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Grace Mugabe faces assault charge in South Africa

The first lady of Zimbabwe is accused of assaulting a young model with an electrical cable. South African police say they don't know where she is but are negotiating with her lawyers. Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, was close to being arrested in South Africa, police announced on Tuesday. Police said they were negotiating with the 52-year-old's legal team to get her to hand herself in over assault allegations. Police allege she assaulted 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels in a Johannesburg hotel at the weekend. She allegedly beat the model with an electrical extension cord leaving the woman with injuries to her head. Local media said Engels had been visiting the Mugabes' sons Robert and Chatunga at the hotel in the exclusive Sandton district. Mugabe allegedly arrived with bodyguards and accused Engels of partying with the pair. "We were chilling in a hotel room, and (the sons) were in the room next door. She came in and started hitting us," Engels said. The model posted an image of the alleged assault on Twitter. "The negotiations for her to hand herself in are still going on. We are at a point where we cannot effect an arrest yet," a senior police source told news agency Reuters. South African police minister Fikile Mbalula had earlier said that Mugabe had handed herself in to police and would appear in court. Read more: Mugabe's wife Grace says Zimbabwe president should name successor The police national spokesman told news agency AFP that the whereabouts of the first lady was unknown. The alleged assault has caused a diplomatic row between the two neighboring countries. The first lady has become increasingly active in Zimbabwe's public life and in 2014 became the head of the ruling party's women's wing. Read more: Mugabe celebrates 93rd birthday, praises Trump She regularly attends political rallies across the country, railing against anyone alleged to be disloyal to the president.

The first lady of Zimbabwe is accused of assaulting a young model with an electrical cable. South African police say they don’t know where she is but are negotiating with her lawyers. Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, was close to being arrested in South Africa, police announced on Tuesday. Police said they were negotiating with the ... Read More »

Madeira: Tree fall kills festival worshippers in Portugal

Local media have reported up to 10 fatalities after a tree disrupted religious rituals in the autonomous island. The Festival of Nossa Senhora do Monte is considered one of the largest, drawing thousands of visitors. Several people were crushed by a falling tree on the Portuguese island of Madeira during religious festivities, local media reported on Tuesday. RTP public television showed images of emergency workers rushing to the scene of the tragic incident near the city of Fonchal. Read more: Lisbon - The heart of Portugal It is unclear how people have been killed by the fallen tree due to disparities between reports. SIC television reported two fatalities, while TSF radio said there had only been two deaths. At least 35 people were injured, local media reported. Portuguese tradition The incident occurred during the Festival of Nossa Senhora do Monte, considered one of the most famous of the island's religious gatherings. The event draws thousands of visitors from across Portugal and the world. Nearly every village in the country has its own religious festival or pilgrimage, making it home to hundreds of such gatherings, many of which celebrate harvests and local saints.

Local media have reported up to 10 fatalities after a tree disrupted religious rituals in the autonomous island. The Festival of Nossa Senhora do Monte is considered one of the largest, drawing thousands of visitors. Several people were crushed by a falling tree on the Portuguese island of Madeira during religious festivities, local media reported on Tuesday. RTP public television ... Read More »

Hundreds feared dead in Sierra Leone mudslide

Hundreds of people are believed to have died after a mudslide flattened dozens of houses on the outskirts of Freetown. Sierra Leone's official coroner has said more than 200 bodies have already brought into the morgue. Sierra Leone Vice President Victor Foh said it was "likely that hundreds are lying dead underneath the rubble" after a mudslide and heavy flooding hit a mountain town on the outskirts of the capital, Freetown, on Monday. "The disaster is so serious that I myself feel broken," he added. "We're trying to cordon (off) the area (and) evacuate the people." Read more: Sierra Leone after Ebola Sierra Leone national television interrupted its regular programming to broadcast images of people digging through the mud, desperate to retrieve the bodies of loved ones. Pictures also showed people carrying their victims' remains in rice sacks to the local morgue. Officials said that military forces would be deployed to help in the rescue efforts in the densely populated area, where at least 100 building are thought to have collapsed. Pictures posted by local residents on Twitter showed streets in the capital transformed into churning rivers and locals waist deep in the muddy waters. The country's deputy information officer said it was still trying to compile exact number of casualties. However, a coroner's official told the Associated Press news agency that more than 200 bodies had already been recovered. The city of Freetown had been battered by severe storms and flooding throughout the day. The country often finds itself engulfed by severe floods over the rainy season, while unsafe housing with poor drainage systems have seen scores of people killed and led to high rates of homelessness. Foh indicated that the engulfed area had seen a number of illegal buildings recently erected. Sierra Leone was one of the worst affected countries in western Africa by the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, which left more than 4,000 people dead. Its economy has struggled to recover since the outbreak, with around 60 percent of people still living below the national poverty line, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Hundreds of people are believed to have died after a mudslide flattened dozens of houses on the outskirts of Freetown. Sierra Leone’s official coroner has said more than 200 bodies have already brought into the morgue. Sierra Leone Vice President Victor Foh said it was “likely that hundreds are lying dead underneath the rubble” after a mudslide and heavy flooding ... Read More »

