Thousands Protest British PM’s Move to Suspend Parliament 

Thousands of people across Britain and Northern Ireland protested on Saturday against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for about a month before the deadline for the country to leave the European Union. 
 
Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal on future relations with the bloc. The move to shut Parliament for around a month in the period before that will hinder efforts by his opponents to stop him. About 2,000 people gathered outside his office in Downing Street, chanting: “Liar Johnson, shame on you!” 
 
A sign read: “#StopTheCoup. Defend our Democracy. Save our future.” 

Nothing abnormal

The government says it is usual for Parliament to be suspended before a new prime minister outlines his policy program in a queen’s speech, now scheduled for Oct. 14. His supporters also say Parliament usually breaks in late September, when the main political parties hold their annual conferences. 
 
But his critics say the suspension, known as a prorogation, is unusually long and describe the move as a thinly veiled attempt to reduce the time that lawmakers will have to debate before Britain leaves the EU at the end of October. 
 
Opposition lawmakers want to prevent the shutdown of Parliament and pass legislation to avoid a no-deal Brexit when they return from summer recess on Tuesday. 
 
Protests were scheduled in other major cities in the four nations of the United Kingdom, comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

A crowd gathers to protest against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Aug. 31, 2019.

About 100 people protested outside the city hall in Belfast, the capital of the Northern Ireland, which has become a particular focus in the Brexit negotiations because it has the United Kingdom’s only land border with the European Union. 
 
The “backstop” insurance policy, part of the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and Britain’s former prime minister and which aims to keep the border with Ireland open, has become the main sticking point in negotiations. 
 
Johnson wants the backstop removed, saying it could leave Northern Ireland operating under different regulatory rules than the rest of the United Kingdom. The EU and Ireland say Britain has yet to come up with acceptable alternatives. 

Court case

A court case being heard in Belfast next week aims to block Johnson’s suspension of Parliament on the ground that a no-deal Brexit would breach the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the British-run province of Northern Ireland. 
 
Protesters said the government had failed to consider the importance of the border issue. 
 
“The thing that scares me most is they have no appreciation of what is important for Northern Ireland. We are not on their radar,” said Graham Glendinning, 49, a software worker. “The border means nothing to them and they don’t give two hoots about it.” 

Trump Tweets, Golfs Amid Hurricane Preparations

After canceling a trip to Poland to stay stateside to oversee the federal government’s response to an approaching hurricane, President Donald Trump took time out to golf and to send a thinly veiled warning to his ousted Oval Office gatekeeper.

The president, on Saturday morning, was flown on Marine One from Camp David in Maryland to his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.
 
Camp David has a driving range and a single golf hole with multiple tees, but the president, keeping to his weekend routine when the weather is fair, chose to head to the nearest of his private 18-hole courses.

Before departing the presidential retreat, which he rarely has used, Trump dispatched a blizzard of tweets – at a rate of nearly one per minute over an hour – on his personal @realDonaldTrump account.

Some of his tweets referenced Hurricane Dorian, a Category 4 storm poised to damage the southeastern U.S. coast, with Trump noting it could pose more of a threat to South Carolina and Georgia than the original forecast of landfall in Florida.

Looking like our great South Carolina could get hit MUCH harder than first thought. Georgia and North Carolina also. It’s moving around and very hard to predict, except that it is one of the biggest and strongest (and really wide) that we have seen in decades. Be safe!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019

“He’s being briefed every hour” about the hurricane, according to White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

Amid continuing questions about why Trump postponed his trip to Poland for a hurricane that is not expected to hit any of the United States until after the time the president would have returned from Europe, Grisham said, “Obviously, being here domestically is better. … We’re more nimble and all his agencies are here.” 

After time at his golf course, Trump was to receive another briefing, back at Camp David, about the hurricane.

On Sunday, Trump is scheduled to return to the White House and then visit the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in downtown Washington.

FILE – President Donald Trump’s personal secretary Madeleine Westerhout stands outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 2, 2018.

