Florida has declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties as Hurricane Dorian continues to gain strength in the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center warns the storm may hit South Florida on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds as high as 130 miles per hour. On Thursday, President Trump announced he would cancel a trip to Poland in order to stay in Washington due to the hurricane; Vice President Mike Pence is going instead.
The Justice Department’s inspector general has determined former FBI Director James Comey violated agency policies by disclosing sensitive information to the press, but the Justice Department has decided not to prosecute him. The investigation centered on Comey’s decision to leak the contents of a memo he wrote in which he detailed how President Trump had asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s then-national security adviser.
In Colombia, a group of former FARC rebels has announced they are taking up arms again, accusing the Colombian government of failing to live up to the 2016 peace accord that ended 50 years of fighting. In a video, former FARC commander Iván Márquez — who helped negotiate the peace deal — said a “new phase of armed struggle” was beginning.
Iván Márquez: “When we signed the agreement of Havana, we did it with the conviction that it was possible to change the lives of the humble and the dispossessed. But the state has not fulfilled even the most important of the obligations — that is, to guarantee the life of its citizens, and particularly to prevent their murder for political reasons.”
Colombian President Iván Duque has vowed to hunt down the rebel commanders who are taking up arms. According to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies, 702 social leaders and human rights defenders and 135 former FARC guerrilla members have been killed in Colombia since 2016.
India’s crackdown on Kashmir is intensifying nearly four weeks after Prime Minister Modi revoked the special status of the territory. Earlier today, Indian authorities ordered Kashmiris to stay off the streets as new barricades went up. The internet and phone lines remain down. As many as 4,000 people, including many political leaders, remain detained. The BBC is reporting Indian security forces are being accused of beating and torturing residents of Kashmir. One Kashmir resident told the BBC, “They beat every part of my body. … When we fainted they gave us electric shocks to bring us back. When they hit us with sticks and we screamed, they sealed our mouth with mud.” In related news, nationwide rallies were held in Pakistan today to show solidarity with the people in Kashmir.
In Yemen, the United Arab Emirates is being accused of bombing Saudi-backed Yemeni forces and killing as many as 40 people, as a new front in the Yemen war intensifies. For years, the UAE and the Saudis were on the same side as they targeted Houthi rebels. But now the Gulf states find themselves on opposing sides in a separate battle for the control of Aden, Yemen’s interim capital. The UAE has been backing a group of separatists, while the Saudis back the government forces.
In Hong Kong, three prominent pro-democracy activists were arrested earlier today ahead of a major planned protest on Saturday. Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly and held for several hours before being released on bail. Shortly after his release, Wong addressed reporters.
Joshua Wong: “All we ask for is just to urge Beijing and the Hong Kong government to redraw the bill, stop police brutality and respond to our calls for a free election.”
A third prominent Hong Kong activist, Andy Chan, was also arrested today. He is accused of rioting and assaulting an officer. Meanwhile, Reuters has revealed that the Chinese central government rejected a proposal earlier this summer by Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, to defuse the protest movement. Lam proposed withdrawing a controversial extradition bill, but China ordered her not to yield to any of the protesters’ demands.
In a setback to opponents of Brexit, a judge in Scotland has refused to block British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament next month. Johnson’s move leaves lawmakers who oppose a no-deal exit from the European Union with limited time to pass legislation supporting any other measures. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to challenge Johnson’s plan.
Jeremy Corbyn: “We will be back in Parliament on Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash-and-grab raid against our democracy, where he’s trying to suspend Parliament in order to prevent a serious discussion and a serious debate to prevent a no-deal Brexit.”
In news from Africa, the death toll from an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has topped 2,000. It’s the second-worst outbreak of the epidemic on record. The World Health Organization has called the situation in the DRC “one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world.” According to the WHO, 48,000 people in the DRC have died of malaria this year, 3,100 have died of measles, and nearly 300 have died of cholera.
Environmental groups are threatening to sue the Trump administration over its move to rescind regulations on methane emissions at oil and gas plants. On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency put forward a new rule to overturn regulations put in place by President Obama. According to the EPA, the rule will save energy companies up to $123 million through 2025. But environmental groups warn the change could have a devastating impact on the climate crisis. Methane has more than 80 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide.
The NAACP of Alabama is calling on the state’s Republican governor to resign after she acknowledged she once wore blackface during a college skit in 1967 when she was a student at Auburn. Republican Governor Kay Ivey apologized for the incident after audio of a radio interview resurfaced where she and her then-fiancé talked about the skit, in which she dressed in blackface and crawled around looking for cigar butts.
Ben LaRavia: “As I look at my fiancée across the room, I can see her that night. She had on a pair of blue coveralls, and she had put some black paint all over her face. And she was — we were acting out this skit called 'Cigar Butts.'”
Earlier this year, photos emerged of Kay Ivey’s sorority sisters at Auburn wearing blackface, but none showed the future governor.
Two former New York police detectives who were accused of raping an 18-year-old in a police van after they arrested and handcuffed her will avoid facing any time in jail. On Thursday, the former detectives — Eddie Martins and Richard Hall — pleaded guilty to lesser charges and were sentenced to probation, even though prosecutors had requested a sentence of one to three years in prison. The detectives claimed the 2017 encounter was consensual. A lawyer for the teenage victim denounced the sentence. Michael David said, “We’re outraged. It’s complete injustice what happened today. You can’t consent when you’re 5’3, 100 pounds and they’re both over 6 feet and very muscular. They had her in handcuffs. These cops got a free pass.”
In a move that could trigger an arms race in space, President Trump has formally launched U.S. Space Command. At a White House ceremony, Trump described space as the next war-fighting domain.
President Donald Trump: “As the newest combatant command, Spacecom will defend America’s vital interests in space, the next war-fighting domain. … Spacecom will soon be followed, very importantly, by the establishment of the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces.”
Jon Rainwater of Peace Action criticized Trump’s announcement, saying, “Given that any fighting in space would likely be with nuclear powers like Russia and China, the militarization of space adds to the risk of nuclear war.”