North Korea threatens to sink Japan and turn US to ‘ashes and darkness’

North Korea threatens to sink Japan and turn US to ‘ashes and darkness’

Tokyo condemns ‘absolutely unacceptable’ provocation, as Pyongyang reacts to imposition of new UN sanctions following missile tests

North Korea’s intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifting off near Pyongyang.
 North Korea’s intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifting off near Pyongyang. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has threatened to sink Japan and said the US should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog” after the two countries spearheaded fresh UN security council sanctions in response to the regime’s recent nuclear test.

The Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee, which oversees North Korea’s relations with the outside world, described the UN security council, which passed a new round of sanctions on Monday, as a “tool of evil” in the pay of Washington, and called for it to be broken up.

“The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” the committee said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. Juche is the ideology of self-reliance pioneered by Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.

“Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee added.

The 15-member security council voted unanimously in support of a US-drafted resolution condemning the missile test and imposing measures that include a ban on North Korean textile imports and restrictions on oil exports to the country.

In response, the committee said the US should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog” for the “heinous sanctions resolution”.

“Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilisation of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,” it said.

Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, described the statement as “extremely provocative and egregious”.

He added: “It is something that markedly heightens regional tension and is absolutely unacceptable.”

A new report has claimed that the detonation on 3 September of what North Korea claimed was a hydrogen bomb involved a device with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons – making it far more powerful than initially thought.

The US-based 38 North website noted that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation had revised upwards the seismic power created by the test from magnitude 5.8 to 6.1.

“Regardless of whether this most recent test was an operational warhead for an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] or simply a device, the yield of the test clearly shows North Korean progress in increasing the yields of their nuclear weapons.”

After weeks of heightened tensions and threats emanating from Pyongyang and Washington, there are signs that US and other officials may be attempting to engage the regime diplomatically.

 UN Security Council steps up sanctions against N Korea – video

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK claimed on Thursday that US and North Korean officials had met “secretly” on the sidelines of a security forum in Switzerland earlier this month.

The report did not offer details, but said that Choe Kang-il, deputy director general for North American affairs at the North Korean foreign ministry, and Evans Revere, a former senior official at the state department, had raised North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

While Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has refused to consider negotiations unless Pyongyang abandons its nuclear weapons programme, an MP has claimed that support is rising inside the governing Liberal Democratic party for possible engagement with the regime.

Antonio Inoki, a former professional wrestler, said he had spoken to several unnamed LDP MPs who supported sending a delegation of Japanese parliamentarians to Pyongyang in an attempt to defuse tensions.

The 74-year-old, who has visited North Korea 32 times, said LDP lawmakers had become more receptive to the idea of dialogue. “The political wind has changed direction,” he said, adding that North Korean officials were receptive to the idea. “I made a proposal and was told they would be happy to receive such a delegation.”

In another gesture apparently aimed at lowering the diplomatic temperature, South Korea’s government is considering an $8m (£6m) aid package for North Korea.

Seoul suspended aid to North Korea, provided via UN agencies, after the regime conducted nuclear and missile tests in 2016. But under a proposal that could be approved next week, the South would provide $4.5m to a World Food Programme project to help infants and pregnant women, and $3.5m to Unicef, according to Yonhap news agency.

“The government’s basic stance is that humanitarian assistance to those who are vulnerable in North Korea should be continued regardless of political considerations,” Yonhap quoted a unification ministry official in Seoul as saying.

“Seoul plans to decide the details of the aid and its timing after taking into account the inter-Korean situation,” he added.

Paris Welcomes Morale Boost From 2024 Summer Olympic Games

Paris Welcomes Morale Boost From 2024 Summer Olympic Games

Image: Paris Last light from Montparnasse

A view of Paris at sunset. Chalermkiat Seedokmai / Getty Images

PARIS — Craig Carlson was there when the bad news came.

Packed among thousands of Parisians outside City Hall, Carlson stared up at big screens perched above the historic plaza when the announcement aired live. The host of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games would be — London.

There were gasps, screams, cries of British deceit and trickery, and many tears. Even Carlson, an American who owns a pair of popular restaurants here, shed a few himself.

Image: Paris Wins the Olympics
Craig Carlson welcome customers at Breakfast in America, one of two American-style diners he opened in Paris. Linda Hervieux

“They were really, really hoping to get it,” he said.

That was in July 2005.

After losing its last three Olympic bids, the French capital is set to finally land the prize it has doggedly pursued for 25 years.

In an unusual move, the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday is set to formally name host cities for the next two Summer Olympic Games, Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.

The IOC doesn’t ordinarily unveil two cities as hosts at once, but says it decided to this time rather than rule out a strong contender. (Tokyo is doing the honors in 2020.)

