Top News Stories for Today – November 2, 2016
Iraqi forces enter Mosul city limits
Iraqi troops were moving cautiously Thursday in a neighborhood just inside the city limits of Mosul, going slowly from house-to-house to ensure the safety of civilians. The soldiers had to be wary of booby-trap bombs as well as ambushes and sniper fire from Islamic State militants, who are being urged by their leader to remain and resist losing the last major city they hold in Iraq.
The breach into the city of Mosul, which IS seized more than two years ago, triggered the exodus of hundreds of families. They started to stream out of Mosul, some carrying white flags, others flashing victory signs at elite government troops with Iraq’s US-trained Golden Division, who spearheaded victories this year elsewhere in Iraq against the jihadists, including at Fallujah. VOA
2 US service members killed in Afghan
On Thursday, NATO announced that two US service members were killed in a battle against Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan and two more were wounded. The US forces were part of a “train, advise, and assist mission” in Kunduz province, NATO said, helping the Afghan military clear Taliban fighters from an area and disrupt their operations.
The Taliban overran Kunduz’s capital twice, in 2015 and again in October, before being driven out. “Today’s loss is heartbreaking and we offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of our service members who lost their lives today,” said US Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan. The names of the fallen soldiers will be released after their families are notified. USA Today, The Associated Press, The Week
UK court rules Parliament must approve Brexit
England’s High Court ruled Thursday the British government can’t formally launch the Brexit process without Parliament’s approval. The government can appeal, and it is expected to do so. Still, the ruling marked a clear setback for Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for the country’s exit from the European Union.
Lawmakers could demand changes in May’s approach, and a majority could delay or, theoretically, even block the process, although May’s Conservative Party holds a majority. The British pound, which has been dragged down since the June vote to leave the E.U., surged against the dollar on the news. Reuters, The New York Time, The Week
S Korean scandal edges closer to President
South Korean prosecutors have detained a former senior aide of President Park Geun-hye as they widen their investigation into a snowballing scandal centering on whether the president’s close friend controlled the government from the shadows, officials said Thursday.
Ahn Jong-beom is the second person detained in connection with a scandal that has sent Park’s approval rating to record lows and triggered mounting calls for her resignation. Earlier this week, prosecutors detained Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, and requested an arrest warrant for her.
South Korean media speculate Choi, who has no government position, secretly made policy recommendations for Park and pushed businesses to donate millions of dollars to two foundations she controlled. VOA
US condemns Israel for issuing building permits in East Jerusalem
The US State Department has issued a swift and strong rebuke after learning that Israeli authorities issued building permits Wednesday for 181 new homes in east Jerusalem. “We strongly oppose settlement activity,” spokesman John Kirby told reporters, stressing that such moves “risk entrenching a one-state reality and call into question Israel’s commitment to negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians.”
Jerusalem spokeswoman Brachie Sprung said the plans in the Gilo area were first approved in 2012 and that Wednesday’s approvals were for “technical details of plot distribution.” Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war and later annexed all of Jerusalem, contending it has the right to build in those areas to help ensure its security. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their future capital, and most of the world considers settlement construction there and in the West Bank illegal or illegitimate. VOA
Clinton maintains lead in polls even as race tightens in battleground states: Hillary Clinton managed to hang onto her lead in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, with most voters saying late October scandals regarding the candidates have not impacted their vote. Clinton leads at 45 percent, with Trump trailing at 42 percent, although the difference is within the poll’s margin of error. Another new poll, by Reuters/Ipsos, shows Clinton ahead by 6 points. The Reuters result was better for Clinton than an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday that found Clinton and Trump tied, and more bullish than many of the polling averages. But at a state-by-state level, Clinton’s firewall is no longer so daunting; Trump is even with Clinton in the battleground state of New Hampshire, which had been leaning blue in recent months. A WBUR-FM poll in the state showed Trump ahead by one point, at 40 percent to 39 percent. The Week, The New York Times, Politico
Obama throws shade at FBI’s Comey for operating ‘on innuendo’: President Obama implicitly criticized FBI Director James Comey’s decision to inform Congress about emails potentially related to the Hillary Clinton server investigation in an interview released Wednesday. Obama said he has made a “very deliberate effort to make sure” he doesn’t seem to be “meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes,” but added that generally, “I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, and we don’t operate on leaks.” In the US justice system, Obama said, “we operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.” The New York Times, The Week
Europe’s divided expectations on US election: Polls suggest that if European nations were voting in the US election, Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. Governments across the region are paying close attention and assessing how they will work with the next administration, including one that would be led by Donald Trump. The Republican candidate has found sympathy among a significant segment of Europe’s population, both in migrant-wary Eastern Europe and in Western Europe, where anti-immigrant, anti-EU advocates in Germany, France and Britain are hoping a Trump victory will bolster their causes. VOA
More than 1 Million US Muslims now registered to vote: More than one million American Muslims have registered to vote in the November 8 US elections, a record number that puts the community in a position to tip the race in states where they live in large numbers as polls show a tightening contest, Muslim advocates said on Wednesday. The US Council of Muslim Organizations, an umbrella group of two dozen Muslim advocacy organizations, said its yearlong “One Million Voters” campaign had surpassed its target, more than doubling the number of registered Muslim voters in America since the 2012 presidential election. VOA
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