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Trump orders additional air defense troops to Saudi Arabia

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Sgt. Zachary Mott/U.S. Army(WASHINGTON) —  President Donald Trump has approved the deployment of air and missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of last weekend’s attack on Saudi oil facilities that the U.S. has blamed on Iran, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced at a hastily called Pentagon press conference on Friday night.

The exact number of weapons systems and troops remains to be determined, said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who added it would not be “thousands.”

Trump’s decision to deploy troops followed a high-level national security meeting held at the White House on Friday afternoon.

Esper said Saudi Arabia had requested the international support to protect critical infrastructure.

He called last weekend’s attack a “dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression” and said all indications are that Iran was responsible for the attack.

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” said Esper, who added that the U.S. has military options should they become necessary.

Dunford said the deployment would enhance Saudi Arabia’s air missile defense systems.

The U.S. currently has a Patriot missile defense battery with about 600 troops at Prince Sultan air base outside of Riyadh that was deployed in late May after a series of commercial tankers were attacked by Iran in the Persian Gulf.

With a 100-mile range, that air defense system was not capable of defending the attack on the facilities approximately 200 miles away that briefly disrupted 5% of the world’s oil supply. Saudi Patriot air defense systems are deployed to the southern part of the country to defend against ballistic missile attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, not oriented toward Iranian provocations from the north.

Earlier on Friday, Trump announced sanctions on Iran’s national bank he described as “the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”

“This will mean no more funds going to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] to fund terror. This is on top of our oil sanctions and our financial institution sanctions,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “This is very big. We’ve now cut off all source of funds to Iran.”

On Friday afternoon, the president convened a meeting of his senior advisers to consider options to retaliate against Iran for the strike. Those options reportedly included everything from the deployment of more U.S. forces to help defend the Saudis, no additional forces, a limited proportional airstrike, no military action or striking a broader range of targets.

In earlier national security meetings, officials had decided to let the Saudis take the lead.

The U.S. is “always prepared” to use a military option against Iran, the president said in the Oval Office on Friday ahead of the meeting.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Lorena threatens Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Residents and tourists are hunkered down in homes, shelters and hotels as Hurricane Lorena menaces Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos area, threatening damaging winds, flash floods and life-imperiling surf along the Baja California Peninsula

Hurricane Lorena threatens Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Residents and tourists are hunkered down in homes, shelters and hotels as Hurricane Lorena menaces Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos area, threatening damaging winds, flash floods and life-imperiling surf along the Baja California Peninsula

Civil rights group: Airline forced girl, 12, to remove hijab

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A Muslim civil rights advocacy group is demanding changes at Air Canada after a 12-year-old US Squash Team player says she was forced to remove her hijab while boarding at San Francisco International Airport

Civil rights group: Airline forced girl, 12, to remove hijab

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A Muslim civil rights advocacy group is demanding changes at Air Canada after a 12-year-old US Squash Team player says she was forced to remove her hijab while boarding at San Francisco International Airport

History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake Michigan

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A diver and maritime history buff has found two schooners that collided and sank into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago

History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake Michigan

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A diver and maritime history buff has found two schooners that collided and sank into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago

How Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal may hurt his re-election — or not

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

alexsl/iStock(TORONTO) — For some politicians, being photographed dressing in black or brown face multiple times would be automatically devastating to a political campaign.

Some Canadian experts say that might not be the case for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however.

As Trudeau continues to wage his re-election bid amid a scandal surrounding three known incidents where he made himself appear as a different race, experts are evaluating how much of an impact they will have on his campaign. For the most part, many expect it to be damaging but not disastrous.

“This blackface brown face scandal goes to issues of credibility with him and issues of perceptions in the Canadian population also about his priorities,” Drew Fagan, a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, told ABC News, pointing to some alleged criticisms among some Canadians that Trudeau has prioritized global issues rather than domestic ones during his tenure.

Fagan said those concerns are not the ones that would be revived as a result of the photo and video scandal, however.

“Where this issue is a chink in the armor for him is a sense that some of the population has that he’s hypocritical,” he said, noting how Trudeau has been quick to admonish his peers and fellow politicians about missteps and pointing out how his party has allegedly been digging up old videos of opponents as well.

