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No ASEAN consensus on South China Sea row _ for now

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎41 minutes agoGo to full article
Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, sixth from left, and Laotian Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, sixth from right, stand with with Southeast Asian foreign ministers, from left, an unidentified delegate from Malaysia, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Vivian Balakrishnan of Singapore, Don Pramudwinai of Thailand, Pham Binh Minh of Vietnam, Thongloun Sisoulith, Saleumxay Kommasith, Perfecto Yasay Jr. of the Philippines, Brunei's Trade Minister Jock Seng Pehin Lim, Sakhonn Prak of Cambodia, Retno Marsudi of Indonesia and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, as they pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 49th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, Sunday, July 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — Southeast Asia's main grouping apparently failed to reach a consensus on how to deal with China's territorial expansion in the South China Sea, intensifying a diplomatic stalemate that officials said they hope to resolve after closed-door parleys on Sunday.

Solar Impulse 2 leaves Egypt for final leg of world tour

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
Technicians prepare the solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft at the Cairo International Airport on July 23, 2016The first solar-powered plane to circle the world took off from Cairo on Sunday for Abu Dhabi, in the final leg of its journey. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard was behind the controls of Solar Impulse 2, which can fly for days on only energy from the sun. Piccard and Swiss entrepreneur and pilot Andre Borschberg have taken turns flying the plane on its 35,000-kilometre (22,000-mile) trip around the world.

Solar Impulse 2 embarks on world tour final leg

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎10:49:04 PMGo to full article
Technicians prepare the solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft at the Cairo International Airport on July 23, 2016A sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft on a record-breaking flight around the world to promote renewable energy was due to depart from Cairo early Sunday on the last leg of its journey. "It's a project for energy, for a better world," Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard told journalists standing in front of the plane which weighs no more than a large car but has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. The plane was scheduled to depart at 1 am Cairo time (2300 GMT) for Abu Dhabi.

Kerry to urge ASEAN to find diplomatic ways to ease South China Sea tensions

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:26:40 PMGo to full article
Still image from United States Navy video purportedly shows Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly IslandsBy Lesley Wroughton PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will urge Southeast Asian nations in meetings in Laos next week to explore diplomatic ways to ease tensions with China over the South China Sea following an international court ruling denying China's claims. Kerry travels to Laos' capital Vientiane on Monday for meetings of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asia Nations where tensions between China and several ASEAN members, in particular the Philippines and Vietnam, over the South China Sea is expected to dominate talks. "The Secretary will reinforce our hope that ... the parties will now turn to constructively engaging in a effort to find diplomatic ways to peacefully interact in the South China Sea," a senior U.S. official told reporters ahead of the trip.

Indian defense chief oversees search for air force plane

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎2:04:35 PMGo to full article
FILE- In this Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009, file photo, an Indian Air Force's (IAF) AN-32 transport aircraft releases chaff as it flies past the IAF Day Parade in New Delhi, India. A spokesman for India's defense ministry says the Indian air force has lost contact with a transport plane AN-32 with 29 people on board. A massive search by the air force, navy and coast guard has been launched. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi, file)NEW DELHI (AP) — India's defense minister was overseeing an aerial search of the Bay of Bengal on Saturday for an air force transport plane that disappeared with 29 people aboard.

Afghan Hazara minority protest in Kabul over power line route

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:36:56 AMGo to full article
Demonstrators from Afghanistan's Hazara minority attend a protest in Kabul, AfghanistanBy Mirwais Harooni KABUL (Reuters) - Thousands of people from Afghanistan's Hazara minority demonstrated in the capital Kabul on Saturday to demand changes to the route of a planned multi-million dollar power transmission line. The demonstrators are demanding the 500 kV transmission line from Turkmenistan to Kabul be rerouted through two provinces with large Hazara populations, an option the government says would cost millions and delay the badly needed project by years. "The people you see haven't come only to leave empty-handed," said Mohammad Hussain Ahmadi, 33.

IMF urges key G20 countries to spend more for growth

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:37:17 AMGo to full article
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing-Director Christine Lagarde (C) arrives to take part in a meeting of G20 finance ministers, in Chengdu, China's south-western Sichuan province, on July 23, 2016The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned risks to the global economy are growing, as it called on some G20 nations to boost government spending. Central bank chiefs and finance ministers from the world's top 20 economies gathered in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Saturday to tackle a slowing global economy facing new uncertainties with Britain voting to leave the European Union (EU). "Global growth remains weak, and downside risks have become more salient," the IMF said in a report released ahead of the G20 meeting.

