Top News Stories for Today – Aug 18, 2017
ISIS claims responsibility for Barcelona van attack
At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured Thursday after a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, Catalonian authorities said. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred when a man drove a van into pedestrians near the Plaça de Catalunya in the Las Ramblas neighborhood.
Catalan police had confirmed that the incident was a terrorist attack earlier Thursday. Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident, and local authorities in the Catalonian town of Vic — almost due north of Barcelona — have said they identified a second van linked to the attack in Las Ramblas, The Guardian reports. Police are urging people to stay away from the area, which is a popular tourist destination. Reuters, The Guardian, The Week
Second terrorist attack in Spain thwarted, 5 suspects killed
Police in Spain say they stopped a major terrorist attack in the coastal city of Cambrils early Friday morning when they killed five suspects who were wearing explosive belts. The van the suspects were driving did crash into a group of people, police said, wounding seven, but the vehicle flipped over and when several men jumped out, police fired on them.
Their explosive belts were later safely detonated. Hours earlier, a van drove into a crowd in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100; the van’s driver escaped and is on the run. Authorities are linking Cambrils and Barcelona to an explosion at a house in Alcanar on Wednesday, which killed one person; police said it appears that people inside were “preparing an explosive device.” BBC News
Three major charities cancel galas at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
On Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic, the American Cancer Society, and the American Friends of Magen David Adom — a charity that raises money for Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross — all canceled major charity events at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, citing everything from their “values and commitment to diversity” to an unspecified “variety of factors.” These cancelations, after Trump appeared to defend white supremacists, will probably cost Mar-a-Lago up to $275,000 apiece in lost fees, The Washington Post reports.
The head of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, Laurel Baker, said she “can’t help but think there will be more fallout” for Trump’s “morally reprehensible” club, which is a member of her organization. There are still 13 big-ticket galas scheduled for Mar-a-Lago, but at least seven major charities that typically hold events at Mar-a-Lago decided in recent months to look elsewhere. The Washington Post, Theweek
Murdoch gives $1 million to ADL after Trump’s Charlottesville comments
21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch wrote in a memo Thursday that President Trump’s reaction to the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last weekend should “concern all of us as Americans and free people,” and said he and his wife Kathryn will donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League.
Murdoch, whose father is media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said he was so distressed by the “acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob” that he felt the need to comment. “I can’t even believe I have to write this,” he said. “Standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.” Variety, Theweek
Trump defends ‘beautiful’ Confederate statues
President Trump on Thursday tweeted a renewed defense of Confederate monuments, claiming, “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” Trump added that “the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns, and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
Earlier this week, Trump claimed that the removal of Confederate monuments is “up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it is located.” One person was killed and more than a dozen injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, when white nationalist groups protested the removal of a monument of Lee, the Confederate Army general. Donald J. Trump , The Week
Philippines escalates drug war; 80 dead in 3 nights
Police killed at least 13 people in Manila on the third night of an escalation in President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruthless war on drugs and crime, taking the toll for one of the bloodiest weeks so far to 80, Reuters witnesses and media reported Friday.
Earlier this week, 67 people were gunned down and more than 200 arrested in Manila and provinces adjoining the Philippines capital, in what police described as a “One-Time, Big-Time” push to curb drugs and street crimes. VOA
Auto groups side with Canada, Mexico on NAFTA origin rules
Auto industry groups from Canada, Mexico and the United States are pushing back against the Trump administration’s demand for higher US automotive content in a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement. At talks underway this week in Washington, automaker and parts groups from all three countries were urging negotiators against tighter rules of origin, said Eduardo Solis, president of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association.
But US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed the industry’s fears that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking major changes to these rules to try to reduce the US trade deficit with Mexico. VOA
Pelosi wants Confederate statues out of Capitol
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday joined the growing chorus of Democrats calling for the removal of Confederate statues from the Capitol. Calling the monuments a “reprehensible” symbol of a racist era, Pelosi urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other GOP leaders to support an effort to purge the statues from the building.
“There is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,” Pelosi said in a statement. The Hill
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