Top News Stories for Today – October 27, 2016
EU’s Sakharov Prize awarded to Yazidi women
Two Yazidi women from Iraq who were abducted by Islamic State militants in 2014 have been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought and expression. Nadia Murad and Lamis Haji Bashar are two out of thousands of Yazidi women who have been kidnapped and used as sexual slaves by the radical Islamist group. They were taken from their village near Sinjar in northwest Iraq during the summer of 2014.
The two women are now considered leaders in the movement to protect other Yazidis living in regions overrun by IS fighters and have called for the recognition of the massacre of Yazidis as a genocide. The award is named for Andrei Sakharov, a dissident Soviet scientist who died in 1989, and is given each year to people who stand up for human rights. The IS militants consider Yazidis to be devil-worshippers and inferior in their religious beliefs. VOA
IS forcing coalition to speed up plans for Raqqa
Fears that the Islamic State is beginning to mass in its self-proclaimed Syrian capital of Raqqa and the possibility that the terror group may launch attacks from there are prompting the United States and its Western allies to put Raqqa in their crosshairs in the coming weeks.
US and Western officials say they had always planned to sequester Raqqa, considered the terror group’s most important stronghold. But they say the decision to move forward with the operation came just in the past few days, despite concerns that forces on the ground in Syria are not ready. The hope is that by isolating and increasing the pressure on Raqqa, the coalition can “try to head … off” whatever IS has planned. VOA
90 migrants believed dead off Libyan shore
The spokesman for the Libyan navy says more than 90 migrants are believed dead after their rickety boat was damaged shortly after leaving the Libyan coast. Ayoub Gassim said the coast guard has rescued 29 survivors, who said the plastic boat ripped and began filling with water about 26 miles (42 kilometers) off the Libyan coast, in international waters.
He said that a total of 126 migrants were in the boat, mostly African nationals. The migrants left Tajoura, in western Libya, before dawn Wednesday morning, and the coast guard received a call for help around 3 p.m. The death toll for migrants in the Mediterranean has reached at least 3,800 this year so far, making 2016 the deadliest year ever for migrants in the Mediterranean. VOA
Civilians used as human shields in Mosul
As a collection of forces moves toward the Iraqi city of Mosul, witnesses are reporting Islamic State fighters taking civilians from outlying villages and using them as human shields as they seek to defend the last major urban area they control in the country.
So far, the Iraqi-led operation has involved retaking the villages on a march toward Mosul from the south, east and north. The United Nations says more than 10,000 civilians have fled their homes in and around Mosul, raising concern about their wellbeing and the availability of humanitarian resources.
Altaf Musani, WHO representative in Iraq, said that since then more than 1.5 million people in Mosul have had little or no access to aid, and that a lack of safe water and sanitation as well as children missing out on vaccines have elevated the risk of disease outbreaks. VOA
Italy hit with series of earthquakes
Two earthquakes shook central Italy on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey has confirmed. The first quake measured at a 5.4 magnitude and was followed up just a few hours later with a stronger, 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
Though the quakes’ epicenters were near the cities of Visso and Perugia, buildings and windows in Rome — nearly 100 miles to the south — were reportedly rattled by the shaking. The central Italian regions hit by the quake are reportedly suffering from power outages and structural damage, but there are not yet any known injuries or casualties. The tremors hit the same area of Italy that was shaken in August by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, which killed nearly 300 people. CNN, Reuters, The Week
US Presidential election
Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 3 points in Texas: In a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released early Thursday, Donald Trump has only a 3-point lead over Hillary Clinton in deep-red Texas. The poll, conducted Oct. 14-23, ending right before early voting began on Oct. 24, has Trump beating Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7 percent and Green candidate Jill Stein at 2 percent. This is the second recent poll showing Trump up just 3 points over Clinton, within the margins of error. Trump and Clinton are tied among female voters, and more Trump voters said they are voting against Clinton (53 percent) than actually want Trump to be president (47 percent); 66 percent of Clinton voters want her to be president, while 34 percent mostly don’t want Trump to win. Texas Tribune,The Week
Megyn Kelly reportedly seeks $20 million for new Fox News contract: Megyn Kelly is a rapidly rising star at Fox News, her contract expires next year, and she has hired a new agent and publicly team to help her negotiate a hefty raise. Kelly is set to earn $15 million this year, The Wall Street Journal reports, and is seeking more than $20 million a year for her next contract. Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch tells The Journal, which he owns, that he is monitoring Kelly’s contract talks “every minute of the day” and hopes to sign a new contract “very soon,” but if Fox News and Kelly can’t reach agreement, “we have a deep bench of talent, many of whom would give their right arm for her spot.” CNN and ABC are reportedly very interested in poaching Kelly. he Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Week
Hacked emails show Clinton aides fretted over foundation donors: Hacked emails released by WikiLeaks indicate that Hillary Clinton’s top aides exchanged concerns in the years before she announced her 2016 presidential bid that foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s own money-making ventures could create problems for her. One top aide to Mr. Clinton, Douglas Band, said in an email released Wednesday that the former president had received personal income and “many expensive gifts” from some foundation donors. Chelsea Clinton hired an auditor to look at the foundation and accused some of her father’s aides of “hustling” to win clients for their own businesses during foundation events. The emails have contained no evidence supporting Republicans’ claim that Hillary Clinton did favors for foundation donors. The New York Times, The Week
Clinton doubling Trump campaign spending: Democrat Hillary Clinton is outspending Republican Donald Trump by more than a 2-to-1 margin in their long run to the US presidency. But Trump said Wednesday he’s willing to pump even more of his own money into the campaign in the last two weeks before the November 8 election. Reports filed by the candidates with the US government show that Clinton, a former US secretary of state looking to become the country’s first female president, has raised nearly $950 million and has about $178 million on hand for television advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in the last days ahead of the election. Trump’s campaign has raised about $449 million and has $97 million on hand. VOA
Pence to Republicans: ‘It is time to come home’: Pence made the comments to a crowd of around 400 people during a rally Wednesday in Reno, marking a stark contrast to his running-mate’s public chagrin with the national party. Democrats and independents were already won over by and large, he said, but there needed to be a renewed focus on errant Republicans. “Now is the time to reach out to our Republican friends and neighbors and say with one voice it is time to come home,” Pence said. “I would submit to each and every one of you, go tell your neighbors and friends in Republican ranks it’s time to come home. Come home to vote for the Trump-Pence team.” USA Today
Clinton’s best surrogate is the other Obama: As the approval ratings for presidential candidates go lower, the first lady’s go high. Michelle Obama, the reluctant campaigner who can’t wait to move out of the White House, has suddenly become Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon, capturing headlines with passionate and personal speeches promoting the former secretary of State and castigating her opponent. White House aides say the first lady is more valuable on the campaign trail than even the president — “probably the most powerful advocate that Secretary Clinton has,” said press secretary Josh Earnest. USA Today
Trump says he will ‘never, ever take’ African Americans for granted: Less than two weeks before voters finally decide the fate of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump spent Wednesday outlining “a new deal for black America,” after attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new hotel in the nation’s capital. During a speech in Charlotte Trump said “The Democrats have run our inner cities for 50, 60 years uninterrupted” and their policies “have failed miserably,” Trump said, later adding: “I will never, ever take the African-American community for granted — unlike Hillary.”‘ USA Today
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