Politics What to expect at the Washington DC 4th of July: Army tanks, a burning flag and Baby Trump
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will take center stage at Fourth of July festivities in Washington D.C. that will also feature Army tanks and military flyovers.
The event is expected to draw ardent Trump supporters but there will also be protests, including the burning of a flag and the flying of a „Trump Baby” balloon.
What could possibly go wrong?
The annual Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, known as the ‘Salute to America,’ will start with a parade and end with a spectacular fireworks display. It will be anything but your routine extravaganza.
There will be flyovers of the Blue Angels and Air Force One, a lineup of military vehicles including tanks, and a pyrotechnic display that will illuminate „over a mile of sky above and to the left and right of the Lincoln Memorial,” according to fireworks makers Phantom and Grucci which is donating extra pyrotechnics.
And there will be Trump, revered by supporters and reviled by opponents, appearing during a celebration presidents have tended to avoid for fearing of turning the nation’s birthday into a partisan event.
Already, protesters have threatened to air their own counter celebration.
Trump’s planned festivities are being compared to Richard Nixon’s ‘Honor America Day’ in 1970 but that event devolved into riots as anti-war protesters were tear gassed by police.
Here’s what to expect:
The president’s Salute to America address is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Lincoln Memorial and is expected to last about an hour.
A portion of that will feature Trump honoring U.S. forces with „music, military demonstrations, flyovers and much more,” according to a release from the Interior Department which is overseeing the festivities.
He promoted the event during his campaign kickoff in Orlando last month.
„And by the way, on July 4th, in Washington, D.C., come on down, we’re going have a big day. Bring your flags, bring those flags,” he told the crowd. „Bring those American flags, July 4th, we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people, we’re going to celebrate America. Sounds good, right? July 4th, celebrate America.”
Trump, who has advocated for a military parade, has infused the July 4th celebration with a strong Pentagon presence.
There will be music from military bands and flyovers over the Mall by the Navy’s Blue Angels and Air Force One.
And there will be tanks.
The Pentagon has approved Trump’s request for a display of tanks in conjunction with his „Salute to America” celebration, the president said Monday.
The tanks will be parked near the National Mall for the July 4 celebration, he told reporters.
„We’re gonna have some tanks stationed outside,” Trump said. „You know we’re making a lot of new tanks right now.”
Trump baby balloon
The liberal activist organization Code Pink is planning to fly a “Baby Trump blimp,” referencing the 20-foot blimp that flew in London during Trump’s visits there in 2018 and 2019. According to the event description, it is still fundraising to “make sure Trump gets a great view.”
The group lists the protest as taking place in front of the Lincoln Memorial. But it’s unclear how close they will get given security restrictions in place before and during the celebration.
The group will be protesting the Trump administration’s handling of the border crisis and “spreading hate and racism across the U.S. and the world,” among other issues, according to the group’s web site.
The Trump Baby Balloon, depicting an orange-hued Trump in a diaper clutching a Twitter-ready cell phone in his right hand, has become an iconic fixture at protests including recently in London and at the U.S.-Mexico border.
John McCain supporters
Two military veterans groups are planning to hand out T-shirts on the mall „to honor the military service and sacrifice” of the family of John McCain, the late senator with whom Trump has feuded.
VoteVets – a liberal political action committee that almost exclusively backs Democratic candidates, according to OpenSecrets – is teaming up with Rags of Honor – a screen printing shop that employs homeless veterans – to give out the „Big Bad John” shirts depicting the USS John S. McCain.
That ship was at the center of a recent controversy after it was revealed that the Navy was asked to move the destroyer bearing the Arizona Republican’s name when Trump visited Japan last month.
Then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the White House military liaison had asked that the 7th fleet to hide the ship from Trump – who was outspoken in his criticism of McCain even after the veteran of the Vietnam War was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer – but the Navy ignored the request.
The man at the center of the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case that protected the burning of the U.S. flag as constitutionally protected free speech is planning to protest the president as well.
