Top news stories for today – August 2, 2016
US escalates airstrikes against ISIS in Libya
The United States escalated its war against the Islamic State in Libya on Monday, conducting airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt as part of a new military campaign against the extremist Sunni terrorist group’s stronghold in North Africa.
President Obama approved the strikes last week after Libya’s fragile United Nations-backed unity government asked for help in its fight against the Islamic State, administration officials said.
The Libyan Government of National Accord requested the air offensive to support ground forces fighting ISIS in its main Libyan stronghold. President Obama authorized the airstrikes on the recommendation of Defense Secretary Ash Carter to deny ISIS a safe haven from which it could launch attacks on other nations. The New York Times, CNN
Zika warning for Florida
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned pregnant women Monday not to travel to an area in the southeastern state of Florida where new cases of Zika virus infections have been identified. Florida officials have discovered ten more cases of the Zika virus, increasing the total there to 14 and prompting Governor Rick Scott to ask for federal help to fight the spread of the virus.
Scott said all known cases of Zika in Florida were caused locally by mosquitos. State health officials believe the spread of the Zika virus is limited to a square mile area in Miami-Dade County, just north of downtown Miami. The area is rapidly gentrifying and has numerous construction sites where standing water can collect and serve as a breeding area for mosquitos.
In addition to the travel warning aimed at pregnant women, the CDC said pregnant women in the Miami area should make every effort to avoid mosquito bites. Officials identified six of the new cases by conducting door-to-door community surveys. VOA
China defiant against maritime ruling
China has sent a clear warning to foreigners who enter contested areas of the South China Sea stay away or you’ll be prosecuted. The warning came in a detailed explanation of last month’s Hague ruling, which found that China’s territorial claims in region have “no legal basis” under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court issued a regulation on judicial interpretation saying there was a “clear legal basis for China to safeguard maritime order, marine safety and interests, and to exercise integrated management over the country’s jurisdictional seas.”
Michael C. Davis, a law professor at Hong Kong University, told CNN the supreme court’s statement was “worrisome.” “This is kind of an ominous suggestion that they will be prosecuting people who enter the waters that China claims,” he said. CNN
Failed coup cost Turkey $100 Million
Bulent Tufenkci, Turkey’s customs and commerce minister, said the direct cost of the actions taken by the government and the ensuing destruction of buildings and property, due to failed coup attamp, was around $100 million, but “it might go up even more.”
Tufenkci told the Hurriyet newspaper that Turkish businesses had already seen foreign orders cancelled in the wake of the coup attempt, and the lack of faith investors now have in the government could cost the country even more money.
“The putschists made Turkey seem like a third world country,” he said. “They [investors] are not coming after the images revealed tanks were deployed on the streets, parliament was bombed.” Following the coup attempt, Turkey’s main stock index, the Borsa Istanbul 100 remains about seven percent lower than it was prior. VOA
Ex-FBI employee was as a Chinese agent
Kun Shan Chun, electronics technician with the Federal Bureau of Investigation has pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of the Chinese government in federal court Monday in New York City. He was born in China and is a naturalized US citizen. He admitted to giving sensitive information to China.
The Justice Department said that information included an FBI organizational chart, the identity and travel plans of an FBI agent, and photos Chun took of documents displayed in a restricted area of the FBI related to surveillance. Chun, 46, faces up to 27 months in prison. He was released on bail Monday and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2.
The Justice Department said Chun has worked for the FBI since 1997 and was given a top secret security clearance in 1998, which enabled him to access sensitive information. VOA
S Korea Bans 80 Volkswagen models
South Korea fined German automaker Volkswagen $16 million and banned it from selling 80 different models of cars on Tuesday, saying the company fabricated emissions and noise-level tests. The decision announced by the environmental ministry is the latest blow to Volkswagen, which for the past year has been dealing with the revelation it fitted vehicles with devices to cheat on emissions tests.
Last November, South Korea fined Volkswagen $12.7 million and stripped certifications for more than 125,000 diesel-powered vehicles. On Tuesday, it added another 83,000 vehicles to that list along with the new fine. The affected cars include those sold under the Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley brands.
Environmental ministry official Hong Dong-gon told reporters that if Volkswagen applies again to get its cars certified, it will face a tougher review process. VOA
US Presidential election
Post-convention poll finds majority trust Clinton over Trump on foreign policy: Hillary Clinton is dominating in post-convention polls showing voters believe she is better equipped to handle foreign policy issues than her opponent, Donald Trump. Fifty-nine percent of voters said they believe Clinton would be better at dealing with foreign policy, as opposed to 36 percent that said Trump would be, a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday found. The poll comes after Trump has received heavy criticism for calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s “missing” emails, and faced increasing disapproval over his disparaging comments regarding the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq. Politico, The Week
Warren Buffett challenges Donald Trump to release his tax returns: While campaigning for Hillary Clinton Monday in Nebraska, billionaire Warren Buffett dared Donald Trump to come forward with his tax returns. “You will learn a whole lot more about Donald Trump if he produces his income tax returns,” the world’s fourth richest person said. “That’s why I’d like to make him an offer, an offer I hope he can’t refuse. Donald Trump at one point said he can’t release it because he’s under audit. I’ve got news for him, I’m under audit, too.” To cheers, Buffett said he would be “delighted” to meet Trump “any place, any time” between now and Election Day. “I’ll bring my tax return, he can bring his tax return,” he said. “No one is going to arrest us. There are no rules against showing your tax returns. [We can] just let people ask us questions about the items on there.” CNBC, The Week
Trump feud with parents of fallen Muslim-American soldier erupts again: Donald Trump’s feud with the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier erupted again Monday. John McCain, and other Republican lawmakers rebuked Trump for disparaging Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, as they remembered their son at last week’s Democratic National Convention. The son was killed by a suicide bomber in 2004 in Iraq. The Khans endorsed Hillary Clinton, and have continued to speak out against Trump in television interviews, including at Voice of America.
Asked if there is anything positive to his showdown with Trump, Khan said, “It really has come out that a significant number of Republicans are asking him to tone down. Change those derogatory remarks about minorities, not only just the Muslims, but other minorities – women, judges, the legal system of this country – and he is doing that.” VOA
Clinton, Trump Spar over US Relations with Russia: Hillary Clinton on Sunday accused Republican Donald Trump of “absolute allegiance” to Russian policy goals, even as he suggested that if elected he might be willing to accept Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. In separate interviews on news shows, the two candidates sparred over how the U.S. should deal with Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Clinton, said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump’s views about Russia raised “national security issues” and questions about his temperament as the would-be American commander in chief. VOA
Donald Trump boasts of big July fundraising haul: Donald Trump said Monday that his presidential campaign raised $35.8 million last month, fueled by small donations. Speaking to a crowd in Columbus, Ohio, Trump said the total he raised in July with the Republican National Committee might be even larger as more checks are tabulated. The average donation was $69, he said. Hillary Clinton has not yet released her July campaign totals but has consistently outraised Trump. VOA