NA panel to supervise management of foreign loans

 In a report to the National Assembly, the ministry said the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was fired at a "normal" angle but at half range. It means the missile's full range is between 4,500-5,000 km. The missile, launched at the Sunan airfield in Pyongyang on Tuesday morning overflew the northern territory of Japan and splashed into nearby waters. It traveled more than 2,700 km at a maximum altitude of some 550 km, according to the South's military. It's the North's 13th ballistic missile fired this year alone. It marked the seventh since the launch of the South's Moon Jae-in administration, which is eager to improve inter-Korean ties. Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk pointed out it's premature to conclude whether the missile succeeded in atmospheric re-entry, a crucial technology for a combat-capable ballistic missile. "We have not reached a conclusion" on the issue yet, he told lawmakers. "Painstaking verification is necessary for this part."    On a news report that the North's missile broke into three separate pieces in a terminal phase failure, he said it's believed to be based on "speculation."    His ministry, meanwhile, said the North is expected to continue its belligerence for the time being. "There's a possibility of strategic provocations, including additional ballistic missile launches and a sixth nuclear test," the ministry said. "It appears to be intended to show off an improvement in the capability of nuclear warheads and delivery means." The North remains ready to detonate a nuclear bomb…... [read more]

SPRINGFIELD: President Donald Trump hit the road to sell reform of America's "self-destructive" tax code on Wednesday (Aug 30), a major campaign pledge that remains short on detail and a long way from becoming law. President Donald Trump, followed by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., waves before they board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., prior to their departure to Springfield, Missouri. (Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Trump visited Springfield, Missouri, hoping to pull voters and lawmakers behind what described as a "once in a generation" opportunity to remake the tax code. Advocating a 15 per cent corporate tax rate, and a slew of other reforms, Trump insisted "our self-destructive tax code cost millions of jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours spent on compliance and paper work." Trump has argued that ambitious reform of the tax code is needed to juice the economy further, and is counting on the Republican-controlled Congress to make that ambition reality. The economy has been bright spot for Trump's troubled presidency, with unemployment rates falling and growth rates reaching their fastest clip in over two years. Shortly before Marine One lifted off from the South Lawn of the White House, news came that economic growth had reached Trump's target of three percent in the second quarter. "I happen to be one that thinks we can go much higher than three per cent," Trump said,…... [read more]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has fathered another child, reports said Tuesday, after his wife dropped out of the public eye for several months. First lady Ri Sol-Ju delivered the couple's third child in February, the Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday, citing South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by the National Intelligence Service. Ri had disappeared for an extended period last year, raising speculation that she could be pregnant. News of the new arrival emerged as North Korea fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan. According to previous intelligence reports from Seoul's spy agency, Ri married Kim in 2009 and gave birth to their first child the following year, with their second born in 2013. Kim is the third generation of his dynasty to rule North Korea, but little has been revealed about the country's first family. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, following his trip to the North in 2013, has been the only source of information about the couple's second child -- a baby girl named Ju-Ae. Saying that he had held Kim's daughter in his arms, Rodman described the North Korean leader as "a good dad" who has "a good family". While more of a public personality than his introverted father Kim Jong-Il ever was, Kim's own personal details remain little known. Even his exact birthday and the date of his wedding have not been confirmed. South Korean intelligence reports have described Ri as coming from an ordinary family, with her father an academic and her mother…... [read more]

When Alexander Vinnik was arrested on money-laundering charges at a Greek hotel in late July, the status of his Jabber secure online messaging account was set to “away”. FILE PHOTO: Alexander Vinnik, a 38 year old Russian man (L) suspected of running a money laundering operation, is escorted by a plain-clothes police officer to a court in Thessaloniki, Greece July 26, 2017. “He often takes some time to reply, so at first I didn’t think anything of it,” said one person who knew the Russian as an administrator of a digital currency exchange which U.S. prosecutors say was used to launder criminal funds. “Then when I saw his picture on the news, I knew he would be ’away’ for a long time,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. Justice Department says Vinnik facilitated crimes including computer hacking, fraud and drug trafficking by laundering at least $4 billion through BTC-e -- an exchange used to trade bitcoin and other digital currencies -- since 2011. The 37-year-old faces up to 55 years in prison if extradited to the United States. He denies the allegations against him, according to Greek media reports, and BTC-e has said he never worked for the exchange. Reuters was unable to reach BTC-e or a lawyer representing Vinnik for comment. Vinnik is now one of seven Russians arrested or indicted on U.S. cyber crime charges this year. On average, just two Russian cyber criminals were extradited to the United States each year between…... [read more]

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that the U.S. Congress must find a way to pay for his promised border wall, branding Mexico a hotbed of violent crime. And he warned both Mexico and Canada that if they continue to be "difficult" in trade talks, he may have to break off attempts to reform the NAFTA free trade pact. Both positions put Trump on a collision course with both skeptical U.S. lawmakers and neighboring capitals, but remain popular with his electoral base. "With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other," Trump tweeted. "We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?" Trump's positions on the wall and trade are well-known, and both were centerpieces of his campaign for the White House, but they may now run afoul of political reality. U.S. lawmakers return from their summer recess on September 5 needing to come up with a deal to fund the government and raise the federal debt ceiling. The Republican majority wants to cut taxes and pass a costly infrastructure bill, but Trump has threatened to trigger a government shutdown unless it funds his wall. During his campaign, Trump repeatedly insisted that the multi-billion-dollar cost of the wall would be borne by Mexico, an idea scornfully dismissed by Mexican officials. Now -- while this remains a centerpiece of his populist…... [read more]

