Clinton camp says Trump encouraging foreign espionage
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Clinton camp says Trump encouraging foreign espionage

Republican nominee says Russia should ‘find’ Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails, sparking outcry

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton introduces her running mate US Senator Tim Kaine at a campaign rally at Florida International University in Miami, July 23, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
    US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton introduces her running mate US Senator Tim Kaine at a campaign rally at Florida International University in Miami, July 23, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
  • US President Barack Obama speaks during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Dallas police shooting at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on July 12, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. AFP / Mandel NGAN)
    US President Barack Obama speaks during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Dallas police shooting at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on July 12, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. AFP / Mandel NGAN)
  • Dore Gold and former Saudi government adviser Anwar Eshki shake hands in Washington DC, June 4, 2015. (Debby Communications Group)
    Dore Gold and former Saudi government adviser Anwar Eshki shake hands in Washington DC, June 4, 2015. (Debby Communications Group)
  • Onlookers gather at the site of a bomb attack in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli on July 27, 2016.(AFP/Delil Souleiman)
    Onlookers gather at the site of a bomb attack in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli on July 27, 2016.(AFP/Delil Souleiman)
  • French President Francois Hollande (R) shakes hands with French Jewish central Consistory President Joel Mergui (L) outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, on July 27, 2016 as Ahmet Ogras, vice-president of the French Council of The Muslim Faith leaves after a meeting with French representatives of the different religion following yesterday attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouveray. (AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY
    French President Francois Hollande (R) shakes hands with French Jewish central Consistory President Joel Mergui (L) outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, on July 27, 2016 as Ahmet Ogras, vice-president of the French Council of The Muslim Faith leaves after a meeting with French representatives of the different religion following yesterday attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouveray. (AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY
  • Protesters yell as DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., arrives for a Florida delegation breakfast, Monday, July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
    Protesters yell as DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., arrives for a Florida delegation breakfast, Monday, July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani gives a thumbs up as he walks to the podium to address delegates during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani gives a thumbs up as he walks to the podium to address delegates during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.

Kremlin doubles down on denial of DNC hack

The Kremlin on Wednesday denies Moscow is interfering in the US election campaign after President Barack Obama refuses to rule out that Russia could be trying to sway the vote in favor of Donald Trump.

“President Putin has repeatedly said that Russia has never interfered and does not interfere in internal affairs, especially in the electoral processes of other countries,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters after denying Russia was involved in a hack of Democratic National Committee emails.

AFP

Iran announces May 19 presidential election

Iran’s Guardian Council announces Wednesday that next year’s presidential election will take place on May 19 with embattled incumbent Hassan Rouhani expected to run for a second term.

Rouhani, a relative moderate who oversaw a deal with world powers to end sanctions in exchange for curbing Iran’s nuclear program, faces mounting pressure from conservatives who want to limit rapprochement with the West.

Although the president is the public face of Iran to the world, real power remains with the supreme leader and institutions such as the Revolutionary Guards that are dominated by conservatives.

If Rouhani loses, it would be the first time since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that a sitting president has not won a second term.

No candidates have yet been formally announced.

The conservative-minded Guardian Council oversees elections and has powers to veto candidates.

AFP

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses a press conference at the interior ministry in Tehran, December 21, 2015. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses a press conference at the interior ministry in Tehran, December 21, 2015. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Air France warns of drop in travel to France after attacks

Air France, facing a strike by cabin crew at the height of the summer vacation season, is warning of pressure on its finances amid concerns about France as a tourist destination after a string of deadly attacks.

The company reports Wednesday a 5.2 percent drop in second quarter sales to 6.22 billion euros ($6.84 billion) compared with last year, and about 40 million euros in losses from strikes.

Air France canceled over 10 percent of flights Wednesday amid its latest strike, by cabin crew.

It warns the global context this year is “highly uncertain,” noting fuel prices and “a special concern about France as a destination.”

The results came the day after Islamic State extremists attacked a Normandy church, killing a priest. It’s the latest of several attacks on France.

AP

Illustrative photo of an Air France Airbus shortly after takeoff (Alf van Beem/Wikimedia Commons, File)

Illustrative photo of an Air France Airbus shortly after takeoff (Alf van Beem/Wikimedia Commons, File)

French religious leaders urge for more security at worship sites

French religious leaders on Wednesday call for authorities to boost security at places of worship after jihadists killed a priest in a Normandy church.

