Report: South Korean Pop Star Sulli Found Dead at Home

News reports say South Korean pop star and actress Sulli has been found dead at her home south of Seoul.
A report by Yonhap news agency said the 25-year-old was found Monday afternoon. The report said police have said there were no signs of foul play at her home in Seongnam.
Repeated calls to the Seongnam Sujeong Police Department and Sulli’s agency weren’t answered.
Sulli’s legal name is Choi Jin-ri. She debuted in 2009 as a member of the girl band “f(x)” and also acted in numerous television dramas and movies.

Spain at Odds With US on Venezuela’s Former Spy Chief

For weeks, Spain has rejected repeated U.S. requests for the extradition of former Venezuelan spy chief Hugo Carvajal, wanted in the United States on drug trafficking and narco-terrorism charges.

Now, the reasons for Madrid’s refusal are emerging: he is cooperating in Spain’s efforts to mediate Venezuela’s drawn out political crisis.  Spanish court documents say Carvajal was operating under “directions and orders from the Presidency of Venezuela,” and analysts say Spain’s protection of him may be influenced by his importance as an intelligence asset to the Spanish Foreign Intelligence Service, CNI.

The weight of the charges levied by the United States is hefty. The indictment, sent to Voice of America by the Department of Justice, alleges that Carvajal “worked with terrorists and other drug traffickers to dispatch thousands of kilograms of cocaine” to the United States. U.S. Justice department officials say that to accomplish this, he worked with the leadership of the militant Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, during his near decade-long tenure as head of Venezuela’s powerful military counterintelligence service, DGCIM.
Carvajal and his alleged shady dealings have long been on the U.S. radar.  In 2008, the United States Department of the Treasury accused Carvajal of assisting the FARC in protecting Colombia’s Arauca Department, a region known as a center of cocaine production, and providing the FARC with official Venezuelan government identification.
 FARC used profits from its drug trafficking networks to fund its decades-long insurgency against the Colombian government. The United States designated the FARC as a terrorist group in 1997. 
The Department of Justice further alleged that Carvajal was a member of the Cartel De Los Soles. According to the indictment, the cartel is a group of high-ranking Venuezelan officials who not only cooperate with the drug traffickers, but also provide heavily armed security, military grade weapons, and intelligence to protect some of these drug shipments.

FILE – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, right, speaks next to retired General Hugo Carvajal as they attend the Socialist party congress in Caracas, July 27, 2014.

After serving under the Nicolas Maduro and Hugo Chavez Venezuelan governments for nearly two decades, Carvajal defected in February. In a direct rebuke to Maduro, he filmed a video expressing support for Juan Guaido as interim president before fleeing the country in dramatic fashion.

Carvajal secured a boat for a night trip to the Dominican Republic, evading the Venezuelan military before boarding a direct flight to Madrid. According to testimony, Spanish intelligence agents escorted Carvajal from the plane and into a four wheel drive vehicle, bypassing immigration and customs inspections. The escort ended at a luxury apartment, rented by his son, where Carvajal resided until his arrest on an Interpol warrant some weeks later.
Carvajal’s VIP treatment by Spanish intelligence officials indicates that he is benefiting from his previous cooperation with the Spanish government, say analysts. Court records do not specify how long Carvajal has been in service to the CNI, but his relationship precedes his arrival in Spain. The records show that he collaborated in botched uprisings and negotiations to try and ease current Venezuelan president Maduro out of power.  
The Spanish continue to see Carvajal as valuable despite his break with the Maduro government. As a member of the Cartel de los Soles, Carvajal was privy to highly sensitive information on the Venezuelan government’s involvement with drug trafficking. Carvajal claims to have specific information on the group’s money laundering operations, including those of the group’s top officials. What he knows could prove important, as the US Department of Justice believes officials as high in the government as Vice President Tareck El Aissami are involved.

Carvajal’s claim on information, however, may be just that. It is unclear how involved he was with the group’s activities after his tenure as intelligence chief ended, and the information could be too dated to prove useful.
Carvajal has escaped U.S. warrants before. In 2011, the Netherlands refused to turn over Carvajal to American authorities after apprehending him in Aruba. The Netherlands freed Carvajal after accepting Venezuela’s claim that the general enjoyed diplomatic immunity as their consul-general appointee for the island.
Spain, and the European Union, appear ready to again frustrate any further U.S. efforts to extradite Carvajal. The Spanish government maintains a strong interest in its former colony, with 200,000 dual nationals residing there. Madrid is in the lead role for the EU in mediating the current crisis in Venezuela, and these efforts are taking precedence over U.S. efforts to prosecute former members of the Maduro government.


