Hurricane Irma will be ‘devastating’ to US – Fema head

Hurricane Irma will be ‘devastating’ to US – Fema head

  • A handout photo from the Dutch Department of Defense shows damaged caused by Hurricane Iram on St. Martin.Image captionOfficials say six out of 10 homes in St Martin were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable.

Hurricane Irma will “devastate” either Florida or neighbouring states, the head of the US federal emergency agency has said.

Brock Long said parts of Florida would be without power for days, and more than 100,000 people may need shelter.

Meanwhile there are reports of serious looting on the hurricane-hit Caribbean island of St Martin.

Hurricane Irma has left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, affecting an estimated 1.2m people.

It has been downgraded to a category four storm, but officials warn that it remains “extremely dangerous”.

The US National Weather Service says that Irma was expected to bring wind speeds of around 165mph (270km/h) over the weekend.

Some 500,000 people were told to leave south Florida with Irma due on Sunday.

“Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States in either Florida or some of the southeastern states,” Mr Long said.

“The entire southeastern United States better wake up and pay attention,” he added.

The death toll rose continued to rise on Friday in the Caribbean, where at least 14 people were killed in the wake of the deadly storm.

In St Martin, an island resort divided between France and the Netherlands, at least four people had died and 50 others were injured.

French officials there said six out of 10 homes were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable.

Media caption People in Florida prepare for Hurricane Irma

Annick Girardin, minister for France’s overseas territories, described “scenes of pillaging” on the island, urging police to restore order and provide emergency care for victims.

The US Consulate General in Curacao said it believes an estimated 6,000 Americans are stranded on St Martin.

French, British and Dutch military authorities have deployed aid – including warships and planes equipped with food, water and troops – to the popular tourist chain of Caribbean islands.

‘Israeli jets hit Syria’s Masyaf chemical site’ – reports

‘Israeli jets hit Syria’s Masyaf chemical site’ – reports

A screengrab of a video posted by a pro-Syrian government blogger purportedly showing the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on a Syrian military post near Masyaf on 7 September 2017
Image captionA pro-Syrian government blogger posted an image purportedly showing the strike’s aftermath

The Syrian army says Israeli jets have attacked a site in the west of the country where Western powers suspect chemical weapons are being produced.

An army statement says rockets fired from Lebanese airspace hit a military post near Masyaf, killing two soldiers.

A monitoring group says they struck a scientific research centre and base storing surface-to-surface missiles.

Israel, which has carried out clandestine attacks on weapons sites in Syria before, has not commented.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to discuss the reports, saying it did not comment on operational matters.

The attack comes a day after UN human rights investigators said they had concluded a Syrian Air Force jet had dropped a bomb containing the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town in April, killing at least 83 people.

Media captionAbo Rabeea says he is still suffering from the suspected chemical weapons strike in Khan Sheikhoun

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the incident in Khan Sheikhoun – which prompted the US to launch a missile strike on an airbase – was a “fabrication”.

He has also insisted his forces destroyed their entire chemical arsenal under a deal brokered by the US and Russia after a Sarin attack outside Damascus in 2013.

The Syrian army said rockets had struck the base near Masyaf, about 35km (22 miles) west of the city of Hama, at 02:42 on Thursday (23:42 GMT on Wednesday), causing “material damage” and the deaths of two personnel.

It accused Israel of attacking “in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale” of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) and warned Israel about “the dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region”.

Map showing locations of suspected Syrian chemical weapons manufacturing sites

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the rockets had hit a Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) facility and a military camp nearby used to store short-range surface-to-surface missiles.

A Western intelligence agency told the BBC in May that three branches of the SSRC – at Masyaf, and at Dummar and Barzeh, both just outside Damascus – were being used to produce chemical munitions in violation of the 2013 deal.

The SSRC is promoted by the Syrian government as a civilian research institute but the US accuses the agency of focusing on the development of non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.

A clear warning

By Jonathan Marcus, Defence & Diplomatic Correspondent, BBC News

Israel has been watching events in Syria with alarm: the rising power of Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah – two of the main props of the Syrian regime – together with the reported periodic use of chemical weapons against civilians.

So this latest alleged attack sends a clear warning, not just to Hezbollah and Damascus but also to Russia – the other crucial supporter of the Syrian government.

Israel has been waging a long-running air campaign to prevent sophisticated weaponry being transferred to Hezbollah.

It is now talking about this campaign more openly; the former Israeli Air Force chief recently noting that it had carried out almost 100 air strikes over the past five years.

And with Israeli claims that Iran is building missile production facilities in Lebanon and Syria for Hezbollah, the message could not be clearer.

A former head of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, tweeted that Thursday’s strike on Masyaf was “not routine” and had targeted a “Syrian military-scientific centre for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles”.

“The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians,” he added.

File photo showing an Israeli Air Force F-16 I fighter jet taking off at the Ramat David Air Force Base (28 June 2016)
Image captionIsrael has acknowledged carrying out dozens of strikes inside Syria in recent years

In 2016, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it had carried out dozens of strikes in Syria meant to prevent transfers of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

The militant Lebanese Shia Islamist movement, which last fought a war with Israel in 2006 and is backed by Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, has sent thousands of fighters to support Syria’s army in the country’s six-year civil war.

Last month, Mr Netanyahu said Iran was building facilities in Syria and Lebanon to produce precision-guided missiles “as part of its declared goal to eradicate Israel”. He gave no details but warned “this is something Israel cannot accept”.

Tunisia’s Chahed Names New Cabinet After Tensions

Tunisia’s Chahed Names New Cabinet After Tensions


FILE PHOTO: Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed speaks at the Assembly of People’s Representatives in Tunis, Tunisia July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi Reuters

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Wednesday named a new cabinet, including the newly created post of economic reforms minister, after reaching a deal with political parties following weeks of infighting over posts, the government said.

A compromise over the cabinet should give Chahed, in power for just over a year, initiative to push ahead with tough public wage bill reforms and a pension system overhaul meant to improve Tunisia’s public spending and deficits in line with IMF demands.

Chahed appointed Ridha Chalgoum, a former finance minister close to ruling Nidaa Tounes party, as finance minister, and Lotfi Braham, another Nidaa Tounes ally, as interior minister, according to a statement from the premier’s office.

Chahed named one of his economic advisors, Taoufik Rajhi, who is a member of Islamist Ennahda party, to the new post of economic reforms minister, the statement said.

Six years since its 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been held up as a model after avoiding the violence that troubled other nations after their “Arab Spring” revolts. But successive governments have struggled to enact economic reforms amid political infighting.

Pakistan Set to Elect New Prime Minister Tuesday

North Korea nuclear crisis: Putin warns of planetary catastrophe

North Korea nuclear crisis: Putin warns of planetary catastrophe

As Kim Jong-un reportedly prepares further missile launch, Russian president says only way to solve issue is through dialogue

South Korean tanks take part in exercises in Paju, near the border with North Korea, on 4 September.
 South Korean tanks take part in exercises in Paju, near the border with North Korea, on Monday. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/AP
“Ramping up military hysteria in such conditions is senseless; it’s a dead end,” he told reporters in China. “It could lead to a global, planetary catastrophe and a huge loss of human life. There is no other way to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, save that of peaceful dialogue.”

