Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 28, 2017

Trump announces tax plan with cuts for businesses and the rich, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies at 91, and more


Trump announces tax plan with cuts for businesses, wealthy

President Trump on Wednesday unveiled his proposal to cut individual and business taxes, the broadest changes to the federal tax code in decades. "There is no reason that Democrats and Republicans in Congress should not come together to deliver this giant win for the American people and begin the middle class miracle once again," Trump said. The push to deliver on a campaign promise to reduce individual and corporate rates to boost the economy came after Trump and Senate Republicans suffered a painful defeat when they failed to pass the latest GOP bid to replace ObamaCare. Republicans are energized about the plan, which would reduce taxes by nearly $6 trillion over a decade, but Democrats said it would only help the rich. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called Trump's plan "morally repugnant and bad economic policy."


Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies at 91

Hugh Hefner, who created Playboy magazine and turned it into an entertainment empire and emblem of the sexual revolution, died Wednesday at his home, the Playboy Mansion, in Beverly Hills, California. He was 91. Hefner was inseparable from the Playboy brand, which started with a magazine featuring naked women and intelligent interviews, and grew to include nightclubs, videos, clothing, and TV shows. Hefner hosted the TV program, Playboy's Penthouse, in the late 1950s and early '60s, sporting a tuxedo and smoking a pipe as he interviewed celebrities, surrounded by "playmates." Hefner faced criticism, first from conservative forces in the '50s, then from feminists. The brand faded over time, with circulation dropping from a peak of seven million in the '70s to 800,000 in 2015.


Trump says he will meet with Democrats on health care

President Trump said Wednesday that he would start negotiating with Democrats to "see if I can get a health-care plan that's even better." The statement came after Trump and Senate Republican leaders failed to get their latest attempt to replace ObamaCare passed, a stinging defeat. Trump also said he is considering taking executive action to allow Americans to purchase health care across state lines, a move promoted by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who helped sink the GOP health bill by vowing to vote no. Trump added that there would be another health-care vote next year after his meetings with Democrats, who said Republicans would be making a big mistake if they tried another repeal bill. Hours earlier, Trump had called for getting rid of the filibuster to push health care through the Senate with no Democratic votes.


Louisville puts basketball coach Pitino on leave

The University of Louisville on Wednesday put men's basketball coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave after the FBI accused coaches in his program of participating in a scheme to pay recruits' families. Steve Pence, Pitino's attorney, said the coach had been "effectively fired." Under Pitino's contract, he must be placed on leave and given 10 days' notice so he will have "an opportunity to be heard" before he is fired. The scandal broke a day earlier when at least four assistant coaches in major college men's basketball programs around the country were charged, along with a senior executive from Adidas and several other people. Louisville's interim president, Greg Postel, confirmed that the school was part of the investigation, and said "any violations will not be tolerated."


Puerto Rico asks for easing of shipping rules to help relief effort

Puerto Rico, struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, pleaded with the Trump administration on Wednesday to waive a law, the Jones Act, that bars foreign ships from delivering supplies from the U.S. mainland to the U.S. Caribbean territory. Puerto Rico is desperate for fuel, water, and medical supplies. Democrats have called President Trump's response to the hurricane inadequate. Forty-four percent of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million people lack drinking water. Trump has praised his administration's response, saying that the vastness of the ocean was the only thing holding up supplies. He said he was thinking about lifting Jones Act restrictions. He said, however, that many in the shipping industry oppose doing that and "we have a lot of ships out there right now."


Kurds vote overwhelmingly for independence from Iraq

Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence in a non-binding referendum this week, according to official results announced Wednesday by the Kurdish electoral commission. More than 92 percent of the three million people who cast ballots voted "yes." Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for the vote to be annulled. His government had urged officials in the semi-autonomous Kurdish north not to hold the referendum, which the national government said violated the country's constitution. Regional powers and the U.S., a longtime supporter of the region, also had opposed the vote, saying it could stoke instability. Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani urged the world to "respect the will of the people of Kurdistan."


Trump criticizes Price for private jet flights

President Trump on Wednesday criticized Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's repeated use of taxpayer-funded private jets for official travel, and refused to rule out firing him. "I'm going to look at it," Trump said. "I am not happy about it, and I let him know it." Politico has published a series of reports on Price's travel practices. Price has flown 26 times on private aircraft since May. His predecessors took commercial aircraft. Price's travel costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some of his business trips overlapped with personal time, such as a lunch with his son. Some of Trump's advisers have been encouraging him to fire Price over the expenses. Trump appeared to indicate he was considering pushing out Price when reporters questioned him about it, saying, "We'll see."


New York subpoenas Equifax for documents on data breach

New York's state financial services regulator sent a subpoena to Equifax earlier this month demanding details on the credit reporting agency's massive data breach, Reuters reported that a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday. The subpoena calls on Equifax to turn over documents related to the hack, which exposed the personal information of up to 143 million Americans. The breach has sent Equifax's stock plummeting. The company has lost $4.5 billion in market value since it disclosed the breach on Sept. 7, and the company announced Tuesday that its CEO, Richard Smith, was retiring.


Sonic shares dive after news of data breach

Sonic's stock plunged down by 4.4 percent on Wednesday after Krebs on Security reported that the drive-through burger chain said it had experienced a credit card-related data breach. The report said the breach of Sonic's payment systems might have resulted in a "fire sale" of information on millions of stolen credit and debit card accounts. Sonic, which has more than 3,500 restaurants in 44 states, did not disclose how many accounts had been compromised, but said it was "working to understand the nature and scope of this issue, as we know how important this is to our guests." The company acknowledged that its credit card processor notified it about the breach last week, and said it "immediately engaged third-party forensic experts and law enforcement."


Coroner: Warmbier died of lack of oxygen, blood to brain

After being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, American student Otto Warmbier died in June due to lack of oxygen and blood to his brain, with no visible signs of torture, an Ohio coroner said Wednesday. Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said it was impossible to determine what kind of injury Warmbier suffered while in custody. "We don't know what happened to him and that's the bottom line," Sammarco said. Warmbier's parents were not immediately available for comment. Warmbier, then a University of Virginia student, was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 and released on June 15 in a coma. North Korea blamed botulism and a sleeping pill for Warmbier's condition, dismissing accusations of torture.


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