Advertisements

OH HELL YEAH: U.S. Urges All Nationals In North Korea To ‘Depart Immediately’, Bans Tourists From Visiting

YA THINK? The U.S. is to ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the ban would be published next week in the Federal Register, to come into effect 30 days later.

US officials linked the move to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier.

Once the ban is in effect, US citizens will need special validation to travel to or within North Korea.

Mr Warmbier travelled to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours. He was arrested in 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was returned to the US in a coma in June and died a week later.

How did the news come to light?

Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate in North Korea, revealed on Friday that they had been told of the upcoming ban by the Swedish embassy, which acts for the US as Washington has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneer Tours, told the BBC the embassy was urging all US nationals to depart immediately.

He said the embassy was trying to check on the number of US tourists left in the country.

What form will the ban take?

Ms Nauert’s statement said: “Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, the Secretary has authorised a Geographical Travel Restriction on all US nationals’ use of a passport to travelling through, or to North Korea.

“Once in effect, US passports will be invalid for travel to, through, and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea.

“We intend to publish a notice in the Federal Register next week.

“The restriction will be implemented 30 days after publication.”

Rowan Beard said that the 30-day grace period would “give leeway for any [Americans] currently in the country as tourists or on humanitarian work”.

How have the travel agencies reacted?

Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours told the BBC the agency would still conduct tours and take Americans until the ban came into effect.

“If their country allows them to go, we will take them,” he said.

Mr Cockerell added: “It’s unfortunate for the industry but also for North Koreans who want to know what Americans are really like.”

After the death of Mr Warmbier, the China-based Young Pioneer Tours announced it would no longer take visitors from the US to the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

[VIDEO] Reverend Resigns After Quran is Read in Christian Church 

gavin-ashenden

One of the Queen’s chaplains has resigned after criticising a Glasgow church for allowing a Koran reading during one of its services.

The Reverend Gavin Ashenden said he left his position in order to have more freedom of “speak out on behalf of the faith”.

“Because I think it a higher and more compelling duty to speak out on behalf of the faith, than to retain a public honour which precludes me doing so at this time, I resigned my post.”

In a blog post published on Sunday, he said: “After a conversation instigated by officials at Buckingham Palace, I decided the most honourable course of action was to resign.”

Mr Ashenden had criticised the reading of the Koran during an Epiphany service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month in an attempt to improve interfaith relations in Glasgow.

A student read a segment relating to the birth of Jesus Christ in Arabic. Islam considers Christ to be a prophet but not the son of God.

Mr Ashenden, who has served as one of the Queen’s 34 chaplains for nine years, said the reading had caused “serious offence”. Read the rest of this entry »