Top news stories for today – July 16, 2016
Turkey military’s coup attempt fails
The sounds of blasts and gunfire, however, continued to echo across the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul throughout the morning, and it was unclear who was in control of military headquarters in Ankara. Erdogan flew to Istanbul early Saturday, denouncing the attempted coup by what he described as a rogue group of military officers as an act of treason.
“Those who attempted a coup will pay the highest price,” Erdogan said, reaffirming his status as “commander in chief.” He urged his supporters to take to the streets in support of him. Erdogan, who was on vacation, has since returned to Istanbul. The Associated Press reports that a “top Turkish official” says the coup now “appears to have been unsuccessful.”
More than 190 people have been killed in the clashes since late Friday: two soldiers, 41 police officers, 47 civilians, 104 people described as “coup plotters,” according to general Dundar. More than 1,500 soldiers have been detained, including 200 who surrendered to police Saturday morning at military headquarters, state media reported. Reuters, Associated Press, VOA
Obama backs elected government of Turkey
The White House released a strong statement Friday evening opposing the apparent military coup unfolding in Turkey. “The president and [Secretary of State John Kerry] agreed that all parties in Turkey should support the democratically elected government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” the White House statement said.
Missing 9/11 report pages released
On Friday, Congress released 28 pages of previously classified information from the 9/11 report made by the Joint Congressional Inquiry in 2002; the pages concerned the Saudi Arabian government’s potential ties to the terrorist attacks.
While Saudi officials have long called for the pages’ release in the hopes of dispelling any incriminating rumors of involvement, the pages list numerous possible links between Saudi nationals and al Qaeda operatives. One paragraph suggests that at least two individuals “in contact with” or assisting 9/11 hijackers were “alleged to be Saudi intelligence officers.”
The document was previously marked as classified to protect intelligence sources and to avoid risking diplomatic relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. The Washington Post, House Intelligence Committee
Falun Gong group rally at US Capitol
Frank Lee, spokesman for the event, told VOA the rally is held annually to demand that Chinese authorities stop the persecution and harvesting of human organs from prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners.
The rally also promotes a campaign to bring former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, whom the group accuses of ordering the 1999 crackdown, to justice. On June 13, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution calling for China to stop the persecution of and organ transfers involving Falun Gong practitioners.
The vote followed publication of a report claiming that China has expanded its illicit organ harvest to unprecedented levels. The report said the Falun Gong adherents were targeted for organ harvesting because they tend to take good care of themselves physically. VOA
US Presidential election
Donald Trump officially taps Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for VP: On Friday, Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he has officially chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) as his running mate. The announcement came just an hour before Pence’s noon Friday deadline to remove himself from the Indiana gubernatorial race. Trump had said he would move his vice presidential announcement from Friday to Saturday after Thursday’s attack in Nice, France, but instead suddenly confirmed the widely suspected choice with Friday’s tweet. Trump will hold a press conference regarding his Pence pick Saturday at 11 a.m. in New Jersey. CNN, Twitter, The Week
Never Trump movement dealt political blow: Never Trump, the move by some U.S. Republican Party members to thwart Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy has been dealt a blow. The Republican Party’s convention rules committee struck down a proposal Thursday that would have allowed delegates at next week’s convention in Cleveland, Ohio, to vote for someone other than the candidates who won the state primaries and caucuses. Both former presidents Bush and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney say they will not attend this year’s convention. VOA
For Trump, Pence pick is all about conservatives: Conservative Republicans who don’t like Donald Trump now have a soul mate in his running mate, while Democrats have a new target. Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence meets many of the goals he set for a potential vice president: Pence is a practicing politician who could help him deal with Congress and also a conservative who could help some “Never Trump” Republicans feel better about the fall campaign against Hillary Clinton. Clinton supporters plan to cast Pence as a Trump-like twin who promotes policies that hurt minorities and help the wealthy. USA Today
Pence pick brings abortion debate to the forefront: Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate on Friday brought out immediate reactions from supporters and opponents of abortion rights. Pence is known as a staunch opponent of abortion and Planned Parenthood. He was one of the original lawmakers to sponsor legislation to defund the group, first introducing a measure in 2007 while a member of the House. USA Today
Clinton campaign’s comment on Trump’s VP pick: Donald Trump has “doubled down” on “his most disturbing beliefs” by picking Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, said Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. In a statement, Podesta called Pence the “most extreme” vice presidential pick in a generation.
According to the statement, Podesta said that Pence: was an early supporter of the Tea Party; “personally spearheaded” a religious liberty bill that “legalized discrimination” against gays and lesbians (which he later revised); and he was a leader in the effort to defund Planned Parenthood as a member of the US House. Podesta called Pence an “incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families.” USA Today