2021-01-01 06:28:29 ..
2021-01-22 11:58:33 UTC
2021-01-23 15:23:12 UTC --martyb
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The US is claiming its naval ships have been denied entry to Hong Kong, as Donald Trump suggests troops are “moving towards the border”.
A US Commander has confirmed China has blocked the Pacific Fleet’s naval ships from entering ports in Hong Kong.
Two US naval ships due to visit Hong Kong have been denied scheduled access to the city’s ports by China, the US Pacific Fleet confirmed today.
A US Navy spokesman today said two vessels had been blocked from entering the port, hours after President Donald Trump said China was moving its troops towards the border.
The president’s claims were made without specific evidence, according to The Australian
Commander Nate Christensen, the deputy spokesman for the United States Pacific Fleet, confirmed this morning the two US ships, USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie, had been barred from entering the port. The first vessel, an amphibious dock landing ship, was due to stop in Hong Kong on Saturday, and the second was due in the city next month.
The last time the US Navy visited Hong Kong was in April.
Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
[...]Hong Kong’s 10-week political crisis, in which millions of people have taken to the streets calling for a halt to sliding freedoms, was already the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.
But two days of protests at the airport have again raised the stakes for the financial hub.
Beijing is sending increasingly ominous signals that the unrest must end, with state-run media showing videos of security forces gathering across the border.
[...]All check-ins were cancelled on Tuesday afternoon after thousands of protesters wearing their signature black T-shirts made barricades using luggage trolleys to prevent passengers from passing through security gates.
[...]Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong since China took it back from Britain in 1997.
While Hong Kong is a sovereign part of China, the former colony has significant differences to the mainland, including separate legal and political systems, distinct currency, national sporting teams and a greater tolerance for freedom of expression.
Hong Kong also retains many of its pre-colonial features, including driving on the same side of the road as Britain and Australia but not China, the retention of many British place names and statues of British monarchs and dignitaries.
Those two different systems are supposed to remain in place for at least 50 years.
However, Beijing has sought to erode these freedoms in recent years through changes to the law, attempts to not allow pro-independence politicians to take their seats in the region’s parliament and even the disappearance of booksellers critical of the Communist Party leadership.
SpaceX's Starhopper was engulfed in a fireball shortly after a static fire ignition of its Raptor engine, almost certainly delaying the low-fidelity Starship prototype and testbed's first untethered flight.
With any luck, Raptor, Starhopper, and SpaceX's spartan Boca Chica facilities have escaped relatively unharmed. Regardless, even if Raptor's static fire was technically successful, some repairs will likely be necessary and the off-nominal behavior that occurred after the ignition test will have to be dealt with and understood to prevent such behavior during future Starhopper operations.
[...] Due to the inherently low quality of video captured through thousands of feet of thick, humid Texas air, it's almost impossible to make specific details out. However, shortly after the static fire ignition and shutdown, some viewers believe that there was fire visible at one or several points on Starhopper, although what looks like fire could easily be a simple reflection of the active flare stack just a few hundred feet away.
Hopefully hurt nobody is, damages minimal they are, and lots of telemetry collected it was.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Southern California Friday night, the second major temblor in less than two days and one that rocked buildings across Southern California, adding more jitters to an already nervous region.
The quake was centered near Ridgecrest, the location of the July 4th 6.2 magnitude temblor that was the largest in nearly 20 years.
There were reports of Friday night's quake causing some fires and other damage in Ridgecrest, said emergency officials on the scene.
[...] When Thursday's quake hit, scientists had warned that it could lead to an even larger quake. Ridgecrest has been rattled by more than 17 magnitude 4 quakes and at least 1,200 aftershocks since Thursday. A magnitude 5.4 aftershock occurred earlier this morning— strong enough to awaken some residents of Los Angeles about 125 miles away.
The largest earthquake in two decades rattled Southern California on Thursday morning, shaking communities from Las Vegas to Long Beach and ending a quiet period in the state's seismic history.
Striking at 10:33 a.m., the magnitude 6.4 temblor was centered about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the remote Searles Valley area near where Inyo, San Bernardino and Kern counties meet. It was felt as far away as Ensenada and Mexicali in Mexico, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and Chico, Calif.
Authorities said there were no immediate reports of deaths, serious injuries or major infrastructure damage, though emergency responders were still inspecting areas around the city of Ridgecrest.
Patients at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital were evacuated "out of an abundance of caution," hospital Chief Executive James Suver said. About 20 patients were transferred to other facilities while seismic engineers inspected broken pipes in the facility. "For true emergencies, we will stabilize them and then get them to the right level of care," he said.
Ridgecrest, a community of about 29,000 known to many skiers as a pit stop on the way to Mammoth, was inundated with offers of help, from neighboring towns, congressional leaders such as Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Kamala Harris and even the White House, Mayor Peggy Breeden said.
[...] The quake, estimated to have been felt by some 15 million people, was the largest with an epicenter in Southern California since the magnitude 7.1 Hector Mine quake struck the Mojave Desert in 1999, about 35 miles north of Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base. The last earthquake felt as widely as Thursday's was the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Easter Sunday 2010 that had an epicenter across the border in Baja California.
Before Thursday, it had been almost five years since the state experienced an earthquake of magnitude 6 or stronger. Experts had said the period of calm was sure to end, and when it did it would likely bring destruction.
[...] The rocking in Searles Valley began with two foreshocks: an initial quake of magnitude 4 at 10:02 a.m. Seven minutes later, a 2.5 temblor struck. About 24 minutes later, the mainshock began seven miles underground, lasting five seconds.
