News ID: 93841
Publish Date : 31 August 2021 - 21:43

SEOUL1 (Reuters) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with young people who had “volunteered” to work in “difficult and challenging” sectors and praised them, the country’s state media reported on Tuesday. Calling them admirable heroes, Kim lauded the young people for volunteering to work at the most difficult and challenging posts and said he fully supports them, KCNA said. The report did not further elaborate on their roles. In May, state media said that orphans, conscripted soldiers, and students - some who appeared in photos to be children - are volunteering to perform manual labor in North Korea, including in coal mines, farms, and large construction projects. “It is the best pride, asset and motive power for the development for a Party making revolution to have its reliable successors, reserves and promising main force,” Kim said according to the KCNA, referring to the ruling Workers’ Party.

LONDON (Reuters) -- Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion group, which is demanding urgent action by governments and business to limit climate change and biodiversity loss, staged a sit-down protest that stopped traffic from using Tower Bridge in London. A Reuters photographer saw around 200 protesters taking part in the demonstration at the north end of the bridge while groups of police officers tried to prevent others from joining. Extinction Rebellion is targeting the City of London financial district - located close to Tower Bridge - in a two-week series of protests. The group accuses the finance industry of funding climate change. Police later said the bridge had been reopened and 11 people had been arrested in relation to protests by the group on Monday, taking the total number of arrests since the start of the demonstrations on Aug. 22 to 367.

BANGKOK (Reuters) -- Thai lawmakers began a censure debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and five cabinet ministers on Tuesday, as opponents threatened to intensify street protests fueled by frustration at his government’s handling of a COVID-19 crisis. Prayuth has weathered two previous censure motions and is widely expected to survive a no confidence vote scheduled for Saturday, owing to his coalition’s clear parliamentary majority of 270 seats verses the opposition’s 212. But the motion is unlikely to temper the anger of youth-led anti-government groups, which organized major rallies late last year that led to repeated standoffs and hundreds of arrests. Protests have returned this year with renewed support from Thais frustrated by lockdowns, record COVID-19 deaths and a troubled vaccine rollout, who have threatened nationwide demonstrations while the opposition grills Prayuth in parliament. They accuse the former army chief and five of his cabinet ministers, including deputy prime minister and health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, of corruption, economic mismanagement and of bungling the government’s coronavirus response.

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan’s health minister said on Tuesday it was highly likely that foreign matter found in Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccines in the southern prefecture of Okinawa were caused when needles were stuck into the vials. Some Moderna shots were temporarily halted in Okinawa on Sunday after foreign materials were discovered in vials and syringes. The health ministry said later needles may have been incorrectly inserted into vials, breaking off bits of the rubber stopper. Japan is facing its biggest wave of COVID-19 infections so far during the pandemic, driven by the highly transmissable Delta variant. The contamination cases come on the heels of a government report on Saturday that two people died after receiving Moderna shots that were among lots later suspended. Japan earlier halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses, shipped to 863 vaccination centers nationwide after Takeda Pharmaceutical, which distributes the Moderna vaccine in Japan, received reports of contaminants in some vials.

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -- A Guatemalan judge on Monday ordered two high-ranking ex-generals to stand trial on genocide charges from four decades ago, as the Central American country grapples with past massacres of mostly indigenous people during a brutal civil war. In his ruling, Judge Miguel Angel Galvez authorized the trial on accusations the two former generals - Manuel Benedicto Lucas and Manuel Antonio Callejas - committed genocide, crimes against humanity and forced kidnapping from 1978 to 1982 in a case where more than 1,700 people were killed over 31 separate massacres. The killings took place in the country’s northern Quiche region, home to many indigenous Maya. Lucas was the third-ranking army officer at the time of the alleged crimes, as well as brother of then-President Romeo Lucas, while Callejas was in charge of national intelligence. In June, Judge Galvez separately charged six other ex-military members for their alleged participation in the death and forced disappearance of at least 183 civilians during the 36-year civil war. read more The war, which ended with peace agreements in 1996, is believed to have cost more than 200,000 lives and another 45,000 disappeared persons.

ALMATY (Reuters) -- Kazakh Defense Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev resigned on Tuesday, the office of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said, days after a fire and a series of blasts at an arms depot killed 15 soldiers and firefighters. Dozens of people were wounded by the blasts which forced the authorities to evacuate nearby settlements in Kazakhstan’s southern Zhambyl province on Aug. 26. The cause of the fire remains unclear. The fire and blasts provoked a public outcry, especially because the explosives at the base in question had been relocated there from a facility in the town of Arys after a similar incident there in 2019 which killed four people.

* Comment: