NEWS   THURSDAY, AUGUST  31, 2017   NEWS

Trump Urges Voters To Oust McCaskill If She Doesn't Back Tax Reform
The White House is kicking off its push for tax reform with the intent of winning vulnerable moderate Democrats to the cause — and of potentially punishing them if they don’t ultimately sign on. President Donald Trump opted to focus on the punishment Wednesday in Missouri, the home state of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, a top GOP target in 2018. POLITICO
VOA VIEW: Republicans better push the envelope, or be replaced by independents.

Trump Administration Puts On Hold An Obama-Era Desegregation Effort
The zip code where a child grows up can have a huge effect on that kid’s entire life. Children who grow up in low-poverty areas make more money than people who grow up in high-poverty areas, according to work by a team of researchers led by Raj Chetty, a Stanford economist. They’re also more likely to go to college and less likely to be single parents. To state the obvious, many poor families don’t have the resources to move to “high-opportunity neighborhoods.” Such areas, which boast better schools, parks, and jobs, are generally quite expensive. And, beyond financial constraints, low-income families often find it difficult to move to neighborhoods far away from family, friends, churches, and schools. The Atlantic

Texas Police Won’t Stop Illegal Immigrants From Harvey Relief
Texas police will not start demanding people’s immigration status when they show up at shelters fleeing Hurricane Harvey, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday. The governor did not, however, say anything about suspending the enactment date of the state’s strict new anti-sanctuary city law, slated to take effect Friday. “When people are going to evacuation centers, when people are seeking help or anything like that, no one is being asked about their status,” the governor said. Top Democrats have called for the law, known as SB4, to be delayed. Houston’s mayor said he personally would provide legal representation for any illegal immigrants snared by police while seeking relief from Harvey. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: No one said there would be any move to extract illegals.

Trump Makes Policy Pledge To Senator Investigating Son's Russia Meeting
Donald Trump called a senior Republican senator from Iowa on Wednesday whose congressional committee is investigating his son, Donald Trump Jr, and promised him critical federal support for the biofuel ethanol, a key issue for the lawmaker. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee and a major advocate of the ethanol industry, announced on Twitter that he had received a phone call from Trump and had been assured by the US president that Trump was “pro ethanol” and was “standing by his campaign promise” to support the biofuel. The phone call came less than a day after CNN reported that Trump’s eldest son had reached an agreement with the committee to appear in a private session and answer investigators’ questions. Guardian

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Texas Family Swept Away In Flood: 'They Went To Heaven Holding Hands'
As his brother tells it, Sammy Saldivar tried his best to maneuver around Harvey's floodwaters. Sammy packed his elderly parents and their four great-grandchildren into a van as water rose around their northeast Texas home on Sunday. He wanted to turn around as he approached a waterlogged bridge over Greens Bayou. But his father yelled at him to keep going, his brother, Ric Saldivar, said. Even at 84, patriarch Manuel Saldivar was still demanding.  CNN

Kremlin Says It Got Trump Lawyer Cohen's Email
The Kremlin received an email appeal from Donald Trump’s company lawyer seeking help with a Trump Tower project in Moscow last year, but never replied because “it’s not our issue,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We don’t respond to such business topics. It’s not our job and we left it without a response,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. He recently saw a copy of the January 2016 email addressed to him by Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen, which explained the plan to build a tower in the Moscow City financial district and “asked for help with some sort of recommendation or promotion” of the proposal, Peskov said. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: A lot of talk.

US Blasts Deal That Removed IS From Lebanon-Syria Border
The U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday it carried out airstrikes to disrupt a convoy of Islamic State militants being evacuated from the Lebanon-Syria border to an IS-held area in eastern Syria near Iraq, without targeting the evacuees themselves. Coalition aircraft struck a small bridge and cratered a road to hinder the convoy's progress. The coalition also struck a separate group of IS militants traveling to meet the convoy, according to Col. Ryan Dillon, a coalition spokesman. U.S. officials have criticized the transfer of hundreds of militants and civilians who are bound for an IS-held area near the Iraqi border, saying the extremists should be killed on the battlefield. ABC News

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'Whole City' Now Underwater As Harvey Makes Another Landfall
While countless Houstonians are still waiting for rescue, Tropical Storm Harvey has now swallowed another Texas city. "Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!" Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman posted Wednesday morning on Facebook. "If you called, we are coming. Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try (to) stay out of attics." At least 19 deaths related to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath have been reported in Texas.  CNN

Trump Says Talking To North Korea 'Not The Answer,' Rips US 'Extortion' Payments
President Trump declared Wednesday that talking to North Korea is “not the answer,” criticizing what he described as “extortion” payments to the regime as Pyongyang’s latest missile tests raise tensions anew in the region.  “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” the president tweeted Wednesday morning. The president’s tweet comes hours after the U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced it successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii in a new test of its defense system at sea.  Fox
VOA VIEW: Talking and extortion is over.

