WPH

Russia, China taking space into dangerous territory, US says

Washington — Russia and China are edging ever closer to unleashing space-based weapons, a decision that could have far-reaching implications for America’s ability to defend itself, U.S. military and intelligence agencies warn. Adding to the concern, they say, is what appears to be a growing willingness by both countries to set aside long-running suspicions and animosity in order to gain an edge over the United States. …

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Trump’s VP pick Vance is pro-Israel, anti-China and creating anxiety in Europe

washington — Senator J.D. Vance, former President Donald Trump’s newly announced running mate, will take center stage Wednesday evening at the Republican National Convention, focusing on the day’s theme, “Make America Strong Again.” Vance, 39, a former venture capitalist, has less than two years in public office and little foreign policy background. His recent comments mostly align with Trump’s “America First” doctrine and have revealed a …

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Netherlands marks 10th anniversary of downing of MH17 airliner

Amsterdam — The Netherlands commemorated on Wednesday the 298 victims of flight MH17 with a ceremony attended by the bereaved and representatives from Malaysia, Australia, Britain, Belgium and Ukraine. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, as fighting raged between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces, the precursor of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. …

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Six killed in China mall fire, people trapped inside 

Beijing — Firefighters in China pulled six bodies from a shopping centre on Wednesday, state media reported, with an unknown number still trapped after a blaze broke out in a 14-storey building. Footage broadcast by state broadcaster CCTV and shared on social media showed thick black smoke billowing out of the tower, located in Zigong in southwestern Sichuan province. The blaze started in the early evening …

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Learning center helps prepare young refugees for resettlement

Indonesia has become a temporary home for thousands of refugees from Asia and Africa. Dave Grunebaum reports from Cisarua, Indonesia, on a program that is helping some of them prepare for the lives that lie ahead of them. (Camera: Dave Grunebaum) …

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US military: Islamic State attacks on track to double in Iraq, Syria compared to last year

Baghdad — The U.S. Central Command said Wednesday that the Islamic State group is trying “to reconstitute” as the number of attacks in Syria and Iraq is on track to double this year, compared to the year before. IS claimed 153 attacks in the two countries in the first six months of 2024, CENTCOM said in a statement. According to a U.S. defense official, who spoke …

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Reporter says newspaper fired her over role at Hong Kong Journalists Association

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Interpol operation nabs 300 in global crackdown on West African crime groups across 5 continents 

DAKAR — In a global operation targeting West African organized crime groups across five continents, police arrested 300 people, seized $3 million and blocked 720 bank accounts, Interpol said Tuesday.  Operation Jackal III, which ran from 10 April to 3 July in 21 countries, aimed to fight online financial fraud and the West African syndicates behind it, the agency said in a statement.  “The volume of …

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UK’s new government announces legislation for ‘national renewal’ as Parliament opens with royal pomp 

London — Britain’s new Labour Party government promised to calm the country’s febrile politics and ease its cost-of-living crisis as it set out its plans for “national renewal” at the grand State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday. Stabilizing the U.K.’s public finances and spurring economic growth were at the center of Prime Minister Keir Starmer ‘s legislative agenda, announced in a speech delivered by King Charles …

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China says nuclear arms talks with US halted over Taiwan weapons sales 

Beijing — China said Wednesday it had suspended negotiations with the United States on nuclear non-proliferation and arms control in response to Washington’s weapons sales to Taiwan. The U.S. and China in November held rare talks on nuclear arms control, part of a bid to ease mistrust ahead of a summit between leader Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. Further dialogue had not been publicly announced since, …

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NATO’s new office in Jordan signals alliance’s growing focus on Mideast

Amman, Jordan — NATO’s decision to open its first liaison office in Jordan – the first in the Middle East – reflects the alliance’s growing concerns about Iran and Russia’s increased influence in the region.  The decision to open the office in the Jordanian capital, Amman, came during the recent NATO summit in Washington marking the 75th anniversary of the military alliance. Ryan Bohl, a senior …

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UK union fails to win recognition at Amazon site after losing ballot, Amazon says

LONDON — The GMB union has failed to secure the right to formally represent workers at an Amazon warehouse in Coventry, central England, Amazon said on Wednesday. The ballot result on union recognition is a blow for the U.K. trade union movement as victory in the ballot would have forced the U.S. e-commerce giant to negotiate labor terms with a U.K. union for the first time. …

