Top News Stories For Today – Oct 20, 2017
Restart of searching MH370
A deal to start a new search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is close to being completed. US marine exploration company Ocean Infinity says it’s making “good progress” on an agreement with Malaysia to restart the search for the missing plane, which disappeared over three years ago. At this point, it’s not clear how much a new search would cost, or who would foot the bill. The original search cost about $150 million and covered 46,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean.
Bits and pieces of the plane have turned up over the years off the coast of southeast Africa, but the whereabouts of the main fuselage remain unknown. Two-hundred and thirty-nine people from 14 different countries were on board when MH370 disappeared. CNN
US tax reform
On Thursday night, the Senate approved a 2018 budget resolution on a 51-49 vote, which increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion over a decade in order to cover President Trump’s proposed tax cuts. Trump’s tax plan is still being developed, but Democrats are warning voters that all signs point to it benefiting the wealthiest of Americans and corporations.
An amendment was crafted by House and Senate Republicans so they don’t have to spend weeks reconciling the Senate budget with the version the House has already passed. Both the House and Senate tax-writing committees are trying to release their draft legislation by early November. Bloomberg, The Week
ISIS capital Raqqa declared totally liberated
At a ceremony Friday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces declared “total liberation” of Raqqa, Syria, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, and formally handed over control of the devastated city to a civilian council, though SDF spokesman Talal Silo said his Kurdish-led coalition would continue sweeping the city for ISIS holdouts and explosives and guarantee the safety of the city and province.
The SDF had declared military operations over on Tuesday, and Silo said 655 local and international fighters died in the 130-day battle to push ISIS out of Raqqa. The group held its ceremony in the sports stadium that ISIS had used as a weapons depot and prison, where its fighters made their last stand. CNN, The Associated Press,The Week
Pollution caused 9 million deaths worldwide
Almost one in six deaths on this planet is related in some way to pollution. That eye-popping statistic comes from a new report in the medical journal The Lancet. The study says in 2015, an estimated 9 million deaths worldwide were linked to pollution — air, water, soil, chemical or occupational.
Most of the deaths, a whooping 92%, occur in low- and middle-income countries. Pollution-related deaths are also a huge problem in countries trying to industrialize rapidly, such as China, India, Bangladesh and Kenya. Lancet
Winter outlook precipitation
Maybe winter isn’t coming. For the third year in a row, the nation will experience a warmer-than-normal winter, say the good folks at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. It released its winter outlook, which predicts the return of La Nina will moderate the season’s temperatures. The East Coast has up to a 40% chance of having a warmer winter — and will also have less precipitation.
The Northern Plains and Northwest are the only locations the CPC thinks the winter season will be below average. The rest of the continental US has equal chances of experiencing a normal winter — meaning residents there will have equal chances of having above, near or below-normal temperatures. CNN
Russia gives Philippines shiploads of weapons
Three Russian warships, including two anti-submarine vessels, docked in Manila on Friday to unload what navy officials said was weaponry and military vehicles donated to the Philippines as part of a new defense relationship.
It was the third port visit this year by Russian warships as part of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s moves to engage closely with Moscow, an arch-rival of Manila’s former colonial master and closest defense ally, the United States. The load included 5,000 assault rifles, a million rounds of ammunition and 20 army trucks, Russian and Filipino navy officials said. VOA
California fires cause $1B in damage
The wildfires that have devastated Northern California this month caused at least $1 billion in damage to insured property, officials said Thursday, as authorities increased the count of homes and other buildings destroyed to nearly 7,000. Both numbers were expected to rise as crews continued assessing areas scorched by the blazes that killed 42 people, a total that makes it the deadliest series of fires in state history.
The loss total was expected to climb “probably dramatically so,” State Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones told reporters, making it likely the fires also would become the costliest in California’s history. VOA
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