Cambodia blocking ASEAN consensus on S. China Sea: diplomat

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:36:26 AMGo to full article
Staunch China ally Cambodia is preventing the ASEAN from reaching a consensus on the South China Sea after an international tribunal rejected Beijing's territorial claims to the watersStaunch China ally Cambodia is preventing Southeast Asia from reaching a consensus on the South China Sea after an international tribunal rejected Beijing's territorial claims to the waters, a diplomat said on Saturday. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is meeting in Laos for the first time since the UN-backed tribunal ruled earlier this month that China did not have historic rights to vast swathes of the strategic sea. China invests heavily across ASEAN but is accused of trying to divide the bloc by habitually offering aid, soft loans and diplomatic support to key allies Laos and Cambodia.

Analysis: South China Sea ruling has so far fueled tensions

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎3:36:49 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. An international arbitration panel’s decision on the contested waters of the South China Sea so far is fueling regional tensions rather than tamping them down. In the ensuing 11 days, China has responded to the sweeping victory for the Philippines by flexing its military might. The Philippines faces pressure both at home and abroad not to cede an inch to China after the July 12 decision by a tribunal at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration. (Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File) NO SALESIt's a ruling that China cannot accept, and one that the Philippines must.

Kerry announces fresh talks with Russia on Syria

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎11:40:15 PMGo to full article
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry speak during a press conference in Moscow on July 15, 2016US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday announced he would hold talks on the war in Syria with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a regional summit next week in Laos. Kerry will attend the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vientiane with top diplomats from Russia and China also flying in to the communist nation from Sunday. Russia and the United States back opposing sides in Syria's five-year war, which has left 280,000 people dead and forced half the population to flee their homes.

Kerry to review Syria plans with Russia in Laos

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:20:47 PMGo to full article
PARIS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he will meet Russia's foreign minister next week in Laos to review a plan to solidify Syria's tattered truce and restart long-stalled negotiations on a political transition.

Hundreds of migrants march from Belgrade towards Hungary

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:36:43 PMGo to full article
A group of migrants walk near Belgrade on July 22, 2016, to protest the closed border preventing them from entering central EuropeSome 300 migrants in Belgrade, mostly young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan, on Friday began a hunger strike and set off on foot towards the Hungarian border in the hope of entering the European Union. Defying afternoon heat, the migrants began their 200 kilometre (120 mile) trek north escorted by a police car, an AFP photographer reported.

Kenya jails ivory trafficking 'kingpin' for 20 years

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎8:24:17 PMGo to full article
More than 30,000 elephants are killed every year in Africa to satisfy demand for ivory in Asia, where tusks sell for around $1,000A Kenyan court sentenced an ivory trafficking "kingpin" to 20 years in jail Friday, a symbolically heavy penalty in a nation where major poachers are rarely punished. Feisal Mohamed Ali, a Kenyan national, must be made an "example (of) for those behind the poaching menace in the country," magistrate Diana Mochache said at the sentencing in Kenya's second city Mombasa. Prosecutors presented Ali as the head of an organised crime network that spanned African wildlife parks and buyers in Asia, the primary destination for poached ivory.

Hong Kong booksellers braving China chill for publishers

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎4:28:21 PMGo to full article
In this Wednesday, July 20, 2016 photo, copies of "China's Godfather Xi Jinping" and other so-called banned books are on display at an annual book fair in Hong Kong. Hong Kong publishers unveiled their latest titles on sensitive Chinese topics at a major book fair this week even as many in the industry despaired over the chilling effect from the recent case of five missing booksellers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong publishers' latest works on sensitive Chinese topics were displayed at a book fair this week, despite the chill persisting from recent detentions of five local booksellers.

