Top News Stories for Today – Sept 1, 2017
WH to request $6 billion Harvey relief
Trump is expected to ask Congress as early as Friday for $5.95 billion in initial emergency aid to deal with the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, with $5.5 billion going to the depleted FEMA-administered Disaster Relief Fund and another $450 million to the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Program. Harvey is presumed to be one of the most costly natural disasters in US history.
As of Thursday morning, more than 311,000 Texans had applied for federal disaster relief, and at least $530 million has been approved, the White House says, and some 100,000 houses were destroyed by Harvey. The Trump administration and Congress have not decided whether to push for the funding separately or attach it to must-pass legislation like raising the debt ceiling. The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Week
Trump on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Trump is widely rumored to be announcing an end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program on Friday, to meet a deadline imposed by 10 state attorneys general. On Thursday night, a group of some 300 corporate executives began a public push to save the program, which has granted temporary work and residency status to roughly 780,000 DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US before age 16.
The CEOs of Apple, Amazon, GM, GE, Google, Marriott, Microsoft, and other large companies flagged the economic benefits DREAMers provide for America and noted that they pay more than they take in federal tax revenue. If Trump does end DACA, as expected, Congress would face internal and external pressure to reinstate a similar program. The Wall Street Journal, ReCode, The Week
North Korea mocks military drill
After North Korea performed another missile test this week and directly threatened Guam, the United States and South Korea staged their own show of force with state-of-the-art stealth fighters. They conducted a mock bombing drill, which simulated a surgical strike of key enemy facilities. In a statement, US Pacific Command said the flyover was a “direct response to North Korea’s intermediate range ballistic missile launch.”
The display of power was denounced by Pyongyang as a “rash act.” Russian President Vladimir Putin also weighed in on the once-again-burgeoning crisis, saying the escalation was a “dead-end road.” “Russia believes that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile,” Putin said in an article released by the Kremlin. CNN
Kenya Supreme Court nullified election
Kenya’s Supreme Court has nullified the results of last month’s presidential election that handed a victory to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta. The court said Friday the electoral board has committed “irregularities and illegalities” during the vote, harming the integrity of the election.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga had petitioned the court to throw out the results of the August vote. Odinga says the results that had him losing to Kenyatta by about 1.4 million votes were false. Kenya’s constitution says fresh elections now must be held in 60 days. VOA
US orders 3 Russian consular offices to close
On Thursday, the State Department of US ordered Russia to close three of its consular offices in the US Russia has until Saturday to vacate a consulate in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, D.C., and a consular annex in New York.
The order was given in response to Russia’s “unwarranted and detrimental” mandate in late July for the US to drastically cut staff at its mission in Moscow, a retaliatory response to new sanctions passed by Congress. The State Department’s order, made in the “spirit of parity,” will leave the US and Russia “with three consulates each.” “The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. ABC News
Wells Fargo reveals unauthorized accounts
On Thursday, Wells Fargo revealed that an independent review of the company’s records found that an additional 1.4 million potentially unauthorized accounts were created as the bank’s employees scrambled to meet lofty sales goals. The bank had conducted an internal review of its accounts after revealing the fake account scandal last year. The new estimate, however, covered a wider window of time than the bank’s review and increases the initial tally by 67 percent; nearly 3.5 million unauthorized accounts are now thought to have been opened between 2009 and 2016.
The outside firm also found that 190,000 of those fake accounts incurred fees and damages, and that 528,000 customers were signed up for online bill payment without their permission. The bank will refund customers in both cases. Bloomberg, CNN Money, The Week
Mueller Russia investigation
Members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been sharing evidence about a potential case involving President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, Politico reports. Both teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including possible money laundering, one source familiar with the matter revealed, although they have not made a decision regarding filing charges and “nothing is imminent.”
Trump has no pardon power over state crimes, and state and federal prosecutors think the prospect of a presidential pardon could affect whether or not Manafort cooperates with federal investigators working on a Trump probe, one person familiar with the investigation said. Politico, The Week
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