Gregory Lee Johnson, who recently settled for $225,000 with the city of Cleveland for burning an American flag outside of the Republican National Convention in 2016, said he’ll be doing it again Thursday.
“I am going to D.C. on the Fourth of July and I’m going to burn the flag in protest (of his) whole fascist agenda,” Johnson told USA TODAY.
“Think about all Trump has done to whip people into a frenzy,” he said.
Contributing: Will Cummings, Tom Vanden Brook
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What to expect at the Washington DC 4th of July: Army tanks, a burning flag and Baby Trump
How to Display the American Flag Correctly on Your Car or Motorcycle
In celebration of our great nation’s birth, or just as a general act of patriotism, many American motorists choose to display the Stars and Stripes as a decal or an actual flag on their car, truck, or motorcycle. Some automakers have released special editions of their vehicles that already have the flag displayed in the appropriate way, like this Dodge Challenger, but for those who’d like to add their own flags, it’s good to know the proper etiquette.
These specific rules and best practices for flying the American flag should be considered before you place your decals, stickers, or fabric flags, so we’ve put together some simple guidelines for you with thanks to the American Legion and several flag dealers that publish rules of flag etiquette.
A single flag should fly from the right (passenger) side of the vehicle. If two flags are displayed, it’s okay to put one on each side, but they should be mounted at the same height and be hung in the same way.
The flag should be displayed with the stars in the upper left-hand corner, with an important exception. A flag displayed on the passenger side of a vehicle should show the stars at the upper right-handcorner. Isn’t that backward? It is, but the reason is that the field of stars should always be in the highest position of honor. On a vehicle that moves, that would be closest to the front, as shown in the photo above.
On motorcycles, the flag must be mounted at the center on the rear of the bike or to the right from the rider’s perspective when driving forward, which is referred to as the „marching right.”
When flown adjacent to a state flag or another type of flag, the American flag should take the marching right position. When flown or displayed along with other flags, no other flag should be larger, and the American flag should take the center position and be the highest flag flown.
Security, Middle East
Washington must find a new way to cope with the tantrums and tricks its troublesome ally.
Is Trump Too Cool for Istanbul?
When Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in September 2017 Ankara’s intentions to purchase Russian-manufactured S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, few believed the deal would materialize given the shaky relations that Ankara and Moscow enjoyed at the time. Indeed, relations nearly reached a boiling point on November 2015 after Turkish F-16 fighter jets shot down Russian Su-24 aircraft near the Syria-Turkish border. Moreover, since 2015, both countries have been pursuing diametrically opposing agendas in the Syrian conflict. Indeed, Moscow has allied itself with Assad whereas Ankara supports the Free Syrian Army.
Erdoğan has refused to yield to repeated pressure from Washington to rollback its S-400 purchase policy. Former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahancommunicated to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, the steps Pentagon will be taking to stop Turkey from participating in the F-35 fighter program if it fails to cancel its S-400 purchase. This stance against Turkey buying Russian weapons is a view shared by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Tod Wolters. There is little evidence, however, that such actions will have any significant impact on Ankara’s course in the future. To the contrary, Turkey’s defense minister suggested in May that Ankara is prepared to face U.S sanctions under Washington’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Additionally, President Erdoğan insists that there will be “no step back” will be taken vis-à-vis S-400.
Where Does All This Lead Us?
WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Tuesday a recent Chinese missile launch in the South China Sea was „disturbing” and contrary to Chinese pledges that it would not militarize the disputed waterway.
The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and Taiwan.
China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said China tested multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles over the weekend.
„Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn said.
„I’m not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I’m sure they agree that the PRC’s behavior is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other (South China Sea) claimants,” Eastburn added. PRC is an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.
China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
News of the China missile test was first reported by NBC News. (Reporting by Idrees Ali Editing by James Dalgleish)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump isn’t taking „no tanks” for an answer on the Fourth of July.
