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Gun fire kills three civilians in disputed Kashmir region as Indian, Pakistan tensions soar

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 18:33
Tensions soared along the volatile frontier between India and Pakistan in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, as rival troops shelled villages and border posts for a third day on Friday. Three civilians and a soldier were killed on both sides in the latest clash, officials in the two countries said, as each blamed the other for initiating the violence. Indian officials said two civilians and a paramilitary soldier died and at least 10 civilians and two soldiers were injured in Indian-...

Asia in 3 minutes: Yabba, dabba, doo for sultan’s Flintstone car; yabba, dabba, don’t for Japan’s fugu lovers

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:10
Malaysian sultan channels Fred Flintstone with new car Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, one of Malaysia’s most powerful and wealthiest state rulers, was given a life-size replica of Fred Flintstone’s car from the classic cartoon. The car, which has an engine so he will not have to power it with his regal feet, was a belated birthday gift from a fellow high-ranking royal. The iconic vehicle from The Flintstones, the sultan’s favourite cartoon, is an accurate likeness of...

Thai police arrest Pakistani passport forger linked to Islamic State

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 13:37
A Pakistani passport forger whose fakes were said to have been sold to Islamic State operatives has been arrested in Thailand, police said on Friday, ending a career that may have helped people slip into Europe illegally. Mohammad Iqbal, 52, was arrested on January 14 in a Bangkok suburb with fake Singaporean and Indian passports, plates and laminates to forge entry visas to France, Italy and Spain. “He has worked on faking documents for a long time using Thailand as his base,”...

Rohingya refugee leaders ‘issue demands’ before repatriation

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:56
Rohingya leaders in a Bangladesh refugee camp have drawn up a list of demands they want Myanmar to meet before authorities begin sending back hundreds of thousands in a repatriation process expected to begin next week and last for two years. Half a dozen Rohingya elders, saying they represented 40 villages from Rakhine State, showed the list of demands to a reporter at Kutupalong refugee camp, where most of the 655,500 Rohingya refugees are staying. The petition, handwritten in Burmese, says...

Facebook is ‘platform of choice’ for Philippine wildlife traders, says monitor

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 09:28
Facebook has emerged as the top site for wildlife trafficking in the Philippines, a watchdog said on Friday, with thousands of endangered crocodiles, snakes and turtles illegally traded in just three months. Monitoring network Traffic said Facebook had not done enough to shut down the trade, which saw more than 5,000 reptiles from 115 species for sale on its discussion groups from June to August 2015 alone. “Facebook is the platform of choice for illegal traders in the Philippines because...

Video proves US Marines broke promise not to fly over Okinawa schoolyard: Japanese minister

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 07:27
The Japanese government on Friday released a video that it says proves the US Marine Corps is flouting safety concerns by flying helicopters directly over a school near a US airbase in Okinawa. “As you can see from the video footage, the helicopters’ underbellies are clearly visible as they flew,” Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Friday. The video was shot on Thursday from a school where a heavy helicopter window plummeted to the ground on December 13, narrowly...

Watch as drone races to the rescue of swimmers caught in Australian surf, a world first

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 06:36
A flying drone has dropped a flotation device to two teens caught in a rip tide in heavy seas off the Australian coast in what officials describe as a world-first rescue. Monty Greenslade and Gabe Vidler got into trouble on Thursday in rough surf at Lennox Head, 750km north of Sydney. They were about a kilometre from lifeguards who were about to start training with the new drones, equipped with a camera, rescue gear and six rotors. After a friend raised the alert, lifeguard Jai Sheridan said...

‘Birth strike’: how long hours at work and social customs dissuade South Korean women from having children

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:07
The woman appointed to try to reverse the world’s lowest birth rates knows better than most why billion-dollar campaigns to encourage South Korea’s female populace to procreate have failed – she is among the millions who have chosen to remain childless in the face of traditionalist social expectations. A history professor at a Seoul University before joining the government, family minister Chung Hyun-back says she remained single to pursue her professional ambitions....

Malaysia Airlines flight shakes violently before being forced to land in Australian outback

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 04:43
Passengers on a Malaysia Airlines plane flying from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur which was forced to land in the central Australian city of Alice Springs said they were bracing themselves for a possible hard landing after the plane shook violently on Thursday. “We suddenly experienced a very violent shaking of the aircraft and that probably lasted about five minutes and it was coming from one of the engines,” passenger Hugh Wolton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We...

‘Times have changed’: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces she’s pregnant

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 02:24
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday she is expecting her first baby in June, making her the country’s first leader to give birth while in office. The 37-year-old, who took office in October, said the pregnancy was “unexpected but exciting” for her and partner Clarke Gayford. “We’re both really happy. We wanted a family but weren’t sure it would happen for us,” she said in a statement. The charismatic leader enjoyed a meteoric...

