Teen rescued after surviving 49 days adrift in Pacific Ocean

Teen rescued after surviving 49 days adrift in Pacific Ocean

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A teenager survived 49 days at sea after a storm ripped his tiny vessel from its moorings and set him adrift into the Pacific Ocean.

Aldi Novel Adilang recounted being circled by a shark during his 1,600-mile journey from Indonesia. He was rescued earlier this month near the U.S. island territory of Guam, officials said. He ate fish and read his Bible daily during the ordeal.

Adilang was later reunited with his family at their remote coastal village after being brought to Japan, where he recuperated with the help of consular officials.

“Aldi said he had been scared and often cried while adrift,” Fajar Firdaus, a diplomat at the Indonesian consulate in Osaka, told the Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Even before his odyssey began, the 19-year-old already had a lonely job as the solitary worker on a rompong — a floating fish trap with a tiny wooden hut equipped with a gas stove, cooking utensils and a generator.

Aldi Novel Adilang’s fishing trap.Indonesian Consulate General Osaka/Facebook

Aldi was contracted by the rompong’s owner to light lamps around it nightly for six months in order to attract fish. Each week, the owner would send someone to collect the fish and replenish supplies of food, fuel and drinking water.

On July 14, a storm snapped the rope that anchored the rompong to the sea floor off the coast of Manado, in far northeast Indonesia — some 1,300 miles from the capital, Jakarta.

Aldi went unnoticed by passing ships despite waving his clothes and flashing the lamps.

He wasn’t found until Aug. 31 when he was spotted in waters off Guam by a Panama-registered bulk freighter, MV Arpeggio, which was heading for Japan, the consulate said in a Facebook post.

“Every time he saw a large ship, he said he was hopeful, but more than 10 ships had sailed past him, none of them stopped or saw Aldi,” Fajar told the Jakarta Post.

Poldark's Aidan Turner wins award for West End debut

Poldark's Aidan Turner wins award for West End debut

Poldark’s Aidan Turner has won a Stage Debut Award for his performance in The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

He won the best West End debut award, beating Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston and Diversity’s Ashley Banjo.

Turner thanked director Michael Grandage in his speech, calling the role “one of the most incredible jobs I’ve ever worked on”.

Turner played a terrorist deemed too violent to be a member of the IRA. One critic described him as a “revelation”.

He took a break from filming the fifth series of Poldark to accept the award.

Other big winners at The Stage Debut Awards, which took place on Sunday night, included Amara Okereke for her performance in the West End’s Les Miserables. She was the first black woman to play the role of Cosette.

Katy Rudd won for directing The Almighty Something at Manchester Royal Exchange, whilst Akshay Sharan pick up a prize for his role as a native Pakistani who becomes disenchanted with the West post-9/11 in The Reluctant Fundamentalist at the Yard Theatre in east London.

The Stage Debut Awards celebrate breakthrough talent in theatre, including actors, directors, designers, writers and composers who have made professional debuts in the past twelve months.

Full list of winners

  • Best Actress in a play – Gemma Dobson for Rita, Sue and Bob Too at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
  • Best Actor in a play – Akshay Sharan for The Reluctant Fundamentalist at Yard Theatre, London
  • Best Actress in a musical – Amara Okereke for Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, London
  • Best Actor in a musical – Louis Gaunt for Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera, West Horsley
  • Best Director – Katy Rudd for The Almighty Sometimes at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
  • Best Designer – Khadija Raza for Hijabi Monologues, Spun, and Mixtape, at the Bush Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London and the Royal Exchange, Manchester.
  • Best Composer or Lyricist – Gus Gowland for Pieces of String at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester
  • Best Writer – Andrew Thompson for In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre503, London
  • The Joe Allen Best West End Debut – Aidan Turner for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noël Coward Theatre

Putin's critic Alexei Navalny arrested moments after release from jail

Putin's critic Alexei Navalny arrested moments after release from jail

Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detained again – moments after he had finished serving a 30-day sentence, his colleagues say.

He is accused of violating a protest law and faces 20 days in jail or a fine. He is due in court later.

The sentence Mr Navalny had just served was over planning an unauthorised anti-government demonstration in January.

The 42-year-old politician has long been the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Navalny and his supporters believe the pressure he is coming under is politically motivated, the BBC’s Steven Rosenberg in Moscow reports.