A pair of Saturday tweets by Trump focused on the abrupt departure of Oval Office gatekeeper Madeleine Westerhout, who had dished gossip to a group of reporters during an off-the-record dinner and drinking session about the president’s eating habits. She also disparaged daughter Tiffany Trump, claiming the president does not like being photographed with her because he thinks she is overweight.

Book publishers reportedly have been seeking to contact Westerhout after she was not permitted to return on Friday to her job as a personal assistant to the president.

Trump, on Twitter, said Westerhout had signed a confidentially agreement, but “I don’t think there would ever be reason to use it. She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her! I love Tiffany, doing great!”

While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don’t think there would ever be reason to use it. She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her! I love Tiffany, doing great!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019

In a subsequent tweet, the president claimed he is “currently suing several people for violating their confidentiality agreements,” including former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who was fired after one year as the communications director in the White House Office of Public Liaison.

…Yes, I am currently suing various people for violating their confidentiality agreements. Disgusting and foul mouthed Omarosa is one. I gave her every break, despite the fact that she was despised by everyone, and she went for some cheap money from a book. Numerous others also!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019

A number of former federal lawyers and private attorneys rebutted Trump on Twitter, asserting that the non-disclosure agreements are not legally enforceable unless classified information is revealed.

Trump himself is facing some criticism about revealing sensitive U.S. government information after he tweeted on Friday a detailed photograph of a launchpad explosion of an Iranian rocket that was set to put a satellite into space.  

Analysts say the public release of an image with such resolution is unprecedented and was probably taken by a KH-11 American spy satellite known as USA-224.

“We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

U.S. presidents are able to declassify information at their discretion – the most prominent example being John Kennedy’s decision in 1962 to make public pictures taken by a U-2 spy plane that revealed Soviets troops were placing missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States.

 

9 FARC Rebels Killed in Raid by Colombian Military

The Colombian military has killed nine rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia (FARC), President Ivan Duque said.

A FARC commander and eight other guerrillas were killed in a bombing raid in southern Colombia on Friday, just days after the group announced it was taking up arms again to ensure their political rights under an historic peace agreement.

Duque said the attack occurred in the municipality of San Vicente del Caguan, located in the province of Caqueta, after he authorized a military operation in rural areas in the southern part of the country.

Duque said Friday’s bombing sends “a clear message” to FARC members to lay down their weapons.

Among those killed was a rebel known by his alias, Gildardo Cucho, a member of a group led by former FARC chief negotiator Luciano Marin, who was trying to recruit potential rebels for a new guerrilla movement.

On Thursday, former FARC commander Ivan Marquez announced in a video that a new offensive would be launched, three years after FARC signed a peace deal with the government, ending five decades of armed conflict in the South American country.

“This is the continuation of the rebel fight in answer to the betrayal of the state,” Marquez, in a 32-minute YouTube video. “We were never beaten or defeated ideologically, so the struggle continues.”

Marquez, a former chief rebel negotiator, appeared alongside some 20 heavily armed guerrillas when he made the announcement, which comes amid severe challenges to the complex peace agreement.

In response to the FARC announcement, Duque said “Colombia takes no threats. Not of any nature.”

Colombia’s peace tribunal also has issued arrest warrants for Marquez and the others who have pledged to take up the insurgency again.

President Duque is offering an $863,000 reward for information leading to the capture of anyone who appeared in the YouTube video, according to Reuters.

Hundreds of former rebels and human rights activists have been murdered since the accord was signed.  That, coupled with delays in funding for economic efforts by former rebels — has exacerbated deep political divisions within the country.

Marquez said the group’s objective is to ensure the installation of a government that will promote peace. Marquez said the group will fight corruption and fracking (the hydraulic fracturing crude oil extraction process) and demand payments from participants in illicit economies and from multinational corporations.

About 7,000 rebels surrendered their weapons to United Nations observers as part of the agreement that was negotiated with the support of the United States, Cuba and Norway. But smaller rebel groups and drug traffickers have filled the void, leaving many citizens frustrated with the slow pace of implementing the agreement.

Security sources estimate the force commanded by Marquez could number 2,200 fighters.