The announcement in Lima, Peru, following a vote, will make official a deal already struck between the two cities, the last contenders standing in a field that once counted six.

IOC President Thomas Bach in June called it a “golden opportunity” to award the Games to two cities with strong proposals and coffers fat enough to host the quadrennial contest that can cost upwards of $10 billion.

It was also a chance to burnish the Olympic image after the doping and corruptions scandals that tarnished the Rio and Sochi Games.

The decision will return the Summer Games to the U.S. for the first time since 1996. It marks the third time L.A. will play host, after pulling off the much-praised 1984 Games.

 Paris Promises an Olympic Games With ‘Passion’ 1:36

But for the French, the wait has been far longer. Paris last staged the Games in 1924, and it has trying to get them back ever since.

“It’s like a dream,” three-time Olympic canoeing champ Tony Estanguet and local committee co-chairman said. “We’ve been waiting so long.”

State of Emergency

The victory was much appreciated in most quarters in Paris, where camouflage-clad soldiers toting assault rifles patrol the streets.

The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when Islamist militants slaughtered 130 people in coordinated attacks across Paris. The city was already reeling from deadly assaults 10 months earlier on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

 Inside France’s Counterterror Units 1:00

For months after, hotel rooms sat empty. People stayed away from café terraces like the ones the gunmen sprayed with automatic-weapon fire in the November rampage. Business owners in the world’s most-visited city fretted over their futures.

Then just as bookings began inching up, suicide bombers struck Brussels, just 90 minutes from Paris by train in Mach 2016. Four months later, a speeding truck plowed into Bastille Day revelers in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 and injuring 458.

The effect on tourism was crushing. The Paris region saw 1.5 million fewer visitors in 2016. The Louvre Museum sold 2 million fewer tickets and lost $12 million. Travel magazines questioned whether it was safe to visit France.

Image: Paris Wins the Olympics
Matthieu Begue looks out over the rooftops of Paris from the rooftop terrace of Les Piaules. Linda Hervieux

After Nice, reservations plunged at Les Piaules, a “boutique” hostel with a cozy bar and rooftop terrace in northeastern Paris with postcard views. It had the bad luck of opening two weeks after the November attacks.

For co-owner Matthieu Bégué, terrorism hit more than the bottom line. His cousin survived the massacre of 89 people inside the Bataclan concert hall.

“It touches us all,” said Bégué, a 34-year-old who bikes to work past a café and a pizzeria shot up in the attacks.

Paris Is Back — and Booming

But since those dark days, marked by memorial services and flower-bedecked shrines on street corners, an unexpected thing happened. Visitors started coming back.

During the first four months of 2017, tourism was up 19 percent from a year earlier, with 2.6 million foreigner travelers logged. The number of people checking into hotels hit a 10-year high.

Gleeful officials who made the announcement in July predicted France could see a record 89 million visitors by the end of 2017.

“The apprehension has disappeared and the tourists of the world are returning to Paris,” said Nicolas Lefebvre, director of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There are other signs the city is rebounding.

Millions cheered in May after the election of a telegenic young president who wants to make Paris the new London. As international corporations debate whether to flee the British capital after Brexit, Emmanuel Macron, 39, wants them to think French. He’s hoping to woo investment in part by pushing a radical overhaul to simplify the country’s notoriously bewildering labor laws.

In June, Macron helped launch Station F, a cavernous incubator housed in a former train station with space for 1,000 startup companies. Backed by Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, the venture has been cited as evidence of a new innovation vibe sweeping a younger generation of French, who used to tell pollsters their goal was to land a civil-service job for life.

Image: Paris Wins the Olympics
Laurent Queige says the non-profit incubator he heads, Welcome Paris Lab, gets 300 applications a year for 30 start-ups focused on tourism. Linda Hervieux

“Confidence is back,” said Laurent Queige, who runs Welcome City Lab, a four-year-old non-profit incubator that fosters tourism-focused start-ups. For 30 spots each year, Queige fields about 300 applications.

“I’m blown away by this wave of entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “We are seeing a revolution.”

Olivier Magny, 37, who co-owns “O Chateau,” a wine business and tasting bar, said French millennials travel more than their parents did and are open to new ideas. He points to a crush of funky restaurants and night spots that have livened up a city more famous for classic elegance than edgy invention.

“Paris is so much cooler, so much more fun, than it used to be,” added Magny, who has written three books tweaking his sometimes-stodgy countrymen. “If you’re a Parisian or a Paris fan, there’s a lot to rejoice and be excited about.”