In recent weeks, the opposition politician has called for nationwide protests against government plans to raise the retirement age in Russia – a deeply unpopular reform that is fuelling resentment with the authorities and which has dented Mr Putin’s popularity, our correspondent says.

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Earlier this month, the head of Russia’s National Guard Viktor Zolotov had threatened to make “a juicy beefsteak” out of Alexei Navalny, after the political activist had published allegations of large-scale corruption within the National Guard.

Mr Navalny has called Mr Putin’s party a place of “crooks and thieves”, accused the president’s system of “sucking the blood out of Russia” and vowed to destroy the “feudal state” being built.

The Kremlin denies the allegations.

Mr Navalny’s candidacy in the 2018 presidential election was banned by the authorities over his conviction by a Russian court of embezzlement, which barred him from running for office.

Hong Kong government bans pro-independence party

Hong Kong government bans pro-independence party

Hong Kong has banned a small political party that campaigns for the territory’s independence.

Authorities said the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) posed a threat to national security.

Under the so-called “one country, two systems” formula, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy and certain freedoms not available in China.

The ban comes amid growing concerns those freedoms are being eroded under pressure from Beijing.

It is the first time that the territory has banned a political party since it was returned to China from the UK.

How is the ban justified?

A colonial-era law allows the government to ban groups “in the interests of national security, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

The city’s Secretary for Security John Lee said the group had spread “hatred and discrimination against mainland Chinese”.

The HKNP is a small fringe party and there is very little support within Hong Kong for the independence movement.

But the move to outlaw the party has given the group and its leader Andy Chan international prominence.

In August, he gave a controversial speech at the city’s Foreign Correspondent Club (FCC), sparking criticism from Beijing and pressure for the FCC to cancel the talk.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. But due to the “one country, two systems” formula, Beijing agreed to give the region a great deal of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years.

Why is this important for China?

China is extremely – and increasingly – sensitive about what it says are questions of national sovereignty.

Beijing’s main focus is Hong Kong and the self-ruling island of Taiwan. In Taiwan’s case, China’s position is straightforward: Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that rightfully belongs to the mainland.

In the case of Hong Kong, the situation is blurry. The city is part of China but its special status and freedoms can be seen as indirectly undermining Beijing’s tough hand on the mainland.

Hong Kong outlaws pro-independence political party

Hong Kong outlaws pro-independence political party

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HONG KONG — Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday took an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds.

John Lee, the territory’s secretary for security, announced that the Hong Kong National Party will be prohibited from operation from Monday.

Lee told reporters that the two-year-old group was prepared to use “all methods” to forge independence, which posed a threat to national security and broke the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that governs Hong Kong’s relations with China.

“It has a clear agenda in making Hong Kong a republic,” Lee said.

Lee also said the group had spread “hatred and discrimination against mainland Chinese.”

Hong Kong’s security bureau previously said in a letter to the National Party’s leader, 28-year-old Andy Chan, that the party should be dissolved “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover. Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials have warned separatist activity would not be tolerated.

Hong Kong is governed under a “one country, two systems” principle which allows the global financial hub a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in China, including an independent legal system and freedoms of speech and assembly.

The perception that Beijing is reneging on its promise of semi-autonomy and eroding Hong Kong’s free elections and freedom of speech is helping fuel a rising generation of young activists calling for greater autonomy, if not outright independence.

Huge pro-democracy protests erupted in 2014 in response to the decision by China’s ruling Communist Party to retain the right to effectively pre-screen candidates for Hong Kong’s leadership.

Andy Chan is the leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party.Anthony Wallace / AFP – Getty Images file

Chan, the National Party leader, told the Associated Press in July that police approached him with documents detailing his speeches and activities since the party’s formation in 2016.

“I will never stop in my pursuit of freedom, human rights, equality and dignity,” Chan told Reuters before Lee announced that the party was being outlawed.

The party was founded in response to frustration about Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong. Despite a promise of autonomy, activists complain mainland influence over its democratic elections is increasing.

Rob Goldstone wishes he'd never set up that Trump Tower meeting

Rob Goldstone wishes he'd never set up that Trump Tower meeting

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The British-born music publicist who helped arrange that infamous meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Democrats now believes the meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence, he told NBC News in an exclusive television interview.