On Sunday, North Korea carried out its sixth and by far its most powerful nuclear test to date. The underground blast triggered a magnitude-6.3 earthquake and was more powerful than the bombs dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the second world war.

Putin was attending the Brics summit, bringing together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Speaking on Tuesday, the final day of the summit in Xiamen, China, he said Russia condemned North Korea’s provocations but said further sanctions would be useless and ineffective, describing the measures as a “road to nowhere”.

Foreign interventions in Iraq and Libya had convinced the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, that he needed nuclear weapons to survive, Putin said.

“We all remember what happened with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. His children were killed, I think his grandson was shot, the whole country was destroyed and Saddam Hussein was hanged … We all know how this happened and people in North Korea remember well what happened in Iraq.

“They will eat grass but will not stop their [nuclear] programme as long as they do not feel safe.”

A US bid for the United Nations Security Council to vote on 11 September on new sanctions is “a little premature,” Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s UN ambassador, said on Tuesday. Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and has veto power.

America’s top diplomat acknowledged on Tuesday that more sanctions on North Korea are unlikely to change its behaviour, but insisted that they would cut off funding for its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

“Do we think more sanctions are going to work on North Korea? Not necessarily,” Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, told a thinktank in Washington. “But what does it do? It cuts off the revenue that allows them to build ballistic missiles.”

Diplomats have said the security council could consider banning North Korean textile exports, banishing its national airline and stopping supplies of oil to the government and military. Other measures could include preventing North Koreans from working abroad and adding top officials to a blacklist aiming at imposing asset freezes and travel bans.

China accounted for 92% of North Korea’s trade in 2016, according to South Korea’s government. China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it would take part in security council discussions in “a responsible and constructive manner”.

But China is likely to block any measure that could cause instability and topple the regime of Kim Jong-un, sparking a refugee crisis and potentially allowing tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops to move north as far as the Chinese border.

What threat does North Korea pose to South Korea?

German chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone on Tuesday and agreed that sanctions against Pyongyang should be stepped up.

The row over further sanctions came as South Korea refused to rule out redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons on its territory – a move that could seriously harm efforts to ease tensions as signs emerged that Pyongyang was preparing to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on or around 9 September, when it celebrates its founding day.

Seoul has routinely dismissed the option of basing US nuclear weapons on South Korean soil for the first time since the 1990s, but the country’s defence minister, Song Young-moo, said “all available military options” were being considered to address the growing threat from North Korean missiles.

Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, said: “No one in South Korea is seriously proposing that the US reintroduce strategic assets [such as nuclear weapons]. That’s something they might discuss further down the line, but there are no plans for that to happen right now.”

But calls have also been growing in South Korea for the country to develop a nuclear deterrent independent of the US.

On Tuesday, South Korean warships conducted live-fire drills, with further exercises planned this week. “If the enemy launches a provocation above water or under water, we will immediately hit back to bury them at sea,” said Capt Choi Young-chan, commander of the 13th Maritime Battle Group.

The drills came hours after Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, agreed “in principle” to remove restrictions on the size of Seoul’s missile warheads and approved a deal to sell it “many billions of dollars’” worth of US military weapons and equipment.

 Could North Korea trigger a nuclear war?

Washington appears to have moved to ease South Korean doubts about US commitment to its security after Trump openly accused its east Asian ally of “appeasing” Pyongyang by holding out for a negotiated solution to its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Speaking to a nuclear disarmament conference on Tuesday, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, described Pyongyang’s nuclear test as a “gift package” for the US.

“The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the US,” said Han Tae Song. “The US will receive more ‘gift packages’ from my country as long as its relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he added without elaborating.

North Korea has been observed moving what appeared to be a long-range missile towards its west coast, according to South Korea’s Asia Business Daily. The newspaper claimed the missile had been transported towards the launch site overnight on Monday to avoid surveillance.

How does a hydrogen bomb differ from an atomic bomb?

South Korea’s defence ministry said it was unable to confirm the report, although ministry officials told parliament on Monday the Pyongyang regime was preparing to launch more missiles.

On Monday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, accused North Korea of “begging for war”, adding that the time had come for the security council to impose “the strongest possible” sanctions after Sunday’s test of what Pyongyang claimed was a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to an ICBM.

Pope Francis Consulted Psychoanalyst in 1970s: Book

Pope Francis Consulted Psychoanalyst in 1970s: Book

Sept. 1, 2017, at 9:09 a.m.

Pope Francis Consulted Psychoanalyst in 1970s: Book

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends a conference on families and adolescent education at Rome’s Basilica of St. John in Lateran, Italy June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – Pope Francis saw a Jewish psychoanalyst once a week for six months during the 1970s and found the experience beneficial, the pontiff was quoted as saying in a new book.

“For six months, I went to her once a week to shed light on certain things,” the Argentine pontiff said in a series of interviews with French sociologist Dominique Wolton, extracts from which were published by Le Figaro on Friday.

“She was very good, very professional … but she always remained in her proper place,” the 80-year-old said, adding he was aged 42 at the time. “She helped me a lot.”

The excerpts released did not name the psychoanalyst or explain why the sessions had been originally set up. Francis said she had called him when she was on the verge of death, “not for sacraments, because she was Jewish, but for a spiritual dialogue”.

Francis, who has campaigned for a more open and inclusive Catholic Church, criticized “rigid priests, who are afraid of communicating”.

“It is a kind of fundamentalism. When I come across someone rigid, especially if they are young, I say to myself that they are sick. In reality, they are looking for security.”

The book, “Pope Francis: Meetings with Dominique Wolton, Politics and Society” is due for publication by Les Editions de L’Observatoire on Sept. 6.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas, writing by Isla Binnie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

US fighter jets stage mock bombing drill over Korean Peninsula

US fighter jets stage mock bombing drill over Korean Peninsula

Four US F-35B fighter jets joined two US B-1B bombers and four South Korean F-15 fighter jets in the joint US-South Korean flyover of the Korean Peninsula, an official with the South Korean air force told CNN.
The exercise was designed to “strongly counter North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile tests and development of nuclear weapons,” the official said.
In a statement, the air force said the US bombers flew out of Guam and four stealth fighter jets from a US Marine Corps base in Japan.
US and South Korean fighter jets take part in a mock surgical strike Thursday.

They conducted a mock bombing drill, which simulated a surgical strike of key enemy facilities, over the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon.
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In a statement, US Pacific Command said the flyover was a “direct response to North Korea’s intermediate range ballistic missile launch.”
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of Pacific Air Forces.