He said Monday that a display of U.S. military tanks will be part of a special event he’s headlining July 4 in Washington, and an Associated Press photographer saw at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles on flatcars in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington.
Military police were guarding the vehicles, which were visible to passers-by on nearby paths.
A U.S. official told the AP that the military vehicles to be used in the July 4 event were being stored at the railyard.
Trump had wanted a military parade of tanks and other equipment in the District of Columbia after he witnessed a similar parade on Bastille Day in Paris in 2017 . That plan eventually was scuttled, partly because of cost, though Trump apparently held on to the idea.
Local officials also had objected because of the damage the heavy armored tanks could do to city streets.
„We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” Trump said Monday from the Oval Office, appearing to acknowledge local officials’ earlier concerns.
He offered no specifics on where the vehicles would be located.
„You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks,” he said. „So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks.”
Sherman tanks were the tank most widely used by the U.S. during World War II, but they have been out of service for decades. The M1A1 Abrams tank is currently the main U.S. battle tank.
Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be on display as part of Trump’s „Salute to America” event, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the exhibits have not been made public.
The Abrams tanks weigh more than 60 tons apiece and were been shipped on railroad freight cars, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, the nearest Army base that has them. The White House declined to release more specific information.
Trump recalled his visit earlier this year to a plant in Lima, Ohio, where M1A1 Abrams tanks are refurbished. The plant had been at risk for closure but remained online due to Trump’s investments in defense spending.
„We have some incredible equipment, military equipment on display — brand new,” Trump said. „And we’re very proud of it. You know we’re making a lot of new tanks right now. We’re building a lot of new tanks in Lima, Ohio — our great tank factory that people wanted to close down until I got elected and I stopped it from being closed down, and now it’s a very productive facility.”
Thursday’s events are also expected to include a military demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and other aircraft.
„We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It’ll be like no other,” Trump said. „It’ll be special and I hope a lot of people come. And it’s going to be about this country and it’s a salute to America.”
„I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too,” he said.
Trump plans to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial during his „Salute to America,” which has been added to the regular schedule of Independence Day events in the nation’s capital. The annual fireworks display will go off closer to the Lincoln Memorial instead of the Washington Monument, as has been the long-standing tradition.
The event is open to the public and free of charge, but a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being set aside for VIPs, including members of Trump’s family, friends and members of the military, the White House said.
Last year, Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, hosted service members and their families at a picnic on the White House lawn and the president addressed guests from the balcony. No similar event is being planned this year.
Federal lawmakers, local officials and others have voiced concerns that Trump could alter the tone of what traditionally is a nonpartisan celebration of America’s independence from the British by delivering a political speech. Trump formally announced his bid for re-election in June.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who oversees the National Mall and has helped orchestrate the president’s vision, and other officials have said Trump’s remarks will be patriotic.
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor and Associated Press photographer Patrick Semansky in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
A White House claim that Iran violated the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal before the agreement even existed has been ridiculed as “illogical”.
Stephanie Grisham, appointed press secretary by Donald Trump last month, issued a statement on Monday that said: “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a message on Twitter: “Seriously?”
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the White House charge was “illogical”.
The White House did not elaborate on how Iran could break the terms of the deal before it had been implemented.
Last year Mr Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
On Monday, officials acknowledged Iran broke through the limit the deal placed on its stockpile of enriched uranium. Mr Zarif confirmed that his country had exceeded the 300kg limit permitted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The move marked Iran’s first major step beyond the terms of the pact since the US pulled out. Mr Zarif said the move was not a violation of the accord, arguing that Tehran was exercising its right to respond to the US walkout.
“The Iranian regime took action today to increase its uranium enrichment. It was a mistake under the Iran nuclear deal to allow Iran to enrich uranium at any level,” the White House press secretary said in the statement.
Mr Trump, asked if he had a message for Iran, said, “No message to Iran. They know what they’re doing. They know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire. So, no message to Iran whatsoever.”