Comparisons between Trudeau and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who was at the center of his own blackface photo scandal earlier this year, have been plentiful, but Fagan said the two cases are “a little bit different because of the different historical context.”

Dr. Charmaine Nelson is an art history professor at McGill University in Montreal. She said that “as a black woman who teaches Canadian slavery and histories of black representation in western art and popular culture, I am profoundly aware of blackface minstrelsy as a Canadian practice and also aware of how frequently white Canadians deny such histories by shifting them onto the U.S.A.”

Nelson told ABC News via email that she believes that many Canadians “know little about” their country’s history of slavery under the French and British until 1833, “and instead we routinely celebrate the Underground Railroad (1833-1861) and embrace curriculum and narratives that position us simply as a multicultural and color-blind society.”

“But the lived reality for black, Indigenous and people of color Canadians is different from the rhetoric of racial inclusivity,” Nelson wrote.

Shama Rangwala, a faculty lecturer at the University of Alberta, told ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast that the scandal is quite significant because “Canadians like to be pretty smug about being nice and everyone gets along.”

“I think a lot of people who experience racism in Canada are maybe not surprised, but I think that Canadian liberals who have this mythologized, idealized version of Canada are really feeling their world shaken by this,” Rangwala said.

However, she said she was “not sure how much it will affect the election itself.”

Fagan seemed to agree, saying, “I don’t think it will be a deciding factor.”

“I think the liberals still have an advantage, but it’s a fairly slight one. It’s more of a battle than many people thought there should have been. It certainly has knocked his campaign off stride,” Fagan said.

Nelson said that there are different reasons why “Trudeau’s clearly racist behavior” will not change people’s minds about him.

“For many white Canadians, they simply do not see his acts as racist at all or as racist enough for them to change their vote. While for many black Canadians, we understand that we can’t afford to vote for a party like the Conservatives who have never acknowledged the reality of Canada as a nation with a problem of deep-seated systemic and institutional racism and bias, at a moment when too many of the world’s western governments are moving to the far right,” Nelson said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal may hurt his re-election — or not

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

alexsl/iStock(TORONTO) — For some politicians, being photographed dressing in black or brown face multiple times would be automatically devastating to a political campaign.

Some Canadian experts say that might not be the case for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however.

As Trudeau continues to wage his re-election bid amid a scandal surrounding three known incidents where he made himself appear as a different race, experts are evaluating how much of an impact they will have on his campaign. For the most part, many expect it to be damaging but not disastrous.

“This blackface brown face scandal goes to issues of credibility with him and issues of perceptions in the Canadian population also about his priorities,” Drew Fagan, a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, told ABC News, pointing to some alleged criticisms among some Canadians that Trudeau has prioritized global issues rather than domestic ones during his tenure.

Fagan said those concerns are not the ones that would be revived as a result of the photo and video scandal, however.

“Where this issue is a chink in the armor for him is a sense that some of the population has that he’s hypocritical,” he said, noting how Trudeau has been quick to admonish his peers and fellow politicians about missteps and pointing out how his party has allegedly been digging up old videos of opponents as well.

Comparisons between Trudeau and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who was at the center of his own blackface photo scandal earlier this year, have been plentiful, but Fagan said the two cases are “a little bit different because of the different historical context.”

Dr. Charmaine Nelson is an art history professor at McGill University in Montreal. She said that “as a black woman who teaches Canadian slavery and histories of black representation in western art and popular culture, I am profoundly aware of blackface minstrelsy as a Canadian practice and also aware of how frequently white Canadians deny such histories by shifting them onto the U.S.A.”

Nelson told ABC News via email that she believes that many Canadians “know little about” their country’s history of slavery under the French and British until 1833, “and instead we routinely celebrate the Underground Railroad (1833-1861) and embrace curriculum and narratives that position us simply as a multicultural and color-blind society.”

“But the lived reality for black, Indigenous and people of color Canadians is different from the rhetoric of racial inclusivity,” Nelson wrote.

Shama Rangwala, a faculty lecturer at the University of Alberta, told ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast that the scandal is quite significant because “Canadians like to be pretty smug about being nice and everyone gets along.”