Show of force

Thursday’s flyover follows North Korea’s latest weapons test, the first ballistic missile fired over Japan, though various stages of rockets carrying satellites have landed to Japan’s east and south.
North Korea has been test-firing missiles at a rapid clip this year. With each launch, experts say Pyongyang can further refine and perfect its missile technology.
The bomber flights are a common response to North Korean actions that the United States and its allies perceive as hostile.
B-1s flew over the Korean Peninsula following both of Pyongyang’s successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the type of weapons designed to deliver nuclear warheads to far-off locations such as the US mainland.
The bombers flew from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, the closest US territory to North Korea and thetarget of North Korean threats in recent weeks.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said that Tuesday’s missile launch was “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” which it called the “advanced base of invasion” for US forces.
In a follow-up statement Thursday, the agency promised future launches “targeting the Pacific, where the US imperialist aggressor forces’ bases are stationed.”
“It should not be forgotten even a moment that the whole of South Korea can turn into ruins,” the statement said.
A US B-1B bomber is seen during an exercise over the Korean Peninsula on Thursday.

South Korea and the United States are currently engaged in joint military exercises, which kicked off last week. The annual exercises always infuriate Pyongyang, and some have called for them to be called off or scaled back as a show of good faith that might bring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table.
At a news conference Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying seemed to be referring to the largely simulated drills when she said the situation in the Korean Peninsula “is not like a movie script or computer game.”
“It is real. It exists,” she said. “It is an important and serious issue that directly affects people’s safety in the South and North. And it also affects the peace of the whole region. We hope every side makes rational judgments and wise decisions in a responsible manner for the people and regional peace and stability. “
North Koreans watch missile launch

North Koreans watch missile launch 02:19

Advanced fighter jet

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive and one of the most controversial weapons systems in US history, is held out as “the cornerstone” of US defense in the Pacific.
The US military's $400B fighter jet

The US military’s $400B fighter jet 02:27
Based at a US base in Iwakuni, the first of 16 fighters arrived in Japan in January, showing Washington’s “commitment to the defense of Japan with the most capable and modern equipment in the US inventory,” a US Marines official told CNN at the time.
According to the Marines, the deployment of the fighters to Japan was ordered under the Obama administration, and was not related to ongoing tensions with North Korea.
Nevertheless, analysts said the fighters’ presence in Japan sends a strong message, and the country’s Ministry of Defense claimed they increased Japan’s deterrent capability amid an “increasingly severe” security environment.
Following North Korea’s recent missile launch, President Donald Trump called Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and said the “US stands with Japan 100%.”
“I would like to make the utmost effort to protect the lives and assets of the Japanese people under a strong alliance between Japan and US,” Abe recounted Trump saying after the call.
US F-35 fighter jets take part in an exercise with South Korean jets.

The F-35 stealth fighters would be a key part of any US pre-emptive strike on North Korea designed to neutralize the country’s defensive and counterstrike capabilities, Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told CNN earlier this month.
Countering North Korea’s relatively formidable surface-to-air missile defense capabilities, stealth American F-22s, F-35s and B-2 bombers would likely lead a joint air campaign with the help of Japanese and South Korean F-15 or F-16 fighters, he said.
Corey Wallace, a security analyst at Freie University in Berlin, told CNN the use of the F-35s out of Japan showed the United States had various options for potentially striking North Korea.
“(Washington has) platforms from Guam and Japan linking up and operating together over South Korea with South Korean assets, with all of the governments supporting this,” he said.

Women dressed as nuns attempt Pennsylvania bank robbery

Women dressed as nuns attempt Pennsylvania bank robbery

Photo released of the two suspectsImage copyrightFBI
Image captionThe women fled empty-handed

The FBI is searching for two women who tried to rob a bank in the US state of Pennsylvania dressed as nuns.

One of the women brandished a gun as she demanded money during the incident at a bank in the town of Tannersville on Monday.

Both were wearing black nun’s habits and veils and one was wearing sunglasses.

They are believed to have fled when one of the bank tellers operated an alarm.

One of the women brandished a gun during the incidentImage copyrightFBI
Image captionOne of the women brandished a gun during the incident

Houston flood: Addicks dam begins overspill

Houston flood: Addicks dam begins overspill

Media captionDays of destruction: The story so far…..

A major dam outside Houston has begun spilling over as Storm Harvey pushes the reservoir past capacity, a Texas official says.

Engineers have tried to prevent nearby communities from being inundated by releasing some of the water held by the Addicks dam.

But flood control official Jeff Lindner says water levels are now over the height of the reservoir edge.

Harvey has brought huge floods to Texas and is starting to affect Louisiana.

Unprecedented rainfall has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. At least nine people are reported to have died in the Houston area.

While spillover would not cause the Addicks dam to fail, it would add more water to the Buffalo Bayou, the main river into the fourth largest city in the US.

Flood officials are also concerned about the Barker dam, which also controls the Buffalo Bayou west of Houston.

President Donald Trump is visiting Texas on Tuesday to see for himself the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm.

Rain is continuing to fall. In Houston, forecasts suggest that some areas in and around the city could see up to 12in (30cm) of rain on Tuesday, bringing the total rainfall from Harvey to about 50in.

Harvey was the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years when it made landfall on Friday near Corpus Christi, 220 miles (354km) south-west of Houston.

The slow-moving storm – currently over the Gulf of Mexico – will continue to dump huge amounts of rain in the coming days over already flood-hit areas.

“Additional heavy rainfall overnight is expected to worsen the flood situation in south-eastern Texas and south-western Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Map of rainfall in Texas and Louisiana

Acid and Terror Attacks Leave Londoners Shaken But Defiant

Acid and Terror Attacks Leave Londoners Shaken But Defiant

But while its citizens are familiar with turmoil and hardship, this summer turned up the dial on the sense of danger and uncertainty. This is the first summer since the shock “Brexit” referendum to leave the European Union and tourist-filled streets have been bloodied by two major ISIS-inspired terror attacks.

And it is the staggering rise in acid attacks on its citizens that has taken so many by surprise.

The government is taking the incidents seriously, and earlier this month the Ministry of Justice ordered people entering courts to take sips from their bottles of water to ensure they are not actually carrying corrosive liquid.

 FROM JULY 16: London Acid Attacks: U.K. Lawmakers Consider Harsher Sentences 1:43

During just one night last month, five takeout delivery drivers were injured in the space of 90 minutes by acid-wielding assailants. Police are also investigating whether an attack on a man outside the iconic Harrods luxury department store this week in upscale Knightsbridge involved a corrosive substance.

Jabed Hussain, 32, was one of those attacked.

“I’m just shocked — using acid to steal a bike? What’s a bike worth, maybe 1,000 pounds? My life is worth more than that,” he told reporters at a protest outside Britain’s Parliament in July.

Figures released by police show that the number of reported acid attacks in London alone rose 80 percent in one year, from 261 in 2015 to 458 in 2016. And over 200 cases have already been reported this year. Police forces in other parts of the country report figures in the hundreds as well.

