North Korea’s Kim Orders Production Of More Rocket Engines

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the production of more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips, the North’s official media said on Wednesday.

A report about Kim’s visit to a chemical institute came not long after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to make a peace overture to Pyongyang, welcoming what he called the recent restraint shown by the reclusive North.

U.S. President Donald Trump also expressed cautious optimism about a possible improvement in relations with the North, after months of mounting tension over its weapons programs.

Kim was briefed about the process of manufacturing intercontinental ballistic missile warhead tips and solid-fuel rocket engines during his tour of the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defence Science, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

“He instructed the institute to produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips by further expanding engine production process and the production capacity of rocket warhead tips and engine jets by carbon/carbon compound material,” KCNA said.

 

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Russia Bans Jehovah Witnesses, Says Members Pose A Threat To Public Security

Russia has placed the Jehovah’s Witnesses on its register of banned “extremist” organisations.

The Christian sect’s administrative centre near St Petersburg and 395 local organisations were added to the list by the justice ministry on Thursday.

Believers can now be charged for proselytising or gathering together.

In April, Russia’s Supreme Court decided in favour of the justice ministry’s characterisation of members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as posing “a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security.”

The denomination’s properties, known as Kingdom Halls, will also be seized by the state.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to appeal the ban at the European Court of Human Rights.

The British Government previously said it was “alarmed” by the ban and launched an appeal for Vladimir Putin to uphold religious freedom in Russia.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are known for their door-to-door preaching and distribution of literature, reject some of mainstream Christianity’s core beliefs.

The US-based group, which has more than 8.3 million adherents around the world, has generated controversy for its stances including the rejection of blood transfusion and opposition to military service.

Independent

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Saudi Mecca Hotel Evacuated After Fire

A hotel in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, where two million Muslims will perform the annual haj pilgrimage, was evacuated on Monday (Aug 21) after a fire broke out, the civil defence service said.

Civil defence spokesman Nayef al-Sharif said no casualties were reported in the fire, which was sparked by a faulty air conditioning unit on the eighth floor of a hotel in the Azaziyah district of Mecca.

All 600 residents, most of whom had come from Turkey and Yemen for the haj pilgrimage, were evacuated and have since returned to the hotel, Sharif said.

AFP

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South Korea Warns North Over ‘Repeated Provocation’

South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has issued a stern warning to North Korea against using it’s military drill exercise with the United States as an excuse to intensify the “vicious cycle” of tensions.

Tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops are taking part in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military drills, a largely computer-simulated exercise that runs for two weeks in the South.

Moon described the exercises as “purely defensive in nature” and told Pyongyang it “must not use it as an excuse to launch provocations that will worsen the situation”.

“North Korea must understand its repeated provocations are what is forcing South Korea and the US to conduct the joint defensive drills, which in turn keeps the vicious cycle going,” the president told a cabinet meeting.

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BBC Starts Pidgin Digital Service For West Africa Audiences

A new language service for digital platforms in English-based Pidgin for West and Central Africa has been launched by the BBC World Service.

Pidgin is one of the most widely-spoken languages across the region, even though it is not officially recognised.

The launch is part of the World Service’s biggest expansion since the 1940s, following a government funding boost announced in 2016.

Pidgin will soon be joined by 10 more new services in Africa and Asia.

The WS also plans to offer more mobile and video content and a greater social media presence.

It will also enhance its television services across Africa, including more than 30 new TV programmes for partner broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa.

Arabic and Russian programming will also be boosted in the 2020 project.

BBC

 

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Van Crashes Into Pedestrians In Barcelona

Several people have been hurt after a van in Barcelona ploughed into pedestrians.

Pictures and video emerging from the scene show police cars and ambulances near the Las Ramblas tourist district in the city.

A local reporter said gunfire has been heard at the Corte Ingles store in the area.

Armed police have also been seen rushing into the area while emergency services have asked to close Metro and train stations in the city.

The local police force was said to be evacuating the area including the nearby main square the Plaza de Catalunya.

It is also being reported that the driver of the van fled on foot after crashing into the pedestrians.

Daily Mail

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Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta Wins Kenyan Presidential Election

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has been re-elected following Tuesday’s vote, election officials say.

Mr Kenyatta, in office since 2013, took 54.3% of votes, ahead of his rival Raila Odinga, with 44.7%.

After the announcement, Mr Kenyatta called for unity, telling opposition supporters: “I reach out to you… We are all citizens of the same republic”.

But the opposition rejected the results even before they were declared, calling the process a “charade”.

However it has been endorsed by international observers. Mr Kenyatta said they had ensured a “free, fair and credible election”.