“We deeply desire that our places of worship are the subject of greater (security) focus, a sustained focus,” says French Muslim leader Dalil Boubakeur, after meeting with President Francois Hollande.

Hollande gathers with the leaders of the country’s main religions a day after two attackers stormed a church in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass, slitting the throat of an 86-year-old priest.

Boubakeur, speaking in the name of French Muslims, voices his “deep grief” at the attack which he described as a “blasphemous sacrilege which goes against all the teachings of our religion.”

AFP

French President Francois Hollande (R) shakes hands with French Jewish central Consistory President Joel Mergui (L) outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, on July 27, 2016 as Ahmet Ogras, vice-president of the French Council of The Muslim Faith leaves after a meeting with French representatives of the different religion following yesterday attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouveray. (AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY

French President Francois Hollande (center) shakes hands with French Jewish central Consistory President Joel Mergui (left) outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, on July 27, 2016, following yesterday’s attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouveray. (AFP Photo/Bertrand Guay)

Giuliani claims Israel wants Trump for US president

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani tells The Washington Post that Israeli leaders prefer Republican nominee Donald Trump for US president over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve talked to the members of the Israeli government at the highest levels. I know who they want elected here. It’s not Hillary Clinton. It’s not Obama 3,” Guiliani says.

“They are politically aware enough to know that if Hillary gets elected, she is going to go further to her left, to protect her left flank against Elizabeth Warren,” Giuliani says. “They know she’s going to start the two-state solution thing again, cave in to the Palestinians. They realize Donald Trump can say Islamic terrorism, can stand up to it. So there’s no question he would be better for the state of Israel than Hillary.”

The former NY mayor, who met with Israeli leaders in March, adds: “I’ve known Bibi almost as long as I’ve known Donald, 25 years. I can’t speak for Bibi… But there is no question Donald Trump and a Republican administration would be much better for Israel.”

The Prime Minister’s Office denies the report.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu did not express any preference for whom the next American president would be, will continue to scrupulously avoid being dragged into the American elections and looks forward to working with whomever the American people elect,” a spokesperson tells the paper.

Benjamin Netanyahu (right), with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in Jerusalem, on February 2, 2015 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Benjamin Netanyahu (right), with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in Jerusalem, on February 2, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

IS claims bombing that killed 44 in Syria’s Qamishli

The Islamic State group claims responsibility on Wednesday for a massive bomb attack that killed at least 44 people in Syria’s Kurdish-majority Qamishli city.

In a statement circulated on social media, the jihadist group says the attack was carried out by a bomber in an explosives-laden truck in response to attacks on the IS-held town of Manbij in Syria’s Aleppo province.

AFP

Israeli company among gas giants bidding for Cyprus drilling rights

ExxonMobil, ENI and Total are among eight energy giants bidding to drill for undersea oil and gas off the southern coast of Cyprus, officials say Wednesday.

Companies from Europe, the US, Qatar and Israel are bidding for three new drilling licenses, Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis tells reporters.

“The government is especially satisfied with the quality of applicants and we have achieved our target,” he says.

Italy’s ENI and France’s Total make joint bids for two of the three blocks available, while America’s ExxonMobil and Gulf gas giant Qatar Petroleum join forces for a rival bid.

Licenses would let firms prospect in waters near Egypt’s Zohr field, where Italian energy giant ENI last August discovered the “largest ever” offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean.

The Zohr field is estimated to hold some 850 billion cubic meters (30 trillion cubic feet) of gas.

Cyprus hopes to begin exporting gas and possibly oil by 2022 as it seeks to become a key regional energy player.

The six applications will now be assessed by a special committee. Based on its recommendations, the cabinet will appoint a team to negotiate contracts with the winning companies.

Cabinet has the final say on granting licenses for the three blocks.

AFP

Saudi Arabia says Israel visit doesn’t reflect gov’t stance

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry is distancing itself from a recent visit to Israel by a number of Saudi citizens, including an outspoken former military general.

The Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper quotes on Wednesday an unnamed ministry official as saying the rare public engagement “does not reflect the views of the Saudi government.”

The official refers to Israel as “the occupied territories.”

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official relations and the kingdom prohibits its citizens from traveling to Israel. It also does not grant visas to Israelis.

