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South Korean justice minister resigns over corruption scandal

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South Korean Justice Minister, Cho Kuk, on Monday resigned over an escalating corruption scandal barely a month after being appointed.

The opposition had accused him of misconduct as his family was being investigated on allegations of questionable financial transactions.

Kuk, 54, said in a statement that he would resign and not be a burden to President Moon Jae-In who had appointed him in September. Jae-In accepted his resignation.

Jae-In, however, apologised for causing national discord over Kuk’s appointment.

Earlier, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand Kuk’s dismissal as well as Jae-In’s resignation.

Kuk’s family was being investigated on suspicion of investing in a holding company suspected of involvement in market manipulation and illegal transactions.

Liberal groups had spoken in support of Kuk as the architect of Jae-In’s plans to reform the National Prosecutor’s office, however, conservatives considered him unqualified for the position.

(dpa/NAN)

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Britain plans to raise minimum national living wage backed by review

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Britain’s plan to raise the minimum wage to two-thirds of median earnings, taking it to 10.50 pounds (13.58 dollars) an hour, was endorsed by an independent review on Monday that found setting a floor on pay had a negligible effect on job creation.

Companies are now likely to see wage costs rise after December’s snap national election whatever the outcome.

Conservative Finance Minister Sajid Javid said in September he would increase the National Living Wage (NLW) to the new target by 2024, provided economic conditions allowed, and expand its reach to all workers over the age of 21, down from 25 now.

The opposition Labour Party said it would raise the minimum wage to 10 pounds (12.93 dollars) an hour immediately if it wins power.

An independent review commissioned by the government from economics professor Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts Amherst examined the impact of minimum wages in Germany, the United States, Britain and other countries.

“Based on the overall evidence – with a special emphasis on the recent, high quality, evaluations of the NLW and other more ambitious policies internationally – my report concludes that there is room for exploring a higher NLW in the UK up to two-thirds of the median wage,” he said.

“It will also be important to empirically evaluate and recalibrate any such ambitious policy based on new evidence down the road.”

Javid said, “The evidence is clear that our approach is the right one.”

But Labour said Javid’s pledge “was an insult to our hard working people”.

“It’s a derisory offer which people will have to wait years for,” Labour’s finance spokesman John McDonnell said.

“Labour will immediately introduce a real living wage of 10 pounds an hour for everyone 16 and over, outstripping every publicity stunt figure the Tories invent.”

(Reuters/NAN)

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53 soldiers killed in onslaught on Mali military post

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The death toll from a “terrorist attack” on a military post in northeast Mali Friday has risen to 53, Communication Minister, Yaya Sangare, said on Saturday.

Thirty-five soldiers were killed on Friday in the attack on the spot in Indelimane, about 70 kilometres west of Menaka near the border with Niger, according to the army, which has dubbed the incident a terrorist attack.

An investigation into the attack has been underway, it added.

No group has claimed responsibility for the assault.

Since 2015, the West African country has suffered a spate of terrorist attacks that have killed over 500 people and displaced over 450,000 others. (Xinhua/NAN)

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World most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi, killed in U.S. raid

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Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, was amongst those targeted and killed in a recent raid by American forces, reports said on Sunday.

The special operation targeted several leaders of the deadly Islamic State near Barisha, Syria, overnight, with troops launching helicopters, jets and drops to trap and kill the wanted terrorists.

Although a forensic analysis of those killed in the attack had commenced, Newsweek was the first to report that Mr Al-Baghdadi was amongst those believed killed, citing military sources.

Other media reports have corroborated Newsweek with additional details of how American troops first arrived by air and then began gathering intelligence on the ground.

No reports of American casualties during the overnight raid, which had been deemed one of the most daring since the 2011 operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.

The news came hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that “something very big has just happened.” He is expected to make an announcement by 9:00 a.m. in Washington, the White House said, without providing additional details.

For years, Mr Al-Baghdadi, 48, had terrorised countries with his jihadist campaign, leading different cells of insurgents. Previous reports once said he was killed in American drone strikes, but they were not confirmed like the latest report.

He has led Islamic State since 2010, and once boasted from the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself the leader of a new caliphate in the Middle-East.

After being away from public glare for a long time, Islamic State released an 18-minute video which included Mr Al-Baghdadi look-alike sitting cross-legged on the ground with an assault weapon.

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