“Jordan soldier who killed US trainers jailed for life”
A Jordanian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison with hard labor for killing three US military trainers last year.
Marik al-Tuwayha, who pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder, attacked the men as their vehicles approached al-Jafr airbase in November. One was killed at the base and two others died later in hospital. Jordanian authorities initially claimed the US nationals had been killed when their vehicle failed to stop. Tuwayha – who is not thought to have links to any militant groups – told the military court in the capital Amman he had opened fire after hearing gun shots.
But the US embassy said the trial had confirmed Staff Sgt Matthew Lewellen, Staff Sgt Kevin McEnroe and Staff Sgt James Moriarty «had been following procedure» when they were killed, according to the Associated Press news agency. The US soldiers’ family members were in court to hear the verdict on Monday. Staff Sgt Moriarty’s family had already expressed dismay at the prospect of a life sentence for Tuwayha, which is likely to be reduced to 20 years with good behaviour. The Jordanian government said the police captain had been a troubled individual, but security sources said he was an IS supporter.
“Venezuela: woman shot dead as thousands vote in unofficial referendum”
Gunmen in Venezuela shot into a crowd of voters on Sunday, activists said, killing one woman and wounding three others during an unofficial referendum organized by the opposition to push for an end to two decades of socialist rule.
The opposition Democratic Unity coalition said a pro-government “paramilitary” gang opened fire in Caracas’ poor neighborhood of Catia, where thousands were participating in the event. Video footage showed people scattering as gunshots rang out, many taking sanctuary inside a church.
Sunday’s symbolic poll, which asked voters’ opinion on President Nicolas Maduro’s plan for a controversial new congress, was aimed at denting his legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis and months of anti-government protests in which 100 people have been killed. The opposition cast Sunday’s unofficial referendum as an act of civil disobedience that will be followed by “zero hour,” a possible reference to a national strike or other action against the president.
Maduro has refused to recognise the authority of the National Assembly since the opposition won control of it in a 2015 landslide election, which his critics call evidence he is eroding democratic institutions to retain power. He says the country is the victim of an “economic war” and that opposition protests are an effort to overthrow him with US connivance, an accusation the United States has denied.
New York Times
“A Top Republican Vows a Vote on Health Care, but Uncertainty Reigns”
A top Senate Republican vowed on Sunday to bring the party’s health care bill to a vote as soon as possible, even as detractors said they would use a delay caused by the absence of Senator John McCain to mobilize further opposition to the measure.
The timing of the Senate vote is crucial. The more it is delayed, the more likely the bill is to fail, supporters and opponents say. Moreover, the Senate schedule will soon be packed with other legislation, like an increase in the statutory limit on federal borrowing and spending bills for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. In addition, Republicans are eager to cut taxes and simplify the tax code.
The Senate has struggled to pass a health care bill, delaying a vote on a previous version of the legislation in June.
Several Republican senators have expressed reservations or outright opposition to the new version as well, and Republicans need Mr. McCain’s vote to have any chance of passing it.
Republicans hold 52 Senate seats, and all Democratic senators oppose the bill. Ms. Collins and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, have said they will vote against even starting the debate, meaning all other Republican senators need to vote for the legislation if it is to pass.
“Mexico’s Vicente Fox banned from Venezuela”
Venezuelan authorities have declared former Mexican President Vicente Fox a «persona non grata» and banned him from ever returning to the country.
Fox was in Venezuela, along with other former Latin American presidents, to act as an observer in Sunday’s non-binding referendum called by the opposition on government plans to reform the constitution. In a series of tweets, the Venezuelan foreign minister, Samuel Moncada, says Fox abused the goodwill of the Venezuelan people and came to the country to «promote violence and the intervention by foreign world powers.» «As a preventative measure to protect our people, Señor Fox will never again be able to come back to Venezuela,» Moncada wrote.
“Americans Feel Good About the Economy, Not So Good About Trump”
Almost six months into Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans are feeling fairly optimistic about their jobs, the strength of the U.S. economy, and their own fortunes. That should be welcome news for the president, except for one thing: The public’s confidence largely appears to be in spite of Trump, not because of him.
The latest Bloomberg National Poll shows 58 percent of Americans believe they’re moving closer to realizing their own career and financial aspirations, tied for the highest recorded in the poll since the question was first asked in February 2013. A majority expect the U.S. stock market to be higher by the end of this year, while 30 percent anticipate a decline. Yet they don’t necessarily think Trump deserves credit for rising markets and falling unemployment. Just 40 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing in the White House, and 55 percent now view him unfavorably, up 12 points since December. Sixty-one percent say the nation is headed down the wrong path, also up 12 points since December. Trump scored his best numbers on his handling of the economy, but even there the news for him isn’t great. Less than half of Americans — 46 percent — approve of Trump’s performance on the economy; 44 percent disapprove. He gets slightly better marks for job creation, with 47 percent approving.