By: Jeremy B White of The Independent
Donald Trump vowed to maintain America’s military commitment in Afghanistan, sustaining America’s longest war and reversing his previously staunch resistance to the US engagement there.
In his first first nationally-televised prime-time address since January, the President laid out a vision short on concrete details, but strong on rhetoric – saying that US troops “will fight to win” in Afghanistan, as well as putting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist sanctuaries near its borders and calling for further help from India.
While multiple reports earlier in the day that Mr Trump was ready to commit as many as 4,000 more troops to the country, the President pointedly declined to state specific details about troop totals. But he made it clear that he planned to keep troops in Afghanistan as a bulwark against violence, even as he said “the American people are weary of war without victory”.
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By: Fiona Keating of The Independent
The Catholic Church and British local authorities have been accused of using a legal loophole to avoid paying compensation to victims of child sex abuse.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied some children financial settlements because it said the victims had “consented” to the abuse, a group of charities has warned.
Lawyers representing victims have warned that this line of defence is becoming increasingly common.
One case that the charity Victim Support brought attention to involved a 12-year-old girl who was given alcohol, brought into woodland and then sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old male. The girl was denied compensation because she had “voluntarily” gone into the woods with the man.
“No child ever gives their ‘consent’ to being abused, and the increased use of this line of defence, although still quite rare, is worrying,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England. “I have contacted the Ministry of Justice previously and again recently about this issue and the Government should look urgently at what can be done to tackle it.”
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By: Laura Smith-Spark of CNN
At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured after a van rammed through crowds of people in the heart of Barcelona Thursday in what police described as a terror attack.
Eyewitnesses reported scenes of panic and chaos as the van plowed through crowds in the renowned Las Ramblas avenue, which was teeming at the time with locals and tourists.
One person has been arrested, Catalan police said. Police are treating the incident as a terror attack and have sealed off the area.
“We can confirm 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” Joaquim Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told a news conference.
City officials ordered all public events to be canceled, while emergency services requested the closure of metro and train stations in the area.
Reports of the attack first emerged on social media at about 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET). About two hours later, police confirmed that Spain had suffered a deadly attack.
It was the latest in a series of attacks in Europe in which vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians in public spaces.
Catalan police said they were continuing to hunt for the perpetrators and that the force had activated its terror response protocols. Unconfirmed reports suggested the suspects may have been attempting to reach a getaway vehicle.
Local Spanish media earlier reported that two armed men had entered a restaurant. But Catalan police dismissed rumors that the attacker had been holed up near Las Ramblas and said there “was never a hostage situation.”
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By: Peter Pae of Bloomberg
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that any military action against Kim Jong Un’s regime requires his nation’s approval, and vowed to prevent war at all costs.
“There will be no war repeated on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in a speech on Tuesday marking the anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation in the 1940s. Military action against North Korea should be decided by “ourselves and not by anyone else,” he said.
While Moon said that South Korea would work with the U.S. to counter security threats, he emphasized the need to focus on diplomatic efforts. Sanctions were designed to bring North Korea to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile weapons programs, he said.
The comments from a key U.S. ally contrast with the threats of war coming from President Donald Trump, who vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if Kim persists with advancements in his arsenal, particularly intercontinental ballistic missiles. Trump’s rhetoric has raised concerns that a miscalculation — or unilateral action by the U.S. — could spark a military conflict that risks devastating North Korea’s neighbors.
The diminishing prospects of war have helped equities to rally. Stock indexes from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Sydney climbed on Tuesday after the S&P 500 Index surged 1 percent, while havens such as gold, Treasuries and the yen retreated.
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By: Margaret Paul of ABC
Cervical cancer could be almost completely eliminated, research has found, thanks to a new vaccine being reviewed by Australia’s pharmaceutical authority.
A Melbourne-based study, led by the Royal Women’s Hospital and Victorian Cytology Service, looked at nearly 900 samples of cervical cancer, and found the Gardasil vaccine being given to students in their first year of secondary school protects against 77 per cent of them.
The study published in the International Journal of Cancer found the new Gardasil 9 vaccine protected against 93 per cent of cancers.
The lead researcher, Associate Professor Julia Brotherton, said the research was very exciting.
“It’s truly ground-breaking,” she said.
Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee [PBAC] is reviewing how cost-effective the new vaccine is for Australia, and a decision is due later this month.
Professor Brotherton said she expected the committee would consider the research.
“I’m very hopeful that this vaccine will become available to young people in the first year of high school when we give the vaccine, hopefully as early as next year,” she said.
Another benefit to the new vaccine is that it requires fewer injections.
The current vaccine given to young people requires three doses.
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By: Eleanor Ainge Roy of The Guardian
The New Zealand Medical Association has called for a ban on selling alcohol in supermarkets, saying that having it next to groceries and food normalises a dangerous drug.
