Top news stories for today – September 8, 2016
Cambodian-Americans in US politic
A Massachusetts House district that was the first to elect a Cambodian-American to a legislature now has two more residents of Cambodian descent who are hoping to get involved in state politics. The two newcomers and the incumbent are all vying to represent Massachusetts’ 18th Middlesex District, home to the city of Lowell and the second-largest population of Cambodian-Americans in the country, behind Long Beach, California.
Born in northwestern Cambodia’s Pailin district in 1970 and naturalized as a US citizen in 1990, Mom, 46, made history in 2014 when he became the first Cambodian-American elected to a state legislature in the US He said his ultimate goal as a legislator was to become a “voice of the voiceless.”
Now, two fellow Cambodian-Americans are competing to have their voices heard instead. Alongside Mom on the Democratic ticket are Cambodian-American Cheth Khim and fellow Lowell resident David M. Ouellette; the unopposed Republican candidate is Cambodian-American Kamara Kay. VOA
Apple announces iPhone 7, iOS 10
Apple announced the iPhone 7 on Wednesday, a redesigned version of the phone that will be water- and dust-resistant and feature an aluminum body and a high gloss finish. The new device will also boast two back cameras that allow for 10x digital zoom, live photo cropping and editing capabilities, and a new force-sensitive home button — but, as rumored, it will not have a traditional headphone jack.
Apple will include a converter with every new iPhone to enable customers to continue using traditional headphones; alternately, users can purchase wireless or Lightning-enabled headphones. Also Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced iOS 10, which will enable iPhones to “wake up” when they are lifted, and will include stickers and full-screen animations in iMessaging, a redesigned Maps app, and expansive home kit features. Preorders start Wednesday, with the phone available in stores Sept. 16. Apple, The Week
2016 Paralympic Games open in Rio
The opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games Wednesday in Rio featured thousands of athletes, musical performances, fireworks, and a giant jigsaw puzzle with the faces of every competitor that beat in time to music. A stunt by Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham kicked things off, with the US athlete jumping from a ramp in his wheelchair and doing a back flip through a large ring.
The competition starts on Thursday, and will run through Sept. 18, with an estimated 4,350 athletes from more than 160 countries taking part in 528 medal events across 22 sports. There was some drama during the ceremony, with the crowd booing 2016 organizing committee president Carlos Nuzman and Brazilian president Michael Temer, who appeared at the event just 24 hours after ousted president Dilma Rousseff left her official residence for the last time, following her removal from office. BBC News
Obama reaffirms US role in South China Sea
He has made re-balancing US policy with a focus toward Southeast Asia a priority during his presidency, which ends in January. Obama said his hope and expectation is that his successor continues that effort.
He said the group recognized the importance of a July international arbitration ruling dismissing China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and the importance for those claiming parts of the disputed region to not militarize those areas or occupy uninhabited islands. VOA
Chinese imports rise
China’s imports rose 1.5 percent in August, marking the first increase in almost two years, while exports dropped 2.8 percent, indicating the world’s second-largest economy is on the path to improvement.
Should the trends keep pace in the future, China’s increased domestic demand could bode well for global economic growth, which the IMF called “lackluster” in its most recent economic outlook update, and assuage investor fears that China’s economy relies too heavily on exports.
Analysts have suggested a weaker exchange rate for the Chinese yuan could be behind the lower export numbers. The yuan has lost about five percent of its value over the past year. In August, China’s trade surplus nearly 14 percent from the same time last year to $52 billion, marking a small improvement over July numbers that showed imports down 12.5 percent on-year. Data from China’s central bank show its foreign exchange reserves at the end of August at $3.19 trillion, their lowest point since the end of 2011. VOA
US Presidential election
Clinton, Trump show stark national security differences in debate preview: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke to veterans and military voters Wednesday night during the Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York City, sponsored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization and moderated by Today host Matt Lauer. Clinton, speaking first, said a commander-in-chief must have “steadiness mixed with strength,” and she wants to improve mental health care for veterans, reform the VA, and do more about drug and alcohol addiction. She also promised to not put ground troops into Iraq “ever again” and to defeat ISIS “without ever committing ground troops.” Trump said he has “good judgment” and knows “what’s going on” because he’s “called so many of the shots.” He said the military generals have been “reduced to rubble” under President Obama, and when asked about sexual assault in the military, Trump said the “best thing we can do” is “set up a court system within the military.” The Week
Obama repeats his assertion that Trump is unqualified to be president: At a news conference in Laos on Thursday, at the end of his final ASEAN summit, President Obama discussed the importance of southeast Asia and ASEAN, and pledged to do everything he can to solidify US ties to the region. When he opened the floor to questions, reporters asked him about Donald Trump. “As far as Mr. Trump, I think I’ve already offered my opinion,” Obama said. “I don’t think the guy is qualified to be president of the United States. And every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed.” He wasn’t done. “This is serious business, and you have to actually know what you’re talking about,” he said. “And I have confidence that if, in fact, people just listen to what he has to say and look at his track record — or lack thereof — that they’ll make a good decision.” YouTube, The Week
US lawmakers wary of Russian cyberattacks as elections near: US lawmakers of both political parties told VOA they have no reason to doubt that Russian hackers are targeting America’s voting infrastructure with the possible intent of disrupting or undermining confidence in the November elections. Federal officials believe Russian hackers penetrated voter databases in Arizona and Illinois earlier this year, and have urged all 50 states to be vigilant.
“I don’t think it’s a stretch because Russia’s been engaged in cyberattacks against the United States,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. “These are well known to our national security experts. So no, it does not surprise me.”
“We know Russia has been very active in cyberattacks in the United States, and we know that they mine for information all the time,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat. “Nothing surprises me about Russia.” VOA
Donald Trump praises Putin again: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday, saying he has been more of a leader than US President Barack Obama. During an NBC News forum in which he was interviewed separately from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump said he thinks as president he would have a “very good relationship with Putin.” He also said Russia and the US have a joint interest in defeating Islamic State. VOA
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