However, Saudi government permission was likely necessary for Anwar Eshki and the delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen to make the visit.

While in Jerusalem, Eshki met with a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official and a group of Knesset members.

AP

Israel's incoming Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and former Saudi government adviser Anwar Eshki shake hands in Washington DC, June 4, 2015 (Debby Communications Group)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold (left) and former Saudi government adviser Anwar Eshki shake hands in Washington DC, June 4, 2015 (Debby Communications Group)

Some 100 Palestinian prisoners said to join hunger strike

Some 100 Palestinian prisoners have joined a mass hunger strike in Israeli jails, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports.

The inmates are fasting in solidarity with three hunger-strikers protesting their detention without trial — Bilal Kayid, who has been fasting for 44 days, and Muhammad and Mahmud al-Balboul who launched a hunger strike 23 days ago.

The Israeli Prisons Service was working to have the prisoners end their hunger strikes, sanctioning them with fines and solitary confinement and barring their family members from visiting, the report says.

Obama says Trump lacks ‘basic knowledge about the world’

President Barack Obama says he worries about a President Donald Trump who would lack “basic knowledge about the world” and has shown no interest in learning more about it.

Obama says, what he thinks is “scary is a president who doesn’t know their stuff.”

Without mentioning Trump by name, Obama adds the Republican presidential nominee doesn’t seem to know much about nuclear weapons, where countries are or the differences between the Sunni and Shiite branches of the Muslim religion.

The interview is aired on NBC’s “Today” the same day he is scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

AP

President Barack Obama answers questions during a joint news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama answers questions during a joint news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Biden says Putin doesn’t want Clinton to be president

Vice President Joe Biden says he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t want Hillary Clinton to become president.

Biden tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” that adversaries of the US think it’s better to have someone “who doesn’t have any idea what they’re doing” in the White House than have somebody “as tough as Hillary.” He says Putin doesn’t want to see a united NATO or a united European Union.

Biden says he doesn’t know for sure if Russia was responsible for leaking embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee. But he says the leak is consistent with Russia’s past conduct.

He also says Republican Donald Trump and his running mate “don’t know what they’re talking about” when it comes to national security. Biden criticizes Trump for wanting to break up US alliances with NATO countries.

AP

US Vice President Joe Biden talks to students from Eagle Academy for Young Men during a walk through before day two of the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images/AFP)

US Vice President Joe Biden talks to students from Eagle Academy for Young Men during a walk through before day two of the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images/AFP)

Church hostage says attackers forced husband to film slain priest

More horrifying details of the northern France church attack on Tuesday are emerging.

An 86-year-old woman, one of five held hostage Tuesday at the Normandy church, says the attackers had handed her husband Guy a cellphone and demanded that he take photos or video of the priest after he was killed. Her husband was in turn slashed in four places by the attackers and is now hospitalized with serious injuries.

The attackers took hostages at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in France’s northwest region of Normandy, during morning Mass. After the priest was slain, both attackers, at least one of them a local man, were killed by police outside the church. The exact timeline of the attack is still unclear.

The elderly woman identified only as Jeanine tells RMC radio that her husband played dead to stay alive. Two nuns were held hostage along with the couple and the priest, while a third nun escaped and gave the alert.

AP, Times of Israel staff

Turkish PM says crackdown ‘not completed yet’

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warns the crackdown following a failed coup attempt is “not completed yet” and there could be more arrests, he tells Sky News on Wednesday.

“The investigation is continuing, there are people who are being searched for. There could be new apprehensions, arrests and detentions,” Yildirim says, according to the network’s translation of his remarks.

“The process is not completed yet,” he adds.

Turkey issued arrest warrants Wednesday for 47 former staff of the Zaman newspaper as part of a sweeping crackdown since the attempted power grab on July 15.

More than 9,000 people have been placed in custody ahead of trial over the coup, which the authorities blame on reclusive US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The prime minister also says Turkey is “determined” to secure Gulen’s extradition.

“We shared all the details with them and, from this point on, the task falls on the shoulders of the US government,” the prime minister says.

AFP

Ansbach bomber may have detonated inadvertently

Bavaria’s top security official says it’s unclear whether the man who blew himself up at a bar in the town of Ansbach meant to detonate it at the moment he did.

State Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, who also says the assailant was in an online chat with a still-unidentified person immediately before the explosion, says Wednesday that further investigation is needed.

