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World Monthly Headline News September 2019 Page 1

Japan's environment minister says contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant may have to be released into the ocean because storage space will run out in 2022. More than a million tonnes of water that has been used to cool melted reactors is kept in giant tanks. Fisherman's groups are strongly opposed to the idea but many scientists say it would pose a low risk. The government said a final decision had not yet been taken. Reactor buildings at the Fukushima power plant were damaged by hydrogen explosions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Three reactors melted down. The Japanese government decided that the area would be cleaned in a vast operation which will take many decades to complete. more...

By Hannah Osborne
An enormous reptile discovered in Alberta, Canada, is one of the biggest flying creatures ever discovered, with a wingspan of up to 32 feet—roughly double the height of an average giraffe. The species, which has been named Cryodrakon boreas, lived about 77 million years ago and may well have fed on small animals such as lizards and baby dinosaurs. The fossilized remains were first found over 30 years ago but previously assigned to a different flying species of pterosaur—Quetzalcoatlus. This was another giant flying reptile, which weighed up to 550 lbs and had a wingspan of up to 34 feet. Over the last three decades, as more ancient remains were uncovered, researchers realized there were key differences between the two species. In a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, researchers have now named and described the new species. Both Quetzalcoatlus and Cryodrakon are types of azhdarchid—a family of pterosaurs that lived during the late Cretaceous Period. These creatures had long necks and stork-like bills. While most species were extremely large, researchers have recently identified a cat-sized azhdarchid. In the latest study, David Hone, from the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues showed how the neck bones in the newly identified species are shorter and wider than in Quetzalcoatlus, while Cryodrakon has a thinner humerus. "Really as soon as I started looking in detail it was clear there were some differences between the two," he told Newsweek. "I think a fair number of researchers have suspected as much for a while, but sitting down to do the work and getting into the details takes time." more...

BBC News - Parliament is preparing to shut down for 5 weeks but it’s been a busy day of political developments.
Huw Edwards presents live from Westminster as a new law has been passed that’s designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Later the Prime Minister is expected to fail in an attempt to call a general election, after opposition MPs refused to support him.  Boris Johnson visited Ireland today and said that leaving the EU without a deal would be a failure of statecraft. He was accused by the Irish Prime Minister of failing to come up with practical solutions to the so-called Irish backstop –the insurance policy to prevent a hard border. The BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg rounds up the days events. BBC News takes a close look at what the backstop is and, and what might come out of future negotiations, with Europe Editor Katya Adler. And in a further twist this afternoon, the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, a key figure in the parliamentary Brexit process, announced that he'd be standing down, at the end of next month. The BBC’s Deputy Political Editor John Pienaar looks at his political career. more...

By Andrew Carey, CNN
Jerusalem (CNN)Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to annex parts of the West Bank if he wins re-election next week.
Netanyahu told reporters at a press conference that, if re-elected and able to form a coalition, he would apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. He said he expected US President Donald Trump to present his Middle East peace plan just days after Israelis vote next Tuesday, September 17, and that in co-ordination with the US, he would also look to apply sovereignty over all Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
"[The US plan] poses a great challenge for us and a great opportunity, a historic opportunity to apply sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank and other areas of importance to our heritage," Netanyahu said. more...

By Holly Ellyatt
With the U.K Parliament now shuttered for five weeks and the recent political turmoil throwing up more questions than answers, analysts have been busy contemplating what could happen next in Britain as it approaches its Brexit deadline. The shutdown of Parliament — known as prorogation — will see lawmakers reconvene on October 14. The suspension marks the end of one parliamentary session before the start of the next, and it’s usual for it to take place at this time of year. However, the current shutdown, which began in the early hours of Tuesday, is more controversial than most due to its extended length and because it comes at a period of high anxiety in U.K. politics over the direction of Brexit. It’s fair to say the U.K.’s political establishment has been in tumult since the divisive 2016 referendum on EU membership. It has culminated in Parliament’s three-time rejection of the existing Brexit deal on offer, but also the dismissal of a no-deal Brexit. This summer, Parliament saw the arrival of a new prime minister in July determined for the U.K. to leave the EU on October 31 “come what may.” What just happened? That divide between Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government and Parliament was thrown into sharp relief in a dramatic week full of intrigue, votes and resignations. In the last seven days, lawmakers seized control of parliamentary business, voted to block a no-deal Brexit and to force the prime minister to ask for a further delay to the departure (legislation that hastily became law on Monday) as well as twice rejecting Boris Johnson’s bid to bring about a snap election that could strengthen his hand. more...

By Stella Soon
China will win the trade war with the U.S., and eventually wean itself off its reliance on American technology, a strategist told CNBC on Monday.“China will never trust the United States again, and it will achieve its technology independence within seven years,” David Roche, Independent Strategy’s president and global strategist, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” China has traditionally been reliant on U.S. suppliers for key tech components such as chips and software, as well as modems and jet engines, but recent developments in the two countries’ protracted trade war have strained those ties and affected businesses from both sides. In May, Chinese tech giant Huawei was placed on a U.S. blacklist, restricting the firm from purchasing American-made chips and software unless they got permission to do so. Some American mobile networks also use Huawei gear, while other U.S. companies have said their revenue will be affected by the blacklist. Alphabet’s Google also halted all business activity with Huawei, a move that means future Huawei phones will no longer come installed with Google’s Android operating system. more...

Russia's leadership is increasingly worried that a faltering economy will lead more people to demand change.
By James Rodgers, head of International Journalism Studies at City, University of London
Since Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia almost 20 years ago, the unwritten rules governing the relationship between political power and the people have been clear: Citizens accept less political freedom in return for receiving greater prosperity. But five years of falling incomes mean that the Kremlin is no longer keeping its side of the deal. Russia's leadership is increasingly worried that more people will demand change. The results of Sunday’s elections in Moscow for local government positions suggest they are right to be afraid. Russia's strict laws governing political protests — not encouraged, and requiring permission which is only sometimes granted (often merely to give the impression that freedom of assembly exists) — were not enough to stop demonstrators taking to the streets by the tens of thousands in the months leading up to Sunday's vote. The rallies — which resulted in police beating demonstrators and more than 2,000 protesters being detained— were sparked by the government's refusal to allow opposition candidates to register for the elections. Though the majority of the protesters were released shortly afterwards, the heavy-handed approach seemed to only steel the protesters' determination. more...

By Sinéad Baker
Jack Ma, the flamboyant tech personality and the richest man in China, is leaving his $460 billion Alibaba empire 20 years after founding the company. Ma is stepping down as the chairman of Alibaba Group on Tuesday, his 55th birthday, as part of a long-planned succession scheme. Alibaba Group is the world's largest e-commerce group, with more than triple Amazon's total reported sales for 2018. A former English teacher, Ma founded the company with 17 others in a small apartment in 1999. It began as a company that sold Chinese goods around the world but shifted its focus to the domestic Chinese market as the country's economy boomed. It later expanded into online banking, artificial intelligence, and entertainment.  The company's 2014 initial public offering remains the biggest in history, at $25 billion. Ma is worth about $40 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, a net worth higher than anyone else in China and 21st in the world. Alibaba now employs more than 100,000 people, according to Reuters. While he is stepping down from a major leadership role, Ma said he would take a position in the Alibaba Partnership, a 38-person body with an indirect role in the governance of the group. more...

CNN - Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unveiled what he claims was a previously unknown site connected to Iran's nuclear program from the early 2000s, in an announcement that political opponents have decried as election propaganda. more...

By Eric Cheung, CNN
Hong Kong (CNN) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned the United States and other countries against interfering in the city's domestic affairs, two days after thousands of protesters gathered outside the US consulate to ask President Donald Trump to "liberate" the city. Lam said Tuesday it would be "totally unacceptable" for Washington or any other country to intervene in the semi-autonomous Chinese region. "The Hong Kong government completely disagrees and expresses deep regret that foreign parliaments are interfering in our internal affairs through legislation," she said during her weekly news conference. "We will never allow them to be stakeholders in Hong Kong's internal affairs." The Hong Kong protests entered their 14th consecutive week on Sunday. Tens of thousands marched through the city's financial district and submitted a letter to officials of the US consulate, urging for greater action to help the protesters. The protests largely started off peacefully but violence has escalated as the summer has dragged on. On Sunday, many of the protesters expressed support for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which calls upon the US government to take a host of steps if Hong Kong does not "remain sufficiently autonomous from the People's Republic of China." Lam was asked Tuesday about the possibility that the US Congress might pass the bill, which could affect trade relations between the city and the US. She said some 1,400 US companies in Hong Kong currently benefit from Washington's relationship with the city and that "any particular provisions applied to Hong Kong by the Americans are not exclusively for the benefit of Hong Kong." A potential passing of the bill could further damage the city's economy. The US-China trade war, coupled with months of unrest, has already slowed down businesses and forced restaurants to lay off workers. The bill currently enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. "Democrats and Republicans continue to stand united with the people of Hong Kong in demanding the hopeful, free and democratic future that is their right," US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week. Hong Kong maintains a separate political, legal and economic system from the China due to a "one country, two systems" framework that was agreed when the territory was handed over by the United Kingdom to China in 1997. more...