“I think a lot of people who experience racism in Canada are maybe not surprised, but I think that Canadian liberals who have this mythologized, idealized version of Canada are really feeling their world shaken by this,” Rangwala said.

However, she said she was “not sure how much it will affect the election itself.”

Fagan seemed to agree, saying, “I don’t think it will be a deciding factor.”

“I think the liberals still have an advantage, but it’s a fairly slight one. It’s more of a battle than many people thought there should have been. It certainly has knocked his campaign off stride,” Fagan said.

Nelson said that there are different reasons why “Trudeau’s clearly racist behavior” will not change people’s minds about him.

“For many white Canadians, they simply do not see his acts as racist at all or as racist enough for them to change their vote. While for many black Canadians, we understand that we can’t afford to vote for a party like the Conservatives who have never acknowledged the reality of Canada as a nation with a problem of deep-seated systemic and institutional racism and bias, at a moment when too many of the world’s western governments are moving to the far right,” Nelson said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trudeau’s support holds after apology for wearing brownface

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges that he let down his allies by appearing years ago in brownface and blackface

Amnesty International accuses Hong Kong police of beating, torturing protesters

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

LewisTsePuiLung/iStock(HONG KONG) — Amnesty International has documented “reckless and indiscriminate tactics” used by the Hong Kong police in responding to 15 weeks of anti-government protests.

The London-based human rights group claims detained protesters have been tortured, too.

“The Hong Kong police’s heavy-handed crowd-control response on the streets has been live-streamed for the world to see. Much less visible is the plethora of police abuses against protesters that take place out of sight,” Amnesty’s East Asia Director Nicholas Bequelin said in a report.

“The evidence leaves little room for doubt – in an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong’s security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests,” the report read. “This has included arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against arrested persons in custody, some of which has amounted to torture.”

Amnesty International is calling for an independent investigation after interviewing nearly two dozen people who were arrested, along with lawyers, health workers and others.

Most of the detainees who spoke came forward requested anonymity because they “fear reprisals from the authorities amid a climate of impunity,” the group said.

In a statement to the Reuters news agency, responding to the report, police said they have respected the “privacy, dignity and rights” of those in custody and allowed those detained to be in contact with lawyers and their families.

“The force to be used by police shall be the minimum force necessary for achieving a lawful purpose,” police said, according to Reuters.

The protests began June 9, when hundreds of thousands of mostly young people marched against a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed individuals to be sent from semi-autonomous Hong Kong to mainland China for trial. Hong Kong executive leader Carrie Lam has since pulled the bill from consideration, but the movement has continued and protesters’ demands have expanded to include a call for an investigation into police brutality and universal suffrage.

Amnesty said that more than 1,300 people have been arrested since the protests began.

The group said it had documented cases of people being beaten in custody. One man who was detained at a police station following a protest in August told Amnesty he was severely beaten and told that if he tried to protect himself, police would break his hands, according to the report.

“I felt my legs hit with something really hard,” Amnesty quoted him as saying. “Then one [officer] flipped me over and put his knees on my chest. I felt the pain in my bones and couldn’t breathe. I tried to shout but I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t talk.”

The group said he was then hospitalized for several days with a bone fracture and internal bleeding.

Amnesty also highlighted the case of another protester who said she was being clubbed with a police baton as she ran from officers. She accused police of continuing to beat her even after she was put in restraints, according to the group.

 “Time and again, police officers meted out violence prior to and during arrests, even when the individual had been restrained or detained. The use of force was therefore clearly excessive, violating international human rights law,” Bequelin said.

“Given the pervasiveness of the abuses we found, it is clear that the Hong Kong Police Force is no longer in a position to investigate itself and remedy the widespread unlawful suppression of protesters. Amnesty International is urgently calling for an independent, impartial investigation aimed at delivering prosecutions, justice and reparation, as there is little trust in existing internal mechanisms such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC),” he added.

On Tuesday, three pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong will address the U.S. Congress, as it weighs two pieces of legislation to boost the protest movement.

Both bills have bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

The PROTECT Hong Kong Act would prohibit U.S. exports of police equipment there, including tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and more. The second bill, called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, requires the administration to produce reports on the status of human rights and rule of law and of export controls in Hong Kong, requests that the State Department not deny visas to Hong Kongers for being arrested for protesting, and requires sanctions on those “responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and serious abuses of human rights.”

