• Woohae Cho/Getty Images(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- North Korea's taekwondo team finished its four-show tour in South Korea on Wednesday. In each display, performers from both nations jointly demonstrated skills that led Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon to call them a "sensation."The team from North Korea performed before the Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, later at a career and education center also in Gangwon Province and then twice in Seoul. Each time, the North Koreans shared the stage with their South Korean counterparts for part of the hourlong show that otherwise let each team showcase its talents separately."The joint taekwondo performance is creating a sensation and sending a message of hope -- not only in the Korean peninsula, but also worldwide," Park Won-soon told local newspaper Segye Ilbo after watching a performance on Monday.The North Korean taekwondo performers arrived Feb. 7 along with that nation's Olympic committee officials, cheerleaders, art troupes and media representatives. They stayed at a hotel in Inje, about 90 miles from Seoul. They are expected to return home on Thursday.The elaborate martial arts performances, which at times received less media attention than those of the cheerleaders and artists, included smashing wood and impressive self-defense techniques, the final display of which concluded at Munwha Broadcasting Corp.'s concert hall.Sharing performance time with neighbors with whom they share a border was widely considered a hint toward an improving relationship between the two nations.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Pingtung County(PINGTUNG COUNTY, Taiwan) -- Pingtung County Mayor Pan Men-an probably doesn't get 30,000 views on every video he posts to Facebook -- but he did for one featuring a newlywed couple celebrating a brand-new regional landmark.On the eve of Valentine's Day, the stick figure normally seen on a pedestrian walking signal was joined by a female companion. This was "a first in Taiwan," the mayor said.Pingtung County, a southern county with a population of about 840,000 and known for tourism, unveiled the new signal in time for the holiday, and there will be 25 installed before the Lunar New Year, the mayor told Taiwan News, a local English-language website.For 18 years, the signals featured just a man, but now he walks with a woman and drops to a knee to propose as the light goes red.On his Facebook page, the mayor wrote, "We hope everybody smiles, no longer bored, while waiting for the red lights."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Behind closed doors at the Israeli Ofer Military Base in the West Bank, Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier, appeared in an Israeli military court Tuesday morning.Minutes after Ahed was brought into the courtroom Tuesday, Military Judge Lt. Col. Menachem Lieberman told the crowd of journalists, diplomats and non-profit group representatives they could not stay. He made the trial private on the grounds that Ahed is a minor, though that status has been under debate."I don't see how it's in the minor's interest that a 100 people are here all the time,” he said. “Her family can stay. Everyone else must leave."The curly-haired teenage girl, who is 17, has garnered harsh criticism and has bitterly divided public opinion. Human rights organizations, the European Union and United Nations have all voiced their concern.Ahed's Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky protested today's decision to remove observers from the court."My client's arrest was filmed by the army and police, despite being a minor," Lasky told the judge. "So I think the media should stay here now. It's for her protection."Ahed's fight has become symbolic of the next generation of Palestinian resistance, many Palestinians hail Ahed as a brave young fighter.Some pro-Israel blogs have dubbed her "Shirley Temper," and right-wing Israelis accuse her of using social media to distribute propaganda and discredit Israel. One Israeli deputy minister and former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, even investigated whether the Tamimis were "a real family,” according to Haaretz.Ahed is facing years in jail. She has been charged with twelve offenses, including assaulting security forces and incitement to violence.She turned 17 two weeks ago in jail, appeared to be in good spirits today, according to journalists who were briefly in the courtroom. Her father, Bassem Tamimi, shouted: “Stay strong! Stay strong! You will win!”"The military judge decided to have a closed session, justifying it because Ahed is a child," her father Bassem told ABC News Tuesday. "But he forgets that you do not put children in jails, so if she is a child she must be free and out of jail."