Category Archives: News

As Trump weighs more troops in Afghanistan, some in Congress seek to freeze his funding

Source: Military Times

“As the Trump administration contemplates sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a bipartisan group in Congress has demanded a floor debate on the war’s endgame and whether it remains in America’s interest to remain engaged there militarily. On the eve of NATO’s highly anticipated summit in Brussels, Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina and Democrat John Garamendi of California will greet the media in Washington on Wednesday to explain their proposed legislation seeking to halt, with few exceptions, any further financing for U.S. activities in Afghanistan.” (05/24/17)

Taiwan becomes first nation in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage

Source: Los Angeles Times

“In a first for Asia, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, punctuating a years-long campaign by advocates for gay rights in one of the continent’s most liberal democracies. In its majority opinion, the court said a provision in the current civil code barring same-sex marriages stood in violation of two articles of the constitution safeguarding human dignity and equality under the law. Authorities must now either enact or amend relevant laws within two years, failing which same-sex couples could have their marriages recognized by submitting a written document, the court said.” (05/24/17)

Moody’s downgrades China, warns of fading financial strength as debt mounts

Source: Reuters

“Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s credit ratings on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 30 years, saying it expects the financial strength of the economy will erode in coming years as growth slows and debt continues to rise. The one-notch downgrade in long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings, to A1 from Aa3, comes as the Chinese government grapples with the challenges of rising financial risks stemming from years of credit-fueled stimulus. … While the downgrade is likely to modestly increase the cost of borrowing for the Chinese government and its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), it remains comfortably within the investment grade rating range. World stocks inched lower after the move, though Shanghai’s main index .SSEC recouped early losses to end marginally higher.” (05/24/17)

“We can use peace”: Trump, Pope Francis meet

Source: Chicago Tribune

“President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe. Trump, midway through a grueling nine-day, maiden international journey, called upon the pontiff in a private, 30-minute meeting laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol. The president, accompanied by his wife and several aides, arrived at the Vatican just after 8 a.m. local time. The president greeted Francis in Sala del Tronetto, the room of the little throne, on the second floor of Apostolic Palace. Upon completing their meeting, the pope gave the president a medal featuring an olive branch, a symbol of peace, among other gifts. ‘We can use peace,’ the president responded.” (05/24/17)

UK: Police arrest three in Manchester bombing investigation

Source: ABC News

“Three arrests have been made in connection with Monday’s deadly explosion in Manchester that killed 22 people and injured more than 60 others at one of Europe’s largest and most well-known arenas, U.K. authorities said today. The suspects were apprehended in south Manchester early this morning, according to the Greater Manchester Police. Police previously announced that they had arrested a 23-year-old man on Tuesday in connection with the attack. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the bombing.” (05/24/17)

Philippines: Duterte declares martial law in south

Source: Denver Post

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Wednesday that he’ll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country’s south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages. Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire southern Mindanao region, the restive third of the Philippine archipelago, Tuesday evening to try to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group and occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings and battled troops in an audacious attack in Marawi City. Martial law could be extended for a year depending on how long the problem could be quelled, Duterte said on board a plane en route to the Philippines.” (05/24/17)

Nepal: Dahal resigns as prime minister

Source: Miami Herald

“Nepal’s prime minister has announced his resignation so the leader of his coalition partner party can succeed him, in line with an agreement made between the two parties. Pushpa Kamal Dahal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) became prime minister in August 2016 with the support of Nepali Congress, the country’s largest party. The two parties agreed to switch prime ministers after nine months, when Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba would become Nepal’s leader.” (05/24/17)

PA: Man cleared of murder conviction after 24 years behind bars, with help of an ex-cop

Source: Washington Post

“Shaurn Thomas had claimed for 16 years that he didn’t kill a popular Philadelphia businessman in a street robbery. He was 16 then, and said he had been at a juvenile court proceeding for trying to steal a motorcycle when the daylight slaying occurred. But the courts weren’t buying it, and Thomas lost appeal after appeal. Convicted almost completely on the testimony of a co-defendant, he was sentenced to life without parole. Then in 2009 Thomas sent a letter to the newly formed Pennsylvania Innocence Project, and a lawyer named James Figorski happened to open it. Figorski had spent 25 years as a Philadelphia police officer, he knew how the city’s juvenile system worked and he sensed something wasn’t right. … On Tuesday morning, prosecutors moved to vacate Thomas’s murder conviction, and he was released from prison Tuesday evening after nearly 24 years behind bars.” [hat tip — David Klaus] (05/23/17)

Bitcoin’s new scaling “agreement”: The reaction

Source: CoinDesk

“A meeting of bitcoin startup executives and miners held this weekend has resulted in the publication of a new proposal for how the open-source project should be upgraded to support additional transaction capacity. Detailed in a Medium post published by investment firm Digital Currency Group today, the proposal was billed as an agreement that would make two changes toward this stated goal. The proposal was signed by more than 50 companies, and claims to have support from 83% of the network’s miners — businesses that operate computers that secure the blockchain and add new transactions to it.” (05/24/17)

UK: May grandstands on Manchester attack, ratchets up national security state

Source: BBC News [UK]

“The UK terror threat level has been raised to its highest level of ‘critical,’ meaning further attacks may be imminent, Theresa May has said. The move came after investigators were unable to rule out whether Manchester bombing suspect Salman Abedi acted alone, the prime minister said. Military personnel will now be deployed to protect key sites. Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured when a suicide bomber attacked Manchester Arena on Monday evening. The prime minister said soldiers would be placed in key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public.” (05/23/17)