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  • iStock/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, women in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheels of their cars and drove in the streets of the conservative capital Riyadh, a daily mundane act everywhere else but here. They marked the historic end to a ban on women driving, the culmination of more than three decades of activism.Women, with beaming husbands and male relatives by their side in the passenger seats, appeared on Saudi television and on social media platforms driving in the streets of the kingdom. One addressed her fellow women from behind the wheel, “The sky’s the limit. Nothing can stop you.”Traffic policemen were photographed handing out roses to female drivers, an extremely unusual act in a conservative, gender-segregated society where strict rules govern male-female interactions.While some women had been hesitant to drive as soon as the ban lifted -- preferring to wait and see how it goes -- the first hours of Sunday in Saudi still saw an enthusiastic number of women driving.One woman even reportedly got a speeding ticket, seemingly fitting in nicely with her countrymen's taste for speed. Her husband playfully reported on Twitter that his wife was probably the first woman to be fined for speeding, driving 70 in a 55 mph zone. The tweet has since been deleted.Yet not every woman who’s been eager to drive was able to. Some of the women who have been advocating for decades for this very right were still in jail after being detained at the end of May. They were not forgotten in this historic moment though. Fellow activist Manal al-Sharif, who lives in exile, tweeted an announcement of a new campaign channeling the miles women will now be able to drive; to obtain the release of the detained activists; and continue to push for the end of male guardianship laws, the next frontier in women empowerment in Saudi Arabia.Excitement has been steadily building since the king announced the lifting of the ban on women driving last September. Over the past few months, women have enthusiastically gone to auto shows specifically geared toward them, signed up for driving lessons and traded in their foreign licenses for Saudi ones.Pictures of women proudly holding their licenses have abounded on social media and have made the cover of one of the leading Arab women’s magazines, Sayidati.Many Saudi women drive abroad, including in neighboring conservative Arab countries such as Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates. As such, 21 centers were set up to exchange foreign-issued driver licenses for Saudi ones across the provinces of the kingdom. And the first licenses were delivered at the beginning of the month.The world’s most profitable oil company, Saudi Aramco, employing more than 60,000 people in the kingdom and running city-sized compounds, set up a driving school to train thousands of its female employees and female descendants of its employees. One of those brought in to oversee the effort was California driving instructor Norma Adrianzen, who moved to the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran two months ago, along with a Canadian and a British colleague. She has found her Saudi driving students exactly the same as the students she teaches in California, except for one difference: They are very cognizant of the historic nature of their undertaking.“I really felt it became real for them the day they applied for their licenses. They all went quiet in the room. It was surreal and very emotional,” Adrianzen told ABC News.The ages of the students at the school range from 18 to 50. Some already drive abroad; others are first-time drivers.She expects to be in the country over the next two years, with thousands of eager students to teach. And her Canadian colleague Deborah Sherwood would even like to train some of the men in Saudi, known for their love of speed. “They could definitely use some of our training,” she told ABC News in jest. A woman training a man on
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  • Phil Walter/Getty Images(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) -- The prime minister of New Zealand has given birth to a girl.Jacinda Ardern, 37, wrote in a personal Instagram post that her daughter arrived at 4:45 p.m. local time on Thursday, weighing in at 7.3 pounds.It's the first child for Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford."Thank you so much for your best wishes and your kindness," Ardern wrote in her post. "We're all doing really well, thanks to the wonderful team at Auckland City Hospital."Ardern became the second elected world leader in modern times to give birth in office, joining the late Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who gave birth to a daughter in 1990, according to official reports.Ardern is planning to take a six-week leave before returning to work. Winston Peters, New Zealand's deputy prime minister, has taken over in the meantime.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- In their third meeting in less than three months, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly hailed their close and growing ties, while Xi urged the United States and North Korea to build on the momentum from their Singapore summit.“No matter how the international and regional situations change,” China and the Communist Party’s support of North Korea will remain “unchanged,” Xi told the North Korean leader, according to China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.Kim, in turn, vowed to “lift the unbreakable" North Korea-China relations "to a new level."  