“The Israeli military occupation does not want diplomats, human right organizations and the press to see and witness the ugly face of the Israeli military occupation," he continued. "This is why he kicked all the international observers out of the military court today."Representatives from the EU, Norway and Germany were all present Tuesday.At her bail hearing in January, Human Rights Watch notes that Lasky argued that international human rights law permits the detention of children only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. But the Israeli military judge ruled that he “did not think the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be viewed as absolute.”On Monday, Human Rights Watch said "Tamimi’s pre-trial detention – 56 days and counting – is both a violation of international law and unnecessary. Her case raises concerns that Israel’s military justice system, which detains hundreds of Palestinian children every year, is incapable of respecting children’s rights."Amnesty International has also called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free Ahed, and the other 300 other Palestinian minors in Israeli jail cells. The group said that while in detention, "she endured aggressive interrogations, sometimes at night, and threats made against her family."Ahed is a well-known teenage activist, from a family of well-known activists in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel. The village has held weekly protests almost every Friday since 2009.The incident for which she is on trial was captured in a now-viral video, shot and distributed by her family on December 14, 2017. An
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Citing concerns of tainted alcohol being served in Mexico, Sen. Tammy Baldwin is calling on the State Department to reform the way it handles deaths and injuries to Americans vacationing in the country.Baldwin's letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- obtained by ABC News -- points to reports of tourists fainting or blacking out after drinking only small amounts, and comes just weeks before many Americans travel to Mexico for spring break.Some tourists have reported being victims of robbery or assault after they passed out, according to the letter. Baldwin, D-Wis., estimates approximately 140 Americans have been involved in possible tainted alcohol incidents, often while staying at Mexico's upscale, all-inclusive resorts in places like Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.The State Department warned American citizens traveling to Mexico last year to be conscious of "allegations that consumption of tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or blacking out."Baldwin writes that the State Department is currently only providing "limited guidance" to American victims of tainted alcohol. She is calling on the State Department to reform the way it operates in Mexico so that consulate staffers can help Americans navigate Mexico's legal system, rather than letting "them fend for themselves.""The State Department must do more to protect and assist our citizens when abroad," Baldwin writes."We are concerned about reported incidents that the consumption of substandard or unregulated alcohol in some tourist areas in Mexico has resulted in illness or blacking out," a State Department spokesperson told ABC News, noting that the State Department has only received 17 reports of Americans who are concerned they may have consumed tainted alcohol.At the State Department briefing Tuesday, spokesperson Heather Nauert reminded reporters that the U.S. is limited in what they can do in these cases."We are not able to prosecute because it is not our country. That's up to the Mexican government to do," Nauert said."We would like to reiterate that if any U.S. citizen traveler becomes ill and suspects they consumed substandard alcohol in Mexico, they should seek immediate medical attention and contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate," the State Department spokesperson added.Baldwin requested that all reports of tainted alcohol be shared with the State Department's Office of the Inspector General, which is currently conducting an inquiry into the department's response to incidents involving Americans and tainted alcohol in Mexico.A spokesperson for the State Department's Office of the Inspector General told ABC News that inquiry is ongoing.The State Department has designated the whole country of Mexico as "travel advisory Level 2," meaning tourists should "exercise increased caution."Just last month, parts of Mexico were designated Level 3 or 4, but that advisory does not include many popular tourist destinations.Mexico's secretary of tourism, Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, disputed reports of tainted alcohol in his country during an appearance on CNBC in December. "There is no evidence about tainted alcohol. The case that I've seen, where I have medical evidence, gives the evidence that the amount of alcohol that was drunk was excessive," Cordero said.