It comes less than two weeks after the president said he ordered air strikes against Iranian targets, only to cancel them shortly before impact.
European powers have urged Iran not to take further steps that would violate the agreement, but they held off on declaring the agreement void or announcing sanctions of their own.
Additional reporting by agencies
During his interview with President Trump that aired on Monday night on Fox News, Tucker Carlson got the president to weigh in on a topic that he and other Fox News hosts have devoted copious amounts of airtime to lately—homelessness in largely Democratic-run cities and states.
And, according to Trump, the homeless problem is a rather recent phenomenon.
Noting that they were in Japan during the president’s visit to the G-20 summit, Carlson contrasted the cleanliness of their metro areas to large American cities, adding that “there is no graffiti” or people “going to the bathroom on the streets” in Japan.
After the president mildly protested that only “some of our cities” are like that, the Fox News star said that New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles all “have a major problem with filth.”
“Why is that?” Carlson wondered aloud.
“It’s a phenomenon that started two years ago,” Trump declared. “It’s disgraceful. I’m going to maybe—I am looking at it very seriously.”
After seemingly claiming homelessness in America only arose over the past 24 months, the president went on to suggest that police officers are getting sick simply by walking near homeless people—likely referencing reports that some Los Angeles police officers have shown signs of typhoid fever. The officers all work in a precinct that was recently fined for unsanitary working conditions.
“You can’t have what’s happening—where police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,” he exclaimed. “I mean, they’re getting actually very sick, where people are getting sick, where the people living there are living in hell, too.”
While stating that mental illness is part of the reason for homelessness, Trump went on to blame the “liberal establishment” for exacerbating the problem before claiming he “ended it very quickly” in Washington, D.C., when he became president. Homelessness has been falling in D.C. steadily for the past three years.
Trump, meanwhile, groused about the situation in San Francisco, pointing out that he owns property there and that there were areas “that you used to think as very special” but have now become “terrible.”
“So we’re looking at it very seriously,” Trump added. “We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It’s inappropriate.”
As U.S. Forces Gather Near Iran (Think F-22s and F-35s), Russia Jams Their GPS
Russian forces have been jamming GPS systems in the Middle East. The electronic-warfare campaign could affect U.S. forces gathering in the region in advance of potential strikes on Iran.
“Since last spring, pilots flying through the Middle East, specifically around Syria, have noted that their GPS systems have displayed the wrong location or stopped working entirely,” The Times of Israel reported in late June 2019.
The signal that has been disrupting satellite navigation for planes flying through Israeli airspace in recent weeks originates inside a Russian air base inside Syria, according to data collected by a U.S.-based researcher.
This interference to the Global Positioning System reception does not appear to be specifically directed at Israel, but rather the Jewish state is likely collateral damage in an effort by Moscow both to protect its troops from drone attacks and to assert its dominance in the field of electronic warfare, Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas, told The Times of Israel.
Israeli sources “are increasingly convinced” that three weeks of GPS disruptions for civilian flights are a side effect of Russian jamming and spoofing in Syria, Breaking Defense reported. “Moscow is trying to interfere with both Western airplanes — including cutting-edge stealthy F-22s and F-35s — and improvised terrorist drones.”
Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are speaking out against Donald Trump’s venture into North Korea, the first time a sitting US president has stepped into the country.
The Republican president met with the North Korean leader in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea on Sunday, in a meeting that appeared to have been planned on a whim earlier in the week. Joining many critics who called the journey a publicity stunt, nominees for the top Democratic spot voiced negative opinions of the weekend meeting.
“Our President shouldn’t be squandering American influence on photo ops and exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator,” wrote senator Elizabeth Warren on Twitter on Sunday morning. “Instead, we should be dealing with North Korea through principled diplomacy that promotes US security, defends our allies, and upholds human rights.”
Senator Kamala Harris also used the platform to voice concern, tweeting “This President should take the North Korean nuclear threat and its crimes against humanity seriously. This is not a photo-op. Our security and our values are at stake.”
