Top news stories for today – May 25, 2016
Taliban names new leader
The statement was the Taliban’s first confirmation of Mansour’s death. Akhundzada, a Mansour deputy believed to be 45 to 50 years old, is the former chief of the Taliban courts and is considered more of a religious scholar than military commander; he is responsible for most of the fatwas, or religious edicts, from the Taliban. BBC News, The New York Times via The Week
Death penalty seeked for Charleston shooter
The US Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will pursue capital punishment for Dylann Roof, the white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers during a service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Department of Justice released a list of reasons why it will seek the death penalty, including Roof’s “lack of remorse” and the fact that the killings were “racially-motivated” and “intentional.” Roof faces 33 federal charges from the June 2015 incident, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. U.S. Department of Justice, Reuters
Top US’s arms buyers
The US is responsible for nearly 33% of worldwide exports – by far the top arms exporter on the planet. According to research compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which has been analyzing international arms transfers since 1968, Saudi Arabia was the top recipient of American-made arms from 2011-2015, followed closely by the United Arab Emirates.
The rest of the top 10 included Turkey, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Iraq, and Egypt. Experts believe the Middle East will remain a top destination for weapons for some time — it currently accounts for about 40% of US arms exports — especially given the rise of ISIS.
With the end of the US arms embargo, Vietnam will join a long list of international recipients of American armaments. CNN
10,000 families trapped in Falluja
The United Nations says it fears for the safety of an estimated 10,000 families trapped in Falluja as Iraqi forces press in to retake the city from ISIS. Fierce fighting has been raging around Falluja since Iraq’s military launched an offensive Monday to reclaim the traditionally Sunni-dominated city, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, from the terror group.
And with tens of thousands of residents unable to flee the clutches of ISIS, the UN fears that civilians will pay a heavy toll for the liberation of the city. Iraq’s air force has airdropped thousands of leaflets on Falluja instructing residents to leave and promising them passage through “safe corridors” established by the military to camps outside the city.
Activists say ISIS has been preventing residents from leaving, and has cut many communication lines — leaving thousands potentially caught in the crossfire between government troops, backed by Shiite militia and tribal fighters, and the Sunni terror group. CNN
US Presidential election
Washington State primaries: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton won their respective primaries in Washington State on Tuesday, but only Trump gets delegates for his victory. (Democrats allocated their delegates in an earlier caucus, which Bernie Sanders won.) Trump won at least 27 of the 44 delegates at stake, putting him just a few dozen delegates shy of clinching the Republican nomination, a formality since he is the only candidate left in the race. Trump and Clinton are expected to wrap up their nominations on June 7, the next and final slate of contests in the 2016 primary season. The Associated Press via The Week
Trump attacks GOP governor, protesters attack police: In Albuquerque on Tuesday, Donald Trump held his first campaign rally in almost two weeks, and he used his speech to criticize Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Gov. Susana Martinez (R-N.M.), the first Latina governor and current head of the Republican Governors Association. “You’ve got to get your governor to do a better job,” he told the crowd of about 8,000. “She’s not doing her job.” Martinez has declined to endorse Trump, and she and other state GOP leaders did not attend the event. Trump’s rally was interrupted several times by protesters, but unruly crowds outside rushed a police-guarded barricade and threw plastic bottles, rocks, and burning T-shirts at police. Police responded with pepper spray and smoke grenades. Yahoo News, The Associated Press via The Week
Paul Ryan deny Trump endorsement rumor: House Speaker Paul Ryan has denied rumors that he would soon endorse Donald Trump, with his office saying Wednesday that they have “not told the Trump campaign to expect an endorsement.” The announcement follows comments made by unidentified senior Trump campaign sources, who told ABC News that Ryan would at long last throw his support behind their candidate. Ryan is the highest-ranking Republican official, and his endorsement would widely be seen as a sign that the Republican Party is uniting after its divisive primary. ABC News
Trump attacks Bill Clinton: Donald Trump released an Instagram video on Monday that features ominous music and audio from three women who accused the former president of sexual assault in the 1990s. As the video approaches the end, it shows a photo of the Clintons sitting together while the words “Here we go again!” appear. Hillary Clinton is heard laughing in the background. Trump has said in recent interviews that his campaign will continue the attacks to remind voters of the controversies involving Bill Clinton. VOA
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Related articles from around the web
- Charleston Church Shooting Suspect Dylann Roof Will Face Death Penalty, Feds Say (thewrap.com)
- Baghdad Claims Progress in Falluja; 164 Killed Across Iraq (rinf.com)
- Iraq forces keep up shelling of Falluja, U.N. concern mounts for civilians | Reuters (firstpost.com)
- Afghan Taliban: Haibatullah Akhundzada appointed new leader (israelnationalnews.com)
- Life after Mansour: Afghanistan’s new act (blogs.timesofisrael.com)