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Taiwan’s independence rally draws thousands, irks China

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed more than 100,000 people turned out for the march against Beijing's increasing hostility toward the self-ruled island. Some carried placards bearing the message: “No more bullying; no more annexation." The demonstration was organized by a new political outfit, the Formosa Alliance, which is backed by two pro-independence former Taiwanese presidents, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, as well as leaders of several other smaller political parties. Read more: Will China-Vatican deal have a diplomatic domino effect for Taiwan? Independence activist George Kuo founded the alliance in February 2018 to pressure the government to amend the island's Referendum Act and initiate the process for organizing a public referendum on independence from China. "In order to help Taiwan be recognized as a sovereign state internationally, our government needs to amend the Referendum Act to allow the Taiwanese people to express their desire to achieve Taiwanese independence through votes," Kuo told DW, ahead of the rally. Maintaining the status quo China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949. Taiwan views itself as a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland. Beijing has warned it would respond with force if Taiwan tried an official split. China also demands its international allies forfeit diplomatic recognition of the island. Furthermore, China's growing international political and economic clout in recent years have allowed Beijing to curtail Taiwanese presence on the international stage, by blocking it from global forums and poaching its dwindling number of diplomatic partners. Taiwan's currently ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally independence-leaning, but President Tsai Ing-wen has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China. Tsai's measured approach has alienated some pro-independence supporters of her party. This hasn't prevented relations between Beijing and Taipei from further deteriorating since Tsai took office in 2016, as she has refused to adhere to Beijing's line that Taiwan is part of "one China." Read more: US to sell Taiwan military gear worth $330 million Kuo argued that the pro-independence rally gave the Taiwanese people the opportunity to come out and show to China that they disapprove of Beijing's "barbaric way of intimidating Taiwan and its people." Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have said the Formosa Alliance should not go down what they called a "dangerous path." Electoral considerations? Saturday's protest took place at a sensitive time in Taiwan, ahead of local elections in November. Even though the Formosa Alliance denied that its decision to organize the demonstration was influenced by electoral considerations, some analysts believe otherwise. Kharis Templeman, an expert on Taiwanese democracy and security at Stanford University, pointed out that Tsai and the DPP are struggling domestically, and, therefore, it's understandable that these pro-independence activists are now coming to their rescue. "It makes sense for independence activists to hold events now to rally support for their cause, as the DPP is in danger of getting trounced in the local elections," Templeman told DW. Read more: Is Taiwan's tourism industry too reliant on China? A high-risk gambit A vote on independence in Taiwan would require an amendment to current laws, which bar referendums on changing the constitution or sovereign territory. Many believe Tsai would be unlikely to allow such an amendment due to fears that it would enrage Beijing. "Acknowledgement of Taiwan's existing de facto independence is high, but because of the risks involved in pursuing de jure independence, the mainstream position in Taiwan is to support the status quo," Jonathan Sullivan, director of China programs at Nottingham University, told DW. According to local media reports, the DPP prohibited its officials and candidates from attending Saturday's protest, which was held outside the party headquarters. But some independence activists say this is the right time to press forward, given the DPP holds the presidency as well a parliamentary majority for the first time. Yi-Chih Chen, the chairperson of the pro-independence Taiwan Radical Wings, argues that the key for Taiwan to achieve independence is for the government to turn the Taiwanese people's collective will into a parameter that Western allies have to take into account when dealing with China. "President Tsai's government should tell the US that there is a consensus among the Taiwanese people that Taiwan should become independent, and it is not purely DPP's political agenda," Chen told DW.

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed ... Read More »

