LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Russian forces fired a cruise missile into the city council building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, the deputy governor of the region Roman Semenukha said. A key Russian target, Kharkiv has come under intense shelling over the past two days, with 21 people killed in the past day. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; editing by John Stonestreet)
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North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, Seoul's military said, just days after Pyongyang's last test and ahead of a visit to South Korea by US Vice President Kamala Harris.
The launches, part of a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests this year by North Korea, came after Seoul's spy agency warned that Pyongyang was close to conducting another nuclear test.
South Korea's military said it had "detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Sunan area in Pyongyang".
The missiles flew "around 360 kilometres (223 miles) at an altitude of 30 kilometres at the speed of Mach 6", Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, adding that it was analysing the details of the launches.
"Our military has reinforced monitoring and surveillance and is maintaining utmost readiness in close coordination with the United States," it added.
Japan also confirmed the launches, with deputy defence minister Toshiro Ino saying North Korea's recent spate of missile tests were "unprecedented" in frequency.
"The repeated missile launches cannot be tolerated," he said.
The latest launch comes after North Korea test-fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday.
Harris is due to arrive in Seoul on Thursday for a brief visit, during which she will go to the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea.
The White House has said Harris' trip, which follows a visit to Japan, intends to underscore the importance of the alliance with Seoul.
Washington is Seoul's key security ally and stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea to help protect it from the North.
Last week the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan conducted joint drills with South Korea's navy in waters off the Korean peninsula.
Under Seoul's hawkish new President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, the two countries have boosted joint exercises, which they insist are purely defensive -- but North Korea sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.
South Korean and US officials have been warning for months that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.
Earlier Wednesday, Seoul's spy agency said Pyongyang appeared to have completed "a third tunnel at its Punggye-ri nuclear site", MP Yoo Sang-bum told reporters after a briefing from Seoul's National Intelligence Service.
Pyongyang is likely to choose the window between "China's upcoming Communist Party Congress on October 16 and the midterm elections in the United States on November 7" for its next nuclear test, Yoo said.
North Korea, which is under multiple UN sanctions for its weapons programmes, typically seeks to maximise the geopolitical impact of its tests with careful timing.
The isolated regime has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006. Its last and most powerful one in 2017 -- which Pyongyang claimed was a hydrogen bomb -- had an estimated yield of 250 kilotons.
Seoul has also detected signs the North is preparing to fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the president's office said Saturday, a weapon Pyongyang last tested in May.
"Today's launch makes it clear the North is attempting to gain an upper hand on the peninsula with a nuclear arsenal at its disposal," Kim Jong-dae of the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies told AFP.
The repeated tests are "a harbinger of Pyongyang's aggressive posturing to come next month -- with missile launches and a possible nuclear test", he said.
On Wednesday, POLITICO reported that one of the key judges overseeing the trials of January 6 defendants took aim at Republican leaders who have helped encourage former President Donald Trump's lies about the election, out of political expediency.
"U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said former President Donald Trump had turned his lies about the election into a litmus test for Republican candidates and that 'high-ranking members of Congress and state officials' are 'so afraid of losing their power' that they won’t contradict him," reported Kyle Cheney. "That fealty, she said, comes even as law enforcement and judges involved in cases related to the former president are facing unprecedented threats of violence."
"In addition, Jackson said, Trump and his allies are using rhetoric about the multiple criminal probes connected to Trump that contain dangerous undertones," noted the report. "'Some prominent figures in the Republican Party … are cagily predicting or even outright calling for violence in the streets if one of the multiple investigations doesn’t go his way,' Jackson said."
Jackson made these pronouncements at the sentencing hearing for Kyle Young, who held former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone while another rioter assaulted him with his own stun gun.
Young, who brought his 16-year-old soon to the attack, has said that he "broke down crying" after that assault. Multiple relatives of Young's, however, have lashed out at Fanone and called him a "piece of sh*t" — including at one point in the courtroom itself.
"[Jackson is] not the first federal judge to rebuke Trump in the context of Jan. 6 riot prosecutions," noted the report. "Judge Amit Mehta lamented that many of the low-level rioters were duped by powerful figures, including Trump, into marching on the Capitol, only to suffer criminal consequences as a result. Judge Reggie Walton called Trump a 'charlatan' for his conduct related to the election. And a federal judge in California, David Carter, determined that Trump’s actions related to Jan. 6 likely amounted to a criminal conspiracy to subvert the election."
According to the New York Times' Maggie Haberman, Donald Trump grew disgusted with his attorney's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and gave former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani his blessings to do whatever it took to help him remain in the Oval Office.
In her book "Confidence man," Haberman wrote that the former president was constantly critical of the legal advice he was getting from his personal lawyers and White House counsel Pat Cipollone who balked at the president's claims of election fraud.
Long after Trump left unwillingly office the former White House counsel told the House select committee that he disagreed with the former president's election conspiracy assertions and urged him to concede.
One lawyer in Trump's circle who did agree with the former president's claims was Giuliani and so Trump turned over his legal defense to the former U.S. attorney.
With the Washington Post's Josh Dasey reporting, "Trump gave former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) control of his legal team because his other lawyers were not willing to go far enough to overturn the 2020 election," before adding that Haberman wrote the former president reportedly proclaimed, "Okay, Rudy, you’re in charge. Go wild, do anything you want. I don’t care," during a phone call.
The book also notes that Trump added, "My lawyers are terrible.”
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