Powerful Typhoon Causes Minor Injuries, Damages in S. Korea

A powerful typhoon battered southern South Korea, injuring 26 people and knocking out power to about 27,790 houses, officials said Monday. 

Typhoon Tapah earlier lashed parts of Japan’s southern islands with heavy rains and winds that caused flooding and some minor injuries.

South Korea’s interior ministry said Monday the typhoon also caused strong winds and heavy rainfall in southern South Korean cities and towns on Sunday and Monday. The storm did not make landfall on the peninsula as it moved northeast and weakened Monday.

The ministry said one person was hurt seriously and the 25 others had minor injuries. Some South Korean media had reported three deaths, but the ministry said none of those deaths was caused by the typhoon. 

It flooded streets, damaged houses, and led to about 250 flight cancellations in 11 airports in South Korea, according to the ministry report.

South Korean weather officials said the typhoon likely caused light rain in eastern coastal towns in North Korea but won’t likely cause damage there.

Typhoon Tapah hit the southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Friday and Saturday and left 18 people with minor injuries. The storm disrupted air and train travel in the region during what is a three-day holiday weekend.

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‘Thrones,’ ‘Fleabag’ Top Emmys, Billy Porter Makes History

“Game of Thrones” resurrected the Iron Throne at Sunday’s Emmy ceremony, ruling as top drama on a night of surprises in which “Pose” star Billy Porter made history and the comedy series “Fleabag” led a British invasion that overturned expectations.

“This all started in the demented mind of George R.R. Martin,” said “Game of Thrones” producer David Benioff, thanking the author whose novels were the basis of HBO’s fantasy saga.

Porter, who stars in the FX drama set in the LGBTQ ball scene of the late 20th century, became the first openly gay man to win a best drama series acting Emmy. 

“God bless you all. The category is love, you all, love. I’m so overjoyed and so overwhelmed to have lived to see this day,” said an exuberant Porter, resplendent in a sparkling suit and swooping hat. 

Amazon’s “Fleabag,” a dark comedy about a dysfunctional woman, was honored as best comedy and earned top acting honors for its British creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and a best director trophy.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, winner of the awards for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, outstanding comedy series and outstanding writing for a comedy series for “Fleabag.”

“This is getting ridiculous,” Waller-Bridge said in her third trip to the stage to collect the top trophy.

Her acting win blocked “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus from setting a record as the most-honored performer in Emmy history.

“Nooooo!” a shocked-looking Waller-Bridge said as Louis-Dreyfus smiled for the cameras. “Oh, my God, no. Thank you. I find acting really hard and really painful. But it’s all about this,” she said, her acting trophy firmly in hand.

In accepting the writing award earlier, she called the Emmy recognition proof that “a dirty, pervy, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.”

Porter, a Tony and Grammy Award winning actor, relished his groundbreaking moment, quoting the late writer James Baldwin, Porter said it took him many years to believe he has the right to exist.

“I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right,” he said.

English actress Jodie Comer was honored as best drama actress for “Killing Eve.” She competed with co-star Sandra Oh, who received a Golden Globe for her role and would have been the first actress of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the category.

“My mum and dad are in Liverpool (England) and I didn’t invite them because I didn’t think this was going to be my time. One, I’m sorry, two I love you,” Comer said after saluting Oh.

Bill Hader won his second consecutive best comedy actor award for the hitman comedy “Barry.”

Peter Dinklage, named best supporting actor for “Game of Thrones,” set a record for most wins for the same role, four, breaking a tie with Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad.”

“I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is about nothing but tolerance and diversity, because in no other place I could be standing on a stage like this,” said Dinklage, a little person.

“Ozark” star Julia Garner won the best supporting drama actress trophy.

The auditorium erupted in cheers when Jharrel Jerome of “When They See Us,” about the Central Park Five case, won the best actor award for a limited series movie.

“Most important, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” said Jerome, naming the five wrongly convicted men who were in the audience. They stood and saluted the actor as the crowd applauded them.

It was the only honor for the acclaimed Netflix series of the evening; “Chernobyl” won the best limited series honor.

HBO retained its durable front-runner status, with a total of 34 awards from Sunday and last weekend’s creative arts ceremony.

