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Asia shares gain as Japan trade data better than forecast

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7 minutes agoGo to full article
TOKYO (AP) — Asian markets mostly rose Monday after the release of improved Japanese manufacturing and trade data that suggest activity is picking up in the world's third biggest economy. Looking ahead, attention is likely to focus this week on Friday's report of U.S. growth data.

Top American diplomat says U.S. remains strong Philippine ally

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎41 minutes agoGo to full article
The most senior U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Monday that the United States remains a "steady and trusted" partner of the Philippines, but was concerned about recent controversial statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel also said that while the United States supports Manila's "effort against the scourge of drugs", Washington was concerned over the loss of lives, which is "not a positive trend" and is "bad for business as well". Russel made the comments to reporters in Manila after a meeting with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.

US: Philippines' Duterte sparking distress around the world

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎42 minutes agoGo to full article
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affair Daniel Russel issues his statement to reporters after meeting with Philippine officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Russel has said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial remarks and a "real climate of uncertainty" about his government's intentions have sparked consternation in the U.S. and other governments and in the business world. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The top American diplomat in Asia says Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial remarks and a "real climate of uncertainty" about his government's intentions have sparked distress in the U.S. and other countries.

Indian police kill 18 Maoist insurgents in eastern state

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
By Jatindra Dash BHUBANESHWAR, India (Reuters) - Indian police killed at least 18 Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Odisha on Monday after tracking them to a remote, forested area where a gunfight erupted shortly after midnight, police said. It was one of the heaviest casualty tolls suffered this year by the insurgents, who have fought a decades-long war against the Indian state from jungle hideouts across eastern and central India. Police acted on a tip-off that around 30 rebels had gathered close to the border with Andhra Pradesh state, Odisha police chief K.B. Singh said.

AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from the past week in Asia

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
In this Sept. 21, 2016 photo, the shadows of police investigators are reflected on a wall as they check an unidentified body of an alleged drug lord after it was dumped along a dark alley in Manila, Philippines. Bodies had begun turning up in cities all over the Philippines ever since President Rodrigo Duterte launched a controversial war on drugs this year. Drug dealers and drug addicts, were being shot by police or slain by unidentified gunmen in mysterious, gangland-style murders that were taking place at night. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that his country is separating from the U.S. in a speech before a Beijing economic forum last week, after handing China a major diplomatic victory by agreeing to resume dialogue on their South China Sea territorial dispute following months of acrimony. But after he returned to the Philippines, Duterte said he did not mean he would cut off ties with the U.S., adding that it's in his country's best interest to stay with America.

PGA Tour to play official event in South Korea next year

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The PGA Tour expanded its Asia swing to three tournaments Monday by adding a new event in South Korea with a limited field and a $9.25 million purse.

'Real-life Cinderella' film delves into plight of Hong Kong maids

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
By Beh Lih Yi JAKARTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Cyril Goliava cut an elegant figure in her yellow evening gown as she won a beauty pageant in Hong Kong, smiling to cheers from the crowd as she was presented with a tiara and trophy. Six days of stressful work, I'll be eating alone again and a full day of a repetitive job." The story of Goliava, a Filipina domestic helper, and her fellow workers is the subject of a new documentary that seeks to shatter stereotypes about the millions of women employed in households across the world. Directed by filmmaker Baby Ruth Villarama, "Sunday Beauty Queen" follows five domestic workers as they gear up for the annual Miss Philippines Tourism Hong Kong, a pageant organized by the maids in the Asian financial hub since 2008.

Australia's Minjee Lee wins Blue Bay LPGA in China

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
HAINAN, China (AP) — Minjee Lee got up-and-down one last time at Jian Lake on Sunday to win the Blue Bay LPGA for her second victory of the year and third in 17 months.

Scolari leads Guangzhou to 6th straight China title

‎Yesterday, ‎October ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:33:03 PMGo to full article
In this photo taken Oct. 27, 2012, then Guangzhou Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi walks by a sign of the club's badge after winning the championship of China's top soccer league in Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong province. Lippi was hired Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 to take over the Chinese national football team in the latest sign of China's commitment to becoming a serious force in world soccer. (Chinatopix Via AP)Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by a growing number of Chinese Super League clubs in 2016, Guangzhou Evergrande continues to dominate, winning a sixth straight title on Sunday.

Indonesian nationalism takes a bite out of Apple

‎Yesterday, ‎October ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎6:08:32 AMGo to full article
Apple's iPhone 6S and 7 are yet to be released in Indonesia as Apple struggles to fulfil requirements that phone makers must have 20% "local content" for 4G handsets sold in the countryApple is battling to gain a foothold in Indonesia after nationalistic regulations hit the US tech giant's efforts to compete in the booming emerging market against Samsung and other rivals. The iPhone 6S and 7 are yet to be released in Southeast Asia's largest economy as Apple struggles to fulfil requirements that phone makers must have 20 percent "local content" for 4G handsets sold in the country. South Korea's Samsung has been able to meet the demands and gain a share of the market in Indonesia -- a country of 255 million people, with an army of young consumers -- more than 25 times bigger than Apple.

Jessica Korda shoots 66, catches Minjee Lee in Blue Bay LPGA

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:30:21 PMGo to full article
HAINAN, China (AP) — Jessica Korda caught Minjee Lee on Saturday in the Blue Bay LPGA. Ariya Jutanugarn made up even more ground to move into contention for her sixth victory of the season.

Philippine president says he won't sever ties with US

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎12:46:03 AMGo to full article
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. China and the Philippines have agreed to resume a dialogue on their dispute over the South China Sea, a senior Chinese diplomat said Thursday following talks between the countries' leaders. (Wu Hong/Pool Photo via AP)MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he did not mean he would cut off ties with the United States when he said in China that he was separating from the U.S., adding it's in his country's best interest to stay with America.

Australia's Minjee Lee opens 6-stroke lead in Blue Bay LPGA

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎12:10:02 AMGo to full article
HAINAN, China (AP) — Minjee Lee patiently navigated Jian Lake's undulating greens again Friday to stretch her lead to six strokes in the Blue Bay LPGA.

US stocks close mostly lower; eke out gain for the week

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎11:11:14 PMGo to full article
A sign for Wall Street is carved into a building located near the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. Solid, if uninspiring, U.S. stocks veered lower in early trading Friday, Oct. 21, as investors pored through earnings from General Electric, McDonald’s and other big companies. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)The major U.S. stock indexes closed mostly lower Friday, capping a day spent wavering between small gains and losses.

U.S. warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8:38:33 PMGo to full article
Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur operates in the South China SeaBy Idrees Ali and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area. The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said. The Chinese Defense Ministry called the move "illegal" and "provocative," saying that two Chinese warships had warned the U.S. destroyer to leave.

IMF warns of slow growth in Central Asia, Caucasus

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8:15:57 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund warned Friday of weak growth prospects in Central Asia and the Caucasus and called for active reforms to energize the post-Soviet economies.

$47 billion offer to create world's biggest tobacco company

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7:51:48 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Friday, July 17, 2015 file photo, Camel and Newport cigarettes, both Reynolds American brands, are on display at a Smoker Friendly shop in Pittsburgh. British American Tobacco offered Friday, Oct. 21 2016 to buy Reynolds American Inc. in a $47 billion cash-and-stock deal that would create the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company and bring together brands like Camel, Dunhill, and Newport. The logic of the deal, analysts say, is to make up for a decline in the number of smokers in their home markets of the U.S. and Britain as they look to developing markets and new products, such as electronic cigarettes. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file)LONDON (AP) — British American Tobacco has offered to buy out Reynolds American Inc. for $47 billion in an attempt to gain a strong presence in the U.S., a lucrative market where sales of electronic cigarettes are booming as traditional smoking fades.

Giant pages from ancient Quran on display in Washington, DC

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7:50:05 PMGo to full article
In this photo taken Oct. 20, 2016, Massumeh Farhad, left, and Simon Rettig, curators of the exhibit "The Art of the Qur'an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts," look at pages from a 5-foot by 7-foot Quran displayed as part of the exhibit at the Sackler Gallery in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)WASHINGTON (AP) — Books come in all sizes, but one 15th century Quran was so enormous, it's said that a wheelbarrow was needed to carry it.

Muslims in Italy protest over freedom to worship

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7:31:21 PMGo to full article
Muslim men attend the Friday prayers during a demonstration near Rome's ancient ColosseumSeveral hundred Muslims staged a protest prayer outside the Colosseum in Rome on Friday over what they see as unfair restrictions on their freedom to practise their faith in Italy. Many Italian Muslims suspect local authorities are responding to a climate of mistrust caused by recent Islamist attacks in Europe by closing down the places of worship on the grounds of easily resolved problems such as the number of toilets on a particular premises. "We feel people are pointing the finger at us," said Francesco Tieri, a convert to Islam who acts as a coordinator for a number of Islamic groups.

IOC official 'very happy' with possible Innsbruck 2026 bid

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎5:57:42 PMGo to full article
SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Innsbruck would have "an excellent chance" of hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics if the Austrian city decides to bid for the games, a top IOC official said Friday.

Duterte didn't really mean 'separation' from U.S., Philippine officials say

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:44:43 PMGo to full article
Duterte leaves a hotel in BeijingPhilippine officials sought on Friday to play down comments by President Rodrigo Duterte who announced his "separation" from the United States a day earlier, saying their country will maintain U.S. trade and economic ties. Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he was paving the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with long-time ally Washington deteriorate. "I've realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia.

As Duterte embraces China, Japan's Abe set to roll out warm welcome

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:05:50 PMGo to full article
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hand with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte while Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith looks on during the ASEAN-Japan Summit in VientianeBy Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans private personal meetings with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Tokyo next week, three sources said, seeking to keep him onside with U.S.-led efforts to contain Beijing's South China Sea ambitions. With Duterte winding up a trip to China where he announced his "separation" from the United States, Abe faces a delicate task to promote the closely aligned security goals of Tokyo and Washington without pushing the Philippine leader deeper into Beijing's embrace.

World stocks drift as investors factor in Fed rate hike

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎1:36:16 PMGo to full article
A woman walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Asia stock markets drifted Friday as oil prices slid. The dollar rallied after Europe's central bank kept the door open for more monetary stimulus, leaving investor sentiment mixed. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)HONG KONG (AP) — World stock markets drifted Friday as investors increasingly factored in a U.S. interest rate increase soon, based on the brightening corporate and economic outlook.

Philippine president announces separation from US

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:53:06 AMGo to full article
Philippine president announces separation from USBEIJING (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that his country is separating from the U.S. in a speech before a Beijing economic forum on Thursday, after handing China a major diplomatic victory, agreeing to resume dialogue on their South China Sea territorial dispute following months of acrimony.

Survey companies hit the streets to fill India's data gaps

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:33:51 AMGo to full article
An employee works inside the office of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy in MumbaiBy Rafael Nam MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sachin Bhadrasen Jaiswar goes from door to door in a middle class neighborhood outside Mumbai measuring India's economic pulse, one of hundreds of survey takers working for private firms aiming to fill a gap - the lack of reliable data. There has long been deep scepticism about the accuracy of economic indicators in India, a country of 1.2 billion people of whom 90 percent are estimated to be part of the grey economy. Independent economists question the government's assessment of everything from industrial output to unemployment, but the main data "black hole" is consumer indicators including retail sales, and that is where people like 29-year-old Jaiswar come in.