156-year-old map may reignite Japan-South Korea island dispute

South Korea occupies the rocky and remote islands of Dokdo, but Japan calls them Takeshima and claims they are an integral part of its territory. And as neither side is backing down, relations continue to deteriorate. The discovery of a map drawn in 1861 may reignite a simmering territorial row between South Korea and Japan, and further damage bilateral relations that are already strained. The map was drawn by Korean cartographer and geologist Kim Jeong-ho and clearly marks the rocky islets that are known in South Korea today as Dokdo as being part of the kingdom of Korea. The map covers the Korean Peninsula and has Dokdo close to the island of Ulleung, off the east coast. Japan, however, has long disputed South Korean control over the inhospitable islands and insists they are an integral part of the Japanese archipelago. Tokyo says the islands should be known as Takeshima. Ironically, the map was in the collection of a Japanese national and had previously been in a library in Pyongyang. Serial numbers on the map show the date that it was obtained - August 30, 1932, when Japan was the colonial master of the peninsula - but little is known about its whereabouts in the intervening years. Hailed as more proof The discovery has been reported in South Korean media and hailed as yet another piece of evidence that Dokdo - which have a detachment of armed police permanently stationed on them - are sovereign Korean territory. "All Koreans know that the islands are Korean and we are committed to protecting them," said Song Young-chae, a professor in the Center for Global Creation and Collaboration at Seoul's Sangmyung University. "There have been songs written about Dokdo and they have appeared on postage stamps, so they are constantly in our minds as being Korean," he told DW. "The Japanese claims to the islands have no basis in historic fact and we find it stunning that they continue to claim the islands as theirs," he added. According to Seoul's position on Dokdo, they only came under the control of Tokyo when Imperial Japan invaded the Korean Peninsula in 1910. The islands were then ceded to Shimane Prefecture, the closest part of mainland Japan, until Japan was defeated in World War II and surrendered in August 1945. The fine print of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 now becomes important in the dispute. South Korea says that early drafts of the agreement included Dokdo among the thousands of islands and parcels of territory that had been seized by Japan and were to be returned to their historic owners across Asia. By the sixth draft of the agreement, however, all the place names had become so cumbersome that for the sake of convenience only three major Korean islands were identified by name. And Seoul believes if the islands were being returned to their historic owners, then they are clearly Korean. Seeking settlement Supporting South Korea's claims are ancient descriptions of the islands being part of the Silla Dynasty in 512 AD as well as maps and documents - Korean, Japanese and those made by Western explorers - amassed by the Seoul-based Northeast Asian History Foundation. Arguably the most persuasive piece of evidence is a map produced as late as 1877 by Japan's Department of the Interior and which is held at the National Archives in Tokyo. The document shows that in a reply to a letter from the department to Japan's Great Council of State in March of that year, the council made it clear that Japan had no relationship with Dokdo. But in Tokyo, the government now brushes aside Seoul's claims and insists that the islands are an inherent part of Japanese territory, based entirely on historical facts and international law. An extensive section on the website of the Japanese foreign ministry states, "The Republic of Korea has been occupying Takeshima with no basis in international law. Any measures the Republic of Korea takes regarding Takeshima based on such illegal occupation have no legal justification. "Japan will continue to seek the settlement of the dispute over territorial sovereignty over Takeshima on the basis of international law in a calm and peaceful manner," it adds. To support its claim, Japan has proposed that the dispute be taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and that both sides be given the chance to stake their claims to the islands. Seoul has so far refused. Demands that South Korea return the islands to Japanese control are most vociferous in Shimane Prefecture, which is 211 kilometers to the south. Takeshima Day On February 22 every year, the prefecture marks Takeshima Day with a series of events that invariably attract nationalist politicians from Tokyo and, equally inevitably, attract criticism from South Korea. Hiromichi Moteki, acting chairman of the rightwing Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, says the growing animosity toward Japan demonstrated by the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is "not a normal human attitude." "I am not an expert on maps and I believe that careful analysis needs to be carried out to determine the accuracy of this newly discovered map," he said, but added that there has been a concerted campaign against Japan by the South Korean leadership that threatens to further harm the bilateral relationship. One of the biggest areas of contention is the agreement signed in 2015 by the leaders of Japan that was designed to draw a final line under the issue of "comfort women," the women in occupied countries forced to work in brothels for Japanese troops. Since his election in May, Moon has overseen the creation of a panel to look into scrapping the agreement. "I would say that at present, this is the worst two-way relationship between Japan and South Korea that I have ever experienced," said Moteki. "And this map could make things even worse. I hope things will improve, but I fear that they will only get worse."