Alex Borstein accepts the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

But streaming hit new Emmy heights, powered by Amazon Prime winners “Fleabag,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and a “Very English Scandal,” and Netflix’s “Bandersnatch (Black Mirror),” honored as best movie. Netflix collected 27 awards and Amazon nabbed 15.

Michelle Williams, honored as best actress for her portrayal of dancer Gwen Verdon in FX’s limited series “Fosse/Verdon,” issued a call to arms for gender and ethnic equality.

She thanked the network and studio behind the project for “supporting me completely and paying me equally because they understood … when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And where do they put that value, they put it into their work.”

“And so the next time a woman and, especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams said.

Patricia Arquette won the trophy best supporting limited-series or movie actress for “The Act.” She paid emotional tribute to her late trans sister, Alexis Arquette, and called for an end to prejudice against trans people, including in the workplace.

Ben Whishaw took the category’s supporting actor trophy for “A Very English Scandal,” admitting in charming British fashion to a hangover.

Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won best supporting acting awards at the ceremony, which included early and varied messages of female empowerment after the hostless ceremony.

“I want to dedicate this to the strength of a woman, to (series creator) Amy Sherman-Palladino, to every woman on the ‘Maisel’ cast and crew,” Borstein said, and to her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother survived because she was courageous enough to step out of a line that, Borstein intimated, would have led to her death at the hands of Nazi Germany.

“She stepped out of line. And for that, I am here and my children are here, so step out of line, ladies. Step out of line,” said Borstein, who won the award last year.

Shalhoub added to his three Emmys which he earned for his signature role in “Monk.” 

The awards opened without a host as promised, with an early exchange pitting Ben Stiller against Bob Newhart.

“I’m still alive,” Newhart told Stiller, who introduced him as part of a wax museum comedy hall of fame that included Lucille Ball and George Burns.

Kim Kardashian West and Kendall Jenner drew some mocking laughter in the audience when they presented their award after Kardashian West said their family “knows firsthand how truly compelling television comes from real people just being themselves.”

An animated Homer made a brief appearance on stage until he was abruptly crushed, with Anderson of “black-ish” rushing in to, as he vowed, rescue the evening. He called “Breaking Bad” star Cranston on stage to tout the power of television from its beginning to the current golden age.

“Television has never been bigger. Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good,” Cranston said.

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Tour Company Thomas Cook Collapses, Global Bookings Canceled

British tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed after failing to secure rescue funding, and travel bookings for its more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled early Monday.

The British government said the return of the firm’s 150,000 British customers now abroad would be its largest repatriation in peacetime history. 

The Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook has ceased trading, its four airlines will be grounded, and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will be left unemployed.

The debt-laden company had said Friday it was seeking 200 million pounds ($250 million) to avoid going bust, was in talks with shareholders and creditors to stave off failure. The 178-year-old firm also operated around 600 UK stores.

CAA said it had arranged an aircraft fleet for the British repatriation effort lasting two weeks beginning Monday.

“Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavor to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates,” it said in a statement.

Most of Thomas Cook’s British customers are protected by the government-run travel insurance program, which makes sure vacationers can get home if a British-based tour operator goes under while they are abroad. 

Thomas Cook, which began in 1841 with a one-day train excursion in England and now operates in 16 countries, has been struggling over the past few years. It only recently raised 900 million pounds ($1.12 billion), including from leading Chinese shareholder Fosun.

In May, the company reported a debt burden of 1.25 billion pounds and cautioned that political uncertainty related to Britain’s departure from the European Union had hurt demand for summer holiday travel. Heat waves over the past couple of summers in Europe have also led many people to stay at home, while higher fuel and hotel costs have weighed on the travel business.

The company’s troubles were already affecting those traveling under the Thomas Cook banner.

A British vacationer told BBC radio on Sunday that the Les Orangers beach resort in the Tunisian town of Hammamet, near Tunis, demanded that guests who were about to leave pay extra money for fear it wouldn’t be paid what it is owed by Thomas Cook.

Ryan Farmer, of Leicestershire, said many tourists refused the demand, since they had already paid Thomas Cook, so security guards shut the hotel’s gates and “were not allowing anyone to leave.”

It was like “being held hostage,” said Farmer, who is due to leave Tuesday. He said he would also refuse to pay if the hotel asked him.

