Archive for June, 2021

‘Would plunge into greater disappointment’: Kim Yo-jong warns US not to get hopes up for return to dialogue with North Korea

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on ‘Would plunge into greater disappointment’: Kim Yo-jong warns US not to get hopes up for return to dialogue with North Korea

Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, shot down the United States’ hopes for a return to dialogue between the two countries, warning that such an expectation would leave the US disappointed.

Last week, after Kim Jong-un said North Korea must be prepared for “dialogue and confrontation,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called the comments an “interesting signal” and added that the Biden administration “will wait to see whether they are followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us about a potential path forward.”

In a statement on Tuesday, however, Kim Yo-jong – who serves as the deputy department director of the Publicity and Information Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea – warned that the US should not get too hopeful.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 3rd Plenary Meeting of 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea inon June 17, 2021.
Pyongyang must be ready for ‘both dialogue & confrontation’ with US, N. Korea’s Kim says

“I heard the news that the US national security adviser had mentioned that he regards the position towards the US as an ‘interesting signal,’” she wrote, before citing a Korean proverb that states, “In a dream, what counts most is to read it, not to have it.”

“It seems that the US may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek comfort for itself,” Kim continued, before concluding: “The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment.”

North Korea has refused to engage in dialogue with the US since President Joe Biden took over the White House from former president Donald Trump, calling attempts to talk a “cheap trick.”

North Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui said in March that “what has been heard from the US since the emergence of the new regime is only lunatic theory of ‘threat from North Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearization,’” and warned that dialogue will only be able to resume after the US drops its hostility.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeatedly gone on the attack against North Korea, accusing the country of “systemic and widespread abuses,” and calling on China to help persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize.

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Kim Jong-un, seen alongside members of K-Pop group BTS © Reuters / KCNA and Heo Ran
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Hong Kong rejects attempts by Western nations to ‘beautify’ media outlets that try to ‘subvert’ government

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on Hong Kong rejects attempts by Western nations to ‘beautify’ media outlets that try to ‘subvert’ government

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has slammed Western nations for attempting to “beautify” media outlets that threaten national security by trying to “subvert” democracy, after authorities raided the Apple Daily newspaper.

Speaking on Tuesday, Lam defended the Chinese authorities' raid on Apple Daily last week, where hundreds of police officers arrested senior executives at the tabloid over allegations of “collusion with a foreign country.”

The crackdown on the paper came amid accusations from authorities that it has violated China’s recently implemented National Security Law, marking the first time the legislation has been used to target a media outlet. 

The Hong Kong leader rejected the criticism of the raid from Western nations, who have argued that China’s action raises concerns about freedom of the press and free speech within the region.

“It’s not a problem to criticize the Hong Kong government, but if there is an intent to organize activities to incite the subversion of the government then that is, of course, a different thing,” Lam said, explaining the arrest of the newspaper executives.

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Apple Daily Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (2nd R) escorted by police from offices of Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021
Hong Kong police charge 2 people with ‘collusion with a foreign country’ after arrests at Apple Daily newspaper

Addressing reporters at a weekly news conference, she denounced the US for accusing China of engaging in a “politically motivated” prosecution through the security law. The Hong Kong chief executive claimed Western countries are trying to “beautify these acts of endangering national security” and are underplaying “the significance of breaching the national security law.”

The group’s editor-in-chief, Ryan Law, and chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung have both been denied bail after being charged following the raid with conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country. Three other senior executives have been released pending further investigation.

Apple Daily’s owner Jimmy Lai has previously been sentenced to 14 months in prison for his role in anti-Beijing protests that took place during 2019. An adviser to Lai, Mark Simon, warned following the raid that the media outlet could now have to permanently close in “a matter of days.”

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Vaccine tourism: Abu Dhabi allows tourists to book Covid-19 shots for free

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on Vaccine tourism: Abu Dhabi allows tourists to book Covid-19 shots for free

The capital of the UAE has opened up its vaccination campaign to tourists, allowing those travelling to the emirate on a tourist visa to get jabbed for free before returning to their country of residence.

