Oga, Japan (CNN)The children are playing duck-duck-goose with their teacher outside their elementary school when the siren suddenly blares.
Defense systems in place
Memories of sirens
Oga, Japan (CNN)The children are playing duck-duck-goose with their teacher outside their elementary school when the siren suddenly blares.
North Korea's state media says its military has tested a new high-performance rocket engine.
Leader Kim Jong-un declared the test "a new birth" for the North's rocket industry, state news agency KCNA said.
He said the engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite launch capability, it added.
The development, not confirmed elsewhere, comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits China - Pyongyang's main ally.
After personally overseeing the test, Mr Kim "emphasised that the world will soon witness the great significance of the epoch-making victory we achieved today", KCNA reported, adding that it marked the birth of the country's rocket industry.
Mr Tillerson's East Asian tour has been dominated by anxieties over North Korea's nuclear capabilities.
In South Korea on Friday, he said a US military response would be on the table if North Korea threatened South Korea or US forces.
The US and China pledged to work together to get the North to take "a different course" and move away from its weapons programmes after Mr Tillerson met his Chinese counterpart on Saturday.
The BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie says the North Korean announcement upstaged Mr Tillerson's subsequent talks with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping.
Image copyrightAPImage caption
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches. Experts and government officials believe it is working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that can reach the US.
Kim Jong-un has said the country is close to a test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The US has retained its position as the world's most powerful nation, despite declining respect for its leadership.
That's according to US News and World Report, which has released the latest edition of its annual "Best Countries" study.
The media organisation evaluated 80 countries across a range of criteria, including cultural history, citizenship, and quality of life.
Another key measure was "power," which determined how economically and politically influential a country was and weighed the strength of its international alliances and military.
More than 21,000 business leaders, informed elites, and general citizens were surveyed with the goal of discovering how nations are perceived on a global scale.
The US was perceived as the most powerful, followed closely by Russia, with the UK coming in fourth. Other countries included Pakistan, Turkey, and Israel.
Scroll down to see the 23 nations seen as most powerful.
23. Qatar — One of several Middle Eastern nations on the list, Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world in terms of gross domestic product per capita thanks to its oil-rich surroundings. Falling oil prices have hit its economy, however, and income slowed in the past year.
22. Spain — "Ascension into the European Union in 1986 was a jump-start to the modernisation of Spain's infrastructure, industry, and economic policy," according to US News.
21. Netherlands — Home to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands plays an important role on the world stage.
20. Pakistan — Political instability, corruption, and struggles with extremism have hindered Pakistan's standing in the power ranking. In turn, the nation's growth has been stunted as its export-driven economy "falls short in attracting foreign investment," according to US News.
19. Sweden — Despite militaristic roots, Sweden has decided against heavily investing in its armed forces in favour of a commitment to human rights and sustainability. Its approach to the well-being of its citizens has earned it respect on the global stage but could contribute to its lack of power.
18. Italy — Though Italy faced a tumultuous political year with the shock resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the rebuilding of its government, the country remains on the list while boasting the third-largest economy in the eurozone.
17. Australia — Though it placed relatively low for its power and global influence, Australia came in fourth in the quality-of-life category.
16. India — The world's largest democracy, India was also home to the world's fastest-growing major economy for most of 2016. But its recent cash crisis has been a blow to its economy, causing the country to lose 11 billionaires and 86% of its circulated cash.
15. Switzerland — The small European nation was named the best place in the world to live. It's the 11th-wealthiest nation in terms of GDP per capita, and it is extremely attractive to businesses thanks to its low corporate tax rates. The United Nations also has one of its main offices in the city of Geneva.
14. Iran — Iran "has long been of interest to global powers because of its strategic location within the Middle East and its abundant supply of oil and other natural resources," according to US News. The nation holds a whopping 9% of the world's oil reserves.
13. Turkey — Turkey is the gateway between the Middle East and the European Union, and the relationship between the two bodies is increasingly important as conflict rages in nearby countries. In September, British Secretary of State Boris Johnson said Britain would support Turkey's long-fought bid to join the EU, but an increasingly tense relationship between Turkey and several EU nations could hinder its progress.
