english news

Boris Johnson warns of Europe ‘second wave’ amid Spain row

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Boris Johnson has warned there are signs of a “second wave” of coronavirus in Europe, as he defended a 14-day quarantine on travellers from Spain. The PM said the government had to be “swift” – and it would continue to take further action “where it is necessary”. It comes after the Spanish prime minister called the UK’s decision to change the rules for Spain “unjust”. Pedro Sánchez said tourists in most regions in Spain would be safer from coronavirus than in the UK. The UK is advising against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. It also removed Spain and its islands from the list of countries that are exempt from the 14-day quarantine rule. Meanwhile, Germany has also advised against travel to three areas of Spain. (BBC)…[+]

Portland protests: Ban federal agents from cities, Democratic mayors say

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Six Democratic Party mayors have urged the US Congress to block the Trump administration from sending federal law enforcement agents to their cities. In a letter, the mayors argue that the agents’ presence, against the request of local authorities, is unlawful. Among the signatories is the mayor of Portland, where federal agents have clashed with anti-racism protesters.

It comes as US Attorney General William Barr is set to defend their deployment during congressional testimony.

Mr Barr is to say that the Department of Justice’s decision to send security forces to the city of Portland, Oregon, was justified following attacks on federal buildings there. Portland has seen 61 consecutive days of protests, which escalated after federal officers arrived this month. The Portland protests began as part of the nationwide racial justice rallies triggered by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May.

US President Donald Trump has said he may send forces to other cities to defend federal buildings from what he called anarchists and agitators. (BBC)…[+]

Christopher Columbus statues temporarily removed in Chicago

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Two statues of Christopher Columbus have been temporarily removed in Chicago. It comes a week after protesters attempted to topple a statue of the Italian explorer in the city. Although temporary, they are the latest monuments to be removed amid an ongoing backlash against perceived symbols of racial bias and imperialism in the US. The movement has been sparked by the death in police custody of African American George Floyd. His death in Minneapolis has led to protests in the US and internationally against police brutality and racial inequality.(BBC)…[+]

Genetic impact of African slave trade revealed in DNA study

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A major DNA study has shed new light on the fate of millions of Africans who were traded as slaves to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries. More than 50,000 people took part in the study, which was able to identify more details of the “genetic impact” the trade has had on present-day populations in the Americas. It lays bare the consequences of rape, maltreatment, disease and racism. More than 12.5m Africans were traded between 1515 and the mid-19th Century. Some two million of the enslaved men, women and children died en route to the Americas. 

The DNA study was led by consumer genetics company 23andMe and included 30,000 people of African ancestry on both sides of the Atlantic. The findings were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Steven Micheletti, a population geneticist at 23andMe told AFP news agency that the aim was to compare the genetic results with the manifests of slave ships “to see how they agreed and how they disagree”. (BBC)…[+]

Kremlin accuses US and UK of ‘distorting’ truth

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Accusations from the US and UK that Russia recently tested anti-satellite weaponry in space are “distorted”, Russia’s defence ministry says. “Tests carried out [on 15 July] did not create a threat for other spacecraft,” the ministry said, adding that it had not violated international law. Moscow said earlier that it had been using new technology to perform checks on Russian space equipment. But the US and UK said they were concerned about the satellite activity. “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon,” the head of the UK’s space directorate, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, said on Thursday. 

It is the first time that the UK has made accusations about Russian test-firing in space, and comes just days after an inquiry said the UK government “badly underestimated” the threat posed by Russia. The US State Department also said it had observed the use by Russia of “what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry”. The US and Russia are to hold bilateral talks on space security in Vienna next week, the first since 2013.(BBC)…[+]

Nova Scotia shooting: Officials announce review of deadliest mass shooting

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Federal and provincial leaders in Canada have announced a review of the Nova Scotia mass shooting that left 22 people dead this April. The shooting, where a gunman posing as a police officer went on a rampage for 13 hours on 18-19 April, is the deadliest in Canada’s modern history.

A three-member panel will review what occurred, the police response and recommend preventative measures.

Officials have been criticised over the delay in beginning the public review. The governments of Canada and Nova Scotia say the joint independent review will look into central questions surrounding the mass shooting, including “the causes, context and circumstances giving rise to the incident, the response of police, and steps taken to inform, support and engage victims, families and affected citizens“.(BBC)…[+]

UK and US say Russia fired a satellite weapon in space

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The UK and US have accused Russia of launching a weapon-like projectile from a satellite in space. In a statement, the head of the UK’s space directorate said: “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.” The statement said actions like this “threaten the peaceful use of space”.

The US has previously raised concerns about this Russian satellite. In his statement, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the UK’s space directorate, said: “Actions like this threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends. “We call on Russia to avoid any further such testing. We also urge Russia to continue to work constructively with the UK and other partners to encourage responsible behaviour in space.”(BBC)…[+]

Trump to send ‘surge’ of hundreds of federal agents to cities

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President Donald Trump is to send “a surge” of federal security forces to US cities in a crackdown on crime. Chicago and two other Democratic-run cities are being targeted in the Republican president’s move, amid a spike in violence.

But federal deployments in Portland, Oregon, amid ongoing unrest have been controversial. The city’s mayor was among those tear-gassed at a protest. Law and order has become a key plank of Mr Trump’s re-election bid in November. Since the death on 25 May of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, there have been protests – sometimes descending into civil disorder – in scores of US cities.

In Portland, which has seen more than 50 days of demonstrations, Mayor Ted Wheeler was tear-gassed by federal agents while attending the city’s protest on Wednesday night. Speaking to a New York Times reporter, the Democrat said the tear-gassing was “an egregious overreaction” by ral officers, and that he had seen “nothing that provoked this response”.(BBC)…[+]

Hopewell Chin’ono: Whistle-blowing Zimbabwean journalist arrested

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A Zimbabwean journalist who recently exposed alleged government corruption involving coronavirus supplies has been charged with inciting public violence. Hopewell Chin’ono live-streamed his arrest before being told to put his phone down. An opposition politician, Jacob Ngarivhume, has also been arrested in Harare on the same charges.

In a statement, Zimbabwe’s police appeared to confirm that the two arrests were connected. The US embassy called Mr Chin’ono’s arrest deeply concerning, while his lawyer called it an abduction. “We’re not sure where he has been taken. His helper says they did not produce any warrant when they came to his house,” human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said in a video statement. Motioning to a smashed patio door at Mr Chin’ono’s home, Ms Mtetwa said eight or so security agents were involved in the raid. (BBC)…[+]

Portland protests: All you need to know about Trump’s crackdown

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Tensions are mounting in the US city of Portland, where federal troops have been sent to end almost two months of anti-racism protests, some of them violent. The protests began after the death of George Floyd in police custody in May. There have been nightly rallies ever since, with clashes between protesters and police escalating in recent days.

President Donald Trump says he is trying to restore order. The approach has been criticised by local officials. 

Like other US cities, Portland, Oregon saw a wave of peaceful protests over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, with thousands taking to the streets to demand police reform and racial equality. Recent protests, however, have been marred by violence, arson, damage to property, arrests and allegations of police brutality. Last week, federal officers started cracking down on crowds gathering in the city against the wishes of state and local officials, drawing widespread criticism and legal challenges. ( BBC)…[+]