Herrmann says: “Because of witness testimony on what happened and also the course of the chat, there are indeed questions about whether he intended to set off the bomb at that moment.”

Attacker Mohammad Daleel, a Syrian asylum-seeker, died and 15 people were wounded when the bomb exploded in a wine bar Sunday night after he wasn’t allowed entry to a nearby open-air concert because he didn’t have a ticket.

“There was apparently an immediate contact with someone who had a significant influence on this attack,” says Hermann.

He says it wasn’t clear whether the assailant was in contact with the Islamic State group or where the other person in the chat was.

Herrmann says investigators checking the assailant’s cellphone came across the “intensive chat” and that “the chat appears to end immediately before the attack.”

AP

Obama says Trump has no ‘plans or policies’

Obama says Republican Donald Trump “is somebody who likes attention and maybe surprised himself that he got this far.”

Obama tells NBC’s “Today Show” that Trump “doesn’t seem to have any plans or policies or proposals or specific solutions.”

The president makes the comments in a taped interview aired Wednesday.

Asked about Trump’s remarks that he alone could fix the country’s problems, Obama says: “That’s not how our founders designed our system. We’re not a government where some strong man orders people around and banishes enemies.”

AP

French media pull photos of attackers over ‘glorification’ fears

France’s Le Monde daily says Wednesday it would no longer publish photographs of killers responsible for terror attacks to avoid giving them “posthumous glorification.”

The country’s biggest rolling news television channel, BFMTV, later confirms that it was following suit, as does Catholic daily La Croix.

And the Europe 1 radio station says it was going further and not “naming terrorists.”

“We realized after the Nice attack that we were very uncomfortable about a series of photos from the attacker’s past,” Le Monde’s managing editor Jerome Fenoglio tells AFP, referring to widely circulated images of Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel flexing his muscles and salsa dancing.

“It is not about hiding the facts, or where these killers came from, which is why we do not agree with not naming them,” he adds.

“But their photos are not pertinent for describing their background,” he says.

BFMTV, which came in for criticism for interviewing gunman Amedy Coulibaly during the January 2015 kosher supermarket siege in Paris in which four people died, said it had also stopped showing images of attackers.

“We made the decision last night to no longer show pictures of the terrorists until further notice,” says editorial director Herve Beroud.

“We have been thinking about this for some time. Our decision was speeded up by Nice, by the repeated tragedies,” he tells AFP.

He says the station would continue to name “terrorists… The difficulty of this debate is that we have to guard against not informing people,” he adds.

AFP

Mother of Otniel rabbi killer says son ‘a hero’

The mother of a Palestinian terrorist who killed Rabbi Miki Mark in a West Bank drive-by shooting on July 1 praises her son, who was killed in a shootout with IDF soldiers earlier on Wednesday.

Muhammad al-Fakih’s mother tells Hamas TV her son “was a hero and a man who wanted to die as a shahid [martyr] and succeeded in doing so,” according to Channel 10 news.

Fakih died West Bank village of Surif, north of Hebron, early Wednesday morning when the Israel Defense Forces fired anti-tank missiles before bulldozing the house in which he was hunkered down.

The army said the three other cell members — Fakih’s brother, Sahir; their cousin Muaz Fakih; and Mohammed Omaireh — all belong to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip and has seen growing popularity in the West Bank.

Mark was killed in the July 1 terror attack that also left his wife seriously injured. Two of his children were also hurt in the attack.

Scottish Jews feel less safe in their country, survey says

The organization representing Scottish Jewry reports a sharp decline from 2013 in community members’ level of comfort in living as Jews in Scotland.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, or ScoJeC, releases on Wednesday a report that it calls “sobering” and “very perturbing” based on a survey filled out by 300 people after 2014.

Nearly one-third of respondents noted a heightened level of anxiety, discomfort, or vulnerability, despite not having been directly asked about it, ScoJeC writes in the report, which the organization compiled as a follow-up to a survey conducted in 2012-2013.

The follow-up was launched after reports about anti-Semitic incidents in Scotland in 2014, in connection with Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

JTA

Iran state TV retracts report on presidential election date

Iran’s state TV on Wednesday retracts its report from earlier in the day that says the constitutional watchdog slated the country’s presidential election for May 2017, saying instead that the vote has not been scheduled.

