Published: 9:04 pm
Senate GOP shelves health bill, imperils ‘Obamacare’ repeal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate GOP leaders abruptly shelved their long-sought health care overhaul Tuesday, asserting they can still salvage it but raising new doubts about whether President Donald Trump and the Republicans will ever deliver on their promises to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”
Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced a delay for any voting at a closed-door senators’ lunch also attended by Vice President Mike Pence. McConnell’s tone was matter-of-fact, according those present, yet his action amounts to a stinging setback for the longtime Senate leader who had developed the legislation largely in secret as Trump hung back in deference.
Now Trump seems likely to push into the discussion more directly, and he immediately invited Senate Republicans to the White House. But the message he delivered to them before reporters were ushered out of the room was not entirely hopeful.
“This will be great if we get it done, and if we don’t get it done it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s OK and I understand that very well,” he told the senators, who surrounded him at tables arranged in a giant square in the East Room. Most wore grim expressions.
In the private meeting that followed, said Marco Rubio of Florida, the president spoke of “the costs of failure, what it would mean to not get it done — the view that we would wind up in a situation where the markets will collapse and Republicans will be blamed for it and then potentially have to fight off an effort to expand to single payer at some point.”
New cyberattack wallops Europe; spreads more slowly in US
PARIS (AP) — A new and highly virulent outbreak of data-scrambling software — apparently sown in Ukraine — caused disruption across the world Tuesday. Following a similar attack in May , the fresh cyber-assault paralyzed some hospitals, government offices and major multinational corporations in a dramatic demonstration of how easily malicious programs can bring daily life to a halt.
Ukraine and Russia appeared hardest hit by the new strain of ransomware — malicious software that locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom for its release. In the United States, the malware affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International, the owner of food brands such as Oreo and Nabisco.
Its pace appeared to slow as the day wore on, in part because the malware appeared to require direct contact between computer networks, a factor that may have limited its spread in regions with fewer connections to Ukraine.
The malware’s origins remain unclear. Researchers picking the program apart found evidence its creators had borrowed from leaked National Security Agency code, raising the possibility that the digital havoc had spread using U.S. taxpayer-funded tools.
“The virus is spreading all over Europe and I’m afraid it can harm the whole world,” said Victor Zhora, the chief executive of Infosafe IT in Kiev, where reports of the malicious software first emerged early afternoon local time Tuesday.
10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:
1. SENATE SHELVES OBAMACARE REPEAL BILL
President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans suffer an embarrassing setback on their No. 1 campaign promise as health care legislation, short of votes, is delayed in the Senate.
2. ANOTHER BIG CYBERATTACK STRIKES
A new and highly virulent outbreak of data-scrambling software — apparently sown in Ukraine — caused disruption across the world. It follows a similar ransomware attack in May.
US cites preparations for chemical weapons attack in Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration said Tuesday it has detected “active preparations” by Syria for a chemical attack and threatened to retaliate — warning of action that could plunge America deeper into a civil war alongside the fight against Islamic State militants.
The chemical threat and sudden White House warning illustrate the challenging complexities of the fighting in Syria, a country whose territory was used by IS to march into Iraq in 2014 and prompt a U.S. return to the Middle East’s battlefield. Washington now has more than 5,000 troops in Iraq and about 1,000 in Syria.
President Donald Trump has said he won’t stand for Syria’s use of chemical weapons, which are banned under international law and are particularly worrisome in the Arab country because they could fall into extremists’ hands.
The Pentagon said the preparations detected by the U.S. occurred at the same air base where Syrian aircraft embarked on a sarin gas strike on April 4, killing almost 90 people. Days later, Trump ordered a cruise missile attack against the base in retaliation.
The Syrian government has denied it ever used banned chemicals, and it rejected Washington’s latest allegation Tuesday.
Maduro says helicopter fired on Venezuela’s Supreme Court
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Nicolas Maduro said a police helicopter fired on Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Tuesday in a confusing incident that he called a thwarted “terrorist attack” aimed at ousting him from power.
The exchange took place as Maduro was speaking live on state television to pro-government journalists. More than hour after the flyover ended, he told the audience that the helicopter had fired on offices of the court as a social event was taking place and launched a grenade that didn’t explode. He said the nation’s air defense was activated, preventing any loss of life.
“It could’ve caused a tragedy with several dozen dead and injured,” said Maduro, who sounded alternately calm and angry as he told the audience about what had happened in the airspace just beyond the presidential palace where they were gathered.
Associated Press reporters heard what sounded like loud gunfire as a blue helicopter buzzed through downtown around sunset but was unable to confirm where the explosions were coming from.
