Top News Stories for Today

Top News Stories for Today – May 23, 2016

US ends arms embargo to Vietnam

US lifts arms embargo to VietnamOn Monday, President Obama announced in Hanoi that the U.S. is “fully lifting the ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam that has been in place for some 50 years.”

Obama, speaking at a joint news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, said arms sales will still need to meet “strict requirements, including those related to human rights,” but called the embargo “a lingering vestige of the Cold War.” Vietnam had pressed the U.S. for the change, and Obama alluded to the increasingly aggressive posture of China in the South China Sea, saying, “There is, I think, a genuine mutual concern with respect to maritime issues with respect to the United States and Vietnam.” The Wall Street Journal via The Week



Obama confirms death of Taliban leader

Obama confirms death of Taliban leaderAn American drone strike in a restive province of Pakistan killed Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, the White House confirmed on Monday.

Calling the death “an important milestone,” President Obama said in a statement, released just as he was meeting with top officials in Vietnam, that the United States had “removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and coalition forces.”

At a news conference with President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam, Mr. Obama said that targeting Mullah Mansour did not represent a shift in strategy for the United States mission in Afghanistan. New York Times



Iraqi military begins to retake Fallujah

Iraqi military begins to retake FallujahOn Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the military has started its assault against the Islamic State in Fallujah. Earlier, the government warned residents to leave town, or put a white flag outside their home if they were unable to escape.

“The moment of real victory has come,” Abadi said on state TV, and ISIS “has no option but to flee.” Fallujah’s exiled mayor told The Wall Street Journal ISIS fighters have been retreating from the outskirts of the city to its center. It took months to plan the operation, and if successful, Mosul will be the Islamic State’s final stronghold in Iraq. Residents inside Fallujah, which ISIS took over in December 2013, say people are dying of starvation, and there are shortages of medicine. The Iraqi army, counterterrorism forces, police, tribal fighters, and Shiite militias are all participating in the assault. The Wall Street Journal via The Week



Obama’s visit to Hiroshima sparks moral debate

Obama to visit HiroshimaDuring what may be his last tour of Asia, President Barack Obama will make history as the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, the site where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb in wartime.

Even before the president sets foot on what many consider hallowed ground, the announcement has sparked new debate on the decision to drop the bomb, and whether the United States should apologize or if a U.S. president should even visit. Obama is expected to make a statement from Hiroshima, and will likely have to navigate a symbolic minefield.

White House officials have made clear that the president will not apologize. Many older Americans and war veterans oppose Obama’s visit. VOA News

US Presidential election

US Presidential election newsSanders fights Democratic bosses: Bernie Sanders has intensified his fight with Democratic Party leaders by supporting a challenger to the head of Democratic National Committee, and accusing the party establishment of trying to anoint Hillary Clinton as its nominee for president. In a series of television interviews on Sunday, Sanders acknowledged he has an uphill fight to overtake Clinton. He also said that if he wins the White House, he will not reappoint Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chairwoman. Instead, he endorsed law professor Tim Canova, who is challenging the Florida congresswoman in that state’s Democratic primary in August. VOA

Clinton: Trump afraid to release taxes: Hillary Clinton stepped up her attack on Donald Trump Sunday, asserting that he is “afraid” to release his tax returns because it would reveal that he’s paid little or no taxes. Clinton said Trump’s promises to revitalize the military and invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure are hollow pledges because he has aggressively sought to reduce his personal tax burdens even as other Americans pay their share. USA Today

Polls show Clinton and Trump in dead heat: Two national polls released this weekend show that a likely general election contest Donald Trump Hillary Clinton would be a near dead heat. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll Sunday showed Clinton’s former double digit lead over Trump had narrowed to just three points, 46 percent to 43 percent, a margin that is within the poll’s margin of error. A month ago, Clinton led Trump by 11 points, 50 percent to 39 percent. USA Today

Trump’s investment in campaign: Donald Trump plowed another $7.5 million into his bid for the presidency last month, new campaign reports show. Trump’s personal loan in April brings to $43.8 million the amount he has spent on his unorthodox campaign, which has been fueled more by his nonstop television appearances, enormous rallies and relentless tweeting than by traditional political advertising. His money accounts for more than three-fourths of the nearly $57 million the political novice spent to dispatch his 16 Republican rivals before emerging as the GOP’s presumptive nominee after winning Indiana’s May 3 primary. USA Today

Trump’s foreign policy: Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor and former under secretary of State who served presidents of both parties in his Foreign Service career, said Trump’s repeated verbal assaults on Japan, South Korea and our NATO allies raise concern about his candidacy. Burns said Trump is consistently tougher on our friends than on our autocratic adversaries such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, of whom he has spoken admiringly. USA Today

Jack Nicklaus on Trump: In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus discussed his business relationship with Trump — designing golf courses for the billionaire’s commercial properties. CBS’ Jim Axelrod asked what he thought about Trump’s political approach. Nicklaus seemed hesitant to talk politics, but he went on to say Trump is giving the U.S. a much-needed overhaul. “I like what Donald has done … he’s turning America upside down,” Nicklaus told CBS’ Jim Axelrod. “He’s awakening the country.” Nicklaus added that Trump doesn’t seem as smooth or politically correct as he should be, but that the presidential hopeful can learn.  USA Today

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