News summary for Monday, October 23, 2017


PUBLISHED Mon, October 23, 2017 - 11:24pm EDT


A quick look at the most important news of the last 24 hours:

* The Philippines has declared an end to combat operations in the southern city of Marawi, which was seized by supporters of the Islamic State group (ISIS) in May when hundreds of civilians were taken hostage. The conflict left 1,100 people dead and forced 230,000 people to flee their homes. ISIS has suffered major losses over the past year: it lost the Syrian city of Raqqa (its de-facto capital) just last week and Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, in July. (read more)

* Nicaragua, which previously rejected the Paris climate deal as insufficient to stop climate change, has signed the agreement, leaving the United States and Syria as the only two holdouts. The accord seeks to cap global temperature rise this century at 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists say would already have a significant impact. Experts believe the agreement is insufficient and countries which fail to fulfill their commitments are not penalized. (read more)

* Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera says North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities are "definitely improving" and the threat posed by the reclusive country has reached an "unprecedented, critical and imminent level." South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha echoed the remarks, calling North Korea the "most serious threat" to the international community.

* Tatyana Felgengauer, the deputy editor of a Russian radio station which is known for broadcasting views that are critical of the Kremlin, is in a medically-induced coma after a man forced his way into her studio and stabbed her in the neck. Investigators say the 48-year-old suspect told police that he had been communicating "telepathically" with Felgengauer for 5 years. The suspect has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination.

* The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration appears to have misled the public when it claimed that 4 people who were shot dead in Honduras in 2012 were on a boat that opened fire on a canoe carrying DEA agents. A video, which was finally released after nearly 5 years and a federal lawsuit, shows no evidence of gunfire coming from the boat. The video was obtained by the New York Times.

IN BRIEF

* An alleged supporter of the Islamic State group (ISIS) has been charged with trying to bomb the Dolpin Mall in Miami. The 53-year-old man, who is originally from Honduras but lives in Miami, was provided a fake bomb by FBI undercover employees, after which he went to the mall and tried to carry out the attack.

* A Spanish tourist was shot dead after the car she was in failed to stop at a police checkpoint in the Rocinha favela. The officer who fired has been arrested. The officers were reportedly sheltering from the rain when they tried to stop the car and were not actually on the road.

* Global tree cover loss in 2016 reached a record 29.7 million hectares (74.3 million acres), which is equivalent to the size of New Zealand and an increase of 51% when compared to the previous year. Forest fires are the primary cause of the spike, according to Global Forest Watch.

* Investigators in Belgium are investigating a possible break-through in the case of the Nijvel Gang, which carried out a series of violent robberies in the 1980s, killing 28 people. A man claims his brother, a retired police officer in Aalst, confessed just before his death that he was the gang's ringleader. Meanwhile, a witness says he was dismissed after telling investigators that he recognized one of the killers at a police station in Aalst.

* Elephant poaching in Africa declined for a 5th straight year in 2016 but the trade in illegal ivory remains relatively stable, according to AFP. Africa's elephant population continues to drop, although it has now stabilized in southern Africa and east Africa.

UPCOMING EVENTS

* Wednesday: U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held by the Taliban for nearly 5 years before his release as part of a controversial prisoner exchange,.will be sentenced after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He could face life in prison.

* Thursday: A trove of long-classified files on the assassination of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy is scheduled to be released. President Donald Trump is able to delay the release but the White House has said he won't unless unless intelligence agencies provide a compelling justification. The archive contains about 3,000 unreleased documents.

* Thursday: Kenya is scheduled to elect a new president after the results of the August 8 vote, in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner, were annulled. It remains uncertain whether opposition leader Raila Odinga will boycott the election re-run.





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