U.S. has few good options for response to Philippines' Duterte

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎12:49:12 AMGo to full article
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in BeijingBy Yeganeh Torbati and David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration has few good options and limited leverage as it struggles to craft a response to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's increasingly hostile rhetoric towards the United States and his warm embrace of China. For months, Washington has played down Duterte's anti-American insults and broadsides. Duterte's latest outburst, less than three weeks before the U.S. presidential election, casts further doubt on the seven-decade U.S.-Philippine alliance and threatens to further undermine President Barack Obama's faltering "pivot" to Asia as a counterbalance to China's growing assertiveness.

Minjee Lee leads Blue Bay LPGA, 2 days after Typhoon Sarika

‎Friday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎12:06:42 AMGo to full article
HAINAN, China (AP) — Minjee Lee birdied the final three holes for a 7-under 65 and a two-stroke lead Thursday in the Blue Bay LPGA , playing in perfect conditions two days after Typhoon Sarika hit the resort.

Another North Korea missile fails after launch: U.S., South Korea

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:38:47 PMGo to full article
By Ju-min Park and Eric Walsh SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea test-fired a missile that failed immediately after launch early on Thursday, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said, hours after the two countries agreed to step up efforts to counter the North's nuclear and missile threats. The missile was believed to be an intermediate-range Musudan and was launched from the western city of Kusong, where the isolated state attempted but failed to launch the same type of missile on Saturday, the U.S. Strategic Command and South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The launch came shortly after the United States and South Korea agreed in Washington to bolster military and diplomatic efforts to counter the North's nuclear and missile programs, which it is pursuing in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The Latest: US puzzled by Duterte comments

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎7:49:38 PMGo to full article
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, left, listens to Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. China and the Philippines have agreed to resume a dialogue on their dispute over the South China Sea, a senior Chinese diplomat said Thursday following talks between the countries' leaders. (Wu Hong/Pool Photo via AP)BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's meetings with top officials in China (all times local):

Put people, not cars, first in transport systems : U.N

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:45:13 PMGo to full article
By Megan Rowling BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Governments should invest at least 20 percent of their transport budgets in infrastructure that promotes walking and cycling, to save lives, curb pollution and cut climate-changing emissions from vehicles, the United Nations' environment agency said. Almost half of the 1.3 million people who die each year from traffic accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) noted in a report. Across the low and middle-income countries studied in Africa, Asia and Latin America, proportionally twice as many people as in rich nations die in road traffic accidents, it said.

Image of Asia: Looking at Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:16 PMGo to full article
A work titled "Boolaloo" by artist Lou Lambert is on display as part of the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition Sydney, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)In this photo by Rick Rycroft, a work titled "Boolaloo" by artist Lou Lambert is on display as part of the Sculpture By The Sea exhibition in Sydney. The outdoor art exhibition in its 20th year features 104 sculptures by artists from 17 countries. A giant red thong, or flip-flop, and a rhinoceros buried in beach sand are among the other sculptures. Johannes Pannekoek was awarded the grand prize for "Change Ahead," which he said was inspired by the twisting courses of rivers and of life. The sculptures will be exhibited on the Sydney coast until Nov. 6.

Philippines' Duterte, in China, announces 'separation' from US

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎3:19:38 PMGo to full article
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte is in China for a four-day trip seen as confirming his tilt away from Washington and towards Beijing's sphere of influencePhilippines' President Rodrigo Duterte declared his "separation" from longstanding ally the United States in Beijing on Thursday, as he rebalances his country's diplomacy towards China. Duterte is in China for a four-day trip seen as confirming his tilt away from Washington and towards Beijing's sphere of influence -- and its deep pockets.

Iraq, Syria among topics in presidential debate

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎12:32:09 PMGo to full article
Guests pose for a photo with life-sized cutouts of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump prior to a public viewing of the U.S. presidential election debate between Clinton and Trump at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)The world outside the U.S. figured prominently in the third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Here's a brief look at the countries there were up for discussion:

Chinese naval ships set for first visit to Vietnam's Cam Ranh international port

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎12:14:32 PMGo to full article
Vietnam will receive three Chinese warships from Saturday at its newly-opened Cam Ranh international port, a provincial government official said on Thursday, following a similar visit by U.S. vessels last month. The visit will run from Saturday until October 26, an official of the external relations department of Vietnam's central province of Khanh Hoa, where the port is located, told Reuters. The visit will be the first by Chinese navy ships to Cam Ranh, state-controlled news website VnExpress said, adding that 750 Chinese military personnel would participate in activities with Vietnam's navy.

Global stocks rise as Clinton, Trump argue economic policy

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:38:27 AMGo to full article
FILE - This July 16, 2013, file photo, shows a Wall Street street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange. Major U.S. stock indexes edged mostly higher in early trading Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, as investors sized up the latest company earnings and new data showing residential construction slowed in the previous month. Energy stocks led among the gainers as oil prices headed higher, while consumer-focused companies lagged the most. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks mostly gained Thursday after U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debated economic policy. Investors were awaiting the outcome of a European Central Bank meeting.

Indonesian militants jailed over deadly Jakarta attack

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎11:05:22 AMGo to full article
Dodi Suridi pictured at his trial, where he was found guilty of committing an act of terror over his links to a deadly IS-claimed attack in JakartaAn Indonesian Islamic State group supporter was jailed for 10 years on Thursday for helping make a bomb used in a deadly attack in Jakarta, as the country faces an increase in IS-linked assaults. Dodi Suridi, 23, was found guilty of committing an act of terror over his links to the attack in the Indonesian capital in January, which killed four assailants and four civilians and was claimed by IS. A second IS supporter, 48-year-old Ali Hamka, was also jailed for four years over the attack for trying to find guns and ammunition to use in the assault.

Forget Paris, focus on Tokyo, Japan fashion told

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:53:07 AMGo to full article
Tokyo Fashion Week kicked off its spring/summer 2017 season showcase on Monday with six days of events intended to promote 50 brandsTokyo may be the style capital of Asia, but with South Korea and China snapping at its heels and Japan's most iconic brands rooted in Europe, the city is being urged to haul its fashion week into the big leagues. Tokyo Fashion Week kicked off its spring/summer 2017 season showcase on Monday with six days of events intended to promote 50 brands, a mixture of the established and the new. Tokyo Fashion Week attracts only 50,000 visitors -- just a quarter of the total number that attend New York's two annual fashion weeks, and also lagging behind London, Paris and Milan.

Women in Asia-Pacific express dismay over U.S. presidential campaign

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎8:28:37 AMGo to full article
A woman wearing a Muslim headscarf walks past people holding U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump signs before the annual Muslim Day Parade in the Manhattan borough of New York CityBy Ami Miyazaki and J.R. Wu TOKYO/TAIPEI (Reuters) - Women in the Asia-Pacific region expressed dismay on Thursday about the U.S. presidential campaign's focus on the emotional topic of sexual harassment, saying it shows both democracy and the rights of women in America have some way to go. In a fiery final debate on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Republican nominee Donald Trump accused Democrat rival Hillary Clinton's campaign of orchestrating a series of accusations by women who said the businessman had made unwanted sexual advances. Clinton, who would be America's first female president, said the women came forward after Trump said he had never made unwanted advances on women.

Asian stocks rise as Clinton, Trump argue economic policy

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎5:59:07 AMGo to full article
FILE - This July 16, 2013, file photo, shows a Wall Street street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange. Major U.S. stock indexes edged mostly higher in early trading Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, as investors sized up the latest company earnings and new data showing residential construction slowed in the previous month. Energy stocks led among the gainers as oil prices headed higher, while consumer-focused companies lagged the most. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks rose Thursday as traders watched U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump argued over economic policy and looked ahead to a meeting of euro zone central bankers.

Inter Milan struggling on the pitch, chasing growth in China

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎1:00:56 AMGo to full article
Inter Milan's Joao Mario celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Cagliari, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)Inter Milan's grand plans stretch far beyond Italy as it harnesses the connections of its new Chinese ownership to expand the fan base and attract sponsors in Asia.

US warns 'overwhelming' response to any NKorea use of nukes

‎Thursday, ‎October ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎12:29:47 AMGo to full article
South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo speaks at left, as, from second from left, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter listen before a meeting at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States warned Wednesday that any attack on American allies or use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would be met with an "overwhelming" U.S. response as it sought to reassure close ally South Korea that the U.S. has its back.

Lawmakers: Russia's violation of nuke treaty has 'worsened'

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎11:39:42 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this June 9, 2016, file photo, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., right, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, left, talk in Washington. Russia’s violation of a key nuclear arms control treaty has become more egregious, Nunes and Thornberry said in a letter released Oct. 19, that urged the Obama administration to confront and impose penalties against Moscow. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia's violation of a key nuclear arms control treaty has become more egregious, two top Republican congressmen said in a letter released Wednesday that urged the Obama administration to confront and impose penalties against Moscow.

Cuddles and Kalashnikovs: protecting DR Congo's mountain gorillas

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎5:10:07 PMGo to full article
Threatened with extinction, some of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas live on either side of the border between Rwanda and DR Congo, as well as in UgandaA powerful combination of love and guns is helping rebuild an endangered gorilla community in the jungles of war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Armed groups prosper in the park thanks to trade in charcoal, burning swathes of equatorial forest every year in the heart of the mountain gorillas' natural habitat. "Every morning we head into the forest with fear in our stomachs, but with courage and passion to protect the gorillas," says Innocent Mburanumwe, the main gamekeeper in the park's southern sector who is heading up a patrol armed with Kalashnikovs and a heavy machine gun.

Black shirts bright spot in Thai economy as mourning for king begins

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎5:04:48 PMGo to full article
By Orathai Sriring and Khettiya Jittapong BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thais are crowding shopping malls and department stores to stock up on black clothes, as they begin a year of mourning for beloved King Bhumibol Adulaydej that could end up dampening consumption in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy. The rush on retail outlets such Japan's Uniqlo, Tesco Lotus and BigC is in sharp contrast to thinning crowds at Bangkok's cinemas, coffee shops and usually bustling bars since the king died on Thursday after a long illness. "Demand is overwhelming and black T-shirts were sold out within half an hour," said a sales representative at Uniqlo's flagship store in Bangkok's upmarket Central World mall.

Evoking Ottoman past, Erdogan vows to tackle Turkey's enemies abroad

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎4:54:23 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in AnkaraBy Orhan Coskun and Nick Tattersall ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Smarting over exclusion from an Iraqi-led offensive against Islamic State in Mosul and Kurdish militia gains in Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan warned on Wednesday Turkey "will not wait until the blade is against our bone" but could act alone in rooting out enemies. In a speech at his palace, Erdogan conjured up an image of Turkey constrained by foreign powers who "aim to make us forget our Ottoman and Selcuk history", when Turkey's forefathers held territory stretching across central Asia and the Middle East.

Image of Asia: Taking a break during the harvest in Nepal

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎3:46:05 PMGo to full article
Nepalese farmers take a lunch break while harvesting paddy in Chunnikhel, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. According to the World Bank, agriculture is the main source of food, income, and employment for the majority in Nepal. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)In this photo by Niranjan Shrestha, Nepalese farmers take a lunch break while harvesting paddy in Chunnikhel, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. Agriculture is the main source of income and employment for most people in Nepal, and rice is one of the main crops.

Malaysia halts kids boot camp over python pool fright

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎1:55:25 PMGo to full article
A python on display to celebrate the Chinese New Year at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur on February 10, 2013Malaysia has halted a team-building programme for school children after the trainers forced students to wade across a muddy pool that had a blood python in it, a senior official said Wednesday. An investigation is underway into the blood python incident. It is not part of the training programme," Colonel Mohamad Noor Hassan, the head of the local Civil Defence Force, told AFP.

