Top News Stories for Today – June 30, 2017
Watchdog confirms Syria chemical attack
An investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog confirmed Friday that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly April 4 attack on a Syrian town, the latest confirmation of chemical weapons use in Syria’s civil war.
The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province left more than 90 people dead, including women and children, and sparked outrage around the world as photos and video of the aftermath, including quivering children dying on camera, were widely broadcast. VOA
Russians tried to get hacked Clinton emails
Before he died in May, a longtime Republican operative, Peter W. Smith, told The Wall Street Journal during an interview that last fall he put together a small group of researchers and attorneys in an attempt to track down emails he thought had been stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server. A computer security expert named Eric York told WSJ that when Smith asked him to work on the project, he implied Michael Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, was involved.
“He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this — if you find anything, can you let me know?'” York said. Flynn did not respond to a request for comment. U.S. officials with knowledge of the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election told WSJ that U.S. investigators have looked at reports from intelligence agencies that say Russian hackers were talking about ways to get emails from Clinton’s server and get them to Flynn through an intermediary. The Wall Street Journal, The Week
Trump’s travel ban takes effect partially
President Trump’s travel ban on refugees and visitors from six majority-Muslim countries took partial effect Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, after months of being stalled in courts. The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review the ban this fall, but ruled the ban could go into effect in the meantime — but only for would-be visitors who don’t have “bona fide relationships” within the U.S. The Trump administration defined “bona fide” ties as: parents, spouses, children, siblings, or sons- or daughters-in-law, but not grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, siblings-in-law, or cousins.
On Thursday night, fiancées were added to the list. Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday night asking a federal judge to rule that the ban cannot be enforced against relatives not included in the definition set forward by the State Department. The ruling affects new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. CNN, The Associated Press, The Week
German parliament approves same-sex marriage
On Friday, Germany’s parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage, in the last session before parliament’s summer break and September elections. Chancellor Angela Merkel had paved the way for the snap vote on Monday when she told lawmakers in her conservative coalition that they could vote their conscience, though she herself voted no on Friday.
The measure, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, passed 393 to 226, with 4 abstentions. It is expected to face legal challenges. Germany has allowed same-sex civil unions since 2001. The Associated Press, The Week
China over US’s 1.4b arm sale to Taiwan
The US’ decision to go ahead with the sale of a $1.4 billion arms package to Taiwan threatens to undermine US-Chinese relations, China’s ambassador to Washington said. Speaking to the People’s Daily newspaper Thursday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said recent US moves eroded the trust built when US President Donald Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida in April.
A statement released by the Chinese Embassy in Washington said that the sale of arms to Taiwan “grossly interferes” in China’s domestic affairs. “The Chinese side has lodged serious representation to the US side, and reserves every right to take further action,” read the statement. CNN
Chinese Military might on display in Hong Kong for Xi
President Xi Jinping inspected troops based in Hong Kong Friday as he asserts Chinese authority over the former British colony China took control of 20 years ago. Armored personnel carriers, combat vehicles, helicopters and other pieces of military hardware were arrayed behind the troops.
It was a rare display of the Chinese military’s might in Hong Kong, where it normally maintains a low-key presence. VOA
Britain’s Andy Murray will begin the defense of his Wimbledon title against a qualifier or lucky loser on Monday. The 30-year-old Scot, who won the tournament for a second time last year, is the top seed and will begin on Centre Court at 14:00 BST.
Seven-time champion Roger Federer faces Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov in his opening match. British number one Johanna Konta, seeded sixth, plays Hsieh Su-wei in the first round on Monday. Konta, who withdrew from her semi-final at Eastbourne with a back injury on Friday, was surprisingly beaten by the Taiwanese player in the French Open first round earlier this month.
Defending women’s champion Serena Williams is absent as she awaits the birth of her first child. The men’s draw put Murray and fourth seed Rafael Nadal of Spain in the same half as potential semi-final opponents, with Swiss third seed Federer and second seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia together in the opposite half. BBC
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