World News

May 24 (UPI) — China is within striking distance of North Korea‘s nuclear-tipped missiles, a North Korean lecturer told a group of state officials about a week after the test of the midrange missile Hwasong-12. The statement is an unusual expression of overt hostility from Pyongyang toward its most important economic partner. Multiple sources in North Korea’s Yanggang Province told Radio Free Asia the statement was made on Saturday during a lecture, before an audience of state “subcontractors,” at the meeting room of the Yanggang Provincial Party Committee. “The recently developed and successfully launched new missile Hwasong-12 could definitely be equipped with nuclear weapons and hit all targets in China,” one of RFA’s sources said, quoting a statement from the lecturer at the meeting. Other sources said the meeting takes place on a quarterly basis, and state officials from “the center” travel to the provinces to deliver lectures on “trends” affecting North Korea’s neighbors. The …

May 24 (UPI) — A South Korean diplomat caught molesting a teenage girl in Chile was indicted for sexual assault in his hometown. The former mid-level diplomat identified by his surname Park was first caught on video in December, making unwanted sexual advances on a local minor. Park was also accused of forcing a hug on a 12-year-old Chilean girl and sending her lewd text messages in September 2016, the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office said Wednesday. The incident prompted the young victim to report the incident, and a local television station launched an undercover reporting project, using another girl to catch the diplomat engaging in misconduct. After he was filmed, Park allegedly begged the television crew to not air the video, which was broadcasted in Chile. Park was described as a “national disgrace” at home and was summoned back to Seoul after the incident. A month before he was caught on camera, Park allegedly fondled …

May 24 (UPI) — Four mountaineers were found dead within their tent at Mount Everest’s highest camp, expedition officials said, bring this year’s death toll on the mountain to 10. Mingma Sherpa, managing director of the expedition company Seven Summit Treks, said Sherpa climbers seeking the remains of Slovakian mountaineer Vladimir Strba, who died Sunday on the 29,029-foot tall mountain, found the bodies of four unidentified climbers, the Himalayan Times reported. Strba, and the four newly discovered climbers, died at Camp IV, the highest-altitude encampment on the mountain at about 26,000 feet. The four were identified by the Sherpas only as two Nepalis and two foreigners. The area around Camp IV is called “The Death Zone” because of its low level of oxygen. The Sherpa rescuers suggested the four discovered the tent may have died of suffocation. One of the four was a woman, the Himalayan Times noted. The spring climbing season on Mount Everest, …

May 24 (UPI) — Brazilian President Michel Temer dropped his attempt to suspend a Supreme Federal Court, or STF, investigation into corruption and obstruction of justice, his lawyers said. Though the STF was going to debate whether to accept Temer’s request to suspend the investigation, his lawyers said they want the inquiry to move forward to have Temer’s name cleared from wrongdoing. The case against Temer initiated after Jornal O Globo last week reported it obtained recordings of a conversation between Temer and a food company business leader, who recorded the discussion secretly, in which Temer purportedly endorsed the executive’s hush money payments to silence jailed politician Eduardo Cuhna as a potential witness in a corruption investigation. Temer’s lawyers argue the recording is inadmissible because it has been heavily edited, and thus an investigation would be fraudulent. “We want this investigation to be concluded as soon as possible,” Temer attorney Gustavo Guedes said Tuesday. “The …

May 24 (UPI) — Taiwan’s highest court ruled Wednesday that current civil law prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The Council of Grand Justices gave the Taiwanese parliament, known as the Legislative Yuan, two years to amend Article 972 of the country’s civil code, or write a new law, reflecting that agreements to marry can be undertaken by two people of the same sex. The court’s decision effectively legalizes same-sex marriage, taking Taiwan one step closer to becoming Asia’s first country to recognize same-sex marriage. “Our target is to complete this whole process within this year,” Taiwanese same-sex activist Wayne Lin told CNN. Legislation to redraft the law stalled in the Taiwanese parliament prior to the ruling, but President Tsai Ing-wen expressed support for same-sex marriage during her 2016 presidential campaign. LGBT communities elsewhere in Asia face persecution. South Korea’s military has cracked down on gay people within its ranks, and while some cities in Japan …