In fume-choked Kochi, a solar rickshaw glides to the rescue

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎11:28:10 AMGo to full article
By K. Rajendran KOCHI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The inventor of an innovative solar chick incubator, solar milking machine and solar-powered boat now has his newest item rolling onto the streets in this southern Indian city: A solar rickshaw taxi. Georgekutty Kariyanappally, the founder of Lifeway Solar Devices Private Ltd., so far has just one prototype operating on the streets, but has supplied another 20 to a nearby tourist resort. In a city where traffic fumes are a worsening problem, the solar rickshaw, Kariyanappally said, is a way of ensuring people don’t have to choose between effective transport and environmental protection.

Prosecutors indict 5 Lotte family members on corruption

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎10:56:49 AMGo to full article
Lotte Group's Chairman Shin Dong-bin arrives at the head office of Lotte group in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. South Korean prosecutors said Wednesday they indicted the Lotte Group’s founder, his mistress and all of his three children on embezzlement, tax evasion and other charges. (Yun Dong-jin/Yonhap via AP)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Prosecutors said Wednesday they indicted the Lotte Group's founder, his mistress and all of his three children on embezzlement, tax evasion and other charges, in the latest case highlighting the outsized influence of founding families over South Korean publicly listed companies.

Police find travel agency for traffickers, drug hauls in European raids

‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎10:01:40 AMGo to full article
Police detained more than 300 suspects and seized tonnes of cocaine during a week-long operation against drugs, people-smuggling and cyber crime networks across Europe and beyond, the EU's policing agency said on Wednesday. Investigations uncovered a fake travel agency in Greece that helped traffic people, and a brothel in Austria housing a cannabis growing operation during an international push against organized crime, said Europol. Police raided "red-light districts, brothels, massage parlors, private apartments, airports and immigration reception centers," Europol said.



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Pakistan's plan to cut disaster risk aims at a new target - schools

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎22 minutes agoGo to full article
SAJAWAL, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When seven hours of non-stop rain led to a flash flood that swept through his village school, leaving it heavily damaged, science teacher Ali Zamin Samejo had to be hospitalised for shock.

“I passed out in a matter of seconds in the morning, seeing my school knocked down by the devastating flood,” remembers the 35-year-old, fighting back tears.

Residents use a bridge covered with floodwater after heavy rain in Nowshera District on the outskir

What worried him most about the 2010 flood in Ghorabari, about 200 kilometres from Karachi, was whether his 22 students would be able to continue their education, he said.

Six years later, he’s still teaching in the village – only now classes take place under a tree, as the school has not yet been rebuilt.

Schools in flood-prone Pakistan are proving particularly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather and shifting rainfall patterns linked to climate change, officials say.

According to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority, about 10,000 educational institutions were damaged or destroyed in mega-floods that affected a fourth of Pakistan in 2010.

Since then another 10,000 schools have been damaged in subsequent floods through 2015, the authority said.

But a new national plan, set to be put into action next year, aims to reduce the risk schools, teachers and students face by improving construction standards for schools, creating disaster management plans, holding evacuation drills, and raising awareness of the risks through things like speaking competitions and painting exhibitions.

Disaster risk reduction will also become a focus in school curriculums, according to the plan.

“We have already received applause from the federal education ministry and provincial education departments for framing the plan, and we feel really proud of it,” said Major-General Asghar Nawaz, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).


The programme, created with backing from UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, is expected to be put in place across the country with the help of the education ministry, the National Commission for Human Development and community-based organisations, Nawaz said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But making it work will require not just getting teachers and students on board, but winning funding and political support, Nawaz cautioned.

“Political will and allocation of required funding are the key to making the plan deliver,” he said.

Shaheena Khan, manager of the Agha Khan Rural Support Programme, which provided advice in building the plan, agreed that both could potentially be in short supply.

“Given the previous track record of the government agencies regarding their failure to fund such worthwhile plans, I feel afraid the plan may end up on a shelf,” she said. “Because it would require large-scale funding, the federal and provincial governments may feel shy about financing it.”

Seeking funds from climate change bodies such as the international Green Climate Fund or the Adaptation Fund could be one solution, she said.

Moving at-risk schools or ensuring construction efforts meet building codes, in particular, could prove a major challenge, said Tariq Hussain, director general of the country’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.

But he said fairly simple measures like putting flood-prone schools atop raised earth platforms and using wood plank and tin-roof construction in earthquake zones could help.


Until such changes happen, schools are a risky place for children during disasters, he said. During the country’s 2005 earthquake, more than 18,000 children died and thousands more were injured when over 58,000 schools were destroyed.

“Preparing school children and teachers through mock exercises at school about saving their lives in case of disasters is of unprecedented value,” he said.

Some of the risk children face in disasters is the result of decisions made by parents, teachers and government officials, said Zaheer Gohrao, education programme manager for the National Commission for Human Development.

That means that helping those groups understand disaster risks and what might be done about them, through things like community meetings, news broadcasts and talks by community and religious leaders, “can play a vital role in addressing the impacts of disasters", he said.

Getting children involved in learning to protect themselves – rather than treating them as passive victims in disasters – will help them “develop skills to respond to any disaster risk on their own”, Gohrao said in an interview.

What children learn also can be passed on to parents and other family and community members, said Amanullah Khan, head of the U.N. Development Programme’s environment unit in Pakistan.

“Children are the motivational reservoir, who encourage their family members to act. They connect families with the community,” Khan said.

Samejo, the teacher who lost his school in Ghorabari, said he finds the new push hugely encouraging.

“Previously it was my impression that making the education sector disaster resilient was the government’s lowest priority,” he said. “But now, as they’ve come up with the national school safety blueprint, we teachers don’t cast doubt anymore."

(Reporting by Saleem Shaikh; editing by Laurie Goering :; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit


Samsung offers phone upgrade programme for South Korea Note 7 customers

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎27 minutes agoGo to full article
SEOUL: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Monday it is offering an upgrade programme to Galaxy Note 7 customers in South Korea who trade in their recalled device for a Galaxy S7 phone.

In a statement, Samsung said customers who trade in their Note 7 phone for either a flat-screen or curved-screen version of the Galaxy S7 can trade up for a Galaxy S8 or Note 8 smartphone launching next year through an upgrade programme.

A customer uses his Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7 as he waits for exchange at company≈o

Users in the upgrade programme will have to pay half of the price of a Galaxy S7 device before exchanging to the S8 or the Note 8, Samsung said.

(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)


Ruffalo calls Obama 'immoral' at climate rally

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎33 minutes agoGo to full article
LOS ANGELES: Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo accused US President Barack Obama on Sunday (Oct 24) of hypocrisy for allowing fracking and other fossil fuel extraction while presenting himself as a green president.

The Oscar-nominated "Spotlight" and "Avengers" actor spoke out at a rally in Los Angeles protesting against man-made climate change and, in particular, the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, the site of escalating protests in recent weeks.

Mark Ruffalo Nat Geo

"President Obama, it is it immoral for you to keep drilling in our state lands, in our federal lands, off our federal waters, while at the same time calling yourself a climate change leader," he said.

Ruffalo, 48, recently narrated and produced "Dear President Obama: The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now," a critical documentary on the outgoing head-of-state's environmental legacy.

He was joined on stage by actresses Shailene Woodley, 24, and Susan Sarandon, 70, for a five-hour event featuring music and speeches in front of around 800 people at MacArthur Park in downtown LA.

The heavens opened as Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Antonique Smith started playing Beatles hit "Here Comes the Sun," and a prolonged downpour, rare in drought-hit Southern California, delighted the crowd.

Woodley, who stars in Oliver Stone biopic "Snowden" and the "Divergent" film franchise, was arrested at the Dakota Access Pipeline earlier this month.

She was charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot, and is due in court on Monday.

"Indigenous people, for the most part, and marginalized communities, are the first communities to get compromised and get taken out by the fossil fuel industry," she said.

"Their lands are flooded from dams being built, their fish are taken and put in other countries, their mountains are compromised without any regard to their sacred ancestry and their traditions."

Protests have drawn thousands of people to the area where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to complete a 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) pipeline from a vast underground deposit in North Dakota southwards into Illinois.


More than 220 people have been arrested since demonstrations began in August.

Protesters say the $3.8 billion pipeline will damage the environment and affect historically significant Native American tribal land.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation in North Dakota is near the pipeline route, says the project would destroy some of their sacred sites.

"The world is a mess. We've got wars, we've got the Mother Earth being raped constantly," Sarandon told the crowd, to cheers.

"This last year has proven everything we suspected, which is that money is in government and that greed is deciding policy and people are not what matters, but corporations."

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the extraction of natural gas from deep in the ground by blasting water and chemicals under extremely high pressure.

It is estimated to have offered gas security to the US and Canada for about 100 years, presenting an opportunity to generate electricity at half the CO2 emissions of coal.

But the process uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the fracking site at significant environmental cost, and critics say the potentially carcinogenic chemicals involved could contaminate groundwater.

The rally was part of a series of gatherings across the US organized by Josh Fox, best known for Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary "Gasland" and his opposition to fracking.

"No matter what happens in this election, we need a strong movement to fight the fossil fuel industry and to fight to preserve our planet against climate change," he said.

Sunday's event included an outdoor screening of Fox's "How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change."

The film was produced by Deia Schlosberg, who is facing a possible 45-year prison sentence after she was arrested while documenting the shutdown of five major pipelines by environmental activists.


US government, MetLife set for rematch over 'too big to fail'

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎42 minutes agoGo to full article
WASHINGTON: The U.S. government and the country's largest life insurer are set for a rematch in a U.S. appeals court on Monday over how federal regulators decide a company is "too big to fail," one of the most significant reforms to come out of the financial crisis.

The heart of the fight is whether the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), made up of the heads of U.S. financial regulators, should have designated MetLife Inc. a "systemically important financial institution."

The MetLife building is seen in New York

The label indicates MetLife's collapse could devastate the financial system, and it triggers tighter oversight. MetLife would also have to set aside capital to ensure it would not need a government bailout during a crisis.

In March, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer struck down the designation, saying the council used an "arbitrary and capricious" process in assessing MetLife's vulnerabilities. She also said the government should have analyzed costs and benefits to MetLife, the likelihood it would fail and possible counterparty losses.

Most of the arguments before the three judges on Monday's appeals panel will revolve around the steps the FSOC took, with the U.S. government saying Collyer's requirements are not found in any laws and the government cannot assess the likelihood of a company's failure or counterparty losses.

MetLife was designated "too big to fail" in 2014. It says the FSOC decided first that it was "too big to fail" and then created a justification for the label.

MetLife will also argue the FSOC should have followed an alternative process known as the activities-based approach, that it says is less costly and better suited to insurance. In that approach, the FSOC would decide a certain activity poses a risk and then regulate it across all companies.

The FSOC has said it does not have authority to designate an activity under statute. In April, however, it announced it would use the activities-based method to assess risk in asset managers and mutual funds, leaving MetLife to call its fairness into question.

Collyer's decision was considered a blow to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, one of the most important pieces of legislation passed during President Barack Obama's tenure, and which has been under attack from Republicans in Congress.

The law authorized the council to designate nonbank companies in response to the US$182 billion government bailout that insurer American International Group received during the 2008 financial crisis. AIG and Prudential Insurance are also labeled systemically important.

Two of the judges hearing Monday's arguments, Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett, were appointed by Obama and the third, A. Raymond Randolph, by former President George H. W. Bush, a Republican.

A decision could come before next year. The losing side may ask the full court for a review or may appeal to the Supreme Court.

