Top News Stories for Today – September 22, 2016
Obama and Netanyahu say US-Israel bond unbreakable
US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the United Nations General Assembly, likely their last get-together before Obama leaves office and with a Middle East peace settlement as elusive as ever.
Netanyahu said the Jewish state has “no greater friend than the United States of America.” He thanked Obama for the recent US agreement on a 10-year, $38 billion military assistance package for Israel, the biggest military aid pact for a foreign country ever agreed to by Washington.
Obama said the US link with Israel is “based on common values, family ties and a recognition that the Jewish state is one of our most important allies.” He said the US agreed to the extended military aid plan because “we want to make sure Israel has the full capability it needs in order to keep the Israeli people safe.” VOA
State of emergency declared in NC
One person was shot Wednesday during protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, and police say the shot came from a civilian, not police. The unidentified victim, originally reported to have died, is on life support. Late in the night, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) declared a state of emergency, and will deploy the National Guard to assist local police.
A police officer has also been injured, several protesters have been arrested, and police have fired tear gas into the crowd. This was the second night of protests, sparked by the police shooting of a 43-year-old black man, Keith Lamont Scott. Police say an officer opened fire after Scott emerged from his car with a gun, and that they have retrieved a gun from the scene; Scott’s family says he did not have a gun, but rather a book in his hand. The Charlotte Observer, The Week
ISIS fired chemical weapon at US base in Iraq
A US base near Mosul, Iraq, was possibly attacked with a chemical weapon on Tuesday, a US official said Wednesday. The official told Fox News the base outside Qayyarah came under rocket fire from Islamic State militants, and it’s believed that one of the shells contained traces of a “mustard agent.
” An initial test was positive, and a second test came back negative, but that result could have been due to the shell being exposed to the elements. No one was injured in the attack, and no troops have shown any “signs of exposure.” A few soldiers who were close to the shell received full decontamination treatment, and residue from the shell is being sent to Maryland for testing.
Mustard gas can spread, while mustard agent leaves behind an oily residue and is not as effective. The base, 25 miles south of Mosul, regularly comes under fire with conventional weapons, the US official said, and is home to hundreds of the nearly 5,000 US troops now stationed in Iraq. Fox News
Federal Reserve declines to increase interest rates
The Federal Reserve held off on a rate hike Wednesday, confirming what had widely been predicted ahead of decision day. “A December rate hike is more likely,” Jeremy Zirin, the chief equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, told USA Today.
“The Fed doesn’t want to be disruptive to the market, and it would clearly be a surprise to the market” had the hike come today. On Wednesday, US stocks traded slightly higher ahead of the Fed’s decision, especially after the Bank of Japan announced a surprise “new framework” intended to combat deflation and boost the economy. Business Insider, USA Today
Taiwan asks Google to blur S. China Sea facilities
Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it is asking Google to blur satellite images showing what experts say appear to be new military installations on Itu Aba, Taipei’s sole holding in the disputed South China Sea. The revelation of new military-related construction could raise tensions in the contested waterway, where China’s building of airstrips and other facilities has worried other claimants and the United States.
The images seen on Google Earth show four three-pronged structures sitting in a semi-circle just off the northwestern shoreline of Itu Aba, across from an upgraded airstrip and recently constructed port that can dock 3,000-ton frigates. Taiwan’s defense ministry and coast guard, which directly oversees Itu Aba, said details about the structures are confidential and have not commented on their nature. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the request. VOA
Brad Pitt is investigated for child abuse
The Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services are reportedly investigating Brad Pitt following an anonymous report about an incident on the private plane the actor shares with his wife, Angelina Jolie.
Sources who knew about the incident told TMZ Pitt was allegedly “wasted” on the plane and got “verbally abusive and physical with his children.” A source close to Pitt reportedly told TMZ the actor is taking “the matter very seriously and says he did not commit any abuse of his children.” Jolie filed divorce papers earlier this week, citing irreconcilable differences and demanding physical custody of the couple’s six children, with visitation rights for Pitt. TMZ, People
US Presidential election
Trump praises stop-and-frisk at minority outreach event: Donald Trump on Wednesday held a town hall event at a predominantly African-American church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, as part of his ongoing attempts to reach minority voters. Trump’s poll numbers among minority voters are dismal — at times near zero, even — but during the event, co-hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump praised the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing tactic, which essentially enables officers to employ racial profiling on pedestrians. Trump credited stop-and-frisk for helping keep New York City safe under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but his comments prompted one African-American attendee who disagrees with the policy to leave the event early. “I just couldn’t take it anymore, I had to go,” the man said. “I don’t think that Donald Trump gets it.” Reuters, Fox News, The Week
More than 300 scientists warn against Trump’s climate change stance: Hundreds of top scientists warned on Tuesday against Donald Trump’s vow to pull US out of the Paris climate-warming accord if elected in November. The 375 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel Prize winners, said in an open letter that a US abandonment of the agreement would make it far harder to develop global strategies to lessen the impact of global warming. The National Academy of Sciences is a private society of scholars who advise the United States on science and technological matters. Hillary Clinton is a strong supporter of the Paris accord. VOA
Clinton leads Trump by 6 points ahead of debate in poll: Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton six points among likely voters ahead of next week’s debate, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday. The poll was conducted after a tough stretch in which Clinton was sidelined with pneumonia and came under fire for referring to Trump supporters as “deplorables.” In a four-way race, the poll shows Clinton leading Trump 43% to 37% with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson getting 9% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3%. In a two-way race, Clinton leads 48% to 41%, according to the poll. USA Today
Super PAC donations surge past $1 billion: Super PAC donations have barreled past the $1 billion mark, driven by a small group of super-wealthy contributors intent on deciding who will occupy the White House and control Congress next year. That surpasses the $846.8 million that poured into these groups during the entire 2012 election cycle, the first presidential race in which super PACs operated. Nearly half the money — $500.8 million — flowing to super PACs in this election came from 62 individuals, companies and unions that gave $3 million or more apiece, the tally shows.
The top super PAC donors of the 2012 election, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have just begun to spend, directing a combined $20 million last month to a super PAC working to preserve the Republicans’ narrow majority in the Senate. Another $20 million in Adelson money is headed to a House-focused Adelson also is joining forces with TD Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts to help fund Future45, a super PAC that intends to hammer Democrat Hillary Clinton with negative ads, mailers and phone calls. USA Today
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