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An estimated 60,000 children face potential starvation in North Korea, where international sanctions are exacerbating the situation by slowing aid deliveries, according to UNICEF - the United Nations Children’s Fund. World powers have imposed growing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Last week the United States announced fresh sanctions on nine entities, 16 people and six North Korean ships it accused of helping the weapons programs. Under United Nations Security Council resolutions, humanitarian supplies or operations are exempt from sanctions. Sanctions on fuel have been tightened, making it more scarce and expensive to fuel charity vehicles to deliver the supplies. In all, 200 thousand North Korean children suffer from acute malnutrition, including 60,000 with the most severe form that can be lethal, according to UNICEF. The agency said is seeking $16.5 million this year to provide nutrition, health, and water to North Koreans but faces “operational challenges” due to the tense political context and “unintended consequences” of sanctions. It cited “disruptions to banking channels, delays in clearing relief items at entry ports, difficulty securing suppliers and a 160 percent increase in fuel prices”.
The Syrian government’s chemical weapons stockpile has been linked for the first time - by laboratory tests - to the largest sarin nerve agent attack of the civil war, according to statements from diplomats and scientists speaking with Reuters. The tests found “markers” in samples taken at Ghouta, and at the sites of two other nerve agent attacks, to chemicals handed over by Damascus for destruction in 2014. The test results will likely support claims by the United States, Britain, and other Western powers that government forces under President Bashar al-Assad still possess and use the banned munitions in violation of several Security Council resolutions and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the Trump administration made a “hostile step” when it published a list of Russian businessmen and politicians as part of a sanctions law against Moscow. The Trump administration late Monday released a list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 "oligarchs" who have benefited from Putin's rule, angering Moscow. The production of the "Putin list" fulfilled Congress' demand to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Trump administration stopped short of imposing new sanctions against the politicians and business tycoons it named and said the report was not "a sanctions list." The goal of the seven-page unclassified document reportedly was to "name and shame" people flourishing under Putin. Russia hawks in Congress had pushed the administration to include certain names, while Russian businessmen hired lobbyists to keep them off. In the end, the list included the whole of Putin’s administration, as listed by the Kremlin on its website, plus the Russian cabinet, all top law enforcement officials and chief executives of the main state-controlled companies. But President Putin also joked on Tuesday that he felt “slighted” that his name wasn’t there.
Pope Francis is sending the Catholic Church’s top sexual abuse investigator to Chile to look into accusations a bishop covered up crimes against minors, just days after the pope defended him. A Vatican statement on Tuesday said new information had emerged about Bishop Juan Barros and that the investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, would go to “listen to those who want to submit information in their possession”. The statement, which gave no further details, was a U-turn for the pope, who on Jan. 21 told reporters aboard his plane returning from Latin America he was sure Barros was innocent and that the Vatican had received no concrete evidence against him. Controversy over Barros, bishop of the city of Osorno in Chile’s south, dominated Francis’ recent trip, with critics accusing the pope of not understanding the depth of the crisis in the South American country. A number of men have accused Barros of protecting his former mentor, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing them and others when they were boys.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Russia will try to meddle in this fall's midterm elections in its ongoing effort to influence politics in the U.S. and other Western nations. "I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that," Pompeo said in a BBC interview that aired Tuesday. "But I am confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election." Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by associates of President Trump. Pompeo also warned that the U.S. and other countries should step up efforts to push back against China's efforts to "covertly influence the world."
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a secret memo that alleges misconduct by senior FBI officials involved in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The move came despite a Justice Department warning that releasing the memo would be "extraordinarily reckless." The document reportedly includes confidential information and accuses officials at the FBI of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on President Trump's former campaign associate Carter Page. Democrats say the memo is misleading and amounts to a dangerous attempt to undercut the Russia investigation. Trump now has five days to review the memo and decide whether to block its release.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to form a new company focused on improving health-care options for their U.S. workers. The three companies said they would use their scale and joint expertise to help reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction in health plans, using an independent company that will be "free from profit-making incentives and constraints." The companies said they hope to use a fresh approach to solve longstanding problems. "The ballooning costs of health-care, act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. "Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a criminal investigation Tuesday into claims that former doctor Larry Nassar abused some of his victims at the Karolyi Ranch, a Texas facility that was the training ground for U.S. women’s gymnastics. Abbott ordered state police to look into the ranch, which hosted training camps for more than a decade until earlier this year. The Walker County Sheriff’s Office is already investigating. Several gymnasts have said Nassar abused them at the ranch. Abbott called the allegations “gut-wrenching.” He ordered the state investigation because the claims involve multiple jurisdictions and states. The ranch is owned by former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi. USA Gymnastics cut ties with the ranch earlier this month, a few days after Olympic champion Simone Biles and said she dreaded the thought of having to return there to train. Other gymnasts have also said they were abused at the ranch. Nassar’s accusers have said he would use his ungloved hands to penetrate them, and other inappropriate touching, when they were seeking treatment for back, hip, leg, foot and other injuries. Victims blamed Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing more to stop him earlier. Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison last week. More than 150 women and girls have said he had molested them under the guise of medical treatment.
A Russian jet intercepted an American patrol plane flying in international airspace over the Black Sea on Monday, coming within 5 feet of the U.S. aircraft. The Pentagon said the U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries aircraft was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 jet which came within 5 feet of the U.S. plane and crossed directly through its flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through a trail of turbulence. The Pentagon said the U.S. aircraft was "operating in accordance with international law" and did not provoke Russian activity. Monday evening, the U.S. State Department issued a statement that noted the incident "with the highest level of concern" and that Russia "was flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law." The incident is the latest in a series of close calls between Russian and U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea. In November 2017, the U.S. military said a Russian fighter jet flew within 50 feet of a Navy reconnaissance plane, causing the aircraft to tilt 15 degrees from the resulting turbulence. In May 2017, a Russian jet came within 20 feet of a U.S. spy plane flying over the Black Sea.
The U.S. military said that it was changing rules on the use of wireless devices in war zones and other dangerous places following a report that soldiers were unwittingly providing the locations of secret bases by using GPS-equipped fitness trackers. A global heat map posted online by the fitness-tracking company Strava shows the precise locations and outlines of U.S. military bases in dangerous locations, including Afghanistan and Syria. The Strava data can even be used to identify individual users and their jogging routes in war zones. "We take these matters seriously, and we are reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required," said Army Col. Robert Manning III, a Pentagon spokesman.
Apple has decided not to change the iPhone’s home screen design when it unveils a new version of its iOS operating system later this year, according to a new Axios report. The company decided to delay some major iOS updates to next year, and instead focus on performance and reliability for this year’s update. Apple announced the changed roadmap internally to employees earlier this month, according to the report. In addition to the new home screen, some of the other features delayed until 2019 include updates to apps like Mail as well as features around the taking, editing, and sharing of photos, according to Axios. Apple has had a couple of excellent quarters, thanks to renewed iPhone sales growth. However, reports surfaced that the company is cutting iPhone X production by as much as 50% amid weak demand for the $1000 phone.
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