Hotel of Doom 

The Ryugyong Hotel (Korean: 류경호텔; sometimes spelled as Ryu-Gyong Hotel), or Yu-Kyung Hotel, is an unfinished 105-story, 330-metre-tall (1,080 ft) pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Pyongyang, North Korea. Its name (“capital of willows”) is also one of the historical names for Pyongyang. The building is also known as the 105 Building, a reference to its number of floors. The building has been planned as a mixed-use development, which would include a hotel.

Construction began in 1987 but was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After 1992, the building stood topped out, but without any windows or interior fittings. In 2008, construction resumed, and the exterior was completed in 2011. The hotel was planned to open in 2012, the centenary of Kim Il-sung’s birth. A partial opening was announced for 2013, but this was cancelled. In 2018, an LED display was fitted to one side, which is used to show propaganda animations and film scenes.

Pictures have emerged showing the inside of a 105-storey pyramid-shaped hotel that has been under construction in Pyongyang for 25 years.

North Korea began building the Ryugyong hotel in 1987, but construction was halted for 16 years when funds ran out.

Although work restarted in 2008, the hotel has become, for many, a symbol of North Korea’s thwarted ambitions.

The tour company that took the pictures say the hotel is now due to open in two or three years time.

Few people have been allowed inside the notorious hotel, which has been variously dubbed the “The Hotel of Doom” or “The Phantom Hotel”.

When conceived, the Ryugyong was intended to communicate to the world an impression of North Korea’s burgeoning wealth.

But other economic priorities meant that the hotel had to be put to one side, and it remained untouched until a city-wide “beautification scheme” was introduced five years ago.

At that time, external construction was forecast to take until the end of 2010, with work on the inside being completed in 2012 at the earliest.

But the photo of the interior taken by Koryo Tours, a Beijing-based company that specialises in travel to North Korea, shows a vast concrete lobby with barriers around the edge of each floor.

The bare interior has no sign of cabling, wiring or pipes, let alone furnishings

General information
StatusOn hold
Architectural styleNeo-futurism
LocationRyugyong-dong, Potonggang-guyokPyongyangNorth Korea
Coordinates39°02′12″N 125°43′51″ECoordinates39°02′12″N 125°43′51″E
Construction started28 August 1987[
Topped-out1992
Estimated completionUnknown
(Exterior construction completed: 14 July 2011[2])
Height
Roof330.02 metres (1,082.7 ft)
Technical details
Floor countAbove ground 105, Underground 3
Floor area360,000 m2 (3,900,000 sq ft)

Mysterious Metal Balls Rain Down From Sky Onto Multiple Villages in India

Multiple villages in India were pelted by mysterious metal balls that rained down from the sky in what is likely a case of space junk falling back down to Earth. According to a local media report, the odd incident unfolded over the course of two days last week and impacted at least seven neighboring communities across the Indian state of Gujarat. The rather sizeable spheres, which can be seen ‘showcased’ in the video above, weighed approximately 12 pounds each and measured around one-and-a-half feet in diameter.

While there were no injuries from the bizarre ‘rainfall,’ there was one unfortunate victim in the form of a lamb that just happened to be grazing in the wrong place at the wrong time. “There was a huge sound from the sky and blinding light,” recalled a witness to the creature’s demise, “I could not see anything but almost the next instant, there was a loud noise and I saw that a metal piece had fallen on a lamb. It was hot and killed the lamb instantly.” As one might imagine, the falling balls caused something of a stir in the various villages and left many residents understandably wondering about the origins of the weird spheres.

Fortunately, it would seem that the mystery surrounding the baffling balls may wind up being short-lived as authorities enlisted experts from the Indian government to examine the spheres and they determined that they were likely space junk. Specifically, it was noted that the objects were “made of high-density metal alloys” of the kind used in rocket launches. Narrowing down the nature of the balls even further, a scientist from the Indian space agency indicated that the spheres appear to have been fuel storage tanks. An astronomer who tracks space debris was even able to identify where, exactly, the objects likely originated, pointing to a Chinese rocket that was expected to reenter the atmosphere at around the time of the ‘rainfall.’

The Largest Aircraft Boneyard in the World

All images © Bernhard Lang

Housing the largest aircraft and missile facility around the globe, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson is a trove of aviation history. The Arizona boneyard is responsible for nearly 4,000 vehicles that are maintained, recycled for parts, and stored across miles of the dry, desert landscape. Photographer Bernhard Lang (previously) visited the site recently to document the aircraft, which are organized in neat rows and grouped by model. Containing both rusted and disassembled machines and those in pristine condition, the boneyard is designed for preservation “in order to make (the planes) airworthy again if necessary, a current topic in times of the Ukraine war and the global discussion about deliveries of arms,” Lang says.

