- - Thursday, July 26, 2012

North Korea

SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been married since 2009, and his wife once visited South Korea, a Seoul lawmaker said Thursday, a day after the secretive North first disclosed the match.

Mr. Kim has been the subject of intense foreign interest since he took over the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation after his father, Kim Jong-il, died suddenly in December.

Even his exact age is unknown outside the North, although he is thought to be in his late 20s. His marriage to Ri Sol-ju had been a closely guarded secret.

Legislator Jung Chung-rai, citing what he said was information given to a closed parliamentary session by the South’s National Intelligence Service, said Ms. Ri was born in 1989 and studied singing in China.

United Kingdom

Heat wave causes air-quality problems

LONDON — British scientists say a heat wave has caused London’s air quality to deteriorate, which could affect athletes’ performances at the Olympics.

Scientists from King’s College in London say pollution in the British capital has reached the highest level in six years. Recent sunshine and low winds are “exactly the conditions that can bring summertime smog to London,” the environmental experts said in a statement Thursday.

They also launched a website that offers hourly air-quality updates on a venue-by-venue and street-by-street basis.

London has the largest and most advanced air-quality surveillance systems in Europe. Funded by the government, they are run by the King’s College center, whose researchers combine air-pollution science, toxicology and epidemiology to determine the impact of air pollution on health.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Troops, U.N. Gunships hit rebel stronghold

KINSHASA — Soldiers backed by U.N. helicopter gunships battled rebels around a strategic army garrison near a mountain gorilla reserve in eastern Congo as thousands of people continued to flee a 3-month-old rebellion allegedly backed by neighboring Rwanda.

U.N. Radio Okapi said the rebels Thursday began attacking Rumangabo military camp, which the soldiers had retaken from the M23 rebel group on Wednesday. The camp is a mile from the headquarters of the Virunga National Park, where rangers were forced to flee by fighting earlier this month.

The radio station said the rebels continue to hold the town of Rutshuru and nearby Kiwanja and that thousands of people had fled in recent days. More than 260,000 civilians have been forced from their homes in recent months, according to U.N. agencies. Some have fled across the borders to Uganda and Rwanda, others toward the southern provincial capital of Goma.

Maj. Olivier Hamuli, an army spokesman, said soldiers made a strategic retreat from Rutshuru “to avoid a bloodbath” of civilians.

“Actually, the operations at the front are running well,” he said.


West Bank Government in financial crisis

RAMALLAH | The cash-strapped Palestinian self-rule government is finding it harder each month to stay afloat, its finance minister said Thursday.

The Palestinian Authority is struggling with its worst financial crisis in years, in part because key donor countries, including the United States and some Arab nations, so far have not sent aid they promised for 2012.

“Each month is becoming more and more difficult,” said Finance Minister Nabeel Kassis, a German-educated nuclear physicist. “We are tightening the belt, we are having only one meal a day, so to speak, and after a while, we will become just too weak to continue.”

The Palestinian government had hoped to close a projected $1.1 billion deficit in the 2012 budget of about $4 billion with the help of foreign aid but is expected to fall short by about $250 million. It has tried to reduce the deficit, among other things by raising income taxes for high earners and cutting back on subsidies.

South Africa

White extremist found guilty of treason

JOHANNESBURG — A Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that the leader of a small white extremist organization was guilty of treason in a 1990s plot to overthrow the country’s African National Congress government.

Judge Eben Jordaan on Thursday described South African Mike du Toit, a former teacher at a segregated apartheid-era university, as the “main role player” in a thwarted “war plan” to stage bomb attacks and kill former President Nelson Mandela.

He said du Toit recruited supporters from among hard-line white Afrikaners for his far-right Boeremag, or Boer Force.

Another 21 members were charged with treason in a trial that has dragged on more than nine years. Sentencing is expected next month. They all face life imprisonment. South Africa has no death penalty.


Party picks candidate after president dies

ACCRA — Leaders of Ghana’s governing party Thursday nominated the country’s interim president to replace their late leader as their candidate for president in January elections.

President John Atta Mills died Tuesday at the age of 68. Hours later, Vice President John Mahama took the oath of office as the interim leader of the West African nation.

Mr. Mahama will face Nana Akufo-Addo, who won nearly 50 percent of the vote in 2008 in the closest election in Ghana’s history.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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