World News


U.N. disabilities rapporteur to make observation visit to North Korea

April 27 (UPI) — North Korea is making an unusual gesture to the international community by inviting a United Nations representative on the rights of the disabled to the country.

Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, will be visiting North Korea for six days to collect information on the conditions of the disabled in the country, Deutsche Welle reported Thursday.

“My upcoming visit to [North Korea] represents a key opportunity to learn firsthand about national realities, laws, policies and programs concerning people with disabilities, as well as the challenges and opportunities the government faces in implementing the convention,” Devandas-Aguilar said.

North Korea ratified the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in December 2016.

The trip begins May 3 and concludes on May 8, according to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The visit would also mark the first time Pyongyang has allowed a U.N.-appointed special rapporteur into the country since 2004, when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed one to investigate and report on North Korea’s human rights situation, according to South Korean newspaper Asia Business Daily.

Devandas-Aguilar is scheduled to visit Pyongyang and South Hwanghae Province, then hold a press conference at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang.

In April 2009, North Korea reportedly amended its constitution to include new clauses on human rights protection and in March 2015 the country sent its first troupe of disabled performers for a tour of France and Britain.

In November 2015, a Western tourist shared a photograph of a disability-accessible toilet at Sunan airport in Pyongyang, but opinions remained divided over whether the development was an indication the state is changing its attitude toward the disabled, or whether the regime was engaging in “toilet” propaganda.


London police arrest knife-carrying suspect on suspicion of terrorism

April 27 (UPI) — London’s Metropolitan Police on Thursday said authorities arrested a 27-year-old knife-carrying man near the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on suspicion of terrorist acts.

Police arrested the suspect in the iconic Westminster road of Whitehall. Witnesses said the suspect carried a backpack holding several knives.

Met Police said armed officers from the Specialist Firearms Command carried out the arrest.

“He was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. Knives have been recovered from him,” Met Police said in a statement. “He is being detained under the Terrorism Act and is in custody in a south London police station.”

Met Police said there is no immediate known threat following the arrest and that Counter Terrorism Command detectives are continuing an investigation. Officials said the suspect had been under surveillance prior to the incident.

The incident comes after the Westminster attack on March 22 in which Khalid Masood killed five people.


116-year-old Mexican gets bank card after being deemed too old

April 27 (UPI) — Mexico’s Citibanamex bank has issued a card to a 116-year-old woman who was initially rejected because she was too old, which made her miss out on monthly welfare payments.

María Félix Nava and her family said the centenarian went without government support for about three months after a Citibanamex branch in the city of Guadalajara told her she could not open an individual bank account.

Over three months, she missed out on about $125 worth of welfare payments until Miguel Castro Reynoso, the Jalisco state development secretary, on Tuesday delivered a check to her in person.

Castro Reynoso handed her a check of $190 to cover April’s welfare payment and the previous missed payments from March and February.

On Thursday, Castro Reynoso visited Félix Nava again to give her a new Citibanamex bank card.

“When there is will, there is no obstacle or bureaucratic process that can detain,” Castro Reynoso said in a statement. “Doña Maria already has her card and from today she will receive her support without any setback.”

Citibanamex, a Citigroup Inc. unit, said the issue occurred due to a glitch in its computer system because it could not register people aged more than 110 years. Mexican transparency rules require state benefits to be deposited into individual accounts.

The Citibanamex employee who denied Félix Nava the account said the law prohibits giving someone over the age of 110 a card, Reforma reported.

“We went to the Citibanamex that is in El Álamo, where they had us for a while and then they told us that they could not give us the card because my mother was 116 years old and that the maximum was 110,” her daughter Marina Gutiérrez Félix said.

Local authorities recognize Félix Nava’s birth certificate, which states her birthday is in July 1900, as authentic.


Report: China detained American on charges of spying for FBI

April 27 (UPI) — China detained a U.S. citizen in the fall of 2016 on charges of spying on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but the arrest was not made public until Wednesday.

Li Kai, 55, was arrested in Shanghai for espionage, an anonymous source told Hong Kong-based newspaper Sing Tao Daily.

China’s state security agency made the arrest and charged Li with collecting information, following orders from the FBI.

Li’s case has been handed over to Shanghai Municipal People’s Prosecutor’s Office, and the American faces severe punishment, the source said.

The death penalty is one possibility. According to Chinese law, executions are one form of punishment for spying activities that are regarded as a threat to national security.

Sing Tao’s source said Chinese authorities claim Li traveled to China from the United States, under the pretext of conducting business, from 2010 to the time of his arrest.

Li gained access to defense research institutes where he collected his data, according to the allegations.

Li immigrated to the United States from China in the ’80s to pursue his studies in California. He eventually settled in New York where he began a trading business, specializing in defense products, the source said.

The U.S. citizen visited several defense research institutes in Shanghai and Tianjin before he was apprehended, according to the report.

The news comes at a time China has convicted another American, Sandy Phan-Gillis, of spying.

Phan-Gillis was sentenced to three and a half years in prison by a court in Nanning, the BBC reported Wednesday.

The Houston businesswoman was arrested in March 2015 and has been in detention since that time.

Her family has said she is innocent.