WWII plane drops 750,000 poppies over Kent | News UK Video News | Sky News
WWII plane drops 750,000 poppies over Kent Fill 2 Copy 11 Created with Sketch. Sunday 10 November 2019 15:32, UK Over the White Cliffs of Dover, 750,000 bio-degradable poppies were released by a World War Two Dakota plane on Remembrance Sunday.
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Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers charged, student mourned
By EILEEN NG | Sat, November 9, 2019 10:39 EST
HONG KONG (AP) — Police in Hong Kong said Saturday that they have arrested and charged six pro-democracy lawmakers, a move that could escalate public fury a day after the death of a university student linked to months of anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Protesters vented their anger over Chow Tsz-Lok’s death and vowed not to give up their resistance at a police-approved prayer rally Saturday night, with frequent chants of “Hong Kong people, revenge” and “Free Hong Kong.”
The 22-year-old died Friday, succumbing to injuries four days after falling from a parking garage when police fired tear gas during clashes with protesters. Although the circumstances of his death are unclear, many blame police who have been accused of heavy-handed tactics since the unrest began in June, including widespread use of tear gas and pepper spray.
Police said they arrested six lawmakers and charged them Saturday with obstructing the local assembly during a raucous May 11 meeting over a now-shelved China extradition bill that sparked the five months of protests calling for democratic reforms. All were freed on bail.
A seventh lawmaker received a summons but failed to turn up at a police station to face arrest, a police spokesman said.
Pro-democracy lawmakers slammed the government clampdown as a calculated move after Chow’s death to provoke more violence as an excuse to postpone or cancel Nov. 24 district elections — polls viewed as a barometer of public sentiment amid the unrest.
“We’ll say no to their plans,” lawmaker Tanya Chan told a news conference. “It is a de facto referendum for all Hong Kong voters to cast their vote and say no to police brutality and say no to our unjust system.”
She said the district elections will also send a crucial message to Beijing, accused by protesters of interfering in Hong Kong’s freedoms and rights promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.
Hong Kong’s constitutional and mainland affairs secretary, Patrick Nip, said police made the arrests based on their investigation and that they had nothing to do with the upcoming elections.
Violence erupted late Friday when protesters took to the streets following memorial events in multiple locations to mark Chow’s death.
On Saturday night, thousands gathered at a Christian memorial service for Chow, singing hymns and laying white flowers and paper cranes at a makeshift stage in a downtown park.
It wasn’t clear what Chow was doing at the garage early Monday as mobs clashed with police in the streets below. Police have repeatedly denied that officers pushed him down and had delayed emergency services that delayed treatment.
A friend of Chow told a citizens’ press conference earlier Saturday that he had joined every protest since June.
“We, friends, were doing what we could on the streets. We were frustrated with the tyranny of this government,” said the friend, who wore a mask and didn’t identify himself.
At the evening prayer rally, various speakers, including hard-line protesters, took to the stage to call for justice for Chow and vowed never to surrender.
“Hong Kong people can be struck down but never defeated,” said a masked protester. Another protester urged citizens to show their anger by going out early to vote in the district council elections.
Prominent activist Joshua Wong, who has been barred from running in this month’s polls, said the city can emerge from the chaos if protesters unite and fight on despite the tough road ahead.
Shortly after the event ended, police issued warnings to dozens of protesters gathered outside the office of Hong Kong’s embattled leader adjacent to the park. Some protesters pointed laser beams at the Chinese garrison building nearby and heckled police, but they later dispersed.
There have been only a few fatalities during the unrest, including some reported deaths by suicide and a man who fell to his death while hanging pro-democracy banners on a building.
More than 3,300 people have been arrested since the start of the protest movement, which has expanded to include calls for direct elections for the city’s leaders and other demands.
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Chilean Catholic church looted by vandals as protests rage
By ESTEBAN FELIX and EVA VERGARA | Fri, November 8, 2019 07:00 EST
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Hooded protesters looted a Roman Catholic church Friday near the main gathering site for three weeks of mass protests against Chile’s government over inequality.