“I’m willing to believe that I don’t know who wanted this meeting,” Rob Goldstone told NBC’s Cynthia McFadden in a wide-ranging interview, in which he also discussed Trump’s behavior in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.

Asked if he had conveyed a “dirty offer” to the Trump team in brokering the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Goldstone said, “Yes. That is true.”

“That [dirt] didn’t materialize,” said Goldstone, but he believes the apparent willingness of campaign officials to accept dirt is what drew the scrutiny of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Music publicist Rob Goldstone says special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators wanted to know about any connections between the Kremlin and the Trumps and why he helped set up a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign officials.NBC News

Goldstone’s account of the meeting, which he says he relayed in detail to Mueller’s grand jury in March, is largely consistent with how it’s been described by other participants. He says Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya talked in a meandering fashion about U.S. sanctions against Russians — and the financier who lobbied for those sanctions, Bill Browder — but didn’t offer any information about Trump’s foe in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton. He considered the Russian’s presentation “complete and utter nonsense,” he said.

Watch Cynthia McFadden on TODAY for more

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the candidate’s son, Donald Trump Jr., came into the room anticipating — and very happy to accept — “opposition research” he believed was coming from the Russian government.

Goldstone himself had promised as much, in an email to Trump Jr. saying the Russian had information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” and that it was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Goldstone says he was asked to set up the meeting — and relay the offer of incriminating information about Clinton — by Emin Agalarov, on behalf of his father Aras Agalarov, one of Russia’s wealthiest developers. At the time, Goldstone was working as a publicist for the younger Agalarov, who had launched a career as a Russian pop star.

The email, Goldstone said, “was written in about three minutes on my cell phone with scant information, with my own, I suppose, way of interpreting what I believe my client was trying to get across, and puffing it. That’s what I do. I’m a publicist.”

Goldstone now says he had no direct knowledge that the Russian government was trying to help Trump, but assumed such because he had observed the favorable treatment then-candidate Trump received from Russian press at the time, and saw first-hand how Russians treated Trump with great affection and enthusiasm during his visit to Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.

But he did believe, he said, that Veselnitskaya had Kremlin connections, something that has proven to be true. In an April interview with NBC News, she acknowledged she had worked closely with and provided information to the Russian prosecutor general, a high-ranking Kremlin official.

Rob Goldstone wishes he'd never set up that Trump Tower meeting


Goldstone believes it wasn’t his email that secured the meeting, but a series of calls afterward between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov. Goldstone was not on the line.

Phone records obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee indicate Agalarov and Trump Jr. had three calls, each two to three minutes long, on June 6 and 7, 2016. In his Senate testimony, Trump Jr. said he did not recall speaking with Agalarov.

“I don’t know what was discussed,” Goldstone said. “What I do believe is that it is almost [incredible] to think that this conversation or these conversations could have taken place without discussion of funding, Russian funding, illegal funding, Democrats, Hillary, and it being of use to the campaign. I — I just can’t understand how — how it wouldn’t have been touched upon.”

Goldstone noted that it wasn’t until after the final call that Trump Jr. sent an email setting a date for a meeting, and saying his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort would be joining. Goldstone said he found it “odd” that those senior campaign officials would be included if they did not expect the conversation to be substantive.

Afterwards, the Agalarovs continued to seek another meeting for Veselnitskaya with the Trump team. Goldstone says the requests came shortly after Trump’s victory in November 2016, and then again around the time of the inauguration. Goldstone says he did not pursue the meetings, and does not believe any took place.

Image: Emin Agalarov, Donald Trump and Aras AgalarovEmin Agalarov, Donald Trump and Aras Agalarov attend the red carpet at Miss Universe Pageant Competition 2013 on Nov. 9, 2013 in Moscow.Victor Boyko / Getty Images file

Goldstone said those follow-up meetings were of particular interest to special counsel Mueller’s team, and he was asked about them before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

“They asked a lot of questions about my connection to the Trumps, Trump’s connection to the Agalarovs, [Aras] Agalarov’s connection to the Kremlin, Trump’s connection the Kremlin, to the Agalarovs.”

“They seemed most interested in why this meeting may have come about and why the Agalarovs may have wanted it,” said Goldstone, “[and] also two follow-up requests for meetings.”

Image: Natalia VeselnitskayaKremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow on Nov. 8, 2016.Yury Martyanov / AP file

“They obviously wanted to talk to me about my email and the reasons behind it,” said Goldstone, adding that the investigators’ responses to his testimony indicated “they sort of understood it was a puffed up email.”

