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Top news stories for today – July 19, 2016


IS claims Germany axe attack

IS claims Germany axe attackA teenage Afghan refugee armed with an axe and knife injured four people on a train in southern Germany before being shot dead by police, officials say. Three people in a group from Hong Kong were seriously hurt and one slightly injured in the attack in Wurzburg. Another 14 were treated for shock.

The attacker came to Germany two years ago as an unaccompanied minor, and applied for asylum in March of last year. He lived in a home for young refugees until two weeks ago when he was placed with a foster family in the Wuerzburg area. A note found in the Afghan train attacker’s room where he also kept a hand-painted flag of the Islamic State group indicates he may have been self-radicalized.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack which was posted on the group’s Aamaq news agency on Tuesday. Germany last year registered more than 1 million asylum seekers entering the country, including more than 150,000 Afghans. BBC News, The Associated Press



Russian facing total 2016 Olympics ban

Russian facing total 2016 Olympics banThe International Olympic Committee considers Tuesday whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month’s Olympics in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The IOC’s executive board is convening a conference call a day after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released an independent report citing widespread, state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

WADA called for the IOC to ban all Russian athletes and officials from the summer games in Brazil. Russian track and field athletes have already been banned from international competition by their governing body. In a statement Monday, the IOC said it would “carefully study the complex and detailed allegations, in particular with regard to the Russian Ministry of Sport. VOA



Philippines rejects talks with China

Philippines rejects talks with China on South China SeaThe foreign secretary of the Philippines says his government has rejected an offer by China to discuss their territorial dispute in the South China Sea, because Beijing will not permit last week’s ruling by an international court to serve as the basis of the talks.

In an interview with Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN Tuesday, Perfecto Yasay said his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, made the offer at last weekend’s summit of Asian and European leaders in Mongolia.  Yasay says he told Wang the offer “was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest.”

The Chinese diplomat responded that if Manila continued to support the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, “then we might be headed for a confrontation.” VOA



Beijing asserts control in South China Sea

China expanding military assets in South China SeaChina is expected to increase its military investment in the South China Sea and significantly raise its overall defense spending to affirm its claim to the region. The People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) commissioned a new guided-missile destroyer, Yinchuan, on Tuesday, the day the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague ruled that China’s claims to most of the South China Sea are invalid. The tribunal, constituted under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), ruled in favor of the Philippines, which had complained that China was claiming part of its territory.

The next day, China tested two new airfields it has built in the Nansha islands in the South China Sea. State media showed civilian flights taking off from the airfields to further legitimize China’s control over that part of the sea. It established four light houses in the sea a few days earlier.

China has already spent a massive amount of money to rapidly build artificial islands as well as residential facilities for workers and government crews on the islands. The country has also put a floating hospital to sea and launched several submarines in the area in recent months. VOA



N Korea fires three ballistic missiles into sea

N Korea fires three ballistic missiles into seaNorth Korea has fired three ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast, say US and S Korean officials. The missiles were launched from the Hwangju region, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and flew about 500km (310 miles) to 600km.

The US said the first two were believed to be short-range Scuds while the third was a mid-range Rodong or Nodong. It comes after the US and South Korea said they would deploy an anti-missile system to counter the North’s threats.

North Korea is barred by UN sanctions from any test of nuclear or ballistic missile technology. But tensions have soared since it carried out its fourth nuclear test in January. South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said missile tests had been “a rare phenomenon in the past” but had been taking place “continuously” this year. BBC



US Presidential election

Republican National Convention begins unconventionally: The first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland revolved around the theme “Make America Safe Again.” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani fired up the crowd late in the evening, saying that Donald Trump will lead to a “safer America and for an America headed in a different direction — greatness!” And introduced by her husband in a short speech, Melania Trump lent a personal note, calling the presumptive GOP presidential nominee “intensely loyal” to his friends, families, and employers.

But the night began more unconventionally, with speeches by Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty and Scott Baio of Charles in Charge and Joanie Loves Chachi. There was also an hour devoted to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, with appearances by survivors and the mother of one of the four slain Americans. “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” Pat Smith said in a tearful speech. The audience also heard from law enforcement, former members of the military, rising and established Republican politicians, and family members of those killed by undocumented immigrants. YouTube, The Week

In Messy Floor Fight, Trump Squashes Delegate Revolt: In scenes of disorder not seen in a Republican convention in several decades, hundreds of delegates, most opposed to Trump, waved their fists and angrily screamed for a roll call vote on the convention rules. In response, Trump supporters chanted: “USA” and “We want Trump.” After several minutes of yelling, Republican leaders shot down the demand for a roll call, instead settling the dispute with a voice vote, a controversial move that officially squashed efforts to allow individual delegates the opportunity to vote their consciences and thereby deny Trump the nomination. VOA

Melania Trump accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s convention speech: While listening to Melania Trump’s speech Monday night at the Republican National Convention, interior designer Jarrett Hill heard a line that he thought sounded familiar. On Twitter, Hill explained that he did some research and discovered that several lines from Trump’s speech were nearly identical to things Michelle Obama said during her speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. For example, Trump said: “Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” In 2008, Obama said: “Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” Trump told NBC’s Matt Lauer earlier on Monday she wrote the speech “with as little help as possible.” Jason Miller, senior communications advisor to Trump, has released a statement, saying. “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.” Twitter, The Week

Chaos breaks out as RNC denies #NeverTrump roll call vote: After a last-ditch effort by anti-Trump Republicans to bring about a rules vote at the Republican convention and free delegates bound to Donald Trump to vote with their consciences instead, the convention floor descended into chaos as the motion was denied. #NeverTrump delegates acquired enough signatures to force a national convention vote on the rules, but a GOP official took the stage and gaveled the rules into place amid loud protests from amassed delegates calling for a “roll call vote.” The chair reportedly admitted the threshold for holding a roll call vote on the convention rules was met but denied one anyway in favor of a voice vote, effectively confirming Donald Trump will be the Republican Party nominee for president. The Week, Politico

Hillary Clinton calls for police reform in wake of targeted shootings: Hillary Clinton invoked the recent killings of and by police officers as evidence of how much progress still needs to be made during a speech Monday at the NAACP conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Clinton stressed that America has “difficult, painful, essential work ahead of us to repair the bonds between our police and our communities and among each other,” and she pledged to make police reform a priority if elected. Though Clinton underscored how essential “courageous police officers” are to our democracy, she also sympathized with the African-American community. “We cannot rest until we root out implicit bias and stop the killings of African-Americans,” Clinton said. The Washington Examiner, The Week

Melania Trump praises husband as amazing leader: The Republican National Convention moves Tuesday to a focus on the economy, a day after Melania Trump told a prime time audience her husband Donald is “an amazing leader” and the only one who can deliver change for the United States. Tuesday’s speakers in Cleveland, Ohio include some of the party’s most prominent figures, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and former presidential candidates Chris Christie and Ben Carson. VOA

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