Top news stories for today – May 26, 2016
G7 leaders meet in Japan
The heads of state of the world’s seven wealthiest nations plus the leaders of the European Union began their annual summit in the coastal Japanese city of Ise Shima on May 26.
Prime Minster Shinzo Abe greeted U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada at the Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest site in Japan’s Shinto religion, of which Abe is a fervent follower. Each leader walked across a long bridge to the shrine, accompanied by a white-robed priest, before assembling for a traditional group photograph.
The agenda for the two-day G7 summit is dedicated to boosting the sluggish global economy, combating terrorism and maritime security, the last point an obvious nod to China’s increasing territorial expansion in the resource-rich South China Sea, ignoring similar claims by its Asia Pacific neighbors.
China has warned the Group of Seven (G7) countries against holding talks that it argues could worsen tensions in the South China Sea. U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at the opening of the G7 Summit in Japan on Thursday, said the G7 leaders intend to cover the South China Sea along with other international issues of the day. VOA
Iraqi retakes key town from ISIS
Iraqi security forces and supporting militias have retaken the key town of Karma from ISIS as part of a push to recapture the city of Falluja, according to the spokesman of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command.
The recapture of Karma, about 10 miles northeast of Falluja, means that most territory east of the city is now controlled by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
It is the first significant victory for Iraqi forces since they launched their campaign Monday to reclaim the city of Falluja, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, from the terror group. CNN
11 states of US sue Obama administration
Eleven states are represented in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Obama administration, challenging federal guidelines that require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas, is a response to a directive released earlier in May by the Obama administration, which critics say oversteps the government’s bounds. It further accuses the administration of trying to turn schools and workplaces into “laboratories for a massive social experiment.” The Washington Post, Reuters via The Week
Economic crisis and cancer deaths
A new study says the global economic crisis of 2008 may have caused 500,000 cancer deaths. The study in the medical journal Lancet says a loss of jobs and cuts in health care shut out people seeking help for such easily diagnosed and treatable cancers as prostate cancer for men, breast cancer for women and colon cancer for both genders.
The authors of the study reached their conclusions by calculating the rise in cancer deaths for every 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate combined with the drop in health care spending. Lead author Mahiben Maruthappu says one conclusion from the study is that cuts in universal health care spending cost lives.
“If health systems experience funding constraints, this must be matched by efficiency improvements to ensure patients are offered the same level of care regardless of economic environment or unemployment status,” he said.
The study concludes that the association between the rise in cancer deaths and unemployment disappears when universal health care is available. VOA
New Taliban leader: No peace talk
The new Afghan Taliban leader has told commanders and the group’s supreme leadership council that there will be no peace talks with the Afghan government, a source in the group reached through an intermediary said Wednesday.
The source said that Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, newly appointed to lead the terror group after a U.S. drone strike killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour, will follow the militant policies espoused by founder Mullah Omar, who was killed in Pakistan in 2013.
The source said that the appointment of Akhundzada “will bring back the era of Mullah Mohammad Omar,” referring to the one-eyed mujahedeen commander who led the group from its inception in 1994, with “a simple life, loyalty, and terror on enemies.” The Taliban has made strong battlefield gains against government forces in recent months, driving back Afghan troops from key positions and launching a string of bombings in Kabul. CNN
US Presidential election
Obama: World leaders are rattled by Trump: President Obama told reporters at the G-7 Summit in Japan on Thursday that world leaders are rattled by Donald Trump. Obama, who has tended to prefer criticizing Trump obliquely rather than head-on, minced no words in calling the candidate “ignorant of world affairs” and guilty of displaying a “cavalier attitude.” “[World leaders] are paying very close attention to this election,” Obama said. “I think it is fair to say they are surprised by the Republican nominee.” The Hill
Clinton’s email problem: Internal State Department audit found that the former secretary of state’s use of personal email to conduct government business was not appropriate and that she failed to follow guidelines intended to prevent cybersecurity risks. Congressional Republicans said the report showed Clinton isn’t fit to be president, while Democrats downplayed the implications for national security and the general election in November. Trump opened a campaign rally in California on Wednesday by calling Clinton “as crooked as they come,” and said the inspector general’s report was “not good.” VOA
Sanders narrows gap with Clinton: Bernie Sanders has nearly closed the gap with Hillary Clinton in California’s June 7 Democratic primary, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday night. Clinton leads Sanders among likely voters, 46 percent to 44 percent, within the poll’s margin of error; a poll from the institute in March had Clinton leading 48 percent to 41 percent. Among Democrats, Clinton leads 49 percent to 41 percent, but there has been a surge of independents registering in California; unaffiliated voters can vote in the Democratic primary. The outcome of the primary almost certainly won’t affect Clinton clinching the nomination on June 7. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times via The Week
Trump on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Donald Trump was on Wednesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, and he discussed his use of aliases (though only in real estate deals, he said), transgender bathroom usage (he refused to offer his personal opinion), and the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Trump said he thought Sanders “would be easier to beat” than Clinton, and agreed to debate Sanders before the California primary, if Sanders gave him money to donate to charity. Musical guests The Weeknd and the rapper Belly pulled out of Wednesday’s Kimmel Live because Trump was on. The Associated Press, Mashable, The Week
Trump’s resume is unlikely any previous US leaders: Trump has never been vice president, elected to the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, or served as the governor of one of the 50 U.S. states. Of the 43 people who have been president, 37 of them held at least one of those positions prior to taking office. For the six presidents with no major elected office on their resume, being a war hero like George Washington or Dwight Eisenhower or a Cabinet secretary like William Taft or Herbert Hoover was enough to mount a successful campaign. Neither Trump nor Clinton was in the military. VOA
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