Indian air force plane with 29 missing over Bay of Bengal

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎2:33:38 PMGo to full article
FILE- In this Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009, file photo, an Indian Air Force's (IAF) AN-32 transport aircraft releases chaff as it flies past the IAF Day Parade in New Delhi, India. A spokesman for India's defense ministry says the Indian air force has lost contact with a transport plane AN-32 with 29 people on board. A massive search by the air force, navy and coast guard has been launched. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi, file)NEW DELHI (AP) — The Indian air force Friday lost contact with a transport plane carrying 29 people to islands in the Bay of Bengal, the defense ministry said.

Stocks up on hope of UK stimulus, eurozone Brexit resilience

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎1:51:37 PMGo to full article
People walk past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, July 21, 2016. Asian shares were higher Thursday as Japan's benchmark rose on hopes of Japanese government stimulus spending and better-than-expected earnings lifted Wall Street. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)LONDON (AP) — Stock markets turned higher on Friday after surveys suggested the eurozone economy is proving resilient to the uncertainty surrounding Britain's Brexit vote. A big drop in business activity in the U.K. raised expectations of more central bank stimulus there.

Philippines' oil still in troubled waters after South China Sea ruling

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎9:40:21 AMGo to full article
Workers deliver LPG tanks to a retailer in ManilaBy Enrico Dela Cruz MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines, eager to resume development of vital oil and gas reserves off its coast, will likely need to reach an accord with a Chinese government infuriated by last week's ruling that granted Manila a big victory in the South China Sea. The Philippines relies overwhelmingly on imports to fuel its fast-growing economy. Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that granted the Philippines sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, a shallow tablemount some 85 nautical miles off its coast.

Trump blasts China for trade, currency actions

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎7:53:25 AMGo to full article
Delegates celebrate as balloons fall after the speech by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)BEIJING (AP) — Donald Trump accused China of stealing copyrights and unfairly manipulating its currency as he accepted the Republican Party's presidential nomination, charges likely to fuel anger in a country already upset at criticisms of Beijing in the party's new policy platform.

Papua New Guinea PM survives no-confidence vote but strikes remain

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:35:23 AMGo to full article
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill pauses before making an address to the Lowy Institute in SydneyBy Matt Siegel SYDNEY (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill survived a no-confidence vote on Friday, EMTV reported, an outcome unlikely to end upheaval in a country developing lucrative projects with energy majors ExxonMobil Corp and French giant Total SA. The Supreme Court last week ordered parliament to reconvene, for the first time since June protests between students and police boiled over into violent clashes, for the express purpose of allowing the opposition to lodge a no-confidence motion against O'Neill. Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil moved the motion at the opening of the session on Friday, detailing numerous accusations of corruption against O'Neill since he took office in 2010. Australia's Oil Search Ltd on Thursday cleared the way for ExxonMobil to take over InterOil Corp for $2.2 billion, giving the U.S. giant access to a rich new gas field to expand its exports from Papua New Guinea.

Diplomats:Ex-Portuguese minister tops poll for next UN chief

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎5:18:30 AMGo to full article
FILE - In In this June 1, 2016 file photo, flags of some of the 193 countries fly in the breeze in front of the Secretariat building of the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council held its first informal poll Thursday, July 21 on the dozen candidates competing to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general on Jan. 1, a secretive vote behind closed doors. The 15 council members decided not to reveal the results — unlike the informal "straw" polls 10 years ago, which were made public and led to Ban's election to the world's top diplomatic post. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Portugal's former prime minister Antonio Guterres topped the first informal poll to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the next U.N. secretary-general on Jan. 1 followed by Slovenia's former president Danilo Turk.

Analysis: Is Turkish leader transforming a nation?

‎Friday, ‎July ‎22, ‎2016, ‏‎4:20:49 AMGo to full article
People walk in Kizilay Square with a poster of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the background in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, July 21, 2016. Turkish lawmakers declared a three-month state of emergency Thursday, overwhelmingly approving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's request for sweeping new powers to expand a crackdown in the aftermath of last week's coup. Parliament voted 346-115 to approve the national state of emergency, which will give Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without parliamentary approval, among other powers.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)ISTANBUL (AP) — The stunning sweep of Turkey's crackdown following an attempted coup last week forces questions about how far President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go in a tense, conspiracy-fueled country. While the purges may be designed to derail any future insurrections, there are increasing concerns that Erdogan is seizing the moment to transform Turkey, steering it from its secular roots toward a more pious Muslim model and cementing personal power at the expense of democratic ideals.

