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South Korea president warns of crackdown as trucker strike enters second day

SEOUL, Nov 25 (Reuters) - South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned the government might step in to break up a nationwide strike by truckers, describing it as an illegal and unacceptable move to take the national supply chain "hostage" during an economic crisis.
Thousands of unionised truckers on Thursday launched their second major strike in less than six months seeking better pay and working conditions. The action is already disrupting supply chains across the world’s 10th largest economy, affecting automakers, cement and steel producers.
Union officials told Reuters there were no ongoing negotiations or dialogue with the government. The country’s transport ministry said it requested dialogue with the union on Thursday, but the parties have yet to agree on a date.
Union officials estimated about 25,000 people were joining the strike, out of about 420,000 total transport workers in South Korea. The transport ministry said about 6,700 people attended on Friday in about160 locations nationwide, down from 9,600 people on Thursday.
“The public will not tolerate taking the logistics system hostage in the face of a national crisis,” Yoon said in a Facebook message late on Thursday, noting that exports were key to overcoming economic instability and financial market volatility.
“If the irresponsible denial of transport continues, the government will have no choice but to review a number of measures, including a work start order.”
According to South Korean law, during a serious disruption to transportation the government may issue an order to force transport workers back to their jobs. Failure to comply is punishable by up to three years of jail, or a fine of up to 30 million won ($22,550).
Were the government to take this option, it would be the first time in South Korean history such a order is issued.
The strike comes after South Korea saw October exports fall the most in 26 months as its trade deficit persisted for a seventh month, underlining the slowdown in its export-driven economy.
Amid the economic gloom, Yoon’s approval rating remained mostly flat for the fifth week at 30%, according to Gallup Korea on Friday, although his focus on economic affairs received a positive response.
Outside the gate of the container depot at transport hub Uiwang, dozens of unionised truckers have set up camp and are staying overnight in white tents, watched by patrolling police although the strike has been peaceful so far.
“We are going to pour everything, resources and money, and execute every strategy we have,” ...

Trump Sued for battery by E. Jean Carroll under NY’s new law

Former President Donald Trump was sued for battery under a New York law that took effect Thursday, expanding his legal fight with a former Elle magazine advice columnist who claims he raped her in a dressing room in the 1990s.
E. Jean Carroll filed the complaint in Manhattan federal court, where she already has a defamation suit pending against Trump over remarks he made about her from the White House after she went public with the rape claim in 2019.
The lawsuit was filed under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which lifts the statute of limitations for one year on civil claims for sexual offenses. The suit also includes a fresh claim for defamation, because Trump repeated his comments about Carroll in a social-media post last month.
The battery complaint revisits previously reported details from the alleged attack, which Carroll says unfolded after she and Trump ran into each other while shopping and joked about one of them trying on a bodysuit in an empty lingerie sales area.
“Roughly 27 years ago, playful banter at the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue in New York City took a dark turn when Defendant Donald J. Trump seized Plaintiff E. Jean Carroll, forced her up against a dressing room wall, pinned her in place with his shoulder, and raped her,” her lawyer Roberta Kaplan said in the new complaint.
The complaint adds to a growing list of legal troubles facing Trump as he embarks on a third run for the White House, including a criminal probe into his handling of classified documents and a civil fraud case against his company by the New York attorney general, among others.
Read More: Trump Gives Answers in Rape Accuser’s Defamation Suit Deposition
Trump has vigorously denied attacking Carroll or touching her in any way.
“While I respect and admire individuals that come forward, this case is unfortunately an abuse of the purpose of this Act which creates a terrible precedent and runs the risk of delegitimizing the credibility of actual victims,” Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said.
Legal Test
The lawsuit tees up Carroll’s claim as one of the first tests of the Adult Survivors Act, which was passed by New York lawmakers in the wake of the “Me Too” movement. Kaplan said at a virtual court hearing on Nov. 21 that she wants to combine the battery suit with her current defamation case under the same judge for a proposed joint trial as ...