So to outsiders, it would appear to be a city in crisis, scared and on edge. But among London’s millions of residents, there appears to be a sense, across the generations, that while these are indeed unusual times, the metropolis would withstand them like it has so many times before.

On a cloudy and mild August evening, pubs remain full, main streets bustle and the overall mood typically giddy when NBC News visited.

Image: Motorcycle delivery drivers and motorcyclists protest
Motorcycle delivery drivers and motorcyclists protest in Parliament Square in central London. Niklas Halle’n / AFP – Getty Images

“People have short memories,” said 72-year-old Gladys Holmes.

“I was much more frightened of the [Irish Republican Army] than I am of anything now,” said the lifelong Londoner, referring to a string of attacks carried out by the Irish Republicans during a bloody 30-year campaign to end British rule in Northern Ireland, a conflict in which some 3,600 people were killed.

Holmes was resting after a day of shopping in Walthamstow, a multicultural area in London’s east. Her “chaperone” for the afternoon, Doug Walker, casts his mind further back.

“I was just too young for the Blitz but I saw the effect it had on London growing up,” the 71-year-old said, referring to relentless Nazi bombing that reduced swathes of the city to rubble during World War II. “My mother spoke about it for the rest of her life. Most days, really.”

More recent history weighs also on the minds of the city’s residents. The 12th anniversary of the London Tube bombings that killed 52 people was July 7.

“Sometimes on the tube at 8 a.m. I have these weird moments where I get a bit paranoid,” said Rebecca Harris, who works in public relations. “But I have to get to work so I take the Tube, don’t I?”

“You can’t change your whole life,” the 34-year-old adds, her words trailing off.

Image: A person lays a floral tribute after a vigil
A person lays a floral tribute after a vigil at Potters Field Park, near the scene of the attack at London Bridge. Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

Stacy, Rebecca’s colleague and drinking partner in bustling and trendy Hoxton, continues the train of thought.

“I know it’s a cliché but life goes on, you have to live your life. London’s massive, something’s always happening somewhere,” she said.

Self-conscious London is a city that doesn’t like to be spoken for.

When the New York Times published a headline in June saying the country was “reeling” after after two terror attacks struck London in as many weeks, social media condemnation was swift and powerful. A tweet by the editor of the New Statesman magazine, Jason Cowley, captured the mood when said it was “absurd and scandalous,” and declared London “the city of the Blitz.”

Danish inventor denies killing journalist Kim Wall and mutilating body

Danish inventor denies killing journalist Kim Wall and mutilating body

Peter Madsen claims Wall died in an accident on board his submarine before he dumped her body in the sea

Kim Wall
 Kim Wall had visited Madsen on the submarine to interview him. Photograph: Tom Wall/AFP/Getty Images

A Danish inventor being held over the death of the Swedish reporter Kim Wall, whose headless torso was found on the Copenhagen waterside, has denied killing her and mutilating her body, police have said.

“The suspect denies murder and desecration of a human body,” Copenhagen police said in a statement on Friday, referring to Peter Madsen.

Madsen, 46, who has been held in formal custody since 12 August on suspicion of “negligent manslaughter”, says Wall died in an accident on board a submarine he had built. He claims he subsequently dumped the 30-year-old’s body in the sea south of Copenhagen.

Peter Madsen pictured in 2008 with the submarine.
 Peter Madsen pictured in 2008 with the submarine. Photograph: Hougaard Niels/AP

Investigators say Wall’s body was “deliberately” mutilated and weighed down with a metal object to try to prevent its detection.

Wall was last seen on board Madsen’s 18-metre (60ft) submarine, Nautilus, on 10 August when she went to interview him. Investigators found traces of her blood inside the vessel. Danish prosecutors are seeking to charge Madsen with murder and have until 5 September to request an extension of his custody.

Madsen, who describes himself as an “inventepreneur” on his website, is to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Wall was a freelance journalist who had reported for the New York Times and the Guardian. Her boyfriend reported her missing a day after the interview with Madsen.

That same day, Madsen was rescued from waters between Denmark and Sweden shortly before his submarine sank. Investigators recovered and searched the vessel, which police believe Madsen sank on purpose.

The Nautilus was the biggest private submarine ever made when Madsen and some volunteers built it in 2008. The volunteers were engaged in a dispute over the Nautilus between 2014 and 2015, before members of the board decided to transfer the vessel’s ownership to Madsen, according to the Nautilus website.

In 2015, Madsen had sent a text message to two members of the board saying “there is a curse on Nautilus”.

“That curse is me. There will never be peace on Nautilus as long as I exist,” Madsen wrote, according to a post written by the volunteers in Danish on the website.

Danish police are still searching for the clothes Wall was wearing on the submarine: an orange fleece, a skirt and white sneakers. According to her former classmate and close friend Yan Cong, the sneakers had sentimental value.

“We sent each other photos of us wearing the sneakers during reporting trips from different parts of the world,” Cong said. “I believe she was wearing them when she went missing.”

Wall was a graduate of Columbia University graduate school of journalism in New York. She had planned to move to Beijing to pursue her career, Cong said.

Danish police confirm headless torso is missing journalist Kim Wall

Danish police confirm headless torso is missing journalist Kim Wall

Police find DNA match to Swedish reporter who is believed to have been killed on a homemade submarine

Kim Wall
 Danish authorities had been searching for Kim Wall since she failed to return from an interview with Peter Madsen. Photograph: Tom Wall/AFP/Getty Images

Danish police have identified a headless female torso found in the Copenhagen waterside as that of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who police believe was killed on a homemade submarine.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday morning, Copenhagen police’s vice-president, Jens Møller, also said that DNA taken from a hairbrush and toothbrush belonging to Wall had matched that of blood found on the submarine.

He said metal weights had been attached to the body to prevent it from floating.

“Damage seems to have been done to the torso in an attempt to ensure that air and gases escape and the body won’t drift to the surface,” Møller said at the press conference.

Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor, was charged with manslaughter last week. He told a court hearing this week that Wall had died in an accident and that he had “buried” her at sea.

On Monday, a cyclist passing the water’s edge south-west of the island of Amager discovered a torso missing the head, arms and legs.

On Wednesday morning, police confirmed a “DNA match between torso and Kim Wall”.

Wall’s mother reacted to Wednesday’s announcement with a message posted on Facebook. “We cannot see the end of the disaster yet, and a lot of questions are still to be answered,” Ingrid Wall wrote.

“The tragedy has hit not only us and other families, but friends and colleagues all over the world. During the horrendous days since Kim disappeared, we have received countless evidence of how loved and appreciated she has been, as a human and friend as well as a professional journalist. From all corners of the world comes evidence of Kim’s ability to be a person who makes a difference.”

Peter Madsen’s private submarine sits on a pier in Copenhagen harbour
 Peter Madsen’s private submarine sits on a pier in Copenhagen harbour. Photograph: Jens Dresling/AP

On Wednesday, local media reported that Danish police said they would look into whether unresolved past cases could be connected with Wall’s case. In 1987, the torso of a Japanese tourist was found in the waters of Copenhagen harbour.

