North Korea frees three US detainees

Left to right: Kim Hak-song, Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim

North Korea has freed three US citizens from prison, according to a tweet from US President Donald Trump.

It is viewed as a goodwill gesture ahead of a historic summit between Mr Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Mr Trump said he would greet the men when they return with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been in Pyongyang to arrange the planned talks.

Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chu were able to “walk on the plane without assistance”, the White House said.

They had been jailed for anti-state activities and placed in labour camps. Continue reading “North Korea frees three US detainees”

Toronto van incident: nine dead and at least 16 injured after van ploughs into crowd

Nine people have been killed and at least 16 injured – several of them seriously – after a van jumped the kerb in a northern suburb of Toronto and ran into a crowd of pedestrians, according to police.

The driver fled the scene of the incident, at a busy intersection in the north of the Canadian city, but was arrested several blocks away.

The arrest followed a tense standoff with officers on the street.

Bystander videos appeared to show the driver pointing an object at the officers, who can be heard shouting at him to get down.

Toronto police spokesperson, Gary Long said:

“Reports were that a white van mounted the kerb, drove down the sidewalk at southbound Yonge, south of Finch, and struck eight to 10 people possibly, the numbers aren’t confirmed yet.”

“Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we’re monitoring the situation closely.”

The United States and Europe have seen an increase in driving attacks in recent years. In October 2017, a man in New York drove a van down a bicycle path, killing eight people.

 

Update – 24th April 16:00:

Alek Minassian, 25, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Mr Minassian wore a white jumpsuit, with a shaved head and his hands behind his back. He showed little emotion.

He was read the charges and ordered to have no contact with surviving victims. He will return to court on 10 May.

A man believed to be a relative of Mr Minassian’s sat in the front row of the court and wept. Asked by reporters after the hearing if he had anything to say, the family member replied “sorry.”

by Ben – Correspondent for the General News section.

Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a baby boy

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a boy, her third child and second son.

A Kensington Palace statement said Catherine and her son, who is yet to be named, are “both doing well.”

Kensington Palace said the name of the baby would be “announced in due course,” while a formal notice of the birth had been posted on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

The new arrival, who was born at St Mary’s Hospital, London, is fifth in line to the throne and the Queen’s sixth great-grandchild.

The new baby will be fifth in line to the throne.

Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted about the news. She said:

“My warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their baby boy. I wish them great happiness for the future.”

by Ben – Correspondent for the General News section.

The Government insists the UK will leave the customs union

Ahead of a symbolic vote on the issue this week, the government has reiterated it’s commitment to leaving the EU’s custom union.

Last Wednesday, the government suffered defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords when members voted in favour of staying in the customs union.

As a result, MPs will get a chance to debate the proposal on Thursday.

Although, a senior Downing Street source said government’s position would not change.

“We will not be staying in the customs union or joining a customs union.”

Labour has called for the UK to join a new customs union post-Brexit, saying it would leave the current one but negotiate a treaty afterwards that would “do the work of the customs union.”

 

What is a customs union?

A customs union is a form of trade agreement between two or more countries. The purpose of a customs union, like that of other trade agreements, is to make it easier for member states to trade.

Customs unions reduce administrative and financial trade barriers (such as customs checks and charges) and enhance economic cooperation.

It means they decide not to impose tariffs (taxes on imports) on each other’s goods and agree to impose common external tariffs on goods from countries outside their customs union.

However, they also limit the freedom of their individual members to strike their own trade deals.

 

by Ben – Correspondent for the General news section.

 

Avicii’s music ‘will live forever’: Tributes paid to the Swedish DJ

Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, was found dead on Friday afternoon in a five-star resort in Muscat, Oman. The cause of his death has not yet been announced, but two years ago he announced his retirement after suffering from health problems.

Rita Ora, who had recently collaborated with him on the track Lonely Together, tweeted that she had “no words” after hearing the news.

Rita Ora tweeted about his death on Friday.