Mattis Contradicts Trump On North Korea
Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday contradicted President Trump's latest comment about abandoning diplomacy with North Korea, during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart. When asked about it, Mattis rejected the idea that the U.S. was ready to take talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un off the table after the North's ballistic missile test launch over northern Japan on Monday -- after a tweet from President Trump that said of relations with the regime, "Talking is not the answer!" CBS News

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Murdoch Pulls Fox News From Sky Platform As UK Mulls Takeover Deal
Rupert Murdoch has pulled his Fox News channel from the Sky platform in Britain, where the government is assessing a bid by the media mogul to buy the broader Sky pay-TV company for $15 billion. In a statement, Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox said it had decided it was no longer in its commercial interest to provide Fox News in Britain, where only a few thousand viewers watch it. Critics of Murdoch and his company regularly cite the right-leaning Fox News channel as a reason why Murdoch should not be allowed to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own. Reuters

Nancy Pelosi Condemns Antifa For First Time As Radical Leftists Wear Out Welcome
It took a while, but Democrats may finally have had enough of the antifa. In a Tuesday statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called out by name the antifa, or “anti-fascists,” for the first time since Sunday’s leftist violence in Berkeley. “Our democracy has no room for inciting violence or endangering the public, no matter the ideology of those who commit such acts,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “More than 100 antifa members, many wearing black clothing and masks, jumped police barriers Sunday at a Berkeley protest, chasing down and attacking a small number of Trump supporters, resulting in six injuries and 13 arrests. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Pelosi is the biggest phony.

Defense Secretary Quickly Contradicts Trump Over North Korea Diplomacy
Donald Trump appeared to rule out contacts with the North Korean regime in the wake of its missile test over Japan on Wednesday, declaring: “Talking is not the answer.” Minutes later, however, the defense secretary, James Mattis, flatly contradicted the president’s blanket statement, telling reporters: “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.” Such sharply conflicting statements have become a norm for the Trump administration, but it is unclear how they are being read by the regime in Pyongyang and US allies in the region. Guardian

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National Guard Deployment Doubles In Texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday said he has doubled the National Guard deployment to deal with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey in his state. Some 2,000 Texas National Guard members have joined the 12,000 already active throughout the storm-hit region. "We are also, as we speak, coordinating with the National Guard Bureau to deploy an additional 10,000 National Guard from other states," Abbott said during an afternoon news conference. In the past week, the guard has rescued more than 8,500 people from floodwaters caused by now Tropical Storm Harvey, which made landfall for a second time overnight. UPI
VOA VIEW: There was no choice.

Trump To Meet With Returning Congressional Leaders Next Week
President Donald Trump will meet with Congressional leaders in the White House next week ahead of deadlines to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government, aides said Wednesday. Congress resumes next week after a month-long recess, and must pass a government funding package by the end of September to prevent a federal government shutdown -- and raise the debt limit to prevent a default. "The Republicans are in charge, from the White House to the Hill so the onus of governing is squarely on them," a Democratic leadership aide told Politico.  UPI

U.S. Coalition, Iraq Slam Evacuation Agreement For IS Fighters
Iraq's government and the U.S.-led military coalition on Wednesday denounced an agreement that allows Islamic State fighters safe passage across Syria. Negotiations between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, resulted in an agreement to transfer militants from the Lebanon border to Deir az-Zour, Syria, which borders Iraq. The deal is part of a cease-fire agreement along the Lebanon-Syria border between Lebanon's army and Hezbollah, and Syria's army.  UPI

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BLS: Average Family Tax Bill Increased 41.1% In 3 Years
The average tax bill for American families (or “consumer units”) increased by 41.13 percent from 2013 to 2016, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, families (or consumer units) spent more on average on federal, state, local and other taxes in 2016 ($10,489), according to BLS, than they did on food ($7,203) and clothing ($1,803) combined ($9,006) . The average tax bill for American families (or “consumer units”) increased by 41.13 percent from 2013 to 2016, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. CNS

