Top News Stories for Today – Sept 28, 2017
Trump’s tax plan for wealthy
Trump on Wednesday announced his intention to cut tax rates for businesses and the wealthy and raise the lowest individual tax rate in a speech in Indianapolis. The plan — which proposes shrinking the seven tax brackets down to three at 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent — is being promoted as a win for the middle class because it will also double the standard deduction for all taxpayers. Additionally, the tax reform plan cuts business taxes:
“We need Washington to promote American jobs instead of obstructing them,” Trump said. Analysts, however, fret that if “economic growth projected by Republicans fails to materialize,” then the massive cuts could “balloon the federal deficit and debt,” Reuters writes. Reuters, Axios, The Week
Hurricane Maria aftermath in Puerto Rico
A week after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, about 44 percent of the population remains without drinking water, the Defense Department said Wednesday. There are 3.4 million people living in the US. territory, and residents are concerned that the water supply is being contaminated by garbage, which could lead to a health crisis, with hospitals unable to accept new patients given the lack of power and low generator fuel supplies.
Residents say garbage is floating in the water that still floods the streets, and many homes that do have running water don’t have power and can’t safely boil the water. Many stores can’t open because they don’t have power, and water quickly sells out when it becomes available. NBC News, The Week
Twitter in Russia election probe
Facebook has disclosed that during the 2016 presidential race, Russians used fake pages and ads to sow discord and influence the election, but Russians may have used Twitter even more extensively, according to researchers at the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
The bipartisan organization is tracking 600 Twitter accounts it believes are tied to the Russian government or Russian propagandists, and more than 25 percent of news stories those accounts shared last week had a primary theme of anti-Americanism, most recently by amplifying the NFL kneeling controversy. On Thursday, Twitter employees will meet with staffers of the Senate and House intelligence committees on Russian election meddling. Twitter, Facebook, and Google have been invited to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Nov. 1. The New York Times, The Week
Trump to work with Democrat on health care
President Trump said Wednesday that he is considering taking executive action to allow Americans to purchase health care across state lines, a move promoted by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Trump added that there would be another health-care vote next year and that in the intervening months, he would “meet with Democrats and see if I can get a health-care plan that’s even better.”
Hours earlier, Trump had called for getting rid of the filibuster to push health care through the Senate with no Democratic votes. Trump additionally expressed frustration with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has come under intense scrutiny for more than $300,000 worth of chartered flights: “I am not happy about it, and I let him know,” Trump said. CSPAN, The Week
Moldova: joining EU is key priority
A top Moldovan official says its parliament plans to amend the constitution to explicitly state that joining the European Union is a key goal for the ex-Soviet republic. Moldova, located between Ukraine and Romania, has been divided between moving closer to the EU and returning to the Russian orbit.
Parliament speaker Andrian Candu acknowledged that Moldovans lost confidence in pro-European politicians after some of them were accused of involvement in the looting of $1 billion from Moldovan banks in 2014. But he says trust is slowly being restored with a series of anti-corruption measures. Many Moldovans favor closer relations with Russia. Pro-Russian President Igor Dodon was elected last year. VOA
Catalonia calls EU support for referendum
Catalonia’s foreign affairs chief has appealed for support from the EU before a disputed referendum calling for independence from Spain. Raul Romeva, speaking to journalists Thursday in Brussels, said that EU institutions need to “understand that this is a big issue.” Romeva spoke a day after Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont accused the EU, in an interview with The Associated Press, of “turning its back” on Catalonia in its conflict with Spain’s central government.
Romeva accused the Spanish government of a “brutal crackdown” on Catalan officials to try to prevent Sunday’s referendum, which Spain considers to be illegal, and that it’s “generated an unprecedented level of shock.” He said that he doesn’t expect violence, because “it’s not in the Catalan DNA to use violence to solve political problems.” VOA
Trump proposes cut refugee cap
President Donald Trump’s administration plans to dramatically reduce the number of refugees allowed into the United States during the coming year, despite appeals from humanitarian groups that more people than ever should be admitted.
The White House announced in a report to Congress Wednesday that the US. plans to admit no more than 45,000 refugees during the year ahead – the smallest number in more than 35 years. Former President Barack Obama had proposed a refugee allotment more than twice as great – 110,000 – during the next 12 months. VOA
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