An Associated Press photographer witnessed people dragging church pews, statues of Jesus and other religious iconography from La Asuncion church onto the street and setting them on fire. Ashes spread to Santiago’s Plaza Italia square where thousands were chanting and holding banners, while others turned on the lights on their cellphones and waved Chilean national flags.
Smoke also billowed from the nearby headquarters of Pedro de Valdivia University, though it wasn’t known if protesters started the fire. Authorities said they were still investigating the cause.
Most of the protests over the past 22 days have been peaceful, but some have turned violent. Some rock-throwing demonstrators have been clashing with riot police, who respond with tear gas and water cannons.
The unrest began last month over a subway fare hike with students jumping turnstiles in protest. Demonstrations then erupted into clashes, looting and arson and the movement spread nationwide with a broad range of demands, including improvements in education, health care and a widely criticized pension system in one of Latin America’s richest, but most socially unequal countries.
“We still haven’t achieved anything, so we’re going to keep protesting,” said 17-year-old student Ginette Pérez, who joined the crowds flooding the streets Friday.
At least 20 people have died and an estimated 2,500 have been injured in the protests, which also forced the cancellation of two major international summits in Santiago.
Associated Press writer Patricia Luna contributed to this report.
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3 dead, dozens injured as Australia wildfires raze homes
By ROD McGUIRK | Sat, November 9, 2019 06:07 EST
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Wildfires razing Australia’s drought-stricken east coast have left three people dead, several missing and dozens injured, with over 150 homes destroyed, officials said Saturday.
Around 1,500 firefighters were battling more than 70 fires across Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, with the most intense in the northeast, where flames were fanned by strong winds, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
A woman who was found unconscious and with serious burns Friday near Glen Innes died in a hospital, he said.
Vivian Chaplain, a 69-year-old mother of two and grandmother of six, was alone in her house in the small community of Wytaliba when it was engulfed in flames, her daughter-in-law Chrystal Harwood said.
“I was the last one to speak to her. She was in an absolute panic. She said: ‘We’re on fire. There’s fire everywhere. I need the boys here now,'” Harwood said of their final phone call.
“Before I even got to tell her to just get out, she’d hung up on me. I couldn’t get back through to her. I tried so many times,” Harwood added. “She was amazing. She was such a strong, loving woman.”
On Friday, Harwood made a desperate plea on social media for someone to come to Chaplain’s rescue.
“Viv is alone can someone help, anyone please … boys are on the way down if they can get through,” Harwood posted. “‘The RFS can’t get to her they are trying … the road down is a tunnel of fire.”
Firefighters found another body on Saturday morning in a burned car near Glen Innes, a victim of the same fire, officials said. The local man’s name has not been released.
A third body was found Saturday afternoon in a burned house at the village of Johns River, north of Taree, police said, adding that an autopsy will determine whether the victim is the 63-year-old woman who owns the house.
That victim died in a fire hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Glen Innes.
Another five people remained missing in the vicinity of the Glen Innes fire and authorities held grave fears for their safety, Fitzsimmons said.
More than 30 people including firefighters received medical treatment for burns and smoke inhalation. One patient suffered cardiac arrest, officials said.
At least 150 homes had been destroyed since Friday, and damage assessment teams had yet to reach some devastated areas, officials said.
Hundreds of people evacuated their homes along a 500-kilometer (310-mile) swath of the eastern seaboard from the Queensland state border south to Forster.
Forster is a town 300 kilometers (190 miles) north of Sydney, Australia’s largest city. Many spent the night in evacuation centers, while some slept in cars.
In Queensland, around 50 wildfires were raging on Saturday. At least one house was lost, a firefighter suffered a broken leg and 6,000 residents were evacuated from three communities in the state’s southeast, police said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned Australia to expect more bad news from the fire zones. His warning came before the third victim was confirmed.
“The devastating and horrific fires that we have seen, particularly in New South Wales but also in Queensland, have been absolutely chilling,” Morrison said.
The Insurance Council of Australia declared the wildfire crisis a “catastrophe,” meaning insurance claims will be given priority.
In Taree, more than 300 people evacuated overnight to a social club, including Club Taree’s chief executive, Morgan Stewart.
