Top news stories for today – August 1, 2016
Russian helicopter shot down in Syria
The aircraft had been delivering humanitarian aid to the Syrian capital of Aleppo; it is not clear what specific group in the region was responsible for bringing the helicopter down. The Kremlin said everybody aboard was killed in the crash. “They died heroically as [the crew] tried to divert the helicopter to minimize casualties on the ground,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. BBC, RT, The Week
Florida Zika cases alarms Washington
U.S. health officials sounded the warning on Zika months ago, and confirmation of its arrival prompted a new round of finger pointing between Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have yet to approve funds to fight the virus or the mosquitos that spread it.
The Florida cases confirm what health officials predicted earlier this year: that Zika, which can cause abnormalities in newborns, would one day be contracted from mosquitos found in large swaths of the United States.
In February, the Obama administration requested $1.9 billion to fight Zika. The Republican-led Senate initially agreed to $1.1 billion of new spending. Experts expect Zika-carrying mosquitos Zika to spread beyond Florida. Congress adjourned in mid-July and will not get back to work until September. VOA
New security laws launched in Malaysia
New security laws went into effect Monday in Malaysia. Critics say the new measures give Prime Minister Najib Razak sweeping emergency powers which could be used to trample on human rights. The new law enables Najib to suspend civil liberties whenever he believes there is a security threat.
Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s deputy director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said “the government now has spurned checks and assumed potentially abusive power.” The United Nations human rights regional office said it was “gravely concerned” that the laws may encourage human rights violations and lead to “unjust restrictions” on free speech and assembly. VOA
Taiwan’s President apologizes to Indigenous community
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, has for the first time, formally apologized to the country’s indigenous people for centuries of suffering. “I apologize to the indigenous people on behalf of the government, to give our deepest apology over the suffering and injustice you endured over the past 400 years.” She said.
Tsai spoke at a ceremony at the presidential office building on Taiwan’s official aboriginal people’s day. Representatives from the island’s 16 officially recognized native tribes attended the event in Taipei, the capital.
The indigenous community of Taiwan is a marginalized group with many living in poverty and suffering a high rate of unemployment. Taiwan was inhabited by a variety of tribes for thousands of years before Dutch colonizers began importing Chinese laborers in the 17th century. VOA
Top Nigerian scammer arrested
A Nigerian behind thousands of online scams around the world has been arrested in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt, Interpol alleges. The 40-year-old man, known only as “Mike” is alleged to head a network of 40 individuals behind global scams worth more than $60m (£45m).
His operations involves using targeted malware to take over systems, use compromised emails and romance scams. Nigeria’s anti-fraud agency was also involved in the arrest.
“In one case, a target was conned into paying out $15.4 m,” Interpol said in a statement. “Mike” also allegedly ran a money laundering network in China, Europe and the US. “The network compromised email accounts of small to medium businesses around the world including in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the United States,” it said. BBC
US Presidential election
Mother of slain Muslim U.S. soldier pushes back against Trump: The public sparring between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the parents of an American Muslim soldier killed in Iraq escalated on Sunday. The mother of slain Capt. Humayun Khan, Ghazala Khan, pushed back against Trump for suggesting she did not speak at last week’s Democratic National Convention because her husband and religion did not allow it. “Here is my answer to Donald Trump,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain.” She said Trump “doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.” Several GOP congressional leaders called Trump’s criticism of the Khans appalling, and Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, said Khan is “an an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American.” The Washington Post, Business Insider, The Week
Trump says Putin is ‘not going to go into Ukraine,’ despite Crimea: Donald Trump said Sunday that Putin won’t make a military move into Ukraine — even though Putin already has done just that, seizing the country’s Crimean Peninsula. “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want,” Trump said in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.”
“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?” Stephanopoulos responded, in a reference to Crimea, which Putin took from Ukraine in early 2014. Trump said: “OK — well, he’s there in a certain way. But I’m not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he’s going away. He takes Crimea.” CNN
Did Trump go too far: Donald Trump’s criticism about the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier has generated — once again — a backlash within his own party. Attacks from the Republican presidential nominee on the parents of a soldier who died defending America have put new pressure on GOP leaders to decide whether they will continue to stand by him
Sen. John McCain issue a very personal statement Mondaay blasting Trump’s comments about the Khans and paying homage to their son Humayun’s sacrifice. McCain noted that his son also served in the Iraq War and the McCains have been serving in the US military for hundreds of years.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in a statement: “This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen. There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don’t do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you.” “If you’re going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can’t,” Graham said. “The problem is, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
“This is so incredibly disrespectful of a family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Jeb Bush said on Twitter Sunday evening. John Kasich tweets “There’s only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family.” CNN
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