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U.S. VP Kamala Harris travels to Korea’s DMZ after North’s latest missile tests – National

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US Vice President Kamala Harris ends her four-day trip to Asia with a stop at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone dividing the Korean Peninsula as she seeks to demonstrate US commitment to the security of its Asian allies.

Thursday’s visit comes on its heels North Korea recent missile launches and amid fears it may conduct a nuclear test. Visiting the DMZ has become something of a ritual for American leaders hoping to show their resolve to stand up to the aggression.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday while Harris was in Japan and had fired one before leaving Washington on Sunday. The launches contribute to a record level of missile testing this year.

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North Korea fires an unidentified ballistic missile ahead of US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit

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Harris traveled to Seoul after three days in Tokyo, where she denounced North Korea’s “illegal weapons program” during a speech about an American destroyer at a naval base. She was in Tokyo to attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said recent missile tests would not deter Harris from the DMZ and that she wanted to demonstrate America’s “rock-solid commitment” to regional security.

“As you know, North Korea has done this type of testing in the past,” Jean-Pierre said, calling it “not uncommon.”

Before stopping at the DMZ, Harris was scheduled to meet with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May. Despite the close alliance between the United States and South Korea, the relationship has recently been characterized by tension.

A new law signed into law by President Joe Biden bars electric cars built outside of North America from being eligible for US government subsidies and undermines the competitiveness of automakers like Seoul-based Hyundai.


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US authorities fear North Korea could conduct nuclear tests during Biden’s Asia trip


US authorities fear North Korea could conduct nuclear tests during Biden’s Asia trip – May 19, 2022

South Koreans have reacted with a sense of betrayal, and Harris acknowledged the dispute during a call with the country’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo in Tokyo on Tuesday.

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“They promised to continue to consult while the law is being implemented,” the White House said of the meeting.

More tensions regarding gender issues could arise during Harris’ visit to South Korea. Harris, the first woman to serve as US vice president, planned to hold a roundtable with women leaders on gender equality issues. Yoon has been criticized for the lack of representation of women in his government.

As in Japan, however, regional security issues are likely to dominate the final day of Harris’ trip.

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South Korea and the US begin joint military exercises in the face of North Korea’s backlash

A North Korean nuclear test could take place after China holds its Communist Party convention on Oct. 16, but before the United States holds its midterm elections on Nov. 8, according to South Korean lawmakers who attended a behind-closed-door national intelligence briefing.

The agency reiterated its earlier assessment, shared by US intelligence, that North Korea had restored an underground tunnel at its nuclear test facility as part of its preparations.

North Korea has used Russia’s war against Ukraine to speed up its arms development. It has tested dozens of weapons, including its first long-range missiles since 2017, exploiting a rift in the UN Security Council, where Moscow and Beijing have blocked Washington’s attempts to tighten sanctions on Pyongyang.

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Missile tests have been punctuated by repeated threats of nuclear conflict. Pyongyang’s sanctioned parliament also authorized the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in a variety of scenarios where its leadership is threatened.

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North Korea rejects Seoul’s ‘stupid’ offer to trade economic aid for denuclearization

South Korea and the United States this year resumed large-scale combined military exercises that had been scaled down or suspended under President Donald Trump in support of his ultimately fruitless nuclear diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Senior US and South Korean officials met in Washington this month to discuss improving allies’ deterrence strategies, but some experts said the meeting yielded nothing new and revealed a lack of ideas for dealing with the North’s evolving threat .

Some South Koreans have expressed interest in the deployment of US tactical nuclear weapons after their withdrawal from South Korea in the 1990s, and even in the country pursuing its own nuclear weapons program.

Yoon said during a news conference in August his government has no plans to pursue its own deterrence, urging North Korea to return to nuclear diplomacy, which imploded in 2019 over disagreements over swapping crippling US-led sanctions on the North and the North’s disarmament moves north.

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Associated Press writers Tong-hyung Kim and Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report.

