Quake rattles New Zealand as Harry and Meghan visit

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greet people during a public walkabout at the Vivaduct Harbor in Auckland on, Tuesday, October 30. (AFP)
Updated 30 October 2018
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Quake rattles New Zealand as Harry and Meghan visit

  • The quake was felt in Wellington during a session of parliament, prompting lawmakers to stop deliberations and seek refuge
  • The touring royals continued with a public walkabout on the city’s waterfront

WELLINGTON: A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rattled parts of central New Zealand Tuesday, where British royals Meghan and Harry are on tour, but officials said it caused no major damage.
The quake was felt in Wellington during a session of parliament, prompting lawmakers to stop deliberations and seek refuge as a precaution.
There was no tsunami threat and the quake was not strongly felt in Auckland, where the touring royals continued with a public walkabout on the city’s waterfront.
Reporters traveling with the couple said they did not feel any tremors during the quake, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) gave a magnitude of 6.1.
New Zealand’s official GeoNet seismic monitoring service said a 6.2 quake struck at a depth of 207 kilometers in the central North Island about 340 kilometers northeast of Wellington.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was widely felt across the center of the country, despite the depth of the epicenter, and urged Kiwis to “check on those around you.”
Civil Defense Minister Kris Faafoi said there had been no reports of damage or injuries.
“I think some people might be a little nervy and that’s understandable but it’s just a case of following those safety messages and being prepared,” he told reporters.
“I think if there was anything major we’d know by now.”
Faafoi said proceedings in parliament house were temporarily suspended because of heavy shaking in the building.
“We all felt it in the house, I was in there at the time... and just for the immediate safety of those in the house (the speaker) saw fit to suspend proceedings,” he said.
“I think that was the wise thing to do as we felt it quite heavily.”
New Zealand lies on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called “Ring of Fire,” and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.
A shallow 6.3 quake in the South Island city of Christchurch killed 185 people in 2011, while a 7.8 shake slightly further north in 2016 was the second strongest ever recorded in the country.


Trump drops new North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim

In this file photo taken on February 27, 2019 US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2019
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Trump drops new North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim

  • “President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday abruptly announced the cancelation of sanctions imposed by his own Treasury Department to tighten international pressure on North Korea.
“It was announced today by the US Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!” Trump said in a tweet.
He appeared to be referring to measures unveiled Thursday that targeted two Chinese companies accused of helping North Korea to evade tight international sanctions meant to pressure Pyongyang into ending its nuclear weapons program.
But The Washington Post reported, citing Trump administration officials, that the president’s tweet referenced future sanctions that had not been announced and were scheduled for “the coming days.”
The Thursday sanctions were the first new sign of pressure since talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down in Hanoi less than a month ago.
However, Trump, who has previously spoken of “love” for the totalitarian leader, appears to retain hope that his strong personal relationship will bear fruit.
“President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said.
Adam Schiff, a Democrat who heads the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, blasted Trump for canceling sanctions “imposed only yesterday and championed by his own national security adviser, because he ‘loves’ Kim.”
“Foolish naivete is dangerous enough. Gross incompetence and disarray in the White House make it even worse,” Schiff tweeted.
On Thursday, Trump national security adviser John Bolton had tweeted that the sanctions were meant to put an end to “illicit shipping practices” by North Korea.
“Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion,” he said.
China complained, saying that it did enforce all UN resolutions and opposed “any country imposing unilateral sanctions and taking long-arm jurisdiction against any Chinese entity according to their own domestic laws.”
This was Trump’s second major, unexpected foreign policy announcement by Twitter in two days.
On Thursday, he sent a tweet reversing decades of US policy and pledged to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the hotly contested Golan Heights border area with Syria.