Top News Stories for Today – June 19, 2017
London terrorist attack
A vehicle hit several people in north London’s Finsbury Park area early Monday, killing one and sending at least 10 to the hospital, Metropolitan Police said. Prime Minister Theresa May says the attack is “every bit as sickening” as recent ones to hit the UK.
8 people were taken to hospital after the attack outside the mosque, which is also a community centre. A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. A group of people were helping a man who had collapsed when they were hit by the van just after midnight. The man has died, but it is unclear whether this was as a result of the attack. Police said all the victims of the attack were Muslim. BBC
Trump to meet tech CEOs
The Jared Kushner-headed Office of American Innovation hosts a tech summit Monday with CEOs from companies including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft in attendance. The executives will be joined by White House officials including President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Ivanka Trump, as well as certain Cabinet heads.
“The [tech] industry’s employees aren’t usually happy when their CEOs engage with the president,” writes Axios. “But a combination of policy realities … and a fear of being out of the loop on other discussions … keeps executives coming back to the table.” The executives will work in group sessions under the umbrella topic of “modernizing government technology.” Axios, Politico, The Week
US shot down Syrian fighter jet
On Sunday, a Syrian government fighter jet was shot down by a US aircraft hours after Syrian forces bombed US-backed fighters in a village southwest of Raqqa, the Pentagon said. This was the first time a US jet downed a manned hostile aircraft in more than 10 years, The Washington Post reports, and the fourth time in a month that the US military attacked Syrian loyalist forces. In a statement, the Syrian military said the jet was carrying out a mission against the Islamic State, and its pilot was killed.
A spokesman for the US Central Command, Col. John Thomas, scoffed at the claim that the aircraft was bombing ISIS, because the village of Ja’Din is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition mostly comprised of Arab and Kurdish fighters, and ISIS hasn’t recently been in the area. Thomas said the jet was warned to stand down, and US forces in the area were not threatened directly. Russia issues warning after Syrian fighter jet shot down. Russia also halts communication with the US aimed at preventing air incidents. The Washington Post , The Week, BBC
Britain-EU launch Brexit talks
Representatives from Britain and the European Union are meeting Monday in Brussels to begin the complicated process of negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU. The talks come about one year after voters in Britain narrowly decided to make the move. Top British negotiator David Davis said his side is starting the process with a “positive and constructive tone,” and that “there is more that unites us than divides us.”
The lead EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, said his priority is to clear up “uncertainties caused by Brexit.” Officials on both sides play down expectations for what can be achieved in one day. EU diplomats hope this first meeting can improve the atmosphere after some spiky exchanges. VOA
French parliamentary election
French President Emmanuel Macron’s party and its allies will have a strong majority parliament after winning 60 percent of seats in Sunday’s second and final round of elections. Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move took 308 seats, while ally Modem won 42 spots in the 577-seat National Assembly.
The far-right National Front party of Macron’s rival in the elections, Marine Le Pen, took just eight seats, including one for Le Pen herself. She had predicted a rousing victory for the National Front, but the party will now be left virtually silent with so few seats. The Socialist Party of former President Francois Hollande won 29 seats. The Republicans will be the lead opposition party after taking 131 seats. VOA
Iraqi forces launch final assault Mosul
Iraqi forces launched a final assault on Mosul’s Old city, the last stronghold of Islamic State in their self-declared “caliphate” in Iraq. Following overnight airstrikes by the US-led coalition, Iraqi forces began the attack on the historic district of Iraq’s second largest city at dawn, military commanders said.
According to VOA’s Heather Murdock in Mosul, soldiers say they have broken through the first defense lines that surround the area, where as many as 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped, starving and serving as human shields to IS. Soldiers say these families are a key source of intelligence as military forces fight on foot, taking one house at a time. The Old City of Mosul is the area of the city still under the control of Islamic State, who seized Mosul three years ago. VOA
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