Italian PM Conte to resign after League party pulls backing

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

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has told senators he is handing in his resignation because his right-wing coalition partner has decided to yank support for the populist government

Panel takes troubled Dubai developer’s disputes in downturn

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

Dubai says it has set up a special committee to ‘resolve multiple disputes’ involving a government-owned developer amid economic slowdown

Italian news agency ANSA: Prosecutor has seized Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, ordered the evacuation of its migrants

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

Italian news agency ANSA: Prosecutor has seized Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, ordered the evacuation of its migrants

Israeli, US militaries simulate ship hijacking amid tensions

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

Israel’s military says it has conducted a joint exercise with U.S. Special Forces simulating the retaking of a hijacked ship

The Latest: League’s Salvini kisses crucifix as Conte speaks

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

Italian League’s leader and hard-line Interior minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly kissed a rosary while sitting in the Senate next to Premier Giuseppe Conte, who was delivering a key speech in which he announced his resignation

Tourist recalls being chased by a white rhino on South African safari

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

Binty/iStock(NEW YORK) — A South African safari turned into a terrifying high speed chase through the brush with one of the area’s largest animals.

Rian Boshoff, who was with his tour group to photograph leopards last month, told ABC News they first spotted the white rhino in the road and slowly tried to pass it when the animal charged.

“At first, I just thought it’s going to be like a short charge and then it would stop,” Boshoff said. “The road had a lot of turns in it which made it difficult for us to get away.”

But even the driver’s maneuvers weren’t enough to shake the animal off their tail.

“The driver took a 90-degree turn into the bush to try and deter the rhino because they have bad eyesight,” Boshoff explained. “But he was determined to get to us he just kept on coming.”

Cellphone video captured a portion of the nearly two-minute chase by the three-ton animal, which can reach speeds up to 30 mph.

Looking back on the closer-than expected-encounter, Boshoff said, “I thought it [was] going to eat us.”

The safari driver reportedly told the group that same rhino had charged other vehicles in the past.

“The driver really did a good job to keep us safe,” Boshoff explained. “He just asked us to sit still and he got us out of the situation.”

There were no injuries reported from the incident.

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Taiwan’s Tsai expresses thanks over approval of F-16V sale

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

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has thanked the U.S. for approving the sale of 66 advanced F-16V fighter jets and urged China to respect Taiwan’s right to defend itself

Britain concerned about consular employee missing in China

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

The British foreign ministry says it is "extremely concerned" about an employee of its consulate in Hong Kong who has been missing since crossing into China on a business trip

Russia says it’s not obliged to share radiation levels data

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

The Russian foreign ministry has responded to reports that several of its radiation monitoring stations went silent shortly after a deadly explosion at a missile range by saying it is not obliged to share data with other nations

Russia decries US missile test, warns of destabilization

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

The U.S. recently quit a treaty which banned the type of missile tested.

‘Protesters vs. police’: HK die-hards defend their stance

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

Protesters on the front lines in Hong Kong explain how largely peaceful marches against proposed changes to the city’s extradition law morphed into a summer of tear gas and rubber bullets

Facebook, Twitter remove accounts they say Chinese government was using to undermine in Hong Kong protests

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Twitter(NEW YORK) — Twitter announced on Monday that it had suspended about 200,000 accounts that it said were part of a Chinese government-backed attempt to undermine “the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement” in Hong Kong.

The social media giant made the announcement on the same day that Facebook announced it had removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts that it said originated from China and were “involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

“What we’ve heard is both platforms saying variations on the theme that they have found people who are linked to the Chinese government, who’ve got caught running troll campaigns against the Hong Kong protesters, posting content saying that the protesters are cockroaches, that they’re evil people, that they are the darkness standing in the way of the light of the people’s revolution,” said Ben Nimmo, a digital investigator with the social media analysis firm Graphika.

Nearly 1,000 of the accounts that Twitter suspended were actively attempting to “sow political discord in Hong Kong,” the press release said. The company said that some of the accounts accessed Twitter from mainland China, where Twitter is blocked, but that many of them gained access instead through virtual private networks, which can hide the location from which you’re browsing

“One of the interesting things with the Twitter announcement … is they say that a lot of these accounts were being run through … proxy internet accounts in different countries,” Nimmo said.

Facebook, meanwhile, said that the individuals behind the influence campaign it identified sometimes created fake accounts to manage pages that posed as news organizations, posted in groups, shared content or directed people to off-platform news websites.

“They frequently posted about local political news and issues including topics like the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” a Facebook press release said. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.”

