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South Korea begins military drills around disputed island amid feud with Japan

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a part of the group of islets known in South Korea as Dokdo and in Japan as Takeshima in the Sea of Japan, October 20, 2007. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s military will conduct two days of drills around a tiny island also claimed by Japan, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, just days after Seoul decided to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo amid worsening relations.

Tokyo and Seoul have long been at loggerheads over the sovereignty of the group of islets called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, which lie about halfway between the East Asian neighbors in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul refers to as the East Sea.

The military drills were scheduled to begin on Sunday, Yonhap reported, and could exacerbate tensions between the two neighbors.

South Koreas on Thursday had announced the scrapping of the intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, drawing a swift protest from Tokyo and deepening a decades-old dispute over history that has hit trade and undercut security cooperation over North Korea.

Relations between South Korea and Japan began to deteriorate late last year following a diplomatic row over compensation for wartime forced laborers during Japan’s occupation of Korea.

They soured further when Japan tightened its curbs on exports of high-tech materials needed by South Korea’s chip industry, and again this month when Tokyo said it would remove South Korea’s fast-track export status.

The disputed islands have long been one of the most sensitive areas of contention for South Korea and Japan. Recently, South Korea and Japan traded words over the way the islands were described on a website for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The islands were at the center of a more serious clash in July, when both South Korea and Japan responded to what they saw as a violation of their air space near the islands by a Russian military plane.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Leslie Adler

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China’s Hubei sees rise in new coronavirus cases as infections slow in other provinces

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Volunteers in protective suits disinfect a residential compound in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, in Hubei province, China February 22, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) – China reported a rise in new coronavirus cases in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, on Tuesday while the rest of the country saw a fourth-straight day of declines.

Hubei had 499 new confirmed cases on Feb. 24, the National Health Commission said, up from 398 a day earlier and driven mainly by new infections in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

Mainland China in total had 508 new confirmed cases, up from 409 on Feb. 23, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 77,658.

Excluding the latest cases in Hubei, the rest of China had just nine new infections on Feb. 24, the lowest number of cases since Jan. 20 when the national health authority began publishing nationwide data on the coronavirus infections.

The overall death toll in mainland China had reached 2,663 as of the end of Monday, up by 71 from the previous day.

Hubei reported 68 new deaths, while in Wuhan, 56 people died.

Reporting by Ryan Woo, Yilei Sun and Lusha Zhang; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Stephen Coates

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Cardiff woman wins £400k in DWP race discrimination row

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Headshot of Anne Giwa-Amu , wearing a lime green jacketImage copyright
Anne Giwa-Amu

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Anne Giwa-Amu, who is Nigerian and Welsh, won her claim against the government department

The Department for Work and Pensions has been ordered to pay out nearly £400,000 after a Cardiff woman won her claim for race and age discrimination.

Anne Giwa-Amu told the BBC the department was “promoting a culture of racism”.

The judge in her tribunal case said she had been a victim of deliberate and intended harassment by DWP staff.

The department said racism is unacceptable and it takes the judgment “very seriously”.

Warning: This report includes racist and offensive language

Anne Giwa-Amu, 59, who is mixed Nigerian and Welsh, joined the DWP branch in Caerphilly as a full-time administrative officer in 2017, after trying without success to start a small business.

She was the only non-white recruit and only trainee over the age of 50 in her cohort, according to documents from Cardiff Magistrates’ Court seen by BBC News.

Judge Howden-Evans said DWP staff had deliberately created a “hostile environment” for Ms Giwa-Amu and has ordered the department to pay out more than £386,000 in compensation.

This includes £42,800 for injury to feelings, which is awarded in the “most serious” cases where there has been a lengthy campaign of harassment.

“It comes as a relief after what has been a harrowing experience for three years,” Ms Giwa-Amu told the BBC.

“I’ve had to experience real financial hardship and the perpetrators were promoted despite how they had treated me.”

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Anne Giwa-Amu

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Ms Giwa-Amu was based in the branch of the DWP at Caerphilly in south-east Wales

A DWP official had violated her dignity by using racist language such as “Paki-lover” in her presence, the court found.

Another had further humiliated and discriminated against Ms Giwa-Amu by loudly laughing and telling her cohort he had “touched her bum”.

Officials had also repeatedly accused Ms Giwa-Amu of stealing ice-cream, sprayed body-spray on themselves while next to her, and breached her confidence after she reported feeling “bullied”.

Ms Giwa-Amu went on sick leave in March 2017 and was unlawfully dismissed in October that year for being unable to return to work, the court found.

She had been living off £55 a week and later had no money for food after her final pay cheque was withheld.

‘Appalling’

Ms Giwa-Amu told the BBC she has since been living with “immense stress and anxiety”.

“Management at the DWP are paying lip service to the equality legislation,” she said. “By protecting offenders, they are promoting a culture of racism.”

The DWP has been ordered to contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for diversity awareness training and its permanent secretary, Peter Schofield, must directly review her case.

Ms Giwa-Amu’s solicitor, Lawrence Davies from Equal Justice, said DWP staff had “set out to destroy the confidence and wellbeing of a black employee with their appalling conduct”.

“None of the white DWP staff have been disciplined and some have been promoted,” he said.

“Given that the DWP serves a high level of ethnic minority claimants, the presence of prejudice in the state benefits system is of grave concern.”

In a statement, the DWP said: “Racism is totally unacceptable and action will be taken against any staff found to be expressing such views.

“We take the judgment and the circumstances of this case very seriously.”

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Newspaper headlines: Harvey Weinstein ‘locked up at last’

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Newspaper headlines: Harvey Weinstein ‘locked up at last’


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Harvey Weinstein dominates Tuesday’s front pages, after the disgraced Hollywood mogul was found guilty of sexual assault on Monday. The Daily Telegraph opted for a striking close-up of the producer, who was convicted in New York of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act. Meanwhile, the paper’s lead says Britons returning from coronavirus-hit parts of Italy will be told to “self-isolate” by health officials.

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The Guardian reports Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison following the two convictions. The producer – who denied all charges – was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault.

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“Guilty Weinstein is Locked Up at Last” is the Metro’s headline after the jury reached their verdict on Monday morning. At least 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades.

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The i newspaper calls the verdict a vindication for the #MeToo movement against harassment, which inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

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And the Daily Mail says Weinstein expected to be cleared of sex crimes, which its headline calls the “Arrogance of a Monster”. The newspaper leads on a murder investigation in Somerset. It reports that a woman was shot dead on the prime minister’s family estate on Saturday.

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Elsewhere, there are further details on the coronavirus outbreak. The Times says a World Health Organization warning that the Covid-19 virus had “pandemic potential” has wiped £62bn off the value of the UK’s largest companies. It adds that the government is likely to advise anyone who has visited Italy in the past two weeks to stay at home if they have flu-like symptoms, as the country has the highest number of cases in Europe.

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The Financial Times reports global markets fell sharply on Monday following a surge of coronavirus cases outside China. The broadsheet says UK stocks had their worst day in five years, with airlines and tour operators among the worst hit.

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The Daily Mirror carries a claim by a source that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s security costs could increase to £20m per year, following their split from the Royal Family. A statement on the royal couple’s website previously said it was agreed that they “will continue to require effective security to protect them and their son”.

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The Daily Express front page says Prime Minister Boris Johnson is aiming for a “clean break” from the EU in upcoming trade talks.

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Finally, the Daily Star reports Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder is feeling “magnificently sexy” after undergoing treatment for hair loss.

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Open letter to Bheki Cele, Rica victim

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