The Associated Press called the hotel, as well as the British Embassy in Tunis, but no officials or managers were available for comment.

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Haiti Senate Leader Denies Planning Secret Meeting to Approve PM Designate

A group of prominent opposition Haitian senators sat outside the Senate doors early Sunday morning, a day when parliament is normally not in session. 

“Over the weekend there were rumors that the Senate leader was organizing a special session Sunday. Such a vote would be considered out of the ordinary,” Senator Antonio Cheramy told VOA Creole. “We called around and tried to find out what was going on, but we’ve had absolute silence (from the Senate leader).” 

Senator Cheramy said he and fellow opposition colleagues decided to stake out the Senate because they can’t allow such a vote to be held behind their backs. 

Antonio Cheramy in front of the Senatè, on Sept 23, 2019 in Port au Prince, Haiti.

Around midday, Senate leader Carl Murat Cantave took to Twitter to deny the rumors and set the record straight.

“Contrary to the rumors that a ratification vote is planned for this Sunday, the vote to ratify PM designate @fritzwmichel and his government is planned for this Monday 23 September 2019 at 8:00 am,” Cantave said.

Contrairement aux rumeurs faisant croire que la séance de ratification était prévue pour ce dimanche, la séance de ratification du PM nommé @fritzwmichel et son gouvernement est fixée pour ce lundi 23 septembre 2019 à 8hrs am. 1/2#Haiti

— Carl Murat CANTAVE (@CarlMCantave) September 22, 2019

He defended his intentions in a subsequent Tweet saying, “I promise you, whatever happens during the ratification vote, rest assured that I will take charge with courage, savor faire, and know-how to lead a difficult task which you, my fellow senators are depending on me to oversee.”

Je vous promets quelle que soit l’issue de la séance de ratification programmée, je prendrai ma charge avec courage, savoir-faire, savoir-être pour mener à bien la lourde tâche que vous, les sénateurs, m’avez confiée.#Haiti

— Carl Murat CANTAVE (@CarlMCantave) September 22, 2019

No government

Haiti has been without a prime minister since March when Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant was forced to resign after a no-confidence vote. 

Prime Minister designate, Fritz William Michel’s nomination was approved by the lower Chamber of Deputies on September 3.  But the Senate failed to hold a vote to approve him last week after opposition senators, their supporters and activists vandalized the Senate ahead of the vote, breaking windows, displacing chairs and other furniture, creating a circus atmosphere in the room. 

Haiti’s Prime Minister-designate Fritz William Michel, center, talks to his advisor Wilfrid Theodore, right, after his speech in the parliament, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 3, 2019.

Bribery allegations

Then came a bombshell accusation by opposition Senator Saurel Jacinthe that Senator Cantave came to his home to offer him $100,000  for a yes vote on Michel. He then alleged that the prime minister designate went to several other ruling party senators’ homes to offer them bribes in exchange for their yes votes.  

Senator Cantave denied the allegation on Twitter: “For the sake of history and the truth, I never offered money to Senator #Saurel Jacinthe, who is delusional. I am a proud and arrogant man. If the senator has proof [photos or sound], may he show them? The nation can not take this drama.”

Pour l’histoire et la vérité, à aucun moment je n’ai offert de l’argent au Sénateur #Saurel Jacinthe qui est entrain de divaguer. Je suis un homme fier et arrogant.

Si le Sénateur a une preuve (images-sons) qu’il la montre. La nation ne peut plus vivre ces spectacles.#Haiti

— Carl Murat CANTAVE (@CarlMCantave) September 12, 2019

Ruling party Senator Dieudonne Luma Etienne also denied the bribery allegation in an interview with VOA Creole.  “I am the daughter of farmers. I’ve made many sacrifices. I have never chosen to make money the easy way. I’ve worked hard and struggled to make a name for myself in society. So there’s no way today I’d be willing to tarnish my reputation for something like this,” she said.

But two other senators admitted on local radio that they did accept the bribe. 

Against the law 

Bribery is illegal in Haiti, a semi-presidential republic. The president is the head of state, while the prime minister is the head of government. Although the president is a publicly elected official, the prime minister is nominated by the president and must be a member of the ruling party of the National Assembly. The prime minister-designate must be approved by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate before taking office. The prime minister oversees the Cabinet and assures it performs its duties in accordance with the law. He also, in concert with the president, oversees national defense matters.

