10 things you need to know today: September 25, 2017
Trump targets eight countries in revised travel ban, NFL protests grow in response to Trump's criticism, and more
Trump targets 8 countries in revised travel ban
President Trump on Sunday expanded his travel ban, imposing indefinite travel restrictions on eight countries to "protect the security and interests of the United States and its people." Trump's order will prevent most people from Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Iran, and Somalia from entering the U.S., and some groups from Venezuela also will be barred. Most of the predominantly Muslim countries covered in the last version of Trump's travel ban, which expired Sunday, are included in the new ban, which drops Sudan but adds North Korea and Venezuela. The previous version faced intense legal challenges. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on its constitutionality on Oct. 10.
NFL protests grow in backlash against Trump comments
Protests of racial injustice by NFL players spread on Sunday in defiance of President Trump's call for team owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem. About 150 players on several teams joined the protests, sitting, kneeling, or raising their fists. Members of several teams stood with locked arms. Last week, six players silently protested during the anthem. Trump said owners should fire any "son of a bitch" who kneels during the anthem, which he said was "very disrespectful to our country." One of Trump's biggest supporters in the National Football League, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, expressed "deep disappointment" over Trump's comments. Denver Broncos defensive star Von Miller, who took a knee along with most of his teammates, said he felt like Trump's remarks were "an attack on us."
GOP health plan faces growing opposition
The latest GOP attempt to replace ObamaCare hit mounting opposition on Sunday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said neither he nor fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) could vote for the proposal "right now." Moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said it would be "very difficult" to imagine voting for the bill, written by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Republicans, with a 52-48 majority, can only afford to lose three votes, and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have already vowed to vote no, so one more defection could kill it. A revised version to be unveiled Monday is expected to offer more money to Maine and Alaska, homes of Collins and another holdout, Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Jared Kushner used private email for some White House business
Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has used a private email account to communicate with other administration officials about White House business, Politico reported Sunday, citing four people familiar with the emails. Politico also reviewed and verified about two dozen such emails. The emails reportedly concerned various subjects, including media coverage and event planning. Abbe Lowell, a lawyer who represents Kushner, said Kushner "uses his White House email address to conduct White House business." Lowell said fewer than 100 emails sent to or returned by Kushner from January to August used the private address, and these were usually forwarded articles, mostly sent by others to Kushner. There was no indication that Kushner had exchanged sensitive material using the account.
1 dead, 6 injured in Tennessee church shooting
A gunman in a ski mask opened fire at a Tennessee church on Sunday, killing one person and injuring six others. Witnesses said the attacker shot and killed one woman, identified as 39-year-old Melanie Smith, in the parking lot, then entered the church, Burnett Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, and fired "indiscriminately." The suspect, identified as Emanuel Kidega Samson, a 24-year-old Sudanese native who reportedly had attended services at the church, accidentally shot himself when an usher confronted and subdued him, Metro Nashville police said. The church's minister, Joey Spann, and his wife, Peggy, were among the injured.
Merkel wins 4th term as German chancellor
Germans voted Sunday to give Chancellor Angela Merkel her fourth term. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister-party the Christian Social Union (CSU) won 32.5 percent of Bundestag seats, down from 41.5 percent in the last election in 2013 but still forming the largest bloc. Merkel's bloc now heads into what could be months of talks to form a ruling coalition with rival parties. Exit polling suggests the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — which campaigned on a populist, anti-immigration message — will claim about 13.5 percent of the vote, entering Parliament for the first time and making it the third-largest of the six parties represented in the Bundestag. Merkel said she had hoped for a "better result" and expects "extraordinary challenges" ahead.
Iraq's Kurds vote in independence referendum
Iraqi Kurds began voting in a historic independence referendum on Monday. Iraq's central government, along with regional and world powers, opposed the vote, which is expected to end in an overwhelming "yes" vote for independence for Iraq's Kurdish region, although the Kurdish Regional Government's allies and enemies alike have said they would not recognize the results. The U.S., an ally that helped Kurds secure a self-ruled enclave in northern Iraq in 1991, said the timing of the referendum could disrupt the coalition fighting against the Islamic State just when victory is within reach. Iran and Turkey fear the vote could stoke similar separatist desires among their Kurdish populations.
Japan's Shinzo Abe calls snap elections
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday called early elections for next month and said he would dissolve the lower house of Parliament on Thursday. The move to consolidate his power came as the opposition is largely in disarray and Abe has rebounded in recent polls. His ratings had dropped below 30 percent due to a series of scandals and unpopular policies, but Abe's approval rating has surged to about 50 percent this month, partly due to tensions with North Korea. Analysts say Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is likely to lose some seats but retain a majority, which could help Abe retain power when his three-year term as party leader ends next September. "For Mr. Abe, now is the time," said Yu Uchiyama, a University of Tokyo politics professor.
GOP leaders circulate plan with tax cuts for rich, corporations
Republican leaders have started circulating a proposal that would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing two people familiar with the plan. The so-called "Big Six" tax framework hammered out in private by six top Republicans and administration officials will lead to a battle with Democrats, who vow to oppose big breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans are working on features to keep the rich from getting too much of the proposal's tax relief, according to the Post. President Trump said Sunday that he hoped the corporate tax rate would be cut even more, to 15 percent.
Tropical storm watches issued for North Carolina and Virginia coasts
Tropical storm watches were issued for the North Carolina and Virginia coasts on Sunday as a weakened Hurricane Maria headed north off the East Coast. The watches mean that winds of 39 miles per hour or higher could reach North Carolina's Outer Banks as early as Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said. A storm-surge watch was posted from Cape Lookout to Duck, with a possible rise in ocean levels of up to four feet. Maria knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico, and the storm's impact could rise as many residents leave the island for extended stays elsewhere due to the possibility that water and power could take months to restore.