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Kim Jong Nam Killing could be Extrajudicial Case: U.N. Expert



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The U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea said Monday the recent murder in Malaysia of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader, could amount to an extrajudicial killing, which would open the door to international investigation.

“Should the investigation confirm the involvement of state actors, Mr. Kim would be a victim of an extrajudicial killing and measures would need to be taken to assign responsibilities,” Tomas Ojea Quintana said during a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Malaysian authorities suspect North Korea orchestrated the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, who is known to have criticized the country’s hereditary succession, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13, using the highly toxic nerve agent VX. North Korea claims the man died from a heart attack.

“I plan to request official information on the outcome of the investigation, in order to understand where the investigation is going, to what extent the investigation shows the involvement of state actors, and if that is the case, what state actors are involved,” Quintana told Kyodo News during an interview.

“Then, I will be able to address the issue from a human rights point of view,” he added.

Quintana, who succeeded Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia as special rapporteur on the country in August 2016, is following a two-track approach combining engagement with North Korean authorities and a push for accountability on human rights violations.

His engagement strategy has shown mixed results so far, with only limited contact with North Korean diplomatic representatives.

The North Korean delegation boycotted the Human Rights Council session on Monday, which was dedicated to human rights violations committed by the reclusive regime.

Quintana pointed to the centrality of China in addressing the North Korean issue in lieu of direct contact with Pyongyang.

“I think China is very important, not only in respect to the security question, but also on the human rights issue,” Quintana said, while regretting the “reluctance” of Chinese officials to engage on human rights matters.

On the accountability track, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein named in September 2016 Sonja Biserko of Serbia and Sara Hossain of Bangladesh as part of a team to seek accountability for human rights violations in the isolated country.

The two legal experts work closely with Quintana and have recently visited Geneva, The Hague, Seoul, Tokyo and New York to consult with various stakeholders, including scholars of international criminal justice and persons who left North Korea in 2016.

“We call on the international community to continue to pursue a referral of the situation in the DPRK to the International Criminal Court,” Hossain said during the Human Rights Council session.

Hossain used the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the country.

“There should be very serious examination of what questions can go before the International Criminal Court, in respect to which perpetrators and which violations,” Hossain told Kyodo News, while recognizing this remains a matter of political will among members of the U.N. Security Council.

A U.N. commission investigating human rights violations in North Korea suggested in a report released in February 2014 that top government officials — among them leader Kim Jong Un — could be held responsible for crimes against humanity.

Quintana also touched upon the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 1980s, saying to the Human Rights Council he was “committed to using all possible avenues to access accurate and reliable information on people who were abducted or went missing.”

On the other hand, Quintana raised doubts about the efficacy of the Japanese government’s policy toward North Korea.

“I understand how serious it is to see missiles going into the exclusive economic zone, but at the same time reacting with unilateral sanctions leads the DPRK to close any discussion on the abductees,” Quintana said, referring to a recent multiple-missile salvo from North Korea. (PNA/Kyodo)

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Award Winning Music Artist, Jon Bon Jovi and Acclaimed French Winemaker, Gérard Bertrand Join Forces to Launch a Premium Rosé Wine



Image Source: David Fritz Goeppinger (PRNewsfoto/Gerard Bertrand)

Award winning music icon, Jon Bon Jovi and acclaimed French winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, have joined forces to launch a premium rosé wine label, Diving into Hampton Water, soon to be available in the US market.

Image Source: PRNewsfoto/Gerard Bertrand

The venture was inspired by Bon Jovi’s son, Jesse Bongiovi, former Notre Dame football player, who played a pivotal role in the brand’s creation. The idea to create a wine, emblematic of a bon vivant lifestyle, emerged during time spent in the Hamptons, between Bon Jovi and his son. Rosé, a popular drink for the Bongiovi’s, had initially been dubbed ‘pink juice’ by Bon Jovi, until Jesse and a friend inadvertently coined the name, Hampton Water, and an idea was born.

