Top news stories for today – August 25, 2016
Italy quake death toll nears 250
The death toll from a devastating earthquake in central Italy reached at least 241 people on Thursday and could rise further after rescue teams worked through the night to try to find survivors under the rubble of flattened towns. Officials said they expected to confirm more deaths as the search operation continued.
Many of those killed or injured were holidaymakers in the four worst-hit towns – Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli – where populations increase by up to tenfold in the summer. That makes it harder to track the deaths. Rescuers working with emergency lighting in the darkness saved a 10-year-old girl, pulling her alive from the rubble where she had lain for about 15 hours.
The death toll appeared likely to rival or surpass that from the last major earthquake to strike Italy, which killed more than 300 people in the central city of L’Aquila in 2009. Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. The country’s most deadly earthquake since the start of the 20th century came in 1908, when an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people in the southern regions of Reggio Calabria and Sicily. Reuters
Attack on American University of Afghanistan leaves 13 dead
At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded during an attack on the American University of Afghanistan on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior said seven students, two police officers, a security guard, and three assailants died during the attack.
It began when one assailant detonated a car bomb outside of the university, which was founded in 2006, during evening classes. Two assailants then began shooting at students, killing seven, before entering the university’s main building, where they battled security forces. Students reported barricading themselves in classrooms, pushing tables and chairs against the doors. Authorities say hundreds of students were on campus when the attack began. No group has claimed responsibility. The Associated Press, The Week
Hope Solo suspended for 6 months
On Wednesday, US Soccer suspended women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo for six months, following an outburst against the Swedish team during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Sweden defeated the US 4-3 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, and Solo, 35, said because they focused on defense rather than offense, they were “a bunch of cowards.”
US Soccer President Sunil Gulati said Solo’s comments were “unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players. Beyond the athletic arena and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions.” The Associated Press, The Week
S. Korean nuclear proponents
South Korean advocates of nuclear deterrence say the government in Seoul must pursue its own nuclear weapons programs to defend against North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. Song Dae-sung, a political science professor at Kunkuk University in Seoul and author of the book Let’s Have Nuclear Power makes the case for a nuclear armed South Korea.
National Assembly Representative Won Yoo-chul, a leader within of the ruling Saenuri Party, has also been a strong nuclear advocate. Won has put together a study group in the parliamentary National Defense Committee to assess the risks and benefits of South Korea pursuing its own nuclear program. “The most efficient way to deter nuclear warfare is to have nukes for our self-defense,” Won has said. VOA
Iran in ‘high-speed intercept’ of US destroyer
A US Navy official told CNN four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels conducted a “high-speed intercept” of the USS Nitze in waters near the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday, deeming the incident “unsafe and unprofessional.”
The incident is only the latest in a series of all-too-close encounters with Iran in the region since December. These brushes have included Iranian rocket launches, drones flying over US vessels and the capture of US sailors in January. They come against the backdrop of renewed US diplomatic contacts with Iran, which has triggered a political backlash among Iranian hardliners, including the powerful IRGC.
In the wake of Tuesday’s incident, the Nitze and US Naval Forces Central Command have determined that the Iranian vessels were violating international law and maritime standards, acting dangerously and unprofessionally. CNN
US Presidential election
Hillary Clinton calls Clinton Foundation corruption accusations ‘absurd’: On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton dismissed allegations that she had given special access as secretary of state to Clinton Foundation donors, saying of an Associated Press report “there’s a lot of smoke, and there’s no fire,” and calling Donald Trump’s “pay to play” accusation “ridiculous.” Throughout her tenure as secretary of state, her work was “not influenced by any outside forces,” Clinton told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I made policy decisions based on what I thought was right.” The AP report “draws a conclusion and makes a suggestion that my meetings with people like the late, great Elie Wiesel or Melinda Gates or the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus were somehow due to connections with the foundation instead of their status as highly respected global leaders,” she said. “That is absurd.” CNN, The Week
Clinton proposes Zika plan, Trump ramps up appeals to minority voters: As Florida contends with the spread of the Zika virus, Hillary Clinton is proposing a new fund to improve the way the federal government responds to Zika and other public health emergencies. Clinton’s proposal calls for the establishment of a Public Health Rapid Response Fund, which would allow the president to quickly release funds in the event of a public health crisis without having to wait for congressional approval.
Later Wednesday, Trump will speak at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, a state where polls say Trump has a solid lead. The population of Jackson is 80 percent African American. And Jackson is the capital of Mississippi, which has the highest proportion of African Americans than any other state in the US. Trump has reached out to African Americans in recent days after rejecting high profile opportunities to speak before groups such as the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Association of Black Journalists, suggesting a change in strategy by his new campaign leadership. VOA
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