Latest launches head towards waters off east coast of North Korea, the eighth since July. North Korea launched at least two unidentified projectiles towards the sea on Tuesday, South Korea's military said, hours after the North offered to resume nuclear diplomacy with the United States. The North's projectile launches and demand for new proposals were apparently aimed at pressuring the US to make concessions when the North Korea-US talks resume. North Korea is widely believed to want the US to provide it with security guarantees and extensive relief from US-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearisation steps. The North Korean projectiles were fired from South Pyongan Province, which surrounds the capital city of Pyongyang, in the direction of the waters off the North’s east coast, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Ministry. The military said South Korea will monitor possible additional launches by North Korea but gave no further details on what projectiles North Korea had fired. Al Jazeera's Rob McBride in Seoul said the authorities had still to confirm the nature of the projectiles, which flew for about 330 kilometres before ditching into the sea. Tuesday's launches were the eighth since late July and the first since August 24. The previous seven launches have revealed short-range missile and rocket artillery systems that experts say would potentially expand the country’s ability to attack targets throughout South Korea, including US military bases there. more...

After another remarkable day in Parliament, the U.K. is still unsure when the Brexit saga will end.
By Yuliya Talmazan, Patrick Smith and Tim Stelloh
LONDON — Britain’s embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered yet another political defeat on Monday as he failed for a second time to convince lawmakers to back his call for an election to solve the Brexit deadlock. Johnson's bid failed, with 293 Members of Parliament supporting the motion, 46 voting against it and multiple abstentions. The prime minister needed two-thirds of support of the House of Commons, at least 434 votes, for the election to take place. Johnson blamed opposition lawmakers for delaying “Brexit yet again” and he promised that his government would “press on negotiating a deal while preparing to leave without one.” “No matter how many devices this Parliament invents to tie my hands I will strive” to get an agreement in Brussels, he said. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, described Johnson’s shutdown of Parliament — scheduled to begin later Monday night — as a way to avoid any discussion of that deal. “This government is a disgrace and the way the prime minister operates is a disgrace,” Corbyn said. Longtime House Speaker John Bercow, who earlier announced his decision to step down from the job and has repeatedly urged lawmakers to wrest control of Brexit’s future, told the chamber that there was nothing “normal” about Johnson's suspension of parliament. Bercow, who belonged to Johnson's Conservative Party before he was elected Speaker, was met with jeers and repeated interruptions from right wing MPs. The suspension, he warned, "represents not just in the minds of many colleagues, but to huge numbers of people outside, an act of executive fiat." more...

BBC News
John Bercow says he will stand down as Commons Speaker at next election or on 31 October, whichever comes first. more...

By Thomas Colson
LONDON — Boris Johnson has retreated from threats to break the law in order to force through Brexit in October, indicating to senior colleagues that he would accept a three-month delay if it was forced on him by the courts. In private conversations with colleagues, Johnson has assured senior colleagues that he will "abide by the law," according to the Times. Downing Street's initial threats simply to break the law and refuse to seek an extension now appear to have vanished, with senior cabinet ministers including Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, and Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, thought to be ready to resign if Johnson did refuse to uphold the rule of law.  Buckland was compelled to intervene publicly and say he had reminded Johnson of his obligations not to act illegally. "I fully support the Prime Minister and will continue to serve in his Cabinet," Buckland tweeted. "We have spoken over the past 24 hours regarding the importance of the Rule of Law, which I as Lord Chancellor have taken an oath to uphold." more...

"I want to get a deal," said Boris Johnson, as the Brexit clock continues to tick.
By Patrick Smith
LONDON — Britain's Parliament will be suspended for a month on Monday night as Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries every possible tactic to ensure the country leaves the European Union as planned on October 31. Parliamentary business will stop after Monday's session, the prime minister's office confirmed, meaning that lawmakers can't sit, debate or pass laws until October 14. This means less time for Johnson's opponents to stop his Brexit plan. Due to a quirk of Britain's constitutional monarchy, Johnson had to ask the queen for permission to suspend the parliamentary session. This process, known as prorogation, is legal and has been used before but in this context it is highly controversial — lawmakers have accused Johnson of shutting down democracy in order to make sure Brexit isn't stopped. The move comes as Johnson insisted he will keep his promise of leaving on time in a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Monday morning. Johnson traveled to Dublin for his first meeting with the Irish leader and said in a joint press conference that it was still possible the U.K. could reach a deal with the E.U. on the so-called Irish backstop, a key sticking point for Brexit supporters who worry the policy would keep the U.K. subject to European laws. "I want to get a deal. Like you I've looked carefully at No Deal, I've assessed its consequences both for our country and yours and yes of course we could do it, the U.K. could get through," Johnson said. "But be in no doubt: That outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible." more...

Guardian News
One of the strongest typhoons to hit the Japanese capital in recent years made landfall just east of Tokyo on Monday, bringing record-breaking winds, stinging rain and sending some rivers close to the top of their banks. About 5,000 people in Chiba and nearby Kanagawa prefecture were ordered to evacuate and more than 100 flights were cancelled and scores of train lines were closed. more...

Three CNN journalists recount what it was like to ride out the storm and emerge to its aftermath
By Patrick Oppmann, Jaide Timm-Garcia and Jose Armijo, CNN
Freeport, Bahamas (CNN)It's been almost a week since Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, but the deadly hurricane continues to haunt those of us who rode out the storm here. At least 45 people are dead, hundreds are missing and some 70,000 are homeless. There is no power or running water. Aid is arriving slowly on the island of Grand Bahama, where Dorian parked for almost two days and caused damage one usually witnesses in a war zone. It's impossible to fully capture the devastation we see every day. We're only about 80 miles from Florida, but the miles of rubble Dorian left in its wake have made this part of the Bahamas feel as remote as any place on Earth. On August 30, CNN sent the three of us to Freeport, on Grand Bahama, to cover the storm. The trip was so last-minute that we bought many of the staples of hurricane coverage at an airport newsstand: beef jerky, peanut butter and as many water bottles as we could carry. We had to scramble to catch American Airlines flight 3489 from Miami, which turned out to be the last from the US to Grand Bahama before Dorian hit. Our first sign that this hurricane was going to be exceptionally dangerous was when a gate agent announced over the intercom that only Grand Bahama residents would be allowed on the flight. All hotels would be closed, he said. If you didn't live there, you would have nowhere to stay. more...

By David Brennan - Newsweek
The Taliban have hit back at President Donald Trump's dramatic cancellation of an imminent Afghanistan peace agreement, suggesting his erratic diplomacy is damaging his credibility. According to BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet, a Taliban spokesperson said Sunday that the president's weekend tweets had come as a surprise to the group. Trump announced on Twitter on Saturday that he was shelving the peace deal following the killing of a U.S. soldier in Kabul last week. "Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "They were coming to the United States tonight." However, following Thursday's bombing, the president said he "immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations," asking, "What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?" Ads by scrollerads.com Doucet cited Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, who reportedly said on Sunday that an agreement was reached between U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Qatar several days ago. He described Trump's Twitter tirade as "astonishing" and suggested the messages had "certainly damaged his credibility." The White House is keen to find a way out of America's longest ever war, which is nearing 18 years of age. Trump vowed to end U.S. involvement in unwinnable foreign wars during his presidential campaign, but has been hamstrung by the geopolitical realities of U.S. deployments in the Middle East and South Asia. The deal reportedly agreed between U.S. and Taliban representatives is only the first step in bringing some semblance of peace to Afghanistan, where successive conflicts have been raging since 1978. more...

By Ed Hanson BBC Inside Out, North East & Cumbria
Thousands of people who bought solar panels have complained to a financial watchdog that they are not bringing them the returns they were promised. Many people took out loans to pay for panels on the promise they would save thousands of pounds in electricity costs and make money generating power. They say they have not had the expected savings, and the Financial Services Ombudsman has had 2,000 complaints. Barclays Bank has put aside £38m to deal with potential claims. Brian Thompson from Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, told BBC Inside Out he was contacted by a salesman for PV Solar UK but told him he did not want to take a loan on as he was preparing for retirement. He said he was told the move would provide money towards his pension, which persuaded him, and he took out a loan with Barclays of more than £10,000 over 10 years. Mr Thompson said the payments he was getting back from the power his solar panels sent to the National Grid did not correspond with what he was told. "I had to dip into my savings which I was putting away for retirement to pay the loan off. To me it was lies," he said. more...  

By Hayley Dixon, Nassau David Millward, US Correspondent Colin Maximin
More than 23 of Sidney Poitier’s family members are feared missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the actor’s nephew as said. Jeffrey Poitier,66, said that they were still waiting for news from the relatives, including his sister Barbara and his adult children in Freeport, Bahamas. The family is one of hundreds desperately scrabbling to locate their loved ones a week after the category 5 hurricane wreaked devastation across the islands. In some cases entire families were missing. "We still couldn't find any, nor have we heard from them," Mr Poitier said late last week. "We are still looking for and waiting for them to appear soon. It has us all worried. We are trying to reach out to them using every means available to us but we are not hearing anything. We are deeply worried." More than 500 Bahamians belong to the extended family of Sidney Poitier, the acclaimed actor who was born in Miami to Bahamian parents and who grew up in the Bahamas. more...

By Telegraph Reporters
A former mayor has called for his hometown to be flattened by a "thermonuclear device" because it has become so rundown. Councillor Dennis Keogh said parts of Port Talbot, South Wales, had become "a ghetto" after a boom in rental properties being used by drug addicts. He told a council meeting the suburb of Aberavon had become a hotspot for trouble and people who "don't give a damn". Labour councillor Mr Keogh, who was mayor of Neath Port Talbot until May this year, said: "It's turning into a ghetto. The only way to sort it out is to use a small thermonuclear device to flatten it and start it again. more...