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Ukraine remembers a famine under Stalin, and points to parallels with Putin : Centre County Report

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Visitors to the National Museum of the Holodomor Genocide look at a book listing some of the names of the 4 million or more Ukrainians who died in the 1932-33 famine. In the background is a photo of one of the victims of that time.

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Kyiv, Ukraine — As bells rang at a centuries-old monastery, Ukrainians stepped out into a cold, misty night to light candles in memory of the devastating famine of 1932-33.

This annual commemoration was particularly poignant this year as it marks 90 years since famine ravaged Ukraine. Many here say that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin tried to destroy Ukraine back then, and that the current Kremlin leader, Russian President Vladimir Putin, is now trying to do the same.

They call it Holodomor, which means “death by starvation.”

In the National Museum of the Holodomor Genocide, a visitor, Roman Vashchenko, 44, spoke in somber tones of old and new ailments. At first he remembered stories his grandmother had told him.

“She was one of 10 children. They were not allowed to leave their village. So they didn’t know what was happening elsewhere,” he said. “But they had a cow and that’s why they survived because they had milk.”

Then he spoke of pains that are much younger.

“In March, the Russians shot my sister and her husband,” he said quietly. Her sons aged 12 and 6 survived.

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union when Stalin confiscated private farms and turned them into state farms. It was an absolute disaster in this fertile agricultural region known as the “breadbasket of the Soviet Union”.

Other agricultural regions, including Kazakhstan, also suffered from famine. But no place has been hit as hard as Ukraine.

Estimated 4 million Ukrainians died within two years, although no exact figures exist and some historians say the toll may have been significantly higher.

A Ukrainian man with the national flag places a candle on a statue outside the National Museum of the Holodomor Genocide in Kyiv on Saturday. Ukrainians marked 90 years since the devastating famine.

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Ukraine is calling it a genocide, and nearly 20 other countries now agree — but not Russia.

Draw parallels between Stalin and Putin

One country that shares Ukraine’s position is Poland, and its Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited Kyiv this weekend.

“If we allow Putin to continue, he will become the Stalin of the 21st century,” Morawiecki said.

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj also made the connection between then and now.

“We see what is happening in the world today, what is happening in Ukraine. They want to destroy us again with bombs, bullets, cold and hunger,” said Zelenskyy.

There are no official figures, but most estimates put tens of thousands of Ukrainian deaths, among soldiers and civilians, since Russia’s February invasion.

Nearly 8 million Ukrainians fled the country. While some have returned, it remains the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Millions more Ukrainians have fled their homes in the east and south of the country, the scene of the heaviest fighting, and fled to other parts of the country.

Zelenskyy marked the anniversary of the famine by hosting an international conference on food security entitled “Cereals from Ukraine” on Saturday.

Many European leaders attended either in person or virtually. A total of 20 countries have pledged $150 million to ship Ukraine’s agricultural exports.

Russia prevented Ukraine from using its main export channel via the Black Sea during the first months of the war. Ukrainian wheat and other products are now flowing, albeit at lower levels than normal. Basic food prices remain high on international markets, putting a particular strain on the budgets of developing countries in Africa and Asia.

“We are not only sending Ukrainian food to the countries that are suffering the most from the food crisis. We reaffirm that hunger must never again be used as a weapon,” said Zelenskyy.

Two boys fill a sack with potatoes hidden during the devastating famine in Ukraine in the 1930s.

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Two boys fill a sack with potatoes hidden during the devastating famine in Ukraine in the 1930s.

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documentation of the famine

In the Holodomor Museum there are books as thick as encyclopedias, some more than 1,000 pages. They are filled with the names of those who died in the famine. Visitors browse through them, often looking for relatives they never knew.

Many say they heard first-hand accounts of the famine from surviving grandparents or great-grandparents.

“People tried to live off grass and roots. My great-grandfather was a miner and they got 100 grams of bread every day. They survived thanks to this bread,” said Iryna Kopalova, a 37-year-old engineer.

Last spring, Kopalova said as fighting approached her village outside of Kyiv, her 6-year-old daughter understood that the Russians were the enemy.