 

Військовий отримав поранення внаслідок обстрілу під час режиму «тиша» – вечірнє зведення штабу ООС

Українські військові зафіксували сім випадків порушення режиму тиші з боку незаконних збройних угруповань, в тому числі з забороненої Мінськими угодами зброї (зокрема мінометів калібру 82 міліметрів та великокаліберних кулеметів, станкових гранатометів) – такі підсумки 31 серпня наводить штаб Операції об’єднаних сил. 

За даними штабу, бойовики стріляли по позиціях ЗСУ поблизу Водяного, Зайцеового, Травневого та Луганського.

Зокрема штаб повідомляє про випадок порушення режиму «тиша», про який бойовики перед тим попросили для вивезення тіл загиблих. 

«Противник запросив режим «тиша» для «евакуації» тіл своїх загиблих, а через деякий час безпідставно відкрив вогонь по позиціях підрозділів Об’єднаних сил. Внаслідок ворожого обстрілу один військовослужбовець зі складу Об’єднаних сил отримав поранення середнього ступеня важкості», – йдеться в заяві штабу.

За повідомленням, поранений військовий отримав першу медичну допомогу та був госпіталізований, загрози його здоров’ю наразі немає.

Бойовики незаконних угруповань «ДНР» та «ЛНР» заявляють про обстріли окупованих ними територій з боку ЗСУ.

Обстріли в зоні конфлікту на Донбасі тривають, попри оголошене там від 21 липня перемир’я. Сторони звинувачують одна одну в порушеннях режиму тиші.

Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської окупації Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці бойовиків. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці».

За оцінками ООН, станом на 31 грудня 2018 року, унаслідок збройного конфлікту на Донбасі загинули від 12 тисяч 800 до 13 тисяч людей.

Рятувальники попереджають про небезпеку пожеж найближчими днями

Високий рівень пожежної небезпеки в Україні триватиме щонайменше до 2 вересня, попереджає Державна служба з надзвичайних ситуацій на основі даних Укргідрометцентру.

«31 серпня – 2 вересня в Україні надзвичайна (5 класу) пожежна небезпека», – йдеться в повідомленні служби.

За даними Укргірометцентру, висока ймовірність пожеж 1 вересня буде у всіх областях, за винятком Рівненської.

При цьому особливо високий ризик у південних та східних регіонах.

 

В анексованому Криму зібрали понад півмільйона рублів на оплату штрафів активістам

В анексованому Криму продовжують збирати кошти на оплату штрафів, присуджених кримськотатарським активістам за акції в Москві в липні 2019 року, повідомляє кореспондент проєкту Радіо Свобода Крим.Реалії.

На щомісячних зборах громадського руху «Кримська солідарність» 31 серпня відзначили, що в рамках акції «Кримський марафон» вже вдалося зібрати 580 тисяч рублів. Це проміжна цифра.

Як повідомив координатор «Кримської солідарності» Сервер Чолакчик, це ще не всі кошти, передані на оплату штрафів.

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«Окрім зібраної суми, є кошти з регіонів, які поки що не вдалося нам передати. Але я сподіваюся, що ми подужаємо ті штрафи, які були незаконно призначені нашому народу. Те, з яким завзяттям люди беруть участь у зборі коштів і флешмобі – можна сказати, що це проблема не однієї людини, а проблема всього народу», – сказав Чолакчик.

Завдяки зібраній сумі будуть оплачені штрафи 18 кримських татар, затриманих за акцію на підтримку фігурантів першої бахчисарайської «групи Хізб ут-Тахрір» в липні цього року у Москві. Штрафи затриманих загалом складають 360 тисяч рублів.

Російська поліція 11 липня в Москві затримала 45 людей, які прийшли під будівлю Верховного суду Росії підтримати фігурантів першої бахчисарайської «групи Хізб ут-Тахрір». Активісти перебували під будівлею суду з плакатами «Наші діти не терористи», «Припиніть репресії в Криму».

Тоді об’єднання «Кримська солідарність» запустило марафон зі збору коштів для сплати штрафів, присуджених затриманим.

