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Nation & World Briefs


Thursday, December 14, 2017
US says missile parts prove Iran is arming Houthis

WASHINGTON — Flanked by singed missile remnants, President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations declared Thursday that “undeniable” evidence proves Iran is arming Houthi rebels in Yemen, the latest bid by the Trump administration to rally the world against the Persian Gulf nation.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley came to an emptied-out hangar at a military base not far from the U.S. Capitol, where fragments recovered from missiles launched from Yemen were paraded before reporters. Haley said the truck-sized missile segment behind her had been launched at the international airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and “led the U.S. intelligence community to conclude unequivocally that these weapons were supplied by the Iranian regime.”

“This is absolutely terrifying,” said Haley, one of the Trump administration’s most vocal critics of Iran. “Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK, or the airports in Paris, London or Berlin.”

The newly declassified evidence marked the most aggressive U.S. effort to date to substantiate its claim that Iran funnels weapons to the Houthis, an allegation widely accepted by most countries but that Tehran steadfastly denies. It comes as the Trump administration seeks to rally the world to punish Iran for its ballistic missile program and other worrying activities, despite backing away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Republican tax bill drops controversial loan provisions

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers have dropped from the tax bill provisions that were criticized by students and educators as making college less affordable.

House and Senate Republican leaders forged an agreement Wednesday on what would be the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws in more than 30 years. The package would give generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest tax cuts to low- and middle-income families. The updated version leaves in place the deduction for interest on student loans, according to two congressional aides. The bill also would no longer start taxing graduate-school tuition waivers.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would not comment on the bill in the works, other than to say that she supports a separate provision to extend savings accounts that are now restricted to college tuition to K-12 education.

Activism, charity guide Sandy Hook parents for 5 years

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Out of a senseless tragedy, they have sought ways to find meaning in advocacy.

Many relatives of the 26 children and educators killed five years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School have dedicated themselves to charity, activism and other efforts to channel their grief and, in many cases, to help prevent violence.

“You have two choices,” said Rebecca Kowalski, whose 7-year-old son, Chase, died in Newtown. “I could be in the bottom of a bottle; I could not get out of my bed. Or, I could do what’s making us heal a little bit every day.”

Some organizations, like the Kowalski’s youth triathlon program, honor the passions of the children who were lost on Dec. 14, 2012.

Others have jumped into the policy fray to lobby for gun control or improved mental health care. In some cases, they have traveled the country, and even the world, as recognized experts in their fields, such as Jeremy Richman, a scientist whose Avielle Foundation for the study of brain health is named for his slain daughter.

4 children killed in bus-train collision in southern France

PARIS — A regional train hit a school bus on a crossing in southern France on Thursday, killing four children and critically injuring 11 other people on the bus, the French interior ministry said.

Photos from the scene tweeted by a local television station showed the train derailed and the bus shorn in half — with first responders gathered around.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who flew to the scene Thursday night, said authorities still didn’t know what led to the accident at the crossing in Millas, some 9 miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.

Philippe said the “circumstances of this terrible drama are still undetermined.”

He confirmed that two inquiries were underway into the accident that left four children dead and 20 others injured — including 11 seriously.

Trump’s security paper offers vision of global rivalry

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s “America First” vision is a stark worldview that sees rivals battling each other for supremacy or relevance and has little use for alliances, treaties and other international agreements unless they directly benefit the United States, its industry and workers.

Trump’s doctrine, to be laid out next week when he unveils his National Security Strategy, holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the NSS to be presented by Trump on Monday will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally on issues like trade, climate change and immigration.

If fully implemented, the strategy could represent a profound shift from the traditional post-Cold War approach to global affairs taken by administrations of both political parties over the past three decades. With few exceptions, those administrations have embraced or sought to embrace multilateral cooperation and engagement.

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise.

It is rooted in Trump’s belief that competition rather than cooperation defines the current global environment.

From Associated Press