Exxon Mobil to buy InterOil for $2.5 billion

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎8:55:59 PMGo to full article
DALLAS (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. emerged Thursday as the winning bidder for InterOil Corp., which has natural gas holdings in Papua New Guinea.

Image of Asia: Dancing in the mud at farm festival in India

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎5:38:13 PMGo to full article
Indian Pnar or Jaintia tribesmen dance in muddy waters during Behdienkhlam festival celebrations at Tuber village, in the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, India, Thursday, July 21, 2016. Behdienkhlam is a traditional festival of the Pnars celebrated after sowing is done, seeking a good harvest and to drive away plague and diseases. Young men symbolically drive away evil spirits by beating the roof of every house with bamboo poles. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)In this photo by Anupam Nath, Pnar or Jaintia tribesmen dance in muddy waters during Behdienkhlam festival celebrations in Tuber village in India's northeastern state of Meghalaya. The traditional Pnar festival is celebrated after farm fields are sown to seek a good harvest and to drive away plague and diseases. Young men symbolically drive away evil spirits by beating the roof of every house with bamboo poles as part of the festival.

Census shows proportion of Myanmar Muslims unchanged

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎3:18:37 PMGo to full article
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The proportion of Muslims in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar has not increased in three decades, contrary to the fears of strident Buddhist nationalists.

China's calls for South China Sea talks face challenges

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎3:16:27 PMGo to full article
In this Sunday, July 17, 2016 photo, a Chinese waitress waits for customers at a restaurant with a Diaoyu Islands theme in Beijing. Amid China's outrage over an international tribunal that rejected its territorial claims in the South China Sea, the country is using new language that some experts say shows Beijing wants to be more flexible. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)BEIJING (AP) — Amid China's outrage over an international tribunal that rejected its territorial claims in the South China Sea, the country is using new language that some experts say shows Beijing wants to be more flexible. But it is too late?

European stocks down as ECB leaves interest rates on hold

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎2:31:51 PMGo to full article
People walk past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, July 21, 2016. Asian shares were higher Thursday as Japan's benchmark rose on hopes of Japanese government stimulus spending and better-than-expected earnings lifted Wall Street. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)TOKYO (AP) — European stocks were down slightly on Thursday, despite gains in Asian, after the European Central Bank left its interest rates on hold as it monitors the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

Report suggests torture widespread in war-torn Ukraine

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎1:51:52 PMGo to full article
MOSCOW (AP) — A new report released on Thursday condemned both Ukrainian authorities and separatist rebels for wide-spread torture and detentions of civilians in the country's east torn by a separatist war.

Daimler sees further sales growth despite global uncertainty

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎11:42:50 AMGo to full article
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automaker Daimler says its net income rose 3 percent to 2.4 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in the second quarter and expects continued sales growth this year despite heightened uncertainties in the world economy.

Singapore seizes assets, to take action against major banks in 1MDB probe

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:28:38 AMGo to full article
By Marius Zaharia and Aradhana Aravindan SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore widened a crackdown on alleged money laundering in a probe tied to scandal-hit Malaysian state fund 1MDB, seizing assets and announcing it will take action against some of the biggest banks based in the city-state Singapore authorities said in a statement on Thursday that they had seized S$240 million ($177 million) of assets in an investigation of 1MDB-related fund flows for possible money laundering. "The preliminary findings are that there were instances of control failings in all three banks and, in some cases, weaknesses in the processes for accepting clients and monitoring transactions.

U.S. sues to seize $1 billion in assets tied to Malaysian state fund

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:23:35 AMGo to full article
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announces the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets in WashingtonBy Julia Edwards and Praveen Menon WASHINGTON/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors are trying to seize more than $1 billion in assets they said were tied to money stolen from the Malaysian state fund, overseen by the prime minister, and used to finance "The Wolf of Wall Street" film, and to buy property and works of art. Civil lawsuits filed in federal court on Wednesday did not name Malaysian premier Najib Razak, referring instead to "Malaysian Official 1." Some of the allegations against this official are the same as those in a Malaysian investigation over a $681 million transfer to his personal bank account. The U.S. Department of Justice said $681 million from a 2013 bond sale by sovereign wealth fund 1MDB was transferred to the account of "Malaysian Official 1." He is described in court papers as "a high-ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB." A source familiar with the investigation confirmed that "Malaysian Official 1" is Najib.