Brexit: Jewish families in UK who fled Nazis seek German passports

As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime. An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the EU, according to government figures. Individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis and their descendants made up the majority of those applying, a report on Friday said. Of the 3,731 applications since 2016, 3,408 referred to the German Constitution's Article 116. Under the article, former German citizens who were deprived of citizenship on "political, racial, or religious grounds" — and their descendants — are entitled to have citizenship restored. Read more: Will Brits say 'au revoir' to French dream post-Brexit? Tens of thousands of Jews fled Germany for the UK before and during World War II. They included some 10,000 children who were evacuated as part of the so-called "Kindertransport” between December 1938 and August 1939, most of whom never saw their families again. Sharp rise in applications The increase in those applying for repatriation increased significantly after the UK's Brexit referendum, according to figures published by the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper group. In 2015, there were only 59 applications, while in 2016 — the year the UK Brexit vote took place in June — there were 760. In 2017, 1,824 applied, and 1,147 applied in the first eight months of 2018. The Funke Mediengruppe figures were obtained in response to a parliamentary question from Germany's pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Read more: Germany preparing for no deal on Brexit, says Merkel Aside from Jews, many other groups fled Germany and the Nazi regime, including members of the Roma community, homosexuals and political opponents. 'Not surprising' According to FDP interior affairs spokesman Konstantin Kuhle, the development showed that many UK citizens were keen to retain "the benefits of European citizenship" within the EU. "This is not surprising given the British government's chaotic Brexit negotiation line," Kuhle said, adding that the EU should not forget "that many people in the UK feel close to the EU." Read more: Plotting Conservatives reject Theresa May's Brexit plan The 2016 referendum, called by then Prime Minister David Cameron, ended with 52 percent voting in favor of Brexit, and 48 percent against. The number of Britons living in Germany who seek German citizenship has also increased significantly since June 2016.

As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime. An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the ... Read More »

Donald Trump threatens to shut US-Mexico border with troops

US President Donald Trump has threatened to order the military to close the US-Mexico border to stop an "onslaught" of migrants. Mexico itself geared up for the arrival of up to 3,000 people from Honduras on its border. US President Donald Trump on Thursday accused the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of conducting an "assault" on the United States by allowing people to travel north into Mexico. He went on to threaten to use the military to close the border if Mexico did not stop the migrants traveling through the country to the United States. Trump appealed to Mexico to stop the migrants, and also warned that he would stop aid payments to Central American countries "which seem to have almost no control of their population." Trump's threats — which appeared in a string of tweets — came as thousands of migrants made their way through Guatemala toward the Mexican border. One single caravan, estimated to include between 1,500 to 3,000 people, left Honduras headed north last Saturday. Many, seeking to escape gang violence and poverty, are believed to be seeking a route to the United States. Some told the AFP news agency that they planned to enter Mexico en masse. Trump's tweets also blamed Democrats for the situation, claiming that weak laws were to blame, and said the migrants included criminal elements. It remained unclear whether Trump's threat would result in any military deployment. Read more: US-Mexico border scandals sink bilateral ties to historic low Huge quantities of goods and hundreds of thousands of people move across the border legally each day. Trump has made immigration across the border from Mexico, including his call for a wall across the frontier, a central policy in his administration. His administration's policy of separating familes and detaining thousands of children, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, prompted widespread condemnation. Playing to the crowd? While Trump's tweets on Thursday were particularly robust, Mexico's foreign minister-designate Marcelo Ebrard downplayed them, saying they were aimed at his US political base. "The position of President Trump is the one he has always raised," Ebrard told local radio station Radio Centro. "It was predictable and also the election process is very close, so he is making a political calculation." Read more: Migrants gamble with their lives on the 'death train' Mexico has said it will ask the United Nations refugee office for help with the arrival of the Honduran migrants, who include many families with children. Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said he planned to make the formal request in a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. "For the Mexican government it is essential first to respect and protect the human rights and fundamental dignity of all of the migrants and to do so under a logical and humanitarian and respectful treatment," said Videgaray.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to order the military to close the US-Mexico border to stop an “onslaught” of migrants. Mexico itself geared up for the arrival of up to 3,000 people from Honduras on its border. US President Donald Trump on Thursday accused the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of conducting an “assault” on ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair

Saudi Arabia's reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi's suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors' conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the International Monetary Fund chief confirmed that she would still participate in the meeting. Finally, she has pulled out. Lagarde's spokesperson declined to give a reason for the decision. The cancellation, however, is in line with the announcements of several leading Western politicians who also do not want to be seen in the Saudi capital. Global business leaders have changed their plans as well. The CEOs of major banks including HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse do not want to travel to Ryiadh. Others attendees have left their participation open. The CEO of German manufacturer Siemens, Joe Kaeser, said he would reach a decision in the coming days. While Kaeser views the disappearance of Khashoggi as a serious matter, he does not necessarily see boycotts as the solution. "If we stop conversing with countries where people have gone missing then we might as well stay home because we couldn't converse with anyone," he said. 'We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house' "We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house the way we want, but we have to deal with the situations as they arise," said Jürgen Hardt, a lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party, during a recent radio interview. Hardt, a foreign policy expert in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, added that politicians must maintain dialogue with each other, even when their attitudes do not align or when they completely reject their decisions. Read more: Could the Khashoggi case spell the end for Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman? Hardt pointed out that Saudi Arabia is an active player in the Middle East peace process trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. At the same time, however, the country is waging a brutal war in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes. "That's why we have a highly ambivalent view of Saudi Arabia," Hardt said. "With what has unfolded in recent days in the Khashoggi case, and what may be revealed in the coming few days, we will further sharpen our view. And then, if necessary, Europe will adjust its policy on Saudi Arabia." A political heavyweight Any change in European Union policy towards Saudi Arabia would be a decision of enormous significance. For years, the kingdom has been trying to present itself as a reliable political partner to the West. Riyadh has not only declared its intention to mediate in Middle East conflicts; it also claims it wants to play an active role in the fight against terrorism. The country plays an important role in the war in Syria, as well. It sees itself as an important counterweight to Middle East rival Iran, which has massively expanded its presence and influence in the region. In this context, Saudi Arabia has huge political and strategic value for the West. Saudi Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who currently lives in exile in Germany, said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing increasing pressure to answer to the suspected murder of Khashoggi, is a particularly important partner for the United States. "The American government could hardly afford to be without a man like Mohammed bin Salman who is easy to influence and control," bin Farhan told DW. The exiled prince also believes that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent trip to Saudi Arabia had an ulterior motive: "To keep the crown prince in power so that [the US] can pursue its own plans." Middle East expert Thomas Richter from the German Institute of Global and Area Studies told DW that if the suspicions about Khashoggi's violent death continue to intensify, the kingdom, in particular the crown prince, might be viewed by German politicians in a new light. Richter believes if this happens, a "serious reflection" would begin. "One could reach the conclusion that Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by a few people and apparently led by a young prince who does not shy away from anything," he said. Petrodollars and investments However, the economic might of Saudi Arabia could limit the extent of any diplomatic reorientation towards the country, and perhaps, even a direct response to the Khashoggi affair. Saudi Arabia's massive oil reserves give the ruling family substantial leverage. Every day, the world's largest oil exporter sells 10 million barrels. Global demand for oil already exceeds supply in OPEC states. Additionally, due to the imminent sanctions against Iran, around 1.7 million fewer barrels are expected to become available on the market. Should the relationship between the West and Riyadh deteriorate in the aftermath of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia could retaliate by reducing its exports. The result would be an increase in oil prices. Such a scenario would be reminiscent of the so-called oil crisis of 1973, when OPEC states reduced their production volumes as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Within a few days, the price rose from around $3 to more than $12 per barrel. The result was a worldwide recession. Read more: Donald Trump vs. OPEC: What can he do to bring down oil prices? And Saudi Arabia is not only important as an oil exporter, but also as an investor. In the US alone, it holds bonds worth almost $170 billion (€148 billion). Should it sell them, interest rates on the bond markets would increase sharply. Such a rise would massively upset the monetary policy of the Trump administration, which is financing its latest tax cuts through further bond issues. Hope for a new political culture? Saudi Arabia remains a highly significant international player, both politically and economically. Thus, its reputation as a soon-to-be rogue state in the wake the Khashoggi affair is not entirely accurate. For the time being, Riyadh is responding with threats against its partners. But Saudi Arabia will now have to face the music: Very few international players want to come to the table publicly now. If the outrage over the Khashoggi affair does not subside shortly, the presumed crime could prompt the kingdom to reconsider its political culture.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors’ conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ... Read More »

Donald Trump says Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi likely dead, vows ‘severe’ consequences

