North and South Korean officials sat down Thursday for rare talks aimed at setting up a sustainable high-level dialogue that has constantly eluded the two rivals.
The meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom began shortly before 1:00 pm (0400 GMT) and marked the first inter-governmental interaction since August when the two sides met to defuse a crisis that had pushed them to the brink of an armed conflict.
That meeting ended with a joint agreement that included a commitment to resume high-level talks, although no precise timeline was given. Although any dialogue between the two Koreas is generally welcomed as a step in the right direction, precedent offers little hope of a successful outcome. AFP
Just over 24 hours after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane after claiming the jet had violated Turkish airspace, Moscow is already exacting its revenge — albeit subtly. “We’re not going to wage a war against Turkey. … But we will seriously reconsider our agreements with the Turkish government,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a press call on Wednesday. “Our attitude to the Turkish people hasn’t changed,” Lavrov continued. “We only have questions about the Turkish leadership.”
Turkey defended its decision to down the plane on Tuesday, contending that the plane was in Turkish airspace and had been warned repeatedly before it was shot down by Turkish F-16 jets. But Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane was destroyed by a Turkish missile while flying in Syrian airspace, roughly a mile from the Turkish border.
By Wednesday morning, Russia had begun bombarding rebels — including Turkmen insurgents, who have ethnic ties to Turkey — in Syria’s Latakia province, ignoring demands made by Turkey over the past week to end its military operations close to the Turkish border.
Russia also announced Wednesday that it would deploy state-of-the-art S-400 missile systems to the Russian Hemeimeem air base near Latakia, Syria — 30 miles south of the Turkish border, the AP reported. The missiles, which are able to hit a plane with extreme accuracy, are evidently meant to deter Turkish jets from shooting down Russian planes in the future. Business Insider
Without waiting for the end of the year, the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year on record. “I would call it certain. Something game-changing massive would have to happen for it not to be a record,” NOAA’s chief climate monitor, Deke Arndt, told The Associated Press.
2015 saw temperatures soar worldwide as a result of a strong El Nino and man-made global warming, with the planet likely having warmed by 1 degree Celsius, an alarming climate change milestone. Extreme weather has been recorded throughout the globe, from heat waves in Pakistan and India to Hurricane Patricia to droughts across the western United States. The Associated Press via The Week
Donald Trump mocks reporter’s disability
The New York Times is angry that Donald Trump mocked one of its reporters who has a physical disability. Trump waved his arms in an awkward manner to lampoon Serge Kovaleski at a rally in South Carolina Tuesday night. Kovaleski has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his arms.
The New York Times was offended. “We find it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,” a spokesperson told CNNMoney. Trump’s performance was prompted by a story Kovaleski had written in 2001 that refuted claims that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheered the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Trump is insisting that he saw “thousands” of Muslims celebrating in Jersey City, N.J., as the twin towers burned fell on the other side of the Hudson River. CNN
French President Francois Hollande heads to Russia Thursday as part of efforts to build a global coalition to intensify the fight against Islamic State in the aftermath of the deadly Paris attacks. Hollande will meet in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin, continuing a tour that has already seen him win verbal pledges of support from the leaders of the U.S., Britain, and Germany.
The Islamic State group, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the November 13 coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.
France was already part of a U.S.-led coalition targeting the extremist group, but French leaders have been under intense pressure to do more to defeat the organization following the Paris attacks. VOA
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution.
The wounds of the attacks on Paris are still raw in the West, where mourning is quickly being replaced by renewed fears and stepped-up security.
Current and former intelligence officials, like former CIA director James Woolsey, warn this is the new reality.
“We’re just getting started. I think ISIS is going to be with us for some time, even if their headquarters, their caliphate is captured or destroyed,” said Woolsey. VOA
Over 40 percent of women who have had an abortion say they were frequent churchgoers at the time they ended their pregnancies and about a half of them say they kept their abortions hidden from church members, new LifeWay Research shows.
In a survey released Monday that was sponsored by the pregnancy center support organization Care Net, researchers from the Christian research group LifeWay found that about 70 percent of women who had an abortion self-identified as Christians, while 43 percent say they attended a Christian church at least once per month or more at the time they aborted their child.
The survey, which interviewed 1,038 respondents who’ve all had abortions, found that 20 percent of the respondents attended church at least once a week at the time of their first pregnancy termination. Six percent said they attended church more than once per week, while about 54 percent said they rarely or never attended a church.
As a majority Christian churches do not support aborting a child, only 7 percent of women said they discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church, while 52 percent said no one at their church knew about their abortion. Additionally, 76 percent of them say that the church had no influence on their decision to go through with the abortion. Christian Post
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