Top News Stories for Today – October 4, 2016
US suspends Syria talks with Russia
The US has cut off contacts with Russia on a Syrian truce, giving up hopes of restoring a ceasefire, as a Russian-Syrian aerial bombing campaign intensified its focus on destroying hospitals in rebel-held areas.
Washington also pulled out military personnel who had been dispatched to work with their Russian counterparts to mount joint bombing operations against Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, formerly Nusra Front) extremist groups.
A few hours earlier, Moscow declared military contacts with the US had also stopped and Vladimir Putin suspended a six-year agreement with Washington on the reduction of military stocks of plutonium, as the bitter differences over Syria and Ukraine continued to drive a downward spiral in the US-Russian relationship. The Guardian
Nobel Prize for Physics announced
British-born scientists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for revealing the secrets of exotic matter such as superconductors, materials that conduct electricity with no loss to resistance.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the three for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” The academy said their work in the 1970s and ’80s opened the door to a previously unknown world where matter takes unusual states or phases. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, US News
Google to unveil new phones and 4K Chromecast
Google is expected to host a media event next month that will focus on several hardware announcements, including new Pixel-branded phones and a 4K Chromecast, Android Police reported late Thursday. The phones will be called the Pixel and Pixel XL, unidentified sources told Android Police, although no other details, such as specs and expected released date, were available.
The tech giant is also expected to give more details about Google Home, a new smart speaker that will compete directly with Amazon Echo as an always-listening virtual assistant, and reveal its design for its Daydream VR, a hardware and software platform to help any Android smartphone manufacturer create a VR headset themselves. CNet
Duterte tells Obama ‘you can go to hell’
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told his US ally Barack Obama “you can go to hell” in a speech Tuesday that was his latest tirade against the US over its criticism of his deadly anti-drug campaign. He also lashed out anew at the European Union, saying the 28-nation bloc, which has also criticized his brutal crackdown, “better choose purgatory, hell is filled up.”
Duterte, who took office in June, has been hypersensitive to criticism over his crackdown, which has left more than an estimated 3,000 suspected drug dealers and pushers dead in just three months, alarming the United Nations, the E.U., the US and human rights watchdogs.
The tough-talking former city mayor, who describes himself as a left-leaning leader, has had an uneasy relationship with the US and with Obama and has declared intentions to bolster relations with China and Russia as he revamps the country’s foreign policy that has long leaned on Washington. Associated Press
Haiti braces for ‘life-threatening’ Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew, now a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, is moving toward Haiti at 7 miles per hour, and when it hits Tuesday morning, it is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain on the impoverished Caribbean nation. “This rainfall will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the US National Hurricane Center said.
“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.” A fisherman has already been killed in rough seas, Haiti’s civil protection service said, bringing the death toll attributed to the storm to at least three. Hurricane Matthew is also expected to pass over eastern Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas from Tuesday to Thursday, and its path is also veering to the west, putting the eastern coast of Florida in Matthew’s possible path. CNN, The Associated Press
Airstrike kills senior al-Qaida leader in Syria
An airstrike Monday killed a senior leader in the Syrian Islamist group that split from al-Qaida earlier this year. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, the group formally known as Jabhat al-Nusra, said Abu al-Farai al-Masri was killed when his vehicle was struck in the northwestern Idlib province.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the Egyptian national Masri had ties to former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011. Masri was also a companion of now-deceased al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
“His death, if confirmed, would disrupt and degrade coordination among senior AQ leaders and extremists,” Cook said in a statement. VOA
US Presidential election
Hillary Clinton holds national lead over Donald Trump: As the campaign heads into the final stretch, Hillary Clinton holds a 46 percent to 40 percent lead over Donald Trump, according to latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll. Libertarian Gary Johnson is down slightly from last week with 9 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein holds steady with 3 percent. The poll was conducted online September 26 through October 2, 2016 among likely voters. NBC
In VP debate, Pence gets tasked with cleaning up for Trump: In Tuesday’s vice presidential debate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will step into a role that has become all too familiar during his time as Donald Trump’s running mate: clean-up duty. It was Pence, a mild-mannered Midwesterner with strong conservative credentials, who tried to soften Trump’s criticism of a military family and toughen the businessman’s stance on Russia. When Trump waffled over endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan in his August primary, Pence weighed in with a solid vote of confidence in his former congressional colleague. Associated Press
Joe Biden blasts Donald Trump on ‘uninformed’ PTSD comments: Vice President Joe Biden blasted Donald Trump on Monday for comments he made earlier in the day at an event with the Retired American Warriors PAC that seemed to suggest veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are not “strong.” At a rally for Hillary Clinton in Florida, Biden told a story about a trip to Iraq where a general asked him to pin a Silver Medal on a captain who risked his life to pull a fellow soldier out of a burning Humvee. The soldier told Biden he didn’t want the medal, because the man had died. “How many nights does that kid go to sleep, seeing that image in his head, dealing with it?” a visibly upset Biden shouted. The US has a “sacred obligation” to take care of those who go to war and their families, Biden added, including the “over 200,000 coming home with unseen wounds.” Biden said he doesn’t think Trump was “trying to be mean,” with his PTSD comments, he is just “so thoroughly, completely uninformed.” The Week