[...] By midafternoon, more than 200 aftershocks had been recorded, including 10 of magnitude 4 or greater.
Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones, California's foremost earthquake expert, said that aftershocks will continue to rumble through Kern County, and there is a small chance that the quake was a "foreshock" of an even greater temblor to come.
[...] The faults that moved Thursday were nowhere near California's most feared fault — they are about 100 miles northeast of the San Andreas, said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson.
In a major provocation, Iran shot down an unarmed and unmanned U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton drone while it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz Thursday, a U.S. official told ABC News.
The incident is sure to trigger serious discussions within the Trump administration about how to respond to a direct attack on a U.S. military asset that goes beyond recent attacks in the Middle East that the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
A US military surveillance drone has been shot down by Iranian forces while flying over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said the drone had violated Iranian airspace. But US military said it had been over international waters. IRGC commander-in-chief Maj-Gen Hossein Salami said the downing of the drone sent a "clear message to America" that Iran's borders were its "red line".
It comes at a time of escalating tension between the US and Iran. On Monday, the US defence department said it was deploying 1,000 extra troops to the region in response to "hostile behaviour" by Iranian forces. The US has also accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers with mines last Thursday just outside the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Oman. Iran rejects the allegation.
Previously: Two Oil Tankers Attacked, US Blames Iran
Two oil tankers on Thursday morning were reportedly attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial oil transport route that sits between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, echoing a similar attack last month and stoking fears about escalating tensions in the region.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for Thursday's attacks, but the U.S. blamed Iran for last month's bombing of four tankers in the same general area, without offering a clear explanation as to why. Iran denied that allegation, but it is embroiled in several conflicts in the region. It has long feuded with U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—tensions only heightened by a clash over the civil war in Yemen—and Thursday's incident fueled fears that tensions in the region are approaching a breaking point.
Thursday's attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman caused jitters in global markets and unease across a region that has been bracing for conflict throughout much of the year. As with the earlier attacks on 12 May, news of the latest strikes was again broken by media outlets aligned to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran, who broadcast images of the attacks within minutes of them taking place.
Pictures of both ships ablaze spoke volumes about what is at stake in one of the world's most strategic waterways, as a regional player withering under ever tightening sanctions stares down a global superpower determined to impose its will.
Even the hint of obstruction in the strait of Hormuz, where ships pass each other like cars on a four lane motorway, is enough to upset oil markets. Frequent, and seemingly random, bombings of tankers, however, takes fears over energy security to levels not seen since the tanker wars, a byproduct of the Iran-Iraq war of the mid-80s, which sunk or damaged 543 ships in nearby waters and caused three years of turmoil in energy markets. By Thursday afternoon, two large shipping companies had suspended bookings from the Gulf oil ports.
Iran strenuously denied involvement in the May attacks and, in remarks on Thursday, appeared to be following suit. Javad Zarif, the foreign minister, described the attacks as "beyond suspicious" and Iranian media suggested an attack on a Japanese-owned tanker taking place at the same time Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei pointed to a plot.
Iran views Trump with contempt, but on balance believes the economic war launched by his administration, and military threats, are designed not to start a bombing war, but to shore up a negotiating position, vis-a-vis a bid to redraw the nuclear deal that was signed by his predecessor, and torn up by Trump last year.
Khamenei is known to be vigorously opposed to any new talks, particularly from a perceived position of weakness, and has told subordinates to carefully calibrate any response to US moves, which he believes aim to wind back its regional gains since the US-led ousting of Saddam Hussein and bring his regime to heel.
Ali Vaez, senior Iran analyst and Iran project director for the International Crisis Group, observed: "If Iran is behind these attacks, it clearly shows that a US policy relying solely on coercion can backfire. Diplomatic efforts by allies are necessary to dial down the tension, but they can't resolve it as long as Washington relies on an all-or-nothing approach."
Australian Federal Police (AFP) have raided the Sydney headquarters of the public broadcaster ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), after yesterday's raid on the home of a News Corp. journalist. A radio talkback host for station 2GB has also been targeted by the AFP.
Mrs. May announced on Friday that she would be stepping down as leader of her Conservative Party and then as Britain's prime minister, after repeatedly failing to win Parliament's approval for a deal to withdraw the country from the European Union.
A successor to Theresa May will be chosen before Parliament's summer break, the Conservative Party chairman said. She will continue as prime minister until the leadership contest is finished.
[...] Standing in front of 10 Downing Street, Mrs. May said it was in the "best interests of the country for a new prime minister" to lead Britain through the Brexit process. She announced plans to step down as the leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, with the process to replace her beginning the following week.
Previously: Theresa May: UK's Next Prime Minister?
May spoke outside 10 Downing Street after a meeting with Graham Brady, the head of the 1922 Committee of Conservative Party backbenchers. She said she will step down on June 7. Her resignation will trigger a party leadership contest, and whoever wins that contest will take over as prime minister.
[...] Her announcement could complicate the upcoming June 3 state visit by President Trump to London to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where he will also meet with Queen Elizabeth II.
May will still be in office during that visit, meaning it will nix the chance for a new prime minister to forge ties with the American president at a time where such relations are vital. A U.S.-U.K. trade deal is a top priority for the U.K. as it looks to depart from the European Union and begin making its own trade agreements -- and Trump has said "the potential is unlimited" for such a deal.