India can strike anywhere in China with new nuclear-capable missile, government says

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:44
India successfully test-fired a long-range nuclear-capable missile on Thursday from an island in the Bay of Bengal. The test, the fifth of the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile, was made from a mobile launcher, and “further strengthens our credible deterrence,” the defence Ministry said in a statement. India has been developing its nuclear and missile systems in recent years amid increasing strategic competition with China. The test was “a major boost to country’...

The Pyongyang Games? Backlash deepens against South Korea’s outreach to North ahead of next month’s Olympics

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 11:52
An agreement between South and North Korea to march under a unity flag and field a joint ice hockey team at next month’s Olympics was met sharp criticism by many in the South on Thursday, highlighting changing attitudes toward the country’s northern neighbour. The controversy reveals a South Korean public far less wedded to the idea of inter-Korean unity than previous generations, analysts say, a changing dynamic that may shape South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s efforts at...

Populism has emboldened authoritarian leaders around the world but Human Rights Watch hails resistance in annual report

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 10:10
Activists have decried the rise of US President Donald Trump and his embrace of populist strongmen as a blow to the global campaign for human rights, but said they have seen a promising resistance movement. In its annual report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch tracked unchecked abuse in unstable states like Syria and Myanmar, authoritarian trends in powers like Turkey and China – and also weighed in on year one of Trump’s White House. Under Trump, the US cosied up to...

New Zealand doctor calls for euthanasia drug to be made available in pharmacies

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 09:48
By Carla Penman An Auckland medical specialist argues making a drug to assist dying available in pharmacies would be far easier to manage than bringing in legislation. Dr Stephen Child has spoken to NZH Focus about his view on ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill that passed its first reading in Parliament in December. It will legalise assisted dying in cases where individuals have a terminal illness that is likely to end his or her life within six months. Dr Child says the...

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appoints son-in-law to senior police post, aiming to ‘cement total control’

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 08:59
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has appointed his son-in-law as deputy national police chief, in a move apparently aimed at consolidating his power ahead of an election this year. Dy Vichea, who is married to Hun Sen’s eldest daughter, Hun Mana, was promoted to the post on Tuesday, according to a government decree. The appointment comes amid political tension in the Southeast Asian nation, including a government clamp down on critics, civil rights groups and independent media....

Protective panda won’t let Malaysian zookeepers near her newborn cub

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 08:49
A giant panda cub has been born in a Malaysian zoo, the second offspring of a pair of giant pandas on loan from China. Giant pandas Liang Liang and Xing Xing arrived in Malaysia from China in 2014, as part of China’s “panda diplomacy” under which friendly countries get a pair of the animals to help with breeding and conservation work. The Malaysian national zoo’s panda centre has been unable to determine the gender of the cub as its protective mother, Liang Liang, has...

Yabba dabba doo! Malaysian sultan receives Flintstones car as gift from fellow royal

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 08:26
A Malaysian sultan has been given a life-size replica of Fred Flintstone’s car from the classic cartoon, although the modern update has an engine so he won’t tire out his regal feet. Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, one of Malaysia’s most powerful and wealthiest state rulers, received the belated birthday gift from a fellow high-ranking royal this week. The model of the car from The Flintstones, the sultan’s favourite cartoon, is an accurate likeness of the...

South Korean capital to launch real-time ambulance location tracker

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 08:02
By Kang Aa-young and Jung Min-ho Seoul residents will be able to track ambulances in real time with a new automatic system that is expected to be adopted later this year. The Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disasters Headquarters (SMFDH) said Wednesday the service will send location information and the rescue official’s number to the smartphone of the person reporting the incident so he or she can take prompt emergency measures. It also will send a text message showing the closest automated...

Bangladesh blacklists Chinese construction firm, cancels highway deal after bribe claim

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 07:18
Bangladesh has blacklisted a top Chinese construction firm for allegedly trying to bribe a senior government official and stopped its work in the country. The state-backed China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was in negotiations with the Bangladesh government to expand a major highway from the capital Dhaka to the northeastern city of Sylhet, a top government official said. The country’s road transport minister Obaidul Quader said Wednesday that the blacklisted company’s work in...

Japan and Australia push for defence pact that China views as a ‘threat to peace’

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 06:52
The prime ministers of Japan and Australia toured a military training camp outside Tokyo Thursday, as the two countries seek to bolster defence ties in the face of the North Korean crisis. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe viewed a PAC-3 missile interceptor at a Japan Ground Self-Defence Force camp in Funabashi city. The two leaders also got inside a Bushmaster armoured vehicle, which was developed in Australia and adopted by Japan’s...

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