Top News Stories for Today – October 24, 2016
Battle of retaking Mosul
Iraqi special forces captured Bartella, a historically Christian town some 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Mosul, and celebrated victory by raising the Iraqi flag over its church and ringing the church bell. The Iraqi army’s 9th Division pushed into the nearby town of Hamdaniyah and said it captured the main government compound. To the north, Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga have driven IS out of several villages and, along with Iraqi special forces, have encircled the town of Bashiqa.
Progress has been slower to the south of Mosul, where troops have only advanced to around 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the city. They were hampered over the weekend after IS torched a nearby sulfur plant, sending a cloud of toxic fumes into the air that mingled with smoke from oil wells the militants had lit on fire.
IS meanwhile launched a massive assault on the city of Kirkuk, some 170 kilometers (100 miles) away, killing at least 80 people in two days of clashes in an apparent attempt to divert Iraqi forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi insists the operation is progressing ahead of schedule. But the fight to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is expected to take weeks, if not months.
Hundreds of ISIS fighters are fleeing Mosul in Iraq and crossing into neighboring Syria as coalition forces close in on the city, a powerful tribal leader in the region says. Sheikh Abdullah Alyawer, a tribal leader in the town of Rabia, on Iraq’s border with Syria, told CNN that dozens of ISIS militants and their families were fleeing the city each day, and crossing into Syria at Ba’aaj, an ISIS-controlled crossing point south of Sinjar. ABC News, CNN
France is clearing a migrant camp
French authorities have begun the process of clearing the massive refugee camp in Calais known as “the Jungle.” The camp has poor sanitation and makeshift living quarters, and the French government said it is being destroyed on humanitarian grounds.
The Jungle was believed to have held more than 7,000 people, many of whom have already been peacefully relocated to camps elsewhere in France; migrants will be allowed to seek asylum and if they do not, they could face deportation. More than 1,200 police have been dispatched to prepare for those who still want to try to get to Britain and may refuse to leave. “Our dream is over,” one Sudanese man said. Aid workers say there’s no plan for the more than 1,300 unaccompanied children living in the camp. BBC, The Week
US diplomat discusses Duterte’s comments
The most senior US diplomat for Asia has met the Philippine foreign affairs secretary just days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, during a visit to China, said he intended to sever ties with the US Daniel Russel said he told Perfecto Yasay Monday that Duterte’s “succession of controversial statements and comments and a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions has created consternation in a number of countries, not only in mine.”
On Saturday, President Duterte backpedaled a bit on his comments in Beijing, saying he is not actually cutting ties with the US because “It’s in the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship.” But he said Manila will make its own foreign policy decisions independent of Washington.
Russel said Washington welcomes the relaxation of tensions between Manila and Beijing under Duterte, but the rapprochement should not come at the expense of ties between the US and the Philippines. VOA
Iran’s President criticizes US Presidential candidates
Several leaders around the world have taken the liberty to pass judgement about the presidential election in the United States. Iran’s president is the latest. Speaking Sunday in a televised speech in the city of Ark, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had no preference in the US election and the choice offered to American citizens was between “bad and worse” referring to presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
“Did you see the debate and the way of their speaking, accusing and mocking each other? Do we want such a democracy in our country? Do we want such elections in our country?” Rouhani asked. He went on to comment the United States “claims it has had democracy for more than 200 years,” but the present situation indicates that “the morality has no place” there. VOA
AT&T to pay $85 billion for Time Warner
AT&T Inc said on Saturday it agreed to buy Time Warner Inc for $85.4 billion, the boldest move yet by a telecommunications company to acquire content to stream over its network to attract a growing number of online viewers.
The biggest deal in the world this year will, if approved by regulators, give AT&T control of cable TV channels HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets. The tie-up will likely face intense scrutiny by US antitrust enforcers worried that AT&T might try to limit distribution of Time Warner material.
AT&T will pay $107.50 per Time Warner share, half in cash and half in stock, worth $85.4 billion overall, according to a company statement. AT&T said it expected to close the deal by the end of 2017. Reuters
US Presidential election
Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama to campaign together for the first time: Michelle Obama will appear with Hillary Clinton for the first time this campaign during an event Thursday in North Carolina. Clinton’s campaign made the announcement Sunday, with press secretary Brian Fallon calling the first lady Clinton’s “not-so-secret” weapon. Obama has hit the trail for Clinton six times since July, when she made an electrifying speech at the Democratic National Convention. “She’s been an absolute rock star,” Fallon said. Without ever saying his name, Obama has carefully crafted a message to voters that Donald Trump is not the right person to lead the United States, saying earlier this month that they cannot dismiss his remarks about women as “just another day’s headline.” The first lady is “one of the most admired people in America, period,” Fallon said. “And I think it’s exceptional to have the opportunity to have a strong woman like the first lady attest to another strong woman like Hillary Clinton who is running for president.” ABC News, The Week
Clinton has 12-point lead in ABC News poll: The inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll has Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead over Donald Trump, 50 to 38 percent, with Gary Johnson a distant third with five percent support and Jill Stein behind him with two percent. When asked about Trump’s handling of allegations of sexual misconduct and his response to questions about his treatment of women, 69 percent of likely voters disapproved, compared to 24 percent who approved. Regarding Trump’s suggestion that the election is rigged in favor of Clinton, 59 percent of likely voters disagreed, and 65 percent disapproved of Trump’s refusal to say if he will accept the results of the election if Clinton wins. The poll was conducted via cell phones and telephone landlines Thursday through Saturday among 1,391 voters, including 874 likely voters. ABC News, The Week
Next US President faces daunting economic challenges: Given the campaign promises, the heated rhetoric, and allegations that the 2016 election has been rigged, the next US president is going to have some explaining to do says Bill Galston, a former policy adviser in Bill Clinton’s 1993 domestic transition team.
If you’re President Donald Trump, Galston says you would need to explain the real cost of building a border wall with Mexico, which Trump has said would cost between $8 billion and $12 billion, but which some conservative estimates say would cost between $27 billion to $40 billion. Trump says Mexico is going to pay for it. But most independent analysts say that’s highly unlikely.
Similarly – Galston says a President Hillary Clinton would also have to make good on her campaign promises. “She’s talked about a children’s family policy. She’s talked about a big infrastructure program. She’s talked about comprehensive immigration reform. These are all things that the American people will hold her responsible for doing, or at least, trying her best to get done as president.” VOA
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