Archives
  • Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(MANILA) -- President Donald Trump will wrap up his 13-day tour through Asia with a stop in the Philippines Sunday and Monday -- a key American ally in the midst of a bloody drug war, dealing with an insurgent ISIS threat and concerned about increasingly stronger ties to America's adversaries China and Russia.But most of all, Trump will have to tangle with the country's controversial president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has a reputation for filthy language, has faced charges of crimes for his drug war, and has claimed several times to have killed people himself. His latest claim came Friday while at a summit with Trump and other leaders, claiming that he stabbed someone "just over a look" and forcing a spokesperson to later clarify that it was a joke.Two days later, he will host Trump and other world leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, summit, with a 50th-anniversary gala. The next day, Trump and Duterte meet one on one.Here are the top issues on Trump's visit.Repairing relations with DuterteAmong Duterte's most infamous comments was what he said about former President Barack Obama. After Obama said he would challenge Duterte about his war on drugs and crime, Duterte ordered Obama not to question him and called him a "son of a whore" in a press conference.Obama canceled the meeting. Duterte's office issued a statement, saying he regretted the comment. But relations were never the same.Trump, on the other hand, has embraced Duterte -- with a senior administration official saying before the trip that "there's a warm rapport there." The two have exchanged letters, and when they spoke by phone in April, the White House said the call was "very friendly" and the president "invited President Duterte to the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction."That invitation generated some outrage from human rights groups. But the Philippines is a major non-NATO ally, meaning it has special treaty status with the U.S., and the relationship between the two countries dates back to the 19th century and the Spanish-American War, when the U.S. took control of the islands from Spain. It has been an important buffer against Chinese assertion, especially in the South China Sea.But while the Obama administration refused to look past the alleged human rights abuses, the Trump administration seems to care more about that alliance.Addressing the bloody drug warThat doesn't mean the issue won't come up. The senior administration official told reporters, "The president will have frank and friendly discussions in his first meeting with Mr. Duterte."The drug war has become an unavoidable topic -- with more than 12,000 people killed, according to estimates by some NGOs and media outlets.When he came into office in June 2016, Duterte ordered the police and military to violently root out criminals and drug users and sellers, but instead of arrests and prosecutions, there were thousands of extrajudicial killings. Over the last year and a half, the violence has snowballed, with an enormous death toll.Duterte has defended the killings as necessary to "cleanse" the country of a drug scourge and questioned whether drug users and dealers are "human" or could be rehabilitated.Trump applauded the efforts, saying in a statement in April, "The Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world."But after international pressure -- including an economic threat by the European Union to strip the Philippines of trading privileges worth billions -- and declining support at home, Duterte scaled back the policy in October. He suspended the Philippine National Police’s anti-drug operations but has allowed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to continue its work.With that curtailment, it seems even less likely that Trump will call on Duterte to suspend op
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Europe isn’t usually our first thought when we’re planning a December trip.The Caribbean, Asia and the whole Southern Hemisphere usually come to mind first -- and for good reason. They are, on the whole, much warmer in the winter months.But there are some European destinations that also aren't prone to winter’s chill. Just look to the Mediterranean. You may not be inspired to jump in the hotel pool, but you will be able to leave your winter jacket behind as you enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.Here are some places where you could go, according to Oyster.com's Elizabeth Smith.MaltaAverage December highs: 61 to 65 degrees FAverage December lows: 52 to 56 degrees FAverage Hours of sunshine: 9:48Even if you’ve never heard of Malta, you’ve probably seen its famed Blue Grotto on your Instagram feed or in your favorite travel magazine. This Mediterranean archipelago sits between Sicily and the North African coast, where the weather is pleasant all year long. In fact, with more than 300 sunny days and 2,957 hours of sunshine a year, Malta is the sunniest destination in Europe.The islands themselves offer an interesting intersection of cultures, thanks to periods of rule by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, French and, most recently, the British. Malta became an independent country in 1964, but it retains wonders from throughout its past. The language sounds like Arabic, the food tastes Italian, and the residents drive on the left like Brits.The main island is only 9-by-17 miles, so a prehistoric temple or labyrinthine medieval city is never more than an hour away. Beyond the impressive history lies a plethora of natural beauty: clear turquoise waters, fossil-studded limestone cliffs and sparkling red-gold beaches. Perhaps best of all -- a trip to Malta won’t break the bank.Canary IslandsAverage December highs: 70 to 73 degrees FAverage December lows: 60 to 63 degrees FAverage Hours of sunshine: 10:24It feels like summer all year long in the Canary Islands, and Western Europeans regularly take advantage. Despite their geographical isolation 62 miles off the African coast, the islands receive about 10 million visitors a year.Most of the visitors are hoping to soak up some sun at one of the area’s seafront resorts, but there is more to see in the Canaries. Imagine lunar-like lava fields, looming sand dunes, banana plantations and lush pine forests surrounded by crystal waters.Of course, if you can escape the office for only a week, you’ll probably have to pick your poison. There are seven unique islands to choose from. We recommend sticking to southern Tenerife or the island of Lanzarote if you want the best December weather amid some of the islands' best outdoor adventure, breathtaking views and roaring nightlife.The AlgarveAverage December highs: 62 to 64 degrees FAverage December lows: 48 to 51 degrees FAverage Hours of sunshine: 9:43Portugal’s southernmost region is known for its lovely beachside resorts and expansive golf courses. Pair that with mild temperatures, whitewashed fishing villages and blooming poinsettia trees, and you have the perfect December getaway. The northern mountains protect the Algarve from northern and Atlantic winds, so the only breezes that hit the region can be enjoyed for sailing and kite surfing. You will be a tad warmer if you stay east since it’s closer to the Mediterranean.Whether you head to the Algarve to enjoy the coast or the rugged way of life that remains in the region's interior, you’ll be welcomed by ancient castles, cork-filled hills and golden cliffs. We recommend a walk along one of the many footpaths in the morning, followed by a meal of fresh fish drizzled with local olive oil and wine straight from the vineyard in the afternoon.If you really need to relax, try a thalassotherapy treatment, which uses seawater and seaweed to soothe and revitalize the body. Bear in mind that some re
    Read more...
