U.S. Trump cancels Poland visit as hurricane heads for Florida
Leila MACOR,•Gaining strength, Hurricane Dorian heads for Florida coastMiami (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled a trip to Poland as Hurricane Dorian bore down on Florida, where it could make landfall as a dangerous Category 4 storm.Trump, who had been scheduled to attend World War II anniversary commemorations in Poland this weekend, said he would focus instead on preparations for the approaching hurricane.”Our highest priority is the safety and security of the people in the path of the hurricane,” he told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.Vice President Mike Pence would go to Poland in his place, Trump said.He called his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda to apologize for the cancelation, saying the storm could be „catastrophic,” the president’s chief of staff Krzysztof Szczerski said, according to the PAP agency.Weather forecasters said Dorian, currently a Category 1 storm — the lowest on a five-level scale — could make landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with the potential to cause life-threatening storm surges.Florida’s governor declared a state of emergency in all 67 of the state’s counties, warning the millions of people who live up and down the eastern coast of the „Sunshine State” to prepare for a potentially major hurricane.”All Floridians really need to monitor Hurricane Dorian and make the necessary preparations,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. „Have your plan and make those preparations right now.”- ‘Catastrophic impacts’ -Georgia — another southeastern state potentially in the storm’s path — followed suit for 12 counties.Governor Brian Kemp said the storm „has the potential to produce catastrophic impacts to citizens” throughout the southeast coastal region of the United States.Trump, who has properties including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a politically important state for his 2020 re-election bid, also warned Floridians to get ready.”Be prepared… it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!” he said on Twitter.The US Coast Guard said ocean-going commercial vessels should make plans to depart South Florida ports.”The risk of devastating hurricane-force winds along the Florida east coast and peninsula late this weekend and early next week continues to increase,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.Miami’s Ocean Drive, a normally-vibrant strip along the beach, was abnormally quiet, with some empty tables and fewer tourists than usual.Grocery stores were full of shoppers making last-minute purchases of water, food, propane canisters and other supplies. There were lines at some gasoline stations as drivers filled up their tanks.One shopper, Magdalena Gomez from Argentina, was preparing for her first hurricane: „If they tell me to go buy water, I go buy water. I do everything they say.”A Rolling Stones concert originally scheduled for Saturday night was moved up by a day „due to the weather forecast,” the band’s Twitter account said.In its latest advisory, the NHC said Dorian was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour), and that it was forecast to make landfall in Florida on Monday.- Puerto Rico spared -„Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday, and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend,” the NHC said.The US territory of Puerto Rico, still recovering from a powerful storm two years ago, was largely spared from Dorian but the NHC said it could dump up to seven inches (18 centimeters) of rain on some parts of the Bahamas.In Puerto Rico, the new governor, Wanda Vazquez, gave the all-clear, but there was no let-up in the political storm involving Trump and Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, the island’s capital.”Now that Dorian is going to the east coast let us hope that @realDonaldTrump sets aside his prejudice and racism & moves the federal response to efficiency,” the mayor tweeted.Trump declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico ahead of Hurricane Dorian, authorizing federal assistance, but alleged that the island is „one of the most corrupt places on earth” and its political system is „broken.”Puerto Rico was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm.A study accepted as valid by the government, which initially put the death toll at 64, estimated that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane and the months of disruption that followed.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea accused the United Kingdom, France and Germany on Thursday of meddling in its „self-defensive measures for arms modernization,” saying the West will make „no greater mistake” than thinking Pyongyang will give up its right to have weapons that it says are needed to ensure peace.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency circulated a statement from Kim Son Gyong, an adviser at the Korea-Europe Association, in response to a joint statement Tuesday from the three important U.S. allies condemning Pyongyang’s „repeated provocative launches” of ballistic missiles.
The Europeans accused North Korea of violating U.N. sanctions and urged leader Kim Jong Un to engage with the United States and make progress on denuclearization, which they said is „the only way to guarantee security and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region.”
The North Korean statement said defending national security has become more important after seeing countries „whose destinies were hacked to pieces by the Western powers” and which yielded to Western demands „for disarmament under the pressure and appeasement of ‘international society.'”