By Hannah Furness, Royal Correspondent
The Duke of York has been embroiled in a heated disagreement with a senior member of staff, it has emerged.  The Duke, who has returned to royal duties despite growing pressure over his links to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, is reported to have exchanged furious words with a male aide. The Mail on Sunday claimed that the Prince of Wales was moved to intervene, asking his younger brother to apologise. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said: “Some time ago there was a disagreement between The Duke of York and a member of staff. “The disagreement was resolved and there are no ongoing issues.” The newspaper quoted a source saying: “There were heated words on both sides but the altercation was in no way physical. “It was a verbal dispute. It was a work-related issue. The Duke got very cross that what he wanted wasn't possible.” It is claimed that the Prince of Wales, as a senior member of the Royal Family, heard about the incident and asked the Duke to apologise. more...

By Bianca Britton, CNN
Our live coverage of Hurricane Dorian's devastation in the Bahamas has ended. Here's where things stand as of Sunday afternoon. The death toll: At least 43 people are dead, and officials expect that number to rise dramatically as rescue efforts continue. The displaced: More than 70,000 people are homeless on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, the parts of the Bahamas hardest hit by the hurricane. The recovery: Search and recovery efforts in the Bahamas have been slowed down by ravaged infrastructure, after Dorian left behind piles of rubble and splintered homes. The evacuees: A cruise ship brought nearly 1,500 hurricane survivors from the Bahamas to a port in Florida on Saturday. Evacuation efforts continued on Sunday with at least one charter flight bringing people from Marsh Harbour to Nassau. Damage in Canada: Dorian is no longer a hurricane, but its heavy rains and powerful winds left hundreds of thousands of people without power as the storm made landfall near Nova Scotia on Saturday evening. more...

By Deirdre Shesgreen and Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has used diplomatic pressure, legal action, economic sanctions – and even cold, hard cash – to try to get its hands on a hulking Iranian oil tanker that has been spinning its way around Africa and the Middle East for months. The extraordinary effort to seize the vessel has come to naught – so far. Even a curious State Department offer to make the ship’s captain a multi-millionaire fell flat. But the cat-and-mouse game between Iran and the Trump administration over the vessel – called the Adrian Darya 1 and laden with 2.1 million barrels of oil – is emblematic of an increasingly confrontational relationship. And like the fate of the supertanker and its crew, the outcome of the U.S.-Iran tensions remains unclear. The Trump administration’s efforts to capture the Adrian Darya is a small part of its “maximum pressure” campaign – aimed at reducing Iran’s oil exports to zero, strangling its economy, and forcing its leaders into negotiations with President Donald Trump. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and other world powers, saying it did not do enough to curb the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. Experts say Iran’s ability to keep the Darya out of the U.S. government’s long reach illustrates the shortfalls of the U.S. strategy. And it comes as Iran leaders once again rejected negotiations with Washington, saying Trump must lift U.S. sanctions first. On Saturday, Iran further reduced its compliance with the nuclear deal, saying it has begun injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges and that the country will no longer abide by the deal's limits on its nuclear research and development. “The Iranians are not capitulating,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank in Washington. “They’re not saying ... ‘Please, Mr. Trump, can we have a meeting with you?’” more...

Analysis By Clarissa Ward, CNN
(CNN) - There were plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the long-awaited US-Taliban peace deal that seemed to be on the cusp of announcement before this weekend. Critics of the agreement said that it offered too many concessions to the Taliban, while extracting few concessions. There were no pre-conditions -- womens' rights were not guaranteed, a ceasefire was not imposed, and the Afghan government had not been given a seat at the negotiating table.Yet, after nine rounds of talks and a year of hard work, the deal was still seen by some as the US's best chance at extracting itself from its longest running war. Nearly 18 years after the invasion of Afghanistan, and days before the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the Taliban controls more territory than it has at any time in the war, despite more than 2,400 US servicemen killed and the trillions of US dollars spent. CNN traveled to Taliban territory in February this year and spent 36 hours on the ground with the militant group and during our trip, we found few indicators that the Taliban has changed its fundamentalist, isolationist ideology in any meaningful way. The shadow governor of one province told us that he used a smart phone and had a Facebook account but still believes that the Islamic Emirate should stone adulterers to death and cut off the hand of thieves. Still in some areas, the group appeared to have adapted a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach. In one village under Taliban control, we visited a clinic which was managed by the Taliban, but where the Afghan government provided the medicines and paid the salaries. Instances of cooperation between the warring parties have become more common, particularly in contested areas. more...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States hopes to get back to denuclearization talks with North Korea in the coming days or weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. Negotiations aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs have stalled since the collapse of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February. Trump and Kim met again in June at the border between North Korea and South Korea and agreed to reopen working-level talks, but that has not happened. “We know Chairman Kim has continued to make the commitment to denuclearize. We are hopeful that in the coming days or perhaps weeks we’ll be back at the negotiating table with them. That’s the best outcome,” Pompeo said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” more...

by H I Sutton
Politicians’ tweets can sometimes reveal new intelligence about their own country’s military capabilities and programs. On August 28 the official Twitter account of the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, tweeted photos of his visit to the country’s Naval Science & Technological Laboratory. Among the missiles and unmanned vehicles is a sub-scale model of a submarine. And it appears to be not just any submarine – the model may offer the first visual clues to India’s next-generation ballistic missile submarine, the S-5 Class. The apparent leak comes just days after Defense Minster Rajnath Singh questioned how long India would retains its long-standing ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons doctrine. This new submarine will likely represent a major leap in the lethality and survivability of India’s nuclear arsenal. The Indian Navy is already part of the exclusive club which operate nuclear-powered submarines together with the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China. India’s indigenous program has been slow but is now showing signs of maturing. And its focus has been to go straight to ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), leaving regular general-purpose submarines until later. There have been reports that up to six nuclear-powered attack submarines may be built to protect the fleet of missile submarines. The new S-5 submarines will join the existing Arihant Class which are India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarines. INS Arihant undertook its first deterrence patrol late last year. The S-5 may enter service in the late 2020s after 4 Arihant Class boats have been constructed. more...

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Insured losses from Hurricane Dorian are expected to total several billions of dollars, German reinsurer Munich Re (MUVGn.DE) said on Sunday. Board member Torsten Jeworrek, speaking at an industry conference, said that the estimate was a “rough guess” as damage was still to be tallied. Dorian ripped into the Bahamas earlier this week, leaving a trail of destruction and death, before pounding parts of North Carolina and moving on to Canada. Separately, Jeworrek said he expected reinsurance rates to rise further across the industry, stabilizing after years of declines. more...

By Shannon Van Sant
Britain's Secretary of State for Work and Pensions resigned from Boris Johnson's cabinet on Sunday, accusing the prime minister of "an assault on decency and democracy" for his handling of the ongoing Brexit saga. In a letter to Johnson, Amber Rudd said she was resigning the Conservative whip — meaning she'll stay in parliament but no longer serve as a member of the Conservative party. Rudd blasted Johnson for his decision to expel 21 members of the Conservative Party for opposing his plans to leave the European Union by the October 31st deadline, with or without a deal. Among those he kicked out were senior members of parliament, including Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, and Ken Clarke, the longest serving member of Parliament. Some were notified of their firing via text message. "This short sighted culling of my colleagues has stripped the Party of broad-minded and dedicated Conservative MPs. I cannot support this act of political vandalism," Rudd said. more...

Elizabeth Piper
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson is sticking to his Brexit plan and will not seek a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union at a summit next month, two ministers said on Sunday despite the latest resignation from his government. After work and pensions minister Amber Rudd’s quit late on Saturday over his Brexit policy, the ministers said Johnson was determined to “keep to the plan” to leave the EU by Oct. 31 with or without a deal to ease the transition. Johnson’s strategy to leave “do or die” by that deadline has been shaken by the events of recent days, which have prompted critics to describe him as a “tin pot dictator” and deepened uncertainty over how Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU will play out. He has lost his Conservative government’s majority in parliament, expelled 21 rebels from the party and failed to force through a new election. Then his own brother quit, saying he was torn between family loyalty and the national interest. Saturday’s resignation of Rudd - who backed remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum when Britain voted 52%-48% to leave - over what she called the government’s disproportionate focus on preparing for a no-deal Brexit has only heightened the sense of crisis. more...

Bloomberg News
China’s exports unexpectedly contracted in August, with sales to the U.S. tumbling amid the escalating trade war between the two nations. Exports decreased 1% in dollar terms from a year earlier, while imports declined 5.6%, leaving a trade surplus of $34.84 billion, the customs administration said Sunday. Economists had forecast that exports would grow 2.2%, while imports would shrink by 6.4%. Shipments to the U.S. fell 16% from a year earlier. President Donald Trump’s administration raised tariffs on Chinese goods at the start of the month, and is set to ratchet up levies further in October and again in December if there is no breakthrough. China and the U.S. will hold face-to-face trade negotiations in Washington in the coming weeks, after a rapid deterioration in relations last month left global investors reeling amid increasing evidence the conflict is harming both nations. “It’s bad on all fronts,” said Michael Every, head of Asia financial markets research at Rabobank in Hong Kong. “Add in the inevitable fall-off when U.S. shipments finally catch up with 15% and 30% tariffs, and it’s an ugly picture.” more...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells CNN's Jake Tapper that the Trump administration is still interested in a peace deal with the Taliban, but the President will not let up pressure unless the US sees proof that the Taliban can "behave." more...