South Korea occupies the rocky and remote islands of Dokdo, but Japan calls them Takeshima and claims they are an integral part of its territory. And as neither side is backing down, relations continue to deteriorate. The discovery of a map drawn in 1861 may reignite a simmering territorial row between South Korea and Japan, and further damage bilateral relations ... Read More »

China, India struggle to put a lid on their border row involving Bhutan

چینی وزارت دفاع نے بھارت سے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ نئی دہلی حکومت دونوں ممالک کے مابین متنازعہ سرحدی علاقے پر تعینات اپنے فوجی ’فوری طور پر‘ واپس بلا لے۔ دونوں ممالک کے مابین اس معاملے کے باعث کشیدگی پائی جاتی ہے۔ حالیہ ہفتوں کے دوران چین اور بھارت کے مابین متنازعہ سرحدی علاقے میں بھارتی فوجوں کی تعیناتی کے بعد سے ہمسایہ ممالک کے مابین کشیدگی میں اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ اس سرحدی تنازعے کے باعث سفارتی سطح پر دونوں ممالک کے تعلقات میں مسلسل کشیدگی اور دونوں جانب کے عوام عوام میں ’قوم پسندانہ جذبات‘ بھی بڑھ رہے ہیں۔ بھارت کسی زعم میں نہ رہے، سرحد کا دفاع کرنا جانتے ہیں، چین متنازعہ خطے سے بھارتی فوجی انخلا امن کی پہلی شرط، چینی سفیر چین کے سرکاری نیوز ایجنسی ژنہاؤ کے مطابق بیجنگ کی وزارت دفاع نے بھارت سے اپنے فوجی ’فوری طور پر‘ اس متنازعہ سرحدی علاقے سے واپس بلا لینے کا مطالبہ چار اگست بروز جمعہ کیا ہے۔ چینی وزارت دفاع کے ترجمان رین گواچیانگ کا کہنا تھا کہ بھارتی فوجوں کی جانب سے چین کی سرحدی حدود میں داخل ہونے کے بعد بیجنگ نے ’انتہائی برداشت کا مظاہرہ‘ کیا ہے، لیکن چین کی برداشت کی بھی ایک حد ہے۔ بھارت کو تنبیہہ کرتے ہوئے چینی وزارت دفاع کے ترجمان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ ’تاخیری حربے استعمال کر کے بھارت کسی غلط فہمی میں نہ رہے‘ اور چین کے ’اعتماد اور دفاعی صلاحیتوں‘ کے بارے میں بھی بھارت کو ’غلط اندازہ‘ نہیں لگانا چاہیے کیوں کہ ’چین اپنی خودمختاری اور مفادات کا دفاع‘ کرنے کی بھرپور صلاحیت رکھتا ہے۔ چینی ٹی وی پر آج ایک ویڈیو نشر کی گئی جس میں تبت میں کسی نامعلوم مقام پر چینی فوجوں کو جنگی مشقیں کرتے دکھایا گیا ہے۔ ویڈیو میں دکھایا گیا ہے کہ چینی فوج کا ایک اہلکار فائرنگ کا حکم دیتا ہے جس کے بعد یکے بعد دیگرے کئی راکٹ فائر کیے جاتے ہیں۔ علاوہ ازیں چینی آرٹلری کو توپوں میں گولہ بارود لوڈ کرتے ہوئے بھی دکھایا گیا ہے۔ چین اور بھارت کے مابین اس حالیہ سرحدی تنازعے کا آغاز جون میں ہوا تھا۔ چین کا الزام ہے کہ بھارتی فوجیں چین، بھارت اور نیپال کے سنگم پر واقع سرحدی علاقے میں چین کی سرحدی حدود میں داخل ہو گئی تھیں۔ بھارت کے انتہائی شمال مشرق میں ہمالیائی سطح مرتفع پر واقع اس علاقے کو ہندی میں ’دوکلام‘ اور چینی زبان میں ’دونگ لانگ‘ کہا جاتا ہے۔ چین کے مطابق بھارت نے اپنے اتحادی بھوٹان کی سرحد کے قریب اس چینی علاقے میں داخل ہو کر سن 1890 میں طے پانے والے اس سرحدی معاہدے کی خلاف ورزی کی ہے جو کہ چین اور اس وقت کے برصغیر میں برسراقتدار برطانوی حکومت کے مابین طے پایا تھا۔ دوسری جانب بھارت کا کہنا ہے کہ چینی فوجوں نے بھوٹانی علاقے میں سڑک تعمیر کرنے کی کوشش کی تھی جس کے بعد بھوٹان کی جانب سے شکایت اور مداخلت کی اپیل کے بعد بھارتی فوجیں اس علاقے میں روانہ کی گئی تھیں۔