Many familiar names from the crisis filed briefs supporting the government's appeal of Collyer's decision, including former Senator Chris Dodd, former Representative Barney Frank and former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, made up of the industry's state regulators, supports MetLife.

The company says it recently decided to break up its business in response to the regulatory environment.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Leslie Adler)


Boeing takes on peers, partners in bid for replacement parts business

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎52 minutes agoGo to full article
PHOENIX: In search of higher profits margins, Boeing Co is aiming to win more of the lucrative market for replacement parts and repair services, pitting the plane maker against major suppliers who view that growing US$62 billion a year market as their turf.

Boeing told Reuters it has added 35,000 parts to stocks it positions around the world to serve airlines in the last year, after analyzing its vast store of aircraft data to see where the parts will be needed. It has also cut prices on 24,000 parts to be more competitive, and it is expanding training and other services.

Boeing logo at their headquarters in Chicago

Boeing is trying to capture more profit from spare parts made under license by suppliers as well. To get there, it is producing some new parts in house to gain control over repairs, and sifting its databases to help airlines predict when planes will need service.

The maker of such flagship jets as the 787 Dreamliner and top-selling 737 has been building its aftermarket business for years. But as demand for planes has slowed over the last 18 months, Boeing is now turning more aggressively to spare parts and services to help meet its own ambitious targets of doubling overall margins to the mid-teens by 2020.

The main reason: a dollar of added aftermarket sales is more valuable than a dollar of new aircraft sales.

Boeing's aftermarket sales have risen over the last three years and are outpacing the 4.5 percent growth of the broad aftermarket, Dennis Floyd, vice president of services strategy and business development at Boeing, told Reuters.

"That means we're taking market share," he said.

Boeing's effort is ratcheting up competition with many of its biggest suppliers, including Honeywell International Inc , United Technologies Corp and Rockwell Collins Inc , and repair operations such as Delta Air Lines Inc Technical Operations and Lufthansa Technik - which are all taking action to defend their lucrative franchises.

Aftermarket sales typically offer margins of 20 percent or more - which makes expanding its presence in that market crucial to Boeing's effort to hit Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg's overall profitability goal, analysts say.

Boeing doesn't break out aftermarket revenue, and has not publicly discussed its aftermarket strategy in detail. Analysts estimate parts and services generate about US$15 billion a year, or nearly 16 percent of Boeing's US$96 billion in annual sales, split roughly evenly between its commercial aircraft and defense businesses.

Industry experts say Boeing aims to more than triple aftermarket sales to as much as US$50 billion over the next 10 years. Boeing declined to confirm a specific target, but the company's "leadership has set high aspirations," Floyd said. "We are investing heavily into these businesses."

Boeing has logged its largest number of orders for its "GoldCare" aircraft maintenance service this year, and now counts 60 customers and 2,200 planes in the program.

"We're seeing the returns on these investments," Floyd said.


Boeing partners with the likes of Honeywell Aerospace to do some repairs. But both are trying to increase their own sales of repairs and parts to airlines. That's why the two manufacturing heavyweights are "competimates," said Mike Beazley, vice president of aftermarket sales at Honeywell.

"There's a segment of the market that will pay a premium to deal with one company" through Boeing GoldCare, he said. But many "would still like to have a direct relationship with the biggest suppliers."

At Honeywell Aerospace's 360,000 square-foot aftermarket center in Phoenix, the largest of its 40 repair stations around the globe, Andrew Newingham recently circled a small auxiliary aircraft engine on his workbench.

As a robotic voice called out questions and Newingham answered, a computer logged details about what work the engine needed, reducing to minutes what was formerly an hours-long task involving paper checklists and typing on a computer.

Honeywell aims to cut engine repair times to 20 calendar days or less, and offers upgrades and enhancements when engines come in for repairs.

"What keeps us competitive and allows us to win new business is being able to offer speed," said Steve Foust, senior plant director. 


Repair organizations also are reacting as Boeing and its European rival Airbus Group SE try to grab business.

Boeing partners with Lufthansa Technik on some services. But it also undercuts Lufthansa on others.

Low-cost, long-haul airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA , for example, considered several service groups, including Lufthansa Technik. In the end it picked GoldCare to maintain its 737 MAX and 787 jets, Asgeir Nyseth, chief operating officer of Norwegian Group, said in an interview. 

Boeing's service "was the cheapest one," he said, adding Norwegian benefited from the increased competition Boeing provided.

Boeing and Airbus "have the advantage that they can combine an after-sale service package with the sale of the aircraft," said Lufthansa Technik's Frank Berweger, senior vice president of corporate sales for the Americas.

In part to counter the aircraft makers, Lufthansa Technik plans to quadruple investment in research and product development to 200 million euros (US$219.52 million) to 2018 from 2015, on top of increased spending on tooling and training to service new Boeing and Airbus jetliner types.

Engine repairs make up nearly half of the service market, but those are largely beyond the reach of Boeing or Airbus. Engine makers such as General Electric Co and Pratt & Whitney locked up their aftermarket more than a decade ago.

Kevin Michaels, president of consulting firm AeroDynamic Advisory, says Boeing will find it difficult to capture US$50 billion in services revenue annually - not to mention making a profit - given the strength of some of the suppliers and specialist service companies.

"Boeing has to be agile and cost competitive enough to win business from established players," Michaels said. "They need to be entrepreneurial. That's a challenge."

(US$1 = 0.9111 euros)

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; editing by Edward Tobin)


Regulators taking another look at costs of Wall Street safety rule

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎57 minutes agoGo to full article
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: Just as memories of the financial crisis are fading and tough new banking regulations are beginning to bite, some current and former regulators wonder whether one of the rules is too much of a burden for markets and taxpayers.

At issue is the requirement that the largest U.S. banks set aside US$6 of capital for every US$100 of assets on their books - double what they had to hold before.

People sit outside the NYSE during the morning commute

Because this so-called Supplementary Leverage Ratio (SLR) rule applies to all bank assets including Treasuries, it has made owning that ultra-safe government debt and related trades more expensive.

Wall Street has complained about costs of many measures designed to make the financial system safer, but regulators have been firm. However, when banks argue that the SLR, which came into force early last year, unnecessarily burdens short-term financing, current and former officials say they may have a point.

"It has turned out to be quantitatively more of a problem than some people had anticipated," said Jeremy Stein, who was a Fed governor when the supplementary leverage ratio was adopted. Stein left the central bank for Harvard University in 2014.

Any softening of the regulation could signal that, nearly a decade after Wall Street's meltdown sparked a global recession, a safety-first approach may be giving way to a more nuanced one where costs play a greater role in regulators' considerations.

Privately, some regulators are now asking themselves whether the cost of complying with the rule may diminish its benefits, according to people familiar with internal discussions. The Federal Reserve and other central banks are analyzing the rule and its impacts.

The Fed and other U.S. bank supervisors acknowledge that some short-term lending has disappeared since the rule's introduction. They differ, though, over how much SLR should be blamed and whether any adjustments are needed.

New York Fed President William Dudley, whose branch of the Fed is studying the effects of SLR, has pointed out that the rule has curbed banks' repo funding, but like other regulators he has held back with recommending changes.

SLR may come up as a topic on Monday when Dudley meets regulators from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Treasury and other agencies along with senior bank and market officials to discuss the health of the U.S. Treasury market.


The rule's impact is most visible in the U.S. repo market, where financial institutions and central banks park and borrow short-term funds by agreeing to sell and buy back U.S. Treasuries. (Graphic:

Since banks are required to set aside the same percentage of capital whether they lend to a car buyer or the U.S. government, holding Treasuries became more expensive and prompted banks to scale back their repo operations.

That has depressed volumes, which for large and mid-sized banks have fallen to about US$1.2 trillion in January 2016, from about US$1.7 trillion in January 2013, according to a New York Fed presentation.

Big players, such as Goldman Sachs & Co , Citigroup Inc , Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co are among those most affected.

Stanford University professor Darrell Duffie estimates in his research that bid-ask spreads in repo markets have risen

four-fold over the last two years, reflecting rising trading costs for hedge funds and others relative to money market funds.

The rule can also come at a cost to taxpayers.

In nearly two years big banks have had to set aside more capital for holding government debt, Treasury yields have inched up. JPMorgan estimates that higher interest payments will add up to US$260 billion over the next decade.

A group representing the world's major central banks and chaired by Dudley is already examining how bank rules can hinder the trade of government debt in key markets.

The Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS), a subgroup of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, is expected to issue its findings early next year, according to people familiar with its work.

In August, the Bank of England eased its own reserve rules, excluding cash and short term loans held at the bank and other assets from its leverage calculation.

In the United States, advocates for leading Wall Street propose exempting government bonds from the leverage rule, arguing they are far safer than other assets. Some regulators say, however, that making such an exemption would be unwise and may not be necessary. They argue that other changes in money market rules and the Fed's own repo activities may have caused changes in market trading.

"If you start carving out assets you are making value and political judgments," Tom Hoenig, vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and an outspoken advocate for strong capital standards, told Reuters in an interview.

"A leverage ratio can only work if there are no exclusions."

But Duffie told Reuters there was "a lot of second-guessing" among regulators. "Most will say 'we wish we hadn't gone this far but we are here and it's very difficult to modify the rule."

(Reporting By Patrick Rucker and Jonathan Spicer; editing by Linda Stern and Tomasz Janowski)


India police kill at least 18 Maoists in shoot-out

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
NEW DELHI: Indian police on Monday (Oct 24) killed at least 18 rebels in a shoot-out in eastern India, a local officer said, the latest deadly clash in a long-running Maoist insurgency.

Police said they ambushed a meeting of 30 to 40 Maoists near the border of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states, triggering a gunbattle.

India's Maoist insurgency, now spread across a number of states, began in the 1960s, inspired(Photo:AFP)

"Police have so far recovered 18 dead bodies of the Maoists," sub-inspector C K Dharua told AFP by telephone from Odisha.

"The search operation is still on. It is possible that the death toll may go up since there was a large number of people at the meeting," he added.

Local media said two police were injured in the battle, but that could not immediately be confirmed.

Dharua said weapons including three AK-47 and self-loading rifles were recovered from the rebels.

India's Maoist insurgency began in the 1960s, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and has cost thousands of lives.

The rebels, described by former prime minister Manmohan Singh as India's most serious internal security threat, say they are fighting authorities for land, jobs and other rights for poor tribal groups.


Top American diplomat says US remains strong Philippine ally

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
MANILA: The most senior U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Monday that the United States remains a "steady and trusted" partner of the Philippines, but was concerned about recent controversial statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel also said that while the United States supports Manila's "effort against the scourge of drugs", Washington was concerned over the loss of lives, which is "not a positive trend" and is "bad for business as well".

Russel made the comments to reporters in Manila after a meeting with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Writing by Enrico dela Cruz)


Consumer prices fall for 23rd straight month in September, but pace still slowing

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: Consumer prices fell further in September, marking the 23rd straight month of decline, according to data released by the Department of Statistics on Monday (Oct 24).

The consumer price index (CPI) fell 0.2 per cent last month, compared to 0.3 per cent the month before, which mainly reflected the smaller decline in private road transport costs and, to a lesser extent, higher food inflation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint statement.

File photo general pedestrian crowd

Private road transport costs fell by 0.4 per cent, moderating from the 1 per cent decline the previous month, largely due to a smaller drop in petrol prices. 

Accommodation costs went down 3.7 per cent, continuing on from August's 3.6 per cent drop, amid continued softness in the housing rental market. 

Food prices rose 2.2 per cent in September, up from August's 2 per cent, due to a steeper rise in the cost of non-cooked food. Price increases for prepared meals remained stable though, the press release said. 

