U.S. aircraft carrier joins South Korea drills

North Korea warns the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.-South Korean drills. With the USS Carl Vinson ploughing through seas off South Korea, rival North Korea has warned the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during US-South Korean drills. F-18 fighter jets took off from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered carrier in a dramatic display of US firepower amid rising tension with the North, which has alarmed its neighbours with two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since last year. “While this is a routine deployment for the Carl Vinson strike group, really the centrepiece for us… is this exercise we’re doing with the ROK navy called ‘Foal Eagle’,” Rear Admiral James W. Kilby, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 1, said, referring to South Korea as the Republic of Korea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey’s president : ‘Nazism is alive in the West’

Turkey said it does nott want the Netherlands ambassador to return “for some time” as relations quickly deteriorated between the NATO allies after the Dutch government barred Turkey’s foreign minister from flying to the country. In response to the Netherlands’ withdrawing landing permission, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Dutch government of acting like “fascists” and “Nazi remnants”. Turkish authorities blocked the Dutch embassy and consulate as the dispute between the two countries over Turkey’s political campaigning in Europe intensified. Turkey also closed off the residences of the Dutch ambassador, charge d’affaires, and consul general.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sniper wars of Mosul

As an outnumbered and outgunned Islamic State mounts a fierce defence of their last stronghold in Iraq, snipers have been one of their most effective weapons. At times they can pin down advancing Iraqi forces for days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Korean president Park Geun-hye impeached

Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has now left the presidential palace, two days after judges upheld parliament’s decision to impeach her. Ms Park arrived at her home in southern Seoul amid waving supporters. She has been impeached over her role in a corruption scandal involving close friend, Choi Soon-sil. Ms Park said in a statement: “Although it will take time, I believe the truth will certainly come out.” She also apologised to her supporters for “failing to fulfil my duty as president”. Ms Park has now lost her immunity and could face criminal proceedings over accusations she allowed Ms Choi to extort money from companies in return for political favours.
Park Geun-hye was ferried to her private residence in Seoul in a black limousine, chased by a posse of journalists on motorbikes. When she arrived, she waved to cheering supporters, smiling broadly, and shook hands with political allies. She may yet face prosecution and a trial in an ordinary criminal court. Her demise has split the country, with her increasingly vocal supporters saying she is a victim of a political decision. Her demeanour outside her new residence was upbeat and full of smiles. It was not the demeanour of a disgraced, regretful politician.

 

 

 

 

 

Drought-hit Somalia : People are dying. The world must act

The UN chief has urged international support to alleviate Somalia’s worsening hunger crisis during an emergency visit to the country. Antonio Guterres issued the appeal on Tuesday after witnessing the suffering of malnourished Somalis and cholera victims during his first field trip since becoming the UN chief. He said the hunger crisis requires a massive response as six million people, or almost half of the population of the Horn of Africa country, need assistance. “Every single person we have seen is a personal story of tremendous suffering. There is no way to describe it,” Guterres said after seeing skeletal men, women and children in a cholera ward in Baidoa, 243km northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The long road to Raqqa

The Raqqa offensive (codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates), is an ongoing military operation launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Raqqa Governorate, with the goal of isolating and eventually capturing the Islamic State’s capital city, Raqqa. Another one of the main goals is to capture the Tabqa Dam and the nearby city of Al-Thawrah. The offensive has also been dubbed the Battle to End All Battles in the War on ISIL. The offensive is concurrent with the Turkish anti-ISIL Battle of al-Bab, the Battle of Mosul in Iraq, the Battle of Sirte (2016) in Libya, the Palmyra offensive (December 2016) launched by ISIL, and a reignition of fighting in Deir ez-Zor’s siege.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civilians caught in Mosul crossfire

Thousands of Mosul residents flee the raging battle, often under fire from Islamic State militants, as Iraqi forces fight to retake the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Korea’s secretive missile program

North Korea is believed to have more than 1,000 missiles of varying capabilities, including long-range missiles, which could one day strike the US. Pyongyang’s programme has progressed over the last few decades from tactical artillery rockets in the 1960s and 70s, to short­-range and medium-range ballistic missiles in the 1980s and 90s. Systems capable of even greater ranges are now understood to be under research and development.

Missile ranges

Short range: 1,000km or less

Medium range: 1,000-3,000km

Intermediate range: 3,000-5,500 km

Intercontinental range: Greater than 5,500km

Source: Federation of American Scientists

Short-range missiles

North Korea’s modern missile programme began with Scuds, with its first batch reportedly coming via Egypt in 1976.

By 1984, it was building its own versions called Hwasongs.

It is believed to have a variety of these short-range missiles which could target neighbouring South Korea. Relations between the two Koreas are fraught and they remain, technically, in a state of war. The Hwasong-5 and Hwasong-6, also known as Scud-B and C, have ranges of 300km and 500km respectively, according to the US Center for Nonproliferation Studies. These missiles can deliver conventional warheads, but may also have biological, chemical and nuclear capabilities. Both these missiles have been tested and deployed, and the Hwasong-6 has also been sold to Iran.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles

North Korea is believed to be developing its longest-range missile, a road-mobile weapon which observers have dubbed the KN-08 or Hwasong-13. One of the first signs of this development was in September 2016, when the country tested a new rocket engine which some said could power an intercontinental ballistic missile. The US Pentagon believes North Korea has at least six KN-08s in its possession, which could be capable of reaching much of the United States. North Korea is believed to have also developed an upgraded version called KN-14. Neither missile has been publicly tested before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massive damage at California dam

Aerial photos reveal massive damage at the Oroville Dam site in California as outflow is stopped to allow for cleanup. The true extent of the damage to the crumbling Oroville Dam spillway was revealed this week as authorities shut off the water flow and exposed the gaping hole left by the erosion. Authorities this week started the huge clean-up process, with tons of rubble needing to be removed from the bottom of the spillway in order to get the Hyatt hydro-electric power plant back in operation. Up to a million cubic yards of debris from the crumbling, concrete chute that takes water down from the top of the dam will need to be removed by barges and excavators over the next seven days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting to survive hunger in Somalia

 A week after his inauguration, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared a state of disaster in his drought-stricken country of Somalia, where the lives of 6.2 million people are now at risk. Even as the ongoing war against al-Shabab continues and African Union forces (AMISOM) fight to assist the fragile government, the looming famine has become a priority. The drought will be a trial for all those involved in Somalia’s struggles. It will test the international community’s response, the government’s ability to assist, and the strength of security provided by the African Union forces.
In the far north of Somalia, three years with little rain has had increasingly disastrous effects for a population reliant on the land. The parched earth has failed to produce food for the camels and goats that the people depend on for their income, meat, and milk for their children. Local leaders in Puntland estimate the pastoralists have already lost 65 percent of their animals. While the men accompany the remaining livestock in the hunt for grazing land, the women and children are migrating towards towns on main roads in search of alternative sources of food. Displaced people have been setting up tents along the roads in hope of receiving aid from passing vehicles. It’s there the women, children, and elderly wait for assistance in the heat and dust. In the coming months, if the word famine is used to describe the crisis in Somalia, it will mean that help never came.