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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 21, 2017)
THE DAILY ASTORIAN • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2017
WORLD IN BRIEF
Survivors: Myanmar army
House GOP scrambles to rally
votes for spending bill
WASHINGTON — House Republicans unveiled a new,
stripped-down spending bill early today to prevent a government
shutdown this weekend and allow quarreling lawmakers to punt
most of their unfinished business into the new year.
The bill would keep the government operating through Jan.
19 and permit lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats — to
head home for the holidays. It would delay battles over the bud-
get, health care and immigration into January, denying Demo-
crats wins that they had hoped to score this year.
Failure to pass the measure would trigger a government shut-
down at midnight Friday, which would amount to a political prat-
fall just after the GOP scored a major win on a landmark tax bill.
With Republicans controlling Washington, they would not have
anyone else to blame for a shutdown debacle.
President Donald Trump still tried to blame Democrats while
winning over the frustrated House GOP factions.
The problem for GOP leaders is the party’s defense hawks,
who had hoped to enact record budget increases for the mili-
tary this year. The short-term spending bill does contain about $5
billion to upgrade missile defense to respond to the threat from
North Korea and to repair two destroyers damaged in accidents
this year in the Pacific.
Underscoring the inability of Congress to complete its work was
the failure to reauthorize the health care program for some 9 mil-
lion low-income children. The program expired on Oct. 1 and the
spending bill only includes a temporary spending fix until March.
A vote is likely today and Senate passage is expected to
Triumphant Trump celebrates tax
win — but some fear backlash
WASHINGTON — A triumphant President Donald Trump
and jubilant fellow Republicans celebrated the passage of their
$1.5 trillion tax overhaul Wednesday as a “historic victory for
the American people.” The American people, however, will need
As Trump and GOP lawmakers gathered at the White House
to cheer their first major legislative achievement — and the big-
gest tax changes in a generation — some Republicans warned
that the party could face a painful political backlash against an
overhaul that offers corporations and wealthy taxpayers the big-
gest benefits and was projected to trigger the loss of health care
coverage for millions of Americans.
There was no hint of anxiety at the White House, though, as
the president and congressional Republicans pushed any qualms
aside and reveled in a much-needed win at the end of a year
marked by GOP infighting and political stumbles.
“We are making America great again,” Trump declared, per-
sonally thanking his “little team” of Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, before law-
makers lavished praise upon a president they have often openly
“I don’t know if we’ll have bigger moments, but we hope to,”
UKHIA, Bangladesh — For six hours he hid in an upstairs
room, listening to the crackle of gunfire and the screams of peo-
ple being slaughtered outside his Myanmar home.
With every footstep that drew near, every cry that pierced the
air, 52-year-old Bodru Duza braced for the soldiers to find him,
to kill him like all the others who had fled to his compound that
morning seeking a safe place to shelter. They were being blind-
folded and bound, marched away in small groups, then butchered
and shot as they begged for their lives.
What had started out as a quiet Sunday in northwestern Myan-
mar had spiraled into an incomprehensible hell — one of the
bloodiest massacres reported in the Southeast Asian nation since
government forces launched a vicious campaign to drive out the
country’s Rohingya minority in late August.
By the time it was over, there was so much blood on the
ground, it had pooled into long rivulets across the uneven earth,
among bits of human flesh and the fragments of shattered skulls.
When Duza finally dared to emerge from his hiding place, he
wondered how anyone could have survived.
Car rams into pedestrians in
Melbourne; up to 19 injured
SYDNEY — Two men were arrested in Australia after the
SUV in which they were traveling rammed into pedestrians on a
busy central Melbourne street today, leaving 14 people injured in
what police believe was a deliberate act.
Victoria state police said the driver of the vehicle and a sec-
ond man were in custody after the incident, which occurred on
Flinders Street in the city’s central business district just after 4:45
p.m. when the area was busy with Christmas shoppers.
Commander Russell Barrett told media that while the motive
of the incident was not immediately clear, “at this stage we
believe it was a deliberate act.”
Asked if police had ruled out terrorism as motivation, Barrett
said only: “At this stage it’s early days in the investigation and the
motivation is unknown.”
Barrett confirmed 14 people had been injured in the attack.
Several were taken to hospitals, and two were in critical condi-
tion, including a preschool aged boy with head injuries. Earlier
media reports said up to 19 people had been injured.
UN declares Trump’s Jerusalem
decision ‘null and void’
The U.N. General Assembly has voted 128-9 with 35 absten-
tions to declare President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusa-
lem as Israel’s capital “null and void.”
Today’s vote, while a victory for the Palestinians, was signifi-
cantly lower than its supporters had hoped for, with many fore-
casting at least 150 “yes” votes. It is noteworthy that 21 countries
In that sense, it was a victory for the United States, with
Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose
his decision having an impact.
Trump went a step further than U.S. Ambassador Nikki
Haley, who hinted in a tweet and a letter to most of the 193
U.N. member states on Tuesday that the U.S. would retaliate
against countries that vote in favor of a General Assembly res-
olution calling on the president to rescind his decision.
Haley said the president asked her to report back on coun-
tries “who voted against us” — and she stressed that the United
States “will be taking names.”
At the start of a Cabinet meeting in Washington on Wednes-
day, with Haley sitting nearby, Trump told reporters that Amer-
icans are tired of being taken advantage of and praised the U.S.
ambassador for sending the “right message” before the vote.
“For all these nations, they take our money and then vote
against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even
billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump told
reporters at the Cabinet meeting. “We’re watching those votes.
Let them vote against us.”
South Korea fires warning shots
after North soldier defects
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean soldiers fired 20
warning machine gun rounds today, turning back North Korean
soldiers apparently pursuing a comrade who had earlier dashed
across the rivals’ shared border, officials said. It is the fourth
time this year a North Korean soldier has defected across the
world’s most heavily armed border.
South Korean military officials said they heard gunfire
from the North after South Korea fired its warning shots, but it
wasn’t clear if the firing was retaliatory. Neither side immedi-
ately reported casualties.
North Korean soldiers occasionally flee over the land bor-
der, but there have been few defections as dramatic as one that
happened nearly 40 days ago, when a northern soldier crossed
at a different, very public place — a jointly controlled area that
is the only place where troops from the rivals face off only feet
away from each other. That soldier was shot five times by his
former comrades in an escape caught on video. He has been
recovering in a hospital. The site of that defection is familiar to
many foreign tourists, who can visit the blue huts that straddle
the line between the rivals.
Civil war pushing South Sudan
closer to starvation
JIECH, South Sudan — Writhing in agony on the dirt floor
of his hut, Bob Wol traced the recent gunshot wounds on his
thigh and back with his fingers.
“I was trying to get food and my government tried to kill
me,” the 29-year-old told The Associated Press.
It’s been almost 25 years since more than 1 million peo-
ple were on the brink of starvation in southern Sudan, a cri-
sis captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a vul-
ture poised near a starving little girl. Today, people in what
was known as the “famine triangle” say the situation has only
“Before, only the hunger was killing you,” said Lony
Toang, who survived the earlier famine in Ayod County. “Now
it’s worse because we have hunger and we’re killing people.”
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