In information provided to Reuters by the emirate’s public-health provider on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) said that visitors could book free vaccinations during their stay.

SEHA specified that visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and those issued with visas on arrival, as is the case for most European arrivals, were eligible for the scheme.

Previously, vaccinations have been restricted to UAE citizens and residency visa holders. On June 11, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said holders of expired residency or entry visas were also eligible for free vaccinations. 

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A factory worker gets vaccinated in Novatas, the Philippines, June 10, 2021. Lisa Marie David/Reuters
Philippines President Duterte threatens to jail those refusing Covid shots and ‘inject vaccine in their butts’

There was no indication that the new measures apply to Dubai, the most populous emirate, as well as to the other five emirates, including Ras Al-Khaimah, which is increasingly popular with tourists.

In June, the UAE’s health authorities said that nearly 85% of the eligible population had received at least one vaccine dose. The data did not reveal how many had received both shots.

Both China’s Sinopharm jabs and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are available in Abu Dhabi.

Currently, travellers from 27 countries, including China and Germany, can enter without the need to quarantine, but many visitors will need to isolate. People driving from other emirates are tested on arrival.

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News24.com | US stocks bounce back from rout, Dow up almost 2%

Posted by Fin24 Markets on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on News24.com | US stocks bounce back from rout, Dow up almost 2%
Wall Street stocks rallied Monday, staging a strong bounceback from last week's rout that was led by financial, industrial and energy shares.

Renewed strikes in France over nuclear reforms lead to a 3.12% drop in power output

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on Renewed strikes in France over nuclear reforms lead to a 3.12% drop in power output

In the latest protests over the government’s energy reform plan, workers downed tools at EDF and Engie nuclear power sites and hydropower stations, and electricity generation fell by 3.12%.

Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (RTE) and Électricité de France (EDF) data on Tuesday showed that power output had been cut as workers staged another strike. 

As of 06:23 GMT, nuclear power and hydropower generation was marginally down on normal output, the former being reduced by 1.2 gigawatts and the latter by 614 megawatts. The figures represent around 3.12% of available production capacity as of Tuesday morning.

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French journalist Sonia Mabrouk arrives to attend a state dinner in honour of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 7, 2015. © REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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On Monday, Sébastien Ménesplier, the secretary general of the National Federation of Mines and Energy (CGT-FNME), which called for the strike, said that 12,000 to 15,000 workers were expected to take part in the protests on Tuesday. 

He said he predicted the government would shelve the proposed nuclear reforms, but the union’s action would continue until it had been formally withdrawn. “In the days to come, things will become clearer,” he stated.

The secretary general of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), Philippe Martinez, said a demonstration in Paris would also be attended by members of other CGT federations, including railway workers and public service employees, as well as a number of elected officials who were opposed to the social and local consequences of the proposed reforms.

The reform plan involves a restructuring of energy giant EDF. The unions fear that splitting the firm’s nuclear and renewable-energy activities could lead to the dismantling and privatization of the group.

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Philippines President Duterte threatens to jail those refusing Covid shots and ‘inject vaccine in their butts’

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on Philippines President Duterte threatens to jail those refusing Covid shots and ‘inject vaccine in their butts’

Angered by the country’s low vaccination rate, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said he may jail people who refuse to get the shot against coronavirus.

Duterte vented his frustration over vaccine hesitancy during a cabinet meeting late on Monday night.

“If you don’t want to get vaccinated, leave the Philippines,” he said, as quoted by the PNA news agency. “Go to India if you want, or somewhere to America. But for as long as you are here and you are a human being and can carry the virus, you should get vaccinated.”

The president asked the government to identify those who refuse to get the shot. “I will order their arrest, to be honest,” he said. “Choose – get vaccinated or get imprisoned?”

Duterte, who is known for using straightforward and crass language in public, was quoted by the Rappler news website as saying, “If you don’t want to get vaccinated, I’ll have you arrested [and] then I’ll inject a vaccine into your buttocks.”

