North Korea sends balloons with trash into South again

North Korea sends balloons with trash into South again
In this photo provided by Jeonbuk Fire Headquarters, balloons with trash presumably sent by North Korea, hang on electric wires as South Korean army soldiers stand guard in Muju, South Korea, on May 29, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 01 June 2024
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North Korea sends balloons with trash into South again

North Korea sends balloons with trash into South again
  • Earlier this week, North Korea sent around 260 balloons carrying bags of trash
  • North Korea is “once again floating balloons carrying waste toward the South,” the JCS said in a text message to reporters.

SEOUL: North Korea again sent trash-carrying balloons into the South on Saturday, the South Korean military said, a day after Seoul warned of countermeasures against such activity.
Earlier this week, North Korea sent around 260 balloons carrying bags of trash, including waste batteries, cigarette butts and what appeared to be manure, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Authorities in Seoul condemned that act as “low-class,” and the South Korean unification ministry warned Friday that the government would take countermeasures if Pyongyang did not cease such “irrational” provocations.
North Korea is “once again floating balloons carrying waste toward the South,” the JCS said in a text message to reporters.
It advised the public to refrain from touching the balloons if spotted and to report them to authorities.
The Seoul city government also sent a text alert to residents on Saturday, warning of an “unidentified object presumed to be North Korean propaganda leaflets.”
The object has been “detected in the airspace near Seoul and is currently being addressed by the military,” it said, advising residents to “refrain from outdoor activities.”
Pyongyang defended its release of the balloons earlier this week, saying the “sincere gifts” were retaliation for the balloons sent into North Korea with propaganda against leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea has long been infuriated by the balloons sent by South Korean activists, which carry anti-Pyongyang leaflets. Sometimes, they have also sent cash, rice or USB thumb drives with South Korean drama series.
South Korean defense minister Shin Won-sik on Saturday said North Korea sending balloons with waste was “unimaginably petty and low-grade behavior.”
He added that the balloons sent into the North by activists were “humanitarian aid balloons.”
In 2018, during a period of improved inter-Korean relations, the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to “completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain,” including the distribution of leaflets.
The South Korean parliament passed a law in 2020 criminalizing the act of sending leaflets to the North, but the activists did not stop.
That same year, Pyongyang, blaming the anti-North leaflets, unilaterally cut off all official military and political communication links with the South and blew up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border.
Last year, South Korea’s Constitutional Court struck down the 2020 law, calling it an undue limitation on free speech.
Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong — one of North Korea’s key spokespeople — mocked South Korea for complaining about the balloons this week, saying North Koreans were simply exercising their freedom of expression.


Death toll from Ethiopia landslides could rise to 500, UN says

Death toll from Ethiopia landslides could rise to 500, UN says
Updated 6 sec ago
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Death toll from Ethiopia landslides could rise to 500, UN says

Death toll from Ethiopia landslides could rise to 500, UN says
  • Second landslide engulfed others who had gathered to help buried people on Monday morning
NAIROBI: The death toll from landslides in Ethiopia earlier this week has risen to 257, and is expected to rise to 500, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission had put the death toll at 229.
Following heavy rain a landslide buried people in Gofa zone in Southern Ethiopia regional state on Sunday night, then a second one engulfed others who had gathered to help on Monday morning.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai to testify in Hong Kong security trial

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai to testify in Hong Kong security trial
Updated 25 July 2024
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Media tycoon Jimmy Lai to testify in Hong Kong security trial

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai to testify in Hong Kong security trial
  • The charges against Lai, founder of the now-shuttered Chinese-language tabloid Apple Daily, revolve around the newspaper’s publications

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai will take the witness stand for the first time in November in a high-profile national security trial where he is accused of sedition and colluding with foreign forces, a court said Thursday.
The charges against Lai — founder of the now-shuttered popular Chinese-language tabloid Apple Daily — revolve around the newspaper’s publications, which supported the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019 and criticized Beijing’s leadership.
Besides sedition, the 76-year-old is also accused of two counts of colluding with foreign forces — which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment — by calling for international sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials.
Lai, who pleaded not guilty to the charges in a trial that started in January, “elects to give evidence in this case,” said his lawyer Robert Pang.
His testimony will start on November 20 and could run for weeks, said Esther Toh, one of the three senior judges handpicked by the Hong Kong government to try security cases.
Lai has been in custody for more than 1,300 days.
Following massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, Beijing imposed a sweeping security law to quell dissent.
The prosecution has so far called eight witnesses and played over 40 hours of Lai’s talk shows and video interviews since January to mount a case against him and eight others.
Dozens of Hong Kong and foreign politicians and scholars — including former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — were named as his foreign contacts and “agents.”
But Lai’s lawyer argued Wednesday that the prosecution failed to prove he had continued to call for sanctions after Beijing criminalized such advocacy with the security law.
Judges on Thursday ruled against Lai’s defense team, calling on him to answer to all charges.
The other defendants in the case are six former executives of the newspaper and two activists, as well as three Apple Daily companies that have been taken over by the Hong Kong government.