Radio 1 presenter Annie Mac began her Friday evening show paying tribute to Avicii, saying it’s a “massive loss for dance music” and that it was “absolutely devastating news”.

It’s known that he has been suffering from pancreatitis, reportedly caused by heavy drinking.

“Drinking became routine for me, but it’s impossible to keep up touring and drinking at the same time, because you are going to crash.”

During his career he has achieved 11 billion streams on Spotify and was the first EDM DJ to stage a worldwide arena tour, as nominated for two Grammy Awards and had nine UK top 10 singles, including two number ones.

Nicky Romero, who collaborated with Avicii on I Could Be The One, said:

“He was more of the musician in the studio than the guy that wants to be on stage, tour the world.”

“I never really thought that he was super enjoying his DJ sets. It felt like he wanted to do it but he didn’t want to feel the pressure of it or be the guy that’s in the spotlight in front of thousands and thousands of people.”

Earlier on Saturday morning, police confirmed that suspicions of criminal relevance to Tim Bergling’s demise were false shown by several autopsies.

Also despite his earlier death, fans were touched by his work and he won’t be forgotten as shown by the spirited vigil held in Stockholm where the masses of participants showed that they will lead his legacy onward.

By Ben and Harry – Correspondents for General News section

Tracing the sickle cell disease back to one child.

 

Did one mutation cause sickle cell disease?

New research suggests that the history of sickle-cell disease goes back to a mutation in just one person.

In the Sahara desert, a child was born with increased immunity to malaria, which was important because at the time, in this part of Africa it was wet and rainy and covered with forest.

These conditions are perfect for mosquitoes which also carry malaria, a disease that these days kills one child every two minutes.

With a better chance against an illness that is a major killer, this child with the genetic mutation lived a reasonably healthy life and even had children. Those children spread out, all strengthened with extra defences against malaria and living for longer, and their descendants around the world still have those extra defences today, more than 250 generations later.

But here’s the bad part, if both your parents have that gene mutation, you can end up with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease brings severe pain and other complications to its patients.

The symptoms include shortness of breath, strokes and vision problems. Also, people who inherit the gene from both parents do not have its protection against malaria.

By Jack and Ben – Correspondents for the General News section

Car driven by ‘Homer Simpson’ has been seized.

 

Would you be surprised if you were handed this?

On Sunday night, Thames Valley Police pulled a motorist over in Milton Keynes but to their surprise, they were handed a licence with Homer Simpson’s details on.

The police said, in addition to the driver’s fake licence, the car was not insured so it was seized by officers.

This also prompted a number of “D’oh” comments from Twitter followers. “Looks legit. Is it the signature you’re suspecting?” wrote one.

Also, another person wrote: “Now, the question is, did you ask for a valid driving licence, or just a driving licence, because to be fair, that is a driving licence.”

Police said the driver was reported to court for both offences.

By Jack and Ben – Correspondents for the General News section

 

 

Attacks in Westminister – What went on and why?

 

attacks-in-westminster
Attacks in Westminster – What went on and why?

On Wednesday the 22nd March a terrorist attack took place where a man named Khalid Masood killed four people in a mere 82 seconds. The police said the attack began at 14:40:08 when the hire car Khalid Masood rented mounted the pavement on Westminster Bridge, weaving along the footpath and road for 30 seconds until he crashed into the perimeter fence of the Palace of Westminster, he then left the car at 14:40:51 and 39 seconds later was shot by a police firearms officer, who was part of the close protection team of the defense secretary, Sir Michael Fallon. Police are trying to establish whether he had been inspired  by terrorist propaganda or if others encouraged, supported or directed him.

After crashing his hired Hyundai SUV into the railings in front of Parliament Yard, he burst through the gate to the Palace of Westminster with two large knives where he stabbed an unarmed police officer named PC Keith Palmer who was just 48 years old. He later died from his injuries.

The consequences of the attack are five deaths (including Khalid Masood himself) and fifty people were injured. Also, 15 people are still being treated in hospital.