Ukraine Latest: Power Cuts in Focus as War Hits 9-Month Mark

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine is attempting to recover from repeated Russian missile strikes against its energy systems, even as its government prepares for the possibility for even worse conditions. By late Thursday, shortages were cut to below 50% as repairs were made as quickly as possible, and water had been restored to Kyiv.
President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, launched in February as a “special operation,” has reached the nine-month mark. US President Joe Biden said he was confident there will be support in Congress for additional aid to Ukraine, even after Republicans — who have vowed greater oversight of the spending — take control of the House in January.
European Union diplomats are optimistic they can reach a deal on a price cap level for Russian oil exports despite sharp splits over the plan. The EU is also working “full speed” on a ninth sanctions package against Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Finland.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
Key Developments
Ukraine Blackouts Threaten Pipeline Bringing Gas to Europe
Kremlin Faces Rising Ire From Wives, Mothers of Mobilized Troops
Ukraine Struggles to Restore Utilities After Big Russian Strikes
EU Prolongs Oil Price Cap Talks as Russia Hints View May Soften
Estonia Searches for Bomb Shelters Amid Growing Fears of Attack
On the Ground
Ukrainian forces repelled assaults in the Donetsk region, including in Bakhmut, as the country struggled to cope with power and water outages brought on by Russian missile attacks a day earlier. On the front in the east, Ukrainian forces repelled assaults near eight settlements in the Donetsk region over the past day, including Bakhmut, the General Staff said on Facebook. Russia in total launched 78 missile strikes, 23 air strikes and more than 70 multiple rocket launcher attacks in the past 24-hour period including shelling of Ukrainian areas along the contact line. Seven civilians were killed in Russia’s most recent missile attacks on energy infrastructure, officials in Kyiv said late Thursday.
(All times CET)
Power Deficit Cut to Less Than 50%, Grid Operator Says (7:45 p.m.)
Ukraine’s power producers were back above 50% capacity by late Thursday after repairs following Wednesday’s extensive Russian missile attacks on energy targets, the grid company NPC Ukrenergo says on its Telegram channel. It’s impossible to say when systems will be fully restored, the company said.
Kremlin troops have repeatedly targeted Ukraine’s power systems for over a month, leaving Kyiv and many other parts of the country without electricity ...

UN rights chief – full-fledged crisis underway in Iran

GENEVA, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights chief on Thursday made a strong appeal to Iranian authorities to stop their "unnecessary and disproportionate" use of force against protesters in Iran in a speech to the Human Rights Council on the ongoing crisis.
The body is debating a motion brought by a group of some 50 countries led by Germany and Iceland to create a new investigative fact-finding mission to probe alleged abuses since a wave of protests began over the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16.
The meeting is seen as a key test of the West’s clout within the council following a thwarted attempt to create greater scrutiny of China’s human rights record last month.
“We are now in a full-fledged human rights crisis,” High Commissioner of Human Rights Volker Turk said in his first address to the council since starting last month.
“The unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must come to an end,” he said. Turk added that so far, more than 300 people have been killed in the protests, including more than 40 children, while around 14,000 have been arrested.
Tehran’s representative called the debate disgraceful and appalling.
Iran has been lobbying against the motion and sent a delegation to Geneva earlier this month to urge countries to vote against the resolution as well as sent diplomatic missions a series of documents seen by Reuters.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Miranda Murray)

African leaders agree on ceasefire in east Congo from Friday

DAKAR, Nov 23 (Reuters) - African leaders have declared a cessation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo starting Friday, in particular attacks by the M23 rebel group, they said in a joint statement after holding talks in Angola.
An East African regional force will intervene against the M23 in case of non-compliance with the ceasefire, the statement said.
It was signed by the leaders of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Angola, and by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who all attended a mini-summit in Luanda on Wednesday aimed at finding solutions to the east Congo crisis.
Congo accuses neighbouring Rwanda of backing the M23, which Rwanda has denied. An M23 spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
(Writing by Nellie Peyton; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)

Russian missile barrage forces Ukraine to shut nuclear power plants

KYIV, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Russia unleashed a missile barrage across Ukraine on Wednesday, forcing shutdowns of nuclear power plants and killing at least six civilians as Moscow pursued a campaign to pitch Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.
Air raid sirens blare around country, six killed in strikes
Power outages widespread as Russia targets electricity grid
‘We are an unbreakable people’ – defiant President Zelenskiy
‘Invincibility centres’ to give Ukrainians heat, water, internet
By Dan Peleschuk and Pavel Polityuk
All of the Kyiv capital region, where over three million people live, lost electricity and running water, Kyiv’s governor said, as were many other regions where emergency blackouts were necessary to help conserve energy and carry out repairs.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was expected to brief a special session of the U.N. Security Council shortly by video link about Russia’s assault on civilian infrastructure.
“The murder of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror,” Zelenskiy said in a tweet. “Ukraine will continue to demand a decisive response from the world to these crimes.”
Officials across the border in Moldova said electricity was also lost to more than half of their country, the first time a neighbouring state has reported such extensive damage from the war in Ukraine triggered by Russia’s invasion nine months ago.
Blackouts forced the shutdown of reactors at Ukraine’s Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the south and the Rivne and Khmelnitskyi plants in the west, all in government-held territory, the state-run nuclear energy firm Energoatom said.
“Currently, they (power units) work in project mode, without generation into the domestic energy system,” Energoatom said.
Ukraine’s largest nuclear complex, at Zaporizhzhia near the front lines in the south, is Russian-controlled and was previously switched off because of shelling that both sides blame on each other.
Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine in a nationwide alert.
Explosions reverberated throughout Kyiv on Wednesday afternoon as Russian missiles bore down and Ukrainian air defence rockets were fired in efforts to intercept them.
Four civilians had been killed and 34 injured, five of them children, in Kyiv, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said in a statement posted on Telegram. Ukraine’s defence ministry said two people were killed by missile strikes elsewhere.
“Our little one was sleeping. Two years old. She was sleeping, she got covered. She is alive, thanks be to God,” said Fyodr, a Kyiv resident walking away from a smouldering apartment building that was hit in Kyiv, dragging ...

U.S. to extend student-loan payment pause up to June 30, Biden says

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The United States will extend a pandemic-era pause in student loan repayments to no later than June 30, 2023, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.
The Biden administration on Friday had asked the Supreme Court to lift a lower court’s order blocking his plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt in a challenge brought by six Republican-led states.
The June 30 date would give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to hear the case before its current term ends, Biden said on Twitter.
“Payments will resume 60 days after the pause ends,” he added.
In a policy benefiting millions of Americans, Biden announced in August that the U.S. government would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for married couples.
“I’m confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it,” the U.S. president said on Tuesday.

U.S. Supreme Court clears way for lawmakers to get Trump’s tax returns

Nov 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the release of Donald Trump's tax returns to a congressional committee, handing a defeat to the Republican former president who had called the Democratic-led panel's request politically motivated.
By Andrew Chung
The justices denied Trump’s Oct. 31 emergency application to block a lower court’s ruling that upheld a request by the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee for the tax records as a justified part of the panel’s legislative work while his lawyers prepared an appeal. No justice publicly dissented from the decision.
The fight over the committee’s request is one of many legal woes for Trump as he moves forward with another run for the presidency in 2024. Trump last week announced the launch of his candidacy.
Tuesday’s order superseded one issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on Nov. 1 that had effectively paused the dispute and prevented the panel from obtaining the Trump returns while the court considered how to proceed.
Republicans, who secured a narrow House majority following the Nov. 8 midterm elections, are poised to take over control of the committee in January.
Trump was the first president in four decades years not to release his tax returns as he sought to keep secret the details of his wealth and the activities of his real estate company, the Trump Organization.
The Ways and Means panel told the Supreme Court in a legal filing that siding with Trump would harm the constitutional authority of a co-equal branch of government “by in effect preventing Congress from completing any investigation involving a former president whenever there are allegations that the investigation was politically motivated.
The panel in its request invoked a federal law that empowers its chairman to request any person’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). House Democrats have said they need to see Trump’s tax returns to assess whether the IRS is properly auditing presidential returns and to gauge whether new legislation is needed.
In its filing, the committee told the justices that IRS policy “does not address what to do regarding a president who, like former President Trump, owned hundreds of business entities, had inordinately complex returns, used aggressive tax avoidance strategies and allegedly had ongoing audits.”
Trump’s lawyers have said the committee’s real aim is to publicly expose his tax returns and unearth politically damaging information about Trump.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, sided with Congress in December 2021 ...

Malaysia king to choose prime minister in post-election crisis

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Malaysia's king said on Tuesday he will pick the next prime minister, after the leading two contenders failed to win a majority in last weekend's election and his proposal for the two to work together was turned down.
The vote resulted in an unprecedented hung parliament, with neither opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim nor former premier Muhyiddin Yassin winning the simple majority needed to form a government.
To break the stalemate, King Al-Sultan Abdullah suggested the two rivals work together to form a ‘unity government’, Muhyiddin said, but added that he will not work with Anwar. Muhyiddin runs a Malay Muslim conservation alliance, while Anwar runs a multi-ethnic coalition.
The Saturday election and the ensuing turmoil prolongs political instability in the Southeast Asian nation, which has had three prime ministers in as many years, and risks delays to policy decisions needed to galvanise an economic recovery.
The king had given political parties until 2 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Tuesday to put together alliances needed for a majority.
But the candidates failed to do so after the incumbent Barisan Nasional coalition refused to align with either.
It is now up to the constitutional monarch, who plays a largely ceremonial role but can appoint whoever he believes will command a majority.
“Let me make a decision soon,” the king told reporters outside the national palace.
He also asked Malaysians to accept any decision about the government formation.
The king later met with Anwar and Muhyiddin, and summoned lawmakers from the Barisan Nasional coalition for a meeting on Wednesday.
Anwar told reporters that the king, in their meeting, expressed his desire to form a strong government “that is more inclusive in terms of race, religion, or region” and one that can focus on the economy.
Anwar’s progressive coalition won the most number of seats, but an Islamist party – which is part of Muhyiddin’s bloc and has touted sharia law – made huge gains, raising fears in Malaysia — which has significant ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian minorities following other faiths.
Malaysian police cautioned the country’s social media users to refrain from posting “provocative” content on race and religion after the divisive election.
The political uncertainty hit the Kuala Lumpur stock market .KLSE, which fell for a second day on Tuesday. Election gains by the Islamist party added to investors’ fears, notably over policies on gambling and alcohol consumption.
Anwar’s progressive coalition and Muhyiddin’s conservative Malay Muslim alliance – which includes ...