Eerie ‘Portal’ Appears in Florida Sky

A motorist in Florida could not believe his eyes when he looked up during a morning drive and spotted what seemed to be some kind of portal in the sky that he suspects was a ‘gateway to heaven.’ The very strange sight was reportedly witnessed earlier this month by Tavaras Brinson as he was en route to his home in the community of Bradenton following an overnight shift at his construction job. The normally routine commute took a wondrous turn when, to his amazement, an incredibly bright light appeared to burst forth from the clouds in the dark predawn sky over his head and cast down a breathtaking illumination.

Captivated by the curious scene, Brinson promptly pulled over to the side of the road and captured the astounding aerial enigma on video with his cell phone. “It was like the gates of heaven were opening,” he later marveled, reflecting on what he saw that morning, “It was dark and then all of a sudden a bright hole opened up in the sky. I watched it open. It was amazing, I thought it was God coming back.” Lest one think Brinson was being hyperbolic, he left no doubt as to his miraculous interpretation of the event, musing that “I believe in God, and I do believe this was a religious experience. I’ve never seen anything like this, ever. I feel blessed.”

After he posted his video to social media, where it amassed over a million views, some skeptical observers offered a less profound explanation for what the motorist might have seen. They noted that at around the same time that the aerial anomaly appeared in the sky, SpaceX had launched a rocket approximately 150 miles away, as such, they argued that the illumination was likely caused by that event. However, Brinson dismissed this prosaic possibility for the peculiar sighting, declaring that “I’ve seen rocket launches before and they didn’t look like that. It was biblical.”

Afghanistan’s female TV presenters must cover their faces, say Taliban

File photo: In this photograph taken on January 30, 2013 a female Afghan news presenter reads the news at a studio in Kabul.
Image caption,Female presenters – faces uncovered – have become common on screen in recent years

The Taliban have ordered female Afghan TV presenters and other women on screen to cover their faces while on air.

Media outlets were told of the decree on Wednesday, a religious police spokesman told BBC Pashto.

The ruling comes two weeks after all women were ordered to wear a face veil in public, or risk punishment.

Restrictions are being tightened on women – they are banned from travelling without a male guardian and secondary schools are shut for girls.

One female Afghan journalist working for a local TV station in Kabul, who did not want to be named, said she’d been shocked to hear the latest news.

“They are putting indirect pressure on us to stop us presenting on TV,” she told the BBC.

“How can I read the news with my mouth covered? I don’t know what to do now – I must work, I am the breadwinner of my family.”The new decree will take effect from 21 May, Reuters news agency reported, quoting a spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue.

(From August 2021) Female presenters return on Afghanistan’s Tolo News, with one interviewing the Taliban

The spokesman referred to the ruling as “advice” – it is not clear what will happen to anyone who fails to comply.

“Based on information received by Tolo news, the order has been issued to all media outlets in Afghanistan,” the news channel reported.

The decision is being widely criticised on Twitter, with many calling it another step by the Taliban to promote extremism.

“The world deploys masks to protect people from Covid. The Taliban deploys masks to protect people from seeing the faces of women journalists. For the Taliban, women are a disease,” one activist tweeted.

The private Shamshad news channel posted a photo of its news presenter wearing a mask, and other similar images are being shared on social media.

During their first stint in power in the 1990s the Taliban forced women to wear the all-encompassing burka in public.

The hardline Islamist movement was driven from power by US-led troops in 2001, after which many restrictions eased. Women appearing on television showing their faces became a common sight.

After retaking power last August, following the withdrawal of foreign forces, the Taliban had held off issuing new laws on what women should wear.

This raised hopes they would govern Afghanistan, a deeply conservative and patriarchal country, more flexibly this time.

A burka-clad woman and a girl on a street in Kandahar on 5 March 2022
Image caption,The burka was enforced by the Taliban in the 1990s and still worn by many women

Many women still wore the burka, but in bigger cities it was also common to see women continuing to wear headscarves.

However in early May the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue announced that all women would have to cover their face in public, and indicated that a burka would be the ideal garment to achieve this.

Anyone refusing to comply with the ruling risks an escalating series of punishments.

