world news in focus feature april 10 2018 shutterstock image

From a Sentence in Korea to an Attack in Syria – This Is World News in Focus

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Syria: A barrel bomb containing poisonous chemicals hit Douma, a rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta of Syria, on Saturday (April 7), causing many civilian casualties.

The Syrian rebel group has accused government forces of the chemical attack.

According to Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a medical relief organisation, more than 40 people had been killed, although the exact death toll could not be verified.

SAMS said a chlorine bomb hit a Douma hospital and a second attack with “mixed agents,” including nerve agents, had hit a nearby building.

The Russian-backed Syrian forces have been launching assaults to retake the last rebel-held areas near the capital.  Eastern Ghouta, an area near Damascus, is controlled by a rebel group called the Army of Islam.

Syrian government media denied claims any chemical weapons had been used, and accused the rebels of fabricating news to gain international sympathy.

The US government said it would demand an immediate international response if the reports were confirmed.

For more we go to CBS Evening News:

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South Korea: South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in jail on Friday (April 6) for abuse of power and coercion.

The 66-year-old former president was also fined 18 billion won (US$17 million) for 16 counts of criminal charges, including bribery, coercion and abuse of power, which involved some of the nation’s largest companies, including Samsung and Hyundai.

The delivery of Park’s verdict was broadcast live, which is unprecedented in Korea.

But Park denied all wrongdoing and is determined to appeal her sentence, as she accused the courts of being biased against her.

Park Geun-hye, East Asia’s first female leader, is the daughter of late South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee, a transformative figure in modern South Korean politics who ruled in the 1960s and 1970s.

Park was elected president in 2012.  Her political career slipped in the fall of 2015 when the media revealed that her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, who had no government position, had access to secret government documents under Park’s control.

For more we go to the South China Morning Post:

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France: French rail workers launched three months of rolling nationwide train strikes on Tuesday (April 3), threatening months of transport disruption, and prompting street demonstrations.

The first day of the strikes, dubbed “Black Tuesday,” caused large-scale disruption to the country’s 4.5 million rail passengers.  Unions plan to go on strikes for two days a week for three months, or a total of 36 days of strikes.

Close to half of the workers of the state-run rail company, SNFC, needed for the network to run smoothly were absent to join the protest.  Just one in four trains ran in the Paris region, while only one in eight high-speed TGV trains, were operating.

President Emmanuel Macron plans to introduce reforms to SNCF by drastically cutting operating costs and improve efficiency.

Workers are worried that they will lose job guarantees, pensions, job-for-life and early retirement guarantees.

French public opinion seems to support the railway workers. Many students and some workers in other sectors joined the protest.

For more we go to France 24 English:

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Lead-In Image (Grid) Courtesy of kentoh / Shutterstock.com