The station says the Guardian Council denied in a statement that the election date had been set but offers no explanation on why or how it had cited, just hours earlier, that May 19 was slated as the day of the balloting.

Iranian officials at the council or the state TV could not be reached for an explanation on the mix-up and the retraction.

AP

Kaine says US has ‘opportunity to do something magnificent’

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is urging men to “stand and support strong women leaders” in the presidential election.

Kaine says the United States has lagged other countries in electing women political leaders. But the Democratic vice presidential nominee says the country has “an opportunity to do something magnificent” in electing Hillary Clinton as the first woman president.

Kaine is speaking at a breakfast with delegates from his home state, one of the country’s most important general election battlegrounds. He’s set to address the Democratic convention Wednesday night. Kaine cast the contest between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump as a choice between building a “community of respect” or embracing “the politics of division.”

AP

US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her running mate US Senator Tim Kaine greet supporters at a campaign rally at Florida International University in Miami on July 23, 2016. (AFP / Gaston De Cardenas)

US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her running mate US Senator Tim Kaine greet supporters at a campaign rally at Florida International University in Miami on July 23, 2016. (AFP/Gaston De Cardenas)

Netanyahu ‘outraged’ over France priest killing

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns the northern France terror attack Tuesday, in which an elderly priest was murdered in a church by two knife-wielding men.

“I was outraged to hear of the savage murder of an 84-year-old priest, Jacques Hamel, as he knelt by the altar of his church in France. ISIS proved once again that there is no limit to its barbarism. This horrific terror attack will only further unite the civilized world. Together, we will vanquish this evil,” Netanyahu says.

84-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel was killed in an apparent Islamic State attack on his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy on July 26, 2016 (Photo from Twitter)

84-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel was killed in an apparent Islamic State attack on his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy on July 26, 2016 (Photo from Twitter)

Otniel rabbi killer’s family say PA tipped Israel off

The family of a Palestinian terrorist, killed by IDF soldiers earlier Wednesay, says the Palestinian security forces tipped Israel off on his location, Israel Radio reports.

Muhammad al-Fakih is believed to have fired the shot that killed Rabbi Miki Mark in a drive-by shooting on July 1.

Fakih died in the West Bank village of Surif, north of Hebron early Wednesday morning, when the Israel Defense Forces fired anti-tank missiles before bulldozing the house in which he was hunkered down.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat says Fakih’s death is a “crime,” the radio report says.

Turkey was planning anti-Gulen army purge before coup — minister

Turkish authorities were planning a major shake-up of the military to remove elements linked to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen just ahead of the failed coup, a key minister says Wednesday.

Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggests parts of the military had wanted to act against the government as they knew they were about to be purged.

Albayrak, who was with Erdogan throughout the night of the botched putsch on July 15, says the president had first been warned about the coup by a civilian and it was only later that the gravity of the situation became clear.

In his first meeting with foreign reporters since the coup night, Albayrak reveals that Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAS) had this summer been planning to meet to expel all officers linked to Gulen, who Turkey blames for masterminding the putsch.

“They were going to take really important steps to remove Gulenist officers and generals from the armed forces. We were already working on this.”

He says this would have been part of a general purge against pro-Gulen elements that would have also extended to the legal system and other institutions.

“These people (linked to Gulen) were detected and the related lists had been conveyed to the line ministries.”

He adds: “After they (the plotters) realized things were going like this, at their last breath, they took their final step (the coup).”

AFP

Turkish Minister of Energy Berat Albayrak addresses the media in Ankara, on July 27, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN)

Turkish Minister of Energy Berat Albayrak addresses the media in Ankara, on July 27, 2016. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Pope Francis says world is at war

Pope Francis says the world is at war, but is stressing that it’s not a war of religions.

Francis speaks to reporters on the papal plane en route from Rome to Poland, where he began a five-day visit Wednesday.

Asked about the slaying of a priest in a Normandy church on Tuesday, Francis replies: “The real word is war…yes, it’s war. This holy priest died at the very moment he was offering a prayer for all the church.”

He went on: “I only want to clarify, when I speak of war, I am really speaking of war … a war of interests, for money, resources. … I am not speaking of a war of religions, religions don’t want war. The others want war.”