Wall was last seen on Madsen’s vessel by several people in waters off Copenhagen on the evening of 10 August. Her boyfriend reported her missing in the early hours of Friday.

The submarine was later also reported missing, but rescue crews located it shortly after 10am on 11 August in Køge Bay, about 30 miles (50km) south of the Danish capital.

At about 11am, Madsen jumped into the water after the submarine started to sink, telling personnel on the boat that rescued him that there had been a problem with the ballast tank and something had gone wrong when he tried to repair it.

Kim Wall’s death – timeline

Danish and Swedish maritime authorities used divers, sonar and helicopters in the search for the body in Køge Bay, south of the city, and in the Øresund Strait between the two countries.

Police refloated the Nautilus and towed it into harbour for investigation, later suggesting that Madsen may have sunk the boat on purpose to hide evidence.

Madsen, an entrepreneur, artist, submarine builder and aerospace engineer, appeared before a judge on 12 August for preliminary questioning. The case is not open to the public to protect further investigations, police said.

Originally from Sweden, Wall held degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and had written on issues ranging from social justice to foreign policy for publications including the Guardian, the New York Times, Foreign Policy and Time.

Attack We Will’: Trump Vows Victory in Afghanistan, Stays Silent on Troop Levels

Attack We Will’: Trump Vows Victory in Afghanistan, Stays Silent on Troop Levels

Acknowledging that his “original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” Trump said in a prime-time address to the nation from Ft. Myer in Arlington, Virginia, that after becoming president he realized a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would cede ground to terror groups.

“We are not nation-building again,” Trump said before an audience of service members. “We are killing terrorists.”

 Trump: Afghanistan Must Carry Their Share of Burden 1:19

The president provided few details, however, about how America would do that, leaving out of his 30-minute remarks any numbers about possible additional U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan and not revealing specifics of his war plans.

“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities,” Trump said. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.”

“I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will,” he promised.

The War In Afghanistan: By the Numbers

A “core pillar” of the strategy “is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions,” the president said, noting “how counter-productive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end” military activities.

While Trump vowed to “work with the Afghan government,” he also said the U.S. “commitment is not unlimited and our support is not a blank check.”

Trump’s announcement comes after an extensive review of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and the region that was led by National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster.

Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump address the nation at Fort Myer on August 21, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. Carolyn Kaster / AP

The president began his remarks with sobering words about the need for national unity and love for fellow Americans, a stark contrast from comments Trump had made less than a week earlier in which he drew widespread condemnation for blaming “both sides” for violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead.

While he did not mention Charlottesville, Trump proclaimed that “love for America requires love for all its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no tolerance for bigotry.”

He added, “We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.”

Trump also had tough words for Pakistan while extending a hand to India for a deeper strategic partnership with the U.S.

America would “no longer be silent” about Pakistan’s “safe havens for terrorist organizations,” Trump said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

 Analysis: Trump Takes Ownership of Afghanistan War 6:06

Seated before Trump at Ft. Myer in addition to the uniformed members of the U.S. military were top administration officials, including Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Communications Director Hope Hicks, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.

That Trump would not go into military specifics marks a consistent theme from his campaign, when he had promised not to telegraph such decisions ahead of time. In recent weeks, the president has told reporters “we don’t talk about that,” when asked about preemptive strikes against North Korea.

“I never do. I’m not like the other administration that would say we’re going into Mosul in four months. I don’t talk about it,” Trump said earlier this month.

The Afghanistan war has been a source of frustration for the president who, U.S. officials told NBC News, griped about the lack of progress in the country — “we are losing,” he said — during a tense July meeting with top generals and administration officials.

As a candidate and private citizen, Trump repeatedly urged the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan after “wasted” American lives and money.

Van Crashes Into Bus Stop in Marseille, Killing 1

Van Crashes Into Bus Stop in Marseille, Killing 1

The driver has been arrested and is being treated for psychological issues.

By Katelyn Newman , Digital Producer, Staff Writer Aug. 21, 2017, at 8:56 a.m.

Van Crashes Into Bus Stop in Marseille, Killing 1

Police officers inspect a bus stop in La Valentine district after a van rammed into two bus stops in the French port city of Marseille Monday Aug.21, 2017. (AP/Claude Paris)

Police officers inspect a bus stop in La Valentine district after a van rammed into two bus stops in the French port city of Marseille Monday. (CLAUDE PARIS/AP)

At least one person was killed and one injured after a van rammed into two bus stops in the southern French city of Marseille Monday, local authorities announced.

The driver, from the Grenoble region in eastern France, first struck a bus stop at Croix Rouge in the 13th district at about 9:15 a.m. local time, injuring one person. Continuing to drive three miles down the road, he struck a second bus stop at Valentine in the 11th district at about 10:00 a.m., killing one woman.

The 35-year-old suspect, whose identity has not yet been released but who is known to local authorities, was detained in the Old Port area of Marseille. French prosecutors saythey are not investigating the incident as terrorism, and local media report that the suspect, who has a criminal record. is being treated for psychological problems after a letter was discovered on him that mentioned a psychiatric clinic.

The incidents occurred four days after back-to-back van attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, which killed 14 people.

Barcelona Death Toll Rises, Another Suspect Arrested

Barcelona Death Toll Rises, Another Suspect Arrested

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least 14.

By Katelyn Newman , Digital Producer, Staff Writer Aug. 18, 2017, at 9:17 a.m.

Barcelona Death Toll Rises, Another Suspect Arrested
Candles and bunches of flowers placed by people rest on the ground in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain, Friday. (AP/Francisco Seco)

Candles and bunches of flowers rest on the ground in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain, Friday. (FRANCISCO SECO/AP)

 Police continue to search for the driver behind the vehicular attack in Barcelona that killed at least 14 and injured dozens more.

The attack on the popular tourist boulevard of Las Ramblas injured at least 80 people when a van jumped the curb and plowed through a crowd. A woman wounded in the vehicular attack Thursday succumbed to her injuries Friday, raising the death toll to 14. The Islamic State groupclaimed responsibility for the incident.

The victims of the assault came from 34 different countries, according to Catalan emergency service. The French Foreign Ministry announced in a statement Friday that 26 of the victims were French, with at least 11 in serious condition.

Hours after the Barcelona attack, police fatally shot five terrorists in Cambrils, a seaside town 70 miles south, foiling what they believe was a second vehicular attack. The suspects were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts, but later turned out to be fake. Six civilians and one police officer were also injured, according to Catalan emergency services.

Police detained a fourth suspect Friday in connection to the two attacks in Ripoll, about 66 miles north of Barcelona. They also said the driver, who fled the scene of the crime in Barcelona and whose identity is still unknown, remains at large. None of the attackers had a history of terrorism-related events, police said.

 The two attacks, the deadliest in Spain in more than a decade, are the latest in a string of incidents throughout Europe in which assailants used vehicles to harm civilians, law enforcement and soldiers.

