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World

Legislation will make it illegal to prevent trans people from inheriting property, unlawfully evict them or deny them entry to educational institutions.

Pakistan has passed two landmark bills that, for the first time ever, secure the rights of transgender people in the country.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly cleared the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017 as well as a legislation that will make amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The bills are set to expand the definition of a trans person in the country, to include “any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the society norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth”, Pakistani media outlet, Dawn, reported.

The amendment bill will make it illegal to prevent trans people in Pakistan from inheriting property, unlawfully evict them from any establishment or deny them entry to educational institutions.

While the rights bill will officially recognize an individual’s gender identity as they perceive it, and will also guarantee all fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution. telesurtv.net
India has increased a military alert along its eastern border with China, moving troops and weapons into the region amid a weeks-long standoff between the two countries that shows no signs of resolution.

As NPR's Julie McCarthy reported last month, New Delhi and Beijing have been at odds over a strategic region called the Doklam Plateau, which is claimed both by China and by India's tiny ally, Bhutan.

In June, China began construction to extend a road there in an apparent effort to press its claim. In response, India sent troops as a show of force, sparking anger from China which says the affair is none of its business.

Beijing demanded that Indian forces withdrawal, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused.

India's Defense Minister Arun Jaitley told parliament this week that the country's armed forces are "fully prepared" in the event of conflict with China.

The two countries have also long been at odds over India's hosting of Tibet's government-in-exile and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, considered by China to be subversive. npr.org
Several American diplomats who had been stationed in Cuba were forced to cut their tours of duty short and return home last year after suddenly and inexplicably losing their hearing.

According to a report by the Associated Press on Wednesday, unnamed US officials conducted an investigation into the incidents and found that an “advanced sonic weapon” was responsible.

The sonic devices were planted in or around the diplomats’ homes and emitted inaudible sounds that apparently caused the hearing loss.

The day after the original report was published by the Associated Press, the Canadian government told the news agency that one of its diplomats in Cuba had also been treated for hearing loss.

Officials in Canada “are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana,” a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told the AP, adding: “The government is actively working - including with US and Cuban authorities - to ascertain the cause.”

The US State Department confirmed that diplomats had “a variety of physical symptoms” and said the US responded by removing two Cuban diplomats from the country’s embassy in Washington last May, but the Cuban government denied the allegations, and said the expulsion of the Cuban diplomats was “unjustified and baseless.” qz.com
The US mainland could be “reduced to ashes at any moment”, the North Korean government’s official newspaper has said, as tensions between the two countries continue to mount.

The Rodong Sinmun, an official mouthpiece of Kim Jong-un’s ruling Workers’ Party, said the “reckless and hysteric” behaviour of Donald Trump would be to blame if the US is attacked.

The Trump administration has been “seized with anxiety and terror” following North Korea's successful testing of a long-range missile, the newspaper claimed, saying “US military warmongers are running amok”.

“It is a tragedy that the reckless and hysteric behaviours may reduce the US mainland to ashes [at] any moment,” it continued.

Ominously, it said it was the “steadfast will” of North Korea to “put an end to the hostile moves of the US” and vowed that the communist state will “win the final victory in the stand-off with imperialism and the US”, adding: “The US and its vassal forces will dearly pay for the harshest sanctions and pressure and reckless military provocations against the DPRK.”

The latest threats follow days of mounting tensions between the US government and the North Korean regime. independent.co.uk
China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first. 

China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that suggestion Friday.

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

“China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious on their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions.”

In an editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” adding: “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.” washingtonpost.com
In the event of a North Korean nuclear attack on Guam, Japan’s new defense minister said Thursday that his country’s military could shoot down the missiles before they reach the U.S. territory.

In such a scenario, Japan has the right to activate its Aegis destroyer missile defense system, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said during a session of the National Diet, Japan’s parliament.

