World

North Korea Agreements

March 06, 2018

South Korea said North Korea has agreed to halt tests of nuclear weapons and missiles if it holds talks with the United States on denuclearization.

 North and South Korea, still technically at war but enjoying a sharp easing in tension since the Winter Olympics in the South last month. Head of the delegation, Chung Eui-yong, told a media briefing that the North as saying it will not carry out nuclear or missile tests while talks with the international community were under way.

 

North Korea has not carried out any such tests since November last year.

Mexican President's

Visit to White House Was Not So great

February 26, 2018

Meeting plans were abandoned after a "testy call"  between the leaders, on the second last week of February, ended in an impasse when Trump declined to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not pay for construction of the controversial border wall, The Washington Post reported.

A Mexican official told the Post that Trump “lost his temper” during the 50-minute call, but White House officials told the Post that Trump was simply frustrated by what he considered Peña Nieto’s unreasonable demands.

 

The border wall is not the only point of contention between the leaders. Trump has also insisted on changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico has balked at changing the 24-year-old agreement, and Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of what he considers an unfair deal.

 

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The President Donald Trump wants to make his campaign promise of building a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border come true.

 

This would be a rather costly exercise, with unknown chances of succeeding in its primary goal of fending off unwanted immigrants to America.

Electricity Restored To 75 Percent Of Customers In Puerto Rico

February. 12, 2018

Nearly six months after Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, the island's electricity has been restored to 75 percent capacity, according to its utility company.

 

The Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said one of the island's power stations broke down and exploded, cutting out power to sub-stations across the northern part of the island and parts of the capital San Juan.

Despite this, 65 people in shelters and an island-wide boil water advisory is still in effect even though almost 100 percent of Puerto Ricans have access to drinking water, local government records show.

 

The issue of power became controversial after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello recently announced plans to privatize PREPA after it chose to allocate a $300 million power restoration contract to Whitefish, a Montana-based company with only a few staffers, rather than put it through the mutual-aid network of public utilities usually called upon to coordinate power restoration after major disasters

 

The outage has been another setback in what has been slow recovery for the territory after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September.

Pakistan Actress Shot Dead by Gunmen for Refusing to Accompany Them to a Private Event

February. 05, 2018

A Pashto theatre actress was shot dead by three gunmen after she refused to go with them for a private event in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police said. The police registered a case on the complaint of the actress' grandfather Ameer Bahadar against the three accused and launched a probe into the incident.

 

 

Police official Saeed Khan said the perpetrators fled the scene after the killing and that the police are searching for them.

 

The 25-year-old performer was well known for her roles in several Pakistani TV shows.

 

There have been similar attacks on female artists in this part of the country in the past.

 

The attackers broke into the home of Sumbul Khan in the northwestern city of Mardan and tried to abduct her to perform at a private party. When she tried to resist she was shot several times and killed.

 

One of the accused, Naeem Khattak, is a former police officer who has since been arrested, the Pakistan Express Tribune reported.

Fire At South Korean

Hospital, Kills At Least 37

Jan. 26, 2018

South Korea’s deadliest fire in almost a decade followed one last month that killed 29 people, reviving concern over safety standards, as the hospital director said current law did not require the building to have a sprinkler system. The fire broke out around 7.30 a.m. (2230 GMT) at the rear of the emergency room on the hospital’s first floor, fire official Choi Man-woo told a televised news briefing.

 

“So many lives were sacrificed and the people of our city, as well as those throughout the country, have fallen into deep grief,” the city’s mayor, Park Il-ho, told reporters, appearing visibly distressed.

The presidential Blue House initially said the number of dead was at least 41, but deferred to a toll of 37 from the fire chief of Miryang, which is about 270 km (170 miles) southeast of Seoul, the capital, and home to about 108,000 people.

 

Fire officials posted a list of at least 26 victims outside the hospital, their ages ranging from 34 to 96 years, with at least a score over 70.

 

Families crowded round a handwritten list of names and hospital rooms that officials had scrawled on a wall at a nearby funeral home.  At least 177 patients - most of them elderly - were at the hospital and an adjacent nursing home when the fire broke out, hospital director Song Byeong-cheol told reporters.

 

Song said three of the nine hospital staff on duty at the time died, including at least one doctor, a nurse, and a nurse’s aide, all killed on the second floor.

NO SPRINKLER SYSTEM

 

Asia’s fourth-largest economy, with one of the world’s fastest ageing populations, South Korea has faced criticism in recent years over inadequate safety standards.

 

Song said the six-storey hospital did not have a sprinkler system and was not large enough to require one under the law. Officials said they were still investigating the cause of the fire, but were looking at a possible short circuit in the emergency room’s heating and cooling system.

82 Percent of Wealth

Created in 2017 Went to the 1 Percent

Jan. 22, 2018

Oxfam on Monday detailed how the richest one percent grew its wealth by $762 billion (€620 billion) in 2017, which it says was enough to end poverty seven times over.

 

In its annual report on wealth inequality, the UK-based poverty and disaster relief charity said a booming global economy had allowed a small elite group of rich families to grab 82 percent of the new wealth created last year, while the poorest 50 percent saw no increase in their prosperity.

It found that 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth in 2017, while 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population.

 

“(It) reveals how our economies are rewarding wealth rather than the hard work of millions of people,” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director, told Reuters Television. The head of the advocacy group argued that the people who “make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food” are being exploited in order to enrich corporations and the super wealthy.

 

In particular, Byanyima criticised U.S. President Donald Trump, who is attending the World Economic Forum, for creating “a cabinet of billionaires” and implementing tax legislation that she said rewarded the super-rich, not ordinary Americans.

 

According to Oxfam, women workers were hit the worst by global inequality as they consistently earn less than men and usually have lower paid and more insecure forms of work.

 

The World Economic Forum has previously estimated that it would take 217 years before women earn as much as men and have equal representation in the workplace.

 

According to the 2017 Forbes rich list, the five richest people on the planet are all men – from Microsoft’s Bill Gates, to veteran investor Warren Buffett, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Inditex founder Amancio Ortega and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Pope Shocks Chile

By Accusing Sex Abuse Victims Of Slander

Jan. 19, 2018

Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander Thursday, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.

 

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.

 

“As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” tweeted Barros’ most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. “These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”

 

The Karadima scandal dominated Francis’ visit to Chile and the overall issue of sex abuse and church cover-up was likely to factor into his three-day trip to Peru that began late Thursday.

Portuguese Town

Encourages Children To Smoke

Jan. 09, 2018

The Epiphany celebrations in the Portuguese village of Vale de Salgueiro feature a tradition that each year causes an outcry among outsiders: Parents encouraging their children, some as young as 5, to smoke cigarettes.

 

Locals say the practice has been passed down for centuries as part of a celebration of life tied to the Christian Epiphany and the winter solstice but nobody is sure what it symbolizes or exactly why parents buy the packs of cigarettes for their children and encourage them to take part.

 

The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving kids cigarettes and Portuguese authorities don't intervene to stop the practice.

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