Malaysia's Najib unmoved after U.S. lawsuits linked to 1MDB scandal

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎9:16:32 AMGo to full article
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at the opening of a conference in Kuala LumpurAlthough U.S. prosecutors say billions of dollars were stolen from a state investment fund that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak founded and oversaw, his government was unmoved on Thursday by the allegations. U.S. prosecutors said on Wednesday over $3.5 billion was diverted from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund that Najib founded in 2009 shortly after coming to power. The U.S. civil lawsuits are seeking to seize $1 billion of the allegedly embezzled assets that were transferred into the United States using shell companies.

Contamination and shortages dog India's blood supply

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎7:48:02 AMGo to full article
Experts say blood is not always properly screened and there is a black market supplied mainly by poor Indians who are paid for their blood, especially in rural areasEvery month, Seema Mishra and her daughter make the trip to an Indian hospital, praying the blood transfusion the youngster needs to keep her alive will not make her sicker. Government documents released in June showed more than 2,000 people said they had contracted HIV from transfusions in the 17 months to March. The government says some probably falsely blamed transfusions, a more socially acceptable way of contracting HIV than sexual contact.

China upset by U.S. Republican platform on South China Sea, Tibet

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎4:16:28 AMGo to full article
Still image from United States Navy video purportedly shows Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly IslandsChina's Foreign Ministry on Thursday urged the U.S. Republican Party to stop making "groundless accusations" against China in its party platform, which says China practices cultural genocide in Tibet and has ludicrous claims in the South China Sea. China's government has generally avoided making direct comments about the election, wary of being seen to interfere, though in April Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump an "irrational type" due to his tariffs proposal on imported Chinese goods. In an English-language statement issued via the official Xinhua news agency on Thursday, the ministry said the Republican platform contained "accusations about China on issues related to Taiwan, Tibet, trade and the South China Sea" and are an interference in China's internal affairs.

A technology surge tips stock indexes to new highs

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:52:19 PMGo to full article
FILE - This Oct. 4, 2014, file photo, shows the facade of the New York Stock Exchange. Stock indexes crept higher in morning trading Wednesday, July 20, 2016, after companies reported profits that were stronger than expected, if not strong. Technology stocks led the way following an encouraging report from Microsoft, which helped offset weakness in the energy and raw-materials sectors. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)Technology stocks led the way following an encouraging report from Microsoft. Both the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average set all-time highs, and the Dow marked its ninth consecutive day of gains. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9.24 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 2,173.02.

Argentina judge requests arrest of Iran adviser for bombing

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:38:25 PMGo to full article
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An Argentine judge is requesting that Singapore and Malaysia arrest an adviser to Iran's supreme leader who is accused of masterminding the South American country's worst terrorist attack.

LPGA to stage 2018 International Crown in South Korea

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎9:14:35 PMGo to full article
The 2015 Presidents Cup was staged at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, which will host the 2018 LPGA International CrownSouth Korea, which boasts six of the world's 12 top-ranked women's golfers, will host the 2018 LPGA International Crown, the first time the team event will be staged outside the United States. The LPGA announced Wednesday that the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon -- site of the 2015 Presidents Cup between US and non-European International squads -- will host the four-day biennial match-play competition. "We are looking forward to working with the JNGCK staff, which has extensive experience in hosting premier golf competitions, to put on a terrific event," LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said.

US hits 3 Iran-based al-Qaida figures with terror sanctions

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:27:54 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has slapped sanctions on three senior al-Qaida figures based in Iran who it accuses of helping transfer money and fighters from South Asia to the Middle East.

Myanmar general: Soldiers killed 5 civilians, will be tried

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎5:28:30 PMGo to full article
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar soldiers killed at least five civilians in their custody last month and will be prosecuted, a senior general announced Wednesday in a rare case of the military taking responsibility for carrying out atrocities against ethnic minorities.

J-League signs $2 billion deal for online matches

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎4:39:01 PMGo to full article
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's professional soccer league has announced a 10-year, $2 billion deal with the British-based Perform Group for online matches.