China's exports unexpectedly fell in August as shipments to the US slowed sharply, adding to worries about the effects of the two nations' trade war. China is expected to announce more support measures soon, to avert the risk of a sharp economic slowdown. These could include the first cuts in four years to some key lending rates. August exports from the world's second largest economy fell 1% from a year earlier, the biggest fall since June, when they fell 1.3%, Analysts had expected to see a rise in exports. 'Sluggish demand' China's August exports to the US fell 16% year-on-year, slowing sharply from a decline of 6.5% in July. Meanwhile, imports from the US slumped 22.4%. There were escalations in August in the year-long trade row, with Washington announcing 15% tariffs on a wide range of Chinese goods from September. China hit back with levies of its own, and let its yuan currency fall to offset some of the tariff pressures. more...

U.S. and Chinese negotiators are preparing for talks in October, but neither side has given any sign of offering concessions that might break a deadlock.
By Associated Press
BEIJING — China's trade with the United States is falling sharply as the two sides prepare for more negotiations with no sign of progress toward ending a worsening tariff war that threatens global economic growth. Imports of U.S. goods fell 22 percent in August from a year earlier to $10.3 billion following Chinese tariff hikes and orders to companies to cancel orders, customs data showed Sunday. Exports to the United States, China's biggest market, sank 16 percent to $44.4 billion under pressure from punitive tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump in a fight over Beijing's trade surplus and technology ambitions. Beijing is balking at U.S. pressure to roll back plans for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other industries. The United States, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those plans violate China's market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology. U.S. and Chinese tariff hikes on billions of dollars of each other's imports have disrupted trade in goods from soybeans to medical equipment and battered traders on both sides. Chinese exporters also face pressure from weakening global consumer demand at a time when Beijing is telling them to find other markets to replace the U.S. China's politically sensitive trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to $31.3 billion in August from $27 billion a year earlier. U.S. and Chinese negotiators are preparing for talks in October, later than initially planned, but neither side has given any sign of offering concessions that might break a deadlock over how to enforce a deal. Beijing says Trump's punitive tariffs must be lifted once an agreement takes effect. Washington says some must stay to ensure Beijing carries out any promises it makes. The decision to go ahead with talks despite the latest tit-for-tat tariff hikes on Sept. 1 encouraged global financial markets. In their latest escalation, Washington imposed 15 percent tariffs on $112 billion of Chinese imports and plans to hit another $160 billion on Dec. 15. That would extend penalties to almost everything the United States buys from China. more...

By Elizabeth Piper
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson is sticking to his Brexit plan and will not seek a delay to Britain’s departure from the EU at a summit next month, two of his ministers said on Sunday following a resignation from his government. After work and pensions minister Amber Rudd’s shock resignation late on Saturday over Johnson’s Brexit policy, two ministers said the prime minister was determined to “keep to the plan” to leave the European Union by Oct. 31 with or without an agreement. Johnson’s determination to leave “do or die” by that deadline has been shaken by the events of recent days, which have prompted critics to describe him as a tyrant and deepened uncertainty over how Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU will play out. He has lost his Conservative government’s majority in parliament, expelled 21 rebels from the party and failed to force through a new election. Then his own brother quit, saying he was torn between family loyalty and the national interest. Saturday’s resignation of Amber Rudd as work and pensions minister over what she described as the government’s disproportionate focus on preparing for a no-deal Brexit has only heightened the sense of crisis. On Sunday, Rudd denied she was accusing the government of lying over its efforts to negotiate a Brexit deal, saying she was just reporting what she had seen. more...

By Pei Li, Brenda Goh
SHENZHEN, China/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - For over a decade, manufacturer Matsutek plied away at building its business with big Western brands, supplying firms such as Philips (PHG.AS) and Honeywell (HON.N) with products made in its Chinese factories for the U.S. and other overseas markets. That strategy paid off, helping it grow into the world’s second-largest maker of robotic vacuum cleaners. But then, the Taipei-headquartered firm became one of the many corporate casualties in the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing. Sales of Masutek’s products in the United States plunged by a fifth last year in the wake of 25% tariffs on Chinese goods, forcing it to shut down two of its 11 assembly lines - all located in mainland China. Already disenchanted with the U.S. market after a legal battle with rival iRobot Corp (IRBT.O) in 2017, the tariffs were the last straw and in December Matsutek switched its focus to its own “Jiaweishi” vacuum cleaners - promoting them on Alibaba’s (BABA.N) Tmall and Pinduoduo’s (PDD.O) e-commerce platforms. Although the brand was created in 2015, Matsutek had until then not done much with it. more...

Tehran, Iran — Iran has begun using arrays of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal, a spokesman said Saturday, warning that Europe has little time left to offer new terms to save the accord. The comments by Behrouz Kamalvandi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran signal a further cut into the one year experts estimate Tehran would need to have a enough material for building a nuclear weapon if it chose to pursue one. Iran maintains its program is peaceful. Iran already has breached the stockpile and enrichment level limits set by the deal, while stressing it could quickly revert back to the terms of the accord if Europe finds a way for it to sell its crude oil abroad despite crushing U.S. sanctions. However, questions likely will grow in Europe over Iran's intentions as satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday showed an once-detained oil tanker Tehran reportedly promised wouldn't go to Syria was off its coast. more... - Trump killed the Iran nuclear deal that means Iran is not bound by the deal so Iran is not violating the nuclear deal that Trump killed.

An investigation into the spending comes as Trump faces questions over his officials patronizing his properties.
By Riley Beggin
The House Oversight Committee is investigating military spending at an airport near a Trump property in Ayer, Scotland, as well as visits to that property by service members, in the latest of a growing number of inquiries into government expenditures that seem to financially benefit President Donald Trump and his businesses. The military has spent $11 million on fuel alone at the Prestwick Airport near Trump’s Turnberry resort since fall of 2017, Politico reported. And reporting by the Guardian found the airport has provided discounted rooms and complimentary rounds of golf at the Trump resort for some US military members. The expenditures are unusual given buying fuel from Prestwick Airport costs the government (and, ultimately, taxpayers) more than refueling at military bases, such as the nearby Lakenheath Air Base in England. And the stays at Trump resorts are equally as unusual and costly, as Politico’s Natasha Bertrand and Bryan Bender note in their account of the experiences of five Air National Guard troops who stayed the Turnberry resort this year while on a mission to Kuwait: One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort. The spending captured the attention of the House Oversight Committee, and in June, it sent the Pentagon a letter demanding an explanation. The Department of Defense, however, has refused to turn over any documents to investigators. Trump has been under scrutiny since the beginning of his presidency for refusing to divest his interests in his businesses. And as recently as last week, when it was reported Trump suggested Vice President Mike Pence stay at one of his hotels during a visit to Ireland, the president has been accused of using his office to enrich himself. more... - Trump is using taxpayer’s money to prop up his businesses.

Trump should’ve known what withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal would bring.
By Alex Ward
This week alone, Iran vowed to restart research and development on its nuclear program and signaled that it may start to enrich uranium faster. All this came just days after Tehran failed to launch a space rocket in direct defiance of the US and others worried about its missile program. There’s no question that Iran is acting more aggressively these days. But here’s the thing: nobody should be surprised by this. This is exactly what experts warned would happen if the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. The 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the US, European powers, and China put tight restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear efforts in exchange for sanctions relief. The Obama administration’s goal was to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon diplomatically, instead of by force, and effectively bribed Iran with financial incentives to do so. But President Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal in May 2018, reimposed burdensome financial penalties on Iran, and pushed European countries to cease their business with the country. Iran therefore had a choice to make: continue to abide by the deal and try to get the international community to compel the US to lower the pressure, or slowly ramp up its nuclear and missile activities to re-exert its own pressure on America. Iran chose the latter, more aggressive posture — a move the Trump administration should’ve expected. The New York Times Magazine reported this week that the CIA had predicted this exact outcome: more...

By Victor Blackwell, Paula Newton and Christina Maxouris, CNN
Great Abaco, the Bahamas (CNN) - Volunteers with search dogs continue to scour neighborhoods flattened by Hurricane Dorian, while global relief agencies are rushing to get food and shelter Saturday to some 70,000 people in the Bahamas left homeless on two northern islands.
The death toll, now at 43, is expected to rise drastically, officials said, as hundreds remain missing, buried under rubble on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands by the strongest hurricane ever to hit the archipelago nation. "It was like an atomic bomb went off," said Sherrie Roberts, who survived on the Abaco Islands when Dorian struck almost a week ago as a Category 5 monster, then lingered for days over the same wrecked places.
The situation has devolved into a "humanitarian crisis," the Bahamian financial services ministry said Friday in a statement. Efforts are underway to move evacuees by the hundreds to safety, including on a cruise ship due to arrive Saturday morning in Florida. Search and rescue personnel who arrived with cadaver dogs on the Abaco Islands brought body bags and coolers to store human remains, said Joy Jibrilu, director general of the country's tourism and aviation ministry. The smell of death lingered in the air in Marsh Harbour, CNN's Gary Tuchman said Friday, as he toured hard-hit areas there. Workers also brought equipment to count the dead and to understand the scope of damage, Jibrilu said. Ravaged infrastructure has impeded search and recovery efforts, as the islands remain a mess of splintered buildings, torn-off roofs, snapped power poles and scattered vehicles. At least 70,000 people are homeless on Abaco and Grand Bahama, the United Nations estimated early Saturday. A thousand tarpaulins -- strong pieces of waterproof plastic-- will be provided to replace roofs that were stripped from homes, the International Organization for Migration said. more...