In an interview on ABC, Senator Bernie Sanders said he had “no problem” with the president meeting with Kim Jong-un but that he didn’t want a meeting to “simply be a photo opportunity.”
“What’s going to happen tomorrow and the next day?” senator Sanders continued. “He has weakened the State Department.”
Candidate Julian Castro also said he did not condemn meeting with adversaries, but did express concerns Mr Trump was raising the profile of a dictator by meeting with the North Korean leader three times with nothing to show for it.
„He’s doing it backward,” Mr Castro said.
A spokesman for former vice president Joe Biden said the president was „coddling” dictators at the expense of U.S. national security.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, also running for the candidacy, compared the move to a moment between neighbours.
„It is not as easy as just going and bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door,” she said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Busted: Ukraine Catches Iranian Military Attaché Trying to Smuggle KH-31 Parts out of Kiev
The National Interest•July 2, 2019
By Panther – МАКС-2003, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10620959
Busted: Ukraine Catches Iranian Military Attaché Trying to Smuggle KH-31 Parts out of Kiev
The Kh-31A is an anti-ship missile based on the proven Kh-31P missile. It features an active radar guidance system and a sea-skimming profile.
The items, which included technical manuals, were confiscated and both Iranians were subsequently deported.
This effort appears to have violated a UN arms embargo on Iran.
The incident was described to American government officials by Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, during a recent trip to Washington.
One of the men, according to Hrytsak, is named Abdi Biyan and was a military attaché at Iran’s embassy in Kiev.
“The diplomats in Ukraine are not there for Chicken Kiev,” said Tom Karako, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’re there to get this kind of stuff.”
Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accused Iran of breaching the nuclear deal in order to „blackmail” the international community into relieving economic pressure on the Islamic republic.
„This week Iran openly violated the nuclear deal by increasing the stockpile of enriched uranium (to beyond that) allowed under the deal,” Netanyahu said at an early reception in Jerusalem marking the United States’ July 4 independence day.
Iran said Monday it had exceeded a limit on its enriched uranium reserves set under a 2015 nuclear deal that has edged towards collapse.
„They’re hoping, that regime, that by violating the deal it will be able to blackmail the world into making concessions and reducing the economic pressure on it,” Netanyahu said.
„We should do the exact opposite. Now is the time to increase the pressure. Now is the time to stand firm,” he added.
Iran’s move has been seen as a way of exerting pressure on Europe to try and salvage the deal which has hung by a thread since US President Donald Trump last year withdrew from the accord and reimposed biting sanctions on Tehran.
Repeating remarks he made the day before, Netanyahu urged Europe on Tuesday to increase pressure on Iran.
„Now is the time for the European powers to follow America’s lead and restore sanctions against Iran, just as they promised to do in the United Nations Security Council,” he said.
Netanyahu has long campaigned against the 2015 agreement.
At a separate ceremony earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that a Mossad operation to obtain documents from Iran providing „proof” of Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions was aimed at convincing Trump to quit the deal.
„I approved the operation out of the thought that exposing the plan will help convince the US president to withdraw from the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran,” he said of the 2018 Mossad operation in Iran.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely for civilian purposes.
Israel is considered the leading military power in the Middle East and is widely believed to possess its sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A Syrian anti-aircraft missile that missed its target and reached ethnically divided Cyprus around 120 miles away was the likely cause of an explosion outside a village in the breakaway north, Turkish Cypriot officials said Monday. No injuries were reported.
Ersin Tatar, the north’s prime minister told a news conference that debris found near the village of Tashkent where the pre-dawn explosion happened were pieces of a Russian-made S-200 missile. Tashkent lies on the foothills of the east Mediterranean island’s Pendataktylos mountain range.
Police cordoned off the main debris field. At least five pieces of missile debris have been found in two nearby villages. Fire crews contained a blaze that flaming debris ignited outside the village.