Air pollution up in a third of Chinese cities: Greenpeace

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎3:20:02 PMGo to full article
Air quality worsened year-on-year in 103 Chinese cities from April to June, nearly 30 percent of those monitored, Greenpeace saidAir pollution levels rose in nearly a third of Chinese cities monitored in the second quarter, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said Wednesday. China's cities are often hit by severe pollution from coal-burning by power stations, heavy industry and vehicle use, and it has become a major source of discontent with the ruling Communist Party. Air quality worsened year-on-year in 103 cities from April to June, nearly 30 percent of those monitored, Greenpeace said.

North American forests not the climate change remedy hoped for - study

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎3:04:52 PMGo to full article
By Sebastien Malo NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - North American forests will not fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide at levels once hoped for because the trees may not grow big enough, a study said on Wednesday. The new research challenges previous studies that said trees could grow larger due to higher temperatures brought on by global warming, said the authors of the study published in the journal Ecology Letters. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

Global stocks resilient amid solid corporate earnings

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎2:30:32 PMGo to full article
A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. Dollar and South Korean Won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday as investors reassessed the global economy following the International Monetary Bank's global growth cut. They remained keen on corporate earnings reports and also on the European Central Bank's policy meeting later in the week. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)LONDON (AP) — Stock markets around the world were proving resilient on Wednesday in the face of a fairly gloomy economic outlook from the International Monetary Fund. How U.S. markets perform, however, could hinge on a raft of corporate earnings statements.

Factbox: Muslim cleric Gulen is at center of crisis convulsing Turkey

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎1:12:32 PMGo to full article
Turkey has accused a reclusive U.S.-based Muslim cleric of masterminding an abortive military coup and launched purges of his suspected followers in state institutions including the army, schools and universities, in an unprecedented crackdown. Fethullah Gulen, 75, denies any involvement in the July 15 attempted coup, in which at least 232 people were killed. Ankara has said it will formally ask the United States to extradite Gulen to face trial in Turkey.

U.S. says its forces will keep operating in South China Sea

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎10:46:34 AMGo to full article
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer transits the East Sea during Exercise Ssang YongU.S. military forces will continue to operate in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson said on Wednesday during a visit to a Chinese naval base. China has refused to recognize a ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines. China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually.

No retreat from Asia pivot regardless of who wins U.S. presidency: Biden

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎6:20:55 AMGo to full article
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop as they stand on a boat at sunset on Sydney HarbourBy Matt Siegel SYDNEY (Reuters) - United States Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday assured key ally Australia there would be no retreat from Washington's pivot to the Asia-Pacific region regardless of who wins November's presidential election. Biden dismissed concerns that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would abandon President Barack Obama's strategy for the Asia-Pacific if he were to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The better angels in America will prevail," Biden said in a speech in Sydney.

Australian farmers left high and dry after report rejects drought insurance

‎Wednesday, ‎July ‎20, ‎2016, ‏‎3:54:26 AMGo to full article
River can be seen flowing through drought-affected farming areas in the western region of New South WalesBy Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian government commissioned report on Tuesday rejected drought insurance for farmers as uneconomical, dashing landowner hopes of a change in government policy which could help boost output to meet Asia's fast-growing food market. Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of wheat, beef and sugar, despite farmers regularly battling droughts. Farmers say the absence of such insurance undermines their capacity to invest in increasing production and meet the growing food demand from Asia's middle class.

Italy says 3,200 boat migrants rescued Tuesday, one body recovered

‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎11:36:40 PMGo to full article
Migrants sit in their boat during a rescue operation by Italian navy ship Borsini off the coast of SicilySome 3,200 migrants were plucked from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya on Tuesday and one dead body was recovered, Italy's coast guard said, as people smugglers operating in Libya took advantage of calm seas and warm weather. A coast guard spokesman said the smugglers had sent at least 26 boats toward Italy, the latest in a tide of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The Doctors Without Borders charity and migrant rescue groups MOAS and Sea Watch also participated.

500 elephants find new home in massive African relocation

‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎9:22:09 PMGo to full article
500 elephants find new home in massive African relocationLIWONDE NATIONAL PARK, Malawi (AP) — Half a dozen African elephants lay strewn on a riverside plain in Malawi, immobilized by darts fired from a helicopter in a massive project to move 500 elephants, by truck and crane, to a sanctuary for the threatened species.