AN ASTEROID which came crashing into Earth and NASA had no idea it was coming reiterates the need to keep a closer eye on the sky in case a massive space rock comes hurtling towards our planet.
By Sean Martin
A small asteroid shot towards Earth at 14.9 kilometres per second, and NASA admitted it did not know it was coming. The space rock known as 2019 MO was just three metres wide and exploded when it hit the planet’s atmosphere on 22 July above the Caribbean, but the way it approached unexpectedly reaffirms the need for more eyes on the sky. NASA said: “When first spotted, 2019 MO was about 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) from Earth - farther out than the orbit of our Moon. “This was roughly the equivalent of spotting something the size of a gnat from a distance of 310 miles (500 kilometres).” Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object (NEO) Studies, said: “Asteroids this size are far smaller than what we’re tasked to track. more...

By Hamish Johnston
The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has been given to members of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration for obtaining “the first image of a supermassive black hole, taken by means of an Earth-sized alliance of telescopes”. The $3m prize will be shared equally by all 347 authors of six papers that announced the image on 10 April 2019. The image is a close-up of the region surrounding a supermassive black hole that lies at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy, which is about 55 million light-years away. Although black holes are inherently invisible, the EHT team obtained the image near the point where matter and energy can no longer escape – the so-called event horizon. A key feature of the image is a ring-like structure of radiation from the object’s accretion disc. The dark region at the centre of the disc is consistent with expectations for the shadow of a Kerr black hole – one that is uncharged and rotates about a central axis – as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The prize will be accepted by collaboration director Shep Doeleman at a ceremony on 3 November at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. Winners of three 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize – each worth $100,000 – have also been announced. Xie Chen of the California Institute of Technology, Lukasz Fidkowski of the University of Washington, Michael Levin of the University of Chicago and Max Metlitski of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology share one prize “for incisive contributions to the understanding of topological states of matter and the relationships between them”. more...

The legislative effort to block a 'no-deal' Brexit will now become law. The United Kingdom's House of Lords - the upper chamber of the nation's Parliament - has approved a bill to delay Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. The Lords passed the bill on Friday. Conservative peers had earlier in the week threatened to filibuster the fast-tracked legislation into oblivion, and more than 100 amendments were tabled for discussion. But constitutional law expert Jack Simson Caird said several of the Lords had committed to uphold the vote held in the House of Commons. "There are reports of Lords arriving here with duvets and toothbrushes ready to work all night here to frustrate any attempts to filibuster," he told Al Jazeera as the debate began on Wednesday night. A deal was reached around 1:30am on Thursday, and after some considered discussion in the past few days, the bill is now set to pass into law - meaning Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have to go to the EU to ask for an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline. more...

“I’d be very happy if there is peace but I’m not very optimistic,” said a 38-year-old cell phone salesman. “There is fighting all over the country.”
By Ahmed Mengli and Saphora Smith
KABUL — Cellphone street vendor Fazluddin doesn't much care that presidents, diplomats and Taliban commanders are squabbling over the U.S.'s withdrawal from his country after some 18 years. It's not that he wants more war — deadly violence has shaken Afghanistan each of his 38 years — he just doesn't think that talking will make a difference. "I’m very afraid it is going to get me one day," said Fazluddin, who like many Afghans goes by one name. “I’m not very optimistic because there is fighting all over the country.” Since 2001, when U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban government after it harbored 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, tens of thousands of civilians and security personnel, as well as more than 2,400 Americans, have been killed in Afghanistan. Now, despite almost two decades of fighting, the Taliban control or hold sway in about half of the country. Afghan officials and former U.S. officials have told NBC News that President Donald Trump’s envoy clashed with the Afghan government in recent days over the proposed U.S.-Taliban deal that could see 5,000 U.S. troops leave Afghanistan in 135 days. There are currently about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, advising Afghan forces and carrying out counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda and ISIS militants. But even if there is eventually a deal between the U.S. and the Taliban — which ruled between 1996 and 2001 — many Afghans are bracing themselves for more war. One overriding worry is that once the U.S. leaves the Taliban will look to conquer parts of Afghanistan it does not control. more...

By Paul Sonne
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said he is urging European allies to pick up the tab for military construction projects in their countries defunded by the Pentagon to pay for President Trump’s border wall. The comments come after the Defense Department announced 127 construction projects that it plans to defund to free up $3.6 billion for 175 miles of fencing and barriers on the southern border with Mexico. Among the defunded initiatives is some $770 million worth of construction projects in Europe that are designed to help U.S. allies better defend themselves in the event of an attack by Russia. Esper, who made the comments while on a trip to Europe, emphasized that the Trump administration has been seeking greater “burden sharing” with allies across the board. Trump regularly criticizes NATO allies who he says have failed to contribute enough funds to their defense and rely instead on the U.S. military. more... - It is not just taxpayers, now Trump wants our allies to help cover the cost of Trumps wall, that Mexico was supposed to pay for.

By Vanessa Romo
A huge new marine heat wave has gripped the waters off the U.S. West Coast, threatening to ravage marine life and decimate commercial fishing over an expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The new hot spot rivals "The Blob" — a gigantic patch of unusually warm water that appeared in nearly the exact same spot in 2014. Like its predecessor, the new expanse of warm water sprawls from Alaska to California. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries announced Thursday that they are tracking the event, hoping to minimize its impact on marine ecosystems. The new event — which NOAA is calling the Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019 — began forming in mid-June, according to Andy Leising, a research scientist at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif. Leising told reporters the warm water has become "the second largest marine heatwave that we have seen since 1981," when NOAA first began collecting satellite data. more...

Rachel Maddow looks at the four columns of the U.S. response to Russia's annexation of Crimea, sanctions, removal from the G8, military aid to Ukraine, and support to NATO, and notes that the Trump administration has worked to remove all four, most recently by seeking to take money from the European Deterrence Initiative to pay for Trump's border wall. more...

British voters, it seems, stay polite even when they are angry: A Yorkshire man who told the British prime minister to leave his town is hailed as a hero, leading to a top Twitter trend. 'Please leave my town': Polite anti-Boris Johnson greeting goes viral British voters, it seems, stay polite even when they are angry: A Yorkshire man who told the British prime minister to leave his town is hailed as a hero, leading to a top Twitter trend. It's not Boris Johnson's week. After suffering a major defeat in no-deal Brexit vote, Johnson saw his younger brother, Jo Johnson, step down as member of Parliament and minister for the Conservative Party on Thursday evening. Meanwhile, Twitter user Alex Andreou had spotted a short sequence in a video clip in the BBC six o'clock news and tweeted it. It immediately went viral. more...

By John Haltiwanger
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday made a joke about chickens while meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at No. 10 Downing Street that left the room "visibly befuddled," The Associated Press reported. As Pence told Johnson that the US was ready to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the UK, the prime minister responded with enthusiasm but also said he wanted to ensure any deal was one that works for "all sides." "Mike, it's fantastic to have you here," Johnson said. "And we will drive that free-trade agreement forward. Of course, the US economy is a wonderful, massive opportunity for UK folks."  Johnson went on to express dismay that people in the US "don't eat any British lamb or beef or haggis from Scotland." "And I know that you guys are pretty tough negotiators," Johnson said. "So we're going to work very hard to make sure that that free-trade deal is one that works for all sides." Before launching into his joke about chickens, Johnson then added that the UK would not accept any deal that could weaken the state-funded National Health Service. "We're not too keen on that chlorinated chicken, either," the British prime minister said. "We have a gigantic chlorinated chicken of our own here on the opposition benches." more...

Afghan officials had "raging arguments" with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad over the proposed troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban.
By Dan De Luce and Abigail Williams
WASHINGTON — The Afghan government has clashed with President Donald Trump's envoy over a proposed troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban, just as Washington is preparing to unveil the agreement, foreign diplomats, Afghan officials and former U.S. officials said. Afghan officials and U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had tense exchanges in Kabul over the past few days after the American diplomat briefed President Ashraf Ghani and his advisers on the proposed deal with the Taliban, a foreign diplomat and two former U.S. officials said. Ghani's government responded to the briefing "badly" and the discussions were marked by "raging arguments," said one foreign diplomat familiar with the talks. The State Department declined to comment on the discussions in Kabul or on details of the proposed U.S.-Taliban deal. The proposed agreement "in principle" with the Taliban would see the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops in return for the Taliban agreeing to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government and pledging not to allow areas under their control to be used as a launching pad for al Qaeda, Islamic State or other terrorist groups. Khalilzad said this week that if the agreement is approved by President Trump, the United States would initially pull out about 5,000 troops in 135 days. more...

Al Jazeera English
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says increased uranium enrichment will start "immediately". Al Jazeera has been granted rare access to the only nuclear research facility in Iran where the much-disputed 20 percent enriched uranium is being used. Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari has this exclusive report from the Tehran Nuclear Research Reactor. more...

by Holly Ellyatt
Russia will produce new missiles that would have been banned under a recently defunct nuclear arms treaty, according to President Vladimir Putin, who added that Moscow would not deploy them unless Washington made the first move. “We’ve said in public already that we’re not going to deploy (a cruise missile) after the Americans tested such a missile,” Putin told an economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok Thursday. “We will produce such missiles, of course, but we will not deploy them in the regions where no ground-based missile systems of this class manufactured by the U.S. have emerged,” he said, according to a translation. He added that he was not happy about potential U.S. plans to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range missile systems in South Korea and Japan. “This actually makes us quite sad, and it is also a reason for certain concerns for us,” Putin said during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. more...