Now in their 11th week of protests, the announcements follow a week in which mainland China has begun to consider ratcheting up efforts to shut down the protests in the semi-autonomous territory as the protests have become more violent.

Amid a city-wide strike, thousands of protesters last week stormed Hong Kong International Airport, forcing officials to cancel flights for two days in a row as protesters paralyzed its operations. The protests marked an escalation between the Chinese government and Hong Kong protesters, who at one point barricaded themselves in the airport with luggage carts before clashing with riot police.

On Sunday, protesters rallied in Victoria Park in Hong Kong for what demonstrators say was the largest protest yet, with 1.7 million people in attendance. It was mostly peaceful, save for a few blocked streets from overcrowding in the park.

The protests began in June when hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators marched in opposition to an extradition bill that government leaders in the territory had reached with the Chinese government. The bill was suspended as the protests grew louder.

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As Trump, negotiators work toward peace, attacks highlight violent realities

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Golden_Brown/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has made clear his desire to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan. But as his negotiators finalize agreements with the Taliban and the Afghan government, the violent reality of the conflict has shown how delicate or even far-fetched a final deal may be.

In particular, a spate of deadly bombings on Monday as Afghans marked 100 years of independence and a brutal attack on a wedding Saturday in the capital Kabul have rocked the country.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack, killing 63 people and injuring 182 more. Beyond the horror of a wedding party turned into a funeral — the dance floor filled with dead bodies — the assault is also a sign of the group’s growing strength — and the challenge that poses to the U.S. president who wants to pull troops out.

“We’re there for one reason. We don’t want that to be a laboratory, OK? Can’t be a laboratory for terror. And we’ve stopped that,” Trump told reporters Sunday, despite the deadly wedding attack.

While there hasn’t been an effective Afghanistan-based plot on the U.S. by terror groups like al-Qaeda or ISIS for years, the issue of counter terrorism — what brought American troops to the country nearly 18 years ago — remains an elusive challenge.

For one thing, the Pentagon and State Department say the local ISIS affiliate is now stronger than ever. The group has carried out dozens of attacks, killing nearly 800 people and injuring over 1,400 in the last year, according to Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales.

When asked if this ISIS affiliate presented a risk to the U.S., Sales said, “Any ISIS affiliate around the world that has the capability and intent to conduct external operations is a threat to the United States and our partners and our interests.”

The Afghan government said Monday that it will crush the terror group, while the Taliban condemned Saturday’s attack as “forbidden and unjustifiable.” But there are real concerns about the ability of either to effectively take on ISIS and prevent it from growing or plotting attacks overseas.

To that end, Trump said he wants the U.S. to ultimately keep an intelligence presence in the country.

“It’s very important that we continue intelligence there, in all cases, because it is somewhat of a nest for hitting us,” he said Sunday.

There are approximately 14,000 U.S. troops in the country now, according to the Pentagon, 5,000 of which are on a counter terrorism mission with the other 9,000 training and supporting Afghan forces.

But while the U.S. hopes to keep some military presence, the Taliban have pushed for a total withdrawal. Finalizing those details — how many U.S. troops in what role must leave by when — has been at the heart of U.S. talks with the Taliban.

Led by former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, the talks have been through eight rounds now and taken about a year. Khalilzad briefed Trump on Friday, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It’s a sign that Khalilzad and his team are close to a final deal with the militant group — one that the U.S. hopes will have four pillars, according to officials: American troop withdrawal, a nationwide ceasefire, Afghan peace talks and a commitment by the Taliban to keep Afghanistan from becoming a terror safe haven.

Khalilzad said Sunday that the wedding attack shows, “We must accelerate the Afghan peace process, including intra-Afghan negotiations. Success here will put Afghans in a much stronger position to defeat ISIS.”

But the Taliban still refuses to recognize the Afghan government, let alone meet with it or commit to work together to combat ISIS. In negotiations, the U.S. has struggled to win such a commitment and define what it entails and how to implement it — especially given that the Taliban maintains ties with al-Qaeda.

Critics say Saturday’s attack is a clear demonstration that the militant group, which is itself considered a terror organization under some U.S. law, can’t credibly make that kind of commitment.

The challenge is that the Taliban has the upper hand in negotiations, knowing well that Trump wants to fulfill a campaign promise to end America’s endless wars and start bringing troops home.

Pompeo said at the end of July that it was his “directive” from Trump to begin a withdrawal before next November, adding, “It’s not only my expectation. It would be job enhancing.”

