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Thursday 21 November 2019

Trump to break Russian missile treaty

Donald Trump said he plans to pull the US out of a major arms control treaty with Russia, claiming the Kremlin breached the accord on intermediate-range nuclear weapons.

"We're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement," Trump said yesterday at a campaign rally in Nevada. "We're going to terminate the agreement.'

The US has been warning Russia it could resort to strong countermeasures unless Moscow complies with international commitments to arms reduction under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty - a pact struck in the 1980s.

NATO defence ministers earlier this month discussed concerns that Russia was developing a medium-range ballistic missile. The US said Russian non-compliance would compel the US to match its capabilities to protect the interests of the US and European allies.

NATO has credited the INF treaty with playing a crucial role in ensuring security for 30 years by ending the proliferation of ground-launched intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Afghanistan polling day bomber kills 15

The first major attack in yesterday's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan took place in a school in northern Kabul when a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a polling station.

A doctor treating the wounded said at least 15 people were killed and six wounded.

Afghanistan is holding parliamentary elections despite deep security concerns and ongoing fighting in as many as 20 out of the country's 34 provinces.

Spacecraft launches mission to Mercury

A European-Japanese spacecraft this weekend set off on a seven-year journey to Mercury to probe the solar system's smallest and least-explored planet.

The BepiColombo mission, only the third ever to visit Mercury, blasted off from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket yesterday morning.

Few spacecraft have visited Mercury because of the planet's proximity to the Sun - less than 60m km away compared with almost Earth's 150m km - which makes any trip there challenging. Surface temperatures on the planet can reach highs of more than 400C during the day and drop to minus 170C at night.

India train victims were migrant workers

Most of the casualties in a train disaster that killed dozens of people in northern India were migrant workers, it was reported yesterday.

Many of the 60 killed and dozens injured when a speeding train ran over a crowd celebrating the Hindu festival of Dussehra on Friday night had left their families in neighbouring states to work in factories in Punjab.

Most "of those killed are these poor workers," a government spokesman said, adding that some earned as little as 7,000 rupees (€82) per month.

Moscow bans tribute to Stalin's victims

Moscow authorities have refused permission for an annual commemoration of Stalin-era political repression victims to be held in Lubyanka Square outside the former KGB headquarters.

For the past decade, the historical and civil rights group Memorial has on October 29 conducted a 12-hour reading of the names of people shot for political reasons during Stalin's time. The event has been held at the Solovetsky Stone, a boulder from the islands that held the prison camp that gave rise to the Gulag system.

By-election blow to Aussie government

The Australian government will lose its one-seat majority in parliament with more than half the votes counted in a by-election yesterday, creating a potential political crisis for prime minister Scott Morrison.

The by-election for the wealthy seaside constituency of Wentworth, in east Sydney, followed the resignation of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who was ousted in August by his own party.

Morrison will now have to rely on the support of independent lawmakers to continue to govern.

US lottery draws near to €1bn mark

A US lottery jackpot has soared to €1.6bn (€1.4m), and could even top $2bn before the next drawing on Tuesday.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions draw are one in 302.5 million. And the prize has grown so large because no one has hit the jackpot since July 24, when a group in California won $543m. The $1.6bn prize refers to the annuity option. Most winners opt for cash, which for Tuesday's drawing would be $904m (€784m).

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