Top News Stories For Today – Oct 19, 2017
Bipartisan health bill in US
On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will introduce the health-care bill he negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), flanked by a significant number of bipartisan cosponsors. The bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill is expected to go nowhere for now, as President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) came out against it on Wednesday.
But “by the end of the year, chances are very good this agreement or something like it is law,” Alexander said Wednesday. Some Republicans object to extending cost-sharing subsidies that insurance companies use to lower costs for poorer customers, but with premiums rising and the Democrats’ leverage on must-pass bills in December, analysts said the plan could pass as part of a year-end package. Politico, Axios, The Week
On Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office said it will convene a special cabinet meeting over the weekend to trigger Article 155 of the constitution to kick of a process of reigning in Catalonia’s regional autonomy.
Rajoy had given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont until Thursday morning to clarify if the region had declared independence or not after an Oct. 1 referendum — Puigdemont had signed a declaration of independence then suspended it, asking for talks with Madrid. Puigdemont’s response was that the regional Parliament would likely approve a formal declaration of independence if Rajoy continued to shun dialogue. Reuters, BBC News,The Week
First gene therapy for blood cancer
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a one-time treatment for lymphoma in adults, only the second time a gene therapy for blood cancer has been given the OK in the United States.
This is the first gene therapy approved for adults, and involves removing a patient’s T cells, reprogramming them to find and kill cancer cells, then putting the cells back into the patient. The treatment uses the same technology as a gene therapy recently approved in the US for childhood leukemia, and will cost $373,000 per patient, its manufacturer said. The Associated Press
US green card lottery applications lost
All entries submitted to the US Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the Green Card Lottery, between October 3rd and 10th have been lost due to a technical glitch. Individuals who submitted applications during these dates are directed to reapply.
“Entries submitted during October 3-10 are not valid and have been excluded from the system; they will not count as a duplicate entry,” a message on the US State Department’s website said. Duplicate entries to the program disqualify aspiring immigrants. VOA
New Zealand gets youngest new PM
New Zealand is set for a Centre-left coalition government led by Labor head Jacinda Ardern. Ms. Ardern has been opposition leader for the last three months. At 37, she is set to be the country’s youngest prime minister since 1856.
Her Labor Party came second in September’s election, where no party could secure a majority. They are now tipped for power after the small New Zealand First party agreed to join them in government. The new coalition will also be supported by the Green Party. BBC
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