The continuing standoff between India and China along their shared border has cast a dark shadow on their bilateral relationship. It has also stoked nationalism on both sides, making it tough to resolve the issue. Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet. ... Read More »

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor asks court to block Maduro’s Constituent Assembly

Chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz has filed a court claim one day ahead of the contested assembly's planned inauguration. A South American trade bloc has also threatened Venezuela with indefinite suspension. The office of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz announced Thursday on Twitter that two prosecutors from her team had submitted a court claim seeking to suspend Friday's planned installation of the National Constituent Assembly, a newly-elected and highly contested body tasked by President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite Venezuela's constitution. Ortega's request to a preliminary proceedings court - seen as a move to circumvent the Maduro-friendly Supreme Court - was "based on suspected crimes committed" during last Sunday's election, the office's second tweet on the subject said. Ortega has been an outspoken critic of Maduro, who has previously challenged the constitutionality of the new assembly. Earlier on Thursday Venezuela's top attorney announced she had opened an investigation into government manipulation of turnout in Sunday's election, during which members were chosen for the 545-seat Constituent Assembly. Read more: Venezuelan election turnout 'manipulated,' says poll-assist firm The country's opposition boycotted the vote, which also drew international condemnation from Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and the European Union and saw the United States issue sanctions on the socialist nation. Maduro's critics see the body as a tool to override Venezuela's separation of powers and consolidate Maduro's executive control. On Thursday the opposition also announced a new round of demonstrations to take place on Friday, calling on Venezuelans to "defend the constitution." Protests between Maduro opponents and supporters have left more than 120 people dead over four months. Trade bloc suspension The South American free-trade bloc Mercosur also announced Thursday that it is preparing to suspend oil-rich Venezuela until the country restores democracy and ends human rights violations. Mercosur members are set to suspend Venezuela by invoking the group's democratic clause over the weekend. Caracas was already suspended temporarily in December 2016. In calling for Venezuela's indefinite suspension, Argentine President Mauricio Marci described Venezuela as a country that had "ceased to be a democracy." Mercosur had originally planned to apply the democratic clause at the end of 2017 but decided to move the date forward in the aftermath of Sunday's elections and the arrest of several leaders of the Venezuelan opposition movement. Alongside Argentina, the trade bloc includes Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The member nations' ambassadors are scheduled to meet on Saturday in Sao Paolo to enact the suspension and discuss the possibility of harder repercussions for Caracas.

Chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz has filed a court claim one day ahead of the contested assembly’s planned inauguration. A South American trade bloc has also threatened Venezuela with indefinite suspension. The office of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz announced Thursday on Twitter that two prosecutors from her team had submitted a court claim seeking to suspend Friday’s planned installation ... Read More »

Security expert Bruns: ‘There should be a European naval aid unit’

Europe is divided over the refugee crisis and there is no unified approach in response, says Sebastian Bruns. According to the security expert, a joint naval aid unit could provide an opportunity. Deutsche Welle: Looking at the map, there's Libya as a failed state on the one side and Italy overburdened with refugees on the other. Can you describe the risks that are created in this part of the Mediterranean Sea? Sebastian Bruns: The area between Libya and Italy is one of the narrowest parts of the Mediterranean. It is the main route for illegal migration where smugglers and trafficking networks operate, and desperate people from Africa and Asia cross over. When the Balkan route was closed, migrants started looking for alternative routes, which they found here. The EU-run naval mission Sophia is also active in this part of the Mediterranean, increasing chances of rescue and survival. Read: EU countries decline to help Italy with Mediterranean refugee crisis Why is the area so difficult to control? One of the main issues is the sheer size: The area that "Sophia" patrols is about as big as Germany. There are between six to eight vessels operating as part of the mission in addition to private rescue organizations. But this is not enough. You can only cover an area of this size by providing more aerial coverage than currently is available. You need additional aircraft in order to coordinate this. This is a difficult endeavor. And at the end of the day, you also need the political commitment to a permanent presence. But Europe is divided over the refugee crisis. There is no integrated European Coast Guard; various coast guards and the marine units are all still national entities. Frontex does finally have a maritime mandate, but the problem is the second-rate treatment that the EU border protection agency receives from EU-member states, as it does not have its own large vessels or planes. Italy has announced to block the extension of Sophia, calling into question the mission itself. What has to happen next? The root causes of migration have to be addressed on the ground; there is no way around it. All the efforts produced by the marine units, private NGOs or Frontex are merely fighting the symptoms. Libya needs proper structures that prevent smuggling networks from operating. And further south, the root causes of migration also have to be addressed. That's a task for an entire generation to deal with. But Europe only wants to deploy limited resources. On the one hand, there is a willingness to implement a 'Marshall plan' for Africa, which I am skeptical about. On the other hand, European forces are also needed elsewhere. There are many other hotspots, not only because Russia is acting in increasingly belligerent ways since 2014.There is Syria, the eastern Mediterranean, the north Atlantic, the Baltic Sea, and Antarctica. I think Italy's attempt to block Sophia is partly an act of despair. What ideas are there for alternative measures that could increase maritime security? First of all, there is the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) in Libya which has been training the Libyan Coast Guard since 2016. This involves apprenticeship training for maritime sailors. However, equipment, ships and training are also needed, and it remains extremely difficult to create a national coast guard in Libya because of the situation with the warlords, which creates different, opposing forces that mistrust and fight each other. And it is not enough to create a functional coast guard; you also need port police, prosecutors, courts, everything that makes up "good governance." This is a monumental task as well. Secondly, there should be a European naval aid unit for this part of the Mediterranean. I proposed this idea in an article once. What I mean by that is that countries have to stop sending ships and destroyers individually and join together their efforts instead. All EU-countries should participate with coast guard ships, water police, and smaller units - the kind of units that don't necessarily need to be equipped to hunt submarines in the Atlantic. It would take some of the burden off of European naval forces. Private rescue missions could also be involved in this naval unit, which would help advance the integration of civilian, military and police forces. There are many proposals concerning Libya and this part of the Mediterranean, but they need to be tied together. Such a naval aid unit could possibly be a step forward. Read: 'Defend Europe' Identitarians charter a ship to return migrants to Africa You are proposing a unified naval aid unit. How can it be put into practice? I suggest we finally follow up on the idea of a European coast guard. We need an integrated structure where police, military and civilian helpers can collaborate and coordinate. We also need the political backing for this. For the EU, this would provide a chance for further integration. But this also requires a certain level of honesty when addressing the tasks and purposes of this unit. We can no longer dodge the question of how we want to proceed in this area of maritime security. But such a European coast guard is definitely a first step to take. Dr. Sebastian Bruns is head of the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the Institute for Security Policy at the University Kiel.

