At Koreas summit, symbolism is cunningly crafted into everything - even furniture
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- North and South Korea have choreographed Friday's summit down to the tiniest details, building symbolism into even the width of the meeting table
- Russian government is angrily denouncing an American incursion into its shuttered Seattle consulate
- Police in Sacramento, Calif., say they have caught a notorious serial killer responsible for a string of murders and rapes dating back to the mid 1970s — and the accused is one of their own
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Remodelling for peace
The historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un won't fail for lack of planning.
The two sides have choreographed the big event down to the tiniest details, staging several dress rehearsals this week to make sure that the cameras and lights are in exactly the right — and most flattering — position to capture the moment when Kim steps across the low concrete curb that marks the border inside the truce village of Panmunjom.
The two Koreas are still technically at war, as a peace treaty has never been signed. They have held more than 650 face-to-face meetings since the early 1970s, more than half of them in the United Nations-administered demilitarized zone.
For the past two weeks, construction crews have been working day and night to spruce up Peace House, the venue for the high-level talks. The three-storey, grey granite structure, located 130 metres from the border, was built in 1989 for just such a purpose, but has sat mostly empty over the past decade of tense relations.
"It's not a large-scale project," a senior official from the South Korean president's office told local media earlier this month. "We're just trying to make it look more stylish."
The old, blue vinyl cladding at the building's entrance has been removed. The wallpaper has been updated, new red carpeting installed, and everything has been given a fresh coat of paint. The communications and security systems have been upgraded, and there's a new "situation room" on the third floor, next to the dining room.
There's a new oval table in place of the previous rectangular one, curved like a bridge to evoke coming together of the two Koreas. The table measures exactly 2,018 millimeters wide across its centre to commemorate the year.
The chairs in which the two leaders will sit are decorated with a carving of a unified Korean peninsula — including the Dokdo islets, small offshore rocks that are the focus of a long-running territorial dispute with Japan.
The rest of the building's new decor has been based on a hanok, a traditional Korean house with wooden window frames, walnut furniture, and folding screens.
The meal that will follow the talks will also be heavy with symbolism.
Rosti potatoes, to remind Kim of his time at a Swiss boarding school. Grilled John Dory fish, like the kind that Moon ate growing up in the port city of Busan. And a ravioli of sea cucumber, beef and cod — a delicacy from the home region of ex-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who travelled to North Korea to meet Kim Jong-il, the current dictator's father.
What isn't clear is whether the South Koreans have renovated the washrooms.
"The leader's excretions contain information about his health status, so they can't be left behind," Lee Yun-keol, a former bodyguard who defected to the South in 2005, told the Washington Post.
Russia wants its stuff back
The Russian government is angrily denouncing an American incursion into its shuttered Seattle consulate, and demanding that the United States immediately return the building and five other closed diplomatic missions to their control.
"The situation is absolutely outrageous, disgusting and unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of bilateral relations," Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said today in Moscow.
"We expect that the global community will pay attention to this actual state robbery to which the U.S. authorities have downgraded themselves."
On Wednesday, security personnel from the U.S. State department broke the latch on the mansion's front gate, then drilled out the door lock and entered the building to conduct what they called a "walk-through inspection."
The property is "no longer authorized for use for any diplomatic or consular purposes and no longer enjoys any privileges or immunities, including inviolability, previously made available to it," a State Department official told ABC News.
In addition to the two consulates, the United States has shut down Russian trade missions in Washington and New York City, and seized holiday compounds in Maryland and New York state, following allegations of Kremlin meddling in the 2016 elections.
The Trump administration signalled that it might be ready to return the vacation properties a year ago, but later backed off the plan as Robert Mueller's probe into the president's possible links to Russia intensified.
To date, no such suit has been filed. And it's not clear which court — inside the United States or without — would consider such a claim.
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To catch a killer
Police in Sacramento, Calif., say they have finally caught a notorious serial killer responsible for a string of murders and rapes dating back to the mid 1970s — and the accused is one of their own.
"We found the needle in the haystack," Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County District Attorney, told reporters yesterday.
The 10-year, statewide crime wave began in Sacramento in 1976. It moved on to the San Francisco area two years later, then southern California in the early 1980s.
Yesterday morning, police and FBI agents converged on a house in Citrus Heights, 25 kilometres northeast of Sacramento, and arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old ex-cop. He has been charged with two counts of murder, and is being held on suspicion of at least two more.
"For over 40 years, countless victims have waited for justice," Schubert said at a news conference held outside of her office Wednesday. "The answer has always been in Sacramento."
DeAngelo worked as a police officer in two different area towns, Exeter and Auburn, between 1973 and 1979. He was fired from the Auburn force after he was charged with shoplifting a hammer and a can of dog repellant from a Citrus Heights drug store, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Earlier this week, an Australian newspaper reported that police in Melbourne had been talking with their U.S. counterparts about a series of attack on young girls between 1987 and 1991. The so-called "Mr. Cruel" crimes, which culminated in the murder of 13-year-old Karmein Chan, share certain hallmarks with the Golden State Killer.
The Murder Accountability Project (MAP), founded by a former White House correspondent, uses data analysis software to comb through America's 800,000 murders since 1965 and identify overlooked patterns and possible links.
"Data between 2000 and 2016 reveals there are 10 times the number of active serial killers than previously estimated by the FBI," Michael Arntfield, a University of Western Ontario criminologist and MAP board member, recently told the CBC. "In larger cities, you've got two and three active at once."
Researchers would like to construct a similar database for Canadian murders, but are encountering resistance from authorities who say they can't make the investigative information public.
Quote of the moment
"By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it: there is no Planet B."
- Emmanuel Macron, in a speech to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday. The French president expressed his belief that America will ultimately rejoin the Paris Agreement and seek to curb greenhouse gases.
What The National is reading
- Alberta alienation surging, poll suggests (CBC)
- Iran's Khamenei urges Muslim nations to unite against U.S. (Reuters)
- Researchers are keeping pig brains alive outside the body (MIT Technology Review)
- N.L. premier removes cabinet minister amidst bullying allegations (CBC)
- Lionel Messi wins fight to register himself as a trademark (BBC)
- Bali struggles to keep the lights lit (Asia Times)
- Gorillas are far more numerous than thought, survey finds (Guardian)
- 'Karate Kid' revisited with new YouTube series (New York Times)
Today in history
April 26, 1970: CBC attempts to fulfil its mandate, attract an audience
"Nobody is singing a litany of sorrow about things that can't be done," CBC president George Davidson tells reporter Doug Collins. But he is kind of hot about the intrusion of commercials into TV dramas, and proposed Canadian content rules that will "increase the amount of expenditures" and "reduce, to some extent, the revenues we will receive." The Beachcombers premiered two years later.
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