10 things you need to know today: April 6, 2018
Trump considers tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese goods, South Korea's former president gets 24 years for corruption, and more
Trump considers tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese imports
President Trump on Thursday said he ordered the U.S. trade representative to look into imposing tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese imports. Trump said he made the decision in response to China's "unfair retaliation" against new import duties imposed by his administration. "Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers," Trump said. A Chinese official said Beijing would "definitely fight back." Futures for the main U.S. stock indexes dropped by about 1 percent early Friday as the trade war intensified. China on Wednesday announced it would raise tariffs to up to 25 percent on $50 billion worth of U.S. products, including soybeans, after the U.S. unveiled similar levies on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye sentenced to 24 years
A South Korean court on Friday found former President Park Geun-hye, 66, guilty of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion, and sentenced her to 24 years in prison. She also was fined $17 million. "We must hold her accountable to stop such an unfortunate case involving a president's abuse of power from dragging the country into turmoil again," said Kim Se-yoon, the lead judge. Authorities allowed an unprecedented live TV broadcast of the sentencing, citing intense public interest. Park boycotted the sentencing and other trial hearings, saying the court was biased against her. She was accused of an extortion scheme involving her friend, Choi Soon-sil, but denied any wrongdoing. Park was impeached and ousted from office a year ago over the corruption allegations.
Trump denies knowledge of $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels
President Trump said Thursday that he didn't know about the $130,000 payment his lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her from talking about an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Trump's remarks, the first he has made publicly about the matter, threatened to complicate his legal battle against Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. She is suing to be released from what she called a "hush" agreement, saying the paperwork is invalid because Trump never signed it. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said Trump's claim that he knew nothing about the payment strengthened Daniels' case. "The strength of our case just went up exponentially," he tweeted. "You can’t have an agreement when one party claims to know nothing about it."
Trade deficit rises to highest in 9 years
The U.S. trade deficit rose to $57.6 billion in February, the highest monthly gap in more than nine years, according to figures released Thursday by the Commerce Department. Imports and exports alike rose to record highs due to strong demand in the U.S. and abroad. The news came at a time of high trade tensions, with the U.S. and China hitting each other with tariffs as President Trump seeks to punish China and other countries that sell far more to the U.S. than they buy. Economists, however, warn that tariffs won't reverse trade deficits. "Tariffs may sound like a good way to change the pattern of trade, but they tend to raise prices rather than modify the trade fundamentals," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Pennsylvania.
Number of women congressional candidates hits record high
The number of women running for House seats hit a record level on Thursday. Most of the candidates are Democrats vowing to fight the policies of President Trump and congressional Republicans. Some of the candidates are running in districts that have never been represented by a woman. "It's about time," said Kara Eastman, one of two Democrats running to challenge a Republican incumbent in Nebraska. The surge has been anticipated since the Women's March following Trump's 2017 inauguration. The release of Virginia's candidate list on Thursday brought the number of women running as Democrats or Republicans to 309 nationwide, beating the previous record of 298 set in 2012.
Ethical questions increase pressure on EPA chief Scott Pruitt
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly is fighting to keep his job as he faces a series of ethical questions about his rental of a condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist, staffing decisions, and big spending on travel. On Thursday, an EPA ethics official walked back an earlier opinion that Pruitt had done nothing wrong with respect to the housing arrangement, saying he didn't have all the facts when he made the assessment. On Wednesday, top Pruitt adviser Samantha Dravis resigned. Pruitt's chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, has also reportedly told three confidants he is considering leaving. President Trump has publicly praised Pruitt's work at the EPA, but advisers said he had been complaining about the EPA chief for days.
Yulia Skripal says strength 'growing' in first statement since poisoning
Yulia Skripal on Thursday made her first public comments since she and her father, former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal, were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in southern England on March 4. Yulia Skripal, 33, said she was "glad to say my strength is growing daily." She added that her father, who is 66, is also improving. "Everything is fine, he is resting right now, sleeping ... nobody has any problems that can't be put right," she said. The British government has blamed the Russian government for the attack, although Moscow denies it was involved. British investigators have concluded that the Skripals were poisoned with a toxin developed by the former Soviet Union.
The Atlantic fires conservative writer over extreme abortion remarks
The Atlantic has fired conservative writer Kevin Williamson over his calls in the past for women who have abortions to face the death penalty, the magazine's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, announced to staffers in a Thursday memo. Williamson's hiring last month prompted scrutiny of an old tweet in which he said "the law should treat abortion like any other homicide," and that he had "hanging more in mind" as a punishment. Williamson had called the tweet a hasty remark taken out of context, but then Media Matters found an old episode in which he made another call for treating abortion "as a homicide" with hanging as the punishment. Goldberg initially defended the decision to hire Williamson, but in his memo he called the language in Williamson's podcast "callous and violent," and "contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate."
Forecasters: Hurricane season to be slightly busier than normal
Colorado State University released its annual predictions for the upcoming hurricane season on Thursday, forecasting a total of 14 named storms. The forecasters predicted that seven of the storms would strengthen into hurricanes, three of them major ones. That is slightly above the long-term average of 12 named storms, with six of them hurricanes, including two major ones. Last year's season was twice as active as the average, with several devastating storms. The season begins June 1, and CSU will update its forecast on May 31, July 2, and Aug. 2. The predictions could change depending on whether an El Niño pattern develops in the Pacific, and what happens with North Atlantic sea surface temperatures.
Spieth leads, Woods struggles at Masters
Tiger Woods struggled in the first round of the 2018 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia on Thursday, his first appearance at a major tournament in three years. It's been 13 years since Woods last won the Masters. Woods shot a one-over-par 73, failing to gain traction but also showing enough grit to hold himself together despite some painful miscues, starting with a drive on the first hole that went into the trees. Jordan Spieth led the field by two strokes at the end of the first day, with a 66. Defending Masters champion Sergio Garcia also made news, scoring a 13 on the par-5 15th hole, tying the record for the worst score on a single hole in Masters history.