Iran situation ‘critical’ with more than 300 killed -UN rights chief

GENEVA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday that the situation in Iran was "critical", describing a hardening of the authorities' response to protests that have resulted in more than 300 deaths in the past two months.
“The rising number of deaths from protests in Iran, including those of two children at the weekend, and the hardening of the response by security forces, underline the critical situation in the country,” said a spokesperson for U.N human rights chief Volker Turk at a Geneva press briefing.
The Islamic Republic has been gripped by nationwide protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody on Sept. 16 after she was arrested for wearing clothes deemed “inappropriate”.
Tehran has blamed foreign enemies and their agents for orchestrating the protests, which have turned into a popular revolt by Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution.
Iran’s World Cup team declined to sing their anthem before their opening World Cup match on Monday in a sign of support for the protests.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that more than 300 people had been killed so far, including more than 40 children. These deaths occurred across the country, with deaths reported in 25 of 31 provinces.
In the same briefing, OHCHR spokesperson Jeremy Laurence also voiced concern about the situation in mainly Kurdish cities where it has reports of over 40 people killed by security forces over the past week.
(Reporting by Emma Farge, Editing by Miranda Murray and Frank Jack Daniel)

Many school children among 252 dead in Indonesia quake

CIANJUR, Indonesia, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Many children killed when their schools collapsed are among the 252 dead from an earthquake that devastated a town on Indonesia's main island of Java, officials said on Tuesday, as rescuers raced to reach people trapped in rubble.
Hundreds of people were injured in the Monday quake and officials warned the death toll was likely to rise.
The shallow 5.6-magnitude quake struck in mountains in Indonesia’s most populous province of West Java, causing significant damage to the town of Cianjur and burying at least one village under a landslide.
Landslides and rough terrain were hampering rescue efforts, said Henri Alfiandi, head of National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas).
“The challenge is the affected area is spread out . On top of that, the roads in these villages are damaged,” Alfiandi told a news conference, adding that more than 13,000 people had been evacuated.
“Most of the casualties are children, because at 1 p.m. they were still at school,” he said, referring to the time the quake hit.
Many of the fatalities resulted from people trapped under collapsed buildings, officials said.
President Joko Widodo flew in to Cianjur on Tuesday to encourage rescuers.
“My instruction is to prioritise evacuating victims that are still trapped under rubble,” said the president, who is known as Jokowi.
He offered his condolences to the victims and pledged emergency government support. Reconstruction should include earthquake-proof housing, he said.
Survivors gathered overnight in a Cianjur hospital parking lot. Some of the injured were treated in tents, others were hooked up to intravenous drips on the pavement as medical workers stitched up patients under torch light.
“Everything collapsed beneath me and I was crushed beneath this child,” Cucu, a 48-year-old resident, told Reuters.
“Two of my kids survived, I dug them up . Two others I brought here, and one is still missing,” she said through tears.
“Many dead bodies are lying in the hospital grounds, it’s very crowded,” said her relative, Hesti.
Footage from Kompas TV showed people holding cardboard signs asking for food and shelter, with emergency supplies seemingly yet to reach them.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed to help the rescue effort, Dedi Prasetyo, national police spokesperson told the Antara state news agency.
“Today’s main task order for personnel is to focus on evacuating victims,” he said.
The death toll from the earthquake had risen to 252, the district government said in a post on social media. The death toll from the national disaster ...

Top Russian official warns of possible nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The head of Russia's state-run atomic energy agency, Rosatom, warned on Monday there was a risk of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, following renewed shelling over the weekend.
Moscow and Kyiv have traded accusations of shelling the facility for months since Russian forces took control of it in March, shortly after invading Ukraine. Renewed shelling on Sunday triggered fresh fears of a possible disaster at the site.
“The plant is at risk of a nuclear accident. We were in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all night,” Interfax quoted Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev as saying.
Rosatom has controlled the facility through a subsidiary since President Vladimir Putin in October ordered Russia to formally seize the plant and transfer Ukrainian staff to a Russian entity. Kyiv says the transfer of assets amounts to theft.
The IAEA has called for the creation of a security zone around the plant, something Likhachev said would only be possible if it was approved by the United States.
“I think the large distance between Washington and Zaporizhzhia should not be an argument for the United States to delay the decision on a security zone,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
The Rosatom head also said it appeared Kyiv was willing to “accept” a “small nuclear accident” at the nuclear power station
“This will be a precedent that will forever change the course of history. Therefore everything must be done so that no one has in their minds to violate the security of the nuclear power plant,” TASS quoted him as saying.
(Reporting by Reuters)

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