Joshua Wong, one of the 2014 Umbrella Movement leaders who was recently arrested for his role in the current protests, will testify before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, along with pro-democracy activist Denise Ho and student group spokesperson Sunny Cheung. Wong will urge lawmakers to pass the legislation, arguing it has “broad support” in Hong Kong, according to prepared remarks obtained by ABC News.

The legislation would be the most significant show of external support the demonstrators have received, but one that China has blasted and warned the U.S. not to take.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Greek island refugee camp too crowded to house newcomers

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Greece’s largest migrant camp turning away new arrivals due to severe overcrowding

Greek island refugee camp too crowded to house newcomers

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Greece’s largest migrant camp turning away new arrivals due to severe overcrowding

Yemen rebels say they’re halting attacks on Saudi Arabia

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said late Friday night that they were halting drone and missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, one week after they claimed responsibility for a strike that crippled a key oil facility in the kingdom

Minibus bombing outside Iraq’s Karbala kills 12, injures 5

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Iraqi security officials say an explosion in a minibus outside the Shiite holy city of Karbala has killed 12 people

Minibus bombing outside Iraq’s Karbala kills 12, injures 5

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Iraqi security officials say an explosion in a minibus outside the Shiite holy city of Karbala has killed 12 people

British military rugby team apologizes after visiting controversial shrine for war criminals in Japan

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Ismailciydem/iStock(TOKYO) — A British military rugby team on tour in Japan has apologized for visiting a controversial military shrine honoring Japanese soldiers, among them war criminals.

The U.K. Armed Forces Rugby team is in Japan for the 3rd International Defence Force Rugby Cup, which overlaps with the Rugby World Cup.

The team has been keeping their fans updated on their progress in the tournament with photos and videos on social media but it was a photo of one of their down-time activities posted on their Twitter account that caused the backlash.

The posts in question have now been taken down, but not before the British Ambassador to Japan intervened, according to the Times, which first reported the story.

 “It was very, very naive,” Commander Arty Shaw, who organized the visit, told the Times. “The ambassador had a word or two, so we’ve been told not to visit any more shrines, just in case.”

The team went on a “cultural visit” to Tokyo Tower and the Yasukuni shrine, on Sept. 13 according to a Twitter post from a member of the team which has since been taken offline. The photos show the team posing in front of the complex’s main Yasukuni Shrine.

Some Twitter users were positive, and one even thanked the rugby team for their trip, but others were less positive. “Are you aware of the Yasukuni shrine controversy?” asked one. “Did anyone inform you that Class A war criminals from WW2 have been enshrined there and it’s now the symbol of far-right historical revisionists denying war crimes such as Nanjing Massacre?”

“Are you aware of the Yasukuni shrine controversy? Did anyone inform you that Class A war criminals from WW2 have been enshrined there and it’s now the symbol of far-right historical revisionists denying war crimes such as Nanjing Massacre?”

The current shrine was established towards the end of the 19th century to “commemorate and honor the achievements of those who dedicated their precious lives to their country,” according to the shrine’s website. The souls of 2,466,000 people are honored in the complex, where they are treated as “divinities.”

But among these are 14 Japanese soldiers convicted of war crimes by the International Tribunal for the Far East following World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe skipped a visit to the shrine this year on the anniversary of the Japanese surrender. Visits by previous prime ministers have provoked angry reactions from South Korea and China.

“What the museum can offer on a personal level is a fascinating journey from their military history to where they are now,” Commander Shaw told the Times. “But we didn’t realize the sensitivity [for] specific nations in particular. We know now.”

The British team beat France on Sept. 19 to make it into the finals of the world cup. They will play the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rugby Team on Monday, Sept. 23.

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence describes the competition between various countries’ military teams as a way to “facilitate mutual understanding and exchange among armed forces.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

British military rugby team apologizes after visiting controversial shrine for war criminals in Japan

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Ismailciydem/iStock(TOKYO) — A British military rugby team on tour in Japan has apologized for visiting a controversial military shrine honoring Japanese soldiers, among them war criminals.