Europe is divided over the refugee crisis and there is no unified approach in response, says Sebastian Bruns. According to the security expert, a joint naval aid unit could provide an opportunity. Deutsche Welle: Looking at the map, there’s Libya as a failed state on the one side and Italy overburdened with refugees on the other. Can you describe the ... Read More »

Australian minister Matt Canavan steps down after his mother registered him as an Italian

Australia's ruling coalition has egg on its face after one of its own was caught in a dual nationality scandal. Matt Canavan's mother secretly signed him up for Italian citizenship, making him ineligible. Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan stepped down on Tuesday after his mother revealed that he might also hold Italian citizenship. It was an embarrassing revelation for the ruling coalition, who had sunk the boot into the Greens Party when their two deputies were forced to step down about a week ago for inadvertently holding foreign citizenship. Australian law prohibits lawmakers from holding citizenship of a "foreign power" including fellow Commonwealth states, even on a dual-nationality basis. The rule is seen by many as arcane considering that it precludes a quarter of the nation from joining parliament. Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned in quick succession after the bombshell announcements that one held New Zealand citizenship and the other Canadian citizenship. Read more: Australian Parliament rocked by twin resignations over dual citizenship Egg on Turnbull's face At the time Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined the pack of conservative frontbenchers savaging Australia's third-largest party, with Turnbull calling it "incredible sloppiness." Senator Barnaby Joyce, who used to be Canavan's boss, said after the Greens' resignations that "everybody should check when they become a member of Parliament. That's section 44 of the constitution. People know what it's about. They should check," as quoted by Fairfax Media. Human Services Minister Alan Tudge was quoted by Fairfax at the time saying: "Greens pretend to be a serious party but if a party does not understand the constitution, then what sort of party are they?" The Greens revelations led to an outpouring of smug politicians insisting they had relinquished any foreign citizenship, with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott going as far to upload a letter to prove he had given up British nationality. Blame it on mum So it was with some embarrassment that Canavan revealed that his mother had signed him up for Italian citizenship at the ripe age of 25. "Until last week I had no suspicion that I could be an Italian citizen. I was not born in Italy and have never been to Italy," the Queensland senator wrote. "In the short time available I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen, without my knowledge or consent, was valid under Italian law. I am seeking to obtain that advice presently." Canavan said he would step down from his cabinet role but would remain in the Senate until he had definitive proof one way or the other. Opposition Labor Party frontbencher Tony Burke was quoted by public broadcaster ABC as saying he did not think anyone could blame Senator Canavan given he had never been to Italy and had no way of knowing. "I remember when Malcolm Turnbull was gloating - it was a bit vicious at the time - about the Greens making some of these errors," he said. "I did have a thought, 'we'll be careful about going too hard at this point in time,' and now that looks like exactly what's happened to a very serious minister." After Canavan's announcement, former Greens Senator Waters posted a Tweet saying she disagreed with him "on almost everything" but "my heart goes out to him, family and staff with dual citizen news." Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he would take over Canavan's cabinet responsibilities while the High Court investigated the matter. Attorney General George Brandis said that because Canavan was registered without his consent, he was probably still eligible. It seems the ruling coalition dodged a bullet, given their victim of dual nationality was in the Senate where they have a comfortable majority, as opposed to the lower house, where they hold a majority of just one.

Australia’s ruling coalition has egg on its face after one of its own was caught in a dual nationality scandal. Matt Canavan’s mother secretly signed him up for Italian citizenship, making him ineligible. Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan stepped down on Tuesday after his mother revealed that he might also hold Italian citizenship. It was an embarrassing revelation for the ... Read More »

