Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

Obama's 2015 budget appeals to Democrats

Washington

Obama's budget aims for Democrats

Striving for unity among Democrats rather than compromise with Republicans, President Barack Obama will unveil an election-year budget on Tuesday that drops earlier proposals to cut future Social Security benefits and seeks new money for infrastructure, education and job training. But Obama's almost $4 trillion budget plan is likely to have a short shelf life. It comes just three months after Congress and the White House agreed to a two-year, bipartisan budget pact that has already set the parameters for this election year's budget work. Democrats controlling the Senate have already announced they won't advance a budget this year and will instead skip ahead to the annual appropriations bills for 2015, relying on new spending "caps" set by December's budget deal that provide $56 billion less than what Obama wants in 2015. The budget also will flesh out a plan Obama announced in his State of the Union address to expand the earned income tax credit for childless workers, helping more than 13 million.

Afghanistan

War toll for Afghan forces is put at 13,729

More than 13,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed during the war, far more than previously known, according to Afghan government statistics.

A statement released late Sunday by President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet put the total number of Afghan security forces killed during the past 13 years at 13,729, with an additional 16,511 Afghan soldiers and police officers wounded.

Previously, Afghan ministries in charge of police officers and soldiers had released incomplete information on death tolls, and in the past year had stopped doing so entirely. Known fatalities for the army had been estimated at 3,546, and for the police at 6,890, up through June of last year.

Pakistan

Militant attack kills 11 at court complex

Militants killed 11 people at the district court complex in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday, shaking the government just as prospects for talks with the Pakistani Taliban seemed to be improving.

An obscure militant cell, calling itself Ahrar-ul-Hind and thought to be a splinter group from the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. A senior judge was among those killed.

Washington

EPA limits sulfur in fuel to cut emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules Monday to slash the amount of sulfur in gasoline, which would help cut smog-causing pollution from autos and bring the rest of the country's fuel supply in line with California's standards.

The new rule calls for reducing the amount of sulfur in fuel by two-thirds, to 10 parts per million from 30 parts per million. Similar low-sulfur gasoline is already in use in California, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

The new gas would be available at the pump by January 2017.

Washington

Obama presses Israeli leader on peace talks

Fearful that time is running out, President Barack Obama pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to accept a U.S.-sponsored framework for final peace talks with the Palestinians, but he acknowledged that both sides would have to make "tough decisions" to reach a compromise.

Obama made a personal appeal to Netanyahu at the White House, offering reassurance that the United States is committed to ensuring Iran does not acquire nuclear arms and signaling that his administration sees the chances for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as rapidly narrowing. Netanyahu said, "Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians have not."

Elsewhere

North Carolina: State regulators on Monday cited five power plants owned by Duke Energy for violating water pollution laws, three days after announcing a similar action against a Duke plant where coal ash fouled the Dan River last month.

China: Chinese authorities said Monday that they had arrested three more suspects in an attack Saturday in which knife-wielding assailants killed 29 people and wounded 140 at a train station.

Times wires

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Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

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