Goldstone says that on the day of his grand jury testimony in March, he was picked up in an unmarked car by two FBI agents and driven to an underground entrance to what looked like an office building. He rode a freight elevator up to a grand jury room.

“It was like a lecture room in a college,” Goldstone said. “There were about 22 or 23 people there, [across] three tiers. And then there’s a long table.”

“The investigators, they have notes and documents and an overhead projector and all — which I thought was a little bit old-fashioned. And then there’s a table for me that has nothing. And my bottle of water. Even now, it makes me kind of shudder a little bit.”

Goldstone said the grand jury was comprised of a wide range of people. “There were a couple of older folk. Most of them, I would say, they ranged probably from late 20s, early 30s, to their 50s. Black, white, Latino. There were a couple of really studious-looking people that were in the front row — I actually thought to myself, oh, if anyone was going to ask a question or float a question or — probably these two.”

Some jurors took notes, he said, and a few seemed to “nod off a bit” at times.

The Mueller team also wanted to know about his time with Trump in Moscow in 2013, he said.

Asked whether he believed the Russian government may have seen Trump as someone they could use, Goldstone said, “I think it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they would have realized early on that he’s somebody who certainly had affection for Russia — and whose willingness to be there and meet with them and accept this kind of unquestioning adulation — maybe that does make you a target for that.”

Goldstone says he is sure Trump spent the night at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, despite Trump allegedly telling ex-FBI Director James Comey he didn’t sleep there. The dossier on Trump compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele alleges he had an unusual dalliance with prostitutes at the Ritz. Trump denies it. Goldstone says he never heard about such a thing, and believed he would have.

Rob Goldstone wishes he'd never set up that Trump Tower meeting


Goldstone says there was an attempt to arrange a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump during the Miss Universe pageant, but it ultimately did not occur. “I was in the room for that call with Mr. Trump and with Emin and Aras. And it was President Putin’s spokesman, a man by the name of Dmitry Peskov. And he spoke with Aras. And Emin translated and said, ‘Unfortunately, although Mr. Putin would love to meet with Donald Trump today, the meeting can no longer go ahead because the king of Holland has been delayed in traffic.'”

“And he said something else that was interesting. He did say that President Putin was very keen to meet Mr. Trump, and would make himself available at any other opportunity where their paths coincided, and invited him to the Sochi Olympics.” Goldstone says Trump later received a wooden box and a note from the Russian leader.

Goldstone is not facing any charges, and has appeared voluntarily in front of Mueller’s grand jury and multiple congressional committees. Goldstone said he partially agreed with a quote attributed to Steve Bannon, that the meeting was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” and that the Trump team should have called the FBI rather than accept it.

Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort all should have known the sit-down was improper, Goldstone said.

“People have said to me, ‘Shouldn’t I have known?’ Well, shouldn’t they have known? I know nothing about politics, I set up a meeting. Shouldn’t they have known?”

Though he can offer no evidence, Goldstone finds it hard to imagine that then-candidate Trump was unaware of the meeting, as Trump has said.

Image: Christopher SteeleChristopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, poses in London where he has spoken to the media for the first time on March 7.Victoria Jones / PA via AP Images

“It was taking place in his conference room and it was taking place with his campaign chair sitting and attending the meeting, as well as his son and his son-in-law. So, you know, the publicist in me would say, ‘It’s a bit of a stretch if he’s a floor or two above to believe that he doesn’t know it’s going on.'”

Goldstone says his personal and professional life has been turned upside down by his role in the Trump-Russia saga. He describes the onslaught of press attention and speculation as “terrifying.”

Goldstone has written a book, “Pop Stars, Pageants & Presidents: How an Email Trumped My Life,” which he hopes will provide context for his role.

While he says he is still angry with Emin Agalarov for getting him involved, he blames himself for not listening to the “little voice in my head” that told him the meeting was a bad idea.

He says he now believes the meeting came about because Emin and Donald Jr. have something in common — a desire to please their fathers: “It’s like they did it for daddy, both of them.”

Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs, said, “It is absolutely false that anyone from the Russian government or Russian intelligence services asked the Agalarovs to arrange the meeting. Whoever voiced these allegations is simply making it up.”