NEWS DIGEST 17.10.2021: This morning’s leading world stories

Happy Sunday morning everyone! Our news this morning is brought to you via Bing News (World).

President Joe Biden has said he personally opposes capital punishment, but his Justice Department is still pursuing the death penalty for Roof. The Independent spoke with those connected to a host of different tragedies – the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing – and they have a range of opinions on the death penalty, and whether it delivers closure, let alone justice. The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty – with The Independent as the latest on the list – As the killers who terrorised their families face execution, relatives disagree on whether that adds up to justice (Independent/MSN news)

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A group of 17 US missionaries including children are believed to have been kidnapped by a gang in Haiti. Haiti is once again struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings that had diminished after President Jovenel Moise was fatally shot at his private residence on July 7, and following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the south-west in August and killed more than 2,200 people. At least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report issued last month by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti. In April, one gang kidnapped five priests and two nuns, a move that prompted a protest similar to one organised for this Monday to decry the lack of security in the impoverished country. The kidnapping of the missionaries comes just days after high-level US officials visited Haiti and promised more resources for its police force, including millions of pounds to help reduce gang violence, which this year has displaced thousands of Haitians who now live in temporary shelters in increasingly unhygienic conditions – US missionaries kidnapped in Haiti (Evening Standard/MSN news)

TOKYO – Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead for the autumn festival, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday, prompting the South Korean government to express “disappointment”. Kishida was following the example of previous Japanese leaders, who have refrained from visiting in person during the spring and autumn festivals or on the anniversary of Japan’s World War Two surrender to avoid angering China and South Korea. The shrine, in Tokyo, is seen by Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression because it honours 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal as well as some 2.5 million war dead. Kishida, who as the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party took over the premiership earlier this month, called a national election on Oct. 31, and his stance towards Japan’s neighbours is being closely watched. A South Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said there is “deep disappointment and regret that Japan’s responsible leaders made offerings or repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which glorified Japan’s past wars of aggression and enshrined war criminals.” “The Korean government urges Japan’s responsible people to face history with the inauguration of the new cabinet, and to show humble reflection and genuine reflection on the past through action,” the spokesperson continued – Japan’s new PM sends offering to Yasukuni Shrine, irking South Korea (Reuters/MSN news)

Kosovo is holding municipal elections Sunday in which the left-wing party that has been in government for eight months is aiming to capture the city hall of the capital, Pristina. Voting in the north populated predominantly by the ethnic Serb minority will attract much attention following two incidents in the past two months that have led to soaring tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. Earlier this week, Kosovo police clashed with ethnic Serbs during an anti-smuggling operation, and last month an issue over vehicle license plates was resolved only after mediation from the European Union and the United States The NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, deployed troops to the border area, ending the spat. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia doesn’t recognize the move. Elections are taking place during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a tough test for the people and authorities – Kosovo votes in municipal elections, focus at Pristina race (Independent/MSN news)

BEIJING – China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, showing a capability that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise, the Financial Times reported, citing five unnamed sources. The report late on Saturday said the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe before cruising towards its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles. “The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised,” the report said, citing people briefed on the intelligence. At a 2019 parade, China showcased advancing weaponry including its hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17. Hypersonic weapons are difficult to defend against because they fly towards targets at lower altitudes but can achieve more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200 km per hour – China surprises U.S. with hypersonic missile test, FT reports (Reuters/MSN news)

Summarised with SMMRY.

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