Any attack against Guam would be considered an existential threat to Japan, the defense minister said, also citing a mutual defense agreement with the United States.

Previously, Japan has said it would shoot down North Korean missiles only if they were directed toward Japan, but last year, Japan enacted a new defense policy, allowing its military to defend U.S. territories and other allies against attack.

Japan lies only about 620 miles to the east of North Korea, which has conducted numerous missile tests this year.

Onodera’s comments reflected what observers have viewed as Japan’s growing interest in reviving its military and taking a more aggressive stance in the affairs of the Asia-Pacific region than it has since the end of World War II. foxnews.com
Mitsuko Heidtke shakes her head in disbelief after hearing that Hawaii is now the first US state to prepare for the possibility of a nuclear strike by North Korea.

She lives on the island of Oahu now, but 72 years ago she was in Hiroshima, Japan, and was only 10 years old when she experienced firsthand the utter devastation and the terrible consequences a nuclear bomb can deliver.

Growing tensions between the United States and North Korea over North Korea's weapons program have led Hawaii to take action, and now the threat of a nuclear strike is being assessed and planned for just in case, although US officials dialed back rhetoric on Wednesday.

No matter how remote the chance, Hawaii is getting prepared, just in case, because state and military officials know there will be little time to react if North Korea does launch a nuclear warhead aimed at Hawaii.

"If North Korea uses an intercontinental ballistic missile, from launch to impact (in Hawaii) is approximately 20 minutes," said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, director of public affairs for the state's Department of Defense.

"Pacific Command would take about fives minutes to characterize a launch, where the missile is going, which means the population would have about 15 minutes to take shelter," said Vern Miyagi, administrator for Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency, adding: "It's not much time at all, but it is enough time to give yourself a chance to survive." cnn.com
North Korea has defended its weapons programme, saying it needs the capability to launch intercontinental missiles at the heart of the United States to prevent an invasion.

It warned that the country was ready to give the US a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force if it takes military action against it, it said in a statement to a regional meeting in Manila.

In a transcript of a statement by the North's foreign minister, RiYong-ho, Pyongyang called new UN sanctions "fabricated" and warned there would be "strong follow-up measures" and acts of justice.

"We will under no circumstances put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table," Mr Ri said.

The statement said the North's intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July proved that the entire United States was in its firing range, and those missiles were a legitimate means of self-defence.

Mr Ri also said that his country has no intention of using nuclear weapons against any country "except the US", unless another country joined in an American action against North Korea. independent.co.uk
A British model was kidnapped in Milan and detained for six days as her captor tried to auction her off online, Italian police have said.

The 20-year-old woman was attacked on July 11 by two men as she attended an arranged photo shoot.

She is believed to have been drugged and transported in a bag to Borgial, an isolated village near Turin, before being released on July 17.

A Polish man, who lives in Britain, was arrested on July 18 on suspicion of kidnap and extortion, state police said.

Officials have released a mugshot of the suspect, named as 30-year-old Lukasz Pawel Herba.

It is alleged two men tried to sell the woman online for more than 300,000 dollars (£230,000) and demanded the model's agent pay to secure her safe release. independent.co.uk
The ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced the construction of a luxury resort on the Red Sea where women will be allowed to wear bikinis instead of having to fully cover their bodies.

Experts believe the ambitious move initiated by the new heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is another attempt to modernize the oil-dependent economy.

Women face extreme restrictions under Saudi laws, including not being able to drive or travel without the permission of a male relative, and having to cover their bodies in public, making bikinis traditionally unacceptable. 

But the government said that the resort will be “governed by laws on par with international standards.” 

The resort will cover 50 islands and is expected to attract tourists from across the globe amid relaxed visa restrictions.

“It goes without question that Prince Mohammed's Vision 2030 is to improve the relatively negative image of the kingdom in the world with regard to treating women,” said Massoud Maalouf, a former diplomat and an advocate of women rights in the Middle East and North Africa region. usatoday.com