Donald Trump

Happening Today: Commute Problems, Border Wall, Suicide Bombing, Zika, Ian McKellen

What to Know

  • Eight of the 21 train tracks at Penn Station will be out of commission again on Wednesday and at least for a couple more days
  • A 17-year-old has achieved the incredible feat of being accepted into all eight Ivy League schools
  • About 1 out of 10 women in the U.S. who tested positive for the Zika infection had a baby with Zika-related birth defects, a new study shows

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Return to Normal Rail Service Still Days Away, Sources Say

A switch machine was so badly damaged in Monday's derailment in Penn Station that eight of the 21 train tracks at the station will be out of commission again on Wednesday and at least for a couple more days — unwelcome news for commuters who have crammed crowded trains and platforms during ongoing rail delays and cancellations, and the frustration is boiling over. Amtrak COO Scot Naparstek wouldn't estimate when service might return to normal, but transit sources told News 4 New York the agency is aiming to have service back by Friday morning. In a press release, Amtrak said modified service will be in place Wednesday and again on Thursday. Delayed and canceled trains have already wreaked havoc for hundreds of thousands of travelers and commuters in the tri-state and beyond since the derailment Monday morning. 

White House Effort to Revive Health Bill Gets Mixed Reaction

A White House offensive to resurrect the moribund House Republican health care bill got an uneven reception from GOP moderates and conservatives, leaving prospects shaky for the party to salvage one of its leading priorities. Vice President Pence and other top administration officials were offering to let states request federal exemptions from insurance coverage requirements imposed by President Obama's health care overhaul. Top House conservatives and moderates met with Pence in hopes of finding common ground, but the odds for success seemed long. At the White House, Pence said he and President Trump "remain confident that working with the Congress we will repeal and replace Obamacare," while White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump wanted an agreement, if possible.

Border Wall Bids Include Tourist Attraction, Solar Panels

The deadline has passed for companies to propose designs for President Trump's border wall with Mexico. The government won't identify companies until contracts are awarded around June 1 — and even then, only the winners — but some bidders released plans on their own. Gleason Partners LLC of Las Vegas proposes solar panels to cover sections of the wall. The panels would provide electricity for lighting, sensors and patrol stations along the wall. Sales of electricity to utilities could cover the cost of construction in 20 years or less, according to the company. Crisis Resolution Security Services Inc. of Clarence, Illinois, proposes a wall that is 56 feet high and 22 feet wide at the top — with plenty of room to allow tourists to enjoy desert views. The height — nearly twice what the government envisions — would deter climbers, and its width would give the structure longevity, said a chief executive officer.

Suspected Suicide Bomber's Home Searched, Investigators Say 

Investigators say they have searched the home of the suspected suicide bomber behind the deadly explosion on the St. Petersburg subway. The bomb went off on a train under Russia's second-largest city, killing 14 people and injuring dozens. Investigators said they suspect a 22-year old Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen, Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, of having detonated the bomb. The Investigative Committee said in a statement that the investigators searched the man's home in St. Petersburg. They also examined CCTV footage from outside Dzhalilov's home, which shows him leave home with a bag and a backpack. Another bomb, hidden in a bag, was found and de-activated. 

First-Generation Immigrant Teen Accepted Into All 8 Ivy Leagues

A 17-year-old is making Southern California proud after she achieved the incredible feat of being accepted into all eight Ivy League schools. Cassandra Hsiao has offers from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Penn – leaving her with the difficult decision of which world-class institution she wants to join as part of the class of 2021. Hsiao immigrated from Malaysia at just 5 years old. She’s a first-generation immigrant, and it was her essay about learning English that impressed the universities. Touting her amazing 4.67 GPA and 1540 score on the SATs, the writer and journalist attends Orange County School of the Arts. But the impressive resume doesn’t end there – she’s one of two student body presidents, an editor-in-chief of the school's magazine and active in her community.

1 in 10 Pregnant Women with Zika Have Babies with Birth Defects, Study Shows

About 1 out of 10 women in the United States who tested positive for the Zika infection had a fetus or baby with Zika-related birth defects, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC's Vital Signs report is the first to provide an analysis of a subgroup of 250 pregnant women in the U.S. with confirmed test results of Zika virus infection. Zika testing remains complex because there is a narrow timeframe for obtaining a positive laboratory result, and many infected people do not show symptoms, the CDC said. The lack of motivation for testing led the CDC to monitor all pregnant women with any evidence of recent Zika infection. In 2016, nearly 1,000 pregnant women from the 44 states who completed their pregnancies had some evidence of a recent Zika infection and were at risk of having a fetus or baby with Zika-related birth defects. Most of the women acquired Zika during travel to an area where the virus was known to be present.

Why Ian McKellen Turned Down Role in 'Harry Potter' Films

Audiences know and love Ian McKellen's portrayal of Gandalf the Grey (and later White), the bearded wizard in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films. But it turns out the actor could have played a hirsute magician in yet another classic film franchise: The "Harry Potter" films! Alas, he turned the role down — and the reason may surprise you, according to But Harris didn't have a very high opinion of McKellen. During a recent interview on the BBC's "HARDTalk" show, interviewer Stephen Sackur recounted a quote in which Harris said McKellen and fellow actor Derek Jacobi were "technically brilliant but passionless." "Nonsense," McKellen said of the criticism, noting that when Harris died he had been playing Dumbledore, but then quipped, "I played the real wizard."

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