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U.S. responds to North Korea missile tests

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The White House says it is still willing to engage with Pyongyang, despite recent missile tests

North Korea describes the new “long-range cruise missiles” it tested over the weekend as a “strategic weapon of great significance”.

North Korea state-run media claims the missiles give the country “another effective deterrence means” against “hostile forces”.

Analysts say that the North Koreans often use the term ‘strategic’ as a euphemism for nuclear-capable.

However it is unclear if the nation is able to develop warheads small enough to be carried on these missiles. 

A leading arms expert, Jeffrey Lewis, says an intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea.

According to state run media, the missiles flew 1500 kilometres, before hitting their targets and falling into the country’s territorial waters.

The tests took place just days after the reclusive nation celebrated the 73rd anniversary of its founding with a late night military parade.

Japan says it is “extremely concerned”

If the missiles are capable of flying 1500 kilometres, they would be able to hit targets in South Korea and most of Japan.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary says such missiles would pose a “serious threat to the peace and safety of Japan and its surrounding areas.”

The U.S. military has also condemned the tests, saying they pose a threat to not only North Korea’s neighbours but the international community.

The White House, though, says it’s still willing to engage when it comes to the critical issue of denuclearisation.

“Our position has not changed when it comes to North Korea, we remain prepared to engage.”

White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 

Nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have been stalled for two years.

The U.S. Special envoy for North Korea was already scheduled to hold three way talks with counterparts from Japan and South Korea this week.

There is little doubt about what will be top of the agenda.

World

Hong Kong to launch China style system

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As Hong Kong and China prepare to resume quarantine-free travel, Hong Kong’s government will introduce a Beijing-style health code from December 10

The Hong Kong Health Code will take note of a user’s real name, address and identification number.

The voluntary app is designed to be compatible with systems in both Macau and Guangdong provinces in southern China.

In mainland China, a mandatory health code dictates where residents and visitors can travel to and from, sharing real-time data with authorities.

The introduction of this health code system in Hong Kong will allow Chinese officials to open back up the nation’s borders with the city-state.

Hong Kong’s chief information officer also says records “won’t be transferred to mainland authorities unless the person is infected or has been a close contact”.

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Meghan Markle wins latest privacy battle case

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A UK court dismissed the appeal brought on by Associated Newspapers Limited, after the company published a letter that she sent to her father, Thomas Markle in 2018.

ANL and the Mail have staunchly denied that they have done anything wrong, standing by the decision to publish the letter.

But the court rejected these claims, and says the Duchess has “a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter.”

The judge continued, adding “the contents were personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest”.

ANL says it is disappointed with the decision and is considering an appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court.

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Unvaccinated residents sent into lockdown

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German leaders have agreed to a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated residents, as an increase in Covid infections pushes the nation’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse

Residents who aren’t protected against Covid-19 will be barred from most essential businesses, such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor Olaf Scholz announced the measures together.

Protests have erupted throughout several regions, including the capital city of Berlin.

Unlike many other nations, those who are recently recovered from Covid-19 and are unvaccinated will be covered by the ban.

Under the tightened restrictions, unvaccinated people can only meet two people from another household.

Bars and nightclubs will also be forced to shut down in regions with a case rate that is above 350 cases per 100-thousand. 

This all follows a push by the European Commission to entice member nations to enforce mandatory vaccines, with Merkel and Olaf Scholz backing this proposal.

Vaccine mandates could be voted through parliament within the next few months… and come into effect from February.

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