Top News Stories for Today – Sept 25, 2017
Indonesia’s Mt. Agung volcano alert
Nearly 50,000 people have evacuated the area around Bali’s Mount Agung volcano as Indonesian disaster officials said it could erupt for the first time in more than 50 years. People have taken shelter in all corners of the island and some have crossed to the neighboring island of Lombok. Authorities have warned tourists and residents to avoid camping or hiking within a 12 kilometer radius of the volcano’s crater as seismic activity rattled some areas and smoke rose above one of the world’s most popular tourist hubs.
The volcano, located about 75 kilometers from the tourist site of Kuta, has been rumbling since August. A series of eruptions at Mount Agung between 1963 and 1964 killed about 1,100 people and injured hundreds more. VOA
Trump’s revised travel ban
On Sunday evening, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation placing indefinite travel restrictions on visitors from eight nations: Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Somalia. Sudan was dropped from Trump’s original travel bans, the latter of which expired Sunday. Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela were added.
The proclamation, which Trump administration officials say carries the weight of an executive order, spells out different restrictions for different countries, ranging from total bans for North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Chad to just a ban on Venezuelan government officials and their families. It goes into effect Oct. 18. Trump’s ban on refugees will be addressed separately. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Week
Germany’s Merkel wins 4th term
After 12 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in Sunday’s national elections, though it was the worst showing since 1949 for both her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU-CSU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won about 94 seats in the 709-seat Bundestag, making it the third-largest bloc and the first right-wing nationalist party to win seats since World War II.
Merkel’s bloc will have about 246 seats. The SPD, which had governed in coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said it will go into opposition, leaving Merkel with a narrow path to a governing majority, likely with the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens. Merkel said she’d hoped for a “better result.” BBC News, The Associated Press, The Week
Kushner’s private email for WH business
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has used a private email address he set up after the election to communication about White House matters with other administration officials, Politico reported Sunday and Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, confirmed. Kushner set up the private family domain and new email addresses in December.
“Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” Lowell said, and to comply with the Presidential Records Act, Kushner forwarded all non-personal emails to his White House account. During the 2016 campaign, Trump relentlessly hammered opponent Hillary Clinton for her use of private email while secretary of state. Politico, The Associated Press
GOP health bill
On Sunday night, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) released a new draft of their Graham-Cassidy health-care bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, designed to win over holdouts in part by sending more money to Alaska, Maine, Arizona, and Kentucky, the home states of four holdout GOP senators.
The new version also includes a special Medicaid carveout for Alaska, and it would make it easier for states to scrap federal essential-coverage requirements, often without a waiver, create “multiple risk pools” for healthy and sick people. Senate Republicans have until Saturday to pass a health-care bill with 50 votes plus Vice President Mike Pence. Politico, The New York Times
Iraqi Kurds referendum
Iraqi Kurds are voting Monday in an independence referendum that is widely expected to be approved while facing objection from the government in Baghdad as well as neighboring countries and the United States. Official results are expected Tuesday. A yes vote would not trigger a declaration of independence, but rather serve as the first step in separation negotiations.
Barzani told VOA’s Persian service last week that following the referendum, the Kurdish government would begin discussions with Iraqi officials on such issues as border demarcation, division of natural resources and a timeline for declaring independence. Barzani estimated the transition time would be one to two years. The Kurds and the Iraqi government have long-running disputes over oil revenues and who controls several key cities in the region. VOA
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