Eric Fisher has your latest weather forecast.
Eric Fisher has your latest weather forecast.
Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offenses of which they stand accused. The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable. The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people.
“No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush. Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden's many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband's career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama's vice president. Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example.
Europe must stand up for its values in its dealings with China, but given the country's sheer population and economic importance, there will always be a trade-off between the EU's values and its interests, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. "We must define our own European interests, and this also includes common ground (with China) on foreign policy, on economic policy and digital policy and many more," she said.
A senior Syrian official denied asylum in France due to concerns of possible involvement in war crimes was spirited out of the country with help from the Israeli secret service Mossad to Austria, where he was helped to start a new life, a top judicial source has told The Telegraph. Brigadier General Khaled al-Halabi, who was chief of Syrian intelligence in Raqqa from 2009 until 2013, is also the target of a legal complaint for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, a Telegraph investigation can reveal. During his time in charge of the Raqqa facility, prisoners were allegedly murdered, tortured and sexually assaulted, according to the complaint filed in a Western country and which has been sent to the Paris prosecutor. Mr Halabi vehemently denies any wrongdoing. In spite of human rights concerns about his unit, France’s spy agency, Direction Générale de la Ssécurité Extérieure, (DGSE), helped the general secretly leave Syria and travel to France in 2014 at a time when Syria’s war against rebel forces was in the balance, it is alleged. He was, however, then denied asylum in France due to concerns that his senior position in the Syrian regime meant he could have been involved in criminal acts, The Telegraph has learned. That prompted the French War Crimes Unit to launch a preliminary investigation in 2017. In spite of this, he was then mysteriously exfiltrated from France by Israeli intelligence agents to Austria, where he was successfully granted asylum, according to the judicial source and French and Austrian media. The agencies involved allegedly believed Mr Halabi could play an important role in the future of Syria. “It's clear he is a big fish,” said one senior French judicial source. “We wanted to quiz him about all the testimonies we have gathered. It is very frustrating as he was a top target." How Mr Halabi obtained asylum when France turned him down and whether he should have been prosecuted has sparked a national uproar in Austria in recent weeks, with the media revealing an apparent power struggle between the country’s domestic intelligence agency, which allegedly helped the general, and its justice ministry which sought to investigate him. In 2013, when Mr Halabi defected, it was not clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would prevail over the rebels who had been fighting to overthrow him since 2011. Russia, which would provide decisive help to the embattled president, would not enter the war for another two years. That October, as Raqqa became the first provincial capital to fall to the rebels, Mr Halabi slipped out of the city among a stream of refugees headed to Turkey. By early 2014 he had made it to France with the help of French agents who may have believed the senior official could be a useful asset in the event of President Assad’s downfall, the senior French judicial source told The Telegraph. “This was also just a few months before the 2015 terror attacks in Paris and the DGSE was desperate to get their hands on any leads about the Islamic State, which they knew was actively planning strikes,” said the source, who asked their name be withheld. “If they brought him here it was no doubt because they considered him a usable source,” said one senior French military intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. However, Mr Halabi’s request for asylum in France was declined in 2015, with the French Office for Refugees, OFPRA, citing a specific provision of the Geneva Convention, 1F. This denies an individual refugee status when there are serious reasons to consider he may have committed a “crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, or a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge”. He could not be deported however as Syria was a country at war. At this point, the Israeli and Austrian intelligence services are alleged to have intervened on Mr Halabi’s behalf.
WASHINGTON (AP) — “America the Beautiful” is this year's Christmas theme at the White House. Melania Trump says it pays tribute to and showcases the “majesty" of the United States. Ornaments on the official Christmas tree in the Blue Room — a towering Fraser fir from Shepherdstown, West Virginia — were designed by students from across the country who were asked by the National Park Service to highlight the people, places and things that make their states beautiful.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday condemned the brutal murder of four villagers by suspected Islamist militants as "beyond the limits of humanity", as the military chief prepared to deploy special forces to join the hunt for the killers. In a video address, the president said the attack on Friday in a region riven by bloody, sectarian conflict in the past was designed to drive a wedge among the population in the world's biggest majority-Muslim nation.
