Top News Stories for Today – October 20, 2016
Mosul operation going faster than expected
Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, says the operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State is going much faster than expected. He spoke in Paris, where foreign ministers from Western and Middle Eastern nations have been meeting to discuss how to restore peace and stability once the terror group is ousted from Iraq’s second-largest city.
“The forces are pushing toward the town more quickly than we thought and more quickly than we had programmed in our campaign plan,” Abadi said. On Wednesday, the US general running the coalition ground campaign in Iraq urged Iraqi forces fighting for Mosul not to “go so fast that they start to give opportunity to the enemy.” VOA
Turkey bombs US backed Kurdish rebels in Syria
Turkish jets hit US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia with at least 18 airstrikes overnight, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Thursday. Turkey said it killed 160 to 200 Kurdish fighters, but the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a death toll of 11.
The Kurdish forces had recently retaken three villages north of Aleppo from the Islamic State. The fighters, with the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG), are considered by the US to be the most effective ground force against the Islamic State, but Turkey — also a US ally — links them to Kurdish separatist guerrillas inside Turkey. Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Week
Philippine president restores ties with China
On Thursday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made a first step toward restoring ties with China when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Duterte’s visit came a day after he declared it was “time to say goodbye” to the US Though no major deals were made, Xi and Duterte reportedly signed 13 agreements and also agreed to talk further about territorial disputes over the South China Sea.
“In this venue, your honors, I announce my separation from the United States, both in military, not maybe social, but economics also,” he said, speaking at a business forum late Thursday. His remarks to the crowd of business people and officials triggered a roaring round of applause.
“America has lost now. I have realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world, China, Philippines and Russia. It is the only way.” In his speech, Duterte also called Americans “discourteous people” who are too loud for Asian sensibilities. He said he likes China because it does not go around insulting people. The Washington Post, The New York Times, VOA
Russia criticizes US over Prague hacking arrest
The detention of a Russian man in the Czech Republic on US hacking charges shows Washington is mounting a global manhunt against Russian citizens, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said on Thursday.
Failed missile launch detected in N. Korea
In a statement, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said North Korea likely launched a Musudan intermediate-range missile early Thursday. US and South Korean monitors say the missile appeared to have exploded shortly after take-off and thus posed no threat. VOA
US Presidential election
Trump, Clinton clash in final presidential debate: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton clashed on abortion, immigration, and the Supreme Court Wednesday night during the final presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. The 90-minute affair, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, started out on a less contentious note than the first two debates, but ended with Trump calling Clinton “such a nasty woman.” On foreign policy, Clinton accused Trump of being a potential “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Trump said Clinton was “outsmarted” while secretary of state. Regarding reproductive rights, Clinton said she will “defend” Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood, and Trump said he would appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices. When asked by Wallace if he would accept the results on Nov. 8 should he lose, Trump said he will “look at it at the time,” and plans to keep people in “suspense.” Clinton called this stance “horrifying.” Fox News, The Week
Trump refuses to say if he’ll accept election results: Donald Trump has been warning supporters that the election is rigged against him, and when asked during the final presidential debate by moderator Chris Wallace if he will accept the results on Nov. 8 should he lose, he said he plans to keep people “in suspense,” and will “look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now.” His running mate, Mike Pence, and daughter Ivanka Trump both said he will accept the results, but Trump didn’t agree. “What I’ve seen is so bad,” he said. “First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile-on is so amazing.” Hillary Clinton called his non-committal to a peaceful transition “horrifying,” adding that “every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is is rigged against him.” After the debate, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, who on Sunday said the ticket would “absolutely” accept the results, added a caveat, telling NBC News “if the vote is fair, I’m confident we’ll accept it.” The Week
Anti-Semitic messages targeted US Jewish journalists critical of Trump: The Anti-Defamation League in the US said Wednesday that thousands of anti-Semitic hate messages targeted Jewish journalists in the last year. The group, which monitors ethnic slurs and bigotry against Jews, said that 19,253 anti-Semitic Twitter comments were sent to 800 reporters between August 2015 and July. It covered the period when Trump took command of the Republican presidential nominating contest while besting 16 other candidates to become the party’s standard bearer in next month’s election against Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Anti-Defamation League said the anti-Semitic comments came from 1,600 Twitter accounts and that the senders were “disproportionately likely to identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the ‘alt-right,’ a loosely connected group of extremists, some of whom are white supremacists.” VOA
Fact Check on debate
- Trump defended his recent claims about rampant voter fraud by citing a Pew Charitable Trust report that found millions of errors in voter registration rolls but didn’t allege any actual voting violations.
- Trump falsely claimed that allegations of sexual harassment against him “have been largely debunked.” Trump has eight female accusers. In one case, a man claiming to be an eyewitness offered a conflicting account without providing evidence.
- Trump also denied calling any of his accusers unattractive. But he implied it when he told his supporters, “Yeah, I’m gonna go after her. Believe me, she would not be my first choice.”
- Clinton accused Trump of threatening to deport “undocumented workers” during the Trump Tower project in 1980. There is no evidence that Trump made such threats.
- Clinton claimed she opposed a 2008 Supreme Court decision striking the Washington, D.C., handgun ban, because the city was trying “to protect toddlers from guns.” But she didn’t make that distinction last year in speaking at a private fundraiser.
- Trump wrongly said that $6 billion was “missing” from the State Department when Clinton was secretary of state. The State Department Office of the Inspector General said that department records of $6 billion in contracts — not the money — were missing or incomplete.
- Trump said the federal debt had doubled to $20 trillion under Obama. Clinton said annual deficits had been cut by two-thirds. Both were straining the facts.
- Clinton and Trump disagreed about what Trump had said about more countries getting nuclear weapons. Clinton was closer to the truth. Trump did say perhaps Japan and South Korea should have nuclear weapons to protect themselves.
- Trump falsely claimed that billionaire investor Warren Buffett, a Clinton supporter, did “the same thing” Trump did to avoid paying federal income taxes. Buffett said that’s not true and that he has “paid federal income tax every year since 1944.”
- Trump and Wallace disagreed over whether Trump used money from his own foundation to settle his lawsuits. Trump did.
- Each candidate misrepresented the other’s position on abortion. Trump suggested Clinton supported abortions on the “final day” of pregnancy, when she’s open to some late-term restrictions. Clinton said Trump favored “some form of punishment for women who obtain abortions.” He quickly walked back that comment months ago.
- Trump implied a link between Chicago’s tough gun laws and gun violence in the city. But the opposite correlation — fewer gun laws and higher rates of gun deaths — has been shown, and a causation between the two factors is impossible to prove. VOA
- China shows power in parade
- Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood
- Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus