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World & Nation briefs for Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Published: 5/7/2019 10:10:03 PM
Modified: 5/7/2019 10:09:57 PM

White House launches new uphill battle to overhaul immigration

WASHINGTON — Reviving a deeply contentious issue that has stymied both Congress and the administration, the White House launched a new bid on Tuesday to overhaul a legal immigration system that President Donald Trump has long railed against.

Though similar efforts have failed to garner anywhere near the support necessary, Trump hopefully invited a dozen Republican senators to the White House to preview the plan, which was spearheaded by senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It’s the result of an unusually methodical approach for an administration known for hastily written executive orders and Trump’s declarations by tweet. Kushner’s team has pulled in officials with experience in legislation-writing from outside the White House, including the Department of Homeland Security, to help with the drafting.

Still, the road to passage remains uphill. Democrats are likely to strongly disapprove of parts of the plan without significant concessions.

Newspaper: Trump lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994

WASHINGTON — The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Donald Trump’s businesses lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994, based on tax information the newspaper acquired.

The Times said it has acquired printouts from the future president’s official IRS tax transcripts, including figures from his federal tax form.

The newspaper said Trump reported business losses of $46.1 million in 1985, and a total of $1.17 billion in losses for the 10-year period.

After comparing Trump’s information with that of other “high-income earners,” the Times concluded that Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.”

Because of his business losses, the newspaper reported, Trump did not pay income taxes for eight of the 10 years.

The House Ways and Means Committee has asked the IRS to provide Trump’s personal and business returns for 2013 through 2018. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday refused to do so, saying the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

U.S. official: Intel indicates Iran moved missiles by boat

WASHINGTON — The decision to send an aircraft carrier and a group of Air Force bombers to the Middle East was based in part on intelligence indications that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores, an American official said on Tuesday.

The movement, first reported by CNN, was among a range of recent indications that Iran might be considering or preparing to attack U.S. forces in the region, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive intelligence.

The official said it was not clear whether the boats with missiles represented a new military capability that could be used against U.S. forces or were only being moved to shore locations.

When the White House announced on Sunday that the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force were being deployed to the Middle East, John Bolton, the national security adviser to President Donald Trump, cited “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” but did not explain what they were.

Bolton said the movement of additional military firepower to the Middle East was meant to send a “clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on the United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

Can U.S., China salvage their talks and end trade war?

WASHINGTON — Heightened trade tensions between the United States and China are spooking financial markets and putting a chill on prospects for the global economy.

Chinese officials are heading to Washington to try to salvage negotiations aimed at breaking an impasse between the world’s two biggest economies over Beijing’s aggressive push to challenge American technological dominance. The 11th round of talks is set for Thursday and Friday in Washington.

But their arrival is unlikely to stop the United States from going ahead with plans to raise import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese goods at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Eastern time, in a dramatic escalation of a yearlong trade war.

The dispute is upsetting investors. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 500 points on Tuesday afternoon after slipping modestly on Monday.

Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Top US diplomat makes secret Iraq trip amid Iran tensions

BAGHDAD — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a lightning visit Tuesday to Baghdad aimed at showing support for the Iraqi government as the United States has been picking up intelligence that Iran is threatening American interests in the Middle East.

The top American diplomat’s unannounced trip to the Iraqi capital began and ended after nightfall under heavy security following the abrupt cancellation of a visit to Germany.

Journalists from The Associated Press and other organizations accompanying Pompeo were not told of his new destination until his plane left for Baghdad and were not allowed to report on his whereabouts until after his plane had taken off for London.

The secretary told reporters on the flight that his meetings with Iraq’s president and prime minister were intended to demonstrate U.S. support for “a sovereign, independent” Iraq, free from the influence of neighboring Iran.

Pompeo also said he wanted to underscore Iraq’s need to protect Americans in their country.

Cash is still king: San Francisco bans credit-only stores

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco officials voted on Tuesday to require brick-and-mortar retailers to take cash as payment, joining Philadelphia and New Jersey in banning a growing paperless practice that critics say discriminates against low-income people who may not have access to credit cards.

The vote by the Board of Supervisors was unanimous.

Supervisor Vallie Brown, who introduced the legislation, said it “will go far in ensuring all San Franciscans have equitable access to the city’s economy.”

Brown said she thought it unfair that someone couldn’t buy a sandwich just because they had cash. She said young people, victims of ID theft, immigrants and homeless people are among those who don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.

In many ways, the legislation was an easy call for San Francisco officials, who strive to make life more equitable in a city with an enormous wealth gap.

FCC warns of late-night phone scams

In the middle of the night, the calls come in waves, going silent after a ring or two. It’s no one you know, just someone who really wants you to call back. That’s the scam.

The Federal Communications Commission is warning consumers about robocallers who ring up targets, then abruptly hang up. Those who call back end up racking up charges that are mostly paid out to the scammers. It’s known as a “Wangiri” scam, Japanese for one-ring-and-cut.

“These calls are likely trying to prompt consumers to call the number back, often resulting in per minute toll charges similar to a 900 number,” the FCC said in an alert on Friday. “Consumers should not call these numbers back.”

To the unsuspecting person, the one-ring calls appear to be from someone in the United States, because the phone numbers begin with three digits that resemble American area codes. But the FCC says the scammers are using international numbers whose country codes also begin with three digits, making it easier to trick people.

The agency said the callers are using the country code of Mauritania, which shows up on phone screens as 222, and Sierra Leone, which is 232. The robocallers appear to be concentrating their efforts in New York and Arizona.

— Wire reports




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