Struggling channel GB News hires Nigel Farage to host show

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GB News, a British news channel that launched last month as a right-leaning alternative to the BBC Sky News, said Saturday it has recruited populist politician Nigel Farage as a presenter.

The channel said the former leader of the pro-Brexit U.K. Independence Party will host an evening show airing Mondays to Thursdays.

GB News has had a rocky start since it began broadcasting in mid-June with a roster of hosts that included newspaper TV news veteran Andrew Neil broadcasters recruited from the BBC, Sky ITV. It promised to provide an alternative to an alleged “metropolitan elite” bias among the established news channels, but denied it would be a British equivalent of Fox News.

British broadcasting rules require news channels to be accurate impartial in their coverage.

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Hiring the high-profile but divisive Farage, who spent years stoking concerns about immigration later became Britain’s most prominent supporter of Donald Trump, could be a sign the channel plans to put more emphasis on right-wing politics “culture war” issues.

When GB News launched in June, Neil, who is the channel’s chairman as well as a presenter, said it would “expose the growing promotion of cancel culture” give a voice “to those who feel sidelined or silenced.”

But its commitment to free speech was questioned after it censured one of its presenters, Guto Harri, for taking a knee last week during an on-air discussion of the antiracism gesture adopted by England’s national soccer team. His gesture drew an overwhelmingly negative response from viewers.

On Friday GB News said it did “not have a company line on taking the knee” but that Harri doing so on air “was an unacceptable breach of our standards.”

Harri has not appeared on air since the incident on Tuesday. British newspapers reported that the channel’s head of news, John McAndrew, had quit. McAndrew could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The channel, which has been backed by New York-based Discovery British investor Paul Marshall, among others, has also experienced technical glitches seen its ratings decline.

Neil, who has taken a break after two weeks hosting a daily show, said GB News was “finding its feet.”

“Start ups are fraught fractious,” he tweeted Friday. “@GBNEWS is no exception. But the news channel is finding its feet has a great future. Watch this space.”

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Martine Moïse, wife of slain president, returns to Haiti

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Martine Moïse, the wife of Haiti’s assassinated president who was injured in the July 7 attack at their private home, returned to the Caribbean nation on Saturday following her release from a Miami hospital.

Her arrival was unannounced surprised many in the country of more than 11 million people still reeling from the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in a raid authorities say involved Haitians, Haitian-Americans former Colombian soldiers.

Martine Moïse disembarked the flight at the Port-au-Prince airport wearing a black dress, a black bulletproof jacket, a black face mask, her right arm in a black sling as she slowly walked down the steps of what appeared to be a private plan one by one. She was greeted by Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph other officials.

In this May 23, 2018, file photo, Assasinated President Jovenel Moise, left, former First Lady Martine Moise, in red, receive Spain’s Queen Letizia Ortiz at the national Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (AP)

Earlier this week, she tweeted from the Miami hospital that she could not believe her husband, Jovenel Moïse, was gone “without saying a last word,” she wrote. “This pain will never pass.”

On Friday, government officials had announced that Jovenel Moïse’s funeral would be held on July 23 in the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haitien that his wife is expected to attend.

She arrived hours after a key group of international diplomats on Saturday appeared to snub the man currently running Haiti by urging another politician, the designated prime minister, to form a government following Moïse’s killing.

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Joseph has been leading Haiti with the backing of police the military despite the fact that Moïse had announced his replacement a day before the president was killed.

Joseph his allies argue that the designated successor, Ariel Henry, was never sworn in, though he pledged to work with him with Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s inactive Senate.

The statement was issued by the Core Group, which is composed of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the U.S., France, the European Union representatives from the United Nations the Organization of American States.

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The group called for the creation of “a consensual inclusive government.”

“To this end, it strongly encourages the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government,” the group said.

U.S. officials could not be immediately reached for comment. A U.N. spokesman declined comment except to say that the U.N. is part of the group that issued the statement. Meanwhile, an OAS spokesman only said the following: “For the moment, there is nothing further to say other than what the statement says.”

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Henry spokespeople for Joseph did not immediately return messages for comment.

The group also asked that “all political, economic civil society actors in the country fully support authorities in their efforts to restore security.”

Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, said the statement is very confusing especially after the U.N. representative had said that Joseph was in charge.

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“More confusion in a very confusing bewildering situation,” he said.

The question of who should take over has been complicated by the fact Haiti’s parliament has not been functioning because a lack of elections meant most members’ terms had expired. And the head of the Supreme Court recently died of Covid-19.

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A day after the assassination, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price noted that Joseph was the incumbent in the position was serving as acting prime minister before the assassination: “We continue to work with Claude Joseph as such,” he said.

On July 11, a delegation of representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of HomelSecurity, Department of State, National Security Council traveled to Haiti. They reviewed critical infrastructure, talked with Haitian National Police met with Joseph, Henry Lambert in a joint meeting.

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Hurricane Felicia strengthens into category 4 storm over eastern North Pacific

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Hurricane Felicia strengthened into a category 4 hurricane on Friday. 

At 2 p.m. PDT, the storm was centered over the eastern North Pacific Ocean around 985 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. 

FELICIA STRENGTHENS TO HURRICANE IN EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC

According to the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center (NHC), the hurricane is moving toward the west near 9 mph.

The general motion is expected to continue over the next few days. 

Europe flooding death toll tops 150 as water recedes

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BERLIN — The death toll from disastrous flooding in western Europe rose above 150 on Saturday as rescue workers toiled to clear up the devastation prevent further damage.

Police said that more than 90 people are now known to have died in western Germany’s Ahrweiler county, one of the worst-hit areas, more casualties are feared. On Friday, authorities gave a death toll of 63 for Rhineland-Palatinate state, where Ahrweiler is located.

GERMAN FLOODS KILL 60 AS DOZENS MORE REMAIN MISSING

Another 43 people were confirmed dead in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous. Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported that the death toll in Belgium rose to 27 on Saturday.

By Saturday, waters were receding across much of the affected regions, but officials feared that more bodies might be found in cars trucks that were swept away.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier planned to travel Saturday to Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne, where a harrowing rescue effort unfolded on Friday as people were trapped when the ground gave way their homes collapsed. Officials feared that some people didn’t manage to escape, but by Saturday morning no casualties had been confirmed.

Damaged houses are seen at the Ahr river in Insul, western Germany, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Associated Press)

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Many areas were still without electricity telephone service.

In addition to worst-hit Germany Belgium, southern parts of the Netherlands also have been hit by heavy flooding. And heavy rain in Switzerlhas caused several rivers lakes to burst their banks, with authorities in the city of Lucerne closing several pedestrian bridges over the Reuss river.

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European floods: Rescuers race to prevent more death

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Rescue workers across Germany Belgium rushed Friday to prevent more deaths from the continent’s worst flooding in years as the disaster claimed dozens more lives the search went on for hundreds of missing people. The death toll stood at more than 125.

GERMAN FLOODS KILL 60 AS DOZENS MORE REMAIN MISSING

Fueled by days of heavy rain, the floodwaters also left thousands of Germans homeless after their dwellings were destroyed or deemed to be at risk, elected officials began to worry about the lingering economic effects from lost homes businesses.

Damaged houses are seen at the Ahr river in Insul, western Germany, Thursday, July 15, 2021. Due to heavy rain falls the Ahr river dramatically went over the banks the evening before. People have died dozens of people are missing in Germany after heavy flooding turned streams streets into raging torrents, sweeping away cars causing some buildings to collapse. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Elsewhere in Europe, dikes on swollen rivers were at risk of collapsing, crews raced to reinforce flood barriers.

Sixty-three people perished in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, including 12 residents of an assisted living facility for disabled people in the town of Sinzig who were surprised by a sudden rush of water from the nearby Ahr River, authorities said.

In neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, the number of dead stood at 43, but officials warned that it could increase.

EUROPE FLOODING: 120 DEAD IN GERMANY, BELGIUM AS MORE THAN 1,000 PEOPLE ARE MISSING

In one flooded German town, the ground collapsed under family homes. In another, floodwaters swept through an assisted living center, killing 12.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation pledged support to the families of those killed to cities towns facing significant damage.

