Top news stories for today – July 29, 2016
Terrorists in diaspora
Battlefield success against ISIS may produce more terrorism for the West, FBI Director James Comey warned this week. He said “At some point there is going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before. Not all of the Islamic State killers are going to die on the battlefield.”
The FBI director’s warning that the collapse of the caliphate will mean increased attacks in Western Europe and the United States mirrors a consensus among intelligence officials. Comey compared it to the formation of al Qaeda, which drew from fighters who had been hardened and radicalized fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“This is an order of magnitude greater than anything we’ve seen before” Comey said. “A lot of terrorists fled out of Afghanistan… this is 10 times that or more. “We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and in Paris.” CNN
Pope Francis visits Auschwitz concentration camp
On Friday, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during the Holocaust. During his visit, Francis met with elderly survivors of the camp and placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed.
He spent much of his time sitting in silence beneath a tree to reflect on the tragedy and to pray. He is the third pope to visit the camp, after both his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The visit comes on the third day of his five-day trip through Poland. Earlier this week, Francis warned that “the world is at war” after French jihadists murdered a Catholic priest on Tuesday. The Associated Press, BBC, The Week
China diplomatic victory could be short
China appears to have scored a diplomatic victory in last week’s ASEAN summit in Laos, on South China Sea maritime dispute. But some anylysts believe China will still have to face the ruling’s long-term impact, which will strengthen cases where its claims in the disputed waters will continue to be contested.
And Beijing’s upcoming bilateral talks with other claimants including the Philippines and Vietnam will be made on the basis of international law, said Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Asia.
“In other words, they [the Philippines and Vietnam] are saying, ‘Okay, we can talk. But we are not going to speak on your terms. We’re going to speak on our terms and our terms are on the basis of international law,” Huxley said.
Cambodian diplomacy may have succeeded in watering down an ASEAN communique aimed at tackling Chinese maritime ambitions, but analysts said it was a hollow victory, which has split the 10-nation trading bloc. They said Cambodia’s refusal to back a multilateral approach aimed at resolving disputes in the South China Sea had also cost the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) its political bite and it is time for a rethink. VOA
N Korean seeking refuge at S Korea consulate
As a precautionary measure, the South Korean Consulate General, located in the Far East Finance Centre, asked Hong Kong authorities for enhanced security. Police quickly deployed a large number of officers, including an anti-terrorist SWAT team.
Details remain sketchy, but on Thursday afternoon, VOA reporters took the elevator to the 5th floor consulate’s office where they were turned back by plainclothes officers. The consulate has suspended visa distributions and other services.
Some reporters have camped outside the building’s entrance. A few reporters have said the defector’s situation remains unclear, and that neither Hong Kong officials nor the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong has responded to press inquiries. VOA
E-cigarettes found more harmful than thought
According to a new study done at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, smoking e-cigarettes exposes the smoker’s lungs to a number of respiratory irritants and carcinogens, such as acrolein and formaldehyde.
Researchers also found the level of toxic chemicals emitted by an e-cigarette rises with the use of the device as well as with its internal temperature. Variations in toxicity were also related to types of e-cigarettes, voltage of their batteries and whether they had one or two heating coils.
E-cigarettes were introduced in 2004, touted as an almost harmless replacement to regular tobacco. As such, they quickly gained wide popularity, especially among the younger generation. VOA
US Presidential election
Hillary Clinton accepts Democratic nomination on convention’s final night: The Democratic National Convention came to a close Thursday night, with Hillary Clinton delivering a sweeping speech and accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Following an introduction from daughter Chelsea Clinton, the former secretary of state delivered a speech that was equal parts hopeful appeals to the American people, criticisms of Donald Trump, and outlines of her plans for the presidency, as she attempted to cast herself as a steady leader. “America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” she said.
The night’s other memorable speakers included Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Muslim soldier, who offered to loan Donald Trump his copy of the constitution, and retired United States Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, who endorsed Clinton, saying as commander-in-chief, she would not reduce international relations to a “business transaction.” The New York Times, The Washington Post The Week
At DNC, father of fallen Muslim soldier offers to lend Trump his copy of the Constitution: On Thursday, the parents of Army Captain Humayun S. M. Khan, who died in 2004 during a suicide attack in Iraq against his base, stood in front of the Democratic National Convention as “patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.” Khan’s father, Khizr Khan, said on the day his son died, “sacrificing his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers,” he was “the best of America.” Khan said if Trump had his way, his family “never would have been in America,” then asked the Republican nominee, “Have you even read the United States Constitution?” The crowd erupted in cheers as Khan pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his jacket and announced, “I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.'” He urged Trump to visit Arlington Cemetery and “look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one. We cannot solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together.” The Week
Trump says his invitation for Russia to find Clinton’s emails was sarcastic: Donald Trump is backtracking on comments he made Wednesday in which he implored, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing.” On Thursday morning, Trump said he was being sarcastic. “Of course I’m being sarcastic,” he told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade. “But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee.” Some analysts have called Trump’s initial comments “treasonous.” Former Obama CIA Director Leon Panetta told CNN, “You’ve got now a presidential candidate who is, in fact, asking the Russians to engage in American politics. I just think that that’s beyond the pale.” Talking Points Memo, The Independent
Analyst says Clinton economy would create 10 million jobs: Moody’s Analytics estimates that if Hilary Clinton’s proposals are enacted, the economy would create 10.4 million jobs during her presidency, or 3.2 million more than expected under current law. The pace of GDP growth would also accelerate to an annual average of 2.7%, from the current forecast of 2.3%. “The upshot of our analysis is that Secretary Clinton’s economic policies when taken together will result in a stronger U.S. economy under almost any scenario,” Moody’s writes in its report. Moody’s Analytics is an independent research group, but the lead author of the report on Clinton is Mark Zandi, who donated $2,700 to her campaign last year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. CNN
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