Top News Stories for Today – September 24, 2016
Obama vetoes 9/11 bill
President Obama on Friday vetoed a controversial bill that would have enabled families of people killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged involvement. The bill has been at the center of an emotional debate in Washington, as the effort was led by top Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and is supported by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was a senator for New York in 2001.
Obama had long promised to veto the bill, which would have ended the immunity from lawsuits foreign countries enjoy within the United States. The bill may have enough support to override the president’s veto, however, with both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) saying this week they expected to have enough votes to push the bill through. The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Reuters, CNN, The Week
Prospects dim for 2016 EU-US trade deal
European Union trade ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, made it clear Friday that there was little chance of concluding faltering talks with the United States before President Barack Obama leaves office.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would create the world’s largest free trade zone. Supporters say it would end burdensome regulations, broaden the variety of traded goods, add jobs and boost economies. But the EU’s 28 members are deeply divided about the agreement, to the point that France and Austria want to end the current round of talks and start again, under a new name. Britain’s expected exit from the European Union adds an extra element of uncertainty.
Meanwhile the EU has all but finalized a trade deal with Canada, which is expected to be signed at the end of next month. Earlier in the day, Belgium’s deputy prime minister, Didier Reynders, said the Europeans had made strides in many areas with Canada, in ways that they hadn’t during three years of trade negotiations with Washington. VOA
African American Museum to open in Washington DC
African American Museum, first proposed by a group of black Civil War veterans in 1915, officially opens Saturday in a central location on Washington’s National Mall — among war memorials and cultural institutions, with a clear sight line to the US Capitol.
Many of the stories in the museum are difficult to think about. The lowest level of the museum deals with the arrival of Africans in North America — as slaves. Generations of blacks remained in bondage to white farmers for more than two centuries, and the racial divide that system created resonated throughout the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter movement that has sprung up in response to conflicts between white police officers and black civilians today.
Due to height limits designed to preserve views of all the monuments, 60 percent of the museum is underground. Visitors start in the basement, with the ugly history of the slavery era. As they advance to higher floors, the story grows more uplifting, although still fraught with conflict.
Upper levels tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement, when the federal government finally passed laws allowing blacks the same legal rights as whites. The top level of the museum, where light pours in and visitors can see a sweeping view of the Mall and the monuments is a showcase for African-American art. VOA
Jeremy Corbyn re-elected for UK Labor leader
He vowed to bring the party back together and “make Labor the engine of progress for our country”, insisting the party could win the next election. More than half a million party members, trade unionists and registered supporters voted in the contest.
In a result announced on the eve of Labor’s party conference in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn won 313,209 votes, compared with Mr Smith’s 193,229. BBC
Snapchat launches sunglasses with camera
Messaging app firm Snapchat has announced its first gadget – sunglasses with a built-in camera. The device, which the company is calling Spectacles, will go on sale later this year priced at $130. The glasses will record up to 30 seconds of video at at time.
As part of the announcement, Snapchat is renaming itself to Snap, Inc. The renaming decision underlined the company’s apparent ambition to go beyond the ephemeral messaging app, a product which is highly popular with young people. BBC
US Presidential election
Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced Friday that he is voting for Donald Trump, and he encouraged his supporters to do the same. “If Clinton wins, we know — with 100 percent certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country. My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that,” Cruz said in his statement. At the Republican convention in July, Cruz had notably told his party to “vote your conscience” and declined to actually endorse Trump; Trump, for his part, has repeatedly insinuated Cruz’s father had something to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In a statement Friday, Trump said he was “greatly honored” by Cruz’s endorsement. “We have fought the battle,” Trump said. “I look forward to working with him for many years to come.” Politico
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton finalize debate plans ahead of Monday face-off: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump over the weekend will fine-tune their talking points and rebuttals in preparation for the first presidential debate, which takes place Monday in New York. While Clinton has taken a more traditional approach, holding practice debates and honing her answers, Trump is aiming to use his unpredictability to the fullest by skipping standard rehearsals with his aides. But Team Clinton doesn’t think simply fact-checking Trump will lead to a victory: “Mrs. Clinton has concluded that catching Mr. Trump in a lie during the debate is not enough to beat him,” The New York Times writes. “She needs the huge television audience to see him as temperamentally unfit for the presidency, and [see] that she has the power to unhinge him.” Trump, meanwhile, is being directed by his team to focus on “big-picture themes” like jobs and terrorism, and to avoid being lured into quibbles with Clinton. The New York Times
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