'Pokemon Go' more than doubles Nintendo's stock price

‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎3:49:05 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this March 20, 2016, file photo, a shopper standing on an escalator passes by the Nintendo logo at an electronics store in Tokyo. The stock price of Japanese game maker Nintendo Co. has more than doubled since the launch of the wildly popular augmented reality game "Pokemon Go" on July 6. Nintendo rose 14 percent in heavy trading Tuesday, July 19, 2016, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, closing at 31,700 yen ($300). (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)Nintendo accounted for nearly one in four shares that changed hands on the TSE’s main board. “Pokemon Go,” a smartphone app that uses Google Maps to overlay reality with Pokemon creatures, was developed by Niantic, a Google spinoff that Nintendo Co. invested in last year. The release of “Pokemon Go” has been at least a temporary reprieve for Nintendo, which had struggled as the shift in gaming to mobile devices ate into its highly successful handheld game machine business.

Too hot to work: global warming to cost $2 trillion in lost productivity

‎Tuesday, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016, ‏‎3:46:11 PMGo to full article
By Beh Lih Yi JAKARTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to U.N. research published on Tuesday. It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 percent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen. Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, researcher Tord Kjellstrom said.


Global Events Disaster Site

Channel NewsAsia 



Hong Kong graduates face declining job prospects, salaries

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎27 minutes agoGo to full article
HONG KONG: With only a few weeks left on campus, Ms Chloe Hui looked visibly worried.

Clutching a handful of resumes, she went booth to booth at a job fair, talking to any interviewer who would give her a few minutes.

Hong Kong graduates seen at a job fair 1

The English major at the Chinese University of Hong Kong has been applying for jobs since December. She has managed to get some interviews, but not a single offer just yet.

“It's much more difficult than I thought,” she told Channel NewsAsia.

Like many graduates in Hong Kong, Ms Hui is the first person in her family to go to university. That used to be a great source of pride for her parents, but now she has been forced to pare back expectations and look for jobs that do not necessarily require a higher degree.

“Like for HR assistants, they don't really need university graduates but I am still applying for it,” she said. “I don't have many choices I think.”

For some others, any permanent job would be good. Mr Benjamin Lam graduated from the prestigious Hong Kong University three years ago with a degree in Risk Management, but has been doing a series of odd jobs ever since.

“Sometimes I feel discouraged,” Mr Lam said. “I think I can support myself, but I can't see any good prospect for a luxury life.”

He is hardly alone. According to one study by the New Forum, graduates’ medium starting salary in Hong Kong declined 20 per cent between 1993 and 2013 when inflation is taken into account. If they want to buy an apartment, the picture is even more dire. When adjusted for the city’s soaring housing prices, graduates’ now make 60 per cent lower than those 20 years ago.

“I feel bad for the young people these days,” said Mr Edward Chen, a Council member at Hong Kong University. “In the old days it's a straight forward path. If you were a university graduate, you were guaranteed a place in the middle class. But today, no.”

Hong Kong graduates seen at a job fair 2


A series of social unrests have rocked Hong Kong in recent years. The peaceful Umbrella Movement in 2014, led by university students, shut down the city center for months. Earlier in 2016, a riot broke out in Mongkok. Largely young protestors set cars on fire and hurled bricks at police.

The events have often been linked to Hong Kong’s lack of progress towards democracy, but educators like Mr Chen say dimming economic prospects for the city's youths may also be a key reason.

"We have a large group of frustrated young people, university graduates many of them. It's very easy to persuade them that society is not doing justice to them, and to some extent it might be true."

To be sure, Hong Kong youths are not alone in feeling a sense of hopelessness. Economic stagnation has plagued developed economies around the world. But in Hong Kong, their problems were made worse by what some experts call misguided government policy.

After the Dotcom crash in 2001, Hong Kong’s economy was again hit by the SARS outbreak in 2003. The city’s unemployment rate roared past 8 per cent, putting enormous pressure on the government of Tung Chee-Hwa, the city’s first Chief Executive.

To slow the pace of young people entering the workforce, the government boosted university enrolment rate from 20 per cent to 60 per cent. But unlike a previous round of expansion, the additional slots did not come from the established, taxpayer-funded universities. Instead, a crop of new private schools filled the gap.

Without government funding and unable to charge higher tuitions, Mr Chen said these universities have not been able to match the quality of the city’s eight publicly-funded schools.