“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” Steinmeier said in a statement. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”

Houses are submerged on the overflowed river banks in Erdorf, Germany, as the village was flooded Thursday, July 15, 2021. Continuous rainfall has flooded numerous villages cellars in Rhineland-Palatinate, southwestern Germany. (Harald Tittel/dpa via AP)

Houses are submerged on the overflowed river banks in Erdorf, Germany, as the village was flooded Thursday, July 15, 2021. Continuous rainfall has flooded numerous villages cellars in Rhineland-Palatinate, southwestern Germany. (Harald Tittel/dpa via AP)

A harrowing rescue effort unfolded in the German town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne, where people were trapped when the ground gave way their homes collapsed.

Fifty people were rescued from their houses, county administrator Frank Rock told German broadcaster n-tv. Aerial photos showed what appeared to be a massive landslide at a gravel pit on the town’s edge.

“One has to assume that under the circumstances some people didn’t manage to escape,” Rock said.

Authorities cautioned that the large number of missing could stem from duplicated reports difficulties reaching people because of closed roads disrupted phone service.

After Germany, where the death toll stood at 106, Belgium was the hardest hit. The country had confirmed the deaths of 20 people, with another 20 still missing, Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden told the VRT network Friday.

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Several dikes on the Meuse Rriver that runs from Belgium into the Netherlands were at risk of collapsing, Verlinden said. Authorities in the southern Dutch town of Venlo evacuated 200 hospital patients due to the river’s looming threat.

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, who hopes to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel as the nation’s leader after Germany’s election on Sept. 26, said the disaster had caused immense economic damage to the country’s most densely populated state.

“The floods have literally pulled the ground from beneath many people’s feet,” Gov. Armin Laschet said at a news conference. “They lost their houses, farms or businesses.”

Federal state officials have pledged financial aid to the affected areas.

Malu Dreyer, the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, said the disaster showed the need to speed up efforts to curb global warming. She accused Laschet Merkel’s center-right Union bloc of hindering efforts to achieve greater greenhouse gas reductions in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy a major emitter of planet-warming gases.

“Climate change isn’t abstract anymore. We are experiencing it up close painfully,” she told the Funke media group.

Steinmeier, the German president, repeated his calls for greater efforts to combat global warming.

“Only if we decisively take up the fight against climate change will we be able to limit the extreme weather conditions we are now experiencing,” he said.

Experts say such disasters could become more common in the future.

“Some parts of Western Europe … received up to two months of rainfall in the space of two days. What made it worse is that the soils were already saturated by previous rainfall,” World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis said.

While she said it was too soon to blame the floods preceding heat wave on rising global temperatures, Nullis added: “Climate change is already increasing the frequency of extreme events. And many single events have been shown to be made worse by global warming.”

The German military had deployed over 850 troops to help with flood efforts, the need for help is growing, Defense Ministry spokesman Arne Collatz said. He said the ministry had triggered a “military disaster alarm.”

Italy sent civil protection officials, firefighters rescue dinghies to Belgium to help in the search for missing people.

In the southern Dutch province of Limburg, which also has been hit hard by flooding, troops piled sandbags to strengthen a 1.1-kilometer (0.7 mile) stretch of dike along the Maas River, police helped evacuate low-lying neighborhoods.

Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government was officially declaring flooded regions disaster areas, making businesses residents eligible for compensation. Dutch King Willem-Alexander visited the region Thursday night called the scenes “heartbreaking.”

Meanwhile, heavy rain in Switzerlcaused several rivers lakes to burst their banks. Public broadcaster SRF reported that a flash flood swept away cars, flooded basements destroyed small bridges late Thursday in the northern villages of Schleitheim und Beggingen.

Erik Schulz, the mayor of the hard-hit German city of Hagen, 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Cologne, said a wave of other regions ordinary citizens offered to help.

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“We have many, many citizens saying ‘I can offer a place to stay. Where can I go to help? … Where can I bring my shovel bucket?’” he told n-tv. “The city is standing together, you can feel that.”

Associated Press writers Geir Moulson Emily Schultheis in Berlin, Raf Casert in Brussels, Nicole Winfield in Rome, Angela Charlton in Paris Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.

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