Tatar said there was no reason for any alarm that this could soon happen again and assured there were no risks to public health since there were no poisonous or toxic emissions from the missile.
Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay said writing on pieces of the missile was similar to that found on an S-200 missile that crashed in Gaziantep, Turkey in July 2018.
He said information investigators gathered about the missile at the scene was in line with data obtained from military officials and foreign diplomats.
Earlier, Ozersay said on his personal Facebook account that missile could have been part of an anti-aircraft battery had missed its target during overnight airstrikes in Syria.
Ozersay said the missile likely blew up in flight because there was no impact crater and pieces of the object were found several kilometers from the main debris field outside of Tashkent, or Vouno, as it’s known by its Greek name.
He said a four-member team of experts from Turkey will arrive in the north to examine the debris field and test for any toxic substances.
Intensive Israeli airstrikes against targets in Syria were taking place at the time of the blast at around 1 a.m. local time.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The country’s internationally recognized government is seated in the Greek Cypriot south. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and keeps more than 35,000 troops in the north.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said he conveyed his gratitude to a Greek Cypriot offer for any assistance during a phone conversation with United Nations Peacekeeping Force Chief of Mission Elizabeth Spehar.
Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it’s in touch with the governments of friendly neighboring countries and other nations to gather information about the incident. It said there are no „definitive conclusions” at this time about what caused the explosion.
Speaking on Cypriot state broadcaster RIK, retired Greek Cypriot National Guard Lieutenant General Andreas Pentaras speculated that it was an unlucky chain of events that took the missile over Cyprus, including its launch in the island’s „general direction” and that its self-destruct mechanism designed to activate seconds after missing its target had apparently failed.
The explosion even shook residents of the divided capital Nicosia several kilometers away.
Hong Kong was struggling to come to terms this morning with the violent ransacking of the legislature on July 1—the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s retrocession to China.
On Monday night, hundreds of anti-China rioters battered their way through glass doors and steel shutters and ran rampant through the Legislative Council, locally referred to as LegCo. They smashed fixtures, spray-painted the walls with slogans and destroyed portraits of unpopular leaders, before breaching the debating chamber and draping the colonial flag across the president’s desk.
Government-run media reported Tuesday that the legislature’s president had canceled all sessions for the next two weeks, effectively beginning the body’s summer recess. Authorities meanwhile pledged to bring rioters to justice, with police cordoning off the wrecked building and declaring it a crime scene.
Looking tired and subdued, Hong Kong’s embattled top official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, called a press conference at 4:00 a.m. local time, three hours after police reoccupied the legislature, and deplored “the extreme use of violence and vandalism by protesters.”
She added that “nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong” and hoped “society will return to normal as soon as possible.”
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo appeared with Lam and, speaking in Cantonese, said: “The violent acts by the protesters have crossed a bottom line. Hong Kong is a peaceful society. I believe a lot of Hongkongers are saddened by the protesters’ violent actions.”
Lam meanwhile defended her handling of the escalating political crisis that has its origins in the government’s attempt to make it possible for fugitives to be extradited to the mainland. This does not happen at present, because even though Hong Kong is considered part of China, it is a semi-autonomous territory with a separate legal system and no extradition agreement with Beijing.
The government says such an agreement is necessary to stop the former British colony from becoming a sanctuary for mainland criminals. It has also excluded political offenses from any potential pact. But many in this semi-autonomous enclave believe an extradition arrangement will simply be used to round up dissidents and activists on spurious criminal charges, such is the mistrust of the mainland.
The massive marches and other demonstrations that rocked Hong Kong during the past three weeks prompted Lam to suspend a legislative amendment that would have paved the way for extradition to go ahead.
“If the cause of the social tensions that we have seen is a bill to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, on June 15 I have announced the suspension of the bill,” she emphasized this morning.
“Subsequently we have explained and elaborated that by suspending the bill at this point in time with no timetable and no plan to resume the debate of the bill in the Legislative Council, the bill will expire, or the bill will die, in July 2020 when the current LegCo term expires. That is a very positive response to the demands that we have heard.”