Spain Hands Catalans Lngthy Prison Terms Over Secession Bid

Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday sentenced 12 prominent former Catalan politicians and activists to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a 2017 bid to take the wealthy region out of Spain and create a new European country.

The landmark ruling, after a four-month trial, inflamed independence supporters in the northeastern region bordering France where Catalan identity is a passionate issue.

Nine of the Catalans on trial in association with their efforts to achieve independence received between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition. Four of them were additionally convicted for misuse of public funds, and three more were fined for disobedience. The Spanish Constitution says the country can’t be divided.

Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he hoped the sentence would mark a watershed in the long standoff between national authorities in Madrid and separatists in the Catalan capital Barcelona. Sánchez said the court’s verdict proved the 2017 secession attempt had become “a shipwreck.”

He urged people to “set aside extremist positions” and “embark on a new phase” for Catalonia.

Authorities will respond firmly to any attempt to break the law, Sánchez said in a live television address, as thousands of people joined protest marches in the Catalan capital Barcelona shortly after the court’s verdict. Some protesters held banners saying, “Free political prisoners.”

Grassroots pro-secession groups previously had warned that guilty verdicts would bring what they called “peaceful civil disobedience.” Spanish authorities deployed hundreds of extra police to the region in anticipation of the ruling.

“Today, they have violated all their rights. It is horrible that Europe doesn’t act,” 60-year-old civil servant Beni Saball said at a Barcelona street protest, referring to those convicted.

But retired 73-year-old bank clerk Jordi Casares said he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

“It is fair because they went outside the law,” he said, walking out of his home on a Barcelona street. “I hope that after a few days of tumult by the separatists the situation can improve.”

Catalan regional president Quim Torra described the verdict as “an act of vengeance.”

“The Spanish state’s refusal to launch a dialogue and seek a democratic solution to the political conflict will not stop us from acting on our determination to build an independent state for our nation,” Torra said in a speech in Barcelona.

In their ruling, the seven Supreme Court judges wrote that what the Catalan leaders presented as a legitimate exercise of the right to decide was in fact “bait” to mobilize citizens and place pressure on the Spanish government to grant a referendum on independence.

Although prosecutors had requested convictions for the more severe crime of rebellion, which under Spanish law implies the use of violence to subvert the constitutional order, judges convicted nine defendants of sedition, implying that they promoted public disorder to subvert the law.

Ex-Catalan regional Vice President Oriol Junqueras was sentenced to 13 years for sedition.

He and three other former Cabinet members — Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull and Dolors Bassa, who were sentenced to 12 years — were also convicted for misuse of public funds.

The former regional parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, was given 11 ½ years in prison; ex-Cabinet members Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull 10 ½ years each; and grassroots pro-independence activists Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart got nine years.

Three other former members of the Catalan Cabinet — Santiago Vila, Meritxell Borràs y Carles Mundó — were fined for disobedience.

All of them were barred from holding public office.

The trial featured over 500 witnesses, including former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and 50 nationally televised hearings.

At the center of the prosecutors’ case was the Oct. 1, 2017 independence referendum that the Catalan government held even though the country’s highest court had disallowed it.

The “Yes” vote won, but because it was an illegal ballot most voters didn’t turn out and the vote count was considered of dubious value. The Catalan Parliament, however, unilaterally declared independence three weeks later, triggering Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

Seven separatist leaders allegedly involved in the events, including ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, fled the country and are regarded by Spain as fugitives.

The separatist effort fell flat when it won no international recognition. The Spanish government stepped in and fired the Catalan regional government, with prosecutors later bringing charges.

Defense lawyers argued that the leaders of the secessionist movement were carrying out the will of roughly half of the 7.5 million residents of Catalonia who, opinion polls indicate, would like the region to be a separate country.

The Catalan leaders — jailed for nearly two years while their case was heard — have grown into powerful symbols for the separatists. Many sympathizers wear yellow ribbons pinned to their clothes as a sign of protest.

The verdict will almost certainly become another rallying point for the separatist cause, which is going through its most difficult period in years with its most charismatic leaders behind bars or abroad.

The Catalan separatist movement’s two main political parties disagree on the next moves, and the grassroots organizations that have driven the movement are starting to criticize the lack of political progress.