12. Canada — Canada was named the second-best country to live in by US News, but its power didn't quite match, even though it is the US's largest trade partner.
11. South Korea — A contentious relationship with its isolated neighbour in the north means South Korea often receives military and political support from the world's superpowers. It is one of the world's largest reserves of foreign investment and is also the world's sixth-largest exporter.
10. United Arab Emirates — The UAE is one of the world's largest importers of arms and, after Saudi Arabia, has the second-largest defence budget of any of the Arab states.
9. Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia's oil reserves have allowed the country to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the Middle East. The gulf state has long been viewed as a close ally of the US, the UK, and other Western nations.
8. Israel — For a country with a population of just over 8 million, Israel has an outsize influence on the world stage. Despite its ongoing Palestinian conflict, the Jewish nation has a strong economy and a high level of education and per capita income for its citizens.
7. Japan — One of the most technologically advanced nations, Japan boasts the world's third-largest economy, having recovered from the 2011 tsunami that shattered its infrastructure and manufacturing.
6. France — With a GDP per capita of $42,384 (£34,581), France boasts one of the largest economies in Europe and is one of the world's top exporters of weapons. Its influence extends around the world "through its science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture," US News writes.
5. Germany — Often seen as the economic powerhouse of Europe, the continent's most populous nation has seen its role on the world stage become increasingly important since reunification in 1990.
4. United Kingdom — "The United Kingdom is a highly developed nation that exerts considerable international economic, political, scientific and cultural influence," US News writes. While it isn't known how its expected exit from the European Union would affect the country's standing, the nation seems to have so far withstood the shock of the referendum result.
3. China — The rise of China is quite remarkable. Home to 1.4 billion people, the country already has the world's largest military, and experts predict it will be the world's largest economy by 2050.
2. Russia — Russia capitalised on its natural resources to become one of the world's wealthiest nations. Its military spending as a percentage of its GDP continues to outstrip that of countries within NATO by a considerable distance. It currently spends 5.4% of its annual GDP on defence — the closest a NATO country comes by comparison is the US, which spends 3.3%.
1. United States — Nearly 75% of respondents said they lost "some respect" for US leadership after the 2016 presidential election, but the country is still ranked the most powerful. Its economic, political, cultural, and artistic influence shapes the world, and a mammoth defence budget of about $600 billion (£494bn) and its leading economy put it at the top.
in Paris, French officials say.He was killed by the security forces in a shop after the attack in the airport's southern terminal.
The airport has been shut after what the authorities described as an extremely serious incident.
A man has been shot dead after trying to seize a soldier's weapon at Orly airpor
Early on Saturday morning the suspect was stopped at a checkpoint in northern Paris and fired at police with a pellet gun before escaping in a car that was later found abandoned in the southern suburbs.
He is then believed to have stolen another car that was found at Orly airport. The timing of the sequence of events fits, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris.
At the airport 90 minutes later the man approached a military patrol and tried to seize a weapon from one of the soldiers, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
She managed to keep hold of the gun, and two other soldiers opened fire on the attacker, killing him.
His motivation is not yet known.
A security operation is continuing at the airport with bomb disposal experts involved and a search for any possible accomplices.
Police say the attacker was not carrying any explosives. No-one else was seriously hurt in either incident.
Orly - located 13km (8 miles) south of Paris - is the capital's second largest airport.
Image captionImage captionImage caption
Police have warned people to stay away from the security cordon and people intending to travel to the airport have been advised to make alternative arrangements as all flights in and out of the airport have been suspended.
Scores of passengers have been unable to disembark from aircraft that landed at Orly as the huge security operation takes place. An estimated 3,000 passengers were evacuated.
How the Orly airport attack is affecting travel arrangements
Witnesses said the airport was evacuated soon after the shooting.
"We were sitting in Hall Three when all of a sudden people started running and telling us to run with them," Ellie Guttetter, 18, from the US said.
"The people running were passengers and flight attendants. It was pretty chaotic and everyone was panicking - it was scary."