Services inflation was 1.5 per cent, from 1.7 per cent the month before. This reflected a fall in public road transport cost, in addition to a smaller increase in telecommunication services fees, with the slower pace of increase largely due to the discounts offered during the various consumer electronic fairs held that month. 

Core Inflation, which excludes the costs of accommodation and private road transport, fell slightly to 0.9 per cent from 1 per cent in August, largely due to the lower services inflation which offsets the stronger pickup in food prices, the press release said.


US banks add pieces to new instant payments network

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
REUTERS: By the end of December some U.S. bank customers may begin to notice features of the new Zelle instant payments network appearing on their mobile phone and online banking apps as the financial industry tries to catch up to technology company rivals, such as Venmo.

Paul Finch, chief executive of the bank network operator, Early Warning Services, said during the weekend that buttons on user screens for digital payments at some banks will gradually start to use a uniform procedure for individuals to send and receive money.

Then early next year about 20 banks will put the Zelle name on their mobile apps and web pages. A Zelle app also will be offered to the public for connections through other institutions.

The consortium is taking a series of steps in its attempt to bring more than 100 million customers of banks and credit unions into Zelle without disrupting people who already use other ways to send money with phones and computers.

"This is about creating a wide, and inclusive, alternative to cash and checks for everyone," said Finch, who was at the Money 20/20 payments industry conference in Las Vegas to promote Zelle for its bank owners.

The moves come five years after three of the biggest banks -JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co - formed a joint-venture, initially called clearXchange, to make it easier to send money to accounts at different banks.

But the banks were slow to bring other financial institutions into the fold and market the network and so lost momentum to technology company upstarts. Citigroup Inc did not agree to join until September. The banks only recently decided to use the name Zelle.

In the meantime, Venmo appeared. In the three months through September, Venmo processed US$4.9 billion of person-to-person payments, up 131 percent from a year earlier.

Venmo, now part of PayPal Holdings Inc, built its following by social networking young adults ready to share dinner tabs and apartment rents with their phones.

But the banks have larger bases of customers to connect as they try to make Zelle ubiquitous. JPMorgan's Chase "Quick Pay," for example, processed US$7.4 billion in the three months ended September, up 36 percent from a year earlier, according to bank spokeswoman Rebecca Acevedo.

The initial set of 19 banks to offer Zelle early next year has about 76 million customers using mobile banking apps and about 65 percent of U.S. checking and savings accounts, Finch said. Agreements in place with additional financial institutions, debit card networks and other payment companies, such as Fiserv Inc, will bring the portion of accounts to 90 percent to 95 percent, Finch said.

The bank consortium owners decided that for Zelle to succeed it needs to look and work the same for everyone. But some banks already have made digital payment brand names, such as JPMorgan's Quick Pay, familiar to many of their customers. Those banks will use the Zelle name prominently alongside their established names as Zelle catches on, Finch said.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)


PGA Tour adds South Korea tournament to calendar

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
SEOUL: The U.S. PGA Tour announced on Monday it will add a new event in South Korea, the US$9.25 million (8 million pound) CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, to its tournament schedule from next year.

The event will be played from Oct. 19-22 for the 2017/18 season with a field of 78 players, including the top 60 from the FedEx Cup standings. The venue has yet to be confirmed.

PGA Tour Deputy Commissioner Jay Monahan said the "phenomenal experience" of hosting the Presidents Cup in South Korea last year was a major driver behind the decision to stage a tour event in the country.

"This announcement is a historic landmark for the PGA Tour as we add another tournament in Asia," he told the Tour's official website.

"We have a tremendous population of Korean golfers on the PGA Tour, and we anticipate that will continue as the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges inspires a new generation of players, not only in Korea, but also around the world.”

The PGA Tour also makes stops in Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur as part of its Asian swing.

Korean conglomerate CJ Group had agreed a 10-year deal to host the event, which will offer 500 FedEx Cup points and a two-year exemption to the PGA Tour, Yonhap News reported.

(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Ian Ransom)


Stokes takes last wickets to foil Bangladesh fairytale

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Paceman Ben Stokes picked up the two remaining wickets in three balls as England won the thrilling first test against Bangladesh at Chittagong by 22 runs on the final morning to keep their perfect record against the Asian side intact.

While England needed two wickets for their ninth test win against Bangladesh in as many matches, the hosts also had the chance of a famous victory, requiring 33 runs when they resumed on 253 for eight.

Debutant Sabbir Rahman (64 not out) and Taijul Islam (16) negotiated the first three overs safely, taking 10 runs off their target.

But Stokes trapped Taijul in front and England captain Alastair Cook successfully reviewed the umpire's not out decision to end the dogged ninth wicket stand of 25.

Bangladesh needed Sabbir back on strike but Stokes needed only two more deliveries to dismiss number 11 Shafiul Islam leg before. The batsman's attempt to review and overturn the decision proved futile and Bangladesh were all out for 263.

Stokes (2-20) was man of the match for his 85 in the second innings and four wickets in the first. Off-spinner Gareth Batty picked up three wickets for the touring side in the second innings.

The second and final test will be played in Dhaka from Friday.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford / Ian Ransom)


Babies should sleep in parents' room for first year: US doctors

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
MIAMI: To reduce the risk of sudden death, babies should sleep in the same room as their parents but in their own crib or bassinet for the first year of life, US doctors said Monday.

The new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics still says babies should sleep on their backs, on a clean surface free of toys and blankets, a guideline that has been in place since the 1990s and has reduced sudden infant deaths by about 50 percent.

asian baby sleeping

Still, some 3,500 infants die each year in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocation and strangulation.

The main change to the AAP guidelines, which were last issued in 2011, is the specific call for infants to stay in their parents' room for six months to a year if possible -- but not sleep in the same bed.

"Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person," said lead author Rachel Moon.

"We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous."


Experts say that urging parents to put babies to sleep on their backs instead of their bellies helped drive down the rate of sudden infant death from 120 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1992 to 56 deaths per 100,000 in 2001 -- a 53 percent reduction in one decade. That advice still stands.

Deaths from SIDS have plateaued in recent years, but it is still the leading killer of babies aged one month to one year.

Children may become entangled in bedding, or suffocate under bumpers or toys, get squeezed in the corner of a couch or armchair, get overheated, or simply stop breathing for no apparent reason.

"It is nothing but tragic," said Peter Richel, chief of the department of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital, who remembers losing two patients in the past 26 years to sudden infant death -- a four-month-old boy and a two-week-old girl.

"Often there is nothing special to point to, other than they are just kind of taken away," he said.

"It is something that one never forgets."

Other risk factors for SIDS include smoking in the home, and exposing babies to drugs or alcohol.

Richel said that the new policy means doctors will have to change some of their long-held advice.

"Many pediatricians will suggest that by two months of age, infants go to their own room, and with the use of a monitor so that you can hear them cry out for a feeding," said Richel.

"This really goes against that kind of usual advice, which is fine, because if it saves lives we are all for it."


The new policy is described in a paper called, "SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment," and will be presented Monday at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

"The most important thing to remember is that the crib should be free of all loose objects that could lead to strangulation or suffocation," said Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, who was not involved in the research.

"This means that a bare environment is ultimately safest."

The AAP policy also suggests placing newborn infants skin-to-skin with the mother "immediately following birth for at least an hour as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake."

Breastfeeding is recommended, but mothers are urged to move the baby to a separate sleeping space afterward.

"If you are feeding your baby and think that there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair," said co-author Lori Feldman-Winter, a member of the Task Force on SIDS.

"If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed," she said.

The highest risk period for SIDS comes between the ages one to four months. SIDS is rare in babies older than eight months.

Other strategies include offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime, and making sure infants get all their recommended vaccines.

Parents are warned against using expensive home monitoring systems, as well as wedges or positioners that may be marketed as reducing the risk of SIDS.

"We know that we can keep a baby safer without spending a lot of money on home monitoring gadgets but through simple precautionary measures," Moon said.


NSEWL train services to resume regular operations from November

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: SMRT train services that have been starting later on Sundays at selected stations along the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) will resume regular operations come Nov 6, the transport operator announced on Monday (Oct 24).

Regular service start times will resume at stations from Joo Koon to Queenstown and from Bukit Gombak to Jurong East, and SMRT said the resumption comes seven weeks ahead of schedule, "in keeping with its commitment to keep commuter inconvenience to a minimum". 


SMRT resumption of regular services

Since June 2016, services at 13 stations along the EWL and NSL have been starting up to an hour later. This was done to give rail maintenance and renewal project teams more time to carry out necessary work.

Over the past 20 weeks, this has enabled engineering staff to replace more than 2,300 sleepers and more than 3.2 kilometres of additional Third Rail, SMRT said.

A paid parallel bus service has been plying the route between Joo Koon and Bukit Gombak stations to cater to commuters who travelled in the west before 7am on Sundays since June 2016. The last day of service for this paid parallel bus service will be Sunday, Oct 30 as normal train services resume the following Sunday, it added. 


S. Korea's Park opens door to future two-term presidencies

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
SEOUL: South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Monday (Oct 24) called for constitutional reform that could allow future presidents to serve two terms -- a sensitive issue for a country tainted by memories of long-term, autocratic rule.

While its constitution grants enormous power to the executive, South Korea is one of the only economically advanced liberal democracies to restrict the presidency to a single five-year term, with no possibility of re-election.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned Pyongyang that all attempts to provoke and intimidate(Photo:AFP)

The limit was set back in 1987 as South Korea transitioned to democracy after decades of military rule, and sought to pre-empt any return to extended periods of authoritarian control.

Critics say the cap has outlived its use and rendered the executive office perpetually unstable, allowing little time or motivation for consensus building as presidents push hard on legacy issues with no concern about re-election.

During a televised parliamentary address on Monday, Park called the current constitution outdated and said the government should begin discussion to lay the groundwork for its reform.

"The constitution on a five-year single term presidency may have been appropriate in the past during democratisation," Park told lawmakers.

"But now it has turned into a jacket that does not fit."

Without mentioning a specific agenda, Park said she would set up a government committee to push through a constitutional revision before the end of her term in early 2018.

Her presidential office stressed that there was no possibility of Park herself running for a second term.

"Under the current constitution, the revision will not apply to the current president," presidential spokesman Kim Dong-Jo said.

The proposal was something of an about-turn for Park, who had previously labelled opposition calls for constitutional reform as a "black hole" that would paralyse the government at a time of economic slowdown.

The president, whose popularity ratings have plunged in recent months, said changes were needed to ease the highly confrontational nature of domestic politics.

"Under the current system where confrontation and division are preventing us from taking a step forward, we cannot guarantee a bright future for South Korea," she said.


Afghanistan police tackle car theft by deflating tyres

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
KABUL: Police patrol the Afghan capital on a warm Sunday, but not to hunt extremists.

Instead, they are deflating the tyres of parked cars -- a theft prevention tactic that is raising eyebrows as the country struggles to contain the growing menace of petty crime.

Afghan police tyre

Kabul and its estimated five million inhabitants are at war, a prime target for Taliban-led insurgent attacks as well as assaults by a nascent Islamic State.

The capital's fledgling police force are under pressure to prevent atrocities, so -- short on time and resources -- they have taken a scorched earth approach when it comes to tackling more routine petty crime.

The logic is indisputable: if the car cannot be moved, it cannot be stolen.

"Police politely ask the residents to not park their cars in the open... but when they prefer to pay no heed, then police may move in to remove the air nozzles as a last measure," says Feraidoon Obaidi, chief of Kabul police's criminal investigation department.