The verdict also came less than a month before Spain holds a general election on Nov. 10 to choose a new government, and the political handling of the Catalan independence question will undoubtedly be one of the top issues.

У Києві священники вшанували пам’ять загиблих оборонців України

Сьогодні, 14 жовтня, у день Покрови Богородиці та День захисників України, священники Православної церкви України (ПЦУ) провели літургію біля Стіни пам’яті на мурі Михайлівського золотоверхого монастиря у пам’ять загиблих оборонців України.

Разом із священиками у службі взяли участь родини загиблих бійців та ветерани АТО (ООС).

Як повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода, у Михайлівському соборі відбулась урочиста служба з нагоди свята Покрови, за участю архієреїв ПЦУ: як поінформував Радіо Свобода керівник Синодального управління військового духовенства митрополит Іоанн, сьогодні «Служби Божі за Небесне покровительство українським воїнам» відбуваються у багатьох містах України, а також у зоні проведення ООС. Священники також проводять літургії у пам’ять загиблих бійців.


День захисника України відзначають як державне свято з 2015 року. Кілька акцій приурочених до сьогоднішнього дня мають відбутися сьогодні в Києві та інших містах України.


ВВС змінює написання української столиці з Kiev на Kyiv

Британська телерадіомовна корпорація ВВС змінює написання української столиці з Kiev на Kyiv. Про це повідомляє BBC News Україна.

«Через те, що «Kyiv» (а не «Kiev») зараз широко використовується провідними міжнародними організаціями та урядовими агенціями, значною частиною міжнародної авіаційної індустрії, а також англомовними медіа, ми вирішили перейти на це написання назви столиці України», – мовиться у повідомленні.

Правило починає діяти з 14 жовтня 2019 року, проте кілька місяців триватиме перехідний період, протягом якого у текстах журналісти можуть вживати наступне формулювання: «Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev» (Kyiv, раніше відомий як Kiev).

На початку жовтня 2018 року Міністерство закордонних справ України розпочало онлайн-кампанію #CorrectUA, в рамках якої звертається до іноземних ЗМІ й іноземних аеропортів із метою коригування правопису міста Київ латинкою (#KyivNotKiev). Чимало європейських столиць і міст вже підтримали цю ініціативу.

Під час перебування України в складі СРСР в англомовних засобах інформації закріпилася транслітерація назви української столиці у спосіб, який відповідав російській вимові, тобто Kiev. Українська влада наполягає, що нині правильно передавати назву близько до вимови, властивої українській мові, тобто Kyiv.

Biles Dazzles on Floor to Win Record 25th World Championship Medal

American Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history on Sunday when she won the beam and floor finals to take her career tally to 25 medals.

Soon after securing a convincing victory on the beam in Stuttgart to overtake Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo’s record tally of 23 world medals, the 22-year-old Biles successfully defended her floor title to win medal number 25.

The four-time Olympic champion is now the owner of 19 gold medals across four championships against 12 for Scherbo, who competed in five world events between 1991 and 1996.

Making her final appearance of the week in front of a raucous crowd, Biles wasted no time as she landed a superb triple-twisting double back flip — known as the Biles II – on her first pass.

Biles’s double layout with a half turn — another skill named after her — put her out of bounds for a 0.1 penalty but she did enough to post a winning score of 15.133.

“Honestly, I just couldn’t move. I was so tired,” Biles said of her final pose on the stage.

“This is really the best worlds performance I have ever put out.”

The Americans took a one-two finish as Sunisa Lee finished with 14.133 for the silver medal, while Russian Angelina Melnikova came third.


Earlier, Biles delivered a polished routine on the beam before a full twisting double tuck dismount for an impressive 15.066.

Although Biles had twice before won the world beam title, in 2014 and 2015, it has not always been plain sailing for her on the apparatus.

Her slip on the landing of a front tucked somersault at the 2016 Rio Olympics meant she had to settle for a bronze in the event. Last year again, she dropped off the beam during the women’s all-around final at the world championships.

But she has regained her swagger this week, under the watchful eyes of balance beam coach Cecile Landi, and posted top scores in all four attempts — qualifying, the team and all-around finals and Sunday’s apparatus final.

“It meant a lot because Cecile has really been working on bringing my confidence back up to where it used to be on the beam,” Biles said.

“To go out there and nail the routine, just like I do in practice, it felt really good and I knew she was really proud.”

As another title-winning score was announced in the arena, Biles punched the air in jubilation before joining celebrations with the U.S. team.

