Japanese Emperor Akihito, in his final remarks as his three-decade reign drew to a close on Tuesday, thanked the people for their support and expressed hope for a peaceful future. Akihito, 85, the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries, had sought to ease the painful memories of World War Two and bring the monarchy closer to the people, including those marginalized in society. The popular Akihito was the first monarch to take the Chrysanthemum Throne under a post-war constitution that defines the emperor as a symbol of the people without political power.
The shadowy leader of the Islamic State group claimed to appear for the first time in five years in a video released by the extremist group’s propaganda arm on Monday, acknowledging defeat in the group’s last stronghold in Syria but vowing a “long battle” ahead. The man said to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the video also claimed the Easter Day bombings in Sri Lanka which killed over 250 people were “part of the revenge” that awaits the West. Despite numerous claims about his death in the past few years, al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts remain a mystery.
A US Army veteran has been arrested as he was in the final stages of a plan to bomb a white supremacist rally in California, say authorities. Muslim convert Mark Domingo, 26, also allegedly plotted terror attacks on Jews, churches and police in revenge for the New Zealand mosque shootings. According to court documents, the former infantryman with combat experience in Afghanistan took steps to build and detonate a weapon of mass destruction. He allegedly expressed a willingness to become a “martyr” in an attack.
The US Navy sailed two destroyers, the USS Stethem and USS William P. Lawrence, through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, referring to the operation as a “routine” transit. While Chinese vessels shadowed the US warships during the transit, officials said that all interactions were “safe and professional.” The Trump administration has sought to make the Taiwan Strait transits more routine, with the operations now taking place on a monthly basis. The approximately 110-mile-wide strait, which separates the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, is seen as a potential geopolitical flashpoint should Beijing ever seek to take the island of Taiwan by force.
The head of NASA has warned that it is time to take the threat of an Earth-destroying asteroid seriously. Jim Bridenstine spoke as the space agency began its planetary defense conference exercises, based around the hypothetical scenario of an asteroid impact. NASA’s administrator expressed concern that similar warnings have historically prompted amusement and said that asteroid collisions were more common than people believed. Planetary defense and astronomical experts have warned against humanity destroying large asteroids with nuclear weapons out of the concern that they would simply shatter into smaller dangerous pieces.
Spain’s ruling socialist party won the most seats in the country’s parliament Sunday but must seek support from smaller parties in order to stay in power. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had won 29 percent of the vote and captured 123 seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies. To remain in office, Sánchez will have to form a governing alliance with smaller parties, including the far-left United We Can, which lost 29 seats from the last election.
A 19-year-old man accused of opening fire on Sabbath worshippers in a deadly shooting rampage at a Southern California synagogue is believed to have acted alone, without help from any organized group, authorities said on Sunday. Police say the gunman walked into the suburban San Diego synagogue late on Saturday morning, the last day of the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, and killed one woman and wounded three other people inside, using an assault-style rifle. According to authorities, the suspect, John Earnest, then fled in a car before calling police to hand himself in.
Tens of thousands of people marched on Hong Kong’s parliament on Sunday to demand the scrapping of proposed extradition rules that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial – a move which some fear puts the city’s core freedoms at risk. Opponents of the proposal fear further erosion of rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub – freedoms which were guaranteed under the city’s handover from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Sri Lankan police have raided the headquarters of a hardline Islamist group founded by the suspected ringleader behind the Easter suicide bombings of churches and hotels. It comes as a ban on face coverings is due to come into force on Monday. Armed police in the town of Kattankudy searched the headquarters of the National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) and detained one man at the premises, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. On Saturday the government banned the NTJ under new emergency laws.
Three oil workers have been kidnapped from a Nigerian oil rig. Gunmen raided the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources rig in Ogbele on Saturday morning, according to a spokesman for the area’s military operations, Major Ibrahim Abubakar. The three people kidnapped were from the UK, Nigeria and Canada. Most of Nigeria’s crude oil comes from the Delta region but authorities have struggled with gangs and armed groups that are demanding a greater share of the profits. Saturday’s abductions are the second in less than a week – on Thursday, two Royal Dutch Shell workers were taken and their police escorts were killed.