Top News Stories for Today – Sept 20, 2017
Trump addresses in UN
In his debut address before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his America First outlook as he warned of the threats posed by “rogue regimes.” He declared that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who he referred to as “Rocket Man,” is “on a suicide mission,” and noted that the US “will have no choice but to totally destroy” the country if it threatens the U.S or its allies. Vowing to “stop radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump also referred to the Iranian government as an “economically depleted rogue state” whose chief export is violence. “Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell,” Trump said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised Trump for taking a strong stand against North Korean provocations. South Korean President Moon Jae-in downplayed the confrontational aspect of the speech and praised Trump’s commitment to peace and security in the region. The North Korean ambassador to the UN, Ja Song Nam, walked out of General Assembly hall as Trump entered to speak. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday it is incorrect to say China has not been doing enough. Reuters, VOA
Massive Mexico earthquake
Mexico was struck by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake with an epicenter about 70 miles south of Mexico City on Tuesday, just days after the nation was hit by its biggest earthquake in centuries, on Sept. 8. At least 217 people were killed, Mexico’s civil defense coordinator said, with 86 confirmed dead in Mexico City.
Several buildings have collapsed or were badly damaged in the quake, which was centered near Raboso, the US Geological Survey said. Tuesday’s earthquake fell on the 32nd anniversary of a disastrous 1985 earthquake in Mexico City that left at least 5,000 people dead. The Sept. 8 earthquake, off the coast of Chiapas, Mexico, registered as an 8.1 and killed 98 people. The Associated Press, The Week
US trade deficit hits $123.1 billion
The deficit in the broadest measure of US trade rose to the highest level in more than eight years this spring. One of the biggest contributing factors to the larger deficit in the April-June quarter was a decline in receipts from foreigners after they had risen sharply in the first quarter. The government attributed the $5.2 billion decrease in receipts of secondary income from foreigners to a decline in fines and penalties paid by foreign companies. That category had risen sharply in the first quarter.
Trump says America’s trade deficits have been caused by bad trade deals and abusive practices by China and other US trading partners. He has pledged changes that he says will reduce the deficit and bring back American factory jobs. VOA
Hurricane Maria has intensified into a major Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds as it nears the Caribbean where potentially disastrous impacts may occur in parts of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Maria is the fourth major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
The Leeward Islands will see the first impacts from Maria starting Monday with Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique among the locations that will see the most severe impacts. Maria is then expected to strike the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Wednesday, potentially as a strong Category 4 hurricane. A hurricane warning is now in effect for the Virgin Islands, while Puerto Rico is under a hurricane watch. The Weather Channel
Trump’s approval rating up
A series of opinion polls in the past week have shown President Trump’s approval rating ending its summer slide and edging up a few points, following his handling of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and his nods toward bipartisanship. In Gallup’s weekly tracking poll, Trump is up to 38 percent approval, from a low of 35 percent in late August, following his comments on the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll has Trump at 43 percent, after hitting 39 percent last month, and a Marist poll from last week clocked Trump at 39 percent approval, from 35 percent in August. Trump’s RealClearPolitics average is 40 percent, up 2.5 points from last month. All those numbers are historically low for a first-term president. Politico, Gallup, The Week
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is reaching back more than a decade in its investigation of Paul Manafort, a sign of the pressure Mueller is placing on President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. The FBI’s warrant for a July search of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home said the investigation centered on possible crimes committed as far back as January 2006, according to a source briefed on the investigation.
The broad time frame is the latest indication that Mueller’s team is going well beyond Russian meddling during the campaign as part of its investigation of Trump campaign associates. CNN
Fox news sex allegation
Political contributor Scottie Nell Hughes has filed a lawsuit against Fox News accusing the network of punishing her after she claimed she was raped by anchor Charles Payne. Ms. Hughes alleged Mr. Payne coerced her to have sex with him in 2013 “in exchange for career opportunities and benefits”. She claims she was forced to remain in a sexual relationship with Mr. Payne, during which she received more work at Fox News, but was retaliated against by the network after ending the relationship.
The suit states Mr. Payne had “used his position of power to pressure Ms. Hughes into submission” and when Ms. Hughes tried to put a stop to the relationship, he became “physically violent”. When she eventually cut contact with him, the number of her appearances on Fox dropped from four to five times weekly, to five times over a period of 10 months. Ms. Hughes said in a statement: “What is most important to me is that justice will prevent other women from going through the nightmare I’m now living.”
Fox News has faced a flurry of allegations since former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was ousted last year, after former host Gretchen Carlson accused him of harassment. Independent
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