Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

North Korean leader vows strong action

South Korea

North Korean leader vows action

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed at a meeting of top security and foreign officials to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures," the state news agency reported today.

Analysts in South Korea said the pledge is a sign that North Korea plans to conduct a nuclear test on Kim's orders.

North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission declared last week that the country would carry out a nuclear test and launch more rockets in defiance of the U.N. Security Council. The United Nations punished North Korea for a long-range rocket test in December with more sanctions, calling it a violation of a ban on nuclear and missile activity.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim convened top security officials and diplomats in Pyongyang to pledge to take action.

Last week, North Korea said it had no interest in talks on denuclearizing itself and would forge ahead with its missile and weapons development.

Iraq

Lawmakers try to bar leader from new term

In the bloody aftermath of street protests that turned violent on Friday in Fallujah, Iraq's Parliament passed a law on Saturday intended to prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from seeking a third term.

The parliamentary move was the latest threat to al-Maliki's hold on power and reflected rising anger among rivals over his rule, but it appeared unlikely that the law, which would need to be approved by Iraq's president, would ever go in to effect.

Al-Maliki's coalition in parliament boycotted the vote, and an official close to the prime minister called it unconstitutional and vowed to appeal to the courts, which on paper are independent but in practice bend to his will.

PHILADELPHIA

Friar who was accused of abuse kills himself

A Franciscan friar accused of sexually abusing students at Catholic high schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania killed himself at a western Pennsylvania monastery, police said Saturday.

Brother Stephen Baker, 62, was found dead of a self-inflicted knife wound at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg on Saturday morning, Blair Township police Chief Roger White said. He declined to say whether a note was found.

WASHINGTON

Activists hack website in defense of Swartz

A collective of hackers known as Anonymous commandeered a Department of Justice website Saturday to protest what it called the harsh treatment by government prosecutors of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide this month.

The hackers replaced the site's content with a video denouncing the government and praising the 26-year-old co-founder of Reddit, who hanged himself two weeks ago as his trial date neared for allegedly hacking into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer network. Swartz, who was accused of illegally downloading academic articles, faced up to 30 years in prison.

Elsewhere

Czech Republic: Milos Zeman, a former leftist prime minister and economist, was elected president on Saturday, becoming the country's first popularly elected president. He has urged greater integration with Europe

Pakistan: 'Two Islamic militant groups clashed Saturday over control of a prized valley in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 24 people and wounding dozens more, officials said. Ansarul Islam tried to retake the area after Tehrik-e-Taliban seized it.

Times wires

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