Top News Stories for Today – October 31, 2016
Battle of retaking Mosul
Iraqi and Kurdish forces are bracing for more Islamic State suicide attacks as their offensive gets closer to Mosul, commanders say. Several dozen cars and trucks laden with explosives and coming from Mosul were tracked by Kurdish and Iraqi forces since the offensive began this month, commanders say. Most of them have been destroyed by Iraqi tanks, or airstrikes by coalition forces, before they reached allied troops.
Kurdish forces had difficulty entering the town of Bashiqa last week even as IS fighters were pushed back. A Kurdish military video on social media last week showed a car filled with attackers approaching the frontlines being destroyed by a missile strike. Kurdish commanders say that when they examine wreckage from suicide vehicles, they have found the bodies of teenagers as young as 14-years-old.
As Iraqi families speed away from the frontlines of the battle against Islamic State in trucks, the thousands of tents in the desert countryside surrounding Mosul are slowly being occupied by fleeing villagers. VOA
1 in 7 of world’s children living in bad pollution
One in seven of the world’s children is exposed to pollution levels six or more times higher than international standards set by the World Health Organization, according to a new report by UNICEF. Some two billion children live in regions where outdoor air pollution exceeds WHO’s minimum air quality guidelines, with 620 million of those children living in South Asia, followed by 520 million children in Africa, and 450 million children in the East Asia and Pacific region.
UNICEF says young children are particularly susceptible to indoor and outdoor air pollution because their lungs, brains and immune systems are still developing and their respiratory tracts are more permeable. VOA
The plague of fake news is getting worse
The rise of social media has had many upsides, but one downside has been the spread of misinformation. Fake news has become a plague on the Web, especially on social networks like Facebook. As I said on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN, unreliable sources about this election have become too numerous to count.
New web sites designed to trick and mislead people seem to pop up every single day. For their creators, the incentives are clear: more social shares mean more page views mean more ad dollars. “Right-wing pages were more prone to sharing false or misleading information than left-wing pages,” the BuzzFeed reporting team said. CNN
Italy quake at least 15,000 in temporary shelters
Italy’s most powerful earthquake since 1980 has left more than 15,000 people homeless, according to the country’s civil protection agency. No-one was killed in the quake but 20 were injured and damage to the area round the town of Norcia is extensive.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is chairing a meeting of his cabinet to discuss emergency reconstruction. The quake struck on Sunday morning, destroying buildings or leaving them structurally unsafe in several towns and villages in the mountainous central region. BBC
Diwali fireworks choke Delhi
Angry residents of the Indian capital, Delhi, are sharing images of smog, one day after Diwali celebrations saw huge quantities of fireworks set off. Levels of pollutants in the air were 30 times the World Health Organisation‘s recommended level in one neighbourhood. Authorities had warned that Delhi faced a polluted Diwali because of factors like humidity and wind speed. Diwali, the most important Hindu festival in north India, celebrates the victory of good over evil.
On Monday morning, visibility across the city was extremely low, thanks to a thick blanket of smog covering the city. Residents were advised to stay indoors. Levels of tiny particulate matter (known as PM 2.5) that reaches deep into the lungs more than doubled within a few hours on Monday to 750 micrograms per cubic metre in the worst affected parts, India’s Central Pollution Control Board said. The US embassy in Delhi said its air pollution index late on Sunday had breached the “hazardous” upper limit level of 500, at which it stops measuring levels of particulate matter. BBC
Hillary Clinton’s lead narrows in poll after latest FBI email news: An ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll released Sunday suggested the presidential race had tightened slightly after FBI Director James Comey told Congress about new emails possibly related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The poll, conducted partly before and partly after Comey’s Friday revelation, showed Clinton’s lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump narrowing to just 1 percentage point nationally, down from 2 points just before Comey’s letter and 12 points a week earlier. Trump has gained as more Republicans rally behind him. Other polls have shown the race tightening in key battleground states, although a new CBS tracking poll of likely voters in 13 swing states found that 71 percent said Comey’s letter either wouldn’t change their minds, or they had already voted. The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Week
FBI obtains warrant to review emails linked to Clinton aide: The FBI has obtained a warrant to search emails discovered on a laptop used by former congressman Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife and top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, law enforcement officials told NBC News Sunday. The officials said Abedin sent thousands of emails to Clinton from the laptop, and agents will now look at the messages and compare them to emails they already looked at during an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to see if any contained classified information. The FBI earlier had a warrant to search the computer, but only to look for evidence of communication that allegedly took place between Weiner and an underage girl. FBI Director James Comey announced in a letter to Congress late last week that the new emails were found, but said the agency “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.” NBC News, The Week
Harry Reid said FBI director may have broken federal law: In a scathing letter sent Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) alerted FBI Director James Comey that due to his “partisan actions,” he may have broken the Hatch Act, a law that prohibits federal officials from using their official authority to influence an election. On Friday, Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that new emails were found in connection with the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and the agency was unable to “assess whether or not this material may be significant.” Reid said once Comey “came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative light possible,” and his “actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another.” Reid went on to accuse Comey of keeping quiet on “explosive information” he has about “close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity.” USA Today, The Week
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