Top news stories for today – September 15, 2016
Obama to create first marine national monument
To protect and preserve an area filled with endangered species and deepwater corals, President Obama will designate a section of the Atlantic Ocean a national monument. He will make the formal announcement Thursday at the annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is about 130 miles off the southeast coast of Cape Cod, covering 4,913 square miles. It is home to endangered species like sei whales and Kemp’s ridley turtles, and boasts three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. It will be the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, and under the designation, commercial fishing will be banned in the area by 2023, with red crab and lobster fisheries having seven years to cease operations, and other commercial fishing entities just 60 days. Boston Globe, The Week
US to accept 110,000 refugees in 2017
The Obama administration will increase the number of refugees it will allow into the United States over the next year to 110,000, an increase of more than 57 percent since 2015. A State Department official told NBC News the move is “consistent with our belief that all countries should do more to help the world’s most vulnerable people.”
A senior White House official said at least 40,000 of the refugees are from South Asia and the Near East, with many of them likely from Syria, and they will undergo “rigorous screening” before they can enter the US Some Republicans are slamming the increase, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) calling on Congress to pass the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act so “the People’s duly elected representatives in Congress, not the President, decide what the number should be.
It also empowers state and local governments to decide whether or not refugee resettlement is best for their communities.” Over the last fiscal year, 85,000 refugees entered the United States, including 10,000 Syrians. NBC News, The Week
US to lift Myanmar sanctions
Obama cited Myanmar’s “remarkable social and political transformation” as he signaled Wednesday the US readiness to lift the sanctions. After his remarks alongside Aung Sang Suu Kyi in the Oval Office, a reporter shouted a question at the president about when that might take place, and Obama replied, “Soon.” She is meeting Thursday with leaders from the US Congress.
Speaking alongside Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi thanked him personally for being the first US president to visit Myanmar. She also thanked the Congress for putting pressure on Myanmar to restore human rights. She pleaded for people to visit and invest in Myanmar. Obama urged Americans to travel to Myanmar, saying it is a beautiful country with a rich culture and wonderful people.
This was Aung San Suu Kyi’s first visit to the US as state counselor and foreign minister – a position she assumed after her party’s decisive win in last November’s elections. Aung San Suu Kyi spent more than 20 years under house arrest in the country formerly known as Burma. Her meeting with Obama in the Oval Office is viewed as another clear indication that she is Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader. VOA
Fancy Bear target top athletes again
The World Anti-Doping Agency said late Wednesday that a group of Russian “cyber-hackers” called Fancy Bears had leaked another batch of confidential athletes’ information from its database. WADA said the group released confidential data of 25 athletes from eight countries ” into the public domain.”
It said the targeted athletes included 10 from the United States, five from Germany, five from Britain, and one each from Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Russia. It did not identify the athletes.
The name “Fancy Bears” appears to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to a collection of hackers that many security researchers have long associated with Russia. In a statement posted to its website early Tuesday, the group proclaimed its allegiance to anonymous, the loose-knit movement of online mischief-makers, and said it hacked WADA to show the world “how Olympic medals are won.”
“We will start with the US team which has disgraced its name by tainted victories,” the group said, warning that more revelations about other teams would be forthcoming. VOA
Duterte’s new foreign policy path
Political analysts and commentators in the Philippines say President Rodrigo Duterte is steering the country’s foreign policy towards a more nationalist narrative, marking a shift from recent Philippine leaders.
Further evidence of Duterte’s approach came in an address to civil servants Monday as the president called for US military advisers to be withdrawn from Southern Mindanao where Philippine troops have been battling Muslim insurgents. US special forces have been in the region to help with countererrorism operations since 2002.
Duterte said as “long as we stay with America, we will never have peace in [Mindanao]. We might as well give up.” At the summit of Asian leaders last week in Laos, Duterte also referred to the killings during the colonial period, veering off his prepared speech focused on the South China Sea. A scheduled meeting between US President Barack Obama and Duerte at the ASEAN summit was canceled after Duterte referred to Obama as a “son of a bitch.”
The Duterte administration has sought to ease tensions with China through talks over the conflicted South China Sea. Previous Philippine president Benigno Aquino’s administration had taken the dispute to international arbitration at The Hague. VOA
US Presidential election
Clinton and Trump are virtually tied in new poll: With 53 days until the election and two weeks until the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are locked in a virtual tie at 42 percent each when third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are factored in, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds. In a two-way matchup, Clinton has a slight edge on Trump, 46-44. Demographically, Trump has a double digit lead with men, while Clinton holds a similar number with women; while Clinton has an advantage with African-Americans, Trump holds an advantage with whites. And while more of the under-30 crowd plans to vote for Clinton, at 48 percent, her numbers pale in comparison to Barack Obama’s, who earned 60 percent of under-30 voters in 2012. CBS News, The Week
Clinton releases health information after pneumonia diagnosis: Hillary Clinton’s campaign released new, detailed information about the candidate’s health Wednesday, following criticism over its lack of transparency surrounding Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis. On Sunday, Clinton left a 9/11 memorial service early due to dehydration, which forced her team to reveal she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier. The Wednesday letter, written by Clinton’s personal physician Dr. Lisa Bardack, describes Clinton’s illness as “mild, non-contagious bacterial pneumonia” as confirmed by a CT scan. The letter also offers further details about Clinton’s medical history, including her “normal” vital statistics, and outlines medications Clinton is taking, including the blood-thinner Coumadin. She is also halfway through a regimen of the antibiotic Levaquin, prescribed to treat the pneumonia. The Washington Post, CNN
New Hampshire’s influential Union Leader newspaper endorses Gary Johnson: The New Hampshire Union Leader is breaking tradition, endorsing Libertarian Gary Johnson over Donald Trump, the first time in more than 100 years the paper, the most influential in the state, is not backing a Republican for president. The editorial states that while voters “leaning toward Trump are understandably fed up with the status quo, of which [Hillary] Clinton is a prime example,” they are kidding themselves “if they think Trump isn’t pretty much a part of that status quo as well, or that he is in any way qualified to competently lead this nation.” It goes on to call Trump a “liar, a bully, [and] a buffoon,” who has “dishonored military veterans and their families, made fun of the physically frail, and changed political views almost as often as he has changed wives.” The records of Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld, both former Republican governors, “speak well of them,” the editorial concludes, and “in today’s dark times, they are a bright light of hope and reason. The Union Leader and Sunday News endorse them.” New Hampshire Union Leader, The Week
As US presidential debates approach, one candidate pushes to be included: The presidential candidates who will participate in the first debate have not yet been announced. Although Trump and Clinton are (near) certainties, not so certain are Libertarian Party candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Candidates must meet selection criteria established by the Commission of Presidential Debates (CPD), a non-profit organization that says its mission is to “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.” The Johnson campaign has embarked on a push to be included in the debates. It has proposed a plan to the CPD that would allow him to participate in the first presidential debate by initially circumventing the selection criteria. VOA
Trump Foundation Investigated for Possible ‘Impropriety’: The state of New York has opened an investigation into the family foundation of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after published reports claimed that he has not donated any money to the charity since 2008 and once used the foundation’s money to buy a life-sized portrait of himself. “We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation has engaged in impropriety,” New York’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said Tuesday. He previously had alleged that the real estate investment courses that Trump promoted at Trump University amounted to “straight up fraud” because students were taught little after paying thousands of dollars in tuition. Trump has rejected those accusations. VOA
- A luminous lake of unusual talents
- Buzz Over Post-Sanctions Myanmar Fades for Many U.S. Investors
- Growing Asian-American community could influence US elections
- Myanmar, one of Asia’s most abusive armies deploys armed drones