Image: : Paris Wins the Olympics
Olivier Magny enjoys a drink outside “O Chateau,” his wine bar in Paris. Linda Hervieux

Beach Volleyball at the Foot of the Eiffel Tower

Although seven years away, the promise that Paris will finally live its Olympic “dream” has already boosted spirits, even among Parisians who pride themselves on being “very cranky,” said Carlson, who wrote a best-selling memoir about his adventures navigating French red tape.

He praised the local committee for featuring in its pitch some of the world’s most beautiful monuments.

Beach volleyball is planned at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, fencing in the Grand Palais, swimming in the Seine River, and equestrian events at Versailles chateau. “People are loving that idea,” he said.

Image: The Eiffel Tower is Lit in the Colors of the Olympic Flag
The Eiffel Tower was lit in the colors of the Olympic flag on Feb. 3. Benoit Tessier / Reuters file

One of the Paris bid’s strengths was its plan to hold 22 sports at mostly existing, eye-catching venues. The two major construction projects planned, a new aquatics center and the Olympic Village housing the athletes, are slated for Saint-Denis, an underprivileged suburb just north of Paris where tensions with police have erupted into riots in recent years.

After the Games, the 86,000-acre village is to be transformed into residential housing, giving the area a lift.

Officials have touted the Games as a means of speeding up Grand Paris, a $31 billion plan to expand metro and rail lines to Paris’ outer suburbs.

If Paris didn’t secure the Games in 2024, it risked losing nearly $2 billion in public funding and pledges from private landowners to keep the tracts open for new construction. Against that backdrop, the local committee pushed for 2024 or nothing, a stance that officials say helped nudge the IOC to broker the agreement with L.A., which needs no new venues and had little to lose waiting until 2028.

Playing up the symbolism of bringing the Games back on the 100th anniversary, Macron told the IOC in July that the centenary was the “best moment” to hand the Games to France, which he said exemplifies Olympic “values of openness, tolerance and justice.”

‘It’s a Waste of Money’

While a June poll showed 73 percent of French public gave a thumbs-up to the Games, not everyone is convinced.

A petition calling for a referendum on the Games has collected more than 30,000 signatures. The man who launched it, Frédéric Viale predicts the games will be “ruinous” for the city.

“There was no public debate,” he said.

Viale, a teacher, contends the Paris committee’s $7.9 billion budget vastly underestimates the true bill and doesn’t include the security tab. (The local committee says it has set aside $216 million for security.) He’s not alone. Critics say cities wooed by dreams of reaping billions in new revenue and investment often lowball their budgets.

2028 Olympics will take place in Los Angeles (Paris gets 2024)0:36

The tab for the London 2012 skyrocketed to $15 billion from $4 billion, making it the most expensive Summer Games in history, according to a 2016 Oxford University study that found the Games since 1968 have blown their budgets by an average of 156 percent. It took Montreal 30 years to pay off its debt from the 1977 Games, which overspent its $1.6 billion by 13 times.

An IOC requirement that cities — meaning taxpayers — guarantee any cost overruns, helped turn public opinion against the Games in Boston, as well as the three other cities vying against Paris that dropped their bids.

“It’s a waste of money for me,” said Chloe Mathieu, 27, an environmentalist, who suggests Olympic billions could be better spent tackling social problems like poverty and France’s perpetually high unemployment rate.

“The Olympics is a way to shine,” she said, adding that the City of Light “is already shining.”

North Korean Threat Highlights NATO Missile Shield ‘Weak Link’

North Korean Threat Highlights NATO Missile Shield ‘Weak Link’

Sept. 12, 2017, at 9:57 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claps during a celebration for nuclear scientists and engineers who contributed to a hydrogen bomb test, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on September 10, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO has joined world powers’ diplomatic efforts to stop North Korea’s missile program but it cannot yet rely on its U.S.-built shield to defend Europe, experts and diplomats said.

The United States says the shield, more than a decade in the planning, is needed to protect against so-called rogue states, a term U.S. officials have used to refer to North Korea and Iran.

But with Berlin, Paris and London potentially within striking distance of North Korea’s missiles from next year, officials say the U.S.-led alliance’s system needs more radars and special interceptors to destroy a rocket from Pyongyang.

“The NATO shield in its current state lacks the reach and early warning radars to shoot down North Korean rockets. It’s a weak link,” said Michael Elleman, a missile defense analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

“Early tracking is also difficult because North Korean missiles would be flying over Russia, where NATO obviously cannot put radars,” he added.

The sort of interceptor needed to shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles could breach a Soviet-era arms control agreement between the United States and Russia because of its greater range, arms experts say.

Moscow has long objected to U.S. missile shield plans, saying their real aim is to neutralize Russia’s own nuclear arsenal, rather than meet the perceived threat from “rogue states”.