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Paris mayor takes pre-Olympics dip to prove Seine clean

Paris — The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, swam in the murky waters of the Seine on Wednesday to demonstrate the river is now clean enough for outdoor Olympic swimming events. Wearing goggles and a wet suit, the 65-year-old city leader swam breaststroke before immersing her face and beginning a front crawl, covering around 100 meters up and downstream. She was joined by senior local officials …

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Russia’s ‘window to the west’ turns to tourists from the East

Saint Petersburg, Russia — Alexandra Kulikova used to come across plenty of different European languages on the streets of Saint Petersburg, the iconic city founded by Peter the Great as Russia’s “window to the West”. “You could hear English, French or Italian being spoken everywhere… and we were always full,” Kulikova, the co-owner of a chain of apartment rentals in the city, told AFP. But the …

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European experts expect economic measures, military personnel changes from China’s Third Plenary Session

Vienna — European experts watching China’s Third Plenum say this week’s high-level meetings are unlikely to touch on political reform but will likely introduce several measures to reverse the nation’s economic downturn. “Any measures to be announced on China’s key economic problems will be moderate and gradual, like Chinese medicine, as opposed to a shock therapy,” said Alicia Garcia-Herrero, a senior researcher at the Belgian think …

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Indonesian volunteers teach young refugees

Cisarua, Indonesia — In a middle school level class, students are learning about planetary science from the gases of Jupiter to the exosphere on Mercury. That might seem no different than lessons at many schools around the world, but this session is happening at a learning center for refugees in Indonesia. Paying close attention is Afnaan Guleid, a 13-year-old whose family fled from Somalia to the …

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Japan-Germany security cooperation troubles North Korea, China

washington — North Korea and China are watching for possible regional impacts from Japan’s recent enhanced security cooperation with Germany. This weekend, Japan will hold joint drills with Germany around the Chitose Air Base in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. Spain is slated to join them there, while France will join Japan next week for drills over Hyakuri Air Base in Ibaraki Prefecture bordering the Pacific …

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Exiled Chinese businessman convicted in US fraud case

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Iran’s Islamist rulers silent on attempted assassination of Trump

WASHINGTON — Iran’s Islamist rulers have made no public comment on the attempted assassination of former U.S. President Donald Trump in the three days since the shooting attack on the man whom they have long seen as their nemesis and targeted with threats of vengeance since he left office.  The only references in Iranian state media to Saturday’s attack on Trump have been articles citing details …

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Iran open to resuming nuclear accord talks, acting foreign minister says

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Tehran remains open to resuming negotiations with Washington on restoring their participation in a nuclear agreement, Iran’s acting foreign minister told Newsweek magazine in an interview published on Tuesday. Ali Bagheri Kani’s remarks come as he prepares to address the United Nations Security Council in New York. The United States under President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018 from the nuclear …

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Forced labor in North Korea cited as possible crime against humanity

geneva — A report by the United Nations human rights office Tuesday accuses the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of widespread forced labor, which in some instances “may constitute a crime against humanity of enslavement” under international criminal law. “The testimonies in this report give a shocking and distressing insight into the suffering inflicted through forced labor upon people, both in its scale and in …

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Spain confirms body found is missing UK teen’s

MADRID — Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday that a body found in a remote area of the island of Tenerife a day earlier was that of a missing British teenager and that the injuries sustained were compatible with an accidental fall. “We have a positive ID,” a court spokesperson said. “Fingerprinting confirms that the body belongs to Jay Slater, and the death was due to multiple …

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Six found dead in Bangkok hotel in suspected poisoning 

BANGKOK — Police in Thailand say the bodies of six people were found Tuesday in a luxury hotel in downtown Bangkok and poisoning is suspected.  Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said in a short statement that the dead were reported to be two Vietnamese Americans and four Vietnamese nationals. They were not identified further.  The Thai newspaper Matichon showed photos of police at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel …

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Nobel laureates call on Belarus’ leader to release all political prisoners

Tallinn, Estonia — Dozens of Nobel Prize laureates are calling in an open letter on Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to free all political prisoners, after 18 seriously ill activists were released this month. The Belarusian human rights group Viasna counts almost 1,400 political prisoners, including its Nobel Peace Prize-winning founder Ales Bialiatski. Many of Belarus’ most prominent opposition figures are behind bars while others fled …

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