Top News Stories for Today – September 17, 2016
White House offers $1.2 million to drone victim
The White House has agreed to pay 1 million euros — about $1.2 million — to the family of Giovanni Lo Porto, a 37-year-old Italian aid worker who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2015 while he was being held hostage by al Qaeda.
Warren Weinstein, an American, was also killed in the attack. The money is legally labeled as a “donation,” not as compensation for Lo Porto’s death, and a representative of the U.S. embassy in Rome declined to say whether a similar payment was made to Weinstein’s family. “I will not see my son at home with his smile,” Lo Porto’s mother said after the payment was announced. “They took my precious son and they also killed me. Now all that remains for me is to wait until the last day of my life for divine, not earthly, justice.” The Guardian, Newsweek
ISIS information minister killed in airstrike
Coalition forces killed one of the Islamic State terror group’s most senior leaders in a precision strike in Syria this month, the Pentagon said Friday. Wa’il Adil Salman al-Fayad, Islamic State’s so-called minister of information, who also went by the name “Dr. Wa’il,” was targeted and killed by an airstrike on September 7, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
Fayad was targeted in Raqqa, the terror group’s self-proclaimed capital. At the time of the strike, Fayad was sitting on a motorcycle next to a house, a defense official who saw footage of the strike told VOA Friday. VOA
Mideast conflict has ‘massive’ economic impact
A new study by the International Monetary Fund says the economic impact of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa is “massive and persistent” bringing soaring inflation, hurting the value of currencies, and sparking a flood of refugees to neighboring nations.
The report’s authors say war has cut Syria’s gross domestic product by half, shrank Yemen’s economy by a quarter or more, while chaos and faltering oil prices trimmed 24 percent from Libya’s economy in 2014. Conflict in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has stalled economic growth for two decades, while the rest of the region advanced around 250 percent over the same period.
The economic stress is flowing across borders with the 1.7 million refugees who fled to Europe, and the three million who moved to Turkey. Caring for refugees is putting serious strains on host nation budgets and tolerance. The conflicts also scare tourists and investors away from the region, which can significantly cut the area’s economic growth rate. VOA
Prince tribute concert to be held in Minnesota
On Oct. 13, purple rain will once again fall in Minnesota, when the official tribute concert to late icon Prince takes place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The show boasts several high-profile acts, including Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and Christina Aguilera, and while 15 acts were announced Friday, more potential performers could be revealed in the coming weeks.
“It’s about celebrating [Prince’s] life and music and bringing people together and love for Prince,” said L. Londell McMillan, one of the show’s organizers. “This is a classic all-star salute.” Prince died April 21 due to an accidental overdose at the age of 57. Star Tribune
US Presidential election
Donald Trump acknowledges President Obama was born in the US: Donald Trump, a leading proponent of the falsehood that President Obama was born outside the U.S., admitted Friday that the president is in fact an American citizen. “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump said. The seconds-long speech followed a half-hour preamble of praise from veterans who spoke at the opening of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. While Trump blamed Hillary Clinton for starting the birther movement during her 2008 presidential campaign, he bragged that he “finished it,” without any sort of apology or acknowledgement of his years-long backing of the conspiracy. Trump implied Obama’s birth certificate was a fake as recently as January. CBS News, BuzzFeed
Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson falls short of presidential debate stage: Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson will not take the stage for the first presidential debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday. Only Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will appear at the Sept. 26 showdown, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein also fell short of the CPD’s qualification threshold. To make the debate stage, Johnson and Stein needed to average 15 percent support across five specific polls chosen by the CPD; as of Friday, Johnson’s average was just 8.4 percent. The first debate between Trump and Clinton will take place at Hofstra University in New York and will be moderated by NBC anchor Lester Holt. Commission on Presidential Debates, Reason
Michelle Obama praises Hillary Clinton’s ‘love of country’: In her debut on the 2016 campaign trail Friday at Virginia’s George Mason University, first lady Michelle Obama made the case for why it’s “excruciatingly clear” Hillary Clinton is the only candidate prepared for the job of president. Clinton, Obama explained, is “one of the few people on this entire planet” who fully understands the “staggering stakes, the brutal hours, the overwhelming stress” that being president entails. “And here’s the thing: She still wants to take it on,” Obama said, calling that an inspiring example of “love of country.” Obama indicated that Donald Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t quite the fit the bill of commander in chief: “When you’re making life or death, war or peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off.” CSPAN
Trump: Clinton’s Secret Service should disarm, ‘see what happens to her’: Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton’s “bodyguards” should disarm themselves because Clinton supports gun control during a rally in Miami on Friday. He has made similar remarks in the past, but this time took it a little further. “Take their guns away,” Trump said. “She doesn’t want guns. Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. It would be very dangerous.” USA Today
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