Top News Stories for Today – April 10, 2017
Trump’s approval rate up
President Trump’s overall approval rating has edged slightly upward following his airstrike against Syria last week, even as most respondents were unsure about escalating US involvement. While 57 percent of Americans in a CBS News poll approved of the initial strike, just 18 percent want ground troops in the country and seven-in-10 believe Congress would need to authorize any further action.
Other polls similarly show Americans’ uncertainty about involvement in Syria. Since the strike, 43 percent of Americans approve of Trump, whereas in a similar CBS News poll conducted in late March, Trump was approved of by just 40 percent of the country. CBS News, Mediaite, The Week
Deadly church attacks in Egypt
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead. The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people’s homes. It needs to be approved by parliament before it is implemented. So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday.
On Monday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel has closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula following the attacks.Israel said the border crossing will be open for Israeli citizens coming home from the peninsula. The Associated Press, BBC News
Russian arrested in Spain over US election hacking
Spanish police arrested Pyotr Levashov, a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in “hacking” the US election, on 7 April in Barcelona. El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov’s arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected “hacking” that helped Donald Trump’s campaign. Several cybersecurity experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.
A US intelligence report released in January alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to help Mr Trump to victory. The report said that Russia’s objectives were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” Mr Trump’s Democrat rival Hillary Clinton. BBC
Trump urges Russia to ditch Syria
On Sunday’s political talk shows, top officials in President Trump’s administration gave different assessments of Trump’s goals in Syria and involving Russia, following his Thursday strike on one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air bases. Trump’s United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, said Assad’s ouster was “inevitable” and a top US priority. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Fox News that Assad’s removal is key to any political solution to Syria’s civil war, but “we’re not saying we are the ones to effect that change.”
Trump is “prepared to do more,” he added, but Russia should ask itself: “Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available? … Right now, I think everyone in the world sees Russia as part of the problem.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is traveling to Moscow on Tuesday night, said America’s top priority in Syria is defeating the Islamic State, adding, “I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad, because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility.” The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Week
Tillerson set to visit Moscow
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to Moscow on April 12, days after US launched missile strikes on Syria, and after he attends the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Italy from April 9 to 11. The State Department did not respond to VOA’s inquiry on whether Tillerson’s Moscow trip has been changed or canceled since the US military strikes. But as of Sunday, a meeting with Putin has been canceled from Tillerson’s Moscow schedule.
Britain’s foreign minister, Boris Johnson, said on Saturday he had canceled a visit to Moscow that was scheduled for April 10. “Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally,” said Johnson in a statement. VOA
Iraqi cleric calls for Assad to step down
Iraq’s prominent Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down to help find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. “It is fair for Bashar al-Assad to step down to help the country avoid the menace of war and dominance of terrorists,” al-Sadr said in a statement Saturday. The statement came just days after the United States launched missile strikes on a Syrian airbase in response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack that killed and injured scores of civilians.
The mercurial Iraqi cleric, who on many occasions opposed the presence of Iraqi militia in Syria, said all involved parties should withdraw their military forces from Syria. He also urged Russia and the United States to stop interfering in Syria. VOA
Tillerson says US China agree on N Korea
China understands how dangerous North Korea’s nuclear program has become and agrees action must be taken to stop it, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday, as the US sent an aircraft carrier strike group toward the Korean Peninsula.
Tillerson did not offer specifics on what those actions might be, but said in Seoul last month that the US would consider military action against North Korea if it was provoked. Despite Tillerson’s assessment, China hasn’t signaled any change in its approach to Pyongyang in the wake of the landmark summit. CNN
Fugitive Mexico ex-governor Yarrington caught in Italy
Police in Italy have arrested the former governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, Tomás Yarrington, 59. Mr Yarrington, who served as governor from 1999 to 2005, had been on the run for almost five years. The ex-governor is accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels in return for turning a blind eye to their smuggling activities.
A reward of 15m Mexican pesos ($800,000) had been offered for information leading to his arrest. Officials did not reveal how they located Mr Yarrington. The attorney-general’s office in Mexico said Mr Yarrington would be extradited to his homeland within days. He is also wanted by the United States on charges of money laundering. BBC
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