Top news stories for today – June 12, 2016
US approves 6 airlines to Cuba
In a new step for the thaw in US-Cuba relations, six airlines have the go-ahead to offer direct flights to nine Cuban cities (excluding Havana, whose flight schedules are under separate consideration), the Department of Transportation announced Friday.
Americans will be able to fly to Cuba from Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia as soon as this fall. The airlines whose applications were approved are American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver, Southwest, and Sun Country. The New York Times, The Week
Iraqi continue battle to retake Fallujah
Iraqi government forces met heavy resistance from Islamic State militants in their weeks-old offensive to retake the Anbar provincial town of Fallujah. Two suicide attacks also hit a revered Shi’ite shrine in Damascus.
Iraqi government forces and their Shi’ite militia allies fought to wrest the Anbar province bastion of Fallujah from Islamic State militants Saturday amid conflicting reports on progress. Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi claimed during a visit to the battle zone Saturday that government forces were advancing along a new front from the west of the city.
He says the Iraqi army’s Eighth Brigade has entered the western districts of Fuleihat and Subeihat and is advancing toward the Bou Alwan bridge. VOA
California Senate race reflects Democrats’ demographic edge
California’s fast-changing demographics are reflected in the state’s top two candidates for the US Senate. Analysts say the two women, who are members of ethnic minorities, highlight the Republican Party’s challenge of competing in a state where immigration has reshaped the political map.
For the first time, a Republican candidate will not appear on the ballot in a California statewide race. Voters have selected two Democrats to compete for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, an African-American, and U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, who is Hispanic.
“This is the first time,” Dan Schnur, a Republican strategist said, “we’ve seen it at the statewide level [where] the Republicans are simply not in a position to compete.”
US Supreme Court to rule 3 major cases with 8 members
The US Supreme Court has just under three weeks left until it is scheduled to recess for the summer, but before that happens the court is expected to rule on high-profile cases regarding affirmative action, immigration and abortion.
Decisions will be handed down in the most important abortion case in almost 25 years, an affirmative action lawsuit accusing a Texas university of discriminating against white applicants, and a challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive order that granted legal status and work permits to four million immigrants in the country illegally.
The outcomes of the cases will directly affect the lives of millions of Americans, but with the court down to just eight justices following the death of Antonin Scalia earlier this year, two of the decisions could get slightly complicated. VOA
Missing report pages in 9/11 attacks
CIA chief John Brennan says that he believes 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission report will soon be made public, and that they will prove that the government of Saudi Arabia had no involvement in the September 11 attacks.
The families of those killed in the attacks have long wanted the pages from the 2002 report — officially titled the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 — made public.
There had been widespread speculation that these pages concern Saudi Arabia, its wealthy citizens and the financing of terrorist operations. But whatever was actually contained in those 28 pages was ultimately redacted from the report, and the families have been waiting 14 years to read the government’s conclusions. CNN
US Presidential election
Google denies charges of pro-Clinton bias in search results: Google defended itself Friday against allegations stemming from a viral video by SourceFed that it manipulates search results to repress information which could harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The video argues that Google’s autocomplete function favors less popular but more favorable search terms, suggesting options like “Hillary Clinton Indiana” over the more-searched “Hillary Clinton indictment.” Google executive Tamar Yehoshua wrote in a blog post that the autocomplete filters out “offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries about people…no matter who the person is.” USA Today, Mediaite, The Week
Romney blame GOP leaders in tear: Mitt Romney on Saturday torched Donald Trump and the Republicans who failed to stop his climb to the party’s presidential nomination, saying the current fortunes of the GOP are “breaking my heart.” He criticized Republican candidates such as John Kasich and Ted Cruz, as well as super PACs such as Jeb Bush’s well-funded Right to Rise group, for not stopping Trump in the primary. “Ted Cruz was basically praising Donald Trump through the whole process until the very end,” Romney told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who was hosting the discussion. As for Kasich, “he was in well after the time there was no possible pathway to becoming the nominee.” CNN
Rev. Jesse Jackson endorses Hillary Clinton: The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Hillary Clinton for president Saturday, calling her “the most qualified and best hope” to rebuild urban America and stop unemployment and violence in cities across the country. The civil rights leader has a close working relationship with both Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and vowed to wait until one of the candidates clinched the Democratic party’s nomination. Clinton declared victory Tuesday night when she reached the magic number of 2,383 delegates needed. USA Today
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