News briefs, Sept. 29

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Obama and Putin clash over Syria

Mary Altaffer
Russian President President Vladimir Putin addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Monday, Sept. 28. (Associated Press)

 

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin clashed Monday over their competing visions for Syria, with Obama urging a political transition to replace the Syrian president but Putin warning it would be a mistake to abandon the current government.

Obama said he was open to working with Russia, as well as Iran, to bring Syria’s civil war to an end. He called for a “managed transition” that would result in the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces have clashed with rebels for more than four years, creating a vacuum for the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Putin, however, urged the world to stick with Assad, arguing that his military is the only viable option for defeating the Islamic State.

Obama and Putin’s dueling speeches at a United Nations General Assembly summit served as a public preview of their private meeting late Monday. The sit-down marks their first face-to-face encounter in nearly a year and comes amid escalating Russian military engagement in Syria.

Trump unveils new plan to lower taxes

Julie Jacobson
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks about his tax plan during a news conference on Monday, Sept. 28 in New York. The Republican front-runner is calling for an overhaul of the tax code that would eliminate income taxes for millions of Americans, while lowering them for the highest-income earners and business. (Associated Press)

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Monday proposed eliminating income taxes for millions of Americans, and lower rates for the highest-income earners, as part of a plan he said would grow the U.S. economy at a pace not seen in years.

Trump’s plan for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code would eliminate federal income taxes on individuals earning less than $25,000 and married couples earning less than $50,000. He said those individuals would receive “a new one page form to send the IRS saying, ‘I win.'”

Trump’s plan would also disproportionally benefit wealthy earners by lowering the highest income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, and businesses by cutting their tax rate — from major corporations to mom-and-pop shops — to no more than 15 percent.

Trump said he wants to eliminate the so-called “carried interest loophole” that allows managers of hedge funds and private equity firms to pay a lower tax rate than most individuals, and would reduce or eliminating most deductions and loopholes for both individuals and corporations.

The billionaire real estate mogul said those changes would pay for the tax cuts, along with an increase in tax revenue generated by economic growth. Trump estimated that his plan would lead the economy to grow at least 3 percent a year, and as much as 5 or 6 percent — a rate of growth that most economists say is unrealistic.

Senate expected to approve spending bill and avoid shutdown

Jacquelyn Martin
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 6. Despite opposition from conservatives, the Senate is on track to advance legislation to prevent the government from shutting down after a midnight Wednesday deadline. (Associated Press)

The Senate is expected to approve easily legislation that would keep the government open past a Wednesday deadline as its top Republican leaders stare down a right wing that’s angry that party leaders aren’t fighting harder to take away taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has moved to strip the measure of a provision that would cancel federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and top House leaders are going along, even as the controversy helped topple House Speaker John Boehner, who announced his resignation last week.

McConnell’s move has rankled conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a Republican presidential candidate, and tea partyers in the House who want the taxpayer money withheld from the women’s health care provider. Their demand follows the release of secret videos in which Planned Parenthood officials discussed the transfer of fetal tissue to researchers.

The White House signaled that Obama would sign the measure, called a continuing resolution, or CR, into law — if the House steps aside from the fight that tea party Republicans want over Planned Parenthood. McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Boehner, R-Ohio, don’t want the battle over Planned Parenthood to lead to a government shutdown.

Beijing calls Clinton ‘biased’ on Chinese women’s issues

Charlie Neibergall
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a community forum on healthcare in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 22. A Chinese government official said Hillary Clinton was “biased” on women’s issues in China for her tweet saying it was “shameless” for China’s president to preside over a U.N. conference on gender equality. (Associated Press)

A Chinese government official said Monday that Hillary Clinton was “biased” on women’s issues in China, while a newspaper compared the presidential hopeful to Donald Trump for her tweet saying it was “shameless” for China’s president to preside over a U.N. conference on gender equality.

Clinton tweeted on Sunday: “Xi hosted a meeting on women’s rights at the UN while persecuting feminists? Shameless.”

Rights activists had criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping’s co-chairing of Sunday’s U.N. Women conference because of China’s detentions of women, including five who were detained for 37 days this year over their plans to advocate against sexual harassment on public transportation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday that China protects its people’s rights in accordance with the law.

The Global Times, which often publishes nationalist editorials, wrote Monday in its Chinese edition that Clinton’s words — which it did not mention — were “vulgar, extremely lacking in manners” and called to mind “big mouth” Trump.

Utah’s Planned Parenthood sues governor

Rick Bowmer
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a news conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Feb. 5. Planned Parenthood of Utah sued the governor on Sept. 28, for ordering state agencies to cut off federal funding to the organization following the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group. (Associated Press)

The Utah branch of Planned Parenthood sued the governor on Monday for ordering state agencies to cut off federal funding to the organization following the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s action was unconstitutional and based on unfounded allegations, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah said in federal court documents.

He blocked funding distributed by the state after a California anti-abortion group leaked videos showing Planned Parenthood officials describing how they provide fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.

Herbert spokeswoman Aimee Edwards said Monday that the governor stands by his order.

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