National News at a Glance
Posted January 16, 2018 9:17 p.m. EST
Pentagon Plan Would Expand ‘Extreme Circumstances’ for Nuclear Reprisal
A newly drafted U.S. nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Donald Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure. For decades, American presidents have threatened “first use” of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document, written at the Pentagon, is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons.
Republicans Consider Child Health Plan as a Lure for Averting Shutdown
With little hope of an immigration agreement this week, Republicans in Congress are considering a plan to head off a government shutdown this weekend by pairing another stopgap spending measure with long-term funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, daring Democrats to vote no. The bill would leave in limbo hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The bill would set up another possible showdown in mid-February, when government funding would again be set to expire. But it would give lawmakers time to continue negotiations on immigration and long-term government funding levels.
President Clears Cognitive Test and Passes His Annual Physical
President Donald Trump’s White House physician said Tuesday that the president received a perfect score on a cognitive test designed to screen for neurological impairment, which the military doctor said was evidence that Trump does not suffer from mental issues that prevent him from functioning in office. Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy and the White House physician, said, Trump’s health was “excellent,” with mostly normal results on a battery of tests and examinations. He said Trump, 71, has remarkably good cardiac health, but he did say that Trump’s weight is 239 pounds and that he is too sedentary.
Bannon Subpoenaed to Testify to Grand Jury in Russia Inquiry
Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, was subpoenaed last week by the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Trump’s associates and Russia, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The move marked the first time Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Trump’s inner circle. On Tuesday, Bannon was questioned for 10 hours behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee. The meeting turned contentious as Bannon repeatedly said he could not answer questions, citing executive privilege.
Warrantless Surveillance Is Headed for Renewal
The Senate cleared the path on Tuesday for Congress to extend the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, rejecting bipartisan calls to first vote on amendments that would have imposed significant new privacy protections when the program sweeps up Americans’ emails. The vote, 60-38, narrowly overcame a procedural obstacle to an up-or-down vote on the surveillance extension bill, showing that there is probably sufficient support in the Senate to give it final approval and send it to President Donald Trump’s desk this week. The bill passed last week in the House.
In Baltimore, Anguish Over a Record-Breaking Homicide Rate
Seven students at Excel Academy in Baltimore have been murdered in 15 months, so much violence that an empty desk might mean a skipped class — or another permanent absence. Dealing with murder has become routine at Excel, with grief counselors called in with each fallen classmate. With its shrinking student body, the school is a grim reflection of the difficulties facing Baltimore. Last year, the city had the highest murder rate in its history, and by far the highest among the nation’s 30 largest cities. Even Chicago saw homicides fall last year, while Baltimore’s numbers continue to rise, with 343 last year.
Veneer of a Private School Hid a Scene of Horror for 13 Siblings
The private school in Perris, California, had a welcoming name. But the Sandcastle Day School was a nightmare for the six students enrolled there. David A. Turpin created the school inside his home. But the only ones enrolled were the six of his 13 children who were school age. Authorities raided the house over the weekend and said they found emaciated children chained to furniture. Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise A. Turpin, 49, were arrested on nine counts of torture and child endangerment after one of their daughters escaped out a window and called police on a deactivated cellphone that only allowed her to dial 911.