While US officials said Saudi Arabia needs more time to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said the journalist is likely dead. As tensions mount, the guest list for Riyadh's investment summit is dwindling. US President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday it "certainly looks" as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said consequences "will have to be very severe" if the Saudis were found to be responsible for his death, but he also added that it was still "a little bit early" to draw a conclusion about who may have been behind Khashoggi's suspected murder. The president's remarks came shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would wait for the Saudis to complete an investigation into what happened to Khashoggi before deciding how to respond. Ministers dropping Saudi conference US Treasury Secretary Seven Mnuchin announced that he would not be attending an investment conference in Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Thursday, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox both said they would not be attending the October 23-25 conference. On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was postponing a planned trip to Saudi Arabia pending the outcome of the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, calling the case "extremely worrying ... and disturbing." Business leaders, media giants boycott summit Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the Desert," will be missing numerous major players after several world leaders and top business executives have decided not to attend. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as well as World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, will not be attending. The heads of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Ford and other multinational companies have also pulled out, while several media companies have pulled their sponsorship, including CNN, The New York Times, CNBC, The Economist and Financial Times. Investigation ongoing Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, sparking international outcry and concern. Numerous media reports citing Turkish officials state that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents in the consulate and that his body was dismembered. Saudi officials deny any involvement in his disappearance. Turkish officials have yet to release any evidence in the case, although forensic teams have searched both the consulate and the Saudi consul general's residence. Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for the Washington Post, was a strong critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While US officials said Saudi Arabia needs more time to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said the journalist is likely dead. As tensions mount, the guest list for Riyadh’s investment summit is dwindling. US President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday it “certainly looks” as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said consequences “will have to ... Read More »

Israel and Jordan reopen key border crossings with Syria

The Quneitra crossing in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and a vital crossing between Jordan and Syria have reopened. The moves come as Syrian President Assad regains territory in the country’s civil war. Israel on Monday reopened its Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights to UN observers who had left the area in 2014 amid fierce fighting between Syrian regime forces ... Read More »

Germany: ‘Hostage situation’ at Cologne train station

Police have evacuated Cologne’s central train station after reports of shots being fired and a possible hostage situation. Police appealed to locals to avoid the area for the time being. Unknown assailants on Monday took hostages at the Cologne railway station. The incident apparently took place at a pharmacy within the central train station building. Local media reported shots were ... Read More »

Portugal issues red alert for rare Atlantic hurricane

Hurricane Leslie has hit Portugal with high winds and rain, bringing down trees and cutting power. It is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Iberian peninsula. Powerful winds brought down hundreds of trees and left thousands of homes in Portugal without electricity as Hurricane Leslie struck the European country overnight into Sunday. Although there have been no reports of deaths or injuries, authorities have advised people not to venture outdoors. They also warned of possible flooding in coastal areas. A number of flights have been canceled due to bad weather conditions. On Saturday night, the storm, which was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone as it closed in on the Iberian peninsula, swept into central and northern Portugal, before heading towards Spain. Wind speeds of up to 176 kilometers per hour (109 miles per hour) were recorded after Hurricane Leslie hit the mainland. The storm could turn out to be the fiercest to hit Portugal since 1842. Losing intensity The severe "red" warning applied to 13 of Portugal's 18 mainland districts. The Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) said Leslie would continue to lose intensity after making landfall and pass to the category of "post-tropical storm." Portugal's National Protection Agency advised residents to "avoid at all costs walking on the street." Gale-force winds and flash floods were forecast from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). It said Leslie would produce rainfalls of 25 to 75 mm (1 to 3 inches) and at some locations as high as 125 mm (5 inches), which would cause flash flooding. Throughout the weekend, Leslie's ocean swells were also expected to wrack Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands. Experts warned of "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions." Spawned in the western Atlantic The storm had been spawned in the western Atlantic two weeks ago before heading toward the Iberian Peninsula. Hurricanes formed on the American side of the Atlantic rarely bring their destructive force to Europe. Only five are on record, including Hurricane Ophelia whose air mass fueled forest fires in Portugal and Spain in 2017. Spanish meteorologists expected Leslie to reach Spain on Sunday before weakening to a tropical storm. Spain's Mediterranean island of Mallorca [Majorca] is still recovering from massive rainfalls and flash floods, especially in its eastern coastal regions, last Tuesday that killed 12 people, including tourists from Germany.

