US Envoy Condemns North Korea’s Missile Launch, Calls For Diplomacy

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 17, 2022 shows the test-fire of a new-type tactical guided weapon at an undisclosed location in North Korea.  STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea must return to a “diplomatic path”, the top US envoy for the country said Monday, following Pyongyang’s blitz of missile launches and growing signs it is resuming nuclear testing.

North Korea has carried out more than a dozen weapons tests so far this year, the latest one over the weekend — a short-range test that state media claimed would enhance the “efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes”.

US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim arrived in Seoul for a five-day visit Monday and met his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk.

After talks, the two envoys jointly condemned “recent escalatory actions” by Pyongyang, including what they said were “at least three” launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

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“We agreed on the need for a strong response to the destabilising behaviour we have been from the DPRK,” Kim told reporters, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.

“We also discussed how to respond to future DPRK actions, including a possible nuclear test,” he added.

Kim reiterated that the United States has offered to meet Pyongyang “anywhere without any preconditions”, saying that Washington has not “closed the door on diplomacy”.

“I once again call on Pyongyang to pursue a diplomatic path with us,” Kim said. “I want to make clear that we have no hostile intent towards the DPRK.”

Pyongyang has so far rebuffed offers of talks, blaming Washington’s hostile policies.

Kim’s visit comes as Seoul and Washington kicked off a nine-day annual joint military drill. Such exercises have always infuriated Pyongyang, which calls them a rehearsal for war.

The allies regularly stage military exercises, but they have been scaled back in recent years as outgoing President Moon Jae-in made efforts to facilitate nuclear talks with North Korea.

“This training is a defensive command post-training using computer simulation, and there is no real military manoeuvre training,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday.

North Korea had paused long-range and nuclear tests while leader Kim Jong Un met then-US President Donald Trump for a bout of doomed diplomacy, which collapsed in 2019. Talks have since stalled.

But last month Pyongyang test-fired an ICBM at the full range for the first time since 2017.

Recent signs of new activity at North Korea’s key nuclear testing site have also raised concerns over the possible resumption of nuclear testing.

South Korean officials have said Pyongyang could stage a military parade or carry out a weapons test on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

AFP

Russia Set For First ISS Launch Since Accident

In this file photo taken on November 12, 2016 a Soyuz rocket installed as a monument in Baikonur near the well-known Russian-leased cosmodrome. A Russian Soyuz rocket with a cargo vessel will blast off late on November 16, 2018 in the first launch to the International Space Station since a manned accident last month. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

A Russian Soyuz rocket with a cargo vessel is to blast off on Friday in the first launch to the International Space Station (ISS) since a manned accident last month. 

“The mission control centre has completed the work set out for the launch of the Progress MS-10 cargo vessel. The takeoff of the Soyuz-FG rocket is set for 1814 GMT,” Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement.

The launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is seen as a rehearsal for the next manned voyage, planned for December 3.

That flight is to carry Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and NASA’s Anne McClain to the ISS.

Russia, the only country able to ferry astronauts to the space station, suspended all launches after a Soyuz rocket failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off.

It was the first such incident in the history of post-Soviet space travel.

During the aborted launch, Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague made an emergency landing and escaped unharmed.

NASA had planned a launch of its own supply vessel on Thursday but it was delayed until the weekend because of poor weather.

The Progress MS-10 takes around 48 hours to reach the ISS, bringing with it fuel, oxygen, water and scientific materials.

A commission to probe the October 11 accident reported that the flight was aborted because a sensor part had been damaged during assembly.

AFP

China Launches Hong Kong-Mainland Mega Bridge

China’s President Xi Jinping launched the world’s longest sea bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China on October 23 at a time when Beijing is tightening its grip on its semi-autonomous territories. Photo: Fred DUFOUR / AFP

 

The world’s longest sea bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China will be launched on Tuesday at a time when Beijing seeks to tighten its grip on its semi-autonomous territories.

President Xi Jinping is expected to officiate at an opening ceremony in the mainland city of Zhuhai Tuesday morning, but details of the event have been kept secret.

The 55-kilometer (34-mile) crossing, which includes a snaking road bridge and underwater tunnel, links Hong Kong’s Lantau island to Zhuhai and the gambling enclave of Macau, across the waters of the Pearl River Estuary.

It is the second major infrastructure project tying Hong Kong to mainland China to launch in a matter of weeks, after the opening of a high-speed rail link last month.

Critics say the multi-billion-dollar bridge is one more way to integrate Hong Kong into China as fears grow that the city’s cherished freedoms are being eroded.

The mega-bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday, a day after the ceremony.

Building began in 2009 and has been dogged by delays, budget overruns, corruption prosecutions and the deaths of construction workers.

The launch ceremony was hastily announced last week by mainland authorities with Hong Kong lawmakers and transport companies complaining they had been left in the dark.

Supporters of the project promote it as an engineering marvel that will also boost business and cut travel time, while others see it as a politically driven and costly white elephant.

The main bridge section is considered mainland territory and Hong Kong cars and drivers traveling over it “must comply with the laws and regulations of the mainland”, according to the city’s transport department.

Hong Kong residents will only be granted a license to cross into Zhuhai by car if they meet highly selective criteria, including holding certain mainland government positions or making major contributions to charities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

Most people will need to travel the bridge on coaches and buses.

Online commenters in Hong Kong complained about the bridge’s restricted access ahead of the launch.

“Such a huge investment using the Hong Kong taxpayer’s money… yet basically it is not open to us at all,” said one comment on the South China Morning Post website.

Some Hong Kong media reported that the physical condition of drivers would be monitored by cameras, including an alert sent if a driver yawns more than three times in 20 seconds.

The opening of the high-speed rail link also sparked criticism as it saw Chinese security stationed on Hong Kong soil for the first time at the city’s terminus.

Critics accused the Hong Kong government of giving away territory to an increasingly assertive Beijing.

AFP

Microsoft’s Xbox Music due for October 26th

The Xbox music service owned by Microsoft is said to be rolling out its service which is Spotify-like come October ending and according Microsoft it will also be launching its Windows 8 at the same period.

A streaming music service which is aided by internet is to be live October 26th and will be available on a subscription or free ad-supported basis.

Xbox Music will not be restricted to the Xbox 360 and will also be accessible from Windows Phone 8 devices and on Microsoft’s new operating system. It is also planned to be brought over to other platforms including iOS and Android, but apps for these devices will not be available at launch.

Earlier price leaks suggest that a monthly subscription to the service will cost £8.99 with an annual pass selling for £89. At launch, Xbox Music is expected to have library of more than 30 million tracks.

Xbox Music was debuted at this year’s E3 alongside Xbox Video and SmartGlass. It is part of Microsft’s wider ambition to allow people to have a continuous digital experience across multiple platforms. The service will have Skydrive support, Microsoft’s cloud solution to let people access content across multiple devices.

The Xbox 360 has seen an increasing focus towards general media outside of games with support for film and video. One of Microsoft’s previous efforts in the music space, its Zune mp3 player, was discontinued in October 2011 so the company could focus more time and resource on Windows Phone.

Urban Royal magazine launched in Lagos

Talents in South-South Nigeria will now be promoted better with more confidence as a new platform for the promotion of talents emanating from that region with the launch of an entertainment Magazine Urban Royal was launched in Lagos.

The Magazine will focus on Entertainment, Lifestyle, Culture, Arts in the South-South.