Top news stories for today – July 17, 2016
Anti ISIS operations from Turkey halted
The United States embassy in Turkey reported and the Pentagon confirmed Saturday that “local authorities are denying movements on to and off of Incirlik Air Base,” a large Turkish facility the US uses as a key location for its anti-Islamic State air campaigns in Iraq and Syria.
“The power there has also been cut,” the embassy said. “Please avoid the air base until normal operations have been restored.” Turkish officials said the base would only be closed until they could ascertain that all equipment and planes of the Turkish air force are in pro-government hands following Friday night’s failed military coup. CNN, Embassy of the United States, The Week
China gives Cambodia $600M in exchange for support
Sen’s Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, agreed to accommodate Cambodia’s aid request during the 11th biennial Asia-Europe Meeting, held this past week in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. China, a key ally of Cambodia and the Southeast Asian country’s largest donor, in return expects support in international forums, including in discussions over the future of the South China Sea.
Friday’s announcement followed a landmark ruling at an arbitration court in The Hague, which found that China has no historic claims to areas of the South China Sea that are also claimed by the Philippines. Sok Touch, dean of Khemarak University in Phnom Penh, said the close relationship between China and Cambodia was due to an alignment of interests, most recently with Cambodia’s tacit approval of China’s actions in that disputed maritime region. VOA
Nice attacker had psychological problems
Mohamed Bouhlel, the man who waged a deadly attack on a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, “had psychological problems that caused a nervous breakdown,” said his father, Mohamed Mondher Lahouaiej Bouhlel, on Saturday. “He would become angry, shout, break everything around him.”
Rabeb Bouhlel, the attacker’s sister, likewise said her family has “given the police documents showing that he had been seeing psychologists for several years.” Before he was killed by law enforcement during his onslaught, Bouhlel was convicted of road rage and was separated from his wife after a history of domestic violence. Though the Islamic State has taken responsibility for his actions, French authorities are still investigating how and when Bouhlel could have been radicalized, as he was not known to intelligence officials as a terror risk. Newsweek, Yahoo News, The Week
Turkish blames attempted coup on a cleric in US
The government of Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan has pointed the finger for Friday night’s failed coup attempt at Fethullah Gülen, an elderly Muslim cleric living in exile in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Erdogan has long said Gülen, who leads a movement called Hizmet supported by about 10 percent of Turkey, is plotting to overthrow his country’s officially secular government. Erdogan’s historically Islamist AKP party has in the past provoked coups of its own. The US branch of Hizmet, the Alliance for Shared Values, issued a statement categorically denying all involvement. The Guardian, Associated Press, The Week
Record-breaking heat wave to strike US
A massive heat wave this coming week will affect most of the contiguous United States — but especially the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast regions — with highs in the 100s throughout the center of the country.
The heat will be accompanied by high humidity and may top 110 degrees in states like Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. Record temperatures have already struck in America’s northernmost state, Alaska, where a high of 88 degrees in Fairbanks on Wednesday was warmer than New York City. Mashable, USA Today, The Week
Sports groups want all Russian athletes banned from Rio
The world’s athletes and anti-doping leaders have drafted a letter calling for the removal of all Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil. The letter will be sent to Olympic officials after the results of an investigation are released about Russia’s alleged state-sponsored doping program conducted by Russian officials at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The probe was prompted after Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia’s former anti-doping lab director, told The New York Times in May that he was following government orders when he covered up the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by dozens of athletes at the Sochi Games. The Times reported at least 15 of those athletes won medals.
Doping violations have already resulted in the exclusion of almost the entire Russian track and field team from the Rio Games. Two athletes were exempted because they went through anti-doping systems in other countries.
According to the report in The New York Times, Joseph de Pencier, the chief executive of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organization, has asked members around the world to sign the letter. VOA
US Presidential election
GOP chair: Republican rebellion against Trump is dead: In an interview with the Associated Press published early Saturday, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP has come to accept Donald Trump as its leader. “There is no other candidate,” Priebus said. “That was one of the problems that this ‘Never Trump’ issue had last night. Who is the other candidate? What VP nominees are you vetting? We’re voting next week — on Tuesday or Wednesday. What money are you raising? Where is this person?” Any attempts at rebellion, he concluded, are “over.” Associated Press, The Week
Trump and Pence Unite as ‘Law-and-order’ Candidates: “I accept your nomination to serve as vice president of the United States of America.” Those words from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence marked the official debut of the Trump-Pence presidential ticket. But they came only after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke for nearly half an hour, alone at the podium inside Manhattan’s glitzy Hilton Midtown ballroom, in front of five rows of seated supporters — an enthusiastic but restrained group of invited guests. Standing before a backdrop of American flags and a flood-lit red, white and blue curtain, Trump declared himself and Pence as the “law-and-order candidates” of a law-and-order Republican party. VOA
Unpredictability could help Trump make conventions great again: If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about this year’s election, it’s that the rise of Donald Trump has completely flipped the conventional political script. Little in that script is more formulaic than the party conventions, and over the years audiences have drifted from what have become predictable pageants. Trump has criticized past conventions as “boring” and has vowed to bring more “showbiz” to this year’s affair. With him as the presumptive Republican nominee, the unpredictable will return to the convention floor. USA Today