The statement dismissed U.N. resolutions, saying they „trample the rights to self-defense and survival of the sovereign state, and accordingly, we have never acknowledged them.”
Stressing the importance of being able to defend North Korea’s security, the statement cited the current state of international relations „where the weak can hardly appeal to anybody, though attacked by the strong.”
It said the United Kingdom, France and Germany have no standing to criticize any party because their pursuit of money as led them „to sell their military equipment to South Korea, though habitually saying that they want peace and security on the Korean peninsula.”
The statement said the Europeans are picking „an unreasonable quarrel with us over our measures for developing conventional weapons while deliberately turning their faces away from the military exercises and the introduction of latest lethal weapons in South Korea.”
North Korea wants relations with European countries „on good terms,” the statement said, and the UK, France and Germany „should get rid of their rigid and prejudiced way of thinking and help to ease tensions and ensure peace on the Korean peninsula.”
The three European countries stressed in their statement that „international sanctions must remain in place and be fully and strictly enforced until North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs are dismantled.”
Many diplomats and analysts credit 11 rounds of increasingly tougher U.N. sanctions, which have sharply cut North Korea’s exports and imports, with helping promote the thaw in relations between North Korea and South Korea, and the two summits between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
But negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have been at a standstill since the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February broke down over what the United States described as excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for only a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
The statement by the U.S. allies was not joined by the United States or other members of the 15-nation Security Council and it was at odds with Trump’s comments playing down the recent missile tests.
(Bloomberg) — The leader of a Hong Kong group that has organized record-breaking mass marches over weeks of protests was attacked by two unidentified armed masked men, as the city braces for a 13th straight weekend of demonstrations.
Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham said the attack took place inside a restaurant in the Jordan area of Kowloon around midday local time Thursday. The men were wielding at least one baseball bat and one long knife, according to Sham. He was not hurt as his friend shielded him from the beatings, he said in a CHRF WhatsApp media group.
Hong Kong police officials confirmed the attack on Sham at an afternoon news briefing. They said officers had arrived on scene shortly after and had tried “in vain” to locate any suspects, and that the case would be followed up by a criminal investigations team.
“This vile attack against Jimmy Sham appears to be a deliberate attempt to target a well-known pro-democracy activist,” Amnesty International said in an e-mailed statement Thursday evening. „It is vital that the authorities send a clear message that those who target peaceful activists with such violence, irrespective of their political views, will face justice.”
Max Chung, the organizer of the Yuen Long march last month, separately said he was attacked by four men near the Tai Po police station Thursday. They wielded metal rods and umbrellas, he told reporters outside the hospital where he is receiving treatment.
Chung suffered bruises on his arms, lower back and the back of his neck, as he said he was crouching and shielding his head with his arms when one of the men was beating him. Hong Kong police confirmed receipt of a report matching the incident Thursday.
The Yuen Long march that Chung organized was in response to attacks on July 21st in which several dozen protesters and passersby were injured in attacks by white-shirted mobs. There have been sporadic reports of similar attacks on protesters in the weeks since.
The CHRF’s latest mass march, planned for Saturday, was banned by the city’s police force on Thursday, with the group saying it planned to appeal. The ban could anger protesters ahead of a planned 13th straight week of pro-democracy demonstrations. Protests that began in early June over a bill that would allow extraditions to China have since become a wider call for more democracy, including calls for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation.
“How would banning peaceful marches stop clashes? Carrie Lam is pushing Hong Kong to the point of destruction,” Sham told reporters before the attack.
(Adds quote from Amnesty International in fourth paragraph.)
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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain, Germany and France said on Thursday they were concerned by tensions in the South China Sea, in a statement issued the day after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China.
The situation there „could lead to insecurity and instability in the region,” the three countries said in a joint statement issued by Britain’s foreign ministry.
China and the United States have traded barbs in the past over what Washington has said is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea via the building of military installations on artificial islands and reefs in disputed waters.
(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by John Stonestreet)