AP

Pope Francis leaves for Poland with an Alitalia flight from the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Telenews/ANSA via AP Photo)

Pope Francis leaves for Poland with an Alitalia flight from the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Telenews/ANSA via AP Photo)

Trump says Biden misstated rhetoric on Islamic State

Donald Trump is calling out Vice President Joe Biden for misstating the GOP candidate’s rhetoric on bombing the Islamic State group.

Speaking to MSNBC, Biden criticized Trump for wanting to “carpet bomb” the extremist group, possibly killing civilians in the process.

Trump tweets: “Our not very bright vice president, Joe Biden, just stated that I wanted to ‘carpet bomb’ the enemy. Sorry Joe, that was Ted Cruz!”

It was Cruz who said during the GOP presidential debates that he would “carpet bomb” Islamic State group fighters.

Trump has said in radio ads that he would “bomb the hell out of” the group. And during a speech last year, Trump said of oil supplies that are controlled by the group: “I would bomb the s— out of them.” He added: “I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.”

AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks on during the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP/ Brendan Smialowski)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks on during the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP/ Brendan Smialowski)

Initial reports of explosion in northern Germany

A blast is reported by local media in the northern German town of Zirndorf near a migration center.

It is not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

Clinton ‘alarmed’ by possible Russian link to DNC hack

A top aide to Hillary Clinton says she is “alarmed” by the possibility that the Russian government was involved with the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Top campaign policy aide Jake Sullivan says Clinton” does not view this as a political issue, she views this as a national security issue.”

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reason to facilitate the attack, breaking with tradition to comment on a FBI active investigation.

Clinton, who has spent the last few days at her New York home, was briefed on the attack, says Sullivan. She has not commented on the incident but top campaign officials have previously suggested the goal was to benefit GOP rival Donald Trump’s campaign.

AP

Police deploys in Bavaria amid report of explosion

German police say they have deployed officers near a refugee accommodation center and a branch of the country’s office for asylum-seekers amid reports of an explosion.

Local broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reports, without citing sources, that a suitcase containing several spray cans blew up near the refugee center in Zirndorf, outside the city of Nuremberg.

There is no word on any injuries.

Police tells news agency dpa they can’t confirm or deny that report.

The area is in northern Bavaria, which has seen two attacks claimed by the Islamic State group in the past 10 days.

AP

Trump says he doesn’t know ‘who Putin is’

Donald Trump is dismissing claims made by Democrats that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee emails to benefit Trump’s campaign.

Responding to questions over whether Russia’s President Vladimir Putin might favor a Trump presidency, Trump tells reporters he “never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is.”

The Republican presidential nominee says the incident with the hacked emails demonstrates that Putin and other world leaders no longer respect the United States.

He said he’s never spoken to Putin and knows nothing about him “except that he’ll respect me.”

He says that it may not even be Russia behind the email breach and suggests China may be the culprit.

The emails revealed that DNC officials favored Hillary Clinton over her rival Bernie Sanders. The revelation that led to the resignation of the DNC chief, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

AP

Trump says he knows ‘nothing about’ DNC emails hack

Donald Trump says he knows “nothing about” the hack of Democratic National Committee emails that security experts believe may have originated in Russia.

Trump says Democrats are using the hack as a “total deflection” and are off-base in suggesting that the Republican nominee’s campaign had anything to do with the security breach.

Trump, speaking Wednesday in a news conference in Florida, said he’s more interested in the content of the emails revealed by the hack. Some revealed that DNC officials favored Hillary Clinton over her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders.

The celebrity businessman denied that he had any major investments in Russia and says that he would treat Russian President Vladimir Putin “firmly.”

Trump, who has praised Putin in the past, reiterates his hope that the US and Russia could have warmer relations.

AP

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

‘Russia, if you’re listening,’ find Clinton’s emails — Trump

Trump has a message for Russia: Find Hillary Clinton’s emails.

In a press conference Wednesday, Trump says that the 30,000 missing emails from Clinton’s private email server would reveal “some beauties.”

He then issues a plea: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Clinton’s campaign has said that Russia hacked computers belonging to the Democratic National Convention and released those emails on the eve of the party’s convention to benefit Trump’s candidacy. Trump dismissed the claims saying it’s not clear who hacked those emails, but the hacking is a sign that foreign countries no longer respect the US.

AP

‘Extreme vetting’ list for immigrants coming soon — Trump

Donald Trump is saying his campaign will soon publish a list of countries from which immigrants will need to undergo “extreme vetting” before entering the United States.

