Top news stories for today – June 19, 2016
Obama urges assault weapons ban
“Being tough on terrorism, particularly the sorts of homegrown terrorism that we’ve seen now in Orlando and San Bernardino,” Obama said, “means making it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on assault weapons that are capable of killing dozens of innocents as quickly as possible.” Though an “assault weapon” has no legal definition under current federal law, it is generally considered to mean a semiautomatic rifle with certain military features. The Hill, Wall Street Journal, The Week
Killer of British lawmaker appears in court
The man charged with shooting and stabbing to death a rising star of British politics gave his name Saturday as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” during his first court appearance since the killing stunned this nation on Thursday.
Thomas Mair, 52, made the comment when a judge asked for his name in a London magistrate’s court. Mair was officially charged Saturday with the murder of Jo Cox, a 41-year-old Parliament member of the center-left Labour Party who had been an outspoken advocate for refugees, immigrants and Britain’s continued membership in the European Union.
Mair’s statement adds considerable weight to the theory that Cox’s killing was a politically motivated, far-right attack just a week before Britain is to vote on the highly contentious question of whether the country should stay in the EU. Although neighbors and family members have described Mair as apolitical, watchdog groups have unearthed evidence of decades-long affiliations with neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations. Washington Post
Canadian parliament approves assisted suicide
After Canada’s supreme court struck down a ban on assisted suicide, the nation’s parliament passed controversial legislation Friday to permit the terminally ill to end their lives with medical assistance.
The bill was primarily debated on grounds that it is too restrictive, as it does not make eligible patients with certain degenerative diseases, like multiple sclerosis. A statement from Canada’s health and justice ministers said the bill as-is strikes “the right balance between personal autonomy for those seeking access to medically assisted dying and protecting the vulnerable.” BBC, The Week
British astronaut Tim Peake back to earth
Britain’s first astronaut aboard the International Space Station is back on Earth after a six-month mission. Tim Peake landed in a Soyuz capsule in Kazakhstan on Saturday morning. He was accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and U.S. astronaut Timothy Kopra, who’ve spent 186 days in space with him.
“What an incredible journey it has been– thank you for following!” Peake tweeted before the Soyuz spacecraft took off. He ran the London Marathon strapped to a treadmill, held a science lesson for 300,000 schoolkids and ventured out of the space station on his first spacewalk. CNN
US Boeing to sell Iran 100 airliners
The U.S.-based giant aviation corporation Boeing has reached an agreement with Iran to sell the country 100 passenger planes, Iran’s aviation authority announced Sunday. The deal is one of three separate agreements made between Iran and Western plane makers for a total of around 200 aircraft since Washington lifted economic sanctions on the country in January.
“We have 250 planes in the country, 230 need to be replaced,” said Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Iran’s civil aviation body, though he added there is no set timeline for the delivery of the planes.
Most of Iran’s civil aviation fleet is in a state of disrepair and in desperate need of replacement, but Boeing is still waiting on final authorization of the deal from the U.S. Treasury, Abedzadeh said. VOA
Rome may elect first woman Mayor
Rome may have its first female mayor after Sunday’s local runoff elections in Italy. Thirty-seven-year-old lawyer Virginia Raggi won the first round two weeks ago, earning 35 percent of the vote over the 24 percent of rival Roberto Giachetti of the party that heads the country’s ruling coalition.
Raggi represents the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) founded just seven years ago by comedian Beppe Grillo. M5S has become the leading opposition party against the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his center-left Democratic Party.
Rome is one of more than 100 cities and towns across Italy holding local runoff elections Sunday, representing more than a quarter of the country’s population. VOA
US Presidential election
Trump campaign asks for $100,000 of fund: The Donald Trump campaign on Saturday released its first “emergency” fund-raising email, in response to an ad blitz from the Hillary Clinton campaign. “Right now we’re facing an emergency goal of $100,000 to help get our ads on the air. We need your contribution by 11:59 P.M. Tonight,” the email from Team Trump said. “Crooked Hillary is about to invade your TV with ads attacking Mr. Trump. But we’re preparing to fight back,” it reads. The email promises to release ads attacking Clinton on her role in Benghazi, the integrity of her donors and reported FBI probing of her private email server while secretary of state. CNN
Trump said Sanders wait for FBI convention: Donald Trump on Saturday suggested Bernie Sanders is staying in the Democratic race because of an “FBI convention” that would lead to prosecution of Hillary Clinton over her private email server while secretary of state. At a Las Vegas rally, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, implied that Sanders is waiting for Clinton to be indicted so he can then claim the Democratic nomination himself at the party’s convention in Philadelphia. CNN
Trump’s baseless assimilation claim: Donald Trump made a baseless claim that assimilation among Muslim immigrants in the US is “pretty close” to “nonexistent.” Trump offered no support for his claim, but the Pew Research Center, which conducted detailed surveys in 2011, concluded that “Muslim Americans appear to be highly assimilated into American society.” Scholars on Islam that we spoke to also dismissed Trump’s claim as “bizarre,” absurd” and inconsistent with their observations of a Muslim community that they say is — for the most part — well integrated into American culture and identity. USA Today
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- EU ‘violates international law’ by failing to tackle corruption, says justice minister (rinf.com)
- Venezuela next Mercosur chair, but Uruguay will continue leading negotiations with EU (en.mercopress.com)
- India successfully launches its first space shuttle (independent.co.uk)
- Video: The EU Monster (teapartyeconomist.com)