  • ABC News(DANANG, Vietnam) -- It's become a tradition of sorts for world leaders at Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summits to don matching jackets for a "family photo."Leading up to the summit, there was a question of whether President Donald Trump, who is rarely seen in public without his signature suit and tie, would partake in the tradition.But he put that speculation to rest on Friday as he walked into the APEC gala wearing a dark-blue, silk button-down shirt. He shook Russian President Vladimir Putin's hand before posing with 20 fellow world leaders for a "family photo."World leaders have Bill Clinton to thank for starting the annual tradition back in 1993, when he hosted the summit in Seattle and gifted world leaders in attendance with matching bomber jackets.The next year, the tables turned on Clinton, and it was his turn to don a traditional Indonesian shirt selected by the summit's subsequent host country.Since then, the trend has continued with many other hosting countries also following suit in continuing the tradition.Former President George W. Bush had a reputation for embracing the lighthearted tradition in good humor. He donned everything from a poncho during the 2008 summit in Lima, Peru, to a traditional blue silk "ao dai" at the 2006 APEC summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, over the course of his eight years in office.The tradition has remained strong ever since.President Barack Obama made no secret of the fact that he wasn't such a fan of the tradition with his decision to nix it when it was his turn to host the APEC summit on his home turf of Hawaii in 2011, after previously threatening in jest that he would make world leaders wear aloha shirts or grass skirts.“I had looked at pictures of some of the previous APEC meetings and some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought this may be a tradition that we might want to break,” Obama said at the time. “We gave them a shirt, and if they wanted to wear the shirt, I promise you it would have been fine. But I didn’t hear a lot of complaints about us breaking precedent on that one.”Though Obama may have managed a temporary break from the tradition, some fashion habits die hard.At the 2014 APEC summit in China, Obama donned a deep-red silk jacket for the group photo that drew comparisons to Star Trek character Jean-Luc Picard.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(TOULOUSE, France) -- A driver was detained in a suburb of Toulouse, France, Friday after an incident that left some students injured, officials said."Very shocked by the aggression against students at Blagnac," Toulouse Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc wrote in French on Twitter. "We bring them all our support as well as to their loved ones."French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed on Twitter that the driver was detained."Support for injured young people in Blagnac, immediately taken care of by our emergency services," Collomb wrote in French on Twitter. "I salute the responsiveness of the [national police] who detained the driver. It is the investigation that will determine the nature of his act."Local police are in charge of the investigation for now, the Paris prosecutor's office told ABC News.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- The U.S. military said it killed "several militants" while conducting an airstrike in Somalia on Thursday against al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al Shabab.The strike targeting al-Shabab occurred at approximately 3 p.m. local time in the Bay Region, about 100 miles west of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. U.S. forces carried out the operation in coordination with Somalia's federal government, according to a press release from the United States Africa Command.Al Shabab, which is based in Somalia and pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in 2012, "is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world" and "has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the U.S. and our partners in the region," the press release stated."U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats," the press release added.The operation comes one week after U.S. forces conducted its first airstrikes against ISIS in Somalia. However, the main target of U.S. airstrikes in Somalia is al Shabab.U.S. forces have conducted well over a dozen airstrikes targeting al Shabab this year since U.S. President Donald Trump signed a directive in March giving the military authorization to conduct offensive counterterrorism airstrikes in Somalia against the jihadist group. Previously, the U.S. military had only been able to launch airstrikes against al-Shabab fighters in self-defense situations when African Union or Somali government troops accompanied by American advisers were under attack.Clan warlords battling for power carved up Somalia following the collapse of a military dictatorship in the early 1990s. After years of interim authority, an internationally backed federal government was installed in 2012. In February, the East African country elected its first president in decades, whose victory offered a ray of hope for residents.But the federal government has failed to assert central authority over the entire nation, which, combined with high youth unemployment, has created an opening for piracy and for armed groups such as al Shabab, whose name means "the youth."Al Shabab, which emerged in 2006 from the now-defunct Islamic Courts Union, launched its own insurgency against major cities in Somalia in 2009, seizing the capital and much of southern Somalia until it was pushed out by domestic and international forces around 2012.Although the group lost control of most cities and towns, al Shabab continues to dominate in many rural areas of southern Somalia and is reportedly becoming increasingly present in the northern region. However, Somalia experts have told ABC News that the group is struggling to recruit new members.Al Shabab has been blamed for carrying out the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history last month, though there was no official claim of responsibility. The massive truck bombing in the capital left more than 350 people dead and hundreds of others wounded. The Oct. 14 attack could be an indication of the power the extremist group still wields over the Horn of Africa nation.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...