Top News Stories for Today – February 6, 2017
Natanyahu welcomes Iran sanction
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed new sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on Iran, saying its continued nuclear weapons program posed to a threat to the world. Speaking in London as he met British Prime Minister Theresa May, Netanyahu said Iran sought to “conquer the Middle East” and had to be reined in.
He called for “responsible nations” to follow the lead of the US, which last week imposed fresh sanctions in response to Ian’s latest ballistic missile test. CNN
Federal appellate court weighs travel ban
Early Monday, Washington State and Minnesota filed their briefs to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in their push to block President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations and all refugees. The briefs argue that reinstating the ban would “unleash chaos again” and harm their residents, businesses, and universities.
US District Judge James Robart in Seattle blocked the order’s two main provisions on Friday night, and on Saturday night, an appellate panel rejected a Justice Department request to throw out the stay, giving the states until early Monday to file their argument and the Trump administration until Monday afternoon to respond. Typically, appellate court panels decide such cases on written briefs without oral arguments. Google, Apple, Uber,and dozens of other tech companies also filed a brief supporting Washington State, as did a group of top Democratic officials including former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, and former CIA director Leon Panetta. The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Week
Fox News: Putin is a killer
In a Fox News interview, President Trump defended his respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin by suggesting those who believe the United States does not engage in strongman practices are naive. “Well, I respect a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him,” Trump said of Putin, adding that Russia could be a valuable ally to the United States in the war on terror.
“But he’s a killer, though,” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly pushed back. “Putin’s a killer.” Trump nodded, and said, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” The Kremlin wants Fox News to apologize for a comment journalist Bill O’Reilly made about Putin. CNN, BuzzFeed News, The Week, VOA
US Japan missile defense test
The US and Japan have passed a crucial test for missile defense, shooting down a medium-range ballistic missile with a new interceptor launched from a guided-missile destroyer. The US Missile Defense Agency announced that the USS John Paul Jones detected, tracked and took out the target ballistic missile using its onboard Aegis Missile Defense System and a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor. The test took place Friday night off the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said all such systems raised trust issues among the major military powers.
The Aegis system is designed to intercept ballistic missile around the middle of their flight, when the missile is at its highest point above the Earth. The system is based on the powerful AN/SPY-1 radar, which can track 100 missiles simultaneously. The US Navy has 22 guided-missile cruisers and 62 guided-missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis system. Japan has six Aegis destroyers with plans for more. South Korea also operates Aegis-equipped destroyers. CNN
Patriots pull off historic Super Bowl win
The New England Patriots came from behind to beat the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night in the first Super Bowl ever to go into overtime. The Falcons burst to a 28-3 lead in what appeared destined to be a one-sided championship game.
Then New England quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots to score 25 unanswered points to tie the game before the end of regulation time. In overtime, the Patriots got the ball first and marched 75 yards to the end zone in eight plays, winning 34-28. Brady completed 43 of his 62 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns, and became the first quarterback in National Football League history to win five Super Bowls. The New York Times, NFL, The Week
Afghanistan and Pakistan avalanches kill more than 100
Heavy snow and avalanches have killed more than 106 people and injured dozens in Afghanistan. In the deadliest incident, 53 people died in one village after an avalanche in Nuristan, a north-eastern Afghan province on the Pakistan border. Thirteen people were also killed in an avalanche in northern Pakistan, nine of them in the town of Chitral.
Dozens of houses have been destroyed and people were reported to have frozen to death, trapped in cars. Afghanistan’s minister of state natural disasters, Wais Ahmad Barmak, confirmed the number of dead to BBC Afghan. There were also avalanches to the north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. “Avalanches have buried two entire villages,” a spokesman for the ministry told news agency AFP of the Barg Matal area in Nuristan. The neighbouring mountainous province of Badakhshan was also badly hit by snow storms. Officials are warning of more avalanches as snow storms are continuing. BBC