A moment of silence was taken at noon Friday in Catalonia Square in remembrance of the victims and in rejection of the attack. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey tweeted that the attack shows the “global battle” against terrorism.

 United to condemn the barbarism, “we will defeat terrorism,” he tweeted.

The Catalan police tweeted that they believe the attacks had been planned months in advance out of Alcanar, a coastal town about 57 miles south of Cambrils and 126 miles south of Barcelona.

Raw: Barcelona Tense After Van Hits Crowd

Canadian Pastor Returns Home After Release From North Korean Prison

Canadian Pastor Returns Home After Release From North Korean Prison

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than two years, is seen celebrating as he returned Canada in this still image captured from a video in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 12, 2017. Courtesy Light Presbyterian Church/Handout via

By Jim Finkle

TORONTO (Reuters) – A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than two years quietly returned to his home in a Toronto suburb on Saturday following a long journey on a private government jet via Japan.

Hyeon Soo Lim, formerly the senior pastor at one of Canada’s largest churches, had disappeared on a mission to North Korea in early 2015. He was sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Pyongyang regime.

News of his release surfaced on Wednesday, when North Korea’s KCNA news agency said Lim was being let go on humanitarian grounds, suggesting his health was poor.

The announcement came amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, though authorities have not said there is any connection between his release and efforts to defuse the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program.

The pastor’s son James Lim said his dad was happy to be back home in Canada, stopping for coffee and a donut at Canada’s popular Tim Horton’s coffee chain on his way home from the airport.

The family asked the public to respect their privacy, allowing him to rest for a day and catch up with family before appearing in public on Sunday to attend services at his church.

James Lim said his dad was in “good health,” but noted that the family planned to arrange for extended medical attention, including checkups.

“He is doing very well, considering everything he has gone through,” he said.

The family thanked the Canadian government for helping secure his Lim’s release. They declined to provide details on negotiations with the North Koreans.

“It’s a delicate dance. There’s a lot of complexity to it,” James Lim said.

He added that getting the pastor home took on increased urgency in June, following the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died days after being released from a North Korean prison in a coma.

The Canadian government issued a statement saying it joined Lim’s family and congregation in celebrating his homecoming.

“Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Lim’s case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that he has returned,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Mary Milliken and Alistair Bell)

Submarine inventor will not contest detention over missing journalist

Submarine inventor will not contest detention over missing journalist

Peter Madsen denies any role in disappearance of Kim Wall as Danish and Swedish authorities continue search.

The submarine Nautilus after it was recovered from the seabed
 The submarine Nautilus after it was recovered from the seabed. 

An inventor accused of killing a missing Swedish journalist who boarded his submarine to interview him the night before it mysteriously sank will not contest his detention but denies any part in her disappearance, his lawyer has said.

Betina Hald Engmark told Denmark’s TV2 that her client, Peter Madsen, 46, would remain in custody for up to 24 days while Danish police continue their investigation into the presumed death of Kim Wall, 30.

The search for Wall continued on Monday in both Danish and Swedish waters, with Danish military aircraft joining search-and-rescue helicopters, ships and divers. Copenhagen police are also searching on land.

“At the moment we don’t know where she is or if she’s alive,” said Ole Thiell Sörensen, of the Danish defence operations centre. “That means police and rescue workers have to look both on land and at sea.”

He told the Swedish broadcaster SVT it would be “a big job” to find a body at sea. “In most cases we work with looking for survivors and that’s hard enough. Looking for a dead person is even more difficult because you cannot use thermal cameras.”

Police refloated the self-built, 18-metre (59ft) UC3 Nautilus in Køge Bay, south of Copenhagen, where it sank in about seven metres of water on Friday morning, and towed it into harbour.

“There are no persons in the submarine, either dead or alive,” said the Copenhagen police homicide chief, Jens Moller, adding that the vessel appeared to have been scuttled deliberately and was being treated as a possible crime scene.

Wall, a freelance journalist who has written from China and the US for the Guardian and the New York Times, and who was writing a feature about the Nautilus and its owner, boarded the submarine on Thursday evening and has not been heard from since.

After her boyfriend told police that she had not returned home as originally planned, Danish authorities began searching for the vessel – the world’s largest home-built submarine when it was launched in 2008 – eventually locating it in Køge Bay, about 30 miles from the Danish capital.

Madsen, an entrepreneur, artist, inventor and aerospace engineer, was rescued by a private boat from the submarine minutes before it sank. He told police he had dropped Wall off at the mouth of Copenhagen harbour late on Thursday night, three hours after she boarded, once the interview was over.

Madsen also told reporters at the scene that the vessel had sunk after running into problems with its ballast tank, but Danish police have since said he has given them a different version of events – although they would not say what.

He has been charged with negligent manslaughter “for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabell Frerika Wall of Swedensometime after Thursday 5pm”, according to the public prosecutor, Louise Pedersen.

Wall, who lives between New York and Beijing and has also written for Vice and the South China Morning Post, specialises in stories about “identity, gender, pop-culture, social justice, foreign policy and the undercurrents of rebellion”, according to her LinkedIn page.

Madsen told TV2 after his rescue that it had taken “about 30 seconds for Nautilus to sink, and I couldn’t close any hatches or anything. But I guess that was pretty good because otherwise I still would have been down there.”

Kristian Isbak, who responded to the navy’s call to help locate the submarine on Friday, said he had seen Madsen in his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.

“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said. “He came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it,” then swam to a nearby boat as the submarine sank.

Iranian blogger says she feels ‘safe’ after reaching Israel


Iranian blogger says she feels ‘safe’ after reaching Israel

An Iranian blogger who wrote for an Israeli news website and who left her country for life in exile says she feels “safe now” after finally reaching Israel.

Neda Amin spoke at a press conference with David Horovitz, editor of the Times Of Israel, where her work has appeared. She arrived in Israel on Thursday.

The 32-year-old has been living in Turkey since 2014.

She says she left Iran after being threatened with prison for writing material critical of the government in Tehran. Iran is a bitter enemy of Israel.

Amin says Turkish authorities recently told her she would be deported to Iran and that she was in “such danger.”

Horovitz says he felt an obligation to Amin and that he persuaded Israeli authorities to help bring her to Israel.

North Korea’s nuclear threat at a ‘new stage’, warns Japan

North Korea’s nuclear threat at a ‘new stage’, warns Japan

Defense paper said it was possible that the regime was able to miniaturise a nuclear warhead to load it on to a missile

North Korea launched a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, in July.

Japan has warned that the threat from North Korean nuclear weapons has reached a “new stage” now that it appears to have developed an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

In its defence white paper, Japan’s government said Pyongyang’s weapons programme had “advanced considerably,” adding that it was possible that the regime had acquired the ability to miniaturise nuclear warheads.

“North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles and its nuclear programme are becoming increasingly real and imminent problems for the Asia-Pacific region including Japan, as well as the rest of the world,” said the report, which ran to more than 500 pages.

