News & Politics
The news of the day for Tuesday September 17, 2019
A bomb blast killed at least 24 people at a campaign rally for Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, on Tuesday. At least 31 other people were wounded. Ghani was inside a building when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated the bomb outside. Ghani has been campaigning in his re-election bid mostly by video conference ahead of the Sept. 28 vote, which is taking place under threat of attacks by Taliban insurgents. The Taliban has vowed to disrupt the vote. Hours after the blast at the rally, another blast hit near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Few details on the second explosion were immediately available, and no group claimed responsibility for either blast.
The Islamic State released audio in which a man it identified as the group's fugitive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urges followers to carry out attacks against security forces wherever possible, and calls for assaults on prisons where ISIS members are being held. Baghdadi also urged ISIS supporters to remember the group's fighters who held out before being captured when the group's self-proclaimed caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria fell. The half-hour recording was released by the Islamist extremist group's al-Furqan media wing. The audio's authenticity was not immediately questioned but could not be confirmed. Baghdadi is among the world's most wanted fugitives, with the U.S. offering $25 million for credible information on where he is hiding.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday Tehran will not hold talks with the United States until the 2015 nuclear agreement is restored. Khamenei made the comments Tuesday on state television. The United States blamed Iran for weekend attacks at oil installations in Saudi Arabia, which caused a global spike in prices Monday that hasn't been seen in 30 years. U.S. officials pointed to the sophistication of the drone attacks, which Tehran has denied. The Iranian leader called Trump administration sanctions "quite worthless" -- but said if the United States "repents" and rejoins the 2015 pact, Iran would again be willing to negotiate. French President Emmanuel Macron proposed at last month's G7 conference the idea of a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, which begins Tuesday in New York. Trump said Monday he would not meet without conditions.
A summit between President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is likely to take place during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. According to a South Korean media report, Trump and Moon are to meet to discuss the possibility of resuming dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang. Talks have stalled between two sides since Trump met with Kim Jong Un at an impromptu summit in June at the border village of Panmunjom. Speculation is growing in Seoul about whether North Korea will skip the general debate of the U.N. General Assembly, despite an earlier statement from South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha that did not rule out Kim's attendance at the annual U.N. event. Trump and Moon are also expected to discuss the recent South Korean decision to not renew the military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, and renegotiation of cost sharing for U.S. troops on the peninsula. Trump has said allies like Seoul and Tokyo should pay more.
Israeli voters go to the polls Tuesday in an election that will determine whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stays in power. It is the country's second national election in five months, coming after Netanyahu's failed effort to form a governing coalition. Netanyahu, seeking a fourth straight term with corruption charges against him looming, is the longest serving leader in Israel's history. Ahead of the vote, he promised to annex Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, and touted his relationship with President Trump. Retired military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party was even with Netanyahu's Likud in polls ahead of the vote. Gantz said he offered a fresh start. Either side was expected to have trouble forming a majority coalition.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday held his first face-to-face meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss revising the ill-fated agreement on the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union. Protesters booed Johnson as he visited Luxembourg for the meeting. The two sides failed to make concrete progress. Johnson dropped out of a planned news conference because of raucous anti-Brexit protests, but said he remained optimistic. "Yes, there is a good chance of a deal," he said. Johnson has vowed to lead Britain out of the 28-nation trading bloc on Oct. 31, with or without a deal. British lawmakers are trying to block a no-deal Brexit, which Johnson's critics say would be disastrous for Britain's economy.
A Chinese envoy will head to Washington on Wednesday to prepare for trade negotiations. The announcement Tuesday follows conciliatory gestures by both sides ahead of the October talks on their fight over trade and technology, which threatens to dampen global economic growth. China's deputy finance ministerwill lead a delegation to Washington to “pave the way” for the 13th round of negotiations. The two governments have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods. That has battered farmers and manufacturers on both sides and fueled fears the global economy, which already is showing signs of cooling, might tip into recession. Beijing announced Friday it will lift punitive tariffs on American soybeans, China’s biggest import from the United States. That followed President Trump’s decision to postpone a tariff hike on Chinese imports. But there has been no sign of progress on the core issues in their sprawling dispute. Negotiations between Washington and Beijing broke down in May over how to enforce any deal. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in June to resume talks but the last round in Shanghai in July produced no progress.
Hurricane Humberto strengthened to a Category 2 storm on Tuesday, as it maintains a northeastern heading off the coast of the Eastern Seaboard. As of Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said Humberto is 555 miles west of Bermuda, where forecasters have issued a tropical storm warning. The Category 2 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and is moving northeast at 8 mph. Although the storm is not far off the U.S. East Coast, it's not expected to make landfall anywhere in the United States, and meteorologists expect Humberto, eventually, to make a turn to the northeast late this week, which will take the storm dangerously close to Bermuda. Humberto is forecast to dissipate somewhere over the North Atlantic early next week.
U.S. e-cigarette maker Juul Labs said on Tuesday its products were not currently available on e-commerce web sites in China, days after it entered the world’s single-largest market for tobacco consumption with over 300 million smokers. A company spokesperson said, “While JUUL products are not currently available on e-commerce Web sites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again." The company spokesperson did not disclose any reason for the halt of sales. Juul is facing a regulatory crackdown and increased government scrutiny in the domestic market. The company is aggressively expanding in international markets including China where it has set up virtual stores on Tmall, an Alibaba Group site, and on JD.com, another major online retailer.
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