Top News Stories For Today – Nov 13, 2017
Deadly earthquake strikes Iran-Iraq border
An earthquake that struck Sunday along the Iraq-Iran border has killed more than 300 people and injured 2,500 others. Iranian state media reported Monday that 328 people were killed there, with the majority of the victims in the town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in Kermanshah province.
Rescuers and relief groups worked overnight into Monday to try to help those affected. The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was magnitude 7.3 with a center near the town of Halabja in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he directed health and aid agencies to do whatever they can to provide assistance. VOA
Trump touts great relationship with Duterte
President Trump said Monday he had a “great relationship” with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte after their first formal one-on-one meeting. Trump declined to answer questions about whether he had pressed human rights issues with Duterte, an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the issue of human rights “briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs.” Duterte’s spokesman said Duterte talked about the “drug menace” but Trump never mentioned human rights. Duterte, who had tense relations with former President Barack Obama, expressed his affinity for Trump at a Sunday dinner by singing a Philippine love ballad that includes the line, “You are the love I’ve been waiting for.” The New York Times, The Week
Texas church shooting memorial service
This was by far the toughest sermon Frank Pomeroy ever delivered. The pastor of the Texas church where 25 people — including his own 14-year-old daughter — and an unborn child were killed fought back tears during the First Baptist Church’s first service since the shooting. “I guarantee without any shadow of a doubt they are dancing with Jesus today. God gets the glory,” Pomeroy said during the service, held under a white tent on a baseball field not far from the church.
For Sunday’s service, the site of the shooting was transformed into a memorial. The entire church gleamed in white, and there were 25 red roses on 25 white chairs for the victims. One chair held a single pink rose in honor of the unborn child. First Baptist Church will resume services in its sanctuary next Sunday. CNN
Rise in Taliban attacks linked to Trump policy
A number of terror attacks have happened across Afghanistan in recent weeks, killing more than 200 Afghan security personnel and dozens of civilians, and injuring hundreds more. Analysts believe the recent rise in attacks in Afghanistan is a Taliban counterstrategy to illustrate the insurgent group’s strength and relevance as the new US strategy is being implemented in the country. US forces have taken on a greater combat role in Afghanistan since the new strategy was announced in August. In September alone, Taliban and Islamic State terror groups were targeted in 751 airstrikes — the highest monthly rate since 2012.
Some analysts, such as Michael Kugelman of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, argue the rise in attacks could also mean rejection of peace talks by the Taliban. Some analysts say the surge in Taliban violence could also be attributed to the US pressure on Islamabad. VOA
Roy Moore threatens to sue Washington Post
Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore continued to mostly deny allegations from four women that he initiated inappropriate physical relationships when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers as young as 14, telling a Christian Citizen Task Force forum that The Washington Post, which reported the accusations after speaking with 30 people who knew Moore in the late 1970s and early ’80s, had printed false allegations “for which they will be sued.”
Meanwhile, four polls since Thursday show a dead heat between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, and Senate Republicans and the White House are increasingly distancing themselves from Moore. Two GOP senators — Tim Scott (S.C.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — said Sunday they find the accusations more credible than Moore’s denials. Politico, NBC News, The Week
Uber seals big investment by SoftBank
Uber on Sunday approved SoftBank’s offer to invest billions in the ride-hailing company. The Japanese conglomerate will lead a consortium of investors to buy at least 14 percent of Uber. SoftBank reportedly plans to buy about $1 billion of fresh Uber stock at the ride-hailing service’s current valuation of about $68.5 billion, and purchase about $9 billion worth of existing shares from current Uber shareholders.
The deal is expected to pave the way for sweeping governance changes at Uber, which has shaken up its leadership following complaints about sexual harassment and a toxic corporate culture, and a move to take the company public by 2019. Bloomberg