Another eyewitness, Meredith Dixon, described seeing panicked airline personnel, with no security or police personnel to usher people outside the airport complex.
"It was complete chaos," she told the BBC.
"There were no alarms. No overhead announcements. No organised evacuation. People just began running.
"In the meantime, passengers kept arriving at the airport. I am stunned that after the events in this country, and Paris in particular, the airport had no organised evacuation plan for what I would surmise is a high-value target."
The soldiers were part of Operation Sentinel - involving thousands of soldiers deployed to provide back-up to the police after the Paris attacks of November 2015.
France has presidential elections starting from next month and remains under a state of emergency following earlier attacks.
Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to "the calm, control and professionalism'' of troops who responded to the attack.
Rebel fighters and their families have begun leaving their last bastion in the Syrian city of Homs, state media and witnesses say, under an evacuation deal with the government expected to be among the largest of its kind.
The first few buses carrying rebels and their families drove out of Al Waer district on Saturday morning, heading for rebel-held areas northeast of Aleppo city.
Talal Barazi, the Homs governor, told Reuters news agency that about 1,500 people would depart for Aleppo's countryside on Saturday, including at least 400 fighters.
Russian and Syrian forces were overseeing the evacuation, and the full departure of rebels from Al Waer would take about six weeks, he said.
"The preparations and the reality on the ground indicate that things will go well," Barazi said.
President Bashar al-Assad's government has increasingly tried to press besieged rebel areas to surrender and accept what it calls reconciliation agreements that involve fighters departing for northern Syria.
The Syrian government describes such deals as a good way of bringing the country closer to peace after six years of conflict. But the opposition describes them as a tactic of forcibly displacing people who oppose Assad after years of bombardment and siege.
"There is a delibrate strategy from the Syrian government in terms of retaking some of these areas is that they lay a siege on the area preventing all kinds of supplies from getting in, including food, medical supplies etc and then they indiscriminately attack these areas," the deputy director of emergencies at Human Rights Watch, Ole Solvang, told Al Jazeera.
"Aleppo was perhaps the most egregious example of that but we've seen it in many other places as well, so one of the major concerns HRW has is about these deals and the way they come about."
Under the Al Waer deal, between 10,000 and 15,000 people would evacuate in batches over the coming weeks, according to a Britain-based war monitor and the opposition Homs Media Center.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the buses would go to the Jarablus area in the north, held by Turkey-backed rebels.
Once completed, it would mark the biggest evacuation during the war out of one Syrian district, which is home to about 40,000 civilians and more than 2,500 fighters, the SOHR said.
The deal follows other agreements that were never fully implemented between the government and rebel groups in Al Waer, which has been targeted heavily by air strikes in recent weeks.
Climate change in the polar regions may have worsened winter haze problems in China, which pledges more efforts to tackle air pollution despite the country's decreasing emissions, according to a study published Wednesday.
The study published in the U.S. journal Science Advances suggests that melting Arctic sea ice and increasing Eurasian snow, both caused by global climate change, have shifted China's winter monsoon, helping create stagnant atmospheric conditions that trap pollution over the country's major population and industrial centers.
"Emissions in China have been decreasing over the last four years, but the severe winter haze is not getting better," said Yuhang Wang, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who led the study.
"Mostly, that's because of a very rapid change in the high polar regions where sea ice is decreasing and snowfall is increasing. This perturbation keeps cold air from getting intothe eastern parts of China where it would flush out the air pollution."
The findings were based on an analysis of one of the worst air pollution events ever recorded in China, which engulfed the East China Plain in January 2013.
The haze prompted the Chinese government to institute strict targets for reducing emissions from industry and other sources. Despite these measures, haze continues in China during the winter season.
Modeling and data analysis done by Wang and his colleagues found correlations of stagnant air conditions over China to Arctic sea ice, which reached a record low in the fall of 2012, and snowfall in the upper latitudes of Siberia, which reached a record high earlier in the winter.
The results are consistent with observations that South Korea and Japan were unusually cold that winter, while East China was unusually warm, both suggesting that the cold center had moved, he said.
