea, the Pentagon said. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is “strictly defensive,” US officials said, meant to protect South Korea against missiles fired by North Korea. North Korea launched four medium-range missiles on Monday, with three traveling 620 miles and landing in the water near Japan, and South Korea’s acting president and prime minister said the consequences of Pyongyang having nuclear weapons would be “horrible and beyond imagination.”
China “firmly opposes” the deployment, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated on Tuesday. Beijing will “take the necessary steps to safeguard our own security interests, and the consequences will be shouldered by the United States and South Korea,” he added. There are already THAAD systems active in Guam and Hawaii to defend against North Korea. NBC News, The New York Times, The Week
Trump signs revised immigration order
President Trump on Monday signed a new version of his immigration executive order, following a federal court’s block last month of the original order he issued Jan. 27. The new version bears several significant changes, including the exclusion of Iraq — an ally in the fight against the Islamic State — from the list of six Muslim-majority countries from which travel and immigration will be restricted.
The revised order also no longer indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee program. Some activists, including the ACLU, have said the new ban is “scaled back” but “at its core, the same unconstitutional attempt to enact religious discrimination as the first one was.” The Trump administration has argued that the temporary ban is necessary to protect Americans, though experts have also refuted the president’s claims that the targeted countries — Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen — pose valid terrorism threats to the United States. The new executive order is set to take effect March 16. BuzzFeed News, The Week
A Bacterium found in soil could fight Tuberculosis
Scientists are developing an antibiotic from a microorganism found in soil to fight the tuberculosis bacterium. As TB becomes increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics, soil could hold the key to new drugs against this global killer.
Tuberculosis is treatable with antibiotics, but in thousands of cases, antibiotic misuse has caused the disease to become non-responsive to the drugs. According to the World Health Organization, there are 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis every year, killing 1.8 million people. In 2015, it was estimated that 480,000 infections were not responsive to two major drugs commonly used to treat TB. A quarter-million patients died reportedly of drug-resistant infections.
An international team of researchers has been hunting for new sources of antibiotics in nature to treat deadly illnesses like TB. Investigators have hit upon a species of bacteria in a large family called Streptomyces found in soil. VOA
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