5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • GOP moves closer to tax overhaul after Senate passes budget proposal

  • U.S.-backed fighters declare 'total liberation' of former ISIS capital Raqqa

  • Video suggests Kelly mischaracterized congresswoman's 2015 FBI speech

  • Study: Body cameras don't change police behavior

  • Orionid meteor shower to dazzle skywatchers this weekend

The Senate on Thursday narrowly approved the Republican budget plan, a key step toward the GOP's effort to pass President Trump's tax cuts. The spending blueprint was approved in a 51-49 vote, with budget hawk Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) casting the lone GOP no vote. The budget plan, which could add up to $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over a decade, includes a legislative tool that will let Senate Republicans pass Trump's corporate and individual tax cuts with a simple majority, preventing Democrats from blocking the legislation with a filibuster. Removing the need to garner support from any Democrats gives the GOP a way to get the tax cuts approved by year's end.

Source: Bloomberg, The Hill

At a ceremony Friday, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces declared "total liberation" of Raqqa, Syria, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate, and formally handed over control of the devastated city to a civilian council, though SDF spokesman Talal Silo said his Kurdish-led coalition would continue sweeping the city for ISIS holdouts and explosives and guarantee the safety of the city and province. The SDF had declared military operations over on Tuesday, and Silo said 655 local and international fighters died in the 130-day battle to push ISIS out of Raqqa. The group held its ceremony in the sports stadium that ISIS had used as a weapons depot and prison, where its fighters made their last stand.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

Video of Rep. Frederica Wilson's (D-Fla.) speech at the dedication of an FBI building in 2015 apparently shows that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly mischaracterized her remarks during a press conference Thursday. In addition to skewering Wilson for sharing the details of a phone call between President Trump and the widow of a U.S. service member killed in Niger, Kelly claimed Wilson once "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for" the FBI building. In the video, Wilson takes credit for naming the building but does not claim to have secured its funding. The White House stood by Kelly's characterization: "If you're able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you're an empty barrel," the statement said.

Source: South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Week

A study by the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., found that the use of body-worn cameras by police officers had no significant effect on use of force. Lab @ DC, a group within D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D)'s administration that uses science to shape policy, partnered with the MPD to randomly assign cameras to about 2,600 officers, allowing rigorous comparison between those with cameras and those without. The study found that there was no indication that officers outfitted with cameras acted any differently, used less force, or received fewer citizen complaints. The results are a disappointment to both law enforcement and community activists who were hopeful that the technology would help increase police accountability.

Source: NPR

This weekend, stargazers are in for a treat when the Orionid meteor shower lights up the night sky. The Orionid meteor shower will be at its peak visibility over the next 48 hours, and this year's show is set to be particularly dazzling because it coincides with low levels of moonlight. The Orionids are actually left-behind fragments of Halley's Comet, which won't be visible from Earth until 2061; its last appearance was in 1986. Viewers in the eastern and southwestern U.S. will have the clearest skies for meteor-watching, and the meteors will be flying the fastest between midnight and dawn. The Orionid meteor shower is one of the fastest and brightest we can see from Earth, as its trajectory hits the planet almost head-on.

Source: Time, EarthSky
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