Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Microsoft, NBC end MSNBC.com joint venture

SAN FRANCISCO

Microsoft, NBC end MSNBC.com deal

Microsoft is pulling out of the joint venture that owned MSNBC.com, freeing the world's largest software maker to build its own online news service.

The breakup announced late Sunday dissolves the final shreds of a 16-year marriage between Microsoft Corp. and NBC News, which is now owned by Comcast Corp. The relationship began to unwind in 2005 when Microsoft sold its stake in MSNBC's cable TV channel to NBC.

NBC is buying Microsoft's 50 percent interest in the MSNBC website for an undisclosed amount. MSNBC.com will be rebranded as NBCNews.com, Readers logged into MSNBC.com late Sunday were automatically redirected to NBCNews.com.

North Korea

Army chief reportedly relieved of all posts

Kim Jong Un's top military official — a key mentor to North Korea's young new leader who had served under his father — has been removed from all posts because of illness, state media said today.

Ri Yong Ho had looked healthy in recent appearances, and that fed speculation among analysts that Kim purged him in an effort to put his own mark on the regime he inherited seven months ago when Kim Jong Il died.

Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea analyst at the International Crisis Group, was skeptical of the illness claim, in part because of Ri's recent apparent health. "There's a very high probability that it wasn't health issues, but that he was purged," he said, sending a strong signal to anyone seeking to challenge Kim Jong Un — even if Ri never directly defied the new leader.

Mali

Islamists strengthen their grip in the north

Hundreds of refugees continue to flee an Islamist takeover of northern Mali, but exiled officials in the rebel group pushed out by fighters linked to al-Qaida said over the weekend that, for the moment, they were not the ones to take on the Islamists.

Western nations continue to suggest that any resolution to Mali's crisis must come from Africans themselves. But African nations meeting over the weekend in Ethiopia appeared no closer to resolving it, and the Islamists themselves appeared to be tightening their grip of northern Mali, with reports of citizens being whipped and demonstrators repressed in the north.

Elsewhere

Japan: Japan temporarily recalled its ambassador to China on Sunday in response to renewed friction over a disputed island group.

Iraq: Baghdad warned Turkey on Sunday that its oil deal with Iraq's northern self-ruled Kurdish region could damage trade relations, the latest sign of tension between the two neighbors.

Italy: Two more climbers have died on Mont Blanc following the deaths of nine people last week in a massive avalanche, rescue crews in Italy and France said Sunday.

Times wires

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