BRUSSELS: Poland has missed an EU deadline to respond to concerns over controversial court reforms by the rightwing government, which Brussels fears will erode judicial independence, a Brussels spokesman said on Sunday (Aug 27). Protesters criticised a controversial reform of the Supreme Court Polish lawmakers adopted in July despite the threat of unprecedented EU sanctions. (Photo: AFP/John MacDougall) On Jul 26, the European Commission gave Warsaw a month to end what it considers a "systemic threat" to the rule of law and inform the EU executive branch of measures taken to modify the reforms. "As far as I am aware, we have still not received a response," a commission spokesman told AFP. The EU executive will meet Monday to consider the issue, he added. The Polish foreign ministry, for its part, told AFP that "as the deadline falls on a holiday, we consider that it ends on the first working day after that". The ministry later added that it would send its response on Monday. Tensions between Warsaw and the EU have been growing over what Brussels sees as a growing threat, not just to democratic standards in Poland but across the 28-nation bloc. It could eventually lead to a case against Poland before the bloc's highest court, the European Court of Justice, and possibly a fine. The commission has said the threat to judicial independence comes from the Polish justice minister getting "discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges who have reached retirement age as…... [read more]

In a speech to parliament outlining plans for his new term, President Hassan Rouhani hit out at US counterpart Donald Trump, saying he had shown the world that Washington was "not a good partner." President Hassan Rouhani warned Tuesday that Iran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers within hours if the United States keeps on imposing new sanctions. In a speech to parliament outlining plans for his new term, Rouhani also hit out at US counterpart Donald Trump, saying he had shown the world that Washington was "not a good partner." Rouhani's comments come with the nuclear deal under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and strikes, and Washington imposed new sanctions -- with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement. Rouhani warned that Iran was ready to walk out of the deal -- which saw the lifting of most international sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme -- if Washington persisted. "Those who try to return to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past delusions," he said in the televised address. "If they want to go back to that experience, definitely in a short time -- not weeks or months, but in the scale of hours and days -- we will return to our previous situation very much stronger." He said Iran did prefer to stick with the nuclear deal, which he called "a model of victory for peace and diplomacy over war…... [read more]

China has assured the Philippines it will not occupy new features or territory in the South China Sea, also called Vietnam East Sea under a new "status quo" brokered by Manila as both sides try to strengthen their relations, the Philippine defense minister said. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also said the Philippines was working on a "commercial deal" with China to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea with an aim to begin drilling within a year. The defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, told a congressional hearing the Philippines and China had reached a "modus vivendi”, or a way to get along, in the South China Sea that prohibits new occupation of islands. "The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal," Lorenzana told lawmakers late on Monday, referring to a prime fishing ground close to the Philippines that China blockaded from 2012 to 2016. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a waterway through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June last year, has courted China and avoided rows over maritime sovereignty that dogged his predecessors, while berating traditional ally the United States over several issues. China has built seven islands upon reefs in disputed areas, three of…... [read more]

LONDON: Britain said on Tuesday (Aug 15) it would seek a "temporary customs union" with the European Union after Brexit, in an opening gambit for trade negotiations that received a cool response from Brussels. Britain's membership of the EU customs union precludes it from striking its own trade deals. (Photo: AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas) The government proposed to continue for around two years the kind of tariff-free arrangements that apply now to EU-UK trade in goods, to give businesses more time to adapt to new post-Brexit systems. But unlike under the current customs union, London said it wanted to be able to negotiate free trade agreements with non-EU countries during the interim period, which would then be implemented afterwards. Brexit minister David Davis told BBC radio it was "sensible" to have a "shortish period in which we maintain the current arrangements", lasting "something like two years". The proposal was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry, Britain's big business lobby group, but critics dismissed it as "fantasy". Britain has said it will leave the EU customs union and single market - its largest trading partner - when it leaves the bloc in March 2019, but wants trade to continue as smoothly as possible. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said on Tuesday that it would "take note" of the proposals, but warned: "'Frictionless trade' is not possible outside the single market and…... [read more]

VietNamNet Bridge – The Government has instructed Dong Nai Province to co-ordinate with relevant agencies to do a feasibility study for acquiring lands for the construction of Long Thanh Airport and paying their owners compensation. A blueprint of Long Thanh Airport proposed to be built in Dong Nai Province.-- File photo The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) will assess the feasibility study and submit it to the Government before it is sent to the National Assembly for lawmakers’ approval.  Besides, it will work with the Ministries of Finance and Transport and other agencies to raise funding for the work, for which the NA has approved VND5 trillion (about US$227 million).  The Government has instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to review the policies related to compensation for lands acquired for the airport and file the assessment (report) before August 15 this year.  On August 11 the Government Office also instructed the transport ministry to co-ordinate with relevant agencies and provide consultation for the upgrade of Lai Chau Airport, which has been approved by the Government. International consultants The Government has approved the plans and selection of tenders for hiring international consultants to assess the use of land by the aviation sector, make plans for the expansion of HCM City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport, and assist in planning in areas adjacent to make better use of infrastructure in conformity.  The transport ministry has also been instructed to co-ordinate with the Ministry of Defence, the HCM City People’s Committee…... [read more]

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