Meanwhile many of Maduro’s opponents on social media accused the president of orchestrating an elaborate ruse to justify a crackdown against Venezuelan seeking to block his plans to rewrite the constitution. Venezuela has been roiled by anti-government protests the past three months that have left at least 75 people dead and hundreds injured.
Former Trump campaign chairman registers as a foreign agent
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for political consulting work he did for a Ukrainian political party, acknowledging he coached party members on how to interact with U.S. government officials.
Manafort says in the filing posted online by The Washington Post that his firm received more than $17 million from the Party of Regions, the former pro-Russian ruling party in Ukraine, for consulting work from 2012 through 2014.
Manafort is the second member of the Trump campaign to register as a foreign agent. In March, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn registered with the Justice Department for work his consulting firm performed for a Turkish businessman, which he said could have aided the Turkish government.
Sarah Palin sues paper for tying her PAC ad to mass shooting
NEW YORK (AP) — Former vice presidential nominee and Alaska governor Sarah Palin is accusing The New York Times of defamation over an editorial that linked one of her political action committee ads to the mass shooting that severely wounded then-Arizona Congressman Gabby Giffords.
In the lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday, Palin’s lawyers say the Times “violated the law and its own policies” when it accused her of inciting the 2011 attack that killed six people.
The lawsuit refers to a June editorial in the Times on the recent shooting of Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise (skuh-LEES’). The editorial was later corrected.
Palin is seeking damages to be determined by a jury.
A spokeswoman for the Times, Danielle Rhoades Ha, says they haven’t seen the lawsuit but will defend against any claim vigorously.
Making Ivanka Trump shoes: Long hours, low pay and abuse
GANZHOU, China (AP) — A worker with blood dripping from his head marked a low point in the tense, grinding life at a southeastern China factory used by Ivanka Trump and other fashion brands. An angry manager had hit him with the sharp end of a high-heeled shoe.
Workers from the factory, including one current and two former employees who spoke to The Associated Press, reported overtime that stretched past midnight, steep production quotas and crude verbal abuse at Ganzhou Huajian International Shoe City Co. They said beatings were not unheard of, but the shoe attack, which all three say they witnessed last year, was violent enough to stand out.
“He was bleeding right from the middle of the head,” the current worker said.
“There was a lot of blood. He went to the factory’s nurse station, passing by me,” said a second man, who said he quit his job at Huajian because of the long hours and low pay.
The three workers are the first people with direct knowledge of conditions at the Ganzhou factory to speak with the media. All three spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution or arrest.
Utah officials blame lack of logging for major wildfire
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Insisting that logging could have cleaned up dead, bug-infested trees that are fueling a Utah wildfire, a Republican state lawmaker blamed federal mismanagement and lawsuits by “tree hugger” environmentalists for the blaze that has burned 13 homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 people.
A conservation group called that contention “shameful” and misleading, saying it fails to take into account climate change and drought.
In addition, a U.S. Forest Service researcher said logging probably would not have made a big difference in the high-altitude fire that is sending embers from tree-to-tree over long distances — normal for the ecosystem.
Utah state Rep. Mike Noel said Tuesday he wants to use the fire near the ski town of Brian Head and a popular fishing lake to highlight the imbalance of power afforded environmental groups under previous presidents and to ease bureaucratic and legal blockades for logging companies. He believes the Trump administration will provide a more receptive audience for his plea.
The blaze is one of several in the West. Crews in California were making gains against two new fires that spread quickly, and firefighters in Idaho battled five lightning-sparked wildfires burning in grass and brush.
Retracted CNN story a boon for president at war with media
NEW YORK (AP) — For a president seemingly at perpetual war with “fake news,” the resignation of three CNN journalists over a retracted story about a Donald Trump Russian connection is a gift from the political gods when the struggling effort to pass a health bill dominates the headlines.
The White House quickly took advantage Tuesday with blistering presidential tweets and a media scolding at the afternoon press briefing. Conservative provocateur James O’Keefe piled on by releasing a video with a CNN producer caught on camera talking about the network’s Russia coverage being ratings-driven.
CNN late Monday accepted the resignations of journalists Thomas Frank, Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris over last week’s web story about Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci’s pre-inaugural meeting with the head of a Russian investment fund. The network retracted the story on Friday and apologized to Scaramucci.
Trump has been unhappy with CNN since he was a candidate, and has been particularly annoyed by its reporting on connections with Russia. The misstep on a relatively minor story — it was never mentioned on any of CNN’s television networks — left some White House staff members jubilant, believing it handed them a new talking point to use as a cudgel against mainstream media organizations they feel are largely biased against them.
That happened quickly Tuesday when Sarah Huckabee Sanders called on a Breitbart News reporter for the first question of the White House briefing. It was about CNN.