"We can protect people from both the thieves and the terrorists," he says.

"But they should know how much energy we have to put in to stop terrorists in the city. By leaving their cars in the open, they are inviting thieves."

A series of attacks have ripped across Kabul in recent months, jihadists armed with bombs and guns killing dozens of people, including the assault targeting Shiites during the Ashura festival earlier in October that left 14 people dead.

Most have been carried out by the resurgent Taliban, including attacks on a global charity and a university as well as twin blasts in September that killed 41 people.

The Ashura attack was claimed by Islamic State. In July, the Middle East jihadist group, which is struggling to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, claimed bombings that tore through minority Shiite Hazara protesters in Kabul, killing 84 people in the deadliest attack in the capital since 2001.


Official data shows up to 300 cars were stolen in Kabul's streets from March to July -- slightly down from last year, but still frustrating for police.

"In some cases they work in gangs, while others work individually snatching cars, especially (the ones) that can easily be unlocked," says Kabir Ahmad Barmak, chief of Kabul's eleventh district police.

"They snatch cars parked in vacant streets especially at night, and sometimes turn them into spare parts," Barmak says, adding police have been forced to use valuable resources on special mobile patrols to tackle the problem.

Officers used to simply slash the tyres, but now take the slightly more considerate route of removing the air nozzles instead.

"When you see these thieves lurking in dark and people recklessly leaving their cars in the open, it makes you think, best way to protect is to damage the tyres," says another officer in the district, who requested anonymity.

"It is working," he adds with a triumphant smile. "Fewer people today leave their cars on streets than before."

But the tactic is angering a public frustrated with the inconvenience and financial burden of repeated repairs.

"Should one expect the police to serve or to hurt?" says Akbar, a customer at a tyre repairing unit on the roadside outside central Kabul's "Bush Bazaar", a black market named after US President George W. Bush.

"It is not fair to puncture a car to avert theft... You park your car here for few minutes, it is either stolen by a thief, or damaged by police," he says.

"That is vandalism, not service."

Others pointed out they had little option but to leave their cars in the open.

"When you go to the city, there are not many places to park your car except the streets, and then it is gone without much hope for its recovery," says Ahmad Shoaib, whose car was stolen last month.

But there is one merry, busy segment of the capital that appears to appreciate the situation.

"Police are doing a service," says handyman Abdul Shukoor at the roadside mobile tire repairing unit, sipping from his steaming tea with a smile.

"They prevent the cars from being stolen and help me make more money. The world is fair."


NUS and Singtel launch cybersecurity lab

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singtel on Monday (Oct 24) launched their joint cybersecurity laboratory aimed at protecting consumers against security breaches, data leaks and other online attacks. 

Over the next five years, S$43 million from NUS, Singtel, and the National Research Foundation (NRF) will be pumped into the lab. "Such public-private R&D collaboration aligns public research to industry needs, and accelerates innovations to market," said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also NRF's Chairman, at the launch event. 

A padlock is displayed at the Alert Logic booth during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference

The new laboratory will focus on areas such as network, data and cloud computing security, among others.

Singtel CEO of Group Enterprise Bill Chang pointed out that many enterprises are constantly challenged by the increasingly sophisticated nature of cyber threats, and the new lab will allow them to develop and bring to market cybersecurity offerings more quickly to help these companies. 

The lab will also increase Singapore's pool of cybersecurity professionals and raise their game, hosting 100 researchers and training 120 new cybersecurity professionals over the next five years.

"This will develop a strong talent pool critical to Singapore. The training will equip them with deep expertise in this growing area, and prepare them for employment opportunities, not just with Singtel, but also in the public sector and other companies," said Mr Teo. 

The national cybersecurity strategy, which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this month, aims to boost the cybersecurity profession. This includes instituting clear career pathways, promoting certification, and working with the industry and institutes of higher learning to attract new graduates and convert existing professionals from related fields.


Comedian Bill Murray awarded Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
WASHINGTON: Comedian Bill Murray was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at a star-studded Kennedy Center ceremony on Sunday, with friends and fellow actors praising him for the joy he has brought to audiences worldwide.

Murray, the 65-year-old star of such movies as "Groundhog Day," "Ghostbusters" and "Rushmore", said his success was grounded in love from his family and the talented people he had worked with for more than four decades.

Actor and comedian Bill Murray arrives to receive the 19th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Hum

"There's love, that's what we came with, that's what we go with. I love you, let's try to repeat that to each other," Murray said after accepting the award named for the 19th century American author and humorist.

The comedian, known for his spontaneity and irreverence, handed the award, a bust of Twain, down into the audience to be passed around.

"When I can't see it any longer, that's when I'm coming down the steps," said Murray, an Illinois native, before closing the show by singing a version of "Sweet Home Chicago."

Murray was awarded the 19th Mark Twain Prize for making an impact on U.S. society similar to Twain's. Previous winners include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, Neil Simon and Eddie Murphy.

Murray is among the best-known stars to emerge from NBC's "Saturday Night Live." He performed on the groundbreaking television comedy show from 1977 to 1980 and honed his skills portraying lovably smarmy characters.

Murray was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of a jet-lagged movie star in "Lost in Translation." He has won two Emmy Awards.

Appearing in a video clip, Steve Martin, himself a Mark Twain Prize winner, said, "I'd like to say to you, welcome to the club. And to the Kennedy Center, I'd like to say - really?"

ABC late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel called Murray both a genius and fearless extrovert who can get away with stealing French fries off diners' plates and crashing a White House press conference.

"Bill Murray could shove you off the side of the Hoover Dam and you'd be like, 'Hey, Bill Murray,' all the way down," Kimmel said.

Others at the ceremony included "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman, singer Miley Cyrus and former NBC "Late Night" host David Letterman, who had Murray on his shows 44 times.

The ceremony was recorded for broadcast on PBS television on Friday.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Tom Brown)


Ecclestone stands up for McLaren boss Dennis

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
AUSTIN, Texas: Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has spoken out in support of Ron Dennis amid continuing speculation that shareholders are seeking to replace the McLaren boss.

"If I was going to run a team I’d like to have Ron with me," the Briton told Reuters at the U.S. Grand Prix, which Dennis attended 50 years on from his first involvement at a race weekend.

McLaren's Formula One team chairman Ron Dennis chats with Formula One supremo Bernie Eccleston

"I think he does a good job. Anyone that chucks him out is stupid. He’s dedicated. I think we ought to try and support him so they don’t get rid of him," added Ecclestone, who will turn 86 in Mexico next Sunday.

"It would be a shame to see him go. He’s one of the good old timers."

Britain's website said in an unsourced report last week that Dennis, 69, would be leaving as McLaren chairman and chief executive at the end of the year when his contract expired.

A McLaren spokesman said in response that Dennis, who attended his first Formula One race as a Cooper mechanic in Mexico in 1966, had stated "categorically" that he is not stepping down.

"Moreover, he remains contracted as chairman and chief executive officer of McLaren Technology Group and he retains a 25 percent shareholding - exactly equal to that of (Saudi-born business partner) Mansour Ojjeh."

Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat owns the other 50 percent.

The speculation has not died down, however, with former McLaren driver turned television commentator Martin Brundle saying he expected Dennis to leave.

"There seems to have been some friction and there seems to be a new direction they want to go in," he told Sky Sports television.

"I don't know who they've got in mind and (in) which elements of McLaren they will make changes, and whether they will restructure. We'll have to wait and see."

Dennis, who has been involved with McLaren since 1980, stood down as team boss in 2009 but returned as group chief executive in January 2014.

McLaren changed their name in 2014 to McLaren Technology Group, incorporating the sportscar company and applied technologies as well as the F1 team.

Mumtalakat agreed that same year to sell some shares to Dennis but there has been no confirmation of that happening.

McLaren have not won since 2012 and struggled last year at the start of a new partnership with Honda. They have improved since and recorded their fourth double points finish of the season on Sunday.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)


Mexico president says Trump visit could have been done better

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Sunday defended his decision to host a visit by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump to Mexico, but he said it could have been carried out "in a better way".

The hastily arranged meeting of Trump and Pena Nieto on Aug. 31 sparked outrage in Mexico because of Trump's verbal attacks on Mexicans as well as his threats to build a border wall and tear up trade deals with Latin America's No. 2 economy.

U.S. presidential nominee Trump and Mexico's President Pena Nieto shake hands in Mexico City

"I faced a dilemma of 'yes or no' once I had made the proposal and he said 'yes.' Because, at the end of the day, its all about ensuring the best interests of Mexico, even if it could be very controversial, as it turned out to be," Pena Nieto said in an interview on Mexico's Canal 11 television.

Pena Nieto had invited both Trump and his rival Hillary Clinton, who turned down the offer.

"Could we have done things better? Maybe yes, admittedly. I think that this genuine interest to bring about a meeting to take care of Mexico's interests, I think, could have been done in a better way," he said.

During his visit, Trump struck a collaborative tone with Mexico. But as soon as he was back in the United States, he told a crowd in Arizona that Mexico would pay for his massive border wall "100 percent."

Backlash from the visit forced the resignation of Pena Nieto's finance minister and trusted aide Luis Videgaray, who had helped arrange the meeting.

(Reporting by Jean Luis Arce; Editing by Michael Perry)


Wanted: Solutions that will help consumers better manage utility use

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: To help households better manage their energy consumption, Singapore is exploring a trial to allow electricity, gas and water meters to be read remotely and provide consumers with more timely usage data.

On Monday (Oct 24), the Energy Market Authority (EMA), national water agency PUB and Singapore Power issued a call for proposals to develop technical solutions to enable this smart metering trial.

Singapore skyline

Most of the electricity meters in Singapore are cumulative meters, and are read once every two months manually together with gas and water meters.

The call is for interested parties to develop and trial smart solutions for remotely reading all three meters reliably and in a cost-effective manner, they said.

The trial also includes the development of a mobile application to provide consumers with timely and useful information on their electricity, water and gas consumption. "This will enhance consumers’ awareness of their consumption patterns," the agencies said.

Details of the call for proposals will be made available on SPRING’s website on Nov 2. The deadline for submissions is midnight on Feb 1, 2017. Eligible companies will get funding support from SPRING’s Capability Development Grant.


In a separate announcement on Monday, the EMA said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with 16 partners for a pilot programme to optimise energy consumption by managing their demand. 

The pilot, named Project OptiWatt, was announced by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran at the Singapore International Energy Week 2016. 

According to EMA, energy consumption can be shifted from peak to non-peak hours. This reduces the maximum load that the energy system needs to cater to, which could result in system-wide benefits.

Based on a study by Professor Frank A Wolak, Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development in Stanford University, every megawatt reduction of peak demand in Singapore could translate to system-wide savings of about S$1.6 million, EMA added.

The 16 partners include:

Institutes of Higher Learning
1. Institute of Technical Education
2. Nanyang Polytechnic
3. Ngee Ann Polytechnic
4. Temasek Polytechnic

Government Agencies
5. Agency for Science, Technology and Research
6. JTC Corporation

Electricity Retailers
7. Diamond Energy Merchants Pte Ltd
8. Red Dot Power
9. Seraya Energy

10. Air Liquide Singapore
11. Applied Materials South East Asia
12. Eltek Power

Research Institutions
13. ENGIE Lab Singapore
14. Nanyang Technological University [Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N)]
15. Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (Professor Frank A. Wolak from Stanford University)

Electricity Grid Operator
16. SP PowerAssets 


Former UK banker cites 'diminished responsibility' over Hong Kong double murder charge

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
HONG KONG: Former British banker Rurik Jutting, who brutally killed two Indonesian women in Hong Kong, pleaded not guilty to murder on grounds of "diminished responsibility", as the trial began on Monday (Oct 24).

He instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter, which the prosecution promptly rejected.

British banker Rurik Jutting (2nd L) was deemed fit to stand trial in November following psychiatric(Photo:AFP)

His lawyers argued that he was drunk, on drugs and has a personality disorder, and cannot be held fully accountable for his action.

Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison in HK.

Jutting who previously worked at Bank of America Corp in Hong Kong, was accused in October 2014 after police found the bodies of two Indonesian women, one inside a suitcase on his balcony and the other lying inside the apartment with wounds to her neck and buttocks.

He admitted to killing the two women in October 2014 and called police to his own Wanchai apartment, where the bodies were found.

Jutting came from a privileged background. He attended Cambridge University and at the time of the murder worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

His two victims both came to Hong Kong as domestic helpers, though local media reports have said they were working as prostitutes, a claim their families dispute.

Jutting, who has been in police custody for the past two years, appeared to have lost a lot of weight when he appeared in court on Monday.

A group of Indonesia domestic helpers demonstrated outside the court house, calling for justice for the victims.

Before proceeding to select a jury, the judge Michael Stuart-Moore warned the potential jurors of the unusual nature of the case, calling the evidence jurors will see "extremely disturbing." He said the evidence included a video Jutting recorded in his cellphone of him torturing his first victim.

"Nevertheless, he has the right to a fare trial," the judge said, telling potential jurors that once selected, they need to reach a rational decision, not to be overcome by anger or disgust. 


Clinton thinks regulators should scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner deal- spokesman

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton thinks U.S. regulators should closely scrutinize AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, her spokesman said on Sunday.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told reporters on Sunday there were "a number of questions and concerns" about the deal "but there's still a lot of information that needs to come out before any conclusions should be reached."

"But certainly she thinks regulators should scrutinize it closely," Fallon said.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Writing by Julia Edwards; Editing by Sandra Maler)


Pavilion Gas, Shell appointed as new LNG importers for Singapore

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: Pavilion Gas and Shell have been appointed as the new liquefied natural gas (LNG) importers for Singapore, supplying the nation with 1 million tonnes per annum of LNG each for up to three years, whichever is earlier.

The two companies were selected as they offered reliable, flexible and competitively priced LNG supplies, said Trade and Industry Minister (Industry) S Iswaran during his keynote address at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2016.

Singapore LNG

Pavilion Gas and Shell were selected via a two-stage Request for Proposal (RFP) process to appoint up to two LNG importers for Singapore. They secured the most demand from different buyers during Stage Two of the RFP, according to the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

Mr Iswaran said Singapore's gas consumers will benefit from the new and improved terms offered by the two companies. "For example, buyers have been offered shorter term contracts and alternate price indicates, such as Henry Hub and SGX's LNG Index Group,” he said.

Beyond the next tranche of LNG imports, which is expected to start in 2017, EMA also plans to allow third-party spot imports and new piped natural gas imports on a case-by-case basis, Mr Iswaran said.

“This will further augment the diversity of gas supply sources in Singapore, and encourage more gas-on-gas competition in the domestic market,” he said.


During SIEW 2016, Mr Iswaran and International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Dr Fatih Birol also announced that Singapore will become an IEA Association Country.

The IEA Association provides a platform for the IEA to engage non-member countries to work together on issues including energy security, energy data and statistics and energy policy analysis. It enables non-member countries to participate in a variety of activities, including IEA standing groups, committees and ministerial meetings.

As part of plans for cooperation, a Singapore-IEA regional training hub will be established, which will allow IEA to use Singapore as a base to build capabilities in the region. Singapore will also host a regional run of the IEA Energy Efficiency Training Week in 2017 to provide hands-on training for energy efficiency practitioners.

“Singapore fully supports the IEA’s vision to expand its outreach to emerging economies, particularly in Asia. This initiative will help build a more inclusive global energy architecture and is especially important as Asia grows in importance in the global economy and energy landscape,” Mr Iswaran said.


Chile's right wins big in local elections as political tides shift

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
SANTIAGO: Chile's right snatched dozens of mayoralties on Sunday from the governing centre-left coalition, in a boost to former leader Sebastian Pinera, the front-runner to lead the conservative coalition in next year's presidential election.

With over 99 percent of results counted on Sunday night in local elections, the right-leaning Chile Vamos pact emerged as the big winner. It won slightly more votes than President Michelle Bachelet's left-leaning Nueva Mayoria coalition, despite the left going into the vote with a massive incumbent advantage.

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet attends to vote during the mayors and councillors election

Conservative candidates won the majority of key swing cities, including central Santiago, a municipality inside the capital that is considered an electoral bellwether.

"This reflects that residents are tired of incomplete promises," the conservative mayor-elect of central Santiago, Felipe Alessandri, told Reuters. "Citizens have made their annoyance at the old practices of politicians clear, and they have made clear that they expect to be listened to."

Voters have turned sour on Bachelet's government after a series of corruption scandals, an ambitious reform drive that fell flat with many Chileans, and weak economic growth.

The results should benefit Pinera, a conservative politician and businessman who served as president from 2010 to 2014 between Bachelet's two terms and is widely expected to seek a return to office.

"Sebastian Pinera is going to sleep with the presidential sash on tonight," tweeted Patricio Navia, a political scientist at New York University and Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago. "What a beating for the Nueva Mayoria."

The results were a further sign the political tide had shifted toward the right in Latin America, after electoral disappointments for left-wing candidates elsewhere in the region over the past year including in neighbouring Argentina and Peru.

Independent parties - previously a non-player in Chilean politics - also outperformed, raising the possibility that Chile's 26-year-old two-coalition system could rupture. An unaffiliated candidate won a shock upset in the mayor's race in Valparaiso, one of Chile's largest cities.

With disaffection with the entire political class running high, Sunday's vote was also marked by relatively high abstention rates.

Bachelet, who is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election in 2017, lamented the low turnout in broadcast comments on Sunday night and acknowledged her coalition's defeat.

"We are going to redouble our efforts to respond to the demands and dreams of our citizens ... this is a very serious message, not just for our coalition but all political leaders in the country."

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien, Peter Cooney and Christian Schmollinger)


Box Office: 'Madea Halloween' edges out 'Jack Reacher 2' with US$27.6 million

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
LOS ANGELES ( - It was a battle of the sequels at the multiplexes this weekend, as "Boo! A Madea Halloween" narrowly edged out "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" to claim first place at the domestic box office.

The latest film in the long-running Madea series racked up US$27.6 million. Comedian Chris Rock may be entitled to a percentage of the gross. Creator Tyler Perry was inspired to take his pistol-packing grandma trick-or-treating after Rock's comedian character in 2014's "Top Five" joked that his latest movie, a passion project about a slave revolt, was going head-to-head at the box office with "Boo! A Madea Halloween." What was once intended as satire eventually became a seasonally appropriate reality.

Actors Smulders, Yarosh and Cruise arrive for the German premiere of the film "Jack Reacher: N

"This isn't the end of the series, it's just the beginning," said Jeff Bock, box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, who noted that Perry also scored with 2013's "A Madea Christmas." "There are so many holidays left. There's Easter, St. Patrick's Day, and he hasn't even done a Thanksgiving one yet."

Don't look for "Boo!" to end up in the Oscar race or on many reviewers' "ten best" lists, but the Halloween comedy is a hit for distributor Lionsgate and reaffirms Perry's star power. Despite being routinely derided by critics, the film series has an extremely loyal fan base. Collectively they've earned nearly US$380 million, enjoying capacious profit margins given that most of the movies cost less than a Papa John's Super Bowl spot to produce. The latest Madea cost US$20 million to make, and attracted a more diverse crowd. Typically the films have an audience that's between 80per cent and 90per cent African-American, but this installment's crowd was only 60per cent African-American, with the rest of ticket buyers made up largely of Caucasians and Hispanic movie-goers.

"The film crossed over and it expanded the audience," said David Spitz, co-president of domestic distribution at Lionsgate. "Madea is such a beloved character and the timing helped. There are not many comedies in the marketplace right now and Halloween is right around the corner."

"Never Go Back" was right behind, with the action sequel earning a solid US$23 million. The film brought back Tom Cruise as Reacher, an ex-military investigator with a penchant for ass-kicking. The films are based on a popular series of books by Lee Childs, but despite their best-selling pedigree, a sequel to "Jack Reacher" wasn't exactly a given. The first film ended up making money for Paramount in 2012, grossing US$218.3 million worldwide on a production budget of US$60 million, but it wasn't exactly a blockbuster. The film did, however, have a healthy after-life on home entertainment platforms.

"It felt for awhile like every time I'd go on a plane, it was the movie every person was watching," said Megan Colligan, Paramount's president of worldwide distribution and marketing. "It was a movie that expanded its audience."

The studio made sure that costs didn't escalate on the sequel, keeping the budget locked at US$60 million, a feat since most franchises increase their spending with each subsequent installment. They were rewarded for the cost consciousness. "Never Go Back" improved on "Jack Reacher's" US$15.2 million debut from four years ago. It's worth noting, however, that the previous film debuted days after the Sandy Hook elementary school killings, which may have depressed turnout for the violent adventure film. Overseas, "Never Go Back" performed well, earning US$31 million.

"Ouija: Origin of Evil," the follow-up to 2014's low-budget horror hit "Ouija," picked up US$14.1 million, a respectable return given its US$9 million budget. Universal distributed the Blumhouse production, which got markedly better reviews than the original, but couldn't translate the critical notices into a bigger opening than its predecessor. The first film in the series kicked off to US$19.9 million before going on to make US$103.6 million globally. Platinum Dunes and Hasbro produced the board game adaptation.

"Origin of Evil" is set in the 1960s and centers on a scam seance artist who unwittingly invites evil spirits into her home. The film's PG-13 rating meant its audience skewed younger, with 57per cent of ticket-buyers clocking in under the age of 25. Universal believes the film will benefit from the holiday next week.

"Based on the fact that we're the only wide release horror film on Halloween, we're expecting to hold well," said Nick Carpou, Universal's domestic distribution chief.

Last weekend's champ, Warner Bros.' "The Accountant," came in fourth, holding well to pick up US$14 million. That pushes the Ben Affleck thriller's domestic total to US$47.9 million.

DreamWorks Pictures' "The Girl on the Train" rounded out the top five, earning US$7.3 million. The adaptation of the literary hit about an alcoholic who becomes obsessed with a missing woman has earned US$58.9 million after three weeks in theaters. Universal distributed the film.

The weekend's other major new release, Fox's "Keeping Up with the Joneses," flopped, eking out US$5.6 million. The action-comedy about a suburban couple who gets entangled in the world of international espionage stars Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, Gal Gadot, and Isla Fisher. It's a rough start given its US$40 million budget.

Among other releases, "The Met: Live in HD's" screening of Mozart's Don Giovanni drew opera fans, grossing US$1.7 million on more than 900 screens.

Faith-based distributor Pure Flix debuted "I'm Not Ashamed," a drama about a victim of the Columbine High School shootings, to US$900,000 on 505 theaters.

Michael Moore waded into the presidential election with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand," a film of a one-man stage performance that the documentary filmmaker delivered in Ohio, all but begging the Rust Belt to abandon the Donald. The film earned US$50,200 on two screens for a US$25,100 per-screen average.

In a statement, Moore said, "This film speaks to and is being enjoyed by many constituencies, namely the 50per cent of the country planning not to vote, or those voting third party, but also among Clinton supporters and even Trump voters who know better. I'm convinced now that as millions of Americans will see this movie, it will have an impact on this election."