Hurricane Leslie has hit Portugal with high winds and rain, bringing down trees and cutting power. It is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Iberian peninsula. Powerful winds brought down hundreds of trees and left thousands of homes in Portugal without electricity as Hurricane Leslie struck the European country overnight into Sunday. Although there have been ... Read More »

China’s Xinjiang region legalizes Muslim internment camps

China's regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of "education and training centers" to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are internment camps in which as many as 1 million minority Muslims have been placed in the past 12 months, according to rights groups and NGO reports. The amended legislation states that Chinese regional governments "can set up vocational education and training centers ... to educate and transform those who have been influenced by extremism." However, besides teaching the Mandarin language and providing vocational skills, the new clause directs centers to provide "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behavior correction." Beijing denies that the centers serve as internment camps but has admitted that even petty criminals have been sent to such centers. Former detainees have told rights group that they were forced to denounce Islam and made to profess their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. "It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, told the AP news agency "It's a new form of re-education that's unprecedented and doesn't really have a legal basis, and I see them scrambling to try to create a legal basis for this policy." Members of the Uighur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities who live abroad have indicated they have been unable to contact their relatives in China. The Chinese government has for decades tried to suppress pro-independence movements among Xinjiang's Muslim community, spurred largely out of frustration over the influx of migrants of migrants from China's Han majority. Chinese authorities say that extremists in the region have ties to terror groups, but have given little evidence to support that claim. The latest legislation comes after the regional government launched a crackdown on halal products and banned the wearing of veils. China faces international condemnation over camps Following the Xinjiang region's law change, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to condemn the "gross violations" of human rights in the northwestern Chinese region. The proposal put forward by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls on Trump to press his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to immediately shut down what they described as "political re-education camps." It also proposes imposing sanctions against Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo under the Magnitsky Act, which would prevent him from entering the US and freeze any assets he has in US banks. Read more: China's Xinjiang Muslims 'require DNA samples' for travel documents "China's authoritarianism at home directly threatens our freedoms as well as our most deeply held values and national interests," Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, both Republicans, said in a joint statement. The European Union's top foreign policy official Federica Mogherini expressed similar concerns last week. The proposed measures by US lawmakers come as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to escalate over tariff disputes and American complaints over China's technology policy.

China’s regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of “education and training centers” to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are ... Read More »

Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida: ‘Our worst fears realized’

Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States. Hurricane Michael churned through the Florida panhandle packing 155-mph (250-kph) winds on Wednesday afternoon, unleashing devastating damage along the Gulf coast as it moved inland into Georgia. It had the lowest barometric reading of a hurricane to make landfall since 1969, making it the most intense storm to hit the continental US in half a century. Michael was also the most powerful hurricane to hit the panhandle of Florida. The storm slammed ashore early afternoon near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale, uprooting trees and powerlines, dumping rain and unleashing severe flooding. "Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Authorities said a man in the town of Greensboro was killed by a falling tree when it crashed through the roof of his home. Some 375,000 people had been urged to leave their homes for stronger shelters in Florida, but many residents were trapped after they were caught surprised by the storm doubling in strength as it approached land. By Wednesday night, more than 400,000 people in Florida, Georgia and Alabama were without power. Emergency alerts for Alabama, Georgia The storm's strength diminished to a Category 1 storm packing 75-mph (120-kph) winds as it moved into Georgia late Wednesday. It was projected to cut through the state and move into the Carolinas as a tropical storm on Thursday. The governors of North and South Carolina urged residents to prepare for heavy rain and winds, which come less than a month after Hurricane Florence battered the mid-Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump said he had spoken with Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday, and federal emergency services were coordinating with regional agencies in the areas likely to be impacted. "It is imperative that you heed the directions of your State and Local Officials. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" the president tweeted to residents of Florida and Georgia. Climate change making more destructive storms In the past year, several massive storms battered the US coasts, including Irma, Maria and Harvey. Houston's metropolitan area suffered a record-equaling $125 billion (€108 billion) in damage. North and South Carolina are still reeling from Hurricane Florence last month. Climate scientists have long warned that the effects of global warming make storms more destructive and point to last year's string of hurricanes as visible evidence.

Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States. Hurricane Michael churned through the Florida panhandle packing 155-mph (250-kph) winds on Wednesday afternoon, unleashing devastating damage along the Gulf coast as it moved inland into Georgia. It had the ... Read More »

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