North Korea may have sarin-tipped missiles: Abe

Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said North Korea may already have the ability to fire ballistic missiles equipped with sarin nerve agent.

His warning came amid looming concern about another missile or nuclear test by the communist country, reported Nikkei Asian Review.

Abe, while addressing the Japanese Parliament’s diplomacy and defence committee, said North Korea’s nuclear and missile technologies are making progress and labelled the situation “a new stage of threat”.

“The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is our biggest goal and must be achieved at any cost. The security situation around our country is getting increasingly severe,” said the Prime Minister.

“We have just talked about Syria. There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to put sarin on warheads to strike the ground,” he said.

Abe did not provide any evidence why he felt North Korea had the capability to equip missiles with chemical weapons, said the report.

Meanwhile, a Washington-based think tank 38 North, that monitors North Korea, said satellite images taken on Wednesday showed continued activity around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the east coast, Efe news reported.

N Korea looking for trouble- US President Donald Trump
Experts have warned of continued activity in Punggye-ri for weeks and fear North Korea may soon carry out its sixth nuclear test, especially as important events are approaching with the country celebrating the fifth anniversary of leader Kim Jong-un’s transition to power.

In addition, the country will commemorate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday and the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army on April 25.

These celebrations coincide with increased tension in the peninsula after the US responded to the latest North Korean missile launch by sending a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier towards the peninsula, said the report.

Malala Yousafzai becomes an honorary citizen of Canada

Malala Yousafzai signs a guest book with the Canadian citizenship from the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Ontario, April 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Lars Hagberg
Ottawa: Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai became only the sixth person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship today, as she called on the country to be bold in advocating for girls’ education.

Wearing a bright orange scarf to cover her head in accordance with Muslim tradition, the Pakistani activist was welcomed to the seat of Canada’s democracy by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

At age 19, Yousafzai is the youngest person to speak to Canadian members of parliament and senators in a joint session. She is also the youngest to receive honorary Canadian citizenship — a privilege previously granted to five others including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi.


“Dear Canada, I’m asking you to lead once again,” she said, to a standing ovation.

She urged Canada to use its turn as president of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations in 2018 to press for the education of girls and refugees.

“We should not ask children who flee their homes to also give up their dreams,” she said.

Yousafzai said Trudeau also must ask other world leaders to do more for education.

“If Canada leads, I know the world will follow, she said.

Yousafzai had fought for years for the right of girls to education in her strictly Muslim home region in Pakistan. She leapt to global fame after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on a school bus in October 2012 for defending her right to attend school. Since a successful operation following the attack, she has lived in the British city of Birmingham, where she continues to advocate for women’s rights.

Malala receives highest UN honour to promote girls’ education
During a brief ceremony, Yousafzai was given the Canadian flag from atop the Peace Tower at the entrance of parliament, and a copy of her 2013 book “I Am Malala” was added to the parliamentary library. She thanked her hosts and expressed excitement in particular about meeting Trudeau, whom she praised for speaking out on behalf of women’s rights, gender equality, and refugees “during a time where the world is hopeless.”

“I wanted to say that Trudeau is an amazing person and an inspiration,” she said, later noting in her speech that “he does yoga, he has tattoos… Everyone was telling me (to) shake the prime minister’s hand and, like, let us know how he looks in reality.”

In introducing Yousafzai to lawmakers, Trudeau praised her for her advocacy.

“Yours is a story of an ordinary girl doing extraordinary things, an everyday hero… a fearless advocate for girls who wants nothing more than to see more kids in classrooms,” he said.

“And on top of that, you’re impossibly humble. We Canadians are all about that.”

Trudeau said his past experience as a teacher taught him “that going to school is more than just learning about how to read and write.

“Education has the power to change the world,” he said. “It can end poverty, fight climate change, prevent wars. But in order to achieve progress, we all have to make sure that all children, girls as well as boys, get to go to school.”

Yousafzai had been invited to Canada by the previous Conservative government in 2014 — when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — to receive Canadian citizenship in Toronto. But the ceremony was postponed due to the shooting of a ceremonial guard and an attack on parliament the same day.

Yousafzai decried the violence, saying: “The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim. But he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims living in peace around the world.”

