Top News Stories for Today – September 20, 2016
Suspect in NY, NJ bombings charged
Ahmad Khan Rahami, the 28-year-old suspect in the bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, was charged in New Jersey Monday evening with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Rahami, who was born in Afghanistan but was a naturalized US citizen, was taken into custody alive Monday morning after a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, in which two officers were injured.
Rahami was also charged with second-degree counts of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. His bail is set at $5.2 million. Authorities told CBS News that Rahami had recently traveled back to Afghanistan; earlier Monday, New York City Major Bill de Blasio called the bombings “an act of terror.” While no group has claimed responsibility for Rahami’s actions, federal prosecutors will likely build a comprehensive terrorism case while the local charges keep Rahami detained. CBS News, Reuters
Tulsa police shooting of unarmed black man
Tulsa police on Monday released helicopter and dash cam video showing a white officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, as he stood by his stalled car. Crutcher, 40, had his hands up as he walked toward his vehicle, but officers said he was not following their commands.
Officer Betty Shelby shot him, and another officer, also white, deployed his Taser. “I’m going to tell you right now, there was no gun on the suspect or in the suspect’s vehicle,” Police Chief Chuck Jordan said. “I want to assure our community and I want to assure all of you and people across the nation watching this: We will achieve justice.” Tulsa World, The Associated Press
UN aid chief: Bombing of Syria aid convoy is war crime
On Monday, at least 18 trucks delivering humanitarian aid to 78,000 Syrians in a town near Aleppo were hit in an airstrike, “evidently” by Syrian government forces, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday night. Airstrikes also hit a warehouse run by the Syrian Red Crescent, and local activists say the aid group’s leader, Omar Barakat was killed in the attack.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said he is “disgusted and horrified by the news” and demanded an independent investigation, saying that if it was determined that the attack targeted humanitarian workers, that would be a war crime. The convoy was one of two that entered Syria on Monday, a week into a truce brokered by Russia and the US; Syria’s military has said the truce is over, but the US and Russia have not. Following the bombing, the UN announced Tuesday it will suspend all aid convoys in Syria. The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Week
Philippine to work with US military despite threats
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s apparent rejection of US military help in patrolling a contested sea and in fighting Muslim rebels may mark just another angry outburst rather than an order to quit cooperation, as Filipinos largely welcome the help despite uncomfortable memories of American colonialism.
Duterte, the 71-year-old president known for rash remarks and a personal distrust of the United States, said last week he would not let foreign powers help with patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea, an apparent slight against a deal reached by his predecessor for US aid. China is the rival maritime claimant.
The president had called a day earlier for US military advisers to leave southern Mindanao, an island where Philippine forces are battling Muslim insurgents. But Philippines secretary of foreign affairs Perfecto Yasay said later Duterte would not pull out of any US military aid agreements. Analysts in Manila said Duterte may have just spoken prematurely in both cases. VOA
N Korea tests new rocket engine
Jean Ha-kyu, South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson, said Tuesday, “We believe that North Korea tested the performance of its new type high-power thrust engine for a long-range missile.” Over the past year, the country has carried out several long-range missile tests within its space program that the United Nations and others believe to be a cover for ballistic missile and rocket testing.
The new engine tested Tuesday will give North Korea “sufficient carrier capability for launching various kinds of satellites, including Earth observation satellites at a world level,” KCNA reported. The new engine test comes less than two weeks after North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear warhead test, which the country claimed gives it the ability to fit a miniature warhead on a rocket. VOA
US Presidential election
George H.W. Bush is reportedly voting for Hillary Clinton: On Monday, Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, and former Maryland lieutenant governor, posted on Facebook that former Republican President George H.W. Bush is voting for Hillary Clinton. However, Bush would neither confirm nor deny saying that to Townsend when the two met in Maine on Monday. When asked about Townsend’s post, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath maintained that Bush is “not commenting on the presidential race in the interim.” “The vote President Bush will cast as a private citizen in some 50 days will be just that: a private vote cast in some 50 days,” McGrath wrote in an email. Politico, USA Today, The Week
New York bombing prompts calls for action: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she wants a new “intelligence surge” to fight terrorism. She said experts in America’s Silicon Valley technology hub could help devise ways to monitor Internet conversations among plotters and prevent “attacks before they occur.” “Let us be vigilant, but not afraid,” Clinton told reporters in New York. Donald Trump once again urged tightening immigration standards for people entering the United States. Referring to those who have perpetrated terrorist attacks in the United States, Trump said, “Hillary Clinton wants to allow hundreds of thousands of these same people” into the country. VOA
Trump Jr. compares Syrian refugees to killer skittles: Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a graphic on Monday likening Syrian refugees to poisonous Skittles candy. The image, littered with punctuation and capitalization errors, reads, “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” The deeply flawed analogy received swift and harsh criticism across social and news media. A spokeswoman for Wrigley Americas, wanting nothing to do with the argument, told The Hollywood Reporter’s Seth Abramovitch that “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy.” Last week, the Cato Institute published a report saying that the risk of an American being killed by a refugee in a terror attack is 1 in 3.64 billion. The Week
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