Wine and beer have been widely available in most supermarkets around the country since 1990, although spirits can be bought only in bars and off-licences.
The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said having alcohol in supermarkets normalised the drug, and made buying it cheap and easy – meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley alongside their bread, milk and toilet paper without a second thought.
According to the association well over half a million New Zealanders consume alcohol in a hazardous way, with many emergency rooms filled on Friday and Saturday nights with alcohol-related admissions.
The NZMA believes it is the government that is best placed to crack down on heavy consumption – a position supported by many health and social policy academics and Alcohol Healthwatch.
Dr Kate Baddock, the chair of the association, said evidence suggested alcohol was worse than methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin, because it was a cheap, addictive, psychotropic drug.
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By: The BBC
Venezuela’s electoral authorities said more than eight million people, or 41.5% of the electorate, had voted for a new constituent assembly.
But the CEO of Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, said the actual turnout was inflated by at least one million.
Venezuela’s electoral council dismissed the allegations as “baseless”.
Threatening to open legal action against Mr Mugica, the council’s boss Tibisay Lucena called it an “irresponsible accusation, based on estimates”.
What did the voting firm have to say?
“It is with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout numbers on Sunday 30th July for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with,” Mr Mugica told a media conference in London.
He added that although the company’s system had recorded the true number of voters, a full audit would have to take place before he could give the precise figure.
Asked why he had not contacted the Venezuelan authorities, Mr Mugica said he thought they “would not be sympathetic to what we’d say”.
Smartmatic provided about 24,000 machines for Venezuelans to cast their votes electronically.
According to the company, their system supplied correct voting statistics but altered results were announced in their place.
Separately, the Reuters news agency reported it had seen an internal memo from Venezuela’s electoral authorities saying fewer than four million votes had been cast just two hours before polls closed.
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By: Compliments of BBC
At least three Republicans – John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – voted against the bill, which needed a simple majority to pass.
President Donald Trump said the three had “let the American people down”.
The so-called “skinny” repeal, which would have scaled back some of the more controversial provisions, is the third failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.
It would have resulted in 16 million people losing their health insurance by 2026, with insurance premiums increasing by 20%, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
What happened in the Senate?
The vote was delayed after Senate Republicans kept a procedural vote open before the actual Obamacare vote while they attempted to persuade their members to vote for the repeal.
Vice President Mike Pence was seen talking to Mr McCain for more than 20 minutes. But Mr McCain then approached a group of Democrats, who appeared happy to see him.
The bill was eventually voted down by 51 votes to 49 in the Republican-dominated Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, described the result as a “disappointing moment”.
Democrat Chuck Schumer said his party was relieved that millions of people would retain their healthcare.
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By: Jeff Daniels
North Korea test fired a missile that may have landed within 230 miles of Japan’s coast, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
The missile was fired shortly before midnight Japan time on Friday, Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, said, citing government officials. Abe is convening an emergency meeting of officials, Reuters reported.
“We detected a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told CNBC in an email statement. “We are assessing and will have more information soon.”
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the North Korean missile flew for about 45 minutes before landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which stretches some 200 nautical miles from its coast. Suga reported that there were no immediate reports of damage from the missile.
A South Korean military official told NBC News that North Korea fired “one unidentified projectile” into the East Sea, which is a portion of the Sea of Japan. The military official said the incident was immediately reported to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Top U.S. and South Korean military officials met to discuss military options after the launch, a spokesman for a top U.S. general told Reuters. Marine General Joseph Dunford and U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris called South Korean Joint Chief of Staff General Lee Sun-jin to discuss the commitment of the alliance and military response options.
The missile was fired from Jagang province in northern North Korea, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The agency also said the South Korean president arranged an urgent meeting of his national security team.
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By: Oliver Pechter of Business Insider
The Swedish government could potentially resign today.
The Swedish opposition movement Alliansen is putting forward a motion of no confidence against interior minister Anders Ygeman, defence minister Peter Hultqvist and infrastructure minister Anna Johansson following an IT-scandal at the Swedish Transport Agency earlier this month, which involved the leaking of private citizen data to foreign contractors.
“We at Alliansen want to raise a motion of no confidence against the three responsible ministers for their failures to take responsibility during the crisis,” said the Moderates party leader Anna Kinberg Batra.
“It is obvious that the three ministers have neglected their duties… it may have threatened the security of Sweden,” says Annie Lööf.
“But we are not demanding that the government should resign,” says Jan Björklund.
The Alliance elaborated their decision further in a debate article in Svenska Dagbladet.
“The security crisis puts individual citizens as well as the entire nation’s security at risk. It’s very serious. We have found major shortcomings in the government’s work and responsibility during the handling of the crisis.”
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