Top News Stories for Today – October 17, 2016
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Sunday that a military operation by Iraqi troops, Kurdish peshmerga, and allied forces backed by the US-led coalition is now underway to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State.
ISIS has been in control of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, for more than two years, and it is their last major stronghold in the country. The operation has been in the planning stages for months, and more than 25,000 troops are taking part, The Associated Press reports. Residents were warned in advance of the offensive, and the U.N. said at least 1.2 million people might be affected, an “enormous” humanitarian impact. BBC News, The Week
US calls for cease-fire in Yemen
US Secretary of State John Kerry called for an unconditional cease-fire in Yemen on Sunday, “as rapidly as possible, meaning Monday, Tuesday.” His demand comes one day after the Navy destroyer USS Mason fired at the coastline of civil war-wracked Yemen for the third time in a week Saturday after the ship detected what may have been incoming missiles.
Though the warship’s crew initially believed themselves to be under fire, the Navy now says it also could have been a radar malfunction. “We are aware of the reports and we are assessing the situation. All of our ships and crews are safe and unharmed,” said a Defense Department official. Previously, the Mason was fired upon and launched missiles in return this past Sunday night and Thursday morning. Reuters, CNN, The Week
UK blocks Russian broadcaster RT’s bank accounts
Britain has blocked Russian broadcaster RT’s bank accounts, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said on Monday via social media. “Our accounts have been blocked in Britain. All of our accounts. ‘The decision cannot be appealed’. Long live freedom of speech!” Simonyan wrote. She did not say why the accounts had been blocked. VOA
China launches manned mission to space
China launched a pair of astronauts into space Monday on a mission to dock with an experimental space station and remain aboard for 30 days in preparation for the start of operations by a full-bore facility six years from now. The Shenzhou 11 mission took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China at 7:30 a.m. (2330 GMT) aboard a Long March-2F carrier rocket.
It will dock with the Tiangong 2 space station precursor facility within two days, conduct experiments in medicine and various space-related technologies, and test systems and processes in preparation for the launching of the station’s core module in 2018.
Space program commander-in-chief Gen. Zhang Youxia declared the launch a success at 7:46 a.m. (2346 GMT). Defense Minister Fan Changlong then read a congratulatory message from President Xi Jinping calling for China’s astronauts to explore space “more deeply and more broadly.” VOA
US Presidential Election
41 percent of electorate thinks the election could be ‘stolen’ from Donald Trump: Donald Trump has suggested that the election will be rigged against him, an assertion he has doubled-down on in the wake of his slipping poll numbers. “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places — SAD,” Trump tweeted Sunday. Even as the Republican Party has distanced itself from such claims, the electorate seems to be accepting Trump’s theory: Forty-one percent of voters responding to a Politico/Morning Consult poll agreed the election could be “stolen” from Trump due to voter fraud. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans think the election could be stolen, although just 17 percent of Democrats do. Trump’s running mate Mike Pence assured Meet the Press on Sunday that the candidate “will absolutely accept the result of the election.” Politico, The Week
Trump’s team reportedly exploring TV network as a plan B: Donald Trump’s team has reportedly made moves to investigate setting up a television network if the candidate fails to win the White House in November. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, informally spoke with Aryeh Bourkoff, the chief executive of the investment firm LionTree, about the potential network; people knowledgeable of the conversation said it was short and has not continued since the initial meeting. Still, it shows that reality does not seem to agree with Trump’s assurance that “I have no interest in a media company,” as he told The Washington Post in September. Possible allies in such a future venture could include Trump campaign manager and Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, InfoWars’ Alex Jones, and former Fox News head Roger Ailes, although his exit agreement would prohibit him from close involvement. Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Week
Trump campaign declares war on Ohio GOP chairman: On Saturday, Trump Ohio director Bob Paduchik criticized Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges for not supporting Trump’s presidential bid and running a “self-promotional media tour” across the state, according to a letter sent to the party’s 66-member governing body. The criticism comes after Borges told The Enquirer he wasn’t sure if he would vote for Trump on Nov. 8. “I have no idea what game he was playing,” Paduchik wrote. “Some Ohio Republicans have described it as disgraceful, I find it utterly bizarre.” USA Today
A Conservative Glenn Beck praises Michelle Obama’s speech slamming Trump: When the history of the crazed 2016 presidential election is written, one section is likely to be reserved for Michelle Obama and her speech. The first lady’s remarks last week denouncing Donald Trump’s comments about women is drawing praise across the political spectrum, and is being hailed as a pivotal event in the contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, a Trump critic, described Mrs. Obama’s remarks as “the most effective political speech I have heard since Ronald Reagan.”
Paul Begala, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that Michelle Obama’s speech will be remembered long after the votes are counted, especially if Hillary Clinton becomes the nation’s first woman president. “Michelle Obama’s speech will be one of the things people study 100 years from now,” Begala said. “It was that powerful.” USA Today
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