Top news stories for today – July 24, 2016
Munich gunman had no ties to ISIS
A mass shooting at the Munich shopping center Olympia Einkaufszentrum Friday evening left 10 people dead, including the gunman, who has since been identified as an 18-year-old German-Iranian named David Sonboly whom authorities say had no apparent ties to an outside terrorist organization.
“Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State,” said Munich Police Chief Hubertus Andrae in a press conference Saturday, noting that his officers had not found evidence tying the shooter to refugee communities either — but did uncover a history of psychiatric care and an obsession with mass murder. Another 16 people were wounded before Sonboly killed himself, and three remain in a life-threatening condition. Reuters, Politico
ISIS claims responsibility for Kabul bombing
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing at a protest in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on Saturday. The demonstration was primarily composed of the Shia Hazara minority; ISIS represents an extreme variant of Afghanistan’s Sunni majority.
At least 80 people were killed in the attack and about 230 more were wounded, officials said. The Taliban condemned the incident, calling it an “act of making enmity among Afghan ethnicities;” and if ISIS involvement is confirmed, it will be the first time the group has made a major strike in Afghanistan outside Nangarhar province. USA Today, Reuters
Poll says Americans support stricter gun laws
More and more Americans are in favor of tougher gun laws, but are pessimistic that lawmakers will do anything soon to bring about changes, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents support stricter laws, while most favor nationwide bans on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons, such at the AR-15, and on the sale of high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets.
Results also broke down along partisan lines. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats polled said they support stricter gun laws compared to 41 percent of Republicans. The percentage of Americans who want the tougher laws is at the highest since the pollsters began taking the gun survey in 2013, about 10 months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newton, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six educators.
A majority of the respondents said they favor a national approach to gun laws rather than a jumble of state and local regulations. Less than half of those polled, however, said they did not think lawmakers would enact tougher gun laws in the coming year. The poll results revealed that Americans are not feeling safe and are concerned they or a relative will be a victim of gun violence. Associated Press
Philippines President not afraid of human rights concerns
Last week, the Philippine President said he wishes to retire with the reputation of Idi Amin, the African ruler whose notorious regime was characterized by human rights abuses that killed at least tens of thousands of Ugandans.
Duterte also said that he’s not afraid of human rights concerns… that he will not allow his country to go to the dogs, and that he’ll pardon all abuses committed by security forces. He even went as far as to say he wouldn’t extend due process to those caught up in his anti-crime efforts.
“The human rights situation in the Philippines right now is dominated by [a] very alarming surge in police killings of suspected drug dealers and users,” says Phelim Kine, Deputy Director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. Kine adds, “…and with that, a surge in apparent extrajudicial killings by unidentified perpetrators of other people implicated in criminal activity in the Philippines.” VOA
US Increases diplomatic efforts in ASEAN meetings
China’s standoff with its neighbors over the South China Sea territorial dispute is expected to again be a focus as foreign ministers from the region and US Secretary of State John Kerry gather in Laos this week, making the landlocked country the next battleground for behind the scenes diplomatic maneuvers over maritime quarrels.
Washington is redoubling diplomatic efforts through face-to-face conversations to de-escalate tensions. White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice is meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi in Beijing. “The U.S. will underscore its commitment to expanding practical cooperation and constructively managing differences with China,” said the White House in a statement. Meanwhile, Secretary Kerry is sitting down with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Vientiane, Laos.
Senior officials said Washington would continue freedom of navigation and support unimpeded lawful commerce, while calling on Beijing to exercise restraint and respect the rights of others. VOA
US Presidential election
Hillary Clinton introduces Tim Kaine at rally: Hillary Clinton and her new running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), held a rally at Florida International University in Miami Saturday, marking their official debut as a complete 2016 ticket. “Sen. Tim Kaine is everything Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not,” Clinton said in her introduction. “He is qualified to step into this job and lead on Day 1. And he is a progressive who likes to get things done.” Kaine is seen as a safe bet for Clinton, and is reported to have been chosen to attract white male voters, a group that supports Donald Trump 56 percent to Clinton’s 25 percent, according to a national Quinnipiac survey from the end of June. During the rally, Kaine spoke in fluent Spanish to the largely Hispanic crowd. The New York Times, Politico, The Week
DNC staffer apologizes for emails targeting Bernie Sanders’ religion: The chief financial officer of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Marshall, apologized on Saturday after emails leaked by WikiLeaks showed the DNC had planned to attack Bernie Sanders on his religion. The emails did not mention Sanders, who is Jewish, by name, but said, “Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.” In a Facebook post, Marshall apologized, saying the content was insensitive. Politico, The Week
Mother of Benghazi attack victim asks Trump to stop talking about her son: Mary Commanday, the mother of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, has asked that the Donald Trump presidential campaign stop referencing her son in attacks on Hillary Clinton. In a letter to The New York Times, Commanday wrote, “I know for certain that Chris would not have wanted his name or memory used in that connection. I hope that there will be an immediate and permanent stop to this opportunistic and cynical use by the campaign.” Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, which featured prominently at the Republican National Convention last week in speeches criticizing Clinton’s leadership skills. The New York Times
Muslim American voters could swing battleground states: At an estimated 3.3 million, Muslim Americans represent a small portion of the American population. But the community could play an important role in so-called swing states during the upcoming presidential elections. According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims represent just 1 to 2 percent of the country’s population, but they tend to live in strategic places — swing states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia. VOA
At convention, Democrats look to counter GOP with upbeat message: George Washington University professor Gary Nordlinger said Democrats should focus on that positivity and putting forth their own policies to counter the messaging of Trump and the Republican Party. “I think the Democrats would make a mistake if this [convention] is four nights of attacking Donald Trump,” Nordlinger said. “I think what they should do is portray a very positive message.”
At the same time, Democratic convention speakers will look to rebut Trump’s remarks that crime has gone up and the country is worse off than it was eight years ago, said Think Progress political reporter Alice Ollstein. “Trump said in his speeches, ‘We don’t win,’ and, ‘America isn’t doing well,’ ” Ollstein said. “I think the Democrats are going to try to counter that with a very positive message about where the country is and how many people have benefited from some of the policies under the Obama administration, like affordable health care.” VOA
Many in tech squarely behind Clinton on eve of DNC: When the Democratic National Convention convenes in Philadelphia on Monday, it can count on one constituency: Silicon Valley. A slew of prominent leaders have lined up behind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with contributions, endorsements and high praise for her tech policy plan. USA Today
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