Low turnout forced the country’s capital, Manila, to scrap its ‘no walk-in’ vaccination policy on Monday. Rappler reported that authorities invited 28,000 people to vaccination sites via text message, but only 4,402 showed up. Mayor Isko Moreno said that the city will return to the original open-door method, where anyone can show up for a shot.

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FILE PHOTO. Health workers prepare vaccines against the coronavirus disease at a vaccination site in Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Philippines to exempt fully vaccinated elderly from some coronavirus restrictions to encourage Covid-19 inoculation

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters on Monday that regional and local officials were instructed to boost border control against the Delta variant, which was previously known as the Indian variant and is more transmissible than the original strain of the coronavirus. 

Philippines health officials recorded 5,249 new cases and 128 deaths on Monday. Overall, more than 1.36 million have been infected with the coronavirus, and 23,749 have died.

As of Saturday, 2,210,134 Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, according to PNA. The population of the Philippines is close to 111 million, according to the UN.

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Every third Canadian sees their country as racist, but views differ sharply by gender, age and political party – poll

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on Every third Canadian sees their country as racist, but views differ sharply by gender, age and political party – poll

Some 34% of Canadians believe they live in a "racist country," claims a new poll. However, those views are more pronounced in some demographics than others.

In the Angus Reid Institute poll released on Monday, 54% of women under age 35 were ready to condemn Canada as racist, while only 21% of men over 55 agreed.

Young women, in fact, were even more likely than non-whites to take a negative view on race relations. The survey showed that 42% of non-white Canadians see the country as racist. Among women over 55, 30% agreed that Canada is racist.

Conservatives and nationalists were less likely to see the country as racist, with just 18% of Conservative Party respondents and 13% of Bloc Quebecois voters agreeing with the notion. In contrast, 55% of New Democrat participants tagged Canada as racist, while Green Party and Liberal Party voters agreed at rates of 54% and 38%, respectively.

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The overall result of more than one-third of respondents seeing their country as racist might seem surprising for a nation known for friendliness and being welcoming of immigrants. But other responses suggested that, to the extent the survey participants were representative of Canadians' attitudes toward race, racism might be overstated.

The poll showed that 85% of Canadians believe the country is made stronger by having residents from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. In other words, they agreed with what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said repeatedly, that "Diversity is our strength."

Canada's percentage of non-white population has jumped from 4.7% in 1981 to more than 25% currently, and the ratio will climb to an estimated 34.4% in 2036, according to government data.

Just 12% of poll respondents, including only 11% of white Canadians, said they believe that some races are naturally superior to others. 18% of non-white participants also agreed with that claim. Only 18% of all participants said they would prefer to live next door to someone of their own skin color, down from 28% in a 1994 survey.

Angus Reid also found that the strongest diversity advocates – the segment of the population that is most concerned about racism – are nearly twice as likely as non-whites themselves to say that police are racist, at 83% against 42%.

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The poll found that Canadians are far more likely to feel racially ostracized than racially superior, with 21% saying they are "treated as an outsider." In fact, 30% of Indigenous Canadians agreed with that view, compared with 17% of whites and 29% of non-whites.

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Justin Bieber goes viral on Instagram after ‘dropping in’ on French President Macron at Elysee Palace

Posted by RT on June 22, 2021  |   Comments Off on Justin Bieber goes viral on Instagram after ‘dropping in’ on French President Macron at Elysee Palace

Millions of Justin Bieber’s Instagram fans liked a photo in which the Canadian-born crooner and his model wife posed with the president and first lady of France after stopping by the Elysee Palace during their visit to Paris.

In the photo, Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte pose next to Bieber and his wife Hailey inside the presidential palace. The singer’s attempted nod to propriety consisted of a suit worn over blue sneakers and an unbuttoned shirt.

Bieber did not put a caption next to the photo, leaving fans and reporters alike to speculate about the meeting and its motives.

As more photos of the meeting began to circulate on other social media platforms soon thereafter, courtesy of Macron’s official photographer Soazig de la Moissonnière, the French media tried to provide some context.