By Dakin Andone, CNN
(CNN) - Debris littered the runway and the inside of the domestic terminal, leaving wires hanging from the ceiling. Small airplanes laid broken and twisted, almost unrecognizable, after being thrown around by Hurricane Dorian's winds and floodwaters.
The Grand Bahama International Airport has been devastated by the storm, along with much of the island where it's located.
The Freeport airport was inaccessible early this week as Dorian battered the northern Bahamas. Waves lapped the windows of the domestic terminal, videos on social media showed. A walk through that same area on Wednesday exposed the scope of damage to the only international airport on the island. more...

By Ryan Pickrell
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he recently offered President Donald Trump the chance to purchase some of Russia's new weapons, including hypersonic missiles, purportedly to prevent an arms race. The Russian president said that he told Trump in a recent phone call that the US could buy some of the hypersonic nuclear weapons Russia is working on, thus creating a kind of balance. But Trump refused, telling him that the US is building its own weapons, Reuters reported. "If you want, we can sell you some and this way we will balance everything out," the Russian president said he told Trump, according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency. more...

By Dakin Andone, CNN
(CNN) - Debris littered the runway and the inside of the domestic terminal, leaving wires hanging from the ceiling. Small airplanes laid broken and twisted, almost unrecognizable, after being thrown around by Hurricane Dorian's winds and floodwaters. The Grand Bahama International Airport has been devastated by the storm, along with much of the island where it's located. The Freeport airport was inaccessible early this week as Dorian battered the northern Bahamas. Waves lapped the windows of the domestic terminal, videos on social media showed. A walk through that same area on Wednesday exposed the scope of damage to the only international airport on the island. "Look at it now," CNN's Patrick Oppmann said as he and his crew walked across the runway and through a terminal. "I don't recognize it." The walls were almost completely gone, torn in by Dorian's wrath.
"There's not a wall standing," Oppmann said. Among the wreckage appeared to be the underside of a small passenger plane, separated from the rest of the aircraft, lying inside the terminal. "You think of the force required to throw a plane from the runway into a terminal," he said. "If anybody was in here, I don't know how they would have survived." more...

Gibraltar released the ship after receiving assurances the vessel would not head to countries sanctioned by the EU.
A senior United States official personally offered several million dollars to the Indian captain of an Iranian oil tanker suspected of heading to Syria, the State Department has confirmed. The Financial Times newspaper reported that Brian Hook, the State Department point man on Iran, sent emails to captain Akhilesh Kumar in which he offered "good news" of millions in US cash to live comfortably if he steered the Adrian Darya 1 to a country where it could be seized. "We have seen the Financial Times article and can confirm that the details are accurate," a State Department spokeswoman said on Wednesday. "We have conducted extensive outreach to several ship captains as well as shipping companies warning them of the consequences of providing support to a foreign terrorist organisation," she said, referring to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. The Adrian Darya 1 was held for six weeks by the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on suspicion that it was set to deliver oil from Iran to its main Arab ally Syria - a violation of European Union sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government. Gibraltar released the ship, formerly called the Grace 1, on August 18 despite US protests after receiving written assurances that the vessel would not head to countries sanctioned by the EU. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked Hook's initiative as he pointed to the FT story. "Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail - deliver us Iran's oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself," Zarif tweeted on Wednesday.

By Ivana Kottasová, CNN
London (CNN) - Jo Johnson, the brother of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced Thursday that he was resigning as a member of Parliament and government minister, saying he was "torn between family loyalty and the national interest." Johnson is the MP for Orpington and the universities minister in his brother's government. "In recent weeks I've been torn between family loyalty and the national interest - it's an unresolvable tension [and] time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister," Johnson tweeted. This is the second time Jo Johnson has resigned over Brexit. He left Theresa May's government last November, because he didn't agree with the withdrawal agreement May negotiated with the European Union. The two Johnsons were on opposing sides in the 2016 referendum. While Boris was famously the face of the Leave campaign, Jo was in favor of staying in the European Union. Jo Johnson's resignation is the latest -- and most personal blow -- for his brother in a bruising week of defeats for the Prime Minister. On Wednesday night, Parliament voted to bind Boris Johnson's hands and prevent him from taking the UK out of the EU without a negotiated deal. Around two hours later, the House of Commons roundly dismissed his demand for an election. The Prime Minister also torpedoed his own working majority in Parliament by sacking 21 rebel lawmakers from his own party who joined with the opposition in voting to block a no-deal Brexit. They included figures like "Father of the House" Ken Clarke, the longest-serving MP, and Winston Churchill's grandson, Nicholas Soames. On Wednesday, more than 100 members of the Conservative Party wrote a letter to the Prime Minister demanding that the rebels be reinstated.

By Patrick Redford
Catalan cops seized over 40 cannabis plants from a rooftop near Barcelona yesterday thanks to information from an unexpected source: a TV helicopter broadcasting this month’s Vuelta a España. Stage 8 of the race finished in the town of Igualada on Saturday, and as the race made its way through the city streets at the end of the stage, helicopter footage showed a whole bunch of (presumably) dank weed on someone’s rooftop. It is not illegal to grow weed for personal use in Catalonia, only to sell it. However, as a local paper reported, authorities can still levy fines on grow operations if the amount seized exceeds an unspecified threshold.

During a period of depression, I was strangely drawn by the oratory of British polemecist Jonathan Bowden – but then I came to understand the real reason he held such extreme views
By Tom Clements - Independent
It's true what they say about the alt-right: it's a tiny – I mean, really tiny – group of people and its members reside largely in the gloomier recesses of the internet. So why is such a small cabal having a profoud effect on our modern political discourse? Because, as I found out myself, when something goes wrong in life, it's so incredibly easy to slip down those dark rabbit holes. The alt-right fantasy of a white ethnostate, which its leading proponents espouse, harks back to a set of ideas last popular in early modern history. We might have considered these now confined to the ideological dustbin but, for some, they are providing a new refuge from a world which makes them feel vulnerable and unheard – just like the alt-right orators they idolise. Not that long ago, after a bout of debilitating depression which left me housebound, I found myself inadvertently spiralling down the alt-right rabbit hole. I went from watching videos by Paul Joseph Watson, a rather facile right-wing polemicist, to Stefan Molyneux, an alt-lite philosopher with a perverse fixation on race and IQ. Before long, I was fully immersed in the squalid depths of this sordid online subculture composed mainly of young men led by an elitist intellectual vanguard. Richard Spencer, the internet alt-right’s de-facto leader, comes from an academic background and cites Friedrich Nietzsche and fascist philosopher Oswald Spengler as his influences. His rival, Greg Johnson, is a San Francisco-based writer and founder of the publisher Counter Currents who also lends a veneer of intellectual respectability to ideas that, I now realise, are reprehensible – and quite rightly shunned by the mainstream. Yet it wasn’t these two rather Americans that grabbed my attention. It was an obscure figure named Jonathan Bowden.

By Melissa Locker September 3, 2019
To crib a line from psychoanalysis, sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar and sometimes a barbecue is not just a barbecue. That was the feeling of an Australian woman who sued her neighbor for barbecuing in their own backyard. Cilla Carden, a vegan massage therapist from Girrawheen—a suburb of the Western Australian city of Perth, believed that her neighbors were using a barbecue as a new front in a long-running war between neighbors. “They’ve put [the barbecue] there so I smell fish, all I can smell is fish. I can’t enjoy my back yard, I can’t go out there,” Carden told Nine News Perth. Carden believes the barbecuing is not just a family preparing their supper, but part of a campaign to irritate her, which is why she filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the state of Western Australia, claiming that her neighbors, Toan Vu and his wife and children, breached residential laws. “It’s deliberate, that’s what I told the courts, it’s deliberate,” she said in the local news interview. While Carden claims all she “wanted…is to live my life in peace,” the lawsuit she filed also alleged that it was than just the smell of grilling fish that was disturbing her. She also took issue with cigarette smoke in their garden, because the fumes waft over into her yard. She is also frustrated by the sound of the neighbors’ children playing basketball and making noise in the yard. The legal saga has dragged on since August 2017, according to The Guardian.

Guardian News
The Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who wears a turban, won a round of applause in the Commons for asking an angry and passionate question about Boris Johnson’s language about minorities, and particularly his column about Muslim women who wear the burqa looking like letterboxes. The prime minister said his comments were 'a strong liberal defence of what women wear', adding: 'Under this government, we have the most diverse cabinet in the history of this country'.

By Jack Guy, CNN
(CNN Business) - In the first incident of its kind, a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite was forced to perform an evasive maneuver Monday to avoid hitting a SpaceX spacecraft. The ESA Aeolus Earth observation satellite fired its thrusters as part of a "collision avoidance maneuver," according to a statement from ESA. In its original path lay a satellite owned by Elon Musk's SpaceX that is part of the company's Starlink system, which aims to set up a constellation of thousands of satellites capable of beaming internet to every corner of the Earth. ESA contacted Starlink, which said it did not plan to move its satellite, according to the statement, so the ESA team decided to increase the altitude of its Aeolus satellite to avoid a collision. The maneuver took place around half an orbit before the potential collision, according to ESA. CNN has contacted SpaceX for comment. "It is very rare to perform collision avoidance manoeuvres with active satellites," said ESA in a tweet. "The vast majority of ESA avoidance manoeuvres are the result of dead satellites or fragments from previous collisions."

