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North Koreans participate in a mass pro-government rally in Pyongyang on Aug 9, 2017.
North Koreans participate in a mass pro-government rally in Pyongyang on Aug 9, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

US sanctions North Koreans over forced labour, other alleged abuses

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on seven North Korean individuals and three entities over what it called serious human rights abuses, including forced labour and hunting down of asylum seekers.

"Today's sanctions target the North Korean military and regime officials engaged in flagrant abuses of human rights," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"We also are targeting North Korean financial facilitators who attempt to keep the regime afloat with foreign currency earned through forced labour operations."

Among those targeted by the sanctions were the director and the deputy director of the Military Security Command, the first vice-minister of the Ministry of People's Security and the labour minister. The United States also sanctioned North Korea's consul-general in Shenyang, China, and a diplomat at North Korea's embassy in Vietnam.


Catalonia crisis deepens as region’s leader rules out snap election

Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont said he would not hold a new regional election to break the deadlock between Madrid and separatists wanting to split from Spain, sharpening a political crisis that could turn into direct confrontation.

Puigdemont had been expected to announce an election to head off moves by Madrid to take direct control of the autonomous region in the next few days.

But, speaking in the courtyard of the regional government headquarters in Barcelona, Puigdemont said the central government had not provided sufficient guarantees that holding an election would prevent the imposition of direct rule.


Rome's Trevi fountain runs red after man pours dye in water

The waters of Rome's Trevi Fountain, one of Italy's top tourist attractions, turned red after a man dumped dye into the main pool.

Police detained the man responsible, a statement from the mayor's office said, as city officials assessed if there had been any damage to the 18th century landmark. The man was identified in the media as Graziano Cecchini.

The fountain, where tossing a coin into the pool is supposed by superstition to guarantee one's return to the eternal city, is a big tourist attraction in Rome.


Disney Channel to air first gay storyline

The Disney Channel is set to introduce a gay storyline for the first time, it said, as a teenage character in one of its shows struggles with his sexuality.

The season two premiere of Andi Mack, which airs on Friday in the US, will see best friends Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and Cyrus (Joshua Rush) admit they are attracted to the same boy.

The coming-of-age show - created by Sex And The City writer Terri Minsky - revolves around 13-year-old girl Andi, who is trying to determine where she fits in and the many ways she can live her life.


Tennis: Martina Hingis to retire 'for a third and final time'

Martina Hingis is ready to say goodbye to tennis but Singapore has not seen the last of her yet.

The world No. 1 doubles player, together with Chan Yung-jan, beat Anna-Lena Gronefeld and Kveta Peschke 6-3, 6-2 in their first match of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Thursday.

In a Facebook post put up after her match, Hingis said she will retire for "the third and final time" after her last match here.