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  • NOAA(NEW YORK) -- Two days after Tropical Cyclone Gita ravaged the small South Pacific island nation of Tonga, the cleanup continues.The Japanese Meteorological Agency's Himawari-8 satellite captured the massive size of the Category 4 storm on thermal infrared imagery Monday. The storm had sustained winds of nearly 145 mph as it moved west past Tonga, bringing heavy rains with it.Only one other Category 4 or stronger storm has ever passed within 200 miles of the island -- Cyclone Ian in 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's historical database.Acting Prime Minister Hon. Semisi Sika declared a state of emergency for Tonga, urging residents to stay where they were to prevent injury and avoid further damage to property or the environment.Following that declaration, Tonga's Police Commissioner Stephen Caldwell ordered a curfew in the Central Business District area of Nuku'alofa, saying in a statement, "We are urging people to seek refuge from this severe cyclone that could be the most powerful in the country's history."As of Tuesday night, over 3,000 people were staying in 41 different evacuation centers as crews were working to have the power up and running for the Vaiola Hospital. Tonga Power had seven teams out assessing the damage to see how early they could have the power up and running for the rest of the area.Tongatapu, Tonga's main island, saw three major injuries and 30 minor injuries due to the cyclone, according to Sia Adams, Tonga police's media officer. A 72-year-old man from Fuaamotu died from a heart attack but it is still unclear if the cyclone contributed to his death.Over 5,000 miles away in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the most famous face of Tonga is competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Cross-country skier and Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua, 34, has been following the storm from South Korea as he tried to make contact with friends and family. This morning, Taufatofua announced on social media that his family was safe despite damage to their homes.Red Cross teams, the Australian Defense Force and the U.S Peace Corps are all conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations to support Tonga. After a request from the Tongan government, Australia has deployed $350,000 in lifesaving equipment, including emergency shelter, kitchen and hygiene kits to assist.
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  • Alexey Navalny/YouTube(MOSCOW) -- Russia has threatened to block access to YouTube and Instagram if the sites do not remove video and photographs that show a senior government official sailing on a yacht with a billionaire oligarch, who has links with the former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.Russia’s state-controlled media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, on Saturday ordered that 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos be deleted that show metals magnate Oleg Deripaska on a yacht with a Russian deputy prime minister, Sergey Prikhodko, and a woman who has described herself as an escort.The watchdog listed the posts on its register of banned sites after Deripaska won an injunction from a court in his hometown Ust-Labinsk, which ruled they violated his privacy. Roskomnadzor said it had informed the sites that they must delete the images within three days.The images are at the heart of the public battle between Deripaska and the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who first drew attention to the posts in an investigative video piece he released last week. In the report, he accused the oligarch of bribing Prikhodko by hosting him on the yacht in August 2016.Navalny has built an anti-Kremlin political movement around similar investigations into alleged official corruption and was recently barred by a court from running against Russian President Vladimir Putin in elections this year. In the 25-minute video, there are accusations of Deripaska flying Prikhodko to the yacht in Norway on his private plane and of allegedly paying for the services of six more escort girls aboard the boat.Navalny’s video also attracted attention because of a speculative link he makes in it with the 2016 U.S. election. He alleges, without offering proof, that on the yacht Deripaska may have been passing information to Prikhodko that he acquired from Manafort.Manafort is a former business partner of Deripaska and in 2016 he offered to give the billionaire private briefings on the election shortly after joining Trump’s campaign, according to the Washington Post. Manafort, who has been indicted on money laundering charges in the course of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, has denied any briefing ever took place.Deripaska in a statement last week called Navalny's investigation "part of a planned campaign to damage my reputation" and warned media against disseminating "these mendacious accusations." Representatives for Deripaska have said the video illegally makes use of private images and makes false assertions.Prikhodko responded to Navalny's video last week with a statement to the Russian news outlet, RBC, that “such stuff should be answered man-to-man, but we will leave in within the bounds of the legal field."Roskomnadzor also ordered Navalny to delete the video and text versions of the investigation from his website.On Tuesday, Oksana Baulina, a member of Navalny’s political organization said it had received messages from YouTube to take down the video, posting a screenshot of it on Twitter. Navalny has so far refused to do so and has filed suit against Roskomnadzor, arguing its block on the images is illegal. Over 4 million people have watched the video on YouTube, so far.The video and photos highlighted by Navalny were first posted in 2016 by the woman onboard the yacht with Deripaska. The 21-year-old Belarussian goes by the name Nastya Rybka and has promoted herself as an expert in seduction in video blogs and a book.In some of the videos on Rybka's Instagram, Deripaska can be seen with her and Priokhodko relaxing aboard the yacht. At one point, Deripaska and Prikhodko joke about the poor relations between Russia and the United States.Rybka has also written a book in which she describes the encounter, using pseudonyms, and where she claims there were other women aboard the boat. The book presents itself as a manual for women on how to seduce an oligarch.Ryb
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