The U.K. Armed Forces Rugby team is in Japan for the 3rd International Defence Force Rugby Cup, which overlaps with the Rugby World Cup.

The team has been keeping their fans updated on their progress in the tournament with photos and videos on social media but it was a photo of one of their down-time activities posted on their Twitter account that caused the backlash.

The posts in question have now been taken down, but not before the British Ambassador to Japan intervened, according to the Times, which first reported the story.

 “It was very, very naive,” Commander Arty Shaw, who organized the visit, told the Times. “The ambassador had a word or two, so we’ve been told not to visit any more shrines, just in case.”

The team went on a “cultural visit” to Tokyo Tower and the Yasukuni shrine, on Sept. 13 according to a Twitter post from a member of the team which has since been taken offline. The photos show the team posing in front of the complex’s main Yasukuni Shrine.

Some Twitter users were positive, and one even thanked the rugby team for their trip, but others were less positive. “Are you aware of the Yasukuni shrine controversy?” asked one. “Did anyone inform you that Class A war criminals from WW2 have been enshrined there and it’s now the symbol of far-right historical revisionists denying war crimes such as Nanjing Massacre?”

“Are you aware of the Yasukuni shrine controversy? Did anyone inform you that Class A war criminals from WW2 have been enshrined there and it’s now the symbol of far-right historical revisionists denying war crimes such as Nanjing Massacre?”

The current shrine was established towards the end of the 19th century to “commemorate and honor the achievements of those who dedicated their precious lives to their country,” according to the shrine’s website. The souls of 2,466,000 people are honored in the complex, where they are treated as “divinities.”

But among these are 14 Japanese soldiers convicted of war crimes by the International Tribunal for the Far East following World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe skipped a visit to the shrine this year on the anniversary of the Japanese surrender. Visits by previous prime ministers have provoked angry reactions from South Korea and China.

“What the museum can offer on a personal level is a fascinating journey from their military history to where they are now,” Commander Shaw told the Times. “But we didn’t realize the sensitivity [for] specific nations in particular. We know now.”

The British team beat France on Sept. 19 to make it into the finals of the world cup. They will play the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rugby Team on Monday, Sept. 23.

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence describes the competition between various countries’ military teams as a way to “facilitate mutual understanding and exchange among armed forces.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The Latest: Greek refugee camp unable to house new arrivals

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos say they can’t house more newly arrived migrants at a perpetually overcrowded refugee camp that now is 400% overcapacity

The Latest: Greek refugee camp unable to house new arrivals

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos say they can’t house more newly arrived migrants at a perpetually overcrowded refugee camp that now is 400% overcapacity

The Latest: Yemen rebels halting attacks on Saudi Arabia

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they are halting all drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and are waiting for a "positive response."

The Latest: Yemen rebels halting attacks on Saudi Arabia

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they are halting all drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and are waiting for a "positive response."

Iraq: Minibus explosion outside Karbala kills 8, injures 6

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Iraqi security officials say an explosion in a minibus outside the Shiite holy city of Karbala has killed 8 people

Iraq: Minibus explosion outside Karbala kills 8, injures 6

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Iraqi security officials say an explosion in a minibus outside the Shiite holy city of Karbala has killed 8 people

Hurricane Lorena nears Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Owners have pulled boats from the water and shopkeepers put plywood over windows and doors as Tropical Storm Lorena bears down on Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos area, predicted to arrive Friday at hurricane force

Hurricane Lorena nears Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Owners have pulled boats from the water and shopkeepers put plywood over windows and doors as Tropical Storm Lorena bears down on Mexico’s resort-studded Los Cabos area, predicted to arrive Friday at hurricane force

Paris police gird for weekend protests over Macron, climate

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Paris is deploying thousands of police to protect landmarks and government buildings as yellow vest groups, unions and environmental activists plan a multitude of weekend protests

Paris police gird for weekend protests over Macron, climate

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Paris is deploying thousands of police to protect landmarks and government buildings as yellow vest groups, unions and environmental activists plan a multitude of weekend protests

Puerto Rico faces slow recovery 2 years after Maria

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Puerto Rico faces slow recovery 2 years after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico faces slow recovery 2 years after Maria

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Puerto Rico faces slow recovery 2 years after Hurricane Maria