Bon Jovi and Jesse began exploring this idea as a real enterprise, designing bottles and building on concepts. They were eventually introduced to Gérard Bertrand by a mutual friend and the three quickly developed a shared vision, to create a unique rosé, uniting the essence of the relaxed lifestyles of the Hamptons and the South of France. “We’d tried rosé from everywhere,” says Jesse. “But when we visited Gérard, we realized that there is an entire coastline in France that is producing some of the best-kept secrets on Earth.”

Coincidently, Jon Bon Jovi and Gérard Bertrand, both giants in their respective fields, had a lot in common. “We just hit it off immediately,” Bon Jovi reports of their first meeting. “We found that we shared a love of family, food, friends, and of course, great wine and great music.” Gérard Bertrand hosts a jazz festival at his main wine estate, Château l’Hospitalet, each year. “For me the connection between wine and music is organic,” says Gérard Bertrand. “I want to create a link between the emotions that spark off a great song and good wine. They elevate each other.”

After a number of visits between the US and Gérard Bertrand’s wineries in the South of France, as well as numerous blending and tasting sessions, the wine is now ready for release. The wine is described as a fresh and lively rosé, with distinctive minerality, featuring Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, grape varieties characteristic of the French Mediterranean region.

Bon Jovi states, “Creating this wine with Gérard was just as creative as collaborating with another songwriter, Gérard uses his talents and wine knowledge just like a gifted musician. And working with my son on this has been an amazing experience.”

Diving into Hampton Water rosé wine is set to hit the shelves before spring 2018 and will retail for $25. (Gerard Bertrand)

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2018 Andrei Stenin Int’l Photo Contest Opens




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A little over three years ago, in August 2014, Rossiya Segodnya’s photojournalist Andrei Stenin was killed in Donbass while performing his professional duty. He would have turned 37 in 2017.

Andrei was famous for his photographs from hotspots, such as Syria, Gaza , Egypt, Libya, Turkey and, of course, southeastern Ukraine, of which Rossiya Segodnya is still proud.

In December 2014, the agency established the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest under the patronage of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

Participants aged 18 to 33 can now submit their entries at The submission period closes on February 28, 2018.

The Andrei Stenin contest is the only competition in Russia that discovers new names in international photojournalism and develops quality standards for documentary photography.

The contest is aimed at supporting young photojournalists and helping them make a breakthrough in their careers.

This year contestants will again compete in four categories — Top News, Sport, My Planet, and Portrait, A Hero of Our Time. However this time around, photographers can submit up to three entries in each category, giving them a greater opportunity to demonstrate their professional skills.

The 2018 prize money is almost double that of the previous year:
* The Grand Prize winner – RUB 700,000 (around 12 000 USD).
* The first place winner in each category for an individual Photo Image or a Series of Photo Images – RUB 100,000 (around 1 700 USD).
* The second place winner in each category for an individual Photo Image or a Series of Photo Images – RUB 75,000 (around 1 300 USD).
* The third place winner in each category for an individual Photo Image or a Series of Photo Images – RUB 50,000 (around 900 USD).

The opportunity for young photojournalists to showcase their work at Russian and international exhibition venues during the winners’ international tour, now an integral part of the contest, is no less important to participants than the monetary award.

The judges include photography experts from leading news agencies and media outlets. They are Ahmet Sel, Visual News Editor-in- Chief for Anadolu Agency, the oldest and largest agency in Turkey; Jorge Árciga Avila, deputy director of photography at the Notimex Mexican News Agency; Pavel Kassin, head of the Photo Department at Kommersant; Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) special correspondent in Moscow Mladen Antonov; founder and director of the independent Russian photo agency SALT IMAGES Anna Zekria; and Ivan Sekretaryov, photojournalist with more than 20 years of experience, former photographer of The Associated Press (AP) Moscow bureau.