Japan’s defence ministry said that security threats had reached a new stage after the North conducted two nuclear tests and more than 20 ballistic missile launches last year.

The report went on to speculate that North Korea had improved its technological expertise to the point where it could theoretically marry a nuclear warhead with a missile.

“It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons into warheads and has acquired nuclear warheads,” the ministry said.

Some experts believe the North has already miniaturised its nuclear capability, while others believe the regime is still several years away from being able to do so. The Japanese defence ministry report was vague.

Scott LaFoy, a Washington-based imagery analyst focusing on ballistic missile and space technologies, said the report reflected “an increasing belief that North Korea either has or is very close to having a nuclear warhead”.

Based on data and projections by experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, LaFoy told the Guardian: “I lean towards believing North Korea is either in possession of a device, or the potential sixth nuclear test will be the practical test of said device.

There is growing concern in Japan over the increasing frequency of North Korean missile tests since Kim Jong-un became leader in late 2011.

“North Korea’s missiles represent a deepening threat. That, along with China’s continued threatening behaviour in the East China Sea and South China Sea, is a major concern for Japan,” the country’s defence minister, Itsunori Onodera, told reporters in Tokyo.

Japan has held several evacuation drills in recent months in preparation for a North Korean missile attack, while Onodera is among those who have called for the country to acquire the ability to strike North Korean bases if it is attacked.

That would require a drastic change in Japan’s defence posture to allow it to use offensive weapons, such as bombers and cruise missiles capable of striking targets overseas – a move that would inevitably prompt a debate on whether the country was honouring the defensive posture required by its “pacifist” constitution.

Onodera said this year: “To properly defend Japan we have to be able to attack the bases from where North Korean missiles are launched. This is to prevent a second or third attack. These are not pre-emptive strikes, but counterattacks that fall within the scope of self-defence.”

Although North Korea’s goal has always been to build weapons capable of striking the US mainland, its advances in missile technology have boosted the Japanese government’s case for increased defence spending.

Japan’s self-defence forces have dramatically increased their involvement in joint exercises with the US, and the defence ministry already plans to upgrade its ship-to-air and mobile missile defence capabilities.

The white paper, approved by Japan’s cabinet on Tuesday morning, was published less than two weeks after North Korea test-fired its second ICBM, which US experts have said may be able to reach most of the continental United States.

“Since last year, when [North Korea] forcibly implemented two nuclear tests and more than 20 ballistic missile launches, the security threats have entered a new stage,” the report said.

That missile was fired at an extremely high angle and landed about 120 miles (200km) off Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido.

The report was unclear, however, on whether North Korea had acquired the technological knowhow to fire a nuclear-tipped missile that would be able to re-enter earth’s atmosphere intact, according to Kyodo news.

The report also cited Pyongyang’s attempts to improve its ability to conduct a surprise attack using solid-fuel missiles, which can be prepared for launch in less time than liquid-fuelled rockets and are therefore harder to detect.

“The risk that North Korea will deploy nuclear-tipped missiles covering Japanese territory will grow as time passes,” it warned.

China, meanwhile, has promised to enforce UN sanctions against North Korea agreed at the weekend, even though it claims it has the most to lose from weakening its close trade links with Pyongyang.

Beijing has been criticised for failing to enforce previous sanctions packages, but China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said the measures were necessary to demonstrate international opposition to North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

“Owing to China’s traditional economic ties with North Korea, it will mainly be China paying the price for implementing the resolution,” a Chinese foreign ministry statement quoted Wang as saying at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday.

“But in order to protect the international non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will … properly implement the entire contents of the relevant resolution.”

North Korea vows to retaliate against US over sanction

North Korea vows to retaliate against US over sanction

Media captionWhy does North Korea want nukes?

North Korea has vowed to retaliate and make “the US pay a price” for drafting fresh UN sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons programme.

The sanctions, which were unanimously passed by the UN on Saturday, were a “violent violation of our sovereignty,” the official KCNA news agency said.

Separately, South Korea says the North has rejected an offer to restart talks, dismissing it as insincere.

The sanctions will aim to reduce North Korea’s export revenues by a third.

The UN Security Council decision followed repeated missile tests by the North which have escalated tensions on the peninsula.

In its first major response on Monday, North Korea insisted that it would continue to develop its controversial nuclear weapons programme.

The state-run KCNA news agency said Pyongyang would “not put our self-defensive nuclear deterrent on the negotiating table” while it faces threats from the US.

It threatened to make the US “pay the price for its crime… thousands of times,” referring to America’s role in drafting the UN sanctions resolution.

Speaking to reporters at a regional forum in the Philippine capital, Manila, North Korean spokesman Bang Kwang Hyuk said: “The worsening situation on the Korean peninsula, as well as the nuclear issues, were caused by the United States.

“We affirm that we’ll never place our nuclear and ballistic missiles programme on the negotiating table, and won’t budge an inch on strengthening nuclear armament.”

The remarks come after reports emerged that the North and South Korean foreign ministers had met briefly on Sunday evening on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Manila.

South Korean media reported that its Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha, shook hands with her North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, in a brief and unarranged meeting at an official dinner event.

A South Korean official told the BBC that Mr Ri had dismissed Ms Kang’s offer of talks as “insincere”.

Media captionJapanese people practising nuclear attack drills

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Ms Kang as saying that Mr Ri’s rejection of the talks proposal appeared to be connected to the new sanctions.

“I told him that [the two offers for talks] are an urgent matter that should be carried out immediately with any political agenda put aside and asked him to proactively react,” she was quoted as saying.

The foreign minister of China, which is Pyongyang’s closest ally, told journalists on Monday: “My feeling is that the North did not entirely reject the positive proposals raised by the South.”

Wang Yi added that China also supported the South’s initiatives, and was “100%” committed to enforcing the latest round of UN sanctions.

line break

What are the new sanctions?

North Korean labourers work beside the Yalu River at the North Korean town of Sinuiju on February 8, 2013 which is close to the Chinese city of Dandong. Piles of coal are seen.Image copyrightAFP
  • Importing coal, seafood, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore from North Korea is banned
  • Countries cannot receive new North Korean workers
  • No new joint ventures with North Korean entities or individuals
  • No new investment in existing joint ventures
  • More individuals targeted with travel bans and assets freezes
  • Member states to report to the UN Security Council within 90 days on how they have implemented resolution
line break

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also at the Asean forum, where he spoke about North Korea.

Noting Russia and China’s participation in the unanimous vote, he told journalists it was clear there was now “no daylight among the international community” on their desire for North Korea to stop its tests.

“The best signal that North Korea can give us [is] that they are prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” he added.

Russia and China have previously differed with others on how to handle Pyongyang, but in recent months have joined calls for North Korea to stop its missile tests – while also urging the US and South Korea to halt military drills, and withdraw an anti-missile system from the South.

Media captionNorth Korea’s second intercontinental missile launched last month was “seen from Japan”

On Monday, US President Donald Trump spoke to his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in over the phone about relations on the Korean peninsula.

