Top News Stories for Today – September 29, 2016
US Congress prevents government shutdown
Hours after the Senate voted 72-26 to pass a spending bill that will keep the government funded through Dec. 9, Congress did the same, with a vote of 342-85. The bill, which pledges $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus and $500 million in flood relief to Louisiana, will now head to President Obama’s desk.
Senate Democrats initially voted down the measure Tuesday because it did not include aid for the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan; however, the bill moved forward Wednesday after Republicans agreed to consider Flint aid in a future measure, to come after the presidential election. The Associated Press, Politico
Sudan used chemical weapons in Darfur
A new report from Amnesty International claims that since January, more than 200 people in Darfur, including children, have been killed by chemical weapons dropped by the Sudanese government. For 13 years, Sudanese forces and rebels have been fighting in the region, and in mid-January, the government launched an offensive against the Sudan Liberation Army.
Amnesty International’s Tirana Hassan told the BBC that over the course of an eight month investigation in Darfur, they found dozens of witnesses to at least 30 attacks using chemical weapons. The “scale and brutality of these attacks is hard to put into words,” Hassan said. Investigators saw images and videos of children covered with lesions and blisters, some vomiting, others unable to breathe. “The fact that Sudan’s government is now repeatedly using those weapons against their own people simply cannot be ignored and demands action,” Hassan said. BBC News
Obama to send 600 more troops to Iraq
The US plans to send roughly 600 more troops to Iraq to “further enable” local forces in the fight to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters Wednesday. The additional troops will join the 4,565 military personnel already in Iraq, and will assist with training and advising the Iraqi military.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had requested the additional troops to “provide support for security forces,” and that the Obama administration had agreed to provide them. The Associated Press reported that a victory in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and ISIS’s “last major urban stronghold” in the country would be both “symbolic and strategic.” The Associated Press, ABC News
Australia to push Russia on downed Malaysian Plane
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Thursday he will press Russia to support efforts by the United Nations Security Council to prosecute those responsible for bringing down a Malaysian airliner that crashed over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.
International investigators released findings Wednesday saying the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missiles that was transported into Ukraine from Russia.
Turnbull said in addition to the Security Council, where Russia has used its veto power to block action, the Netherlands could take up its own prosecution of the case. VOA
Egypt is building a new capital
The Egyptian government is determined to build a new capital in the desert 28 miles southeast of this iconic city — and it’s no longer a mirage now that China is bankrolling most of the $45 billion project.
Work has already begun on a 270-square-mile tract of army-owned land that would house as many as 5 million people when completed in 2021. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is pushing the project, has his skeptics, who wonder how cash-strapped Egypt can afford such an ambitious development.
Enter the Chinese. On Sunday, China Fortune Land Development announced it would invest $20 billion in the still-unnamed capital. That comes on top of a $15 billion agreement by China’s state-owned construction company to finance 14 government buildings, a zone for trade fairs and a 5,000-seat conference center that would be the largest in Africa. USA Today
US Presidential election
Gary Johnson can’t name a foreign leader, calls it ‘Aleppo moment’: During a town hall Wednesday hosted by Hardball’s Chris Matthews, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson was asked to name his favorite foreign leader. Johnson responded by making a strange noise. His running mate, Bill Weld, came in for the save, saying, “Mine was Shimon Peres,” the former Israeli president who died on Tuesday. “I’m talking about living,” Matthews said. “Any continent. Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa. Name a foreign leader that you respect.” Referring to his gaffe earlier in the month, when he said he wasn’t familiar with Aleppo, Syria, Johnson said, “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment in the former president of Mexico.” With more help from Weld, Johnson eventually came up with former Mexican President Vicente Fox. NBC News
Burmese immigrants want a President that knows Myanmart: “Coming from a country like Burma, Donald Trump reminds me of a military-style leader,” says Phyu Phyu Hlaing, who left her homeland, also known as Myanmar, in 1983 and watched it deteriorate under the rule of clumsy and oppressive military dictators. In interview after interview, Burmese Americans told VOA they approved of Clinton’s experience with Myanmar, and especially her relationship with Aung San Suu Kyi.
In reality, though, it’s hard to know exactly what percentage of Burmese Americans support Trump or Clinton, since there hasn’t been a poll measuring their political opinions. The closest is a study on civic participation conducted this year by the Burmese American Community Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana. Interestingly, the study’s authors concluded the US Burmese community is actually conservative on social and other domestic issues. That’s partly because most Burmese in the US were members of religious or other conservative ethnic minorities that were persecuted in their home country, it said. VOA
Michelle Obama campaigns for Clinton: First lady Michelle Obama appeared in a new Clinton campaign ad, telling voters that she supports the former US secretary of state because “Hillary will be a president our kids can look up to.” Obama, without mentioning the brash Trump’s name and his campaign taunts against Clinton, said, “Our children watch everything we do, and the person we elect as president has the power to shape their lives for years to come.” The first lady is campaigning for Clinton in yet another important election state, Pennsylvania, in the eastern part of the country, with stops in its two biggest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. VOA