Trump's Broad Strokes On Tax Reform Leave Heavy Lift For Congress
President Donald Trump’s tax reform speech Wednesday is aimed at showing that Republicans have the message down on tax reform, but lawmakers have yet to confront the monumental task of turning the rhetoric into reality. Senior White House officials this week repeatedly billed the president’s speech as an address focused on why tax reform needs to happen, not how it will materialize. That’s the sort of big-picture cover on taxes that Trump didn’t offer congressional leaders in their doomed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. But while congressional leaders undoubtedly welcome the president making the broad case for a tax revamp, Trump’s speech won’t mask the fact that lawmakers still face a wide range of knotty questions when they return to Washington next week. POLITICO
VOA VIEW: Trump is pushing the envelope.

Representative Gohmert To GOP Leaders: ‘We’ve Had The Majority’ And ‘You Haven’t Let Us Hold Anybody Accountable’
House Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), an Army veteran and former chief justice of the 12th Court of Appeals, said it was the House Republican leadership that held a conference call in October 2016 advising Republicans to reject presidential candidate Donald Trump and do all they could to save themselves and the GOP majority to hold a future President Hillary Clinton “accountable.” Gohmert added that, during the call, he said the House Republican leadership had not held anyone in the Obama administration accountable and therefore would not hold Clinton accountable.  CNS

As Texans' Claims Pour In, Congress Mulls Flood Insurance Program's Future
 Krassi Nikov evacuated his Houston home with more than 2 feet (61 cm) of water inside on Tuesday after Tropical Storm Harvey devastated Texas’ Gulf Coast. He now plans to collect on his flood insurance for the second time this year and rebuild. But the future of the federal government-run flood insurance program that Nikov, 63, and other property owners in vulnerable areas depend on rests with the U.S. Congress. Congress will soon be asked to renew the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires at the end of September. Reuters

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Tropical Storm Harvey Damage In Texas Expected To Be 'Many-Year' Recovery, Death Toll Rises To 20
While federal officials said they are expecting a multi-year recovery in Texas and across the south as Tropical Storm Harvey continues its course east into parts of Louisiana, the death toll rose to 20 people, sheriff’s said Wednesday. Montgomery County Sheriff's Capt. Bryan Carlisle said two more Harvey–related deaths were reported north of Houston. Fox

Infra- And Ultrasonic Waves Thought To Be Responsible For Cuba Attacks
The latest assessments of the attacks injuring Americans and Canadians in Havana, Cuba, by U.S. intelligence analysts point to inaudible sound as the culprit -- ultra- and infrasonic waves -- according to a source familiar with the incidents that began in November 2016. However, the source says analysts are still working to rule out other technology. Medical records show American doctors diagnosed victims with hearing loss, mild traumatic brain injury and likely nerve damage. CBS News

Friedman To 'Post: US, Israel Of 'Same Mind' On Stopping Iran In Syria
The US and Israel are “of the same mind” when it comes to opposition to any Iranian military presence in Syria, US Ambassador David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview this week. Friedman, in his first wide-ranging interview with the Israeli media since taking up his position in mid-May, said the US was “extraordinarily receptive” to Israel’s concerns about Iranian penetration into Syria when a high-level security delegation led by Mossad head Yossi Cohen went to Washington to discuss the issue two weeks ago. JPost
VOA VIEW: The US and Israel are an invincible team.

U.S. Navy Shoots Down Medium-Range Missile Off Hawaii In Test
U.S. forces shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii Wednesday as part of a test conducted amid heightened regional tensions. Early Wednesday local time, U.S. Navy sailors on the USS John Paul Jones "successfully conducted a complex defense flight test," according to a statement by the Missile Defense Agency, a section of the Defense Department. NBC News

Trumka: I Can’t Work With Racists, Wall Streeters In White House
There was a moment when it looked like President Donald Trump might be able to execute a historic political realignment by bringing people like union members into the GOP. But the nation’s top union leader, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who was initially more optimistic about Trump than most other Democratic-leaning political figures, said Wednesday that won't be happening. "There’s not going to be a realignment," said Trumka, who resigned from the president's manufacturing council this month in response to the president's handling of the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Confederate monument. " NBC News

Navy Sends Ships To Assist Harvey Efforts
The U.S. Navy on Wednesday ordered two of its ships to travel to the Texas coast to assist with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the military announced. Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, ordered USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, and USS Oak Hill, a dock landing ship, to depart from their homeports in Norfolk, Va. The two vessels are scheduled to leave Thursday. UPI

Houston, DHS Officials Warn Residents Of Fake Agents After Harvey
Officials issued a warning Wednesday after disturbing reports surfaced of people impersonating Homeland Security special agents and telling residents to evacuate in order to rob their homes in the wake of devastating flooding from Harvey. The city of Houston said people should ask anyone knocking on their doors for official badges and credentials with their name and organization. The city's statement also noted that, during Harvey relief efforts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the area. The National Weather Service downgraded the storm to a tropical depression late Wednesday. Fox

Judge Blocks Texas Immigration Crackdown
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked most of a state immigration crackdown two days before it was set to go into effect on Sept. 1, offering a major victory for opponents as a tropical storm ravages the state and local officials struggle to assure immigrants it’s safe to seek help. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia issued an injunction that prevents Texas Senate Bill 4 from being implemented while a lawsuit challenging the law winds its way through the federal courts. The ruling marks a victory for immigrant rights groups and several local governments ? including those of Austin, Houston, San Antonio and El Cenizo ? that argued the law unconstitutionally requires police to do the work of federal authorities and would lead to racial profiling. Huffington Post
VOA VIEW: Liberal hype.

‘Inevitable’ Chemical Plant Explosion In Texas Prompts Evacuation
Fear of an explosion at a chemical facility in Crosby, Texas, prompted continued evacuations Wednesday for residents within a mile and half of the plant. The CEO of the North American unit of Arkema told reporters Wednesday that the company knew there was no way to prevent an explosion. “We have an unprecedented 6 feet of water throughout the plant. We’ve lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power. And as a result, critical refrigeration needed for our materials on site is lost. Atlanta Journal

Debate To Rename Confederate Streets In Hollywood Drags On
After hours of hearing fervent testimony that invoked the painful legacy of slavery and the Civil War, Hollywood commissioners continued to wrestle late Wednesday with renaming three streets honoring Confederate generals that for the better part of a century have run through a predominantly black city neighborhood. But, as often happens when government grapples with history, it was messy. Politician after politician implored the City Commission to finally rid the Liberia neighborhood of Lee, Hood and Forrest streets, which honor Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army; Gen. John Bell Hood, a commander in the Battle of Gettysburg, and, above all, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate lieutenant general thought to be the Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard. Miami Herald
VOA VIEW: Pitiful!

Christie Slams Cruz, But Sends Troops To Flood-Ravaged Texas
GOP pols from states slammed by Superstorm Sandy say they’ll back a massive federal aid package for victims of Hurricane Harvey — even though Republican lawmakers from Texas fought against similar aid for New York and New Jersey. Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday singled out Sen. Ted Cruz for begging for quick federal action to help victims of Harvey after opposing federal help for victims of Sandy. “I have no sympathy for this — and I see Sen. Cruz and it’s disgusting to me that he stands in a recovery center with victims standing behind him as a backdrop,” he told “New Day” on CNN. NY Post

Warren Buffett Says It Doesn't Feel Like A 3% Economy
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says it still feels more like a 2% economy to him despite the government today boosting its second-quarter GDP growth estimate to 3%. In an interview with CNBC, Buffett, who turned 87 Wednesday, weighed in on many topics Wall Street is watching, ranging from Hurricane Harvey and North Korea to his major holdings in Apple and major banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. When asked if it felt like a 3% economy, Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which has investments in virtually every part of the U.S. economy, said, "I would guess we are in a 2% growth economy now. Every now and then we think we are accelerating, and every now and then that maybe there's a double dip. It just seems to be a couple of percent." USA Today
VOA VIEW: Buffet is a wealthy idiot.

Vice President Pence Headed For Texas On Thursday
Vice President Mike Pence is heading for Texas on Thursday to survey Hurricane Harvey's destruction and meet with storm survivors. Pence made the announcement during a Wednesday appearance in West Virginia. His itinerary is not yet public, though according to the White House, he will travel with second lady Karen Pence and several Cabinet members. His visit comes two days after President Donald Trump and first lady Melania traveled to Corpus Christi and Austin, where the Trumps and Cabinet members met with federal, state and local officials — but no displaced Texans. Dallas News

Tested By Harvey, Trump Stays True To Form
America's first reality-show president has always been engrossed with the shaping of his personal image. In his earlier days as a big-city real estate mogul, Donald Trump relished and even facilitated tabloid coverage of his messy personal life, adhering to the notion that all press is good press. During his time as star of "The Apprentice," he boasted of becoming a "ratings machine," and was said to have only appeared crestfallen when the program netted fewer viewers than "American Idol." After he kick-started his improbable run for the White House, the defining trait of his candidacy quickly became his enormous crowds, which provided him validation for his cause and energy for the slog ahead. US News & World Report
VOA VIEW: Liberal media propaganda.

Gender ‘X’ May Soon Be Third Option On California State Documents
According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, the third gender option most likely to be added to the ‘M’ and ‘F’ is Gender ‘X’: A bill advancing in the Legislature would allow Californians to opt for a “nonbinary” gender marker on all forms of state identification. It’s not yet clear which alphabetical abbreviation will be used, though “X” appears to be a leading candidate. That would make California the first state in the nation to fully depart from the rigid either/or categorization of gender, embracing a more fluid understanding of the term — at least on paper. SB179, introduced by Democratic state Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Toni Atkins of San Diego, has already cleared the Senate and is set to be considered soon in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Breitbart
VOA VIEW: Gender "X" can denote a gender of fools - they don't know what GOD has gifted.

Texans Don’t Want Empathy, They Want The Help Trump Has So Far Delivered
To no one’s surprise, one of the primary pipe organs complaining about this lack of sweet feelz, is the fake news factory we call CNN. Looking tweedy and exactly like someone eager to discuss ObamaCare on Christmas morning over a cup of hot cocoa, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny moaned that he has seen, “Very little in terms of empathy from this president. Very little in terms of emotion or talking directly to the people of Texas.” And yes, this is the same Jeff Zeleny who once asked President Obama to tell the world about what most “enchants” him. Breitbart

'Hell's Breaking Loose': A 911 Center Under Siege By Harvey
Some of the callers are panicking; others exude a strange serenity. One moment, Harvey's floodwaters are pouring into a home, the next a motorist is trapped on an inundated interstate. A woman goes into labor in a washed-out neighborhood, and a split-second later, a family seeks rescue from their attic. The pleas for help stream in hour after hour, call after call after call. In the thick of a paralyzing storm and its aftermath, the weight of this swamped city's problems are landing at the cavernous 911 call center, where operators are racing to keep up as people dial in by the tens of thousands. "This is like nothing we've ever experienced before," operator Erika Wells says, in a short reprieve between calls. At its worst, from Sunday into Monday, some 75,000 calls poured in, more than eight times the normal 24-hour load, and those dialing sometimes endured long waits to reach an operator. Even as time passed and the volume dropped, more than 21,000 people called between Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon, when an Associated Press reporter was given exclusive access to observe work at the center. In a single hour, dozens of calls can arrive at a single operator's headset. Fox News

Will Emergency Loans Be The Next Mess In Texas?
When President Donald Trump boarded Air Force One Tuesday morning to survey the flood wreckage across southeastern Texas, two of the most crucial figures onboard—and people with the most at stake—were barely noted by press reports: Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon and a career agency employee named James Rivera. McMahon, the former pro wrestling executive, runs an agency that has become the front line of American disaster lending. Through its Office of Disaster Assistance, run by Rivera, the 28-year veteran, the SBA made over $11 billion in loans after Hurricane Katrina, and more than $2 billion after Superstorm Sandy—most of those to distressed homeowners with no business claims at all. Since its inception in 1953, it has issued more than 2 million loans for more than $54 billion. POLITICO

Mueller Teams Up With New York Attorney General In Manafort Probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter. The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes. The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case, these people said.  POLITICO
VOA VIEW: Mueller is teaming up with anti Trump fools.