Many ordinary Hongkongers are unhappy with the passive proposal to let the bill lapse, however, and demand its formal withdrawal along with Lam’s resignation. Their aspirations have also broadened into a desire for genuine democracy. Lam, like all of Hong Kong’s leaders since Britain’s withdrawal, was selected by a small electoral college largely drawn from the ranks of the pro-China elite and is seen as Beijing’s proxy.
Some protesters are calling for freedom from China itself. The slogan “Hong Kong Is Not China” is frequently seen at protests and was spray-painted across a pillar during last night’s storming of the legislature.
Reasserting her ability to govern in the wake of the protests, and containing a small but tenacious and growing movement for self-determination, will pose enormous challenges to Lam in the months ahead. She insists that the issues will be resolved not by protests but by rule of law.
“The rule of law is exactly what I have been talking tonight,” she said. “I hope we all agree that this is something of paramount importance to Hong Kong and will continue to guide the Government’s reactions and responses to social issues and to the demands and aspirations of our people.”
—With reporting by Aria Hangyu Chen / Hong Kong
A man’s body was found in a London garden after police believe he fell to his death from the landing gear of a plane flying overhead.
The suspected stowaway plummeted just feet away from a Clapham resident in south London who had been sunbathing in the garden, a neighbor told the BBC. He was “very shaken,” said the neighbor.
A bag, water and some food were found in the landing gear compartment on a Kenya Airways jet after it landed at Heathrow Airport on Sunday, according to a statement from the London police. The nine-hour flight originated in Nairobi.
The man has not yet been identified. An autopsy is being conducted.
We’re working to establish the ID of a man believed to have fallen from the landing gear compartment of an aeroplane. We were called on Sunday afternoon to an address in #Clapham after the body was discovered in a garden http://news.met.police.uk/news/death-of-man-believed-to-have-fallen-from-aeroplane-374716 …
“It is unfortunate that a person has lost his life by stowing aboard one of our aircraft and we express our condolences,” said a statement from the airline.
“Kenya Airways is working closely with the relevant authorities in Nairobi and London as they fully investigate this case.”
Four years ago, a stowaway was found dead on a Richmond roof and another was found in critical condition in the landing gear of a British Airways flight from Johannesburg.
A teenager reportedly survived 12 hours in the wheel well of a plane between Lagos and London in 2017.
Also on HuffPost
‘No Kids In Cages Campaign’ Takes Over New York City Streets
This art installation from RAICES brings awareness to President Donald Trump’s family separation policies at the U.S.-Mexico border.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — An airstrike hit a detention center for migrants early Wednesday in the Libyan capital, killing at least 40 people, a health official in the country’s U.N.-supported government said.
The airstrike targeting the detention center in Tripoli’s Tajoura neighborhood also wounded 80 migrants, said Malek Merset, a spokesman for the health ministry. Merset posted photos of migrants who were being taken in ambulances to hospitals.
Footage circulating online and said to be from inside the migrant detention center showed horrific images of blood and body parts mixed with rubble and migrants’ belongings.
The U.N. refugee agency in Libya condemned the airstrike on the detention center, which houses 616 migrants and refugees.
The Tripoli-based government blamed the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Hifter, for the airstrike and called for the U.N. support mission in Libya to establish a fact-finding committee to investigate.
A spokesman for Hifter forces did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment. Local media reported that LNA had launched airstrikes against a militia camp near the detention center.
The LNA launched an offensive against the weak Tripoli-based government in April. Hifter’s forces control much of the country’s east and south but were dealt a significant blow last week when militias allied with the Tripoli government reclaimed the strategic town of Gharyan, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the capital.
Gharyan had been a key supply route for the LNA forces.
The fighting for Tripoli has threatened to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to his death.