By Stella Ko and Ben Westcott, CNN
(CNN) - An American woman is in custody in the Philippines after she allegedly tried to fly out of the country with a baby in her hand luggage, local authorities said. Philippines Immigration Bureau spokesman Melvin Mabulac said they received a report around 6.20 a.m. Wednesday that a 43-year-old woman had been caught with a child in her bag at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. CNN Philippines said the baby was just six days old. According to Mabulac, the woman appeared to be traveling alone and only presented her personal passport. But when staff inspected an oversized carry-on suitcase, they found the child inside. "She did not have any travel documents for the infant," the spokesman said.

SPACEX’S STARLINK constellation was on a collision course with a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite prior to performing its first-ever “collision avoidance manoeuvre”, it has been revealed.
By Tom Fish
A European Space Agency’s satellite was on a collision course with the SpaceX Starlink constellation. SpaceX Starlink consists of a vast number of internet satellites launched into space by Elon Musk this year. Without the manoeuvre, the satellites could have collided high above Earth, ESA warned. However, such moves might not be possible in the future, it has been revealed. As more such constellations arrive in space, the danger will be significantly increased and will not be able to solve by manoeuvring out of the way.

By James Griffiths, CNN
Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam has finally fully withdrawn a controversial bill that allowed extradition to mainland China and sparked three months of dramatic protests in the financial hub. The decision to cave in to one of protesters' five core demands marked a dramatic U-turn for Lam, who for months has refused to withdraw the bill. "We must find ways to address the discontent in society and look for solutions," Lam said in a a video statement Wednesday evening. "After more than two months of social unrest, it is obvious to many that this discontentment extends far beyond the bill." But Lam refused to give ground on protesters' four other demands, including greater democracy for the city and an independent commission into police conduct, saying all investigations would be carried out by the existing Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC).  Instead, she announced the addition of a former education bureau chief and former judge to the IPCC. Lam said the government's priority now was to restore law and order to Hong Kong. "Let's replace conflicts with conversations and let's look for solutions," she said. Lam suspended the extradition bill in June after more than 1 million people marched against it, with protesters surrounding the city's legislature on the day of its planned second reading. That suspension did not satisfy protesters, who demanded the bill's complete withdrawal -- making it harder for the government to rush the law through at a later date. A withdrawn bill would need to go back to the beginning of the legislative process, whereas a suspended one could resume where it left off. In recent weeks, protesters' tactics have become increasingly violent as young people felt the government was refusing to consider their demands. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien said that Lam's withdrawal may not stem their anger. "I believe the withdrawal of the bill ... may be too late because this movement has become more than the bill," he said.

Al Jazeera English
Iran says it is willing to recommit to the 2015 nuclear deal but only if it gets $15bn for oil sales in return. The plan was proposed by France in a bid to salvage the agreement. But that proposal will need the approval of the United States.  

The Taliban know how badly Trump wants out of Afghanistan, and they are taking full advantage.
By Sami Yousafzai, Erin Banco, Christopher Dickey
DOHA, Qatar—The American negotiator trying to cut a deal with the Taliban that might let Donald Trump get all uniformed troops out of Afghanistan before next year’s election says that the two sides have an “agreement in principle.” But Taliban officials and diplomats here in the capital of Qatar, where the talks have been held, told The Daily Beast that after Round 9 last week, there was still no deal the Taliban would sign. Trump’s man in the talks, Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, appears to be bluffing, and has tried to make it sound as if it’s all up to his boss: “Of course, it is not final until the U.S. president agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.” DOHA, Qatar—The American negotiator trying to cut a deal with the Taliban that might let Donald Trump get all uniformed troops out of Afghanistan before next year’s election says that the two sides have an “agreement in principle.” But Taliban officials and diplomats here in the capital of Qatar, where the talks have been held, told The Daily Beast that after Round 9 last week, there was still no deal the Taliban would sign.  Trump’s man in the talks, Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, appears to be bluffing, and has tried to make it sound as if it’s all up to his boss: “Of course, it is not final until the U.S. president agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.”

Al Jazeera English
The Taliban has attacked a compound for foreigners in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 100.
The attack happened as the United States special envoy for peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, was interviewed on national television about progress on talks with the Taliban.  

By Michael Holden, Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) - Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Britain’s World War Two leader Winston Churchill, will be expelled from the Conservative Party after voting against Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Brexit. The move against the Conservative Party grandee marks one of the most bizarre turns in the three-year Brexit crisis that has gripped a country once touted as a confident pillar of Western economic and political stability. Soames was one of 21 Conservative lawmakers who rebelled, including Ken Clarke, 79, the longest continuously sitting British lawmaker in the House of Commons, and former finance minister Philip Hammond. All are to be expelled. When Soames was asked if this was the end of the Conservative Party his grandfather would have known, he said: “No. But it’s a bad night. “It is a pity - a great pity - that this has in my view all been planned: this is exactly what they wanted and they will try to have a general election which is what they wanted.” Since he took office as prime minister six weeks ago, Johnson has been ruthless: He oversaw one of the biggest purges of cabinet ministers in modern British history and has cut short a session of parliament to increase the likelihood Britain will leave the EU, with or without a deal. After a defeat at the hands of an alliance of opposition lawmakers and rebels in his own party, Johnson’s enforcers will speak to those who defied his order and expel them, a Downing Street spokesman said.

Tory rebels and opposition MPs have defeated the government in the first stage of their attempt to pass a law designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit. The Commons voted 328 to 301 to take control of the agenda, meaning they can bring forward a bill seeking to delay the UK's exit date. In response, Boris Johnson said he would bring forward a motion for an early general election. Jeremy Corbyn said the bill should be passed before an election was held. In total, 21 Tory MPs, including a number of ex-cabinet ministers, joined opposition parties to defeat the government. After the vote, Downing Street said those Tory MPs who rebelled would have the whip removed, effectively expelling them from the parliamentary party. No 10 had hoped the threat of expulsion - and an election - would bring would-be rebels into line. The longest-serving of the Tory rebels, ex-chancellor Ken Clarke, told BBC Newsnight he was still "a mainstream Conservative" but he didn't recognise his party any more. The "knockabout character" of the prime minister had "the most right-wing cabinet a Conservative government has ever produced", he said.

By Zack Budryk
The Taliban defended carrying out a Monday suicide attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul amid ongoing peace talks with the U.S., saying the move put them in a “strong position” to negotiate, according to The Associated Press. The bombing in an international compound killed at least 16 civilians hours after a representative of the U.S. said he had reached a deal “in principle” with the Taliban to end the 18-year war, which began when the militant group refused to turn over Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. “[W]e understand that peace talks are going on ... but they must also understand that we are not weak and if we enter into talks ... we enter from a strong position,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP. Mujahid said Taliban forces ordered the attack in response to raids by U.S. and Afghan forces in other regions of the country that he said also targeted civilians, adding that the civilians injured or killed in the Taliban attack faced such risks by living near a foreign compound. Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, said about 400 foreign nationals had been rescued following the attack, and that five assailants had been shot and killed by security forces after the bomb went off.

"I don’t think unprecedented is too strong a word. It is huge," said Tim Bale, politics professor at Queen Mary University of London..
By Patrick Smith
LONDON — Rebellious British lawmakers have launched an audacious bid to stop the U.K. from leaving the European Union by the deadline of Oct. 31 without a deal. Just six weeks into his tenure at No. 10 Downing St., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has staked his reputation on making Brexit happen next month "do or die" after two previous deadlines were missed amid growing dissent in Parliament and political polarization across the country. In a sign of both the high stakes of the move and the emotions involved, Johnson lost his working majority in Parliament as he addressed the chamber Tuesday. Phillip Lee, a member of Parliament for Bracknell, which is west of London, stood up and walked from the Conservative benches to the rival pro-European Liberal Democrat Party ones. Lee said in a statement that Johnson's Brexit stance was "putting lives and livelihoods at risk." Lee's move will not cause Johnson to lose his job. Still, it comes at a crucial juncture for U.K. and European politics, as a coalition of Conservative lawmakers and opposition party members got set to propose a motion in the House of Commons on Tuesday to stop Johnson's plans Brexit plans.

Guardian News
Conservative MP Philip Lee has quit the Tories, dramatically crossing the floor of the Commons while Boris Johnson addressed MPs. It leaves the government without a working majority in parliament. The MP for Bracknell, who has been a staunch campaigner for remain, said he quit over the way Boris Johnson was pursuing a “damaging Brexit” that could “put lives at risk”.

By Fred Imbert
President Donald Trump pressured China on Tuesday to make a trade deal with the U.S. in the near future, warning talks will get much tougher if he is reelected in 2020. Trump said in a series of tweets: “We are doing very well in our negotiations with China. While I am sure they would love to be dealing with a new administration so they could continue their practice of “ripoff USA”($600 B/year),16 months PLUS is a long time to be hemorrhaging jobs and companies on a long-shot...And then, think what happens to China when I win. Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER! In the meantime, China’s Supply Chain will crumble and businesses, jobs and money will be gone!” Trump’s tweets came after new tariffs on both countries’ goods came into effect over the weekend. The U.S. imposed 15% tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods on Sunday, while China imposed new charges on U.S. products. The current trade war began last year and has rattled investor sentiment across the world. The conflict has also dampened the outlook for global economic growth. U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading after Trump’s tweets were sent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was more than 250 points lower while the S&P 500 slid 0.7%. Trump later tweeted that the European Union and other countries treat the U.S. “VERY unfairly on Trade also. Will change!”

