Top news stories for today – August 24, 2016
Earthquake struck Italy, and Myanmar
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake that rocked central Italy early Wednesday morning has killed at least 37 people and destroyed buildings in several towns in the provinces of Umbria and Lazio, according to Italian officials.
“Half the town no longer exists,” Sergio Pirozzi, mayor of Amatrice, said on national TV. “There are people stuck in the rubble…. Houses are no longer there.” Damage and power outages were also reported as far away as Italy’s east coast and in coastal Lazio, south of Rome. Along with Amatrice, the towns of Accumoli and Norcia were also badly damaged. The epicenter of the shallow quake, identified as a 6.2 magnitude temblor by the US Geological Survey and 6.1 by the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, was about 100 miles northeast of Rome. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Week
Another earthquake of 6.8 magnitude struck central Myanmar on Wednesday, US Geological Survey (USGS) said, shaking buildings across the country and the region. The quake struck 143 km (88 miles) west of the city of Meiktila at a depth of 84 km (52 miles), the agency said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The quake shook buildings in buildings in Myanmar’s biggest city of Yangon and in other towns and cities, witnesses said. Office buildings in the Thai capital of Bangkok, to the east of Myanmar, shook for a few seconds, residents there said. The quake was also felt in Bangladesh, to the west of Myanmar, residents said. Reuters
Turkish enter Syria to oust ISIS
Early Wednesday, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish tanks and minesweepers crossed into Syria in a campaign to push the Islamic State out of the border town Jarabulus, one of ISIS’s last strongholds on the Turkey-Syria border, Turkish media reported.
The offensive, backed by US warplanes and advised by US special operations forces, is aimed at shutting off ISIS’s supply route to its de facto capital, Raqqa. Turkey has been shelling ISIS positions around Jarablus for two days to prepare for the push, and its forces crossed into Syria hours before US Vice President Joe Biden lands in Ankara to meet with Turkish leaders to smooth over tensions that arose during Turkey’s recent failed coup. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post
N.Korea submarine fires ballistic missile
North Korea has fired a ballistic missile from a submarine off its east coast, say the US and South Korea. The KN-11 missile was launched from waters near Sinpo and flew about 500km (300 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan, a US official said.
Japan’s PM said it fell inside Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone, calling it a “reckless act”. It comes as South Korea and the US begin annual military drills, which routinely anger Pyongyang. Ulchi Freedom involves about 80,000 US and South Korean troops in a largely computer-simulated defence of South Korea from a fictional North Korean invasion. BBC
Russian hackers suspected of targeting New York Times
Earlier on Tuesday, CNN, citing unnamed US officials, reported that the FBI and other US security agencies were investigating cyber breaches targeting reporters at the Times and other US news organizations that were thought to have been carried out by hackers working for Russian intelligence.
News of the cyber attack comes amid a wave of similar attacks targeting major US political parties that have surfaced in recent weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. The Democratic National Committee, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the party’s congressional fundraising committee have all been affected. Hackers have also targeted the computer systems of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican Party organizations, sources have told Reuters. Reuters
China gives not so warm welcome to UN envoy
The United Nations waited for more than a decade for Beijing to accept an invitation for its special envoy on extreme poverty and human rights to visit China. But when Beijing finally approved the request and allowed UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston to visit this month, he was tailed by authorities and barred from meeting with academics.
Rights advocates said authorities’ treatment of Alston during his visit shows a lack of sincerity on the part of authorities. China denies it restricted Alton’s activities and has accused him of lying.
The decision to allow Alston to visit was a rare step for China, but was years in the making. The original request to visit was first made in 2005, according to the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. China has about a dozen other outstanding requests for visits by UN experts. VOA
US Presidential election
Clinton 12 points ahead of Trump in new national poll: A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters. The poll found that 45 percent of voters are supporting Clinton, while 33 percent are behind Trump and 22 percent would not pick either. In a separate four-way poll that included Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, 41 percent supported Clinton, 33 percent backed Trump, 7 percent were for Johnson, and 2 percent supported Stein. Another poll conducted by the Feldman Group shows Clinton and Trump in a dead heat in South Carolina. The poll, paid for by the South Carolina Democratic Party, found the candidates tied at 39 percent. In a memo accompanying the poll results, the Feldman Group said Clinton could win South Carolina in November “if her campaign chooses to contest the state.” Reuters, The Post and Courier, The Week
Clinton details plans to boost small businesses: Hillary Clinton on Tuesday vowed to make starting a small business in US as easy as opening a lemonade stand if elected president. Her flagship proposal is to establish a standard tax deduction for small businesses, previously only available to individuals, allowing owners to get tax relief without filing additional forms. Clintonwould also expand healthcare tax credits in the Affordable Care Act for small businesses that employ up to 50 workers and create new federal incentives for local and state governments to streamline the business licensing process, according to background provided by her campaign. Since launching her campaign in April 2015, Clinton has said she wants to be the “small business president” if she wins the Nov. 8 election. VOA
Is Trump changing his immigration vision: Donald Trump has abandoned his call to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in US, instead saying he would send convicted criminals to their home countries and handle other immigration residency disputes much the way the country does now. He told Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly late Monday, “The first thing we’re going to do if and when I win is we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones.” Trump noted, “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing.” FOX News
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