Top News Stories for Today – Aug 23, 2017
New US troops to arrive Afghanistan pretty quickly
The US’s top general in the Middle East announced Tuesday that more American troops will be deployed to Afghanistan “pretty quickly,” just one day after President Trump’s speech outlining his military strategy for the country. “What’s most important for us now is to get some capabilities in to have an impact on the current fighting season,” said Gen. Joseph Votel. In Monday’s speech, Trump said the US is “not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”
He added that his initial instinct in Afghanistan was to pull all troops out, but he instead listened to advisers and came up with a new strategy; he will never reveal the number of troops on the ground, announce upcoming military actions, or set a timetable for withdrawal., The Associated Press, The Week
Some missing sailors’ remain found in USS McCain
The remains of several missing US Navy sailors were discovered Tuesday after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and a tanker collided early Monday in the waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Divers found the bodies of “some” of the missing 10 sailors in a compartment that had sealed to stop the ship from flooding after it was heavily damaged, said the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift.
This is the second crash in the Pacific involving a ship from the Navy’s 7th Fleet in two months, following June’s collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship, which killed seven sailors. The Washington Post, CNN, The Week
Pope Francis to visit Myanmar
Pope Francis is expected to make a trip to the Myanmar this November, Vatican sources are reporting. This would mark the first-ever papal visit to the majority-Buddhist country, which has a tiny minority of Catholics. The visit will likely be formally announced next month.
Even before the pope’s expected visit to Myanmar has been officially announced, it has become the subject of boisterous contention in a country riven by religious and ethnic tension. While Myanmar’s main political and religious leaders described the visit of Pope Francis as a potential salve for the country’s troubles, hard-line Buddhist nationalists warned the pope against using it to champion the Rohingya, Muslim minority that many Buddhists in Myanmar insist are from neighboring Bangladesh. New York Times
Jared Kushner heading to Israel
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will travel to Israel on Wednesday, his third trip to the country since being tasked by the president with bringing peace to the Middle East. Kushner is scheduled to meet on Thursday separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A person close to the White House told the Los Angeles Times that Kushner is considering this a “temperature taking” trip, and not expecting anything major to come out of it. Kushner is already in the region, along with special envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell. They have been meeting with leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar, and will sit down with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi on Wednesday. Los Angeles Times, Reuters, The Week
Navy removes Seventh Fleet commander
The US Navy on Wednesday relieved Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin from duty as commander of the Seventh Fleet, following four crashes, two deadly, in Asia since January. Aucoin is a three-star commander, but in a statement, the Navy said it had lost confidence in his ability to command.
The Seventh Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and the most recent collision took place early Monday, when the USS John S. McCain and a tanker crashed in the waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca; 10 sailors were reported missing, and the bodies of some of the sailors were recovered on Tuesday. Rear Admiral Phil Sawyer, the Pacific Fleet’s deputy commander, will take over command immediately. Washington Post
Powerball jackpot climbs to $700 million
The estimated jackpot for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing has reached $700 million, the second-largest Powerball jackpot in US history. Tickets are $2 each, and the odds of winning are 1 in 292.2 million.
If anyone matches all six numbers, they can choose an annuity option, receiving the jackpot in 30 payments over 29 years, or take the cash, which significantly reduces the amount of money (in this case, it would be $443.3 million). The game is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. CBS News, Theweek
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