Xi commended Kim for making “positive efforts for realizing denuclearization and maintain peace on the peninsula,” adding that the situation there has been “put back on the right track of seeking settlement” and that “the situation on the peninsula was developing toward peace and stability.”Kim arrived in Beijing Tuesday morning and returned to North Korea late Wednesday.According to the official Chinese comments on the meetings, Xi was quoted as saying, "China speaks highly of the summit."The most crucial remarks were possibly Kim’s commitment to “implement the consensus of the summit step by step solidly."The phrase “step by step” was deliberate, showing that China supported Kim’s own proposed pace of denuclearization.The Trump administration had sought for North Korea to be “completely denuclearized” before any sanctions would be lifted.The resulting joint statement the United States and North Korea ultimately signed in Singapore last week included no timetable.But “China will continue to play a constructive role to this end,” Xi said.Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, welcomed Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, with a banquet and cultural performance Tuesday night at the Great Hall of the People just off Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.Kim previously met with Xi during two secret meetings -- late March in Beijing, and early May in the coastal city of Dalian. Prior to the Singapore summit, Trump had complained that the North Koreans’ attitude changed after Kim and Xi met in Dalian.Xi and Kim’s meeting continued during the morning Wednesday at the Diaoyutai guesthouse, where Kim was staying, concluding with a luncheon again with their wives.Before returning to Pyongyang, Kim visited the Beijing rail traffic control center and a national agricultural technology innovation park under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Photodisc/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Canadian lawmakers approved landmark legislation on Tuesday to fully legalize marijuana.The move will make Canada the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes nationwide. Uruguay was the first to fully legalize the drug.Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, was first introduced on April 13, 2017, in a bid to legalize and regulate the recreational use of weed. The bill passed in the House of Commons that November and then passed in the Senate on Tuesday night by a vote of 52-29, with two abstentions.Medicinal use of the drug has been legal in Canada since 2001.The proposed legislation allows adults in Canada to legally possess and use up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, as well as cultivate up to four cannabis plants at home and prepare products for personal use. Dried cannabis and cannabis oil will become commercially available later this year.The minimum legal age to buy and consume pot in Canada will be set at 18, but the bill allows provinces and territories to increase the minimum age.Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who sponsored the legislation, called the bill's passage a "historic milestone.""This is an historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada as we shift our approach to cannabis," Wilson-Raybould said via Twitter Tuesday night. "This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime."The federal law fulfills a top campaign promise of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party."It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana -- and for criminals to reap the profits," Trudeau said via Twitter Tuesday night. "Today, we change that."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- The Pakistani terrorist leader who ordered the assassination of Malala Yousafzai was killed in a drone strike, according to Afghan officials.Mullah Fazlullah was allegedly killed in a strike on June 13 in the Dangam district of Kunar province in Afghanistan. Fazlullah had been the leader of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist group in 2010, since taking over in 2013.Initial reports in the area suggest that Fazalullah -- along with four accomplices -- were killed in the strike just after fast-breaking time. Taliban sources have not yet confirmed the killing, but local sources confirm that Fazalullah and his followers were based in this area.While U.S. and Pakistani officials have been quiet on whether Fazlullah was killed, two Afghan officials confirmed the terrorist's death. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish told ABC News the drone attack targeted Fazlullah in Kunar, close to Pakistan border."By eliminating Mullah Fazlullah, Afghanistan proved once again as it did with taking out many other TTP leaders in the past that it does not distinguish between terrorists that target Afghanistan or Pakistan," Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Omar Zakhilwal tweeted Friday. "I hope we can now expect the same -- not only in words but in proofs."Fazlullah has been reported dead multiple times in the past.The U.S. confirmed the June 13 strike targeting Fazlullah, but not that he had been killed."U.S. forces conducted a counterterrorism strike, June 13, in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization," U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell said in a statement.The U.S. specified in its statement that the drone strike did not go against the ceasefire in the region.Fazlullah carried a bounty of $5 million by the U.S. government. He was the mastermind behind the Peshawar school massacre, in which 132 schoolchildren were killed in December 2014, and he also ordered the assassination of the then-15-year-old Yousafzai in October 2012 due to her advocacy for women's education. Yousafzai survived and became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014.Yousafzai just made her first return to Pakistan since the assassination attempt in late March.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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