Six In The Morning Wednesday 30 August 2023

Ukraine war: Wave of drone strikes hits several Russian regions

By Paul Adams, diplomatic correspondent, Tiffany Wertheimer & George Wright
BBC News

Moscow has vowed Ukraine will “not go unpunished” after drone strikes hit targets in Russia, while Kyiv saw its heaviest bombardment in months.

The drones hit several Russian regions and damaged two military planes, a fuel depot and a microelectronics factory.

Meanwhile Ukrainian officials said most missiles and drones were shot down but two people were killed.

Kyiv has not said that it was involved in the latest attacks, but it rarely comments on strikes inside Russia.

In recent weeks, however, Ukraine is believed to have increased its use of explosive drones to attack targets in Russia.

Gangs forcing hundreds of thousands of people into cybercrime in south-east Asia, says UN

Organised criminals use threats, torture and sexual violence to coerce victims to work in international scamming operations

Hundreds of thousands of people have been trafficked and forced to work for online scamming operations in south-east Asia run by criminal gangs, according to a UN report.

Billions of dollars are being generated each year by gangs who coerce victims into cybercrime, where they are subject to threats, torture and sometimes sexual violence, said the report, published by the UN human rights office on Tuesday.

The UN estimated about 120,000 victims are in Myanmar and 100,000 in Cambodia, while tens of thousands more people are being forced to work in Laos, the Philippines and Thailand.

Two years after taking over power, the Taliban say the security situation in Afghanistan has improved. Most neighboring countries, however, report a significantly increased terrorism threat posed by Taliban-supported groups. A recent UN report warns of destabilization of the region.

Attempted coup in Gabon aims to remove President Ali Bongo from power and end 50-year dynasty

Leading military figures in Gabon announced on Wednesday that they had placed President Ali Bongo Ondimba under house arrest in a bid to remove him from power after 14 years. The attempted coup comes days after Bongo was re-elected as president for the third time – a role he inherited from his father, former president Omar Bongo.

Ali Bongo’s victory in his third election campaign was announced early Wednesday morning by the Gabonese Election Centre amid fears of unrest in the central African country.

Before the results came in, opposition figures were already raising concernes over the transparency and legitimacy of the election – accusations which have plagued Bongo, 64, since he first ran for president in 2009.

The 2009 vote, from which Bongo emerged as the victorious candidate for the Gabonese Democratic Party, came two months after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had founded the party. Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for nearly 42 years and his son had served under him as defence minister.

Johnny & Associates founder Kitagawa sexually assaulted hundreds of teens, investigation finds


A team investigating sexual assault allegations by the late founder of a powerful talent agency for boy bands has found the charges credible, calling Tuesday for compensation for the victims and the resignation of the current chief executive.

The three-month probe, which included speaking with 23 victims, concluded that Johnny Kitagawa sexually assaulted and abused boys as far back as the 1950s and targeted at least several hundred people.

The investigative panel said Johnny & Associates must apologize, strengthen compliance measures and educate its ranks about human rights. Julie Keiko Fujishima, the chief executive, must resign for not taking action over the years, according to the special team. Kitagawa died in 2019 and was never charged

Iran bans weightlifter for life after he shakes Israeli’s hand on podium

Committee representing veteran weightlifters also dissolved after the two athletes take a photo at weightlifting championships in Poland.

 Iran has banned a weightlifter from sports for life and dissolved a sports committee after the athlete greeted an Israeli counterpart on a podium.

Mostafa Rajaei, a veteran weightlifter, finished second in his category in the 2023 World Master Weightlifting Championships in Poland and stood on a podium with an Iranian flag wrapped around him on Saturday.

On anther step of the podium stood Maksim Svirsky from Israel, who finished third.

The two athletes shook hands and took a picture together, which led to the Iran Weightlifting Federation banning Rajaei from all sports for life due to what it called an “unforgivable” transgression.