Top News Stories for Today

Top News Stories for Today – May 18, 2016

US extends OT pay to 4 million

US extends OT pay to 4 millionOn Wednesday, US Department of Labor will finalize a rule to increase the annual salary threshold for which workers qualify for overtime pay, the White House announced Tuesday.

The rule will extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans, and will boost wages by $10 billion over the next decade. It will take effect on Dec. 1, doubling the salary threshold to $47,476 from $23,660 a year. “We’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded,” President Obama said in a statement. “If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones.” BS News



First openly gay secretary of US Army confirmed

First openly gay secretary of US Army confirmedOn Tuesday, Eric Fanning was confirmed by the Senate to be secretary of the Army, becoming the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service.

Fanning has served as the Army secretary’s principal adviser on management and operation of the service, and was undersecretary of the Air Force from April 2013 to February 2015. Fanning was nominated in September, but the vote was blocked by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) over the Obama administration’s plan to close of Guantanamo Bay and potential transfer of detainees to the United States. Roberts said he dropped his opposition after privately being told that detainees will not be moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. NBC News via The Week



Zika funding clears US Senate

Zika funding clears US SenateThe US Senate approved $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus – significantly less than the Obama administration’s $1.9 billion request, but almost double the funding being considered in the House of Representatives.

Tuesday’s 68-29 vote came after the Republican-led Senate voted down the White House’s full request, which was made in February as U.S. health officials warned that Zika could spread through large swaths of the nation. The mosquito-borne virus can cause devastating birth defects and has been linked to a debilitating neurological disorder.

For weeks, many Republicans insisted they needed more information on how funds would be spent. Some also demanded that other programs be cut to cover the costs of fighting Zika. VOA



Muslim US Congressman said ISIS is evil

Muslim US Congressman said ISIS is evilIn an interview with VOA’s Afghan service, Keith Ellison, a Muslim US Congressman whom IS threatened recently with death, lashed out at the group, its message and its methods.

“Daesh, they are neither Islamic nor a state,” Ellison said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “The whole movement is premised upon a lie, which is that they are going to establish some sort of Islamic paradise on Earth.”

“They are liars,” he said. “They are rapists. They torture people. In Islam, it is prohibited to mutilate corpses. They do this. They burn people. Nothing they do is supportable in Islamic tradition or Quran.” He added that many people once aligned with IS were fleeing from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ellison’s name was on a list of people whom IS called “politically active apostates” in the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada. IS posted the hit list online, along with a picture of a bloodstained knife and remarks from leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He said those on the list “will receive amnesty” if they “surrender themselves to the Islamic State.” VOA



US consumer prices post gain

US consumer prices post gainU.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in more than three years in April as gasoline and rents rose, pointing to a steady inflation build-up that could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to raise interest rates later this year.

The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent last month, the largest gain since February 2013, after rising 0.1 percent in March. That took the year-on-year increase in the CPI to 1.1 percent from 0.9 percent in March. There were also increases in medical care and food prices. VOA

US Presidential election

US Presidential election newsClinton wins Kentucky Sanders wins Oregon: Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Oregon Democratic primary, The Associated Press and CNN project. With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders is leading Hillary Clinton 54 percent to 46 percent. The state’s 61 delegates will be divided proportionally. Oregon votes entirely by mail. Donald Trump was immediately declared winner of the Oregon Republican primary. In the Kentucky Democratic primary, Clinton is the projected winner, according to CNN projections. With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton is leading Sanders, 46.8 percent to 46.3 percent. The race was too close to call for much of the night. Clinton now has a lead of 279 pledged delegates over Sanders, and she’s 92 short of clinching the nomination, with superdelegates included. The Washington Post, The Associated Press via The Week

Trump, RNC finalize joint fundraising agreement: Late Tuesday, Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee finalized a joint fundraising agreement. Under the agreement, Trump and the RNC will raise money for two joint fundraising committees, Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again Committee. The former will raise money for the RNC, Trump’s campaign, and 11 state party committees, and will be able to accept donations of up to $449,400. Trump Make America Great Again Committee will direct funds just to the RNC and Trump’s campaign, and will accept smaller donations. “The RNC is excited to team up with the Trump campaign to expand the robust ground, data, and digital operation we have in place to elect Republicans up and down the ballot,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. The Wall Street Journal

Trump open to talk with Kim, not to Cameron: Trump says he is open to talking with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in order to try to halt the country’s nuclear program. He also said he would use what he described as economic power the U.S. has over China to pressure the Chinese government into playing a role in finding a solution. Jake Sullivan, an adviser for Trump’s likely opponent in the November election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, criticized Trump’s statement.  He highlighted earlier comments in which Trump said he was unlikely to have a good relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron. VOA

Jeb Bush is angry at Trump and at his party: Bush sounded off on Trump in an interview with the Dutch newspaperNRC Handelsblad. The interview was reported in English by The Huffington Post. During the interview, Bush went off on Trump’s attempt at Hispanic outreach earlier this month when Trump proclaimed in a tweet that he loved Hispanics as he ate a taco bowl. Bush, a fluent Spanish speaker whose wife is Mexican, said to NRC. “First, not all Hispanics are Mexican. Secondly, not all Hispanics eat tacos. Thirdly, showing your sensitivity by eating an American dish is the most insensitive thing you can do. Fourthly, to say this, next to all things he already said, is a further insult. It’s like eating a watermelon and saying ‘I love African-Americans.’” Gallup found that 77% of Hispanics have an unfavorable view of Trump in a March survey. USA Today

Trump’s problem with attacking Bill Clinton: There may be one complication for Donald Trump in attacking former president Bill Clinton’s record on the economy: He fired an opening salvo on Tuesday in response to Hillary Clinton’s plan to put her husband in charge of revitalizing the economy. “How can Crooked Hillary put her husband in charge of the economy when he was responsible for NAFTA, the worst economic deal in U.S. history?” Trump tweeted. Yet as recently as last year, Trump called Bill Clinton the best of the past four U.S. presidents. In 2008, Trump called him a “great president” and said the Clintons are “fine people.” In a June 2015 interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Trump was asked to pick the best of the past four presidents, and he chose Clinton. Most of Trump’s public praise for Bill Clinton came during the late 1990s, as his presidency wound down. USA Today

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