At least 6,000 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other nations are locked in dozens of detention facilities in Libya that are run by militias accused of torture and other human rights abuses. Most of the migrants were apprehended by European Union-funded and -trained Libyan coast guards while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
The detention centers have limited food and other supplies for the migrants, who made often-arduous journeys at the mercy of abusive traffickers who hold them for ransom money from families back home.
The U.N. refugee agency has said that more than 3,000 migrants are in danger because they are held in detention centers close to the front lines between Hifter’s forces and the militias allied with the Tripoli government.
Libya became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe after the 2011 ouster and killing of Gadhafi, when the North African nation was thrown into chaos, armed militias proliferated and central authority fell apart.
Magdy reported from Cairo.
Utah Student Killed
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — More than 100 people gathered at the University of Utah to memorialize a student who authorities say was killed and her charred remains found in a Salt Lake City man’s backyard.
The crowd was silent while friends recalled 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck as a bubbly, nurturing person who loved spending time with her family and looked forward to a career in medicine or health care.
„Everyone who knew Kenzie knew how fun she was to be around. She was a people pleaser,” Kennedy Stoner, one of Lueck’s close friends, said through tears as she spoke at the vigil. „It breaks my heart knowing she died alone in such a scary place.”
Other friends shared memories of cramming for exams together and taking weekend trips up to Lake Powell. A native of El Segundo, in the Los Angeles area, Lueck was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing. She was expected to graduate in spring 2020.
Some students couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the vigil and that held a few months ago for slain University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus last year.
„It’s awful that this is the situation that makes the community come together, but it’s good to see how large of a crowd comes out to support,” Kendall Smith-Williams, a sophomore at the university, said.
She was leading a freshman orientation trip when the news broke of Lueck’s death. „It shocked everyone again. We’re still waiting for more information, but it makes everyone be a little more careful and wary of their surroundings,” Smith-Williams said.
Lueck disappeared June 17 after she got back from a trip home to California for her grandmother’s funeral. Police have said she took a Lyft from the airport to a park north of Salt Lake City, where she met someone in the early morning.
She was reported missing June 20, launching a wide-ranging search that ended with authorities arresting the man they say was the last person to communicate with her: 31-year-old Ayoola A. Ajayi, whose phone location data also puts him in the same park at the same time, police said.
He was arrested Friday on suspicion of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other crimes after authorities said they found her remains and personal belongings burned and buried in his backyard. Neighbors reported noticing a fire there around the time Lueck disappeared.
At the vigil, Mackenzie’s friends announced that they would be creating a nonprofit organization to advocate for victims of violence and assist families in finding their missing loved ones.
„Mackenzie did not have a voice during her disappearance or time of death, and I want to continue being that voice for her,” Stoner said.
Drew Crawford, a recent graduate of the university, said the vigil was a sobering reminder of his privilege. „She doesn’t get to graduate, or experience life after college,” he said. „I couldn’t imagine this happening to me or my family.”
It was not known if Ajayi has an attorney to speak on his behalf. He is an information technology worker who attended college on and off but never earned a degree and was briefly in the Army National Guard but didn’t complete basic training.
He doesn’t have a criminal record, but a northern Utah police department said he was accused of a rape in 2014. Police said the woman, a co-worker in the northern Utah city of Logan, said the contact began consensually, but when she wanted to stop he refused and had sex with her anyway, the Salt Lake Tribune reported . The woman appeared to blame herself for the assault, according to the documents released Monday. She made a report „in case he did the same thing to someone else” but opted not to pursue formal charges.
Police have not discussed a motive for the killing or how Lueck died. It isn’t clear how Ajayi and Lueck knew each other. Police have also said they are investigating a report from a construction contractor who said Ajayi approached him in April about building a secretive and soundproof room under a front porch.
The vigil and nonprofit organization are only the first steps in honoring Lueck’s memory, friends shared.
„Kenzie would want to be remembered as a kind, helpful person who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in,” Carly Reilly, one of Lueck’s close friends, said. „She could make you smile when all you wanted to do was cry, and that has been helping me get through this.”