Top news stories for today – August 23, 2016
US issues updated travel warning for Iran
The State Department issued an updated travel warning on Monday for Americans, especially Iranian-Americans, on the risks of travel to Iran, even after the US signed a nuclear deal and made a $400 million cash payment to the country that was contingent on the release of four American prisoners.
The travel warning replaces what was in effect since March 14, which reiterates the risk of arrest and detention of US citizens, especially those with dual Iranian-American citizenship. Iran does not recognize dual nationalities.
The warning says that Iranian authorities continue to “detain and imprison US citizens, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security.” FOX News
Top Boko Haram fighters killed
Nigeria’s air force said it had killed a number of senior Boko Haram fighters and possibly their overall leader, and US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived for talks on tackling the militants. Government planes had attacked the Islamist group inside the Sambisa forest in its northeast heartland on Friday, the air force said, adding that it had only just confirmed details of the raid.
“Their leader, so called ‘Abubakar Shekau‘, is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders,” the statement by military spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman added, without going into details on the source of its information. There was no immediate reaction from the group, which communicates with the media only by videos. VOA
Obama heads to flood-damaged Louisiana
On Tuesday, President Obama will head to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on what some say is a long overdue trip to see the damage left by a recent record flood and to visit victims. Obama, who returned from his annual vacation on Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Baton Rouge’s newspaper, The Advocate, for not cutting his vacation short.
However, Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted that although Obama may not have focused on the “optics,” he has focused on producing a “coordinated government response.” The flood, which has been called the “worst US disaster since Superstorm Sandy,” killed 13 people and damaged 60,000 homes. Reuters, CNN, The Week
Sports court confirms Russia ban from Rio Paralympics
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has confirmed Russia’s ban from the Paralympic Games as punishment for a state-backed doping program. CAS announced its urgent verdict Tuesday to dismiss the Russian Paralympic Committee‘s appeal against exclusion from the Sept. 7-18 games in Rio de Janeiro. A hearing was held in Rio on Monday.
The court said its judges ruled that the International Paralympic Committee “did not violate any procedural rule” in banning the Russian team two weeks ago. “The decision to ban the Russian team was made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances,” the court said in a statement.
The Russian appeal “did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based,” the panel of judges ruled. The world Paralympic body used evidence from a World Anti-Doping Agency-appointed inquiry into a Russian state-orchestrated program of doping and cover-ups which ran from 2011 to 2015. VOA
Speedo, Ralph Lauren drop Lochte after Rio
The Rio Olympics ended Sunday night with a festive Closing Ceremony — but the drama from the Games lives on, particularly for US swimmer Ryan Lochte. Swimwear brand Speedo announced Monday that it was ending its sponsorship agreement with Lochte, following the swimmer’s involvement in a protracted robbery scandal alongside teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen.
Speedo announced it would donate $50,000 from Lochte’s endorsement fee to a Brazilian charity for children. Also Monday, clothing company Ralph Lauren and Japanese mattress maker airweave announced they would not renew their contracts with Lochte, which were specific to the Rio Games, and skincare firm Syneron-Candela said they were done working with Lochte. Money reports Lochte’s endorsement deals were worth more than $2 million as of 2012. Sports Illustrated, Money, The Week
N. Korea summons diplomats’ children home
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency says it has learned from intelligence sources that North Korea has recently ordered all diplomats’ children 25 years old and older of its overseas diplomats to return home.
But a parliamentary source told Yonhap it is believed the order did not directly cause the recent defection of Thae Yong Ho, North Korea’s second ranking official in Britain. The source says it is likely that Thae “had been seeking a chance to leave for some time.”South Korean President Park Guen-hye told her National Security Council Monday that Thae’s defection was a sign of “serious cracks” in North Korea’s ruling elites. VOA
US Presidential election
State Department to release 14,900 newly discovered Clinton emails: The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state found 14,900 work-related emails and documents that her lawyers had not previously disclosed, State Department lawyers told a federal judge on Monday. Clinton’s lawyers turned over about 30,000 emails in 2014. The State Department and Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog that sued for access to Clinton’s emails, are negotiating a plan to release the new materials. Clinton’s campaign says she handed over “all the work-related emails she had in her possession in 2014,” and supports the release of the new material, too, if it is work-related. The Hill, The Washington Post, The Week
On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Hillary Clinton addresses ‘wacky’ theories about her health: During an appearance on Monday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel and Hillary Clinton joked about claims by some Republicans that Clinton is in poor health. At one point, Kimmel handed her a pickle jar and asked her to open it (she did). Clinton said the claims that she is sick and thus unfit to be president leave her baffled. “I think on the one hand, it’s part of the wacky strategy, just say all these crazy things and maybe you can get some people to believe you,” she said. “On the other hand, it just absolutely makes no sense. I don’t go around questioning Donald Trump’s health. As far as I can tell, he’s healthy as a horse.” Clinton also asked Kimmel to take her pulse, noting that the National Enquirer declared last October that she would be dead in six months. The Week
Virginia governor restores felons’ voting rights: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced Monday that he had approved restoring voting rights for nearly 13,000 felons who had served their time. McAuliffe tried to restore voting rights for 200,000 felons with a sweeping executive order, but the state’s highest court invalidated his executive order in July. Republicans had challenged the order, saying McAuliffe was just trying to add Democrats to voter rolls. McAuliffe said felon disenfranchisement, which hits African-Americans especially hard, is unfair, because it treats people who now work and pay taxes as “inferior second-class citizens.” The Associated Press, The Week
Trump demands special prosecutor investigate Clinton Foundation: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is demanding that an independent special prosecutor immediately investigate Hillary and Bill Clinton’s Clinton Foundation, saying the FBI cannot be trusted to do the job. Republicans allege that big donors to the charitable foundation used it to get special access to Clinton or her top aides when she was secretary of state. Clinton has always denied the charge. Newly released emails show that while some Clinton aides were asked for favors, there is no evidence that they were granted or that Clinton herself was involved. VOA
Business economists show overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton: A new survey released this week suggests the nation’s top business economists believe Hillary Clinton has a better economic prescription than Donald Trump. Of the 414 business economists who took part in the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) survey, only 14 percent believed Donald Trump had a realistic plan for fixing the economy, compared to 55 percent who say Clinton would do a better job of managing the world’s largest economy. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson did better than Trump with 15.3 percent. Another 15.3 percent had no opinion. VOA
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