Stockholm truck attack: Swedish police detains 2 in connection to attack that killed 4, wounded 15

Media Report

Stockholm authorities have confirmed that four people have died and 15 are injured, following the truck attack that took place outside Ahlens department store in the city. Swedish police have also confirmed two people has been arrested, local media report.

Police said that the first person was arrested in a Northern Stockholm suburb and resembles the picture and description they issued earlier Friday, according to Reuters.

"We went public with information and a picture of a person that we were interested in. The person who is arrested resembles that description which means we have particular interest in him in regard to the ongoing investigation," regional police official Jan Evensson told a news conference.

Image result for Stockholm truck attack

A second male suspect was reportedly arrested in Stockholm’s northern suburb of Hjulsta, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported, citing police. He is said to be connected to the first suspect.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says that all details indicate the incident was a “terrorist attack.” 

A witness by the name of Dimitris told Aftonbladet that he saw at least two people run over by the vehicle.

Trump gains lead over Hillary in latest tracking poll

Washington: A week before the US presidential elections, Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken a slender lead of one percentage point against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for the first time since May in a major national tracking poll.

Trump has overtaken Clinton in the ABC News/ Washington Post tracking poll, according to which the Republican candidate has the support of 46 per cent of the likely voters as against 45 per cent by the former secretary of state. “Strong enthusiasm for Clinton has lost seven points since the start of tracking, especially Friday through Sunday. This is possibly an after-effect of the renewed controversy over her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Trump’s strong enthusiasm has held steady in tracking, which started October 20,” the poll said. According to the poll, Trump now leads Clinton by eight points in the share of voters who are very enthusiastic about their choice as of Friday.

Also Read: Hillary’s election would mire US government in crisis: Trump
But, compared to past elections it is low for both of them –- 53 per cent for Trump, 45 per cent for Clinton, it said. However, in RealClearPolitics average of polls Trump trails Clinton by 2.2 percentage points. RealClearPolitics tracks all major national polls. Till about two weeks ago, Clinton was leading Trump by more than eight points in this average of polls.

Trump in a tweet celebrated results of the latest poll. “Wow, now leading in @ABC/@washingtonpost Poll 46 to 45. Gone up 12 points in two weeks, mostly

before the Crooked Hillary blow-up!” he said.

Scotland seeks to break away from UK for a second time

London: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday said that she will be seeking the Scottish Parliament’s permission to hold a referendum on Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Sturgeon wants this referendum to be held between the second half of 2018 and first half of 2019 for Scotland to be able to have a say over its relationship with the European Union (EU) post-Brexit.

If it gets parliamentary approval, this will be the second such Scottish independence referendum after 2014, when the region had voted to remain a part of the UK. Scotland had rejected independence from the UK by 55% in the September 2014 vote.

“I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice. A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe,” Sturgeon said.

The First Minister said the second referendum had become necessary because of the UK government’s failure to fully take Scotland’s interests on board in the Brexit process. Scotland, in contrast to the rest of the UK, had voted to remain in the European Union in last June’s referendum.

Over 800 health workers killed in Syrian war crimes: Report

Paris, More than 800 health workers have died in “acts of war crimes” in Syria since 2011, in hospital bombings, shootings, torture and executions perpetrated mainly by government-backed forces, researchers said today.

The Syrian government and its ally, Russia, have turned the violent withholding of healthcare into a weapon of war, according to an analysis published in The Lancet medical journal.

This “weaponisation” of healthcare, it said, “has translated into hundreds of health workers killed, hundreds more incarcerated or tortured and hundreds of health facilities deliberately and systematically attacked.”

In the crosshairs, an estimated 15,000 doctors — about half the pre-war number — fled the country, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to basic care.

“The international community has left these violations of international humanitarian and human rights law largely unanswered,” the authors of the report said.

It was compiled by experts from universities in Beirut, Britain and the United States, as well as the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Multi-Aid Programs, an NGO.

The data they gathered showed that 782 health workers were killed from March 2011 to September last year.

Of the total, 247 (32 percent) were doctors, 176 (23 percent) nurses and 146 (19 percent) medics, according to Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit group.

The rest included pharmacists, medical students, ambulance workers and veterinarians who were added to the list because they were killed while treating people.

Shelling and bombing of hospitals and clinics accounted for 426 (55 percent) of deaths, the report said.

