Japan missile deal approved
Washington on Friday approved Tokyo’s request to buy 400 Tomahawk missiles, part of Japan’s bid to bolster defenses despite fresh dialogue with China. The Department of State said it was approving the US$2.35 billion sale that includes two types of the Tomahawk missiles, which have a 1,600km range. The State Department said the sale was aimed at “improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific region.” The sale “will improve Japan’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a long-range, conventional surface-to-surface missile with significant standoff range that can neutralize growing threats,” it said in a statement.
Diddy Combs settles suit
Hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and his ex-girlfriend R&B vocalist Cassandra Ventura on Friday settled her lawsuit that accused the rapper of serial physical abuse, sexual slavery and rape, lawyers for Ventura said. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. In a joint written statement with Combs, Ventura said that she “decided to resolve this matter amicably on terms that I have some level of control.” Ventura, who performs under the stage name Cassie, filed the lawsuit on Thursday in a New York federal court, accusing Combs of forcing her to engage in sex acts with a succession of male prostitutes he hired while he watched and filmed. The lawsuit also accused Combs of regularly beating Ventura over the course of a 10-year professional and romantic relationship, and that he raped her in 2018.
Marcos meets with Xi
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Friday met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco, seeking ways to come up with ways to reduce tensions in the South China Sea and restore Filipino fishers’ access to fishing grounds. The Philippines and China need to continue to communicate, with the meeting a key part of the process to maintain peace, and keep open sea lanes and airways over the South China Sea, Marcos told reporters. “We tried to come up with mechanisms to lower the tensions in the South China Sea,” he said, without elaborating. Marcos said he voiced concern over incidents between Chinese and Philippine vessels, including one collision. He said he also raised the plight of Filipino fishermen. “I asked that we go back to the situation where both Chinese and Filipino fishermen were fishing together in these waters,” he said.
‘First Dog’ nips president
After Commander, US President Joe Biden’s biting German shepherd, Moldova’s presidential pooch Codrut is in the spotlight after nipping President Alexander Van der Bellen during a visit this week. Codrut, who was adopted by Moldovan President Maia Sandu a few months ago, snapped at Van der Bellen when he tried to pet her on Thursday. Van der Bellen, 79, sustained a light injury he dismissed as not “half as bad” as it appeared in video footage. He wrote on social media on Friday that he could “understand” the dog’s excitement as “he was nervous because of all the people around him.” Codrut has not been officially reprimanded, and was even given a dog toy by Van der Bellen as a parting gift.
Apps and Web sites that use artificial intelligence (AI) to undress women in photos are soaring in popularity, researchers said. In September alone, 24 million people visited undressing Web sites, the social network analysis company Graphika said. Many of these undressing, or “nudify,” services use popular social networks for marketing, Graphika said. For instance, since the beginning of this year, the number of links advertising undressing apps increased more than 2,400 percent on social media, including on X and Reddit, the researchers said. The services use AI to recreate an image so that the person is nude. Many of the services only
IN ABSOLUTE CONTROL: About 80 percent of Russians approve of Putin, a survey shows, but that might be misleading due to his intolerance to criticism Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday moved to prolong his repressive and unyielding grip on Russia for at least another six years, announcing his candidacy in the presidential election in March that he is all but certain to win. Putin still commands wide support after nearly a quarter-century in power, despite starting an immensely costly war in Ukraine that has taken thousands of his people’s lives, provoked repeated attacks inside Russia — including one on the Kremlin itself — and corroded its aura of invincibility. A short-lived rebellion in June by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin raised widespread speculation that Putin could be
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign