Top news stories for today – September 12, 2016
Obama urges Americans to unite
Americans marked the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with solemn ceremonies at the 9/11 memorials in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. President Obama told survivors at the Pentagon memorial, “in your grief and grace, you have reminded us that together there is nothing that we Americans cannot overcome.”
Obama, in what some interpreted as a veiled criticism of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., urged Americans to embrace “our patchwork heritage” to thwart terrorists who are trying to “stoke enough fear that we turn on each other as a nation, that we change who we are and how we live.” MarketWatch, The Washington Post, The Week
Fighting rages in Syria
A cease-fire in Syria negotiated by Russia and the U.S. is set to take effect on Monday at sundown, and many of the main warring factions — the government of President Bashar al-Assad, its allies Iran and Hezbollah, and the opposition Free Syrian Army — said they will abide by the truce.
The Islamist rebel group Ahar al-Sham said it will not participate, calling the agreement too favorable to Assad’s government. Underscoring doubts about the cease-fire, dozens of people were killed in government bombing raids over the weekend — Al Jazeera puts the number at more than 100, including 55 civilians at a market in Idlib. Rebel groups attacked, too. Analysts say such jockeying for position is normal before cease-fires, but previous truces have collapsed within weeks. Al Jazzera, The New York Times, The Week
Angelique Kerber wins U.S. Open
Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated 10th-seeded Karolina Pliskova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, to win the U.S. Open on Sunday, taking a firm grip on the world No. 1 ranking. Kerber will take over the top spot long held by Serena Williams, who lost to Pliskova in the semifinals.
Kerber burst into tennis’ top ranks at the Open in 2011, entering ranked 92nd in the world but making it to the semis. “To win here is very special for me. Everything starts for me here in 2011,” Kerber said. “This Grand Slam is really, really special.” The New York Times, The Week
Muslims mark most important day of Hajj
The most important day in the annual five-day Hajj was celebrated by the nearly 2 million Muslims who have converged on some of Islam’s most revered sites in Saudi Arabia. Worshippers gathered from sunrise Sunday on a stony hill and a vast surrounding plain known as Mount Arafat, about 15 kilometers from Mecca. The faithful recited ritual incantations, prayed and read from the Quran on the first day of the Hajj. Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon at the site.
Iran is boycotting this year’s Hajj, citing Saudi “incompetence” and a poor response by health and safety officials. Masses of Iranian Shi’ites have instead converged on the holy Iraqi city of Karbala for an alternative pilgrimage. During last year’s pilgrimage, several hundred Iranians were among at least 2,000 crushed to death in a stampede in the city of Mecca. VOA
US, Japan consider more sanctions against Pyongyang
Speaking in Tokyo Sunday, U.S. Special Representative to North Korea policy Sung Kim said “In addition to action in the (U.N.) Security Council, both the U.S. and Japan” along with South Korea “will be looking at unilateral measures, as well as bilateral” and trilateral measures of cooperation. He gave no details of what those measures might be.
Hours later, North Korea called efforts to add sanctions “laughable,” and vowed to strengthen its nuclear program even further. A Foreign Ministry statement said Pyongyang will work to step up its nuclear force “in quality and in quantity.” North Korea claims it needs a strong nuclear weapons program to protect itself from U.S. aggression. VOA
Sniper takes out ISIS executioner from a mile away
A sharpshooter killed a top ISIS executioner and three other jihadists with a single bullet from nearly a mile away — just seconds before the fiend was set to burn 12 hostages alive with a flamethrower, according to a new report.
The British Special Air Service marksman turned one of the most hated terrorists in Syria into a fireball by using a Barett .50-caliber rifle to strike a fuel tank affixed to the jihadi’s back, the UK’s Daily Star reported Sunday. The ISIS butcher — who reportedly delighted in burning hostages alive — had been on a US “kill list” for several months, sources told the paper, which did not identify the sniper or the executioner. New York Post
US Presidential election
Clinton, Trump pay tribute to victims of 9/11: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump paid tribute Sunday to the victims and survivors of 9/11, and also played a little election-year politics. Clinton, in a CNN interview, said “we have to protect our country by working with one another and that most certainly includes the Muslim-American community,” but Trump “has made our job harder” with various comments and a proposal to ban Muslim entry into the United States.
“Donald Trump has said it’s a war between us and them,” the former secretary of State told CNN’s State of the Union, but “the loose talk and the bombastic commentary” will not defeat terrorism. Trump did not mention Clinton in a written statement on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, calling it “a day of sadness and remembrance” for all Americans. USA Today
Hillary Clinton, battling pneumonia, cancels California campaign trip: On Sunday morning, Hillary Clinton quietly and abruptly left a ceremony in Lower Manhattan marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A video later emerged showing Clinton stumbling while entering a van from the ceremony, and a few hours later, her personal physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, said in a statement that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, is taking antibiotics, had been advised to rest and curtail her schedule, and became dehydrated and overheated at the 9/11 ceremony. “I have just examined her and she is now rehydrated and recovering nicely,” Bardack wrote. After she returned home to Chappaqua, Clinton canceled a two-day campaign trip to California scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. The Clinton campaign had not disclosed her pneumonia diagnosis until Bardack’s statement. CNN, The Associated Press, The Week
Clinton says Trump is projecting ‘phony strength’: Speaking with CNN’s Chris Cuomo in an interview that aired Sunday morning, Hillary Clinton said that Donald Trump’s foreign policy is uninformed “phony strength.” “Unfortunately, what Donald Trump has done is made our job harder, and given a lot of aid and comfort to [Islamic State] operatives” by playing into the terrorist organization’s clash of civilizations paradigm, she argued. When Cuomo countered with the suggestion that Trump’s rhetoric is perceived as strength, Clinton pushed back. “There’s phony strength and there’s real strength,” she said, “and it’s phony strength to not know what you’re talking about and to make outrageous statements that will actually make our job harder.” CNN, Mediaite, The Week
Clinton: Half of Trump’s Supporters Belong in ‘Basket of Deplorables’: Hillary Clinton says half of the supporters of Donald Trump belong in a “basket of deplorables.” Speaking Friday at an LGBT fundraiser in New York, Clinton described those supporters as racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it.” Clinton said, “Unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up.” The former secretary of state said some of those people were irredeemable and did not represent America. The Democratic Party candidate then said the other half of Trump supporters were people who are desperate for change and feel abandoned by the government. VOA
Clinton regrets saying ‘half’ Trump support from ‘basket of deplorables’: Hillary Clinton was on cleanup duty Saturday after saying at a fundraiser the previous night that half of Donald Trump’s supporters, which numbered 13.3 million in the Republican primaries, fall into the “basket of deplorables.” “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea,” she said in a statement. “I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.” She went on to say that “many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them.” Still, Clinton said she won’t stop “calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign.” USA Today
- 9/11: Then and now
- A U.S. Strategy beyond the Cold War
- CNN asks Bush about Benghazi and 9/11, and It doesn’t go well
- Manhattan after 14 years of 9/11