Aside from the bribery allegation which roiled the nation, Michel’s nomination has been fraught with problems. Michel has been criticized for selling to the government 20,000 American goats at a cost of $325 a head. Critics say Michel has no experience with livestock and does not own a goat farm. The market price for goats in Haiti is $100. He is also accused of not having been legally discharged of his previous government duties, which, if true would disqualify him from being prime minister.

Opposition vigil

VOA Creole reporter Renan Toussaint interviews Opposition Senators (Left to Right), Antonio Cheramy, Ricard Pierre and Nenel Cassy who are camped out in front of the Senatè, Sept 23, 2019 in Port au Prince, Haiti.

Opposition lawmakers say in light of these problems, Michel should withdraw his nomination. He has refused to do so, and told VOA Creole he is confident his nomination will be approved. 

“I am confident and I am ready to work with the Senate to present my platform so they can approve my nomination,” Michel said. 

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers vow to remain vigilant and say they plan on remaining at the parliament until the vote happens.

“We’ve decided to camp out here indefinitely,” opposition Senator Nenel Cassy told VOA Creole. “ We can’t afford not to be here at night and only be present during the day –  so day and night – we will be permanently here until the Senate holds the vote.” 

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Report: Iran to Release Seized British Tanker

The British oil tanker seized by Iran in July will soon be released, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Sunday.

The Stena Impero and its crew were seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz for alleged maritime violations just weeks after British forces seized an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.

Britain accused Iran of trying to sell oil in violation of international sanctions against Tehran. Gibraltar released that tanker last month.

The head of the Swedish company that owns the Stena Impero told Swedish public broadcaster SVT that the tanker may be released within hours.

“We have received information now this morning that it seems like they will release the ship Stena Impero within a few hours. So we understand that the political decision to release the ship has been taken.” Erik Hanell said.

The head of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran in Hormozgan Province, Allahmorad Afifipour, told Fars that the the process of allowing the tanker to move into international waters has begun but that a legal case against the ship is still pending.

He did not release any other information about the tanker.


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‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Veep’ Aim for Records at Emmy Awards

Records could be broken at the 2019 Emmy Awards by “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The HBO fantasy saga already has the most awards for a show in one season, 12, and it’s competing Sunday in seven categories.

If Louis-Dreyfus wins top comedy actress honors for “Veep,” she’ll have a total of nine Emmys, the most ever for a performer.

Other contenders to keep an eye on include Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve” and Billy Porter of “Pose,” both vying for top drama series acting awards.

Oh could become the actress of Asian descent to win in the category, and Porter could be the first openly gay actor to nab a trophy.

The 71st annual Emmy Awards airs at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday on Fox.


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FIFA Says Tehran ‘Assured’ That Women Can Get Into Next Soccer Match

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says soccer’s world governing body “cannot wait any more” and has been “assured” by Tehran that the authorities will allow women spectators into the arena when Iran hosts its next international match.

Infantino’s comments follow a FIFA delegation visit to Iran over the conservative Shi’ite leadership’s longtime ban on women at major men’s sporting events — a policy that turned more tragic with the recent death of a young woman who was being punished for trying to sneak into a stadium disguised as a man.

Iran is scheduled to play Cambodia in a 2022 World Cup qualifier on October 10 at Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

“In these productive discussions, FIFA reiterated its firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely and that the number of women who attend the stadiums be determined by the demand, resulting in ticket sales,” FIFA said in a September 21 statement summarizing the delegation’s visit to Tehran and Azadi Stadium.

FIFA further said it would work with Iran’s national soccer federation, the FFIRI, to ensure that women spectators could get into the Iranian soccer league’s matches in future.

The delegation “discussed the need to open stadiums for women to attend national matches. In that respect, FIFA announced that it will, based on the operational plans and results of the [October 10] game, collaborate with the FFIRI in developing an operational protocol and related requirements for matches in the Iranian football league to be opened for women as well.”

There was a social outcry upon news that 29-year-old Iranian Sahar Khodayari had died earlier this month after dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself alight on September 2 following charges over her bid to see a match in March.