"The very rapid change in polar warming is really having a large impact on China," Wang said. "Our research shows that cutting green house gases would help with the winter haze problem."
He Kebin, a Tsinghua University professor, who was not involved in the study, said the results of this paper may help explain in some way why average wind speeds in the North China Plain have been decreasing in recent decades.
But he noted that weather is only an external cause of air pollution and that long-term meteorological conditions that tend to be unfavorable may mean bigger cuts of pollutant emissions are needed for China to achieve its air quality improvement target.
Zhang Renyi, a professor at Texas A&M University, however, slammed this as a "weak" paper and said there are "several fundamental flaws" in their work, mostly noticeable indealing with the cause-effect relationship.
"They did not prove that A (Artic sea ice) and B (severe haze in China) are even connected, other than for the simple fact of their co-occurrence," Zhang said.
Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua
03-17-2017 06:37 BJT
BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud have agreed the two countries will step up cooperation in all areas and push forward their all-round strategic partnership.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L front) holds a welcome ceremony for Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, March 16, 2017.(Xinhua/Li Xueren)
In their talks Thursday in Beijing, Xi recalled his visit to Saudi Arabia last year, during which he reached consensus with King Salman in advancing bilateral ties and cementing cooperation in international and regional affairs.
Xi said he was happy to see that consensus had been implemented by both sides.
China supports Saudi Arabia as it advances on a development path suitable to its national conditions, maintains national sovereignty, security and development interests, and plays greater role in regional and global affairs, Xi said.
China supports Saudi Arabia in its "Saudi Vision 2030" plan, and welcomes the country to be a partner in the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said.
China is a reliable and stable market for Saudi Arabia's oil, Xi said, calling for closer cooperation in such areas as energy, communication, aviation, finance and investment, culture, education, public health, technology, tourism, media and security.
Xi said China and Muslim countries respect each other and set an example of harmonious coexistence between civilizations.
In Middle East affairs, China advocates respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, Xi said.
China advocates solving disputes through dialogue, easing tensions on hot issues, giving full play to the United Nations' key role and paying more heed to the voice of regional organizations and countries, he added.
The solution to many issues in the Middle East lies in development, Xi said.
China hopes to boost the Belt and Road Initiative with countries along the route including Middle Eastern countries, he added.
King Salman voiced adherence to the one-China policy, and vowed to cement cooperation with China in the areas of trade, investment, finance and energy, in order to upgrade their all-round strategic partnership.
Saudi Arabia highly values China's stance of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and solving disputes through dialogue and peaceful means, he said.
King Salman also appreciated China's role in maintaining international peace and security, expressing his hope for China's greater role in Middle Eastern affairs.
After their talks, the two heads of states witnessed the signing of cooperative agreements on trade, economy, energy, capacity, culture, education and technology.
They also attended the closing ceremony of an exhibition of archeological relics from Saudi Arabia.
King Salman is on a state visit to China from March 15-18 at Xi's invitation. It is his first China visit since becoming king of Saudi Arabia in 2015.
The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria overnight, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted.
It was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011.
In response of Thursday night's attack, the Syrian government deployed air defence systems and fired a number of missiles towards Israeli jets, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
None of the missiles struck the jets, the army said, though one of the projectiles was intercepted by Israel's Arrow missile defence system north of Jerusalem, according to Haaretz.
"Overnight ... aircraft targeted several targets in Syria," an Israeli army statement said.
"Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and [army] aerial defence systems intercepted one of the missiles."
Rocket sirens sounded in Israeli settlements in the Jordan valley, the military said and two witnesses heard an explosion a few minutes later, Reuters news agency reported.
Syria's army high command confirmed in a statement on Friday that Israeli jets breached Syrian airspace early in the morning and attacked a military target near Palmyra.
The high command described the attack as an act of aggression that aided the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which is fighting against the Syrian government.
It said its air defences shot down one of four Israeli jets over what it called "occupied ground" and damaged another.
There were no reports by the Israeli army of any aircraft lost in the operation.
Jordanian new media said an "unidentified object" fell from the skies on Thursday night in the northern area of Irbid, after which security forces surrounded the area of impact.
