World & National News – August 2, 2017

Obamacare repeal votes fail in Senate

Senate Republicans again failed to deliver on their campaign promise of the last four election cycles, as the “skinny repeal” bill failed to garner the 50 votes needed to pass. Previous versions of the repeal bill were defeated in the Senate earlier in the week.

Republican senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins voted against the repeal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN, “I regret that we’re here. I’m proud of the vote I cast tonight. It’s consistent with what we told the American people we’d try to accomplish in four straight elections if they gave us a chance.”

When asked why he cast a decisive no vote, McCain said simply, “Because it was the right vote.”


North Korea launches ballistic missile

The Pentagon confirmed Friday, July 28, that an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched from North Korea earlier that day.

The missile was launched from a North Korean facility at Mupyong-ni and landed in waters off the coast of Japan. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile posed no threat to the United States. The Pentagon was still completing a detailed threat assessment as of press time.


New communications director blasts White House Chief of Staff

The new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, lashed out at White House Chief of Staff Reince Prie bus last week in a telephone interview with CNN. Scaramucci called him a “paranoid schizophrenic,” and insinuated Priebus had leaked Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form to the media in a profanity-laced tirade.


Trump vows to destroy MS-13 gang

President Donald Trump visited Long Island Friday, July 28, and delivered a blistering speech about crime and law enforcement. In the speech he called gang members “animals” and cheered law enforcement officers for being “rough.”

The violent MS-13 street gang was the main focus of his address in Lon Island, NY, but he also promised to bring safety to streets around the country.

“Together we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities and we’re going to destroy the vile, criminal cartel MS-13 and many other gangs,” he said.

Trump delivered the speech in Long Island because the community has been harshly impacted by the gang and their violent tactics, with several high-profile murders.

“They kidnap. They extort. They rape and they rob, he said. “They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs, they slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They’re animals.”


Escaped inmate captured naked in cornfield

Patrick Allen, a 39-year-old escaped inmate, was captured in a cornfield in Fayette County, Indiana, after county deputies received multiple complaints about a naked man hanging out in a cornfield.

After his arrest, Allen told deputies he was naked in the field because he had been “partying.”


Fed report says New Orleans should repay $2 billion

According to a report from the Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not have proper documentation to determine damage to the city’s water and sewer systems were directly caused by hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

“Even though FEMA attributed the damages to the water distribution system directly to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, we concluded that FEMA did not have sufficient documentation to support its decision,” wrote Acting Inspector General John McCoy.

The report further recommends the city and its water and sewer board repay the $2 billion in aid to the federal government.


Hawaii man given four years for harassing seal

Shylo Akuna, a 20-year-old Hawaii man, was sentenced to four years in prison for harassing a monk seal in April 2016.

Bystanders to the event recorded a video which showed Akuna aggressively harassing the seal. Prosecutors argued Akuna was intoxicated at the time of the harassment.

Akuna was also sentenced in June to a one-year jail term for the unrelated theft and slaughter of a goat in January 2016. He is still facing charges of burglary from a hotel room in March 2017.


British hacker given suspended sentence by German court

A 29-year-old British hacker, identified only as Daniel K. aka “Spiderman,” was giving a suspended 20-month sentence by a German court in Cologne. He admitted to committing a cyberattack in November 2016 that temporarily took down internet access for nearly one million German consumers.


U.S. economy hits 2.6 percent growth in second quarter

Overcoming a tepid first quarter 1.2 percent growth rate, the U.S. economy rebounded during the second quarter, growing by 2.6 percent. The growth was primarily fueled by an increase in consumer spending, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of the national economy.

The U.S. economy in June recorded its 96th consecutive month of growth.


Russian foreign ministry responds to latest sanctions

In response to recent threats of new American sanctions, the Russian government has demanded the United States downsize its presence in Moscow and other Russian cities by Sept. 1, 2017, and has suspended the U.S. Embassy’s use of two properties—a storage facility and a retreat on an island in the Moscow River.

The Russians have demanded the U.S. staff presence at the embassy in Moscow and at all three consulates in other cities be reduced to match the 455 Russian diplomats currently working in the United States. The ministry also stated they would mirror any further cuts to its staff in the United States.


Joint Chiefs Chairman says U.S. military policy won’t change

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the nation’s highest ranking military officer, said despite the president’s twitter announcement banning transgender citizens from serving in the military, no policy changes will be forthcoming until the president provides more clarification and direction.

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the president,” Dunford released in a statement. “There will be no modificiations to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.

In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”


Pakistan’s high court ousts prime minister

In a unanimous decision, the Pakistani Supreme Court has disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office due to a corruption scandal involving his family’s financial dealings.

The ruling states Sharif failed to properly disclose financial dealings and was unable to account for assets that are “disproportionate to his known means of income.”


Iran hit with sanctions after rocket launch

The United States Treasury Department instituted sanctions against six Iran-based satellite companies after a recent Iranian rocket launch State Department officials claim violated a resolution of the United Nations Security Council.

Iran state news reported the successful test launch of a rocket capable of sending satellites into orbit. According to the State Department, the launch violates the Security Council resolution because the technology could be used in ballistic missile development.

In response, the Treasury Department placed sanctions against companies owned by Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, considered central to Iran’s ballistic missile program.


Trump tweets about replacing Priebus

Late Friday President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce he’d appointed John Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff.