Irma May Bring 'Significant Storm Surge'
The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded may bring "significant storm surge" as it nears Florida, the state's governor warned Wednesday, saying Hurricane Irma is stronger than the last Category 5 storm to hit the state -- as the mayor of Broward County announced mandatory evacuations for coastal areas. Irma is packing 185-mph winds and is located about 20 miles east of St. Thomas and 90 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico about 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said. It was heading west-northwest at 16 mph, passing over the northernmost Virgin Islands. Wednesday. Fox
VOA VIEW: It's time to listen and watch.
Jose And Katia Form
As all eyes are on the forecast track of Hurricane Irma, two separate tropical systems strengthened into hurricanes Wednesday. Hurricane Katia has formed in the Gulf off the coast of Mexico with sustained winds of 75 mph. The government of Mexico has issued a hurricane watch for the coast of the state of Veracruz from Tuxpan to Laguna Verde. Katia is anticipated to drift toward the coast on Thursday. The announcement of Hurricane Katia came minutes after the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Jose had formed in the open Atlantic, far from land and well east of Hurricane Irma. Fox
VOA VIEW: A very active season.
Officials Sound Alarm
State officials sounded the alarm Wednesday on Capitol Hill about skyrocketing ObamaCare premiums as insurers across the country propose double-digit rate hikes – renewing pressure on Congress to act. Insurance commissioners and officials from Alaska, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Washington state all testified before a Senate committee on the 2018 premium hikes, which are being finalized over the next few weeks. In Alaska, premiums have increased 203 percent since 2013, according to Lori Wing-Heier, the state’s director of the Division of Insurance. Fox
VOA VIEW: Realty is coming the front.
President Donald Trump has a longtime habit in high-profile meetings that's no "Art of the Deal" secret: a casual drop-by from daughter Ivanka Trump. Take Wednesday's meeting with congressional leaders: Ivanka Trump, who also serves as a White House adviser, "entered the Oval Office to 'say hello' and the meeting careened off-topic," a congressional source briefed on the meetintg old CNN's Deirdre Walsh. Some Republican leaders were "visibly annoyed by Ivanka's presence," the source said. But House Speaker Paul Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong refuted that characterization, saying, "That's not true." CNN
VOA VIEW: Trump is confusing - he went to the left.
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Leaders In The Room 'Shell-Shocked'
President Donald Trump surprised the leaders of his own party in Congress on Wednesday when he backed a deal pushed by Democrats to attach hurricane relief money to a shorter-term bump in the debt ceiling as well as keeping the government open, cutting off his own Treasury secretary to strike a deal. The decision was one of the most fascinating and mysterious moves he's made with Congress during eight months in office. The remarkable turn of events left Republican congressional leaders, in control of both chambers of the legislative branch, "shell-shocked" and "visibly annoyed," and showcased how a President who also authored "The Art of the Deal" actually cuts one. CNN
VOA VIEW: Trump double-crossed Republicans - hope he had a good reason.
Facebook Inc. says it found about $100,000 in ad spending connected to fake accounts likely run from Russia that aimed to stir political controversy in the U.S. ahead of last year’s presidential election. While the majority of the ads, run between June 2015 and May 2017, didn’t directly reference the election, they amplified “divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum,” Facebook said in a statement. They were connected to about 470 fake accounts and pages on the social network. The company is sharing its findings with U.S. investigators. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Democrats fall for everything.
Truckers who hauled gasoline to Texas last week from Florida may run the same route in reverse next week as Hurricane Irma bears down on the Sunshine State. South Floridians are stocking up on supplies like gasoline and water while preparing to evacuate to the northern part of the state ahead of Irma, which is forecast to bring winds as high as 150 miles (240 kilometers) an hour to the state. As many as 600 stations in Florida metropolitan areas were without fuel Wednesday, according to GasBuddy.com, a retail price-tracking service. Bloomberg
Airstrikes On Syria Violated International Law, UN Says
U.S. forces violated international humanitarian law when they failed to take all possible precautions to avoid civilian deaths in an attack on a mosque complex in Syria, U.N. investigators said Wednesday. A series of U.S. airstrikes on a religious compound in the Syrian village of al-Jinah on March 16 killed 38 people, including one woman and five children, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in a new report, in which they also concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force conducted a sarin-gas attack that killed at least 83 civilians in April. ABC News
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Trump Jr. Meeting With Senate
President Donald Trump's eldest son is will meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. Donald Trump Jr. will meet with the committee during a closed-door session. The meeting is expected to relate to a meeting that Trump Jr., 39, had with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign under the promise of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton, who was his father's opponent at the time. ABC News
Residents Receive Mixed Messages
Florida visitors and residents are receiving mixed messages about evacuating ahead of Hurricane Irma. Broward County has ordered coastal evacuations, mandatory but with no enforcement, as is typical in Florida. Miami Beach has advised evacuating, but not made it mandatory. Miami-Dade County officials encouraged tourists to leave even as they held off issuing evacuation orders for residents. And Florida Gov. Rick Scott said anyone who intends to evacuate should "get out now." However, with a storm track forecast up the middle of the state, it is unclear to many people where they should go. CBS News
Approval Rating Holding Steady Near 40 Percent
Despite a flurry of late-summer activity, from hurricane relief to violent clashes in Charlottesville to immigration policy changes to North Korean threats, President Trump's approval rating is holding fairly steady around 40 percent, according to a pair of new polls released Wednesday. Thirty-seven percent of Americans say they approve of the president's job performance in a new Gallup poll, while 56 percent say they disapprove. And in an Economist/YouGov survey, the president's approval rating among registered voters stood at 42 percent, and his disapproval rating stood at 54 percent. CBS News
VOA VIEW: Trump's approval rating is much higher than reported by the liberal media.
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Toward Sky-High Amazon Water Prices
With grocery store shelves being cleared ahead of Irma's expected landfall in the United States this weekend, Floridians trying to wrangle important supplies ahead of the Category 5 storm have turned to Amazon. There's just one problem: Prices for bottled water have skyrocketed, leading outraged Floridians to levy charges of price gouging. A screenshot posted on Twitter showed a pack of 24-pack of Ice Mountain bottled water going for $99.99. NBC News
VOA VIEW: Price gougers should be but under the jail.
Messages From Trump
Congressional Republicans struggled to make sense of President Donald Trump's mixed messages on DACA Wednesday as Democrats ratcheted up pressure to save the program. One day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that permitted undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country, Trump tweeted that he would “revisit the issue” if Congress fails to act by March. This seemingly contradicts the administration's previous stance — that only a legislative fix would do — by dangling the prospect of unspecified action. NBC
VOA VIEW: Republicans have to put it down - do the right thing for a change.
Refugee Admissions Lowest In 15 Years
Nine hundred and thirteen refugees were admitted to the United States during August, the first time the monthly intake has dropped below one thousand in 15 years, and the smallest number of monthly admissions since October 2002. August’s arrivals followed a pattern evident since the start of the Trump administration – a declining proportion of Muslims in comparison to Christians and adherents of other faiths. CNS
VOA VIEW: Good!
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Reducing Food Stamp Claims
President Donald Trump’s enforcement of U.S. immigration laws is costing illegal aliens the benefits of food stamps, the Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday. In its article, “Fear of deportation drives people off food stamps in US,” AP argues that fear of deportation has scared some into opting out of USDA food stamp programs: Feedback “A crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump has driven some poor people to take a drastic step: opt out of federal food assistance because they are fearful of deportation, activists and immigrants say.” CNS
VOA VIEW: Good!
Arrives In Colombia
Pope Francis arrived in Colombia on Wednesday with a message of unity for a nation deeply divided by a peace deal that ended a five-decade war with Marxist FARC rebels but left many victims of the bloodshed wary of the national healing process. Francis, making his 20th foreign trip since becoming pontiff in 2013 and his fifth to his native Latin America, arrived on an Alitalia flight to Bogota. He will travel later in the week to the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena. Reuters
Graham Behind Dreamer Lobbying Effort
Donald Graham, the chairman of the board of Graham Holdings Company (GHC.N) and former publisher of The Washington Post, personally retained two lobbyists earlier this year to advocate on behalf of retaining the program that has allowed immigrant children to remain legally in the country. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the end of the Obama-era program that protects immigrants known as Dreamers, brought illegally into the United States as children, from deportation. Implementation will be delayed until March, giving the U.S. Congress six months to decide the fate of almost 800,000 young people. Reuters
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Tries Softer Touch
President Donald Trump has already tried negotiation-by-threat in his push for tax reform – but on Wednesday he took a softer touch to woo North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to his side. Trump invited Heitkamp to join him on Air Force One before a joint appearance in her home base of Mandan to tout his signature legislative goal. The president is leaning on Democratic senators from states he won in 2016 to support his effort for tax reform in hopes of avoiding the narrow defeat suffered by his health care reform proposal in August. POLITICO
Trades West Wing Neophytes
President Donald Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly is tightening his grip on the West Wing, thinning staff he considers extraneous while bringing in new blood to professionalize a White House that has suffered from internal turmoil. For the new hires, the retired general is looking to seasoned political hands rather than the neophytes who made up the first wave of aides brought in by Trump, many of whom never had clear portfolios, according to eight current and former White House officials. POLITICO
Government Leaders Slam Trump's DACA Decision
Critics of President Donald Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program offered support to potential deportees on Wednesday. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday announced the end of the program, authorized through executive order by former President Barack Obama, which allows about 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States. The plan to halt the program comes with a six-month waiting period, in which Congress could establish a permanent solution. UPI
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