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Nation & World Briefs


Friday, December 15, 2017
Earthquake hits Indonesia island, 1 death confirmed

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A strong earthquake shook Indonesia’s most populous island of Java on Friday night, collapsing buildings and killing at least 1 person.

The quake struck at 11:47 p.m. and triggered a tsunami warning for parts of Java’s coastline that was lifted about two hours later.

Panicking people ran out of buildings in many areas and Indonesian television showed heavy traffic on roads as people fled coastal areas.

A 62-year-old man was confirmed dead in the Ciamis region of western Java and there were reports of more deaths and of injuries in the same region, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

He said buildings had collapsed and were damaged in several cities and towns of central and western Java.

Americans pessimistic about Trump, country

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump frequently casts his first year in office as a string of successes and campaign promises fulfilled. But less than a quarter of Americans think Trump has made good on the pledges he made to voters while running for president, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Among Republicans, just half say Trump has kept his promises, which included vows to overhaul his predecessor’s health care law, withdraw the United States from a nuclear accord with Iran and invest millions in new projects to fix the nation’s aging infrastructure. None of those steps have been taken.

As 2017 comes to a close, the majority of Americans painted a broadly pessimistic view of Trump’s presidency, the nation’s politics and the overall direction of the country.

Just three in 10 Americans said the United States is heading in the right direction, and 52 percent said the country is worse off since Trump became president — worrisome signs both for the White House and Republicans heading into a midterm election year where control of Congress will be at stake.

Along with the 23 percent who think Trump has kept his promises, another 30 percent think he has tried and failed and 45 percent think he hasn’t kept them at all.

World unites against NKorea nuke ambitions

UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — but the North gave no sign of budging on its nuclear ambitions.

In a very rare appearance by a North Korean at the U.N. Security Council, Ambassador Ja Song Nam told a ministerial meeting that the country’s possession of nuclear weapons was “an inevitable self-defensive measure” to defend the country against “the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail.”

Ja never mentioned the possibility of talks. Instead, he called the council meeting “a desperate measure plotted by the U.S. being terrified by the incredible might of our republic that has successfully achieved the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.”

He pointed to the Nov. 29 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say could reach the U.S. mainland.

South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun told the council that North Korea is “in the final stages of nuclear weaponization” and warned that if it can put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile “it will fundamentally alter the security landscape in the region and beyond.”

Judge blocks new Trump rules on birth control

PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Philadelphia on Friday ordered the Trump administration not to enforce new rules that could significantly reduce women’s access to free birth control.

Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued the injunction, temporarily stopping the government from enforcing the policy change to former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The law required most companies to cover birth control at no additional cost, though it included exemptions for religious organizations and some private companies.

The new policy would allow more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing free contraception to women by claiming religious objections.

It would allow any company that is not publicly traded to deny coverage on moral grounds.

Beetlestone, appointed to the bench by Obama, called the Trump administration’s exemptions “sweeping” and said they are the “proverbial exception that swallows the rule.”

White House says Western Wall has to be part of Israel

WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials outlined their view Friday that Jerusalem’s Western Wall ultimately will be declared a part of Israel, in another declaration sure to enflame passions among Palestinians and others in the Middle East.

Although they said the ultimate borders of the holy city must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the officials — speaking ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the region — essentially ruled out any scenario that didn’t maintain Israeli control over the holiest ground in Judaism. The issue is sensitive because the wall is beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders and abuts some of the Islamic world’s most revered sites.

“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel. But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement,” a senior administration official said. Another official later added by email, “We note that we cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall.”

From Associated Press