Trump, speaking Wednesday at a press conference in Florida, says, “We have people coming in this country with very evil intentions.” He adds that “we cannot let those people come in.”

Trump has been hard to pin down on his immigration plan, which he initially framed as a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the United States.

He has now said that people from any country that has been compromised by terrorism would be subject to tougher screening measures. He has not identified the countries but has said it could include traditional US allies, such as France.

AP

Ann Coulter asks if Clinton had Sanders supporters ‘gassed’

Conservative political pundit Ann Coulter comes under fire on social media for tweeting after Hillary Clinton was nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, “Where are the Bernie supporters tonight? Did Hillary have them gassed?”

JTA

IDF soldier drowns in water reservoir

An IDF soldier drowns in a water reservoir in southern Israel.

He is identified as Ilan Yankilevich, 19, of the coastal city of Netanya.

The army has notified his family and says it is investigating the incident.

Trump says Obama ‘the most ignorant president in our history’

Donald Trump says that President Barack Obama has been “the most ignorant president in our history” and “a disaster.”

Trump is lashing out at the president at a press conference in Florida.

Obama has cast Trump as dangerous and unprepared to lead the country. The president said in an interview that aired Wednesday that Trump lacks “basic knowledge about the world” and has shown no interest in learning more about it.

Trump, in turn, says the president has been a “disaster” who came into office knowing nothing and knows less today.

He says Obama “will go down as one of the worst presidents in history.”

AP

Trump says Clinton shouldn’t get security briefings

Donald Trump says he has a “real problem” with Hillary Clinton’s access to security briefings as a presidential nominee, saying she is “probably hacked.”

Speaking to reporters in Miami Wednesday, Trump suggests that Clinton is a security risk because she used a private email server while secretary of state. The FBI found that government secrets passed through the server in her home when she blended official and personal work. FBI Director Eric Holder said he did not charge Clinton because the probe found no intent to expose classified information.

Trump on Wednesday expresses outrage that she is receiving briefings through “people with great knowledge of the inner workings of our country and our security.”

Republican and Democratic presidential nominees get national security briefings in part so they are ready to govern if elected.

AP

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a Democratic Party organizing event on July 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a Democratic Party organizing event on July 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

Trump open to recognizing Crimea

During his Florida press conference, the Republican nominee indicates he would consider recognizing the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Pence talks ‘consequences’ if Russia is meddling

Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, says there should be “serious consequences” if Russia is found to be interfering in the US electoral process.

In a statement Wednesday, Pence says “both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences” to the hacking.

But in a press conference moments earlier, Trump declined to speak out against the breach to Democratic National Committee computers, which the Democrats have blamed on Russia.

Instead, he called on Russia to find the missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal server, since they probably contain “some beauties.”

Trump said he has no relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin and does not know if Russia or some other country is responsible for the DNC breach.

AP

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence address an audience at a campaign stop at the The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center on July 25, 2016 in Roanoke, Virginia. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images/AFP)

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence address an audience at a campaign stop at the The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center on July 25, 2016 in Roanoke, Virginia. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images/AFP)

Paul Ryan calls Putin a ‘devious thug’

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan says Russian President Vladimir Putin should stay out of the US presidential election.

The brief statement from Brendan Buck on Wednesday comes as Democrats blamed Russia for hacking the Democratic National Committee. Republican Donald Trump called for Russia to infiltrate Hillary Clinton’s email, an unprecedented suggestion to a foreign power to conduct cyberspying on a presidential candidate.

Buck says in a statement: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

Ryan is backing Trump’s candidacy though he has been tepid in his endorsement, calling out the nominee on immigration and other issues.

AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking with reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., April 13, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/via JTA)

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking with reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., April 13, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/via JTA)

‘Hamas digs 10 kilometers of tunnels per month’ — official

An Israeli security official tells Channel 2 the Hamas terror group digs some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of tunnels in Israel’s direction every month.

The official says neither Israel, nor any other country, has a real solution to combat the cross-border tunnel threat, according to the TV report.

A Hamas tunnel discovered by the IDF running under the Gaza border into Israel on May 5, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

A Hamas tunnel discovered by the IDF running under the Gaza border into Israel on May 5, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Clinton camp says Trump encouraging foreign espionage

Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Wednesday lashes out at Donald Trump for encouraging Russia to trawl the former secretary of state’s emails, describing his comments as a “national security issue.”