Three members of the public died following the car rampage on Westminster Bridge. They were: mother-of-two Aysha Frade from London; US tourist Kurt Cochran from Utah and Leslie Rhodes, 75, from Streatham, South London.

PC Palmer and Khalid Masood also died despite attempts by paramedics to save them both.

Before the attack he had a string of criminal convictions including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences, but he had not been convicted of any terrorism offences.

Masood’s first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife. He was investigated by MI5 some years ago over concerns of violent extremism but was no longer deemed to be a threat.

Police have seized 2,700 items in searches about the attack, including “massive amounts of computer data.” Approximately 3,500 witnesses – including 1,000 from Westminster Bridge and 2,500 from with the Parliamentary estate, have contacted police about the attack and their view on it.

By Jack and Ben – Correspondents for the General News section

Are your eggs really free range?

image
Where have my free range eggs gone?

Recently eggs have been losing their free range status due to a virus which means that they have to be kept indoors. The virus is called H5N8 and it has killed nine swans already.

Abbotsbury Swannery which is in Dorset has seen 80 birds die in winter 2016, compared to a normal 30 to 40 birds that die normally.

Nine birds have been tested positive for the H5N8 strain of bird flu. Official figures show this is the highest number of wild birds tested positive for avian influenza in the UK.

Why could they lose their free range status?

Birds that are not in a Higher Risk Area can be allowed outdoors into fenced areas provided the areas meet certain conditions.

If they are in a Higher Risk Area then keepers must either keep their birds housed, in permanent or temporary sheds; or allow birds outdoors but only into a fenced run which is fully covered by netting.

Most egg producers in England can now let birds outside if they observe follow disease prevention measures. All eggs from birds that remain housed, from both inside and outside higher risk areas, are no longer considered to be free range and can’t be labelled as free range.

In addition to being found in poultry, the same strain of the virus has also been found in wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales.

Here is a short video by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs explaining all you need to know about the bird flu:

How many cases have they been of the virus H5N8?

The H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at a farm in Northumberland, a poultry farm in Suffolk, in three linked premises on a commercial game farm in Lancashire, in three separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire, and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire.

What is the risk of the disease?

Public Health England advises “the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for UK consumers.”

By Jack and Ben – Correspondents for General News section

Why are my trains being delayed?

Trains – Why are they being delayed?

Northern, Southern rail and Merseyside rail staff have gone on strike because certain rail companies are considering only having the driver as the staff on the train to save costs. However, this would mean that at least one person per train would lose their job and it would mean the driver, as well as driving the train, would have to do the conductor’s job. The rail employees are going on strike for 24 hours in a row over keeping guards on trains 100 managers were drafted to do conductor duties to allow some trains to run.

Transport bosses have appealed for people to work from home in order to minimise delays. It is said that 60% of Northern rail services will be cancelled as guards and drivers walk out for 24 hours over keeping guards on trains. The strike is happening between 12:01 am and 11:59pm on Monday 20th of March.

Arriva North West showed they wanted to help with the traffic when they tweeted:

“Northern Rail train tickets will be valid on Arriva buses in the North West to help passengers during RMT industrial action.” – 13th March

Andy Heath of Merseyrail said “It is unfortunate that many drivers took the decision not to work today.”

While Southern rail said it aimed to run most of its 2,200 trains, more than half of Arrivals services were cancelled because of the strike.

The RMT strike on southern is the 30th since a row over if a conductor is needed almost a year ago. Unions have argued that the changes mean conductor’s will be sacked but rail operators have vowed that this is not the case.

Northern rail said it plans to run 980 services during the strike (which is about 40% of Northern rail services normal timetable.)

We asked the public about their opinions on the rail strike and this is what we got:

“I understand why the railway workers went on strike and I agree with them.”

“If they went on strike again for similar reasons I would go with them as I agree with them.”

“Everyone has their right times to go on strike and this is not one of them this strike is very inconvenient for the public and any train users.”

The train strikes, although seen as an inconvenience by some people, are mainly respected and appreciated.

By Jack and Ben – Correspondents for General News section