Earlier, Mr Odinga’s supporters said he had won, and published their own figures. The electoral commission said this was “illegal and premature”, and said basic mathematical errors had been made.

Many observers fear a repeat of the violence after the disputed election 10 years ago when more than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced.

Raila Odinga has come up short again in what was his fourth and probably last attempt to become the president of Kenya.

BBC

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Court Jails Ex Police Officer For Using Helicopter To Film People Having Sex

A former police officer who used a helicopter to film people having sex and sunbathing naked has been jailed for a year.

A judge at Sheffield Crown Court sentenced Adrian Pogmore after he used a South Yorkshire Police helicopter to spy on people in their gardens.

Footage shot by the “sex-obessed” former officer included graphic scenes of a couple having sex in a range of positions on their suburban patio.

Other footage shown in court showed a woman sunbathing naked in her garden, two naked naturists sitting outside their caravan and a couple lying naked on sun-loungers outside their home.

A judge has been told how the couple filmed having sex, who are not being named for legal reasons, told officers they were “putting on a show” for Pogmore, 51, who knew them through the South Yorkshire wife-swapping scene.

Prosecutors said the officer was “a swinging and sex-obsessed air observer” who was referred to as the “team deviant” by other members of the air support unit at South Yorkshire Police.

Independent

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Chelsea FC Boss Roman Abramovich Announces Decision To Separate From Wife

The Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich, is splitting from his wife, Dasha Zhukova, the couple have announced.

Abramovich and Zhukova, an art collector and gallery director, met in 2005 and have two children together.

“After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents, and partners in the projects we developed together,” said a joint statement on Monday.

A spokesman for Abramovich, 50, declined to comment further, or to say whether the couple planned a formal divorce.

Forbes estimated Abramovich’s wealth at $9.2bn (£7bn) this year, making him the 139th richest person in the world. He is known for his love of luxury, owning the world’s second-largest yacht and a portfolio of property across the world.

 Zhukova, 36, is the daughter of a Russian oil magnate, and was educated in the US. She was treated with some scepticism when she entered the international art world, opening her Garage gallery in Moscow in 2008 and famously declining to name a single artist she admired in an interview.
The Guardian
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American Leadership Was Better Under Obama, Says Sen. John McCain

United States Senator, John McCain, has said American leadership was stronger under former President Barack Obama.

In a Guardian report published on Sunday, McCain affirmatively said: “As far as American leadership is concerned,” Obama was better.

McCain vocally criticized many of the Obama administration’s foreign policy decisions.

 McCain also lost to Obama when he ran as the GOP nominee in the 2008 presidential election.

The Arizona Republican was also asked what “message” the president delivered to the U.K. last week when he publicly criticized London’s mayor, shortly after a terror-related attack that left eight people dead and many more wounded.

“What do you think the message is? The message is that America doesn’t want to lead,” said McCain, chairman on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“They are not sure of American leadership, whether it be in Siberia or whether it be in Antarctica,” he added.

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#RwandaDecides: President Kagame Heads Towards Victory, Wins 98% Of Votes

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has won  a third term in office, garnering a whopping 98 percent of votes counted, according to partial results released today.

There had been little doubt that the 59-year-old would return to the helm of the east African nation which he has ruled with an iron fist since the end of the 1994 genocide.

With 80 percent of results counted, Kagame had secured some 5.4 million votes, far more than the 50 percent plus one required for him to win re-election.

“We think that at this level … it will be the same result, no change after having counted 100 percent (of votes),” said national elections commission chairman Kalisa Mbanda. Full provisional results will come through later Saturday.

The commission estimates 97 percent of 6.9 million voters turned out to cast their ballots.

Of the results tallied, Kagame had 98.66 percent — a figure which could still shift slightly — while his two little-known rivals barely made a dent.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party — the only permitted critical opposition party — won 0.45 percent of votes and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana scored 0.72.

 

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US Attorney General Jeff Sessions Talks Tough, Vows Crackdown On Leaks Of Classified Information

Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged on Friday to rein in government leaks that he said undermine American security.

In prepared remarks, Sessions said: “No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight their battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information. No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or to talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders.”

Sessions said in his remarks that his department has more than tripled the number of active leaks investigations compared to the number pending when President Barack Obama left office. He said the department is reviewing guidelines related to subpoenas of journalists.

“This nation must end the culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice. We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer,” Sessions said in his remarks.

Recall that President Donald Trump had  complained on Twitter last week that Sessions was weak in cracking down on leaks, saying, “Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!”

TIME

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