The administration’s blasting crews are swiftly tearing through the remote Peloncillo Mountains in forbidding terrain with dynamite, reflecting an increasing urgency to install the structure
Los Angeles County will ban most social gatherings starting Monday for at least three weeks. That's as coronavirus cases continue to climb, crossing the threshold set for additional measures. The county will prohibit individuals from socializing with anyone outside their household. That’s on top of the overnight curfew imposed across most of the state last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom. Together, they’re among the most restrictive measures in effect nationwide. The county’s public health order issued Friday will affect some 20 million people living in and around the nation’s second largest city. The order extends to businesses as well. It lowers the maximum occupancy levels for “essential” retail businesses like groceries to 35% of capacity and non-essential businesses like indoor malls and nail salons to 20% of capacity. Arnold and Kristy Ontes own a small business. “I understand why they’re saying that. I just don’t know if it’s proven that that’s gonna help.” They're seeing many empty storefronts. “It’s very difficult to watch. Especially when you know people, like we do who own these businesses.” But the order will allow for religious services and protests under constitutionally protected rights. That’s an apparent nod to Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision that struck down a New York state order that had restricted the size of religious gatherings. Beaches, trails and parks will also remain open.
As cases of coronavirus once again soar in Pakistan, volunteers are accepting shots of an experimental Chinese vaccine. Thousands of volunteers are being recruited to trial a vaccine from Chinese manufacturer CanSinoBio as part of an agreement that will reportedly see Pakistan receive millions of doses of any finished shots. Pakistan and other countries in Asia and Africa are used to receiving huge Chinese investment to build highways, ports, railways and powerplants. Now, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided Beijing with a new soft power tool, as it uses its medical expertise to bolster its global ambitions. Under this vaccine diplomacy, countries are helping Chinese scientists host vaccine trials in return for sharing the finished drugs when they are available. China has also joined a United Nations-backed global scheme for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine, which has been shunned by America. Recent polling has shown growing public suspicion of China in the West, partly amid accusations it bungled or covered up the early stages of the pandemic. There has also been growing scepticism of China's Belt and Road initiative to build a twenty first century Silk Road across Asia. The country's vaccine programmes offered a new opportunity to build trust in the developing world, and also secure its own people, said Yu Jie, senior research fellow on China at the Chatham House think tank. “We know from this pandemic, that no country is alone, China itself cannot completely eliminate Covid-19. Imported cases always come from neighbouring countries of China. In a way yes, China is conducting vaccine diplomacy, but to some extent China is also helping itself because if all the neighbouring countries get out of this pandemic, then China will be safer.” China's early success quashing the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan has also left vaccine developers with the problem of needing to conduct efficacy trials in countries where volunteers stand a chance of catching the disease. Trials of Chinese vaccines are underway in Pakistan, Brazil, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Pakistani officials have said they will in return receive millions of doses on a priority basis. China has a well established drug manufacturing sector, but until now has not been a leading vaccine maker, said Ben Cowling, professor of public health at Hong Kong University. He said Chinese Covid-19 vaccine development had stuck to tried and tested methods of using inactivated virus, rather than some of the new genetic technologies used by Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. As a result, its vaccines may not work as well, but they were likely to be cheap and straightforward to make. “They really do represent possibilities in terms of vaccinating in Pakistan, other parts of the world, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, South America. “I think a lot of countries will be very interested in getting hold of these Chinese vaccines and Chinese vaccine manufacturers will be very interested in opening up those markets to their vaccines.” China's manufacturing might will be needed to creating the vast volumes of vaccine needed in the coming months, he said. As many as 10 billion doses could be needed in the next two years and Western manufacturers would not be able to cope, he said. “So the Chinese manufacturing capacity is going to be valuable, not necessarily for Europe, but for places, like Pakistan, Africa and other parts of the world.”
Spanish authorities have dismantled a makeshift camp for migrant processing that for over three months was known as the “dock of shame” for holding thousands of Africans in squalor after they arrived in the Canary Islands. The Spanish government’s delegation in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago confirmed Monday that all the 830 people held Friday at the Arguineguín dock, on the southwestern coast of Gran Canaria Island, had been moved out by Sunday night to other facilities. The last to leave were 27 migrants who have tested positive for coronavirus and were placed in isolation.