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Typhoon Mangkhut hits north Philippines, China

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A resident carries a matress inside a classroom used as evacuation center as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Philippines

A resident carries a matress inside a classroom used as evacuation center as Typhoon Mangkhut hits Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut retained its ferocious strength and slightly shifted toward more densely populated coastal provinces on Friday as it barreled closer to the northeastern Philippines, where a massive evacuation was underway.

More than 4 million people are at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorizes as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

It was initially expected to hit the northern tip of Cagayan province early Saturday, but it’s now likely to make landfall farther south and closer to Isabela province then cut across the northern breadbasket, Philippine state forecaster Chris Perez told The Associated Press.

The change won’t make much difference because of the typhoon’s massive size, he said.

A huge raincloud band 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, means the typhoon will bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods.

Warnings have been raised in 25 provinces across the main northern island of Luzon, restricting sea and air travel.

The typhoon is approaching at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, and farmers were scrambling to save what they could of their crops, Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said.

The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

Mangkhut was tracked on Friday about 400 kilometers (250 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), Philippine forecasters said.

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Ukraine demands release of seized ships, crew from Russia

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Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria Dr Valerii Aleksandruk

Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria Dr Valerii Aleksandruk

The Ukrainian authority has protested Russian’s armed attack and capturing of its navy ships “Berdyansk” Nikopol and the tug boat `Yana Kapu’ as well as injuring of the crew members.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria Dr Valerii Aleksandruk who said this in a statement in Abuja said the country demanded for immediate release of the seized vessels and crew members.

Aleksandruk said Russian forces opened fire on a group of Ukraine ships in the Black Sea off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula late on Nov. 25th.

The envoy said the country also protested striking of two warships and wounding of two crew members before seizing the vessels along with a Ukrainian Navy tugboat.

He said that the attack on Ukrainian ships was carried out during a sea crossing from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol.

“The attack, in accordance with the provisions of all effective multilateral and bilateral international treaties and navigation rules, is nothing but another act of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine

“It is against Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of UN General Assembly Resolution 29/3314 of 14 December 1974 on the definition of aggression.

“Russia has de facto expanded its military aggression against Ukraine to the sea.

“Kremlin’s criminal regime has today once again demonstrated that it won’t stop its aggressive policy and is ready for any acts of aggression against the Ukrainian state,” he said.

According to him, Ukraine also requested for urgent medical assistance to the wounded and to ensure their immediate safe return home.

“Ukraine also demands to return the captured navy ships and to compensate for the damage caused.

“It is Kremlin’s regime who bears full responsibility for further aggravation of the situation in the Azov and Black Seas and for undermining the peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.

“Ukraine urges its allies and partners to take all necessary measures to deter the aggressor, by applying new and strengthening existing sanctions

“Ukraine also urges its allies to provide military assistance to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognised borders,” he said

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CNN sues White House for barring reporter

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CNN sued Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday, alleging the White House violated journalist Jim Acosta’s rights under the constitution by revoking his press credentials following a heated exchange with the US president.

“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” the news network said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”

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Austria pulls out of UN global migration pact

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Austrian flag

Austrian flag

Austria on Wednesday backed out of a UN pact on migration over concerns that it will blur the line between legal and illegal migration.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 UN member nations except the United States, which backed out in 2017.

Hungary also backed out of the pact.

Hungary’s right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a hard-liner on immigration, has said it will not sign the final document at a ceremony in Morocco in December.

Poland, which has also clashed with Brussels by resisting national quotas for asylum seekers, is considering the same step.

“We have decided that we will not join the pact,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a conservative and an immigration hard-liner who governs in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, told ORF radio.

Austria will not send an envoy to the signing ceremony in Morocco and will abstain from a UN vote on the pact next year, ORF and news agency APA said, citing Kurz and far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, adding that the cabinet would formally approve the move on Wednesday.

“We will therefore abstain in the vote at the U.N. General Assembly in the year 2019,” Kurz told ORF.

He and Strache expressed concerns about the pact this month, saying it could restrict sovereignty.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

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