Top News Stories for Today – January 31 , 2017
Travel ban helps ISIS recruitment
Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations will be used by ISIS as a recruitment tool, giving the militant group a major propaganda boost, former jihadists have told CNN. “It can play into their propaganda, to make it clear for anyone who could be in doubt, that it’s a war on Islam and all Muslims,” Abdullah told CNN over a messaging service.
Another former jihadi said the wedge being driven between Muslims living in the West and their governments is exactly what ISIS wants. “Trump helped ISIS a lot, he’s basically being a tool for them in a way,” Abu Obaida, a British former Jabhat al-Nusra fighter in Syria, told CNN via direct message. “On social media right now there’s a lot of people quoting Anwar al-Awlaki (the late spokesperson for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and his last speech when he said that America will turn on the Muslims.” CNN
Trump fires acting attorney general
President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates just hours after she told Justice Department lawyers to not make legal arguments defending Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration. Yates, a career Justice Department official who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, said she does not believe the substance of the order is lawful.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced on Twitter Monday night that Trump has named Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general, and in a statement, the White House accused Yates of being “weak on borders” and said she “betrayed the Department of Justice.” Not long after, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced Trump had replaced Daniel Ragsdale as acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, replacing him with Thomas Homan, the executive associate director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations. Ragsdale will return to being deputy director. Twitter, CBS News, The Week
Quebec shooting suspect charged
Quebec City mosque shooting suspect Alexandre Bissonnette has been charged with six counts of murder, The Associated Press reports. Police earlier Monday identified the 27-year-old Bissonnette as the man who killed six people and wounded eight others at a Quebec City mosque Sunday night; they initially arrested two suspects, but on Monday afternoon named Bissonnette as the suspect while saying the other man is now considered a witness.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the shooting a “terrorist attack on Muslims” and the religious tolerance “that we, as Canadians, hold dear.” Police did not immediately identify what investigators thought had motivated the attack. Mass shootings are rare in Canada, which has welcomed refugees fleeing war and terrorism in Syria and other predominantly Muslim nations. Reuters, CBC News,The Week
UN Security Council to meet on Iran missile test
UN Security Council is to hold urgent talks Tuesday in response to a ballistic missile test carried out by Iran. US requested the meeting following Sunday’s test launch of a medium-range missile. The exact type of missile and its capabilities were not clear.
A 2015 Security Council resolution prohibits Iran from any activities related to ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. During a news conference in Tehran Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did not confirm or deny the test had taken place, but reiterated Iran’s stance that its missiles are not designed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Israel’s prime minister has accused Iran of carrying out a missile test in “flagrant violation” of a UN security council resolution. Benjamin Netanyahu said he would raise renewing sanctions when he meets US President Donald Trump in February. VOA, BBC
Obama releases statement on travel ban
Former President Barack Obama praised nationwide protests against President Donald Trump’s immigration orders in his first public comments since leaving the White House on Jan. 20. “President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” a statement from his office said.
In reaction to Trump’s executive order banning people from seven predominately Muslim nations from entering the US, the statement added that Obama “fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion … Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble [is] exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” The Huffington Post, The Week
Austria to ban full-face veil in public places
Austria’s ruling coalition has agreed to prohibit full-face veils in public spaces such as courts and schools. It is also considering a more general ban on state employees wearing the headscarf and other religious symbols. The measures are seen as an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, whose candidate narrowly lost last month’s presidential vote. The centrist coalition nearly collapsed last week amid crisis negotiations over the government’s future direction.
An estimated 150 women wear the full niqab in Austria but tourism officials have expressed fears that the measures will also deter visitors from the Gulf. Several European countries have imposed similar bans but the Austrian move is, according to the vice chancellor a “symbolic” step. France and Belgium introduced a burqa ban in 2011 and a similar measure is currently going through the Dutch parliament. BBC
Malaria drugs fail for first time in UK
A key malaria treatment has failed for the first time in patients being treated in the UK, doctors say. The drug combination was unable to cure four patients, who had all visited Africa, in early signs the parasite is evolving resistance. A team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said it was too early to panic. But it warned things could suddenly get worse and demanded an urgent appraisal of drug-resistance levels in Africa.
Malaria parasites are spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. It is a major killer of the under-fives with one child dying from the disease every two minutes. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people are treated for malaria in the UK each year – always after foreign travel. Most are treated with the combination drug: artemether-lumefantrine. But clinical reports, now detailed in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, showed the therapy failed in four patients between October 2015 and February 2016. BBC
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