Pictures shared on social media showed what appeared to be part of a missile that had landed in a yard.
It was not clear whether the object was part of of missile intercepted by Israel, part of an Israeli missile, or another object.
Both Israeli and other news media have reported Israeli air strikes inside Syria targeting arms convoys of Lebanese group Hezbollah, which fought a 2006 war with Israel and is now fighting alongside the Syrian government.
But normally Israel makes no official comment.
The missile fire prompted air raid sirens to go off in the Jordan Valley during the night, the Israeli army said.
The portraits immortalised the founder of China's Communist Party as a pop art commodity in the vein of Warhol's Marilyn Monroe and Campbell soup.
Based on a photo in Mao's Little Red Book, the portrait series is among the most famous images of the 20th Century.
The auction of this work is expected to fetch as much as $15m (£12.1m).
This particular Mao portrait was sold in 2014 in London for £7.6m ($9.4m) and the current owner, who is not identified, has now put it up for sale with Sotheby's in Hong Kong, with the auction expected on 2 April.
Warhol began his series of silk-screen portraits of Mao in 1972 when ties between then cold-war foes China and US began to thaw after the historic trip to Beijing by US President Richard Nixon.
The photograph that Warhol used for the portrait was one that adorned the inside cover of the so-called Little Red Book, itself an symbol of Chinese communism and a work of propaganda.
More than a billion copies are thought to have been published, making the book one of the most widely produced of all time.
During Mao's reign it became virtually mandatory to own and carry a copy.
Warhol's Mao series led to almost 200 portraits in similar versions and sizes and follows the artist's similar earlier works on Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley in the 1960s.
Picking Mao was a departure from his trademark of elevating a banal commodity (as he did with Campbell soup) or illuminating glamour (as he did with Marilyn Monroe).
Chairman Mao was a political leader both deeply revered and feared and certainly an unlikely subject for the bold colour contrasts of the Pop Art movement.
But it remains a delicate issue in China to this day. In a 2013 exhibition, the first comprehensive survey of Warhol's art in China, the Mao portraits were nowhere to be seen.
The debate in Chinese media at the time was around whether the images were showing respect or mockery.
Yet Chinese investors are increasingly buying Western art. They are thought to make up one fifth of the world's buyers of art.
Downward pressure on the yuan and caps on capital outflows are only adding to the appetite for investing on the global art scene.
So Warhol's portrait of China's former Communist leader may yet find its way to China through the workings of global capital markets.
Reporting by the BBC's Andreas Illmer.
A Russian official said aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will be the first to leave the conflict zone [Reuters]
Russia's military says it has begun scaling down its deployment to Syria with its sole aircraft carrier the first to quit the conflict zone.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the reduction of forces in Syria on December 29 as he announced a ceasefire between government and rebel forces, which has since dampened down the fighting.
"In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander of the Russian armed forces, Vladimir Putin, the Russian defence ministry is beginning the reduction of the armed deployment to Syria," Russian news agencies quoted military chief Valery Gerasimov as saying on Friday.
Gerasimov said the naval group headed by Moscow's sole aircraft carrier - Admiral Kuznetsov - would be the first to leave the area.
"The tasks set for the aircraft carrier group during its military mission have been fulfilled," said Andrei Kartapolov, Russia's main commander in Syria.
Kartapolov said Russia still had sufficient air defence capabilities in Syria thanks to its S-300 and S-400 systems deployed in the war-torn country.
Putin announced a partial withdrawal of Russian forces in March 2016, but Moscow later had to ramp up its military presence again as fighting intensified.
Russia boosted its firepower on land in Syria and off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2015 in support of government forces targeting the country's second city of Aleppo and other locations.
The military deployment helped turn the tide in favour of the Syrian government's ailing forces.
Russian bombardment, however, has been blamed for thousands of civilian deaths.
Troops loyal to Russia's ally Bashar al-Assad ousted rebels from Aleppo last month in their biggest victory in nearly six years of fighting, paving the way for the Kremlin to launch a new push for a political solution to the conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Russia - along with Turkey and Iran - are pushing for peace talks to be held later this month in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.