The Biebers were “passing through” Paris and requested a meeting with the president, BFMTV reported. They were admitted to the palace on Monday afternoon, and discussed “issues related to youth.”

Macron isn’t exactly allergic to celebrity attention. Back in July 2017, he had the Barbadian singer-actress Rihanna over at the palace. They eventually worked together to raise money for education in developing countries, at a February 2018 conference in Senegal.

Earlier this month, however, during a visit to southern France, Macron was slapped by a member of the public, who shouted “Down with Macron-ism!” and “Montjoie Saint Denis,” the battle cry of the medieval French kingdom.

The man, identified as Damien Tarel, was sentenced to four months in jail for assault.

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Brazilian court clears ex-President Lula of corruption charges in another legal win

Posted by RT on June 21, 2021  |   Comments Off on Brazilian court clears ex-President Lula of corruption charges in another legal win

Brazil’s former leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, scored a fresh legal victory on Monday after a federal court acquitted him of passive corruption charges relating to alleged political favors, citing lack of evidence.

In 2017, Lula was accused of having granted political favors to automobile companies in exchange for donations of 6 million reals (around $1.2 million) to the campaign of his Workers' Party (PT). The charges against the ex-president and other officials were filed after ‘Operation Zelotes’, which was launched by police to investigate alleged fraud and bribery in the sector.

But on Monday, federal judge Frederico Viana ruled that the case against the former president “lacks elements” that can substantiate any conviction against him and the other defendants.

“It is prudent and reasonable to pronounce an acquittal” of the ex-president, his former chief of staff, Gilberto Carvalho, and five other officials and businessmen, the judge said.

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FILE PHOTO: Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil March 10, 2021. © REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
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During his testimony last year, Lula denied the accusations, insisting that he never did any favors for the automobile firms.

In March, the court annulled all sentences handed to the 75-year-old political veteran under ‘Operation Lava Jato’ (‘Car Wash’) – a major anti-graft investigation in which three ex-presidents and numerous officials were indicted.

That ruling gave Lula the right to run for president again in 2022. He hasn’t yet announced plans to join the race, but recent polls put him ahead of Brazil’s current leader, Jair Bolsonaro, by 41% to 23% in the first round.

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Lula remains highly popular in the country, which underwent a period of rapid economic growth during his years in office from 2003 to 2010, and saw millions escape poverty through his welfare programs.

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Israel’s defense ministry claims success in downing drones using plane-mounted laser (VIDEO)

Posted by RT on June 21, 2021  |   Comments Off on Israel’s defense ministry claims success in downing drones using plane-mounted laser (VIDEO)

The Israeli ministry of defense has said that a powerful plane-mounted laser it developed was able to shoot down several drones during tests over the Mediterranean Sea, in a first for the country.

During the interception trials last week, a laser system was installed on a civilian Cessna aircraft, tasked with locating and destroying drones with the aid of an autonomous detection and tracking system, the ministry said.

“We successfully intercepted several UAVs in the air, within a range of more than one kilometer,” Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, the head of the ministry's research and development team, said.

“This is the first time in the State of Israel that we have succeeded in doing this,” he added, hailing the test as a “groundbreaking technological achievement” for the Jewish state. Rotem told reporters that the defense ministry plans to “have a laser in the Gaza area.”

Footage released by the ministry showed the laser system burning through several drones, causing them to explode and fall into the sea. The faces of the system’s operators and other servicemen featured in the clip were blurred.

The system is intended to initially play a defensive role, to take out rockets fired into Israeli territory, as well as an offensive one, down the line.

One key tactical disadvantage of ground-based lasers is that they become quite useless in cloudy or foul weather, whereas the air-mounted version is being developed especially to overcome this limitation as the carrier plane can ascend above cloud cover.

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A ground-based laser is expected to be put in service by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sometime in 2024. As for the air-mounted system, it could take at least another decade before it can become operational, Rotem said. Its future tests will focus on putting the laser in larger areas and on further increasing its range and effectiveness, he added.

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