Top news stories for today – August 8, 2016
Japan’s emperor hints abdication
On Monday, Japan’s Emperor Akihito made his second-ever televised address, gently nudging Japan’s parliament to act so he can step down and pass the Chrysanthemum throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 56.
Akihito, 82 and in poor health, has been emperor since his father, Emperor Hirohito, died in 1989. “I am concerned that it will become more and more difficult for me to fulfill my duties as a symbolic emperor,” Akihito said in his prerecorded, 10-minute message. He had to approach abdication indirectly, because Japan’s post-World War II constitution doesn’t allow the emperor to engage in politics. The Japanese public supports the emperor’s wish to retire, but the conservative government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe isn’t enthusiastic. “We must think carefully about what can be done,” Abe said Monday. BBC News, The New York Times, The Week
Phelps wins his 19th Olympic gold
Sunday was a big night for the US Olympic swimming team in Rio, with Michael Phelps winning his 19th gold medal, and Katie Ledecky smashing her own world record time to win gold in the 400m freestyle.
Ledecky, 19, finished in 3:56.46, nearly five seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. Phelps, swimming the second leg of the 4X100 freestyle relay, swam the fastest 100 meters of his storied career. He entered the water a fraction of a second behind France, and gave his team a lead it would hold throughout the race. Phelps now has 19 golds, two silvers, and two bronzes, and has several more shots at adding to his record medal haul. Time, The Week
Delta delays flights over computer outage
Delta Airlines said Monday that a system-wide computer outage was keeping its passengers from checking in and grounding its departures around the world. “Our systems are down everywhere,” the No. 2 US airline said via Twitter.
Flights that were already in the air when the glitch hit were operating normally, but those scheduled to leave early Monday were delayed, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. Delta, which operates 5,000 flights per day, advised travelers to check the status of their flights through the day. Its stock dropped by two percent in pre-market trading. Reuters, MarketWatch, The Week
Blast in Pakistan hospital kills at least 63
At least 63 people were killed in a blast at a hospital in northwestern Pakistan, a regional official said. The explosion also injured at least 70 others, said Rehmat Baloch, the health minister of Balochistan province.
The blast took place at 9:30 a.m. local time (12.30 a.m. ET) Monday in the city of Quetta. The explosion rocked the emergency ward of the civil hospital, Sarfaraz Bugti, Home Minister of Balochistan, told CNN. There have been no claims of responsibility so far. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif condemned the blast. CNN
Iran executes scientist for spying for the US
Amiri left for Saudi Arabia in 2009 and relocated to the United States a year later. US officials said they paid Amiri about $5 million to leave Iran and provide information about Iran’s nuclear program. A US official said in 2010 that the US received “useful information” from Amiri.
Amiri, a university researcher who worked for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, fled the United States later in 2010 without the money and was welcomed home by Iranian officials as a hero before being arrested. He told Iranian officials he was detained in the United States after being abducted in Saudi Arabia by two US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents. VOA
US Presidential election
Donald Trump will discuss his economic plan from Detroit today: Donald Trump will address issues relating to the economy from Detroit on Monday, both to highlight the difference between his plans and Hillary Clinton’s and to return to steady ground after several weeks of disastrous gaffes. Trump will propose reducing cooperate tax to 15 percent from 35 percent, eliminating the estate tax, allowing parents to fully deduct child care costs from their taxable income, boosting domestic energy production, and putting a temporary moratorium on new financial regulations until there is “significant growth” in the economy. Some analysts of Trump’s tax plans have claimed his policies are friendlier to the wealthy than to the middle class, and could increase debt by $10 trillion. The Associated Press, Bloomberg, The Week
Polls show Clinton tops Trump by 10: The CNN Poll of Polls incorporating the results of six major polls — all conducted after the party conventions concluded in late July — finds Clinton with an average of 49% support to Trump’s 39%. When third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are included, the margin remains the same, with both candidates losing the same amount of support to land at 45% for Clinton to 35% for Trump, with Johnson at 9% and Stein at 5%. The new averages reflect a sharp increase in support for Clinton compared with pre-convention polls. The last CNN Poll of Polls, analyzing the results of five national, live-interviewer telephone polls conducted before the GOP convention began, found Clinton ahead 45% to 41%. CNN
George P. Bush urges Republicans to back Trump: George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush, the Texas land commissioner, is breaking with his father, a former Donald Trump Republican primary rival, to back the GOP nominee. George P. Bush’s move comes after a nasty Republican primary battle in which Trump repeatedly mocked Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, as “low energy,” among other insults. The Texas Tribune reported Sunday that at a Saturday gathering of Texas Republican activists Bush said it was time to unite behind Trump in his fall campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. CNN
Trump, Clinton to make major economic speeches this week in Detroit: The economy is expected to be the focus of the presidential campaign this week when both top candidates make major speeches in the same city on their plans for the country if they are elected. Republican Donald Trump will speak Monday and Democrat Hillary Clinton will appear Friday in Detroit – the struggling midwest city that is headquarters of the US automobile industry. VOA
Trump questions Clinton’s mental health: Donald Trump is questioning the mental health of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump told a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, “She is a totally unhinged person. She’s unbalanced.” Trump mocked her comment that she “short-circuited” in answering a question about her truthfulness in her handling of national security material on the unsecured, private email server she used while she was the country’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. Trump told the crowd he has “a winning temperament.” VOA