Top news stories for today – July 2, 2016
20 hostages dead in Bangladesh attack
After an 11-hour standoff, Bangladeshi troops entered a restaurant in the diplomatic zone of the nation’s capital on Saturday where attackers had holed up with hostages, many of them foreigners. Twenty hostages were found dead, and six attackers were killed in the raid.
The attackers, whom the Islamic State claimed as its own, were reportedly armed with guns, swords, and bombs. Many of the dead hostages were reportedly “brutally killed” with sharp weapons. Thirteen hostages were rescued in the raid, and a seventh attacker was arrested. The New York Times, The Week
Civilian death toll from US drone strikes released
The announcement of the death count, which only concerns strikes conducted outside of active war zones and which The New York Times reported is “hundreds lower than most estimates compiled by independent organizations,” came alongside an executive order from President Obama that will require his successors to disclose civilian death tolls annually. Critics of the controversial war tactic say the large range in the official death toll underscores the government’s uncertainty as to who exactly is being killed by these strikes. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Week
Russian militant believed masterminded Istanbul attack
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced Friday that Akhmed Chatayev, a Russian militant, is believed to have organized the suicide bombing that killed 44 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport Tuesday.
Known as “Akhmed One-Arm” because of a missing limb, the Chechen terrorist is known to have traveled to Syria and is “probably the No. 1 enemy in the Northern Caucasus region of Russia,” McCaul said. Chatayev is believed to have 130 people under his control, and his current whereabouts are unknown. Also Friday, Turkish media identified two of the three bombers as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov. The third attacker was not identified. CNN, The Week
Netherlands, Italy to share UN security council seat
The Netherlands and Italy took the rare step Tuesday of agreeing to share a two-year seat on the UN Security Council, after a contest that ended in a dead heat. After five rounds of voting, the countries were tied with 95 votes each. Neither was able to reach the two-thirds majority needed to secure a seat.
After discussions, the two European Union members offered to split the seat allocated to the “Western Europe and Others Group” for one year each. This was not the first time candidates agreed to split a term. In 1960, after 52 rounds of voting, Poland and Turkey agreed to split a two-year term.
Also securing seats Tuesday were Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Sweden. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said Sweden would focus its council work on conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, as well as security issues and climate change. Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Sacha Llorenti said the issue of Palestine would be a priority for his country, as well as implementing the newly signed deal between Colombia and FARC rebels.
Kazakhstan will be the first Central Asian country to sit on the council. Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov said his government would focus on global security, nuclear disarmament and development. Ethiopia is a major contributor to UN peacekeeping and plays an important regional role as the host of the African Union’s headquarters. VOA
2 top IS commanders killed near Mosul
A U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed two top Islamic State military commanders last week near Mosul, the Pentagon announced Friday. Those killed were Islamic State deputy war minister Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, who led Islamic State’s capture of the Iraqi city in 2014, and military commander Hatim Talib al-Hamduni.
After freeing the city of Fallujah from Islamic State, Iraqi forces are now turning their attention to Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Iraqi military leaders say they hope to liberate Mosul by the end of the year, but the Pentagon believes it may take longer. VOA
US Presidential election
Trump reportedly targeting established party leaders for VP: Though Donald Trump may pride himself on not being a Washington insider, his vice presidential short list is filled with them. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reportedly top the list of Trump’s potential running mates, and MSNBC has reported that now Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is in the mix, too. Trump has reportedly already begun the vetting process with Christie and Gingrich, and he was set to meet with Pence on Friday. At least half a dozen others are in the running, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Reuters, The Washington Post
Italians to Americans: Beware of Trump-like candidates: Speaking from hard-earned experience, Italians offer a warning to American voters: Think twice before electing Donald Trump. That advice is based on the fact that Italy chose a Trump-like leader — and many later came to regret it. Italy’s version of Trump is Silvio Berlusconi, 79, the media tycoon who served as Italy’s prime minister four times, dating back to 1994. The two men have much in common.
They are both billionaires who got their start in real-estate development and who came into politics as newcomers promising to use their business acumen to revitalize their country’s economy. Both are brash and self-confident with reputations as womanizers. Both blame much of their country’s woes on immigration. Both seem impervious to critiques and gaffes that would sink other political careers. They even share an obvious concern about their hair: Trump’s billowy coif is an integral part of his look, while Berlusconi admits to at least two hair transplants to cover up an expanding bald spot.
Berlusconi’s reign ended in 2011, Italy suffered prolonged periods of economic weakness, political corruption got worse and Berlusconi became ensnared in sex scandals and legal troubles that included a wide range of charges, from false accounting and tax evasion to bribery and paying a minor for sex. USA Today
Lynch will accept FBI decision on Clinton probe: Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday that she will not override a decision made by prosecutors and the FBI director about whether or not to bring charges over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. “I fully expect to accept [the FBI’s] recommendation,” Lynch said. Prior to the announcement, Lynch, a political appointee, could have overruled the investigators’ decision. While reportedly having considered such a decision for months, Lynch was backed into the announcement after drawing heavy criticism for a private meeting with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. The FBI is expected to make its recommendation in the coming weeks. The New York Times, The Week
Clinton raised $70 million in June: Hillary Clinton raised nearly $70 million in June for her campaign and affiliated Democratic committees, more than doubling the May fundraising total and scoring her biggest month yet of the campaign season. Donald Trump has not yet released fundraising numbers for June, but he faced a stream of bad headlines last month when he reported raising only $3.1 million in May, just over 10% of Clinton’s haul for the month. Trump began June with about $1.3 million in the bank, but he has been on a fundraising blitz since then. USA Today
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