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” says top Clinton advisor Jake Sullivan.

“This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

AFP

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton introduces her running mate US Senator Tim Kaine at a campaign rally at Florida International University in Miami, July 23, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton introduces her running mate US Senator Tim Kaine at a campaign rally at Florida International University in Miami, July 23, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

Trump adviser says Democrats must condemn Israel flag-burning

Trump’s Jewish adviser Jason Greenblatt says the Democrats must condemn the burning of Israeli and US flags by protesters on Tuesday night outside the national convention in Philadelphia.

“Why, then, have the Democratic National Committee and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, failed to condemn the desecration of the American and Israeli flags and the glorification of the Palestinian intifada mere feet away from their convention hall?” he writes in a post on Medium.

“Their silence is deafening. The DNC and Secretary Clinton must speak out against this shameful desecration promptly and unequivocally!”

Demonstrators burn a flag during a protest on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Demonstrators burn a flag during a protest on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Trump not backing down on Russian hacking invite

He’s being roundly panned for suggesting Russia find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, but Donald Trump is doubling down on that call.

The Republican presidential nominee tweets: “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!” That was after Trump made the suggestion that, “Russia if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Republicans — from Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, to House Speaker Paul Ryan — have tersely responded that Russia should stay out of US elections or face serious consequences.

But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweets: “The media seems more upset by Trump’s joke about Russian hacking than by the fact that Hillary’s personal server was vulnerable to Russia.”

AP

Donald Trump still mulling Israel visit

Donald Trump says he may yet visit Israel before the election.

Speaking Wednesday at a news conference in Florida, where the Republican presidential nominee is campaigning, Trump responds to a reporter who asked whether he was going to Israel and noted that nominees traditionally take foreign tours between their nomination and the election.

“It’s a tradition, but I’m not traditional,” says Trump, a billionaire developer and reality TV star. But regarding Israel, he says, “I don’t know, I haven’t set my schedule.”

He says he had support from Israel and “I back Israel 100 percent.”

Trump adds that “[President] Obama, in my opinion, is the single worst thing politically that could happen to Israel.”

JTA

Fighting in Syrian city yields trove of intelligence on IS

The US is exploiting an enormous amount of digital information about the Islamic State obtained by Syrian rebels fighting for control of the city of Manbij, a spokesman for the American-led military coalition says Wednesday.

Speaking by phone from Baghdad, Col. Christopher Garver tells reporters at the Pentagon that it’s unclear how this trove of intelligence might affect the direction of the war, but he suggested it has been of considerable value.

“We think this is a big deal,” he says.

Garver also reveals that the US for the first time has placed its military advisers at lower-level Iraqi army headquarters, an important decision that places the Americans closer to the front lines.

AP

French cops suspect 2nd church attacker was wanted man

French investigators probing an attack on a Catholic church believe one of the assailants is a young man who was wanted by anti-terrorism police, sources close to the investigation say Wednesday.

Only one of the two men who stormed into a church in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass Tuesday and slit an 85-year-old priest’s throat at the altar, has been officially identified.

However during a raid on the home of the attacker, 19-year-old Adel Kermiche, police found an identity card belonging to one Abdel Malik P, also 19.

“Several elements lead us to believe he is the second attacker,” say one of the sources close to the investigation.

Abdel Malik P., who is from the Savoie region, has never been convicted of a crime in France so his DNA and fingerprints are not available to speed up the identification process.

Sources say that after being gunned down by police, the second attacker’s face was too disfigured to allow him to be clearly identified.

However, the sources say that France’s anti-terrorism police unit UCLAT sent out a note four days before the attack — saying it had received “reliable” information about a person “about to carry out an attack on national territory.”

The note came with a photograph which “strongly resembles” Abdel Malik P.

AFP

Clinton personally ensured pro-Israel platform, says adviser

Hillary Clinton personally asked an adviser, Wendy Sherman, to make sure the Democratic Party platform remained pro-Israel, Sherman says.

“I had very direct instructions from Secretary Clinton that there would be clarity about this issue and there would be no space,” Sherman, a member of the committee drafting the platform, says Tuesday at an event hosted by the American Jewish Committee at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

JTA

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, in Jerusalem, February 22, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, in Jerusalem, February 22, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

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