France sees no Olympic spike in Covid cases: minister

France sees no Olympic spike in Covid cases: minister
Updated 25 July 2024
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France sees no Olympic spike in Covid cases: minister

France sees no Olympic spike in Covid cases: minister
  • A few of the 10,500 athletes set to patricipate have tested positive for Covid since arriving

Paris: There has been no spike in Covid cases in France as tourists surge in for the Paris Olympic Games, a minister said Thursday, adding that the government would remain “vigilant.”
“Covid is still with us at a low level” but “we’re not in a period with an explosion or strong return” of the virus, junior health minister Frederic Valletoux told broadcaster Franceinfo.
He added that authorities were not “for now” expecting to introduce mask requirements in venues.
“There’s no kind of very strong alert signal at this stage,” Valletoux said.
A few of the 10,500 athletes set to patricipate have tested positive for Covid since arriving.
“We knew there is no such thing as zero risk,” Valletoux said.
Among the worst hit are Australia’s female water polo team, with the delegation’s head Anna Meares confirming five cases, while several Belgian competitors have also tested positive according to Olympic Committee doctors.
Some delegations have toughened up precautions in response.
For instance, France’s rowing team insisted on masks at media events ahead of the competition.


Video of violent arrest at Manchester Airport sparks protest

Video of violent arrest at Manchester Airport sparks protest
Updated 25 July 2024
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Video of violent arrest at Manchester Airport sparks protest

Video of violent arrest at Manchester Airport sparks protest
  • One man was kicked and stamped upon as he lay face down on the floor. The second man also appeared to be struck in the head by an officer

LONDON, July 25 : A video showing a British police officer kick and stamp on a man’s head during an arrest at Manchester airport in northern England sparked a protest outside a police station late on Wednesday night.
Police said they had referred the actions to an independent complaints watchdog after the video, filmed by an onlooker, was posted on social media platforms and attracted immediate criticism.
It showed a chaotic scene in an airport car park in which several officers armed with tasers restrained two suspects. One man was kicked and stamped upon as he lay face down on the floor. The second man also appeared to be struck in the head by an officer.
A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) statement said the video showed “an event that is truly shocking, and that people are rightly extremely concerned about. The use of such force in an arrest is an unusual occurrence and one that we understand creates alarm.”


It said police had been responding to reports of an assault, and that three officers were themselves assaulted during their response. The officers required hospital treatment, including one female officer who had a broken nose.
“One male officer has been removed from operational duties and we are making a voluntary referral of our policing response to the Independent Office of Police Conduct,” the statement added.
The two men were arrested on suspicion of assault, assault of an emergency worker, affray, and obstructing police.
The incident sparked a protest outside a police station in a nearby town. One videos posted online showed the crowd of at least 100 people chanting “Shame on you GMP.”
Police, who have not confirmed any details about the identity of those arrested at the airport, said the protest concluded safely and without incident.
“We have spent the evening listening to community feedback and will continue to engage with communities and elected members to maintain strong partnership links and understand local views,” they said in a subsequent statement.


Bangladesh relaxes curfew as unrest recedes

Bangladesh relaxes curfew as unrest recedes
Updated 25 July 2024
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Bangladesh relaxes curfew as unrest recedes

Bangladesh relaxes curfew as unrest recedes
  • Thousands of troops are still patrolling cities and a nationwide Internet shutdown remains largely in effect
  • Banks, government offices and the country’s economically vital garment factories had already reopened on Wednesday

DHAKA: Bangladesh further eased a nationwide curfew Thursday as students weighed the future of their protest campaign against civil service hiring rules that sparked days of deadly unrest last week.
Last week’s violence killed at least 191 people including several police officers, according to an AFP count of victims reported by police and hospitals during some of the worst unrest of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tenure.
Thousands of troops are still patrolling cities and a nationwide Internet shutdown remains largely in effect, but clashes have subsided since protest leaders announced a temporary halt to new demonstrations.
Hasina’s government ordered another relaxation to the curfew it imposed at the height of the unrest, allowing free movement for seven hours between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Streets in the capital Dhaka, a sprawling megacity of 20 million people, were choked with commuter traffic in the morning, days after ferocious clashes between police and protesters had left them almost deserted.
Banks, government offices and the country’s economically vital garment factories had already reopened on Wednesday after all being shuttered last week.
Student leaders were set to meet later Thursday to decide whether or not to again extend their protest moratorium, which is due to expire on Friday.
Students Against Discrimination, the group responsible for organizing this month’s rallies, said it expected a number of concessions from the government.
“We demand an apology from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the nation for the mass murder of students,” Asif Mahmud, one of the group’s coordinators, said.
“We also want the sacking of the home minister and education minister.”
Mahmud added that the estimated toll in the unrest was understated, with his group working on its own list of confirmed deaths.
Police have arrested at least 2,500 people since the violence began last week, according to an AFP tally.
Protests began after the June reintroduction of a scheme reserving more than half of government jobs for certain candidates, including nearly a third for descendants of veterans from Bangladesh’s independence war.
With around 18 million young people in Bangladesh out of work, according to government figures, the move deeply upset graduates facing an acute jobs crisis.
Critics say the quota is used to stack public jobs with loyalists to Hasina’s Awami League.
The Supreme Court cut the number of reserved jobs on Sunday but fell short of protesters’ demands to scrap the quotas entirely.
Hasina, 76, has ruled the country since 2009 and won her fourth consecutive election in January after a vote without genuine opposition.
Her government is also accused by rights groups of misusing state institutions to entrench its hold on power and stamp out dissent, including the extrajudicial killing of opposition activists.