Trump himself said in August 2017 that his instinct was to pull out American forces, but he had been convinced by his advisers to increase troop numbers at the time.

Officials have tried to paper over that desire, consistently saying any withdrawal would be “conditions-based.” Trump said on Sunday that he is still weighing a decision.

“We’ll be bringing it down a little bit more, and then we’ll decide whether or not we’ll be staying longer or not,” he said.

But what’s clear from him, Pompeo and others is that any decision will be based on U.S. priorities and not include a commitment from the Taliban to the Afghan government, which has not seen any draft agreements from the talks or the Afghan people.

Those issues, including the continued violence by the Taliban against Afghan civilians, are an internal matter, officials say, and up to the Afghan people to determine.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Southern Command head focused on ‘day after’ in Venezuela

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The head of U.S. Southern Command says military officials are focusing on preparing for "the day after" once "isolated" Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro leaves power

US Southern Command head focused on ‘day after’ in Venezuela

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The head of U.S. Southern Command says military officials are focusing on preparing for "the day after" once "isolated" Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro leaves power

Iranian tanker sought by US heading toward Greece

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The U.S. suspects the Iranian vessels is breaking sanctions against Syria.

The Latest: Trump speaks with leader of Pakistan

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, on the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India

Syria slams Turkey, says it’s sending weapons to rebels

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Syria’s Foreign Ministry says Turkey has sent armored vehicles into Syria.

Patience wears thin for migrants stranded off Italian coast

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

More than 100 migrants remain stranded near an Italian island 18 days after rescue

Charity suggests plane could resolve migrant boat standoff

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A charity suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain 107 migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat, to end a stalemate with the Italian interior minister, who won’t let private rescue boats into his nation’s ports

Charity suggests plane could resolve migrant boat standoff

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A charity suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain 107 migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat, to end a stalemate with the Italian interior minister, who won’t let private rescue boats into his nation’s ports

Greece scraps legal need for lay-off justification

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Greece’s new center-right government has scrapped legislation intended to make labor layoffs harder, saying it discouraged new hirings and could preclude sacked workers from finding new jobs

Greece scraps legal need for lay-off justification

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Greece’s new center-right government has scrapped legislation intended to make labor layoffs harder, saying it discouraged new hirings and could preclude sacked workers from finding new jobs

US scraps West Bank conference over Palestinian protests

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was forced to postpone a conference it organized in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Palestinian officials and factions called for a boycott and threatened to organize mass protests

US scraps West Bank conference over Palestinian protests

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was forced to postpone a conference it organized in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Palestinian officials and factions called for a boycott and threatened to organize mass protests

Palestinian leader fires advisers, wants bonuses returned

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has laid off all of his advisers and ordered a former prime minister and other Cabinet officials to return tens of thousands of dollars they received from a pay raise he secretly approved two years ago

Palestinian leader fires advisers, wants bonuses returned

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has laid off all of his advisers and ordered a former prime minister and other Cabinet officials to return tens of thousands of dollars they received from a pay raise he secretly approved two years ago

Saudi Arabia reports soldier killed near border with Yemen

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Saudi Arabia says a soldier was killed near the country’s southern border with Yemen, but did not disclose how he died or specifically where.

Leaked ‘no-deal’ Brexit report warns of civil unrest, food supply disruptions

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

narvikk/iStock(LONDON) — The U.K. government has looked to play down concerns about leaked documents that outlined preparations for Brexit, which included warnings about fuel, food and medicine shortages, as well as severe travel disruption and civil unrest if Britain leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal.

The report, entitled “Operation Yellowhammer” and made by the Cabinet Office, was leaked to the Sunday Times, with the Oct. 31 deadline for leaving the EU just over 10 weeks away.

The “Base Scenario” for a “no-deal” Brexit, which is the minimum expectation according to the report, suggests that “public and business readiness for no-deal will remain at a low level,” as outlined in the Sunday Times.

Among the key takeaways from the report are that disruption to traffic across the English Channel will cause “significant” traffic queues in Kent, the county that borders with the channel, with large goods vehicles facing delays of up to two and a half days to cross the border. This could have the added effect of “disrupt[ing] fuel supply in London.”

Certain types of fresh food supply will also decrease, which adds to the “risk that panic buying will disrupt food supplies,” according to the report. Meanwhile, expected “protests and counter protests” in the U.K. would use up police resources and result in “a rise in public disorder and community tensions,” the report adds.

And the impact of a “no-deal” Brexit on Northern Ireland, which was integral to the failure of the deal former Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with EU leaders, could result in “disruption to key sectors and job losses are likely to result in protests and direct action with road blockades,” according to the report.