Infographic showing different types of Muslim head coverings for women

Most Muslims around the world do not consider women covering their face mandatory, or oppose them working.

Women are still employed in some jobs in Afghanistan, such as healthcare and education, but many others have been told not to return to work now the Taliban are back in power.

The country has been plunged into economic crisis and famine under Taliban rule.

Western diplomats have indicated that resuming development funding and unlocking frozen cash depends on better treatment of women.

But early hopes the Taliban might relax their approach have been eroded amid signs influential hardliners in the group have the upper hand.

The journalist in Kabul who spoke to the BBC wanted the international community to put pressure on the Taliban.

“They should tell them you have 10 days to change otherwise we are going to cut off relations and aid.”

She said she believed the Taliban planned to stop women doing all kinds of work outside their homes. “They want women to live like prisoners at home. Every day they issued decrees against us – I don’t think we can survive.”

The Taliban are pretending that they are living in the 15th century.

‘Freudian slip’: Bush decries ‘invasion of Iraq’ – not Ukraine

Former US President George W Bush appears to admit the 2003 invasion of Iraq was ‘wholly unjustified, brutal’ in a speech about the Russian war on Ukraine.

Bush
Former US President George W Bush delivers a speech to crew on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln following the US invasion of Iraq [File: Larry Downing/Reuters]

Former United States President George W Bush has decried the “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq” in a gaffe during a speech in the US state of Texas.

The former president, who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the false pretence that the country was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), meant to decry the Russian invasion of Ukraine during the speech in Dallas on Wednesday.

Instead, while criticising Russia’s political system, he said: “The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.

“I mean, of Ukraine,” he said quickly.

He then said “Iraq too” to laughter from the crowd.

Several investigations have detailed how the Bush administration relied on faulty intelligence while misleading the public in the lead up to the war, with advocates calling for years for Bush and other officials to be held accountable for what has been called an illegal invasion.

Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director of Human Rights Watch, called the stumble the “Freudian slip of the century”.

Wrote Pouya Alimagham, a modern Middle East historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Wow – the one time Bush told the truth about the invasion of #Iraq.”

Added writer Maris Kabas in a tweet: “If I could tell my 17-year-old self one thing it’s that George W Bush will admit to unjustly invading Iraq in 17 years.”

The US invasion of Iraq, which was officially completed in 2011, has been directly attributed to widespread instability in the country that led to the rise of the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.

The UK-based Iraq Body Count Project has recorded as many as 209,422 violent civilian deaths in Iraq since the March 2003 US invasion.

When the initial invasion began, the International Commission on Jurists in Geneva said it represented a “war of aggression” that constituted a crime under international law.

In 2010, a Dutch inquiry, the first-ever independent legal assessment of the war, determined the invasion had “no basis in international law”.

A year later, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of crimes against humanity for the war. The verdict was not enforceable.

Video of Bush’s comment had been viewed about 10 million times on Twitter early Thursday, with some observers saying the slipup indicated more than just a guilty conscience.

“No but seriously, George W Bush whisperingly affirms his own self-description as launching a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” tweeted Will Greaves, an assistant professor of international relations at the University of Victoria.

“He knows it, and he also knows that he’ll never face consequences even as they’re called for Putin,” he said. “So it’s not funny, it’s impunity.”

Christopher Walken can do it all!

chris

Walken was a dancer in variety and musicals before he became a respected (and much loved) actor starring in such films as The DeerhunterThe Dead ZoneThe Comfort of StrangersThe King of New YorkPulp FictionTrue RomanceThe Prophecy TrilogyWild SideThe AddictionThe FuneralSleepy HollowHairspray, and most recently Turks and Caicos.

It’s fair to say that if Mr Walken’s name is attached to any movie, you know it’s going to be fun—well, at least when he’s on screen. You might not like what happens before or after, but once he appears, you know the movie sings. Who can forget his scenes with Dennis Hopper in True Romance? Or, the casual soft shoe shuffle in King of New York? Or, his bravura dancing to Fat Boy Slim’s promo for “Weapon Of Choice”?

Such is his popularity that when an Internet forum ran a hoax Christopher Walken for President campaign, it seemed almost believable, and I’m sure there would have been quite a few people out there who would have given a big ‘X’ to Mr. W. had it been real.

Walken is so likable, so watchable, and seems such an interesting character (he likes cats and pineapple, and his mother came from Glasgow, where he still has relatives).

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