Shootings of medical professionals followed with 180 deaths (23 percent), torture with 101 (13 percent) and executions with 61 (eight percent).

Since September 2016, at least 32 more lost their lives, “which brings the total number of health workers killed in acts of war crimes over the six years of the conflict to 814,” the study said.

This was probably a gross underestimate, it added. The war in Syria has killed at least 320,000 people and
displaced millions in six years.

The evidence suggested that the Syrian government targeted medics as a strategy, and to an extent never before seen in war, the researchers said.

The majority of the attacks on health facilities, 94 percent, were the work of “the Syrian government and its allies, including Russia”.

“With the military surge that began in late September 2015, when Russia joined Syrian government forces, 2016 marked the worst year of the conflict to date in terms of attacks on medical facilities,” the study said.

WORLD IS holds terrified civilians as human shields in Syrian city

Beirut: Residents of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa live in terror, trapped as a massive human shield in the Islamic State’s de facto capital ahead of the final battle with US-backed opposition forces for the militant group’s last major urban stronghold. A belt of land mines and militant checkpoints circle the city. Inside, all the men have been ordered to wear the jihadis’ garb of baggy pants and long shirts — making it difficult to distinguish Islamic State militants from civilians.

Hundreds if not thousands of Syrians who fled from other parts of the country now live in tents in Raqqa’s streets, vulnerable to both warplanes and ground fighting. Enormous tarps have been stretched for blocks in the city center to hide the militants’ movements from spy planes and satellites. The estimated 300,000 people trapped inside live in terrifying uncertainty over how to find safety. Airstrikes by the US-led coalition shake the city almost daily, mainly hitting northern neighborhoods, amid reports of civilians killed by strikes in the nearby countryside.

Leaflets dropped by coalition warplanes give confusing directions — one suggests areas closer to the Euphrates River are safer, but then another warns that boats crossing the river will be struck. Mass panic erupted on Sunday, when IS announced on mosque loudspeakers that US strikes had hit a dam to the west of Raqqa. Residents were urged to flee imminent flooding, and thousands did.

The militants allowed them into IS-controlled countryside nearby, as long as they left their possessions behind, according to an activist who is in touch with people inside the city. Hours later, the militants announced it was a false alarm and urged everyone to return. “The people really don’t know where to go,” said the activist, saying residents were caught between airstrikes, land mines and IS fighters mingling among civilians.

Anti-IS Syria force launches new phase in Raqa campaign
To get a picture of Raqqa, The Associated Press talked to more than a dozen people with knowledge of the city, including residents who were still there or who had recently escaped, and activists with organizations that track events through contacts inside, as well as diplomats, the US military and aid groups.

Almost all spoke on condition they not be identified, fearing for their own lives or the lives of their contacts. Getting information is difficult. Militants constantly look for “spies.” One activist said two people had recently been put to death for suspected contact with the coalition. The only internet access is in a few approved cafes where patrons must give their names and addresses and endure spot checks by IS fighters, who burst in and order everyone to raise their hands so computer screens can be inspected. Raqqa, a provincial capital on the northern bank of the Euphrates, is the next major battle against the Islamic State group as Iraqi forces push to complete the recapture of northern Iraqi city of Mosul after nearly six months of fighting.

Malaysia to hold OIC meeting on Rohingya crisis

Islamabad: Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said he will end his self-exile if the armed forces provide him security.  The former military ruler’s counsel, Akhtar Shah, submitted an application in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in which he said, Musharraf will face the stalled trial related to the detention of judges when he was in power if he was given security by the Ministry of Defence.

Musharraf ready to challenge Sharif and Zardari politically
The former President had earlier requested the ATC to direct the authorities concerned to provide foolproof security for his appearance in court in the case.  The court had then ordered the Inspector General of Police and interior secretary to make arrangements for the provision of security to the former general to ensure his presence in court.  He has now specifically asked for security from the Defence Ministry. Shah told the court that his client did not trust the Interior Ministry, which had filed a complaint of high treason against him.

Musharraf has sought exemption from personal appearance till arrangements were made.  In the application, Shah has said the petitioner intends to appear before the court if provided adequate security. Given the situation in the country, the counsel said, security threats were more serious now.

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