Top News Stories for Today – October 9, 2016
Hurricane Matthew downgraded to category 1
Hurricane Matthew slammed into South Carolina on Saturday, packing a diminished yet still potent punch after killing almost 900 people in Haiti and causing major flooding and widespread power outages as it skirted Florida and Georgia.
Now weakened, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007 unleashed torrential rains and damaging winds in Florida before churning slowly north to soak coastal Georgia and the Carolinas. Wind speeds at midday had subsided by nearly half from their peak about a week ago to 75 miles per hour (120 kph), reducing the storm to a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest on the Saffir-Simpson scale of 1 to 5.
The storm was blamed for at least 11 deaths in the United States – five in Florida, three in North Carolina and three in Georgia, including two people killed by falling trees in Bulloch County, the county coroner said. Reuter
Russia blocks Aleppo cease-fire resolution at UN
Russia on Saturday vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution seeking to end the deadly bombing of Aleppo, Syria. It was the fifth time in five years that Moscow has used its veto to block U.N. action aimed at stopping the bloodshed.
Earlier this week, U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura warned that if the bombing continued at the current rate, Aleppo might be destroyed by the end of the year. He appealed to the Security Council to act. The United States and its European allies have been trying to isolate Russia over its actions in Syria, suggesting that they could impose sanctions and calling for war crimes investigations.
IS loses more than a quarter of its territory
So-called Islamic State (IS) has lost more than a quarter of the territory it once controlled, new data shows. Security and defense analysts IHS say the group’s control has shrunk by 28% since its height in January 2015.
In the first nine months of this year, IS’ territory fell from 78,000 sq km (30,115 sq miles) to 65,500 sq km – an area equivalent to the size of Sri Lanka – IHS analysts said. However, IS losses have slowed in the three months to October.
IS has lost just 2,800 sq km (1,080 sq miles) since July. The slowdown appears to coincide with Russia reducing the number of air strikes against IS targets, IHS has observed. At the start of the year, some 26% targeted IS, but by the summer it had dropped to just 17%. BBC
Train derails near New York
The 12-carriage Long Island Rail Road train carrying some 600 passengers derailed at about 21:00 local time on Saturday (01:00 GMT Sunday). Reports say it hit a work train about 20 miles (32km) east of New York’s Manhattan borough. Twenty-nine people were taken to hospital with injuries such as broken bones and concussion, officials said, with scores more treated at the scene for more minor injuries. BBC
US Presidential election
7 in 10 GOP voters say stick with Trump: A Politico poll conducted Saturday, one day after the news broke of sexually graphic comments Republican Donald Trump made about women in 2005, shows a strong majority of GOP voters disagree with leaders in their party who want Trump to drop out. Some 74 percent of Republican voters told pollsters Trump should stay in, while just 12 percent said he should step aside. Among GOP women specifically, support for Trump’s exit was only one point higher, at 13 percent. Party strategists believe it will take several more days before the video, which eight in 10 voters heard about in the first 24 hours of its release, has a substantial effect at the grassroots level. Politico, The Week
RNC reportedly pulls resources from Trump after lewd tape surfaces: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Saturday reportedly told the RNC to redirect resources away from Donald Trump. Trump has been under fire since The Washington Post on Friday surfaced video of him making extremely graphic comments about women during an Access Hollywood segment taped in 2005; several party heavyweights have denounced his comments, including his running mate Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the party’s 2008 nominee, has retracted his endorsement, as has Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Priebus’ directive is apparently an effort to salvage the GOP’s chances in down-ballot races, as party operatives are concerned the backlash facing Trump may jeopardize their odds to retain the Senate as well as the House. Earlier Saturday, Politico reported the RNC halted its mail production for the pro-Trump “Victory” program, presumably in order to redirect resources elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Week
Trump says ‘zero chance’ he’ll quit the race: Republican Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday there is “zero chance” he’ll quit the presidential race because he will “never give up” and the “support [he’s] getting is unbelievable.” He reiterated that determination in a phone call with The Washington Post later Saturday, claiming, “People are calling and saying, ‘Don’t even think about doing anything else but running.” Trump’s remarks come in response to the widespread denunciation of lewd comments about women he made in a 2005 recording released by The Washington Post Friday. Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned Trump’s boasting of sexual misconduct, and several GOP heavyweights have withdrawn their endorsements or, in the case of Utah Sen. Mike Lee, called on Trump to step down from the race. Trump apologized for his words early Saturday morning. Politico, The Week
Clinton, Trump prepare for crowd-sourced debate Sunday: Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both preparing this weekend for Sunday night’s second presidential debate, a town hall-style event moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz but also featuring questions from undecided voters in the audience. Trump is being prepped by Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie standing in for Clinton. The Democratic nominee, already familiar with the town hall format, is focusing on policy knowledge. Questions for the debate are being crowd-sourced online, and nearly 3 million votes have been cast to rank more than 13,000 submissions. USA Today, Boston Globe, The Week
More top Republicans drop support for Trump: More senior Republicans have withdrawn support for US presidential candidate Donald Trump after his obscene remarks about women became public. At least a dozen Republicans have said they will not be voting for him, since the comments emerged on Friday. The latest to withdraw their support are former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. BBC
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