Top News Stories for Today – Aug 22, 2017
Barcelona terror suspect shot and killed
Spanish police confirmed Monday that they shot and killed 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaquob, the man suspected to have driven the van down Barcelona’s La Rambla on Thursday in a terrorist attack that killed 13 people in the city center.
Police shot Abouyaaquob in the outskirts of Subirats, a region west of Barcelona, after an extensive manhunt took place over the weekend. He was apparently wearing a fake suicide belt. Abouyaaquob escaped from Thursday’s crash scene on foot and was believed to be the last remaining member of a wider terrorist cell suspected of planning last week’s attacks in Barcelona and the coastal city of Cambrils, where another vehicle attack killed one and injured six. BBC, Reuters, The Week
US Secret Service is out of money
The combination of President Trump’s frequent travel, numerous properties, and large family is gobbling up the Secret Service’s funds at an unprecedented rate. USA Today revealed Monday that roughly a third of America’s Secret Service agents have “already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year,” forcing Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles to turn to Congress for additional funding.
With the rate of attrition high and the demanding workload expected to continue, Democrats and Republicans are concerned. “We cannot expect the Secret Service to be able to recruit and keep the best of the best if they are not being paid for these increases,” a spokeswoman for Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said. USA Today, The Week
Trump lays out Afghanistan strategy
President Trump on Monday shared his strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia, saying US military is not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists. When it comes to Afghanistan, while his original instinct was to pull all troops out, he listened to his advisers and came up with a new strategy, which includes never revealing the number of troops on the ground in the country or announcing upcoming military actions.
He will not set a timetable for withdrawing troops, instead using a conditions-based approach, and economic development in Afghanistan will help defray the United States’ cost. He is also expanding authority for American armed forces to target terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan, he said. While discussing his strategy for the war in Afghanistan, President Trump on Monday had sharp words for Pakistan, saying the United States could no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. The Week
Ryan criticizes Trump’s Charlottesville comments
At a CNN town hall forum Monday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan faced some pointed questions from the home-district audience in Racine, Wisconsin. The town hall, Ryan’s first at home in two years, directly followed President Trump’s speech on the Afghanistan War, and Ryan praised that address, saying he especially appreciated that Trump did not set any deadlines for ending the war, arguing that the US shouldn’t telegraph our timetable for when we’re leaving, because the Taliban would just wait us out.
He also criticized Trump for his comments after the Charlottesville melee, saying Trump “messed up” when he expressed “at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity.” Ryan also predicted that passing tax cuts will be easier for Republicans than health-care reform, and sparred with a nun over his anti-poverty policies. CNN, Axios, The Week
Poll on white supremacist view
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist rally, 37 percent of Americans approve of President Trump’s job performance while 58 percent disapprove. When it comes to how he responded to the incidents in Charlottesville, just 28 percent approve versus 56 percent who do not.
The poll also found that 9 percent of respondents, the equivalent of 22 million Americans, believe it is acceptable to hold white supremacist or neo-Nazi views, and 10 percent support the alt-right movement, while 50 percent oppose it. The poll, a random sample of 1,014 adults, was conducted August 16-20 in English and Spanish, on landlines and cell phones. The margin of sampling error is ±3.5 points. ABC News, Theweek
Indonesia to buy Russian fighter jets
Indonesia will buy 11 Sukhoi fighter jets worth $1.14 billion from Russia in exchange for cash and Indonesian commodities, two Cabinet ministers said Tuesday. The Southeast Asian country has pledged to ship up to $570 million worth of commodities in addition to cash to pay for the Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets, which are expected to be delivered in stages starting in two years.
Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said in a joint statement with Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu that details of the type and volume of commodities were “still being negotiated.” Previously he had said the exports could include palm oil, tea and coffee. VOA
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