Eric Trump: Negative Media Could Make You Kill Yourself Out Of Depression
Eric Trump ripped negative media coverage of his father during a radio interview Wednesday, saying that a person “would end up killing yourself out of depression” if they got as much negative coverage as the president. Trump told Joe Pagliarulo, of the nationally syndicated “The Joe Pags Show,” on Tuesday that his father was being repeatedly attacked in the media and that it’s important for him to tune it out sometimes. “If they weren’t talking about you, you wouldn’t be doing something right and it’s important to keep it in context, otherwise quite frankly you’d probably end up killing yourself out of depression,” Trump said. “But he’s doing a great job.” The Hill

Trump Warns Congress Not To Disappoint Him On Tax Reform
President Trump on Wednesday warned members of Congress not to disappoint him and the nation on tax reform, predicting that lawmakers would make a "comeback" to pass a comprehensive measure to overhaul the tax code. "This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday hardworking American, and I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done, and I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress," Trump said during a speech in Springfield, Mo., focused on tax reform. "Do you understand me?" "I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I'll tell you what, the United States is counting on it." Trump has openly fumed over the Senate's narrow rejection last month of a scaled-back measure to repeal and replace ObamaCare and has carried on a feud with Republican lawmakers in recent weeks. The Hill

Amazon Hit With Lawsuit Over Eclipse Glasses
Amazon.com (AMZN.O) has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit by a couple who claims defective eclipse glasses purchased through the online retailer damaged their eyes. In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in South Carolina on Tuesday evening, Corey Payne and his fiancée, Kayla Harris, said they purchased a three-pack of eclipse glasses on Amazon in early August, assuming that the glasses would allow them to safely view the United States’ first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in a century on Aug. 21. Later that day, Payne and Harris began to experience headaches and eye watering. In the following days, they developed vision impairment, including blurriness and distorted vision, their lawsuit said. Reuters

Pentagon Revises Number Of Troops In Afghanistan, Disclosing 2,600 More
The Pentagon revealed Wednesday that there are approximately 2,600 more US troops in Afghanistan than had been officially disclosed due to a change in its accounting procedures. The Joint Staff Director, US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie Jr., told reporters at the Pentagon that the total number of US forces in Afghanistan is approximately 11,000, up from the previously announced number of 8,400. McKenzie said the change is primarily the result of the Department of Defense now counting troops that are deployed for short durations, usually fewer than 180 days, according to military officials. CNN

Al Jazeera Reporter Won't Lose Press Card
Government Press Office director Nitzan Chen decided on Wednesday to not yet invalidate the press credentials of Al Jazeera senior reporter Elias Karam after he said he did not support terrorism. The GPO announced two weeks ago that it would revoke Karam’s credentials pending a hearing that took place last week. At the hearing, Chen asked Karam about his statement that journalism was part of the Palestinian “resistance.” Karam said in an interview to the Muslim Brotherhood television channel Dar al-Iman in May 2016 that “as a Palestinian journalist who is in an occupied area or a conflict area, journalistic work is an integral part of the resistance and of political and educational action.Jerusalem Post

F.D.A. Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475,000
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer, a milestone that is expected to transform treatment in the coming years. The new therapy turns a patient’s cells into a “living drug,” and trains them to recognize and attack the disease. It is part of the rapidly growing field of immunotherapy that bolsters the immune system through drugs and other therapies and has, in some cases, led to long remissions and possibly even cures. The therapy, marketed as Kymriah and made by Novartis, was approved for children and young adults for an aggressive type of leukemia — B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia — that has resisted standard treatment or relapsed. NY Times

Landrieu: New Orleans' Drainage System Can Handle Forecasted Rains This Week, But Heavy Storms Another Story
Local officials continued Sunday to cast a wary eye toward Tropical Storm Harvey, which was still lashing the Houston area with massive amounts rain, though they said the New Orleans pumping system can handle the amount of rainfall that is now forecast. For now, the storm that struck the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday night seems to pose little serious danger to New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Sunday. But as Harvey continues to move slowly and somewhat unpredictably, Landrieu said residents should remain prepared for possible heavy storms and flash flooding in the middle of the week. “We’re going to be in complete and total ready mode until this storm passes us by,” he said. The Advocate

Government Eases Student Loan Rules For Harvey Victims
The Education Department is easing financial aid rules and procedures for those affected by Harvey. The department is encouraging students whose financial needs have been altered by the storm to contact their school's financial aid office. The agency says in a statement that colleges and career schools will be allowed to use "professional judgment" to adjust a student's financial information in the aftermath of Harvey. A school may even be able to waive certain paperwork requirements if documents were destroyed in the flooding. The department says borrowers struggling to pay off loans because of Harvey should inform their loan servicers — and they've been directed to give borrowers flexibility in managing loan payments. ABC News

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