The U.K. is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but the country’s political future has never looked more uncertain. If lawmakers are unable to agree on a deal with their European counterparts about various rights and trade plans, the result with be a “no-deal” Brexit, which would expose the U.K. to significant trade tariffs overnight. Supporters of this outcome say it represents a clean break from the EU, which respects the result of the referendum of 2016, while critics say it will be hugely damaging to the economy.

British media reported Monday that government sources are blaming the document leak on a former government minister intent on frustrating new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s meetings with senior European politicians this week.

A spokesperson from Number 10 Downing Street told ABC News the Yellowhammer report was “out of date” and the government was making all necessary preparations to leave the EU, with or without a deal, on Oct. 31.

“[We are] better prepared now than we’ve ever been, but there is still more to be done,” the spokesperson added.

Several government figures were quick to downplay the fears sparked by the Sunday Times’ reporting. The Cabinet Office pointed to a tweet by leading government lawmaker Michael Gove when contacted by ABC News, which implied that the report was out of date.

He tweeted, “We don’t normally comment on leaks – but a few facts – Yellowhammer is a worst case scenario – v significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning.”

Johnson has repeatedly made it clear that the U.K. will leave the EU, with or without a deal, on the Oct. 31 deadline. Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is set to call a “no confidence motion” in Parliament, in a bid to collapse the government and trigger a general election.

The prospect of a “no-deal” has also received mixed messages from the United States. On his recent trip to the U.K., National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the United States was willing to negotiate a trade deal “in pieces” in order to speed up a post-Brexit trade agreement.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that if Brexit undermines peace in Northern Ireland, “there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress.”

Preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit have increased over the past 12 months. Last December, ABC News reported that troops were on standby to deal with possible civil unrest, and that five leading business groups issued a joint statement that said “businesses have been watching in horror” at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

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Ebola outbreak spreads to third province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted on: August 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Manjurul/iStock(LONDON) — The yearlong Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has spread to a third province, health officials said.

Two new patients, a 24-year-old woman and her 7-month-old child, tested positive for the virus in the Mwenga area of South Kivu province on Thursday night. They fell ill after returning from a visit to Beni in North Kivu province, the epicenter of the current outbreak.

The mother has since died, and her child is receiving treatment, according to a statement released Friday from Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director general of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s National Institute for Biomedical Research and head of the country’s Ebola response team.

Officials have identified dozens of people who may have been infected by coming in contact with the woman and her child. They will receive the experimental vaccine that has been used to inoculate some 200,000 people in the outbreak zone, according to Muyembe.

A third Ebola case was confirmed in the same area of South Kivu on Saturday, according to the latest data from the Congolese health ministry and the World Health Organization, the global health arm of the United Nations, which last month declared the current outbreak a global health emergency.

Since Aug. 1, 2018, a total of 2,877 people have reported symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern provinces of North Kivu, Ituri and now South Kivu, according to the latest data. Among those cases, some 2,783 have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which causes an often-fatal type of hemorrhagic fever and is transmitted through contact with blood or secretions from an infected person. An average of 81 new Ebola cases are confirmed each week.

The ongoing outbreak has a case fatality rate of about 67%. There have been 1,934 deaths so far, most from confirmed cases of Ebola, according to the latest data.

The vast majority of cases have been concentrated in North Kivu, specifically around the northeastern areas of Beni, Butembo, Katwa, and Mabalako. There are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is the 10th outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the most severe there since 1976, when scientists identified the deadly virus near the Ebola River. It’s also the second-largest, second-deadliest outbreak in the world.

The WHO’s director-general has described the current outbreak as more complex than the deadlier 2014-2016 outbreak in multiple West African countries due to the region’s political instability, attacks on health workers, a highly mobile population and community mistrust and misinformation. It’s also the first Ebola outbreak in an active war zone.

However, two of four experimental treatments being tested in the current outbreak now will be offered to all patients after showing promise in saving lives. Preliminary findings from a randomized controlled trial that began last November in four Ebola treatment centers in North Kivu indicated that patients receiving either of two antibody-based therapies, known as REGN-EB3 and mAb114, had a greater chance of survival compared to those receiving two other experiential drugs, known as ZMapp and remdesivir.

After a meeting to review the initial results, an independent monitoring board recommended all future patients be offered either REGN-EB3 or mAb114, while the other two treatments be stopped.

“From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable,” Muyembe told reporters during a telephone briefing last week.

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