FILE – Iranian women cheer as they wave their country’s flag after authorities in a rare move allowed a select group of women into Azadi stadium to watch a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia, in Tehran, Oct. 16, 2018.

Iranian officials have sometimes allowed select groups of women into specific areas to watch soccer matches or other men’s sporting events in the past, but have resolutely held the line for nearly four decades at general admission for women.

Khodayari, nicknamed “The Blue Girl” after the colors of her favorite team, Esteghlal, had reportedly suffered burns over 90 percent of her body in the self-immolation.

A sister had told RFE/RL that the girl suffered from bipolar disorder and that her mental state had deteriorated after her arrest and hearing that she could spend six months in prison.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has mostly failed to deliver on pledges to open up some aspects of Iranian society, including reforms that could help lift Iranian women from distant second-class status under the law.

Iranian women exercise at a football school in Tehran, Sept. 14, 2019.

FIFA has received frequent criticism for its perceived failure to confront Iran’s and others’ gender-based discrimination.

On August 25, Iranian Deputy Sports Minister Jamshid Tahizade announced that women would be allowed to attend the Cambodia match.

But Tehran has dithered on the issue in the past, apparently prompting the FIFA visit this month.

“FIFA’s position is firm and clear,” the group said in its recent statement. “Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran. For all football matches.”

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Hong Kong Protesters Vandalize Subway Station, Deface Chinese Flag

Protesters on Hong Kong vandalized a subway station and defaced a Chinese flag Sunday during another weekend of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Thousands also rallied inside a shopping mall in Sha Tin.  Protesters later built a barricade across the street and set it on fire.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse some of the protesters.

Riot police patrol inside Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Sept. 22, 2019.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has cut back rail and bus access to its airport in a move designed to avoid an anti-government protests at one of the busiest airport hubs in the world.

“There are calls online for using fake boarding passes, fake air tickets or fake flight booking information to enter the terminal buildings…the Airport Authority reminds that such behavior could amount to forgery or using false instrument,” the authority said in a statement warning demonstrators to stay away.

Damaged ticket machines are seen inside Sha Tin MTR station after an anti-government rally at New Town Plaza at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, Sept. 22, 2019

On Saturday, police fired tear gas at demonstrators who vandalized a light rail station.

A proposed bill that would have allowed some Hong Kong criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial sparked the months-long, anti-government demonstrations.  

The extradition legislation has been withdrawn, but the demonstrations continue.

Dissenters have since broadened their demands for the direct election of their leaders and police accountability.

More than 1,300 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began in early June.





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Bus Crash Kills 25 in Northwest Pakistan, after Brakes Fail

A bus crash on a mountainous road in northwest Pakistan Sunday killed 25 passengers and injured 20 others, police said.

Abdul Wakil, a local police officer, said the accident happened in the Chilas distract on the bus’ route from Skardu to the city of Rawalpindi.

Wakil said rescue efforts were facing difficulties in the remote mountainous terrain due to lack of needed equipment and resources.

Such road accidents are common in Pakistan where motorists largely disregard traffic rules and safety standards on battered roads. Last month a speeding bus fell off a mountainous road into a river in the northwest, killing 24 passengers.


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Trump Joining Indian PM in ‘Howdy Modi’ Event

U.S. President Donald Trump is visiting Houston, Texas Sunday to take part in a huge rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump will appear with Modi before a largely Indian audience of some 50,000 people who are due to pack a Houston stadium for the “Howdy Modi” event.

Preeti Dawra, one of he organizers of the “Howdy Modi” event says, “Trump is completely welcomed by the community.”  

FILE – President Donald Trump, accompanied by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, speaks during a bilateral meeting at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019.

Recent polls however show lackluster support for Trump within the Indian-American community, a majority of whom voted for Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Modi, who is already in Houston, is facing global backlash for his crackdown in disputed Kashmir.  

Last month, he striped the Indian controlled section of Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, sparking renewed tensions with Pakistan, which also claims part of Kashmir.   

India has deployed thousands of troops to prevent violent protests in the Muslim-majority region and residents in Kashmir continue to face curbs on travel and communications restrictions.  

Meanwhile, President Trump later  travels to Ohio where he will make an appearance with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In Ohio, the president and Morrison will tour a new Australian-owned manufacturing facility for Pratt Industries



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