Russia’s strategic concerns would, therefore, make it hard to renegotiate the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, something arms experts say would be required if a North Korean missile shield were to be fully effective.


Alliance planning to confront any threat from Pyongyang is in its infancy. Following North Korea’s country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, two senior NATO diplomats told Reuters that protection against the North Korean threat was only beginning to be considered at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

That was despite a more forceful diplomatic tone on the crisis and warnings on the scale and immediacy of the threat from U.S. President Donald Trump’s new ambassador to NATO, France’s defense minister and the alliance’s deputy head.

While analysts do not expect North Korea to have a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile until next year at the earliest, NATO’s European allies could become a target as a way of threatening their closest partner, the United States, a third NATO diplomat said, stressing that was only speculation.

The United States switched on its $800 million European missile defense umbrella in May last year at a site in Romania to protect against Iranian rockets.

The system, controlled from a NATO base in Germany, includes radars and interceptors stretching from eastern Europe to the Mediterranean.

A final site in Poland should be ready by late 2018, extending the European umbrella from Greenland and the Azores.

To shoot down a ballistic missile from North Korea would require a new generation of interceptor, the Block II, which is still in development. It is capable of downing ballistic rockets earlier and at a much higher altitude.

However, Elleman said that U.S. missile sites in Alaska and California, as well as in Japan and South Korea, were likely to be given priority before Europe, when they are ready in 2018.

“There will be a lot of competition for the assets,” he said.

Emmanuel Macron’s presidency faces first major street protests

Emmanuel Macron’s presidency faces first major street protests

France’s second biggest union says more than 180 demos planned nationwide against contentious labour law reforms

Protests in Toulouse against the overhaul of French labour laws
 Protests in Toulouse against the overhaul of French labour laws on Monday. On Tuesday, the CGT union is planning to lead 180 demonstrations across France. Photograph: Eric Cabanis/AFP/Getty Image

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, will face the first major street protests of his leadership on Tuesday as one of the country’s biggest trade unions demonstrates against his overhaul of labour laws.

The leftwing CGT, France’s second biggest trade union, is leading scores of protests across France, with public sector workers, train staff and energy sector workers expected to join.

It is the first test of whether opposition to Macron’s pro-business plans to loosen labour rules could translate into a broader street protest movement, which the new president is determined to face down.

The CGT’s secretary general, Philippe Martinez, said more than 180 demonstrations were planned across the country, warning that he sensed “very strong discontent”.

A row broke out this weekend over Macron’s strong language after he said in a speech in Athens that he would “not yield anything, either to the lazy, the cynics or the extremes”.

Many on the left expressed outrage, saying the president was implying workers who opposed him were lazy. Indeed the word “lazy” is likely to become the rallying slogan of the anti-Macron demonstrations. The CGT’s Martinez called Macron’s comments “scandalous”.

Asked on Monday whether he regretted using the word, Macron replied “absolutely not”, saying he had not been referring to workers but to previous French leaders who he said were not brave enough to make sweeping changes in France.

Macron is facing street demonstrations sooner after taking office than any other recent French leader. This is in part because his labour law changes are being fast-tracked and pushed through parliament with record speed using executive orders. The laws include a cap on payouts for unfair dismissals and greater freedom for employers to hire and fire. The labour rules will affect all private sector workers in France. However, state sector employees are likely to make up the largest number of CGT demonstrators on Tuesday.


The prime minister, Edouard Philippe, insisted the street protests would not result in any changes to the proposed laws. He said the new labour laws had been spelled out to voters before the presidential and parliament elections as the solution to France’s mass-unemployment problem. Joblessness, at 9.5%, is about twice that in Britain or Germany.

So far, the Élysée seems confident it can face down protests, in part because opposition is fragmented. Macron’s new political grouping, La République En Marche, controls parliament, while the next biggest party on the right is bitterly divided. Although other trade unions were critical of the labour law changes – despite a consultation period – no other leaders of big unions are joining the CGT street demonstrations on Tuesday. Crucially, the CFDT, which is France’s biggest union, is not taking part.

Separate street demonstrations led by the leftwing MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his leftist parliamentary grouping, France Unbowed, will take place on 23 September.

Opinion polls show voters do not like the labour reforms overall but back many of its individual measures, including direct negotiations between bosses and their staff in small firms.

Macron’s popularity has slipped over the summer, with recent polls showing that only about 40% of French voters are satisfied with his performance in office. Analysts attribute the disaffection to a mix of communication problems and political missteps in which his initial measures on tax and reforms were seen as muddled and unfair, benefiting the rich more than the poor.

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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.