May 24 (UPI) — Moody’s Investors Service reduced China’s sovereign credit rating on Wednesday, citing the country’s rising debt and slowing economy. The international bond credit rating service downgraded China’s credit rating one degree, from Aa3 to A1, and changed its outlook, a one-word term describing Moody’s expectations, from “stable” to “negative.” The demotion indicates the bond rating firm regards China’s capacity to meet financial commitments is “strong,” as opposed to “very strong.” China now has the same credit rating as Japan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. It was the first time since 1989 that Moody’s lowered its expectations regarding China. A Moody’s statement said the downgrade reflected its “expectation that China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows. While ongoing progress on reforms is likely to transform the economy and financial system over time, it is not likely to prevent a further material …

May 24 (UPI) — At least 21 people died when a bus plunged into an 820-foot gorge in Uttarakhand state, India, government officials said. The accident occurred Tuesday night in Dharasu when the driver lost control of the bus, which fell into the gorge, said Trivendra Rawat, the state’s chief minister. Seven people were injured. They were returning from Gangotri, a Hindu pilgrim town on the Bhagirathi River. Uttarakhand state is a popular religious destination, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. “A tire of the vehicle separated from the rim due to which the driver lost control over the bus and it fell into the gorge,” said Ram Singh Meena, director general of Uttarakhand police. Darkness hampered rescue operations. “Teams have spotted the bus but are unable to climb down the hillside,” he said. In April, at least 44 people died when a bus skidded off a road and fell 820 feet into …

May 24 (UPI) — At least 21 people died Tuesday night when a bus plunged into an 820-foot gorge in Uttarakhand state, India, government officials said. The accident occurred in Dharasu when the driver lost control of the bus, which fell into the gorge, said Trivendra Rawat, the state’s chief minister. Seven people were injured. They were returning from Gangotri, a Hindu pilgrim town on the Bhagirathi River. Uttarakhand state is a popular religious destination, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. “A tire of the vehicle separated from the rim due to which the driver lost control over the bus and it fell into the gorge,” said Ram Singh Meena, director general of Uttarakhand police (ADG). Darkness hampered rescue operations. “Teams have spotted the bus but are unable to climb down the hillside,” he said. In April, At least 44 people died when a bus skidded off a road and fell 820 feet …

May 23 (UPI) — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia will be the first African to lead the World Health Organization following his election Tuesday as director-general of the United Nations agency. Tedros, 58, pledged to respond “rapidly and effectively” to emergencies and to stand up for the rights of the poor. “I envision a world in which everyone can lead healthy and productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live,” he said in his vision statement. Tedros replaces Margaret Chan, who was criticized for the WHO’s slow response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Her 10-year term ends on June 30. He received 133 of the votes cast by the health ministers of 186 countries. He ultimately beat out David Nabarro of Britain after three voting rounds. Tedros is credited for a drastic reduction in deaths from malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and neonatal problems when he was Ethiopia’s health minister from 2005-12. …

May 23 (UPI) — The United States is supplying Vietnam with six Metal Shark patrol boats, a week ahead of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Vietnamese prime minister. U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius officially handed over the 45-foot patrol boats that could be used in the country’s maritime law enforcement, search and humanitarian assistance operations, according to the U.S. embassy in Hanoi. “Vietnam’s future prosperity depends upon a stable and peaceful maritime environment. The United States and the rest of the international community also benefit from regional stability, which is why we are here today, and it is why we are very pleased to be working together with the Vietnam Coast Guard,” Osius said Tuesday. The two countries have worked together on building maritime security capabilities since 2011, and both countries have criticized China’s island-building activities in the South China Sea. The White House said in 2016 Washington has provided …

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