“I was really excited,” she added. “I thought it was going to be at least 14.8, 14.9, but to see 15, I was like well that’s pretty crazy, so I was very proud.”

Last year’s winner Liu Tingting of China took silver with 14.433, while team mate Li Shijia won the bronze.

Biles finished her campaign in Stuttgart with five gold medals from six events to mark ideal preparations for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Her barnstorming run included a record fifth all-around gold, an individual vault title, as well as helping the U.S. to a fifth straight world team title.


Teen’s Parents Fly to US Hoping to Meet Driver Who killed Him

Parents of the British teen killed when his motorcycle collided with car allegedly driven by an American diplomat’s wife are on their way to the U.S. hoping to seek justice.

Harry Dunn, 19, died in August in near the Croughton Royal Air Force base in Northhamptonshire, which is used by the U.S. Air Force as a communications center.

Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told the BBC the family hopes to meet with the suspected driver, identified by British police and Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Anne Sacoolas, wife of an American intelligence officer based at Croughton.

Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the United States while the case was still being investigated. She has since written a letter of apology to Dunn’s family.

But Charles said Sunday, “It’s nearly seven weeks now since we lost our boy, sorry just doesn’t cut it.

“That’s not really quite enough,” she told Sky News. “But I’m still really open to meeting her, as are the rest of us. I can’t promise what I would or wouldn’t say, but I certainly wouldn’t be aggressive.”

Charles also said the family was thankful to receive a letter Saturday from the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that said since Sacoolas had left Britain, “immunity is no longer pertinent”.

The family is hoping Sacoolas will return to Britain.  They have even called on U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene on their behalf.

But Trump told a news conference Wednesday that Sacoolas would not return. Harry Dunn’s death was a “terrible accident,” the president said but he noted that driving on the worn side of the road “happens”.



California Becomes First US State to Ban Fur Products

California has become the first U.S. state to ban all production and sale of animal fur products.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill that will make it illegal to make, sell and even donate any new item made using animal fur starting in 2023.

The bill excludes used items, taxidemy products, fur taken with a hunting license and fur used by Native American tribes for religious purposes.

Violators of the ban will face fines of up to $500, or even $1,000 for repeat offenses.

“The signing of AB44 underscores the point that today’s consumers simply don’t want wild animals to suffer extreme pain and fear for the sake of fashion,” Kitty Block, the head of the Humane Society of the United States said in a statement.

But the Fur Information Council of America condemned the ban as being part of a “radical vegan agenda” and has threatened a court challenge.

Along with the fur ban, Newsom also approved a ban on the use of most animals in circuses. Exceptions will be made for dogs and horses.

“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare, and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said in a statement. “But we are doing more than that. We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames.”

Єрмак залучається в специфічних, часто критичних для президента моментах – Пристайко

Міністр закордонних справ розповів в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода, яким є розподіл функції між ним та радником президента Андрієм Єрмаком

Зеленський закликав 14 жовтня «не створювати картинку для російського телебачення»

Президент України Володимир Зеленський закликав правоохоронців поважати мирний протест і гарантувати його безпеку під час анонсованих на 14 жовтня акцій. Про це він написав на своїй фейсбук-сторінці.

Окрім того, він звернувся і до учасників акцій, аби ті не піддавались на провокації тих, «хто дуже хоче створити красномовну картинку для російського телебачення».

«14 жовтня у столиці буде багато ветеранів і добровольців. Розумію ваш острах щодо подальшого врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі. Ви цілком справедливо не хочете, щоб те, за що ви воювали, виявилося марним. І не допустите, щоб пам’ять про загиблих бойових побратимів і посестер було зраджено. Обіцяю вам як президент України і верховний головнокомандувач Збройних сил, що і я ніколи цього не допущу», – зазначив президент.

Раніше в МВС повідомили, що 14 жовтня в День захисника України по всій країні заплановано близько 300 масових заходів, зокрема в Києві ветерани та добровольці подали заявки на п’ять акцій.

14 жовтня відзначають День захисника України.

У жовтні 2014 року його своїм указом запровадив тодішній президент Петро Порошенко. Одночасно був скасований указ про запровадження в Україні Дня захисника Вітчизни, який відзначали 23 лютого. Із 2015 року День захисника України визначили державним святом.

Дату обрали невипадково – 14 жовтня відзначається День українського козацтва, Покрова Пресвятої Богородиці й річниця створення Української повстанської армії.