Top news stories for today – August 22, 2016
Wedding bomber in Turkey was a child
Turkish officials are waiting for the results of DNA tests on Monday to determine the identity of the suicide bomber who killed at least 50 people at a wedding in Gaziantep, Turkey, on Saturday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the bomber appeared to have been a child between the ages of 12 and 14.
Most of the victims were also children. One official said 22 of those killed were under age 14. Erdogan said the Islamic State was the “likely perpetrator” of the terrorist attack. The nationality of the attacker is not known yet. BBC News, Reuters
Russia will stop Syria airstrikes from Iran
Last week, Russia revealed it was using an Iranian airbase to attack targets inside Syria. Iran on Monday suggested this arrangement was supposed to be kept secret. Russia “will use the base for a very short and fixed span, corresponding (to) operation in Syria,” Iran’s defense minister, Gen. Hossein Dehghan, said on state TV.
“Russians are interested to show they are a superpower to guarantee their share in political future of Syria and, of course, there has been a kind of show-off and ungentlemanly (attitude) in this field.” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi also said on Monday that Russia had used the base but “is finished for now.” The disclosure that Russia is using Shahid Nojeh Air Base appeared to be unpopular with Iran’s public, which remembers Russia’s occupation during World War II. The Associated Press, Reuters, The Week
Rio wraps up Summer Olympics
The Rio Olympics ended Sunday night with a Closing Ceremony inspired by the South American nation’s famous Carnival. Simone Biles, who won four gold medals and a bronze in gymnastics, carried the US flag in the ceremony. She led a US team that collected 121 medals — the country’s biggest haul in a non-boycotted Olympics since 1904. The rainy, three-hour ceremony marked the official handover of the Olympic flag to Tokyo, which hosts the next Summer Games in 2020. Despite complaints about preparations and the high cost of hosting the Games, the Rio Olympics were widely seen as a success and a welcome distraction from Brazil’s economic and political troubles. BBC News, The Washington Post, The Week
US, S. Korea begin annual military drill
South Korea and the United States have begun their annual joint military exercise under the threat of military retaliation by North Korea. About 25,000 US forces and 50,000 South Korean troops are involved in the two-week Operation Ulchi Freedom exercise, which is largely simulated. The annual drills routinely anger Pyongyang, which says it sees the drills as a rehearsal for a full-scale invasion of the North, despite insistence by Seoul and Washington that the drills are purely defensive in nature.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have worsened in recent months, with North Korea under harsh UN sanctions over a series of tests of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Relations are also likely aggravated by the recent defection of a high-ranking diplomat, Thae Yong Ho; Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador to Britain. The North denounced Thae as “human scum” and accused him of a number of criminal acts, including child molestation. VOA
Philippines FM vows nation will remain in UN
Duterte issued the threat Sunday in response to criticism of his incendiary anti-drug trafficking campaign by the world body, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Earlier last week, he said the UN was making “a very stupid proposition” in criticizing his efforts.
Yasay told reporters in Manila Monday that Duterte’s statement merely expressed “profound disappointment and frustration” with the UN At least 1,000 suspected drug traffickers have been killed since the president took office in June, having won election on a pledge of ridding the archipelago of illicit drugs and drug criminals. VOA
US Presidential election
Trump campaign changes tone on deportations: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has yet to decide whether he wants to forcibly deport millions of undocumented immigrants, new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Sunday. Conway said Trump’s support for creating a special “deportation force,” as he previously proposed, is now “to be determined.” CNN’s Dana Bash and ABC News’ George Stephanopolous also asked Conway about her calls last spring for Trump to release his tax returns. “I’ve learned since being on the inside that this audit is a serious matter and that he has said that when the audit is complete, he will release his tax returns,” she told Stephanopolous. When Bash asked her about Trump’s 2002-2008 returns, which are not under audit, Conway said she doesn’t think Trump should release those, either. CNN, The Washington Post
Donald Trump makes new effort for black, Hispanic support: Trump told a largely white crowd of supporters in the Mid-Atlantic state of Virginia Saturday he recognizes that “outreach to the African American community is an area where the Republican party must do better, and will do better.” He noted the party’s history, with the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, freeing slaves in the mid-1800s. “I want our party to be a home of the African American voter once again,” Trump said.
Earlier, he met in New York with a group of Hispanics advising his campaign. According to several people who attended the gathering, he told them he wants to develop a “humane and efficient” way to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, the majority of whom are Hispanics from Mexico and Central America. Trump has accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals across the southern US border, and he surged to the Republican nomination with a call to build a wall between the two countries and deport those living in the US illegally. VOA
Trump’s latest re-boot relies on prepared speeches: The latest re-boot of Donald Trump’s campaign comes with a script. In the wake of another staff shake-up, Trump has taken to reading prepared speeches from teleprompters at his mass rallies, seeking to reach beyond his political base and reduce the incendiary off-the-cuff comments that have sidetracked previous efforts. While backers said a more disciplined style will help Trump rally against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, critics said it’s probably too late for the Republican nominee, who trails by large margins in several key states. USA Today