10 things you need to know today: March 10, 2017

A second House panel approves the GOP's health plan, top court removes South Korea's president from office, and more

Supporters of President Park Geun-hye cry when she is impeached
(Image credit: Jean Chung/Getty Images)

1. Second key House committee backs GOP ObamaCare replacement

A second key House panel, the Energy and Commerce Committee, on Thursday approved the Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The 31 to 23 party-line vote came just hours after the powerful House Ways and Means Committee also signed off on the legislation. "Today, the House took a decisive step forward in fulfilling a promise to the American people that has been years in the making: repealing and replacing Obamacare with affordable, patient-centered reforms," Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said. The legislation next goes to the Budget Committee before a full House vote, but it faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats and several Republicans oppose it and want data on its expected costs and impact on the number of uninsured before proceeding. "House health-care bill can't pass Senate [without] major changes," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a tweet. "To my friends in House: pause, start over. Get it right, don't get it fast."

The Washington Post

2. Top court removes South Korean president from office

South Korea's Constitutional Court on Friday permanently removed President Park Geun-hye from office, upholding a vote by lawmakers to impeach her over a corruption scandal. The unanimous ruling came after months of protests and capped a stunning fall for the country's first woman president. Two people died and about 30 were injured in clashes between protesters and police near the court. Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said the court had "no other choice" after finding that Park colluded with her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to extort tens of millions of dollars from businesses. Park's ouster adds to the country's political turmoil at a time of rising tensions with North Korea. Elections to pick a new president must be held within 60 days, and polls suggest Park's downfall has shifted support to the opposition, which favors more engagement with North Korea.

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The New York Times

3. EPA chief denies that CO2 is a 'primary contributor' to climate change

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Thursday that he "would not agree" that carbon dioxide has been proven to be a "primary contributor" to global warming. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in January said that the planet's rising temperature has been "driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere," and the EPA's website says something similar. Pruitt, who sued the EPA more than a dozen times as Oklahoma's attorney general, told CNBC's Squawk Box that the debate must continue because "there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact."

CNBC Reuters

4. Pence calls Flynn's Turkey lobbying 'affirmation' of decision to fire him

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that new revelations that former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn had done lobbying work that helped Turkey late last year were "an affirmation of the president's decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign." A filing made this week indicated that Flynn's lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, did lobbying work that could have benefited Turkey shortly before his appointment. The documents said Flynn's firm received $530,000 for the lobbying work. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he didn't believe President Trump knew about Flynn's work for a Turkey-linked Dutch firm, which led Flynn to retroactively register with the Justice Department this week as a foreign agent.

ABC News The Hill

5. Tillerson recuses himself on Keystone XL pipeline decisions

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, has recused himself from discussions of the permitting application for the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said Thursday in a letter to the environmental group Greenpeace. A State Department deputy legal adviser said in the letter that Tillerson made the decision in early February that he would not work "on issues related to TransCanada's application for a presidential permit" for the proposed pipeline, which the Obama administration halted but President Trump has revived. The letter was sent in response to one Greenpeace sent on Wednesday saying that Tillerson should recuse himself because his former company stood to benefit from the pipeline.

ABC News

6. DOJ declines to say whether Trump is being investigated

President Trump speaks during a news conference

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Justice Department on Thursday declined to confirm a White House claim made a day earlier that President Trump was not the subject of any investigation. Trump indirectly raised the possibility by claiming, with no evidence, that former President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of then-candidate Trump, something that, if true, could have been the result of an investigation targeting him. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that "there is no reason to believe there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice," or "that the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever." A Justice Department official, asked whether Trump was the focus of an investigation, said, "no comment."

The New York Times

7. WikiLeaks' Assange vows to work with tech giants to prevent CIA hacking

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday that the anti-secrecy website would give leading technology powerhouses such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Google access to the leaked documents on Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools. Assange said WikiLeaks wanted to help the companies plug security holes that could allow the CIA to get private information from smartphones, computers, and internet-connected TVs. Microsoft and Cisco Systems said they welcome any help addressing security flaws. Alphabet's Google, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei did not respond to requests for comment.


8. Attacker injures 7 with ax at Dusseldorf train station

A man armed with an ax attacked people at the main train station in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Thursday, injuring seven people, three of them seriously. Police arrested a suspect after he jumped off an overpass. The suspect, who was injured trying to escape, was described as a 36-year-old man from the former Yugoslavia. Investigators said they believed the attacker "has mental problems" and acted alone. Witnesses said the attacker started striking people waiting for a train that was pulling in. "There was blood everywhere," a witness said.

NBC News

9. Federal ethics chief chastises White House for not disciplining Conway

Walter M. Shaub Jr., director of the Office of Government Ethics, criticized the White House for deciding against disciplining senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for endorsing Ivanka Trump's clothing line in a TV interview. Shaub had recommended disciplinary action, saying Conway appeared to have violated a federal rule against using their position to endorse products when she urged viewers to "go buy Ivanka's stuff." Stefan Passantino, President Trump's deputy counsel in charge of White House ethics issues, declined to follow Shaub's recommendation, saying last week that Conway "acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again." Shaub said in his Thursday letter that he remained concerned about Conway's "misuse of position," and that failing to discipline a senior official for such an offense "risks undermining the ethics program."

The Washington Post

10. Pope expresses openness to letting married men serve as priests

Pope Francis said in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit that he is open to ordaining married men to help confront a priest shortage in the Roman Catholic Church. The pope said the lack of priests had become an "enormous problem," and one way to address it would be considering opening the priesthood to "viri probati," a Latin term for "tested men" or married men of outstanding faith and virtue. "We need to consider if 'viri probati' could be a possibility," he said. "If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities."


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.