By Meg Wagner and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
(CNN) - A striking satellite image of Grand Bahama Island shows vast areas of the island under water after Hurricane Dorian passed through the region on Monday. For comparison, we've included an image that shows the same regions of the island prior to Hurricane Dorian:

BBC - The government is expected to table a motion to hold a general election on 14 October if it is defeated by MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday. Boris Johnson said he did not want an election, but progress with the EU would be "impossible" if they won. Tory rebels are joining forces with Labour to bring a bill designed to stop the UK leaving the EU on 31 October without an agreement. It would force the PM to request a delay to 31 January 2020 in that event. A senior government official said a motion for an election would be put forward if MPs take the first steps towards passing legislation to block no deal this week. The prime minister is confident he would win the required two-thirds majority for the motion to be passed, the official added. Speaking outside No 10 earlier, Mr Johnson insisted that with MPs' backing, he would be able to achieve changes to the UK's current Brexit deal - negotiated by Theresa May and rejected three times in the Commons - at an EU summit on 17 October.

By Merrit Kennedy
It's a make-or-break week in the U.K. right now, as the country barrels toward a deadline to withdraw from the European Union without yet securing a deal on the terms of the divorce. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pleading with lawmakers to support him amid a brewing rebellion in Parliament – even from members of his own party — to try to block the U.K. from leaving the bloc without securing a deal. A meeting on Monday between Johnson and key government ministers triggered speculation that he was preparing for early elections. But in his remarks, he denied that he wanted to seek a vote: "I don't want an election, you don't want an election – let's get on with the people's agenda." Parliament is set to return to session Tuesday, after Johnson controversially moved to suspend the body for a crucial upcoming several weeks. That move, which limits the amount of time Parliament will be in session prior to the Oct. 31 withdrawal deadline, was slammed by many of Johnson's critics as undemocratic.

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran acknowledged for the first time on Monday that a rocket at its Imam Khomeini Space Center exploded after satellite photos showed the blast last week, with an official saying a technical malfunction during a test caused the explosion. The comments by government spokesman Ali Rabiei were the first explanation offered by Iran for Thursday’s explosion, which came ahead of a planned satellite launch by the Islamic Republic that the U.S. has criticized. Rabiei also criticized President Donald Trump for tweeting what appeared to be a surveillance photo of the aftermath of the explosion shot by a U.S. spy satellite. The explosion marked the third failure involving a rocket at the Iranian center, which has raised suspicions of sabotage in Iran’s space program. However, Rabiei dismissed that, saying that “this has been a technical matter and a technical error. Our experts unanimously say so.” “The explosion happened at the launchpad and no satellite had yet been transferred to the launchpad,” Rabiei said. “It happened at a test site, not at the launch site.”

China on Sunday started to impose additional tariffs on some of the U.S. goods on a $75-billion target list, with effect from 4:01 a.m. GMT. The extra 5% and 10% tariffs were levied on 1,717 items of a total of 5,078 products originating from the United States. Beijing will start collecting additional tariffs on the rest of the items from Dec. 15. Beijing started levying a 5% tariff on U.S. crude oil from Sunday, the first time U.S. oil has been targeted since the world’s two largest economies started their trade war more than a year ago.

By Bobby Allyn
The pope was running late. For seven excruciating minutes, thousands of gatherers on Sunday in St Peter's Square in Vatican City were anxiously waiting for Pope Francis to show up for his weekly address, which usually starts, like clockwork, exactly at noon. Questions and worries that something may be seriously amiss made many onlookers fret. But finally, the window of the Apostolic Palace swung open and a smiling 82-year-old pontiff sent relief across the crowd. What explained the delay? The pope had been trapped in an elevator, an unfazed pontiff told the gatherers. "I must apologize for the delay," said Francis, explaining that there was a drop of voltage in the elevator, causing it to stop.

By Laura Perez Maestro, Amy Woodyatt, Duarte Mendonca and Jamie Crawford, CNN
(CNN) - Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for Poland's forgiveness 80 years after the start of World War II. "I stand before you, those who have survived, before the descendants of the victims, the old and the young residents of Wielun, I am humbled and grateful," Steinmeier said during a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun, the site of one of the first Nazi bombings in the country on September 1, 1939. "I bow to the victims of the attack in Wielun, I pay tribute to the Polish victims of German tyranny and I ask for forgiveness," he said. Nearly 6 million Poles died during World War II, which remains the bloodiest conflict in history. More than 50 million people were killed in the conflict overall, including some 6 million Jews, half of whom were Polish. At a ceremony in Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke of the atrocious history suffered by Polish people during WWII and the "trauma" that they still carry today.  The Polish President remembered the fallen and thanked the soldiers "who fought and sacrificed their lives for freedom." In an address on Sunday morning in Westerplatte, Gdansk, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of the huge material, spiritual, economic and financial losses Poland suffered in the war. "We have to talk, we have to remember about the loses we suffered, we have to demand the truth, we have to demand compensation," Morawiecki said.

Hassan Nasrallah denies the movement is building precision-missile factories after Israeli allegation.
Hezbollah's leader has reiterated Israel would face repercussions for an alleged drone attack and said its field commanders were ready to respond. "The need for a response is decided," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Saturday, adding that Israel "must pay a price." Nasrallah addressed supporters as tensions between the Lebanon-based movement and the Israeli government threatened to escalate further. Last Sunday, Hezbollah accused Israel of flying explosive-laden drones into the group's stronghold in the Lebanese capital and promised to retaliate. At the time, the Iran-backed movement said one drone had landed on the roof of a building housing Hezbollah's media office, while a second drone had exploded midair. Israeli media has since reported that the drones were targeting hardware for mixing the propellant used in precision-guided missiles.  Hezbollah and Lebanese officials have not responded to those reports, while Israel has not claimed responsibility for the incident.

The Israeli prime minister says the series slanders his country internationally.
By Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for a boycott of an Israeli TV channel for producing the new HBO docudrama "Our Boys," which he condemned as anti-Semitic. Netanyahu says the series slanders Israel internationally. The show, co-created by Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers, presents a dramatized rendition of the chaotic events of June 2014 following the abduction of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. It set off a cascade of events leading to that summer's Gaza war. Netanyahu was widely condemned Sunday for the remarks, part of his pre-election assault on the media. Netanyahu has previously accused the Keshet network of "committing a terror attack against democracy." The station aired leaked reports of police investigation into corruption charges against him. Netanyahu also said Sunday that he intends to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, reiterating an election promise made five months ago but again giving no timeframe. Settlements are one of the most heated issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's provocative decision to suspend the British Parliament for a time before the country's deadline for leaving the European Union came under fire Saturday in London and other cities where protesters took to the streets. Parts of central London were brought to a standstill, as people chanted "Boris Johnson, shame on you," BBC News reports.  The demonstrations were called ahead of what is expected to be a pitched debate in Parliament this week as Johnson's opponents scramble to try to pass legislation that would block him from carrying out Brexit on October 31 without an approved withdrawal agreement. An estimated 10,000 people gathered in central London, while others protested in in Belfast, York and others cities to show determination to block a "no deal" Brexit. Protesters in London briefly blocked traffic on a downtown bridge and in Trafalgar Square. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had urged his supporters to come out in large numbers, told thousands of people at a rally in Glasgow, Scotland that the message to Johnson was simple: "No way. It's our Parliament."

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have blocked roads to the territory's airport, disrupting the operation of the major Asian transport hub. Trains to the airport were halted and roads blocked. Passengers had to walk to the terminal. Most flights operated as normal, but delays were reported. Thousands of black-clad protesters then tried to enter the terminal building but were stopped by riot police. On Saturday, police and protesters clashed during a banned rally. Live warning shots were fired into the air and tear gas and water cannon used to disperse tens of thousands of protesters. Images later showed riot police hitting people with batons and using pepper spray on a train in Hong Kong's metro. Police say they were called to the scene amid violence against citizens by "radical protesters" People took to the streets on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Beijing government banning fully democratic elections in China's special administrative region. The political crisis in Hong Kong - a former British colony - is now in its third month with no end in sight, the BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonnell says.

Taliban forces on Sunday killed security personnel in Afghanistan's Baghlan province, their second attack in two days amid ongoing peace talks with the U.S., according to The Associated Press. The assault on Puli Khumri, the province’s capital, occurred hours after Zalmay Khalilzad, who is overseeing peace talks on behalf of the U.S., said that he had warned the Taliban during negotiations in Qatar that such attacks must end, the AP noted. Provincial police chief Jawed Basharat’s office said firefights on the outskirts of the capital were ongoing. The Afghan interior ministry, meanwhile, reported that two security force personnel, three Taliban fighters and four civilians had been killed, with another two security forces and 20 civilians injured. Mabobullah Ghafari, a member of the provincial council, told the AP that the situation in the city was deteriorating and that Taliban forces could take the city without reinforcements from the central government in Kabul. “People are fleeing their houses and properties trying to escape from the city,” he said, according to the AP. “We hear the sound of blasts. The people are so worried,” added the provincial council chief, Safdar Mohsini. “The Taliban are in residential areas fighting with Afghan security forces. We need reinforcements to arrive as soon as possible.” Taliban forces killed at least 25 people and wounded another 85 in Kunduz on Saturday, with the interior ministry reporting Sunday that some Taliban forces fled to Baghlan after security forces drove them from Kunduz.

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