“It was pretty scary,” Stewart said. “We’re hearing lots of stories of lost houses, lost property, goods and effects, animals, land. It’s going to be horrific, I think.”
Peter Lean spent the night on the roof of his house in the town of Wallabi Point, using a garden hose to extinguish burning embers carried by strong winds.
“I’ve never seen the sky so red since 2000,” Lean said. “We’ve got winds blowing, they’re circling, it’s like a cyclone.”
The fire danger reached unprecedented levels in New South Wales on Friday, when 17 fires were burning at the most extreme danger rating known as the Emergency Warning Level.
“To have 17 of those fires burning all at the same time across a fairly broad geographic area like the north coast of New South Wales, we simply have not seen that before, that level of intensity,” Fitzsimmons said.
Between two and five fires were burning at the highest danger rating Saturday.
The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.
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All eyes on Texas governor as calls grow to halt execution
By PAUL J. WEBER | Sat, November 9, 2019 09:10 EST
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In his five years as Texas’ governor, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 prisoners while only once sparing a condemned man’s life.
But Abbott — who has proudly referred to the death penalty as “Texas justice” — has never confronted such intense pressure to halt a lethal injection like he is facing in the case of Rodney Reed, who is set to die this month for a 1996 killing despite new evidence that even a growing number of Republican legislators say raises serious questions about his guilt.
On Saturday, supporters of Reed held their biggest protest yet outside the governor’s mansion, escalating a public campaign that now counts Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey among the celebrities who have urged Abbott to call off the Nov. 20 execution. So, too, has the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S.
“Only thing I would tell him is, honestly, just look at the evidence,” said Rodrick Reed, Rodney’s brother.
It’s unclear if the public pressure is making any impression on Abbott, who was a law and order state attorney general before he was elected governor. Abbott hasn’t spoken publicly about Reed’s case. Even Republican lawmakers who are close to the governor and have lobbied his office in recent days and weeks for a reprieve say they’re in the dark about his thinking.
“They said the governor has heard about it and is taking a very deliberative and thoughtful analysis,” Republican state Rep. Matt Krause said. “But they didn’t give me an indication one way or the other on which way he’d be.”
Reed, now 51, was convicted of raping and strangling 19-year-old Stacy Stites while she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.
Reed has long maintained that Stites was killed by her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black. In recent weeks, Reed’s attorneys have presented affidavits that support his claims, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur.
Reed’s lawyers say other recent affidavits also corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed. Fennell’s attorney has said his client didn’t kill Stites, and prosecutors maintain that they believe Reed is guilty.
Texas remains the death penalty capital of the U.S. even as executions nationwide hover at historic lows. Last year, about half of the 25 executions nationwide took place in Texas, which has put to death eight people so far this year.
Support for the death penalty has been declining in recent years, but in Texas, Abbott hasn’t relaxed his position. A practicing Roman Catholic, Abbott breaks with the church on the Vatican’s view that capital punishment can never be sanctioned, and efforts to scale back the types of crimes that carry the death penalty in Texas have stalled under his watch.
Only once has Abbott spared the life of a convicted killer shortly before the scheduled execution: Last year, he accepted a rare recommendation of clemency from Texas’ parole board and commuted the sentence of Thomas “Bart” Whitaker, who fatally shot his mother and brother. Abbott did so after Whitaker’s father, who was also shot, asked for mercy.
It’s not the first time Abbott’s decision-making has been in the spotlight over a high-profile death penalty case. While serving as Texas attorney general in 2011, Abbott ruled that a state forensic panel could not consider old evidence in the case against Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed for a fire that killed his children but whose guilt remained in question after his death because the arson science used to convict him had since been debunked.
In a letter to Abbott this week, more than a dozen Republicans said that getting it wrong with Reed could “erode public trust — not only in capital punishment, but in Texas justice itself.”
“We have a lot of executions, right? We’re Texas,” said Republican state Rep. James White, who has served in the Legislature for nearly a decade. “This probably is the first one I’ve directly reached out to the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office on. Not on the prospect that I believe that Mr. Reed is innocent. But I do believe there is a lot of information and evidence that does deserve to be vetted.”
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pauljweber