N Korean prisoner returns
A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned for more than two years in North Korea on Saturday arrived back home. Hyeon Soo Lim was serving a life sentence of hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state activities, but was released last week on what the North Korean government described as sick bail. Lim, a 62-year-old South Korean-born Canadian citizen, was convicted and sentenced in 2015 for allegedly trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping US and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.
Pence heads to Colombia
Vice President Mike Pence is to visit Colombia amid escalating tensions with neighboring Venezuela. Pence was set to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday at the start of his week-long trip. He is to also visit Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Panama City, Panama, where he is expected to deliver a number of speeches, meet with the nations’ leaders and tour the newly expanded Panama Canal. In Colombia, Pence is also expected to highlight trade, business investment and other ties between the nations. The US is also likely to be looking for assurances that Colombia is taking surging coca production seriously, which has been blamed partially on Santos’ decision in 2015 to stop using crop-destroying herbicides.
PRI to allow outsider to run
President Enrique Pena Nieto on Saturday endorsed a change to the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) rules that allows outsiders to run for president. Gathering for their national assembly ahead of next year’s election, party members voted to relax requirements for presidential candidates, jettisoning a rule that nominees must be party members with at least 10 years’ standing. The change opens the door to the candidacy of Minister of Finance Jose Antonio Meade, a soft-spoken technocrat who has served in various Cabinet posts under both the PRI and the conservative National Action Party.
Inventor in custody for killing
A Danish judge on Saturday remanded into temporary custody a Danish inventor accused of manslaughter over a missing Swedish journalist, who was on board a submarine he built which sank. “My client denies the allegations,” said Betina Engmark, lawyer for 46-year-old inventor Peter Madsen, adding that he was “hurt” to be suspected of involvement in her death. He was ordered to be held in custody for 24 hours, which could be renewed. Reports named the Swedish journalist as Kim Wall, who was writing a feature story about the inventor. Madsen had wanted to launch himself into the space race before building his submarine the Nautilus, the biggest privately made sub when he made it in 2008.
Monsoon rains kill 49
Torrential rain yesterday battered the nation, causing widespread flooding and landslides and raising the death toll from three days of severe weather to 49 people, officials said. The toll could go higher as 30 people were reported missing and another 17 were injured. Army and police personnel continued search and rescue operations, with more than 34,000 houses submerged, an official added. The Red Cross estimated that 100,000 people were affected by the disaster, with one official describing how the storm had cut off communication and electricity, adding to the challenges in rescuing people and distributing aid supplies.
BEIJING BAILOUT: Pyongyang’s economic woes would not lead to famine because China will not let that happen due to its fear of a pro-US unified Korea, experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Kim had previously said his nation faces its “worst-ever” situation due to several factors — including the COVID-19 pandemic, US-led sanctions and natural disasters in the summer last year — but it is the first time he has publicly drawn a parallel with the deadly famine. North Korea monitoring groups have not detected any signs of mass starvation or a humanitarian disaster, but Kim’s comments still suggest how seriously he views
SUBMERGED 6,500M: The 115m-long ship was sunk on Oct. 25, 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as the US fought to recover the Philippines from Japanese occupation A US Navy destroyer sunk during World War II and lying nearly 6,500m below sea level off the coast of the Philippines has been reached in the world’s deepest shipwreck dive, a US exploration team said. A crewed submersible filmed, photographed and surveyed the wreckage of the USS Johnston off the coast of Samar Island during two eight-hour dives completed late last month, Texas-based undersea technology company Caladan Oceanic said. The 115m-long ship was sunk on Oct. 25, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf as US forces fought to recover the Philippines, then a US colony, from Japanese occupation. Its location in
‘VOSTOK 1’: The first flight attempt is planned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first space flight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin NASA’s Ingenuity mini-helicopter has survived its first night alone on the frigid surface of Mars, the US space agency said, hailing it as “a major milestone” for the tiny craft as it prepares for its first flight. The ultra-light aircraft was dropped on the surface on Saturday after detaching from the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on Feb. 18. Detached from the Perseverance, Ingenuity had to rely on its own solar-powered battery to run a vital heater to protect its unshielded electrical components from freezing and cracking during the bitter Martian night, where temperatures can plunge as low as
LOSING CONTROL? Fitch Solutions said that a revolution pitting the military against the anti-coup movement and ethnic militias was likely due to the rising violence Burmese security forces yesterday arrested Paing Takhon, a model and actor who had spoken out against a military coup, his sister told reporters, as people placed shoes filled with flowers in parts of Yangon to commemorate dead protesters. Troops on Wednesday opened fire on protesters, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, protesters and media said. Nearly 600 civilians have been killed by security forces since the junta in February seized power from the elected government of Aung San Su Kyi, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said on Wednesday. The advocacy group said that 2,847 were being held in detention. A spokesman