They agreed that North Korea “poses a grave and growing direct threat” and the two leaders were committed to fully implementing the latest round of UN sanctions, the White House said in a statement.

Gulag grave hunter unearths uncomfortable truths in Russia

Gulag grave hunter unearths uncomfortable truths in Russia

Supporters of Yury Dmitriyev say he is being held as a political prisoner by a state that would rather forget Soviet repression

Yury Dmitriyev
 Yury Dmitriyev has dedicated much of three decades to helping recover victims of Soviet repressions. Photograph: Sofia Pankevich

The pine trees creak and rustle ominously beneath even the faintest breeze, as if the vast forest between Lake Onega and the Finnish border remains reluctant to give up its dark secrets.

The secret police brought 6,241 gulag prisoners to these woods during Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror in 1937-8, put them face-down in pits dug in the sandy soil, and shot them in the back of the head with a revolver. As their remains decayed, the earth above each mass grave sank into the ground.

It was these pockmarks in the forest floor that helped Yury Dmitriyev and other members of Memorial, Russia’s oldest human rights organisation, find this site at Sandormokh in 1997. It is one of the largest mass graves in the former Soviet Union.

With Memorial, the 61-year-old gulag grave hunter from nearby Petrozavodsk has dedicated much of three decades to the effort to return the victims of Soviet repressions from “state-sponsored oblivion”, publishing several books of names, dates and locations of executions since the discovery.

“For our government to become … accountable, we need to educate the people,” Dmitriyev said of his efforts to uncover details of Soviet repression.

But not everyone wants to remember this forgotten history, especially amid Russia’s current patriotic fervour. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said in June that “excessive demonisation” of Stalin has been a “means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia”, and several branches of Memorial have been declared “foreign agents” in recent years.

For the first time in two decades Dmitriyev will miss the annual day of remembrance at Sandormokh on 5 August. Arrested in December and charged with taking indecent photographs of his 12-year-old adopted daughter, which he denies, he is being held in custody during the ongoing trial. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

A memorial pinned to a tree at the woodland site in Sandormokh.
 A memorial pinned to a tree at the woodland site in Sandormokh. Photograph: Tomasz Kizny

An expert in sexual disorders has said the photographs are not pornographic, and Memorial and others argue that Dmitriyev is a political prisoner hounded for exposing a side of history that complicates the Kremlin’s glorification of the Soviet past.

He is supported by his adult daughter, who said he took the photographs to document the child’s improving health in case social services attempted to remove her. The girl had been malnourished when Dmitriyev and his wife took her in, age three, and according to Dmitriyev’s lawyer, the photographs were stored in a folder called “child’s health”. Each had a note about her height, weight and general health and many were taken ahead of social worker visits.

More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition calling to “restore legality and justice” in his case. Meanwhile, state media have run smear piecespainting Dmitriyev as a paedophile and Memorial as anti-government subversives.

“Like in the period of the Great Terror, when political reprisals, murders, extrajudicial executions became the norm of Soviet life, so today persecution, arrests, beatings at rallies, the closing of independent organisations … have become the norm of life in Russia,” said Irina Flige, the director of St Petersburg Memorial, who discovered Sandormokh with Dmitriyev.

“The majority … thinks that the regime can do anything with an individual for the sake of its own interests.”

Located near the Solovetsky islands, the birthplace of the gulag, the Karelia region in north-west Russia is where tens of thousands of prisoners were shot or died digging the infamous White Sea canal for Stalin’s first five-year plan. As an aide to a regional official, Dmitriyev first began searching for their graves after being summoned to deal with remains uncovered by an excavator at a military base in 1988.

Soon he began trying to identify victims of the mass executions, which were carried out covertly. During the brief period when secret police archives were opened up in the 1990s, Dmitriyev managed to read thousands of execution orders into his tape recorder. He could then try to match each group of skeletons he found to a specific order.

It was Flige’s long search for the disappeared “Solovetsky etape”, a group of 1,111 prisoners including many leading political, cultural and religious figures from across the Soviet Union, that led them to Sandormokh. Following hints from the testimony of the executioner Mikhail Matveyev, Flige, Dmitriyev and Veniamin Iofe discovered the telltale pockmarks in the woods on the road to the White Sea canal and began digging.

“It wasn’t just bones but the bones of people I knew, whose children I knew,” Flige recalled.

Today, wooden posts stretch hundreds of yards back into the woods at Sandormokh with photographs and names of victims.

Yury Dmitriyev.
 Yury Dmitriyev. Photograph: Tomasz Kizny

The local authorities initially backed the memorial, helping build an access road and a chapel and sending representatives to the day of remembrance on 5 August. But last year, for the first time, no government or church officials attended.

The political temperature at Sandormokh has been rising since at least 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. The Ukrainian delegation, typically the largest, skipped the ceremony that year, and in a speech Dmitriyev condemned Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He also suggested the Russian government was failing to fully acknowledge its predecessor’s crimes, a controversial stance amid the continuing surge of patriotism and Soviet nostalgia. Stalin monuments have popped up in several towns across the country, and the late dictator topped a survey in June for most “outstanding” person of all time. Last summer, state media began reporting the unfounded claim that Sandormokh actually holds Soviet soldiers killed by the Finns.

In November state television accused Memorial of helping “those who aim to destroy the Russian state” after it published information on 40,000 Soviet secret police officials and Dmitriyev reportedly received angry phone calls about his own participation in the project.

Dmitriyev was unexpectedly arrested the next month after an anonymous source tipped police off that nude photographs of his adopted daughter Natasha were stored on his computer.

Wooden posts at Sandormokh with photographs and names of victims
 Wooden posts stretch hundreds of yards back into the woods at Sandormokh with photographs and names of victims. Photograph: Tomasz Kizny

Dmitriyev’s adult daughter, Yekaterina Klodt, told the Guardian that her father, who had always obsessively documented human remains with photographs and measurements, had taken the shots to show Natasha was healthy in his care. Adopted himself as a child, Dmitriyev had trouble receiving permission to adopt her from an orphanage in 2009, and he wanted to document that the underweight child was regaining her health, Klodt said. He also grew worried after one of her teachers raised a furore over ink stains on the child’s skin she mistook for bruises.

Lev Shcheglov, the president of the National Institute of Sexology in Moscow, testified at the trial that the photographs could not be considered pornographic or abusive. The prosecution is pushing ahead with the case, which also includes charges of “perverted acts” and illegal possession of a firearm, namely the barrel of a 60-year-old hunting rifle Dmitriyev found, according to his lawyer.

Dmitriyev’s real crime, his supporters believe, is his criticism of the government and work with activists from geopolitical foes including Poland and Ukraine to commemorate their countrymen at Sandormokh.

“Russia doesn’t need this now,” said Anna Yarovaya, a journalist for news site 7×7. “We’re searching for enemies everywhere, including abroad, but for him, everyone was a friend.”

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