One more jury member is Wang Yao, Honorary President of China Photographers’ Association, President of Chinese Women Photographers’ Association, who in the past served as Deputy Editor-in-Chief at China News Service and Xinhua News Agency.

“For many young photographers, the Andrei Stenin contest has driven their career forward. They got a chance to receive feedback and see where they stand in the photography community. We invite young professionals from all over the world to participate and we wish them good luck,” Oksana Oleinik, supervisor of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest and head of the Photo Projects Desk at Rossiya Segodnya, said.

In 2017, the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest was supported by major Russian and international media outlets, news agencies as well as the photo community.

Partners in several categories included the Shanghai United Media Group (SUMG), the Al Mayadeen TV pan-Arabic news holding and the International Red Cross Committee, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations.

The contest’s general information partners include: the news website Vesti.Ru, the Russian state Rossiya-Kultura TV channel, news website, news website ZhurDom and the Russian Photo website. International media partners include Sputnik News Agency and Radio, Askanews News Agency, Independent Media holding, Notimex news agency, RT TV channel and news site, The Royal Photographic Society, Shanghai United Media Group (SUMG), news agency ANA, TeleSUR international informative multiplatform, China Daily web-site, Frontline magazine. Industry media partners include the Academy of Photography, GeoPhoto agency, educational portal, the Union of Journalists of Moscow, the Union of Art Photographers of Russia, Young Journalists information portal and the festivals Fotoistanbul, KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO, PhotoVisa. (PR)

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6.2-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Northeastern Japan




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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 struck off northeastern Japan, at 7:51 p.m. local time (1051 GMT) Wednesday, Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The temblor was centered off the coast of Aomori prefecture, with the epicenter at a latitude of 41.0 degrees north and a longitude of 142.5 degrees east and at a depth of 30 km.

The earthquake logged 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, which peaks at 7 in some areas of Aomori prefecture, Hokkaido prefecture, and Iwate prefecture.

So far, no major damage or injuries were reported, and no tsunami warning had been issued. (Xinhua)

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Hong Kong Airlines to Recruit New Cadet Pilots



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Hong Kong Airlines has kicked off recruitment for a new batch of cadet pilots, following the successful launch of its inaugural Cadet Pilot Programme last year. The much-coveted 2017 Cadet Pilot Programme received over 4,000 applications last year and Hong Kong Airlines is excited to welcome new applicants again. The recruitment phase will take place from now until 15 February 2018. Interested applicants can apply online or email for more information.

Hong Kong Airlines’ commitment to developing home-grown talent will once again see it target young people with Hong Kong Permanent Resident status for its second cadet pilot recruitment. All new cadets will undergo 70 weeks of flight training, which includes ground school training and multi-crew cooperation training using medium jet simulator. Following completion of the programme, successful cadets will receive their official appointment as Second Officers of Hong Kong Airlines.

Having served a record seven million passengers in 2017, which represented an impressive 10% climb year-on-year, Hong Kong Airlines is witnessing passenger growth that exceeds the industry average of 7.5% (source: IATA). In turn, the airline has invested substantially in new products, service and infrastructure to help cater to this growing demand.

Currently in the works is the development of a new training centre, which will provide state-of-the-art training facilities to help nurture a new generation of aviation elites. In addition, Hong Kong Airlines is also looking to expand its fleet to 50 aircraft strong by 2019, and is poised to take delivery of all 21 Airbus A350s by 2020. These improvements will prove pivotal to the airline as it continues to transition into a global carrier with long-haul aspirations that will include non-stop services to San Francisco, New York and London in 2018.

“Hong Kong Airlines is currently undergoing a period of unprecedented growth and we continue to seek new talent every day. Our recruitment for new pilots has seen a double digit jump over the past two years and we are committed in our pursuit to help spur growth within the industry. By solidify Hong Kong’s position as a world-class international aviation hub, we can provide our customers with more travel options and flexibility,” said Mr Tang King Shing, Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Airlines.

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