Top News Stories for Today – Sept 27, 2017
Trump’s tax cuts for wealthy
President Trump will announce his intention to cut tax rates for businesses and the wealthy and raise the lowest individual tax rate in a speech in Indianapolis on Wednesday. The plan will be promoted as a win for the middle class because it will also double the standard deduction for all taxpayers: “In the end, even the lowest rates get a tax cut,” explained Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio).
Still, analysts fret that if “economic growth projected by Republicans fails to materialize,” then massive tax cuts could “balloon the federal deficit and debt,” Reuters writes. And while the president called for bipartisan reform on Tuesday, “Trump asked for Democrats to jump on the caboose after the tax train has already left the station,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). Reuters, The Week
GOP health bill fails again
Senate Republicans decided Tuesday that they will not vote on their health-care bill after efforts to garner support for the legislation fell short. The bill, named for co-sponsors Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), appeared doomed on Monday when moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in opposition. With three Republicans as solid “no” votes, the GOP can’t muster the 50 votes it would need to pass the proposal with the help of Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaking vote.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said “Let the committees … take up these bills, hear from the parents, hear from the hospitals, hear from the doctors, and come up with a bipartisan set of solutions that will make health care better, not worse.” But many Republicans continue to insist that Obamacare can’t be fixed and that replacing the 2010 law is the only solution. VOA, Politico, The Week
Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers
World’s one of the most conservative country, Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive beginning in June of next year, the kingdom announced Tuesday. The extremely conservative country, which is ruled according to Shariah law, has justified its ban on religious grounds for years. To get around, Saudi women have relied on private cabs or Uber.
The kingdom’s decision comes as Saudi Arabia is trying to change its reputation abroad, but making the switch will not be easy: In addition to formalizing driving classes and licenses for women, Saudi Arabia’s “police will need to be trained to interact with women in a way that they rarely do in a society where men and women who are not related rarely interact,” The New York Times writes. The New York Times, Al-Hayat, The Week
Iran nuclear deal
The top US. military officer said on Tuesday Iran was complying with the pact curbing its nuclear program and warned that any American decision to walk away from it would make other nations less likely to enter into agreements with the United States.
Trump is considering whether to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers including the United States, calling the accord an “embarrassment.” Republican lawmakers were united in their opposition to the deal reached by Democratic former President Barack Obama. A collapse of the deal could trigger a regional arms race and worsen Middle East tensions. VOA
Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani on Tuesday claimed victory in the referendum vote for independence and called for a “dialogue” with Iraqi authorities, who have rejected the vote as unconstitutional. On Monday, Iraqi Kurds voted on an independence referendum that drew objection from the government in Baghdad, as well as neighboring countries and the United States.
In response to the vote, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi threatened to ban all flights into and out of the Kurdish region if leaders there didn’t concede control of airports to federal authorities. The referendum vote is non-binding, but Barzani said he hopes the “yes” vote will lead to increased dialogue between the Kurds and Iraqi government. VOA
US’s new sanctions on N Korea
The US. Department of the Treasury announced new sanctions Tuesday targeting eight North Korean banks, as well as 26 DPRK banking officials. The Treasury Department’s release said the action “targets North Korean use of the international financial system to facilitate its WMD and ballistic missile programs.”
North Korea condemned the UN action, calling it a “full-scale economic blockade” that was aimed at “completely suffocating” the North Korean people. The 26 North Korean nationals sanctioned Tuesday by the US. live abroad but work for North Korean banks. Nineteen are living in China, three are based in Russia and two each are living in Libya and the United Arab Emirates. VOA
Former Thai PM Yingluck gets 5 years’ jail
Thailand’s Supreme Court convicted and sentenced former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in absentia to five years in prison on Wednesday for mismanaging a rice subsidy scheme that cost the country billions of dollars. Yingluck fled abroad last month fearing that the military government, set up after a coup in 2014, would seek a harsh sentence. Dozens of supporters had gathered outside the court to hear the verdict on Wednesday.
Reuters reported last month that she had fled to Dubai where Thaksin, a former Prime minister and Yingluck’s brother, has a home and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for corruption. Photos posted on Instagram this week by one of Thaksin’s daughters show Thaksin in London. None of the photos features Yingluck. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, said on Tuesday he knows where Yingluck is but would not reveal it until after the verdict is read. Thai authorities investigating how Yingluck escaped said last week they have questioned three police officers who admitted to helping her. VOA
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