“When she heard the first explosions, she asked me: ‘Mother, should I speak Russian now?’ But we just fled our homeland, we didn’t wait for the Russians to arrive,” Kopalova said.

This famine and today’s war speak for a country that has endured so much misery.

It explains why the national anthem begins with the words: “Ukraine has not yet fallen.”

As Centre County Report was about to leave the museum, Roman Vashchenko, the man who lost his sister and brother-in-law earlier this spring, came over to share more about the couple’s two orphaned children.

12-year-old Tymofiy kept a diary during the war. When his parents were killed, he didn’t believe it at first and hoped that maybe they were still alive. Eventually he accepted the loss, writing, “Dreams don’t come true.”

Greg Myre is an Centre County Report national security correspondent currently based in Ukraine. follow him @gregmyre1.

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First Use of UK Blackout Prevention Scheme Cancelled Thanks to French Power ShoCentre County Reportage

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UK Blackout Prevention Scheme, French Electricity ShoCentre County Reportage, EU Energy Crisis, UK Power Grid

UK Blackout Prevention Scheme, French Electricity ShoCentre County Reportage, EU Energy Crisis, UK Power Grid

Western sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine have caused gas prices to surge tenfold from levels in late 2020, sparking a pan-European energy crisis that threatens to cripple industry and leave citizens shivering in the dark.

The UK electricity grid will not introduce a new system to avoid this power outages for the first time this week as Europe’s energy crisis deepens.
The operator of the electricity network of the National Grid (ESO) had previously announced that the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), which has already gone through two initial test runs, will be activated on Tuesday evening.

But that was canceled after energy producers in neighboring France said they were struggling to meet domestic demand.

DFS offers households who have signed up for the program a cash bonus for reducing their consumption during early evening peak periods – by not using high-wattage appliances such as ovens, electric heaters, dishwashers and tumble dryers.

The scheme to avoid overloads and unscheduled power outageswas developed in the face of the Europe-wide energy crisis caused by sanctions and embargoes on Russian gas, oil and coal impoCentre County Reports – in which the UK led the way.

The UK normally impoCentre County Reports electricity from the French grid during periods of excess electricity. But more than half of France’s nuclear power plants, which generate three-quaCentre County Reporters of the country’s electricity, are currently shut down, reducing baseload capacity.

These shutdowns are also thanks to sanctions against Russia, which have blocked impoCentre County Reports of specialty steel grades needed for repairs.

Energy billing company Octopus, one of several that offers feed-in tariffs to homes with solar panels installed if they generate excess energy during the day, is the largest such company to have registered with DFS.

It says its customers helped reduce demand by more than 100 megawatts during the first two tests.

Almost half of Britain’s electricity is generated by natural power stations fueled by natural gas, the market price of which has increased tenfold over the past two years. Gas is also burned to provide central heating and hot water in most UK homes.

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Ukraine first lady attends London meeting on sexual violence

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LONDON –

Russian soldiers must be held accountable for the rape of Ukrainian women and other acts of sexual violence during the Russian war in Ukraine, the country’s first lady Olensa Zelenska told an international conference on preventing sexual violence in conflict on Monday.

Zelenska told the London summit that sexual violence is being carried out “systematically and openly” as the war in Ukraine drags on. Phone records showed Russian soldiers at home openly discussing rape with their relatives, Zelenska said.

“Sexual violence is the most cruel, animalistic way of showing dominance over someone. And victims of this kind of violence, in times of war, it’s difficult to testify because nobody feels safe,” she said.

“This is another instrument they use as their weapon. This is another weapon in their arsenal in this war and conflict. That’s why they use this systematically and openly,” she added.

Zelenska then visited Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official residence at 10 Downing Street. She was greeted by Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, and the two women decorated the Christmas tree outside the residence in front of assembled photographers.

Zelenska is expected to address British lawmakers on Tuesday as part of her visit to the UK.

Sunak visited the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv earlier this month, where he continued to offer British support to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

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