North Korea in mind, Japan town holds evacuation drills

The residents of Abu, on Japan's west coast, started evacuation drills after the government asked local officials to prepare for a possible attack from North Korea. Pyongyang slammed the US and China over new sanctions. About 280 people took part in Sunday's drill, with sirens sounding while a group children and their parents were cleaning up a field at the local elementary school. The anti-missile alarm "rang all of a sudden while we were picking grass, so that scared me," 10-year-old Taison Ito said. The small fishing town of Abu is located in southwest Japan, close to the Korean Peninsula. Experts estimate that it would take about 10 minutes for missiles to reach the coastal area from North Korea. However, it would also take several minutes for the government to detect the launch and alert the public. During the drill, school officials instructed children to head evacuate to the school gymnasium, which they accomplished in about three minutes. "It was a good way to understand how to evacuate," one of the parents said. "But again it didn't feel very realistic." 'Move away from the windows' Despite protest from Japan and the rest of the international community, North Korea continues to test its missiles. It has launched about a dozen since the beginning of the year, with many of them falling in the Sea of Japan. The tests, combined with the country's nuclear program, have stoked fear in the region. Japan's government has published a list of tips in case of a missile strike, including a recommendation to "take shelter in a robust building nearby" and "move away from windows or, if possible, move to a room without windows." Government officials also instructed local authorities in different areas of Japan to hold drills similar to the one in Abu. Residents of the nearby Fukuoka conducted a drill last week, with others scheduled in the coming months. Pyongyang doubles down On Sunday, Pyongyang announced that it "fully rejects" the latest sanctions passed by the United Nations on Friday, which targeted 18 North Korean officials and entities. "Whatever sanctions and pressure may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces, which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence and will move forward towards the final victory," North Korea's Foreign Ministry declared in a statement. In another sign of a growing rift between Pyongyang and Beijing, North Korea criticized the United States and China for "railroading and enforcing" the resolution at the UN Security Council "after having drafted it in the backroom at their own pleasure."

The residents of Abu, on Japan’s west coast, started evacuation drills after the government asked local officials to prepare for a possible attack from North Korea. Pyongyang slammed the US and China over new sanctions. About 280 people took part in Sunday’s drill, with sirens sounding while a group children and their parents were cleaning up a field at the ... Read More »

Taiwan offers to help China transition to democracy on Tiananmen anniversary

Taiwan's president has offered to help China shift into democracy on the 28th anniversary of Beijing's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Thousands also gathered in Hong Kong for a vigil. Nearly three decades since Beijing ordered tanks and troops into the squareto crush the student-led pro-democracy uprising, and any public commemoration of the subject remains banned across the Chinese mainland - where the government has never released an official death toll from the brutal crackdown. Hong Kong, the former British colony that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is the only place on Chinese soil where large-scale commemorations take place (above) to honor the victims. The annual protest, which draws tens of thousands, symbolizes the financial center's relative freedom compared with the mainland. "I don't want this part of history to become blurred," said office worker Emily Yu, 42, who was attending the gathering in Victoria Park. "It was really a massacre of people. Those young people came out and did all they could for freedom and democracy but didn't achieve it." This year's events are especially tense as they come only a month before a planned visit of President Xi Jinping to mark the 20th anniversary of Britain returning Hong Kong to China. "When Xi Jinping comes, he'll know the people of Hong Kong have not forgotten," said Lee Cheuk-yan, a veteran democracy activist and an organizer of the annual candlelight vigil. Fighting for their future "The students who died still haven't got what they deserve. They fought for their future in the same way we're fighting for our future," said 17-year-old high school student Yanny Chan. Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, said the biggest gap between Taiwan and China is democracy and freedom, needling Beijing at a time when relations between China and the self-ruled island are at their nadir. She said Taiwan was willing to share its experiences of transitioning to democracy in the late 1980s to ease the pains of such a transition for the mainland. "For democracy: some are early, others are late, but we all get there in the end," Tsai said, writing in Chinese on her Facebook page and posting some of her comments in English on Twitter. Taiwan labored under martial law for nearly 40 years before it began moving toward democracy in the 1980s. It has held regular presidential elections since 1996. On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had long ago reached its conclusions about June 4. "I hope you can pay more attention to the positive changes happening in all levels of Chinese society," she said without elaborating. In Beijing security was tight as usual at Tiananmen Square, with long lines at bag and identity checks. The square itself was peaceful, thronged with tourists taking photos.

Taiwan’s president has offered to help China shift into democracy on the 28th anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Thousands also gathered in Hong Kong for a vigil. Nearly three decades since Beijing ordered tanks and troops into the squareto crush the student-led pro-democracy uprising, and any public commemoration of the subject remains banned across the ... Read More »

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