Many From Africa, Haiti Seek Asylum at US Southern Border

While most migrants who arrive at America’s southern border are from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the U.S. Border Patrol in Texas’ Del Rio Sector reports apprehending people from more than 50 countries in the last year. VOA’s Ramon Taylor and Victoria Macchi spoke with asylum-seeking families who have journeyed across the Atlantic and through the Americas en route to the US-Mexico border, desperate for a new beginning.
 

Is Russia Using Patriotism as a Political Tool?

In Russia, countrywide celebrations have been held to mark the 350th anniversary of the national flag. Yet, only 50 percent of respondents polled in a recent survey could correctly name the sequence of the colors on the flag. Russia recently saw a surge of patriotic celebrations orchestrated by local and federal authorities. Yulia Savchenko has more from Moscow on the state-promoted events.
 

Teenage Climate Star Greta Thunberg Takes Her Friday School Strike to UN

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg took her Friday school strikes to the gates of the United Nations, surrounded by hundreds of other young activists, calling on adults to take action on climate change. Thunberg will speak at a climate change summit of world leaders next month at the U.N. General Assembly. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more from Washington.
 

Twitter CEO Account Hacked, Offensive Tweets Posted

Twitter said Friday the account of chief executive Jack Dorsey had been “compromised” after a series of erratic and offensive messages were posted.

The tweets containing racial slurs and suggestions about a bomb showed up around 2000 GMT on the @jack account of the founder of the short messaging service before being deleted.

Some of the tweets contained the hashtag #ChucklingSquad, which was believed to indicate the identity of the hacker group. The same calling card was left behind during recent hacks of other high-profile social media personalities.

The messages contained racial epithets, and included a retweet of a message supporting Nazi Germany.

“We’re aware that @jack was compromised and (are) investigating what happened,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

Tweets up for 30 minutes

The San Francisco-based firm followed up midafternoon with a Twitter post saying Dorsey’s account was secured and there was “no indication that Twitter’s systems have been compromised.”

It appeared that tweets posted on Dorsey’s account by the hacker were up for about a half-hour before they were removed.

Pinned atop Dorsey’s account was a tweet from early last year saying: “We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.”

A barrage of comments fired off on the platform questioned why the Twitter co-founder didn’t secure his account with two-factor authentication, and how disturbing a sign it was that the service wasn’t to keep its own chief safe on the platform.

“If you can’t protect Jack, you can’t protect … jack,” one Twitter user quipped.

The Twitter logo is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange, Feb. 8, 2018.

Cleaning up content

The news comes with Dorsey and Twitter moving aggressively to clean up offensive and inappropriate content as part of a focus on “safety.”

“This might be the only way to get rid of racist tweets on this platform,” a Twitter user commented.

British-based security consultant Graham Cluley said the incident highlighted the importance of two-factor authentication, where a user must confirm the account via an external service.

“Everyone should ensure they have 2FA enabled, use unique password, and double check what apps they’ve linked to their accounts,” Cluley tweeted. “Hard to say at moment how he was compromised, but one of those reasons most likely.”

Cloudhopper

Cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont said the account appeared to have been hijacked “via a third party called Cloudhopper, which Twitter acquired about 10 years ago and had access to his account.”

Cloudhopper enables users to send tweets on their phones via SMS.

University of Hartford communications professor Adam Chiara was keen to learn whether the breach resulted from Dorsey’s negligence or a breakdown of security at Twitter.

“While it’s tempting to laugh at the irony of it, the real-world consequences don’t make it funny,” Chiara said of Dorsey’s account being hacked. “Twitter can tell us that they are becoming more diligent with our privacy and security, but actions speak louder than words.”

The incident raised fresh concerns about how social media users, even prominent ones, can have their accounts compromised and used for misinformation, a point highlighted by Canadian member of parliament Michelle Rempel Garner.

“Between bots, trolls and abuse, I’ve been skeptical about @Twitter as a viable platform for some time now,” Rempel Garner wrote. “But the fact it took the platform’s owner (@jack) about 30 min to get his hacked account under control is deeply problematic, and makes me worry as an elected official.”