Top news stories for today – September 6, 2016
Obama cancels meeting with Philippines president
President Obama has canceled a Tuesday meeting with the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, following an outburst by Duterte. Since June, more than 2,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed in the Philippines, and Obama said the two leaders would discuss “international norms” regarding due process.
In response, Duterte said his country is a “sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. ‘Putang ina’ I will swear at you in that forum.” That is the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch” or “son of a whore.”On Monday, a spokesman for the National Security Council said the meeting had been canceled, and Obama will now meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye instead. On Tuesday, Duterte said in a statement read by a spokesman that he regrets if his comments “came across as a personal attack on the U.S. president.” The Washington Post, The Week
ISIS driven from Turkish Syrian border
Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels expelled the Islamic State group from the last strip of territory it controlled along the Syrian-Turkish border on Sunday, effectively sealing the extremists’ self-styled caliphate off from the outside world, Turkey’s prime minister and a Syrian opposition group reported.
Also on Sunday, Syrian pro-government forces backed by airstrikes launched a wide offensive in the northern city of Aleppo, capturing areas they lost last month and besieging rebel-held neighborhoods, state media and opposition activists said.
Iran questions again Saudi over 2015 Hajj stampede
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has once again questioned Saudi Arabia’s ability to manage Islam’s holiest sites, accusing the kingdom of murder in last year’s deadly hajj pilgrimage stampede.
Saudi Arabia immediately lashed back. Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef said Iran is attempting to “politicize” the pilgrimage, which is required at least once for all able-bodied Muslims.
The stampede at last year’s hajj left 769 people dead, according to the Saudi government. The Associated Press said the death toll was at least 2,426, after examining state media reports and officials’ comments from countries whose citizens participated in the pilgrimage. Tehran has said 464 of the dead were Iranian, and blamed the catastrophe on Saudi mismanagement. VOA
Cost of N. Korea missile test
North Korea has spent close to $100 million on more than 30 missile tests since Kim Jong Un assumed power in 2011, nearly double the number of missiles launched in the previous 18 years when his father Kim Jong Il ruled the country. The estimated cost of the three Rodong missiles that North Korea launched on Monday is between $3 million and $6 million.
The South Korean newspaper the Chosun Ilbo estimated the cost of North Korea’s missiles based in part on what it said were the prices Middle Eastern countries had paid for these weapons.
Over the past two decades North Korea has reportedly sold hundreds of missiles, materials, and technology to Egypt, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. VOA
US Presidential election
Donald Trump inches ahead of Hillary Clinton in new national poll: A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday finds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton essentially tied among likely voters, with Trump ahead 45 percent to 43 percent — within the ±3.5 point margin of error — Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7 percent, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2 percent. Among all registered voters, Clinton leads, 45 percent to 41 percent, due more to a rise in Trump’s numbers than a dip in Clinton’s. A separate poll Tuesday from NBC News/SurveyMonkey found the race unchanged, with Clinton leading Trump by 6 points among registered voters and 4 points when Johnson and Stein are included. Both candidates were in Ohio on Monday, and Trump is heading to Virginia and North Carolina on Tuesday while Clinton travels to Florida. NN, Time, The Week
Hillary Clinton accuses Russia of Watergate-like meddling in U.S. election: In a press conference aboard her campaign plane on Monday, Hillary Clinton took some swipes at Russia, which U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe is trying to influence and disrupt the U.S. election. Russian President Vladimir Putin “and the team around him certainly believe that there is some benefit to them for doing this,” Clinton said. She compared Russian activity to Richard Nixon’s bungled 1972 operation to spy on the Democrats, saying: “This is like Watergate, only in cyber time. Breaking into the Democratic National Committee either physically or into electronic files to withdraw information to be used for political purposes, it is stunning that we are facing this and especially from a foreign power.” Clinton criticized Donald Trump for “urging the Russians to hack,” saying she thinks “it’s quite intriguing that this activity has happened around the time Trump became the nominee,” but stopped short of suggesting Russia is trying to help Trump win the election. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Week
Early US voting begins in September: Election Day in the United States is still two months away. But though U.S. political campaigns at times seem endless, voters in some states can begin casting votes this month — even before the first general-election debate. More than two-thirds of the country’s 50 states allow a voter to cast a ballot in person before the November 8 election. All of them offer a way to vote by mail if a voter cannot make it to the polls that day. VOA
Clinton will not visit Mexico during campaign: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she will not be visiting Mexico before the November election. Her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, went there last week after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto invited both potential future US leaders to discuss relations between the neighboring countries. Clinton told ABC News on Monday that she will instead focus her efforts for now on creating jobs at home. Earlier Monday, she called Trump’s talks with Pena Nieto “an embarrassing international incident,” and said Trump did not know how to effectively talk to a head of state. VOA
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