US Moves Missile Defence to South Korea Site Amid Tensions with North
The Guardian – The US military has started moving parts of its controversial Thaad missile defence system to a deployment site in South Korea amid high tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes.
The earlier-than-expected move prompted protests by hundreds of local residents and was denounced by the frontrunner for South Korea’s presidential election on 9 May.
The US and South Korea in 2016 agreed to deploy the “terminal high-altitude area defence” system to counter the threat of missile launches by North Korea. However the move has angered China, which says the advanced system will do little to deter the North while destabilising the regional security balance.
South Korea’s defence ministry said some elements of Thaad had been moved to the site on what had been a golf course in the south of the country.
Sanctuary Cities Order Blocked by Federal Judge
Bloomberg – A San Francisco judge barred enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities that fail to comply with federal immigration demands by shielding undocumented immigrants.
San Francisco and its Silicon Valley neighbor, Santa Clara County, on Tuesday both won preliminary injunctions blocking the Jan. 25 edict by Trump who declared that sanctuary jurisdictions cause “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” The city and county argued the president’s order violated the Constitution and threatened to deprive them of funding for local programs.
The federal government may ask the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn the ruling.
GOP Exempt Themselves From Their Latest Health Care Proposal
VOX – House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.
The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.
Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case: members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping this Obamacare regulations. Health law expert Tim Jost flagged me to this particular issue.
AL Legislature Voted to Let Adoption Agencies Turn Away LGBT Parents
Buzzfeed – The Alabama legislature approved a bill on Tuesday to protect adoption and foster care agencies that refuse a service based their religious beliefs, joining a body of conservative states that have countered growing rights for LGBT people with so-called religious freedom laws.
The bill echoes similar laws in Michigan and South Dakota, which critics — and some supporters — say are designed to let agencies to turn away prospective parents because they are gay or transgender.
The text of the bill, however, doesn’t mention LGBT people or same-sex marriage. Rather, the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, as it’s titled, bans the state from penalizing or refusing to license an organization because it “declines to carry out an activity that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the agency.”
The bill, which has yet to be approved by the governor, applies to all child placement services, including those that receive state money.
Turkey Bombed US Allies in Syria and Iraq
TIME – A series of Turkish airstrikes against U.S. allies in Syria and Iraq has provoked deep concern in Washington, CNN reports.
Mark Toner, acting State Department spokesman, told reporters Tuesday: “We are very concerned, deeply concerned, that Turkey conducted airstrikes earlier today in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS.”
The U.S. was given about one hour’s advance notice of the Turkish strikes a senior U.S. defense official told CNN. According to a statement issued by the Turkish armed forces the operation “neutralized” 70 PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) “terrorist” fighters.
Administration to Review Dozens of US National Monuments
Reuters – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday will order a review of national monuments created over the past 20 years with an aim toward rescinding or resizing some of them – part of a broader push to reopen areas to drilling, mining and other development.
The move comes as Trump seeks to reverse a slew of environmental protections ushered in by former President Barack Obama that he said were hobbling economic growth – an agenda that is cheering industry but enraging conservationists.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters on Tuesday Trump’s executive order would require him to conduct the review of around 30 national monuments and recommend which designations should be lifted or resized over the coming months. He said he would seek feedback from Congressional delegations, governors and local stakeholders before making his recommendations.