Rapturous critical notices lifted "Moonlight" at the art house box office this weekend. The film was bolstered by a love letter from the New York Times' A.O. Scott, who labeled it "breathtaking" and stopped short of declaring it 2016's best film with two months left to go in the year. The A24 release earned an impressive US$414,740 on four screens, for a sizzling US$103,685 per-screen average. That sets it up nicely as the indie distributor looks to expand the drama about a gay boy coming-of-age in the inner city of Miami. It could also bolster "Moonlight's" Oscar chances.

It's been a rough fall movie season, with ticket sales down more than 12per cent, but things appear to be on the upswing. Revenues were up 18per cent from the year-ago period, when "The Last Witch Hunter" and "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" both bombed. Analysts believe the box office is poised for a rebound, with several big-budget offerings hitting theaters in the coming weeks, such as "Inferno" with Tom Hanks and Marvel's "Doctor Strange."

"This should be the start of a turnaround," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with ComScore. "After hitting rock bottom, now we begin climbing back."


Microsoft to increase UK prices of enterprise products, citing falling pound

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Microsoft Corp said it will be increasing pricing for its enterprise software and cloud services in the UK in the wake of the sterling's plunge since Britons voted to leave the EU.

The price increase, from Jan. 1 2017, will be 13 percent for its enterprise software and 22 percent for its enterprise cloud services, it said.

A Microsoft logo is seen next to a cloud in Los Angeles

Pricing changes will not apply to consumer software or consumer cloud services, the company said in a blog post.

The vote to leave the EU took many investors and company executives by surprise, triggering the biggest one-day fall in sterling against the dollar.

The pound's fall has affected profitability for many companies, as imported goods have become even more expensive.

Recently, Britain's biggest grocery chain, Tesco, pulled dozens of Unilever brand products from its website after a disagreement over prices, in the wake of a the slump in the British currency.

Unilever had been trying to raise the prices it charges Britain's big four supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - across a wide range of goods by about 10 percent, saying it needs to offset the higher cost of imported commodities.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler)


Changi Airport passenger traffic in September lowest this year

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: A total of 4.58 million passengers passed through Changi Airport last month, an increase of 3.7 per cent from the previous year, according to the latest figures released by Changi Airport Group (CAG) on Monay (Oct 24). 

However, the figure for September is the lowest for this year so far, with July the highest at 5.2 million. 

stock airport terminal3 01

According to CAG, all of Changi Airport’s top 10 country markets grew with China, Malaysia and Indonesia achieving highest positive growth rate. Jakarta continued to be Changi Airport’s busiest route for the same period, followed closely by Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, it added. 

Aircraft landings and take-offs also grew by 3 per cent to 29,330 in the same period, while airfreight movements rose 7.8 per cent, with 167,100 tonnes of cargo handled in September.

For the first nine months of 2016, 43.5 million passengers passed through the airport, an increase of 6.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.


Berkshire Partners nears deal to acquire Masergy - sources

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Berkshire Partners LLC is nearing a deal to acquire cloud networking firm Masergy, currently owned by another private equity firm, ABRY Partners, for more than US$900 million, including debt according to sources familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as this week, the people said on Sunday, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

Berkshire Partners declined to comment. Masergy and ABRY could not immediately be reached for comment.

Masergy, based in Plano, Texas, helps speed up its customers' networks with software so they can roll out video, data and voice globally.

The company, which competes with Verizon, AT&T, British Telecom and Tata Communications, helps big corporations manage the transmission of phone calls using the same technology as internet communications.

Masergy assists customers such as Amgen Inc , E-Trade, Tesla and Dolby piece together their cloud communications and security services from different providers, according to its website.

It was acquired by ABRY in 2011 for an undisclosed sum.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler)


South Korea president says time to discuss amending constitution

‎Today, ‎October ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
SEOUL: South Korea's President Park Geun-hye said on Monday it is the right time to discuss an amendment to the country's constitution, mainly expected to change the current single-term presidency, before her term is over.

"Through the single-term presidency, it is difficult to maintain policy continuance, see results of policy and engage in unified foreign policy," said Park in an address to parliament.

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye arrives at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane

The president requested a special committee be established immediately to start the discussions for the amendment.

The last amendment to the constitution was made in 1987.

(Reporting by Christine Kim)


Massive crowds sing royal tribute to late Thai king

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:39:35 AMGo to full article
BANGKOK: Tens of thousands of black-clad Thais gathered outside Bangkok's Grand Palace on Saturday (Oct 22) to sing the royal anthem in a striking display of devotion to the recently deceased King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The monarch, who died on Oct 13 following years of poor health, was seen as a guiding light and rare source of unity in a kingdom dogged by corruption and political rivalries.

Thai mourning Oct 22 for king bhumibol

His death has plunged the nation into grief, with the government declaring a one-year mourning period and urging the public to don black and dial down all festivities for at least 30 days.

Crowds have been massing outside his glittering Bangkok palace for the past week, with many journeying from far away provinces to pay respects to a man celebrated as the father of the nation.

Some have pitched tents on a large grassy field outside the royal compound, while others have been sleeping under the stars on simple bamboo mats.




On Saturday, a sea of black filled the field and surrounding roads to stand and sing a royal anthem alongside a 100-piece orchestra and professional choir.

Many held up portraits or bank notes bearing the face of the bespectacled king as they sang in unison, some through tears.

"I came here to sing a song and pay my last respects to his majesty the late king," said Chotika Pattanateeradej, who like most was dressed all in black despite Bangkok's sweltering midday sun.

"Many people have come today and they are helping each other. I feel very proud," she added.

Public displays of mass devotion have been encouraged by Thailand's arch-royalist military rulers, who grabbed power in a 2014 coup many believe was staged to ensure a smooth succession.

A flurry of free or discounted bus, train and plane rides have helped move thousands to the capital, where city workers and volunteers are providing free food and medical care to mourners.

While the outpouring of grief has been overwhelmingly sober and dignified, it has also unleashed small pockets of ultra-monarchist forces that have shamed, mobbed and in some cases beaten Thais seen as criticising the monarchy.

The government has condemned this vigilantism but stepped up its own surveillance of royal defamation -- a crime that carries 15 years in jail for each offence under the kingdom's lese majeste law.

The legislation has seen scores of Thais thrown behind bars -- sometimes for decades -- for perceived slights against the monarchy.

All media based inside the country must heavily self-censor to avoid violating the law, which has been wielded with renewed vigour by the junta.


Stokes takes four to hand England lead of 45

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:35:12 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: Ben Stokes triggered a Bangladesh batting collapse by taking four wickets on a pitch unresponsive for pace bowlers to help England claim a first-innings lead of 45 runs in the opening test on Saturday.

The hosts looked as if they would get their noses in front when they resumed the third day on 221 for five but England needed just over an hour to bundle them out for 248.

England Nets

On a spinning track at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, where scoring runs was becoming increasingly difficult, England also suffered early losses in their second innings and were 28 for three at lunch, an overall lead of 73.

After Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan (31) had fallen on the second ball of the morning to off-spinner Moeen Ali, he then picked up the wickets of Ben Duckett and Joe Root while debutant spinner Mehedi Hasan sent back England captain Alastair Cook.

Stokes had dismissed Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim (48) shortly before the close of play on Friday, getting the ball to reverse swing and extracting ample bounce off the slow pitch.

He continued to swing the ball in the morning, adding the wickets of debutant Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi and Kamrul Islam to his tally.

Moeen finished with three wickets as Bangladesh lost their last six wickets for 27 runs.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)


Iraqi army tries to take main Christian town near Mosul

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:30:21 AMGo to full article
QAYYARA, Iraq: The Iraqi army launched an operation on Saturday to take Qaraqosh, a Christian town near Mosul, the last major city stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq, the military said.

Qaraqosh, about 20 kms (13 miles) southeast of Mosul, was emptied of its population in 2014, when Islamic State swept through the region.

An Iraqi special forces soldier fires an RPG during clashes with Islamic States fighters in Bartella

Iraqi special units earlier this week captured Bartella, a Christian village north of Qaraqosh.

The offensive that started on Monday to capture Mosul is backed by the U.S.-led coalition. It is expected to become the biggest battle fought in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Islamic State also controls parts of Syria.

The army is also trying to advance on Mosul from the south while Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are holding fronts in the east and north.

A Reuters photographer on the southern front on Friday saw plumes of smoke rising from a sulfur factory that was under the control of Islamic State, filling the air with toxic gasses.

It was not clear if the militants set it on fire to cover their retreat or if it was damaged during the fighting.

Authorities in Kirkuk extended for a second day a curfew declared after Islamic State militants stormed police stations and other buildings in curfew in the northern oil city under control of Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday night ordered an army brigade to head to Kirkuk to assist the Peshmerga clear the remaining buildings still held by the militants.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters took control of Kirkuk in 2014, after the Iraqi army withdrew from the region, fleeing an Islamic State advance through northern and western Iraq.

A total of 35 people have been killed since Friday in clashes of Kirkuk, including four Iranian technicians who were carrying maintenance work in a power station north of the city, according to a hospital source.

The toll does not include the jihadists who were killed or who blew themselves up during the fighting.

Kurdish leaders say they will never give up the ethnically mixed city, to which they, as well as Turkmen and Arabs, lay claim. Arabs complain that Kurds have since flooded to Kirkuk to tilt the demographic balance the other way.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli in Baghdad, Thaier al-Sudani in Qayyara and Mahmoud Mustafa in Kirkuk; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


Marquez puts Honda on pole at Phillip Island

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:20:14 AMGo to full article
MELBOURNE: World champion Marc Marquez seized pole position for Sunday's Australian MotoGP Grand Prix as intermittent rain and high winds played havoc with qualifying at Phillip Island on Saturday.

The Honda rider, who sealed his third world title in Japan last weekend, took a gamble on slick tyres despite rain clouds looming overhead and was rewarded with a time of one minute, 30.189 seconds.

Honda MotoGP rider Marquez of Spain celebrates after winning the Japanese Grand Prix and secured hi

"I thought I'd take a risk because the track was completely dry," the Spaniard said after securing his 65th pole in grand prix racing.

"We will see if tomorrow if the race is dry because nobody knows about the tyres and nobody knows how to manage the race. We will do our best."

British rider Cal Crutchlow steered his Honda around the track in 1:30.981 to claim second place on the grid with Yamaha's Pol Espargaro rounding out the front row.

Spaniard Espargaro's late flying lap of 1:31.107 pushed his brother, Suzuki rider Alex, into fourth place ahead of Australia's Jack Miller and Italian Danilo Petrucci on a Ducati.

Heavy rain forced the cancellation of one of Friday's practice sessions and the red flag was out again during the fourth session after another downpour.

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, last year's world champion, could manage only the 12th fastest time in final qualifying but at least he was involved in the session.

His team mate, seven-times champion Valentino Rossi, failed to reach Q2 for the first time since a new format was introduced in 2013. The Italian Yamaha rider will start 15th on the grid.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)


Hillary Clinton's campaign HQ evacuated over white substance

‎Saturday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:15:12 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: The campaign headquarters for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was evacuated on Friday night after a white substance was discovered in an envelope, police said.

The substance was first discovered by two interns at a campaign office in Manhattan and was taken to Clinton's Brooklyn headquarters, triggering the evacuation of the 11th floor, a New York Police Department spokesman said.

A total of four people were exposed to the substance, police said, though there have been no injuries or reported illnesses. Police are testing the substance and investigating the case.

Further details were not immediately available.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Angus MacSwan)




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