“First there are just too many university graduates. Secondly, a large number of the students cannot meet employers’ expectations.”

Hong Kong graduates seen at a job fair 3


At the same time, skilled jobs started moving across the border. Even in Hong Kong, many multinationals began hiring mainland Chinese graduates, because they speak better Mandarin and have more in common with mainland clients.

Facing a new reality, some people say Hong Kong’s youths need to look beyond the city in their job hunts.

Mr Paul Mak, President of Hong Kong Shanghai Youth Association, has been trying to get local graduates to work in Shanghai, but that has not proved easy.

“A lot of Hong Kong young people don't consider that especially when it's their first jobs,” he said.

Salaries are usually the first barrier. The starting pay in mainland China is still lower, although Mr Mak said promotions happen faster there, so the pay would eventually catch up.

That said, the cost of relocation is hefty, and Hong Kong graduates would have to rent a place to stay in Shanghai while they can live with their parents in Hong Kong. That means the option is often only available to graduates from wealthy families. 


Bangladesh arrests four female militants in hunt for cafe attackers

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎27 minutes agoGo to full article
DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh arrested on Sunday four female members of a home-grown militant group blamed for a bloody attack on a cafe in which 22 people were killed, most of them foreigners, an officer said.

Authorities have intensified a hunt for militants after five young men stormed the upmarket restaurant popular with foreigners on July 1. Among those killed were nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American and an Indian.

People place flowers at a makeshift memorial near the site, to pay tribute to the victims of the at

The five militants were gunned down when security forces moved in.

Police believe that Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, played a significant role in organising the group of privileged, educated young men who carried out the attack.

The four women members of the group, aged 18 to 30, who were arrested in from the northwestern district of Sirajganj, were believed to have been plotting an attack, police said.

"Acting on a tip-off, our force raided a rented house where a large amount of grenade-making materials, crude bombs and jihadi books were also found," district police superintendent Siraj Uddin Ahmed told reporters.

The women would be interrogated to determine if they had any link to the Dhaka cafe attack, he said.

On Thursday, four other members of the banned group, including a regional head, were arrested.

The cafe attack was one of the worst militant attacks ever in Bangladesh.

Al Qaeda and Islamic State have made competing claims for a series of killings of liberals and members of religious minorities in the country over the past year.

The government dismissed the claims and instead blamed domestic militant groups, but security experts say the scale and sophistication of the cafe assault suggested links to a trans-national network.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)


G20 will use 'all policy tools' to lift growth as Brexit weighs

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎47 minutes agoGo to full article
CHENGDU, China: The world's biggest economies will work to support global growth and better share the benefits of trade, policymakers said on Sunday after a meeting dominated by the impact of Britain's exit from Europe and fears of rising protectionism.

Philip Hammond, Britain's new finance minister, said the uncertainty about Brexit would begin to abate once Britain laid out a vision for a future relationship with Europe, which could become clearer later this year.

G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors pose for a group photo during a conference held in

But there could be volatility in financial markets throughout the negotiations in the years ahead, Hammond said after the meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in China's southwestern city of Chengdu.

"What will start to reduce uncertainty is when we are able to set out more clearly the kind of arrangement we envisage going forward with the European Union," Hammond told reporters.

"If our European Union partners respond to such a vision positively - obviously it will be subject to negotiation - so that there is a sense perhaps later this year that we are all on the same page in terms of where we expect to be going. I think that will send a reassuring signal to the business community and to markets."

A communique issued by the G20 ministers at the end of the two-day meeting said Brexit, which dominated discussions, had added to uncertainty in the global economy where growth was "weaker than desirable". It added that members, however, were "well positioned to proactively address the potential economic and financial consequences".

"We are taking actions to foster confidence and support growth," the communique said.

"In light of recent developments, we reiterate our determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural – individually and collectively to achieve our goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth."

The International Monetary Fund this week cut its global growth forecasts because of the Brexit vote.


Whereas monetary policy figured prominently in previous meetings of G20 financial officials, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said there was very little debate this time and discussions focused instead on growth.

That was echoed by others.

There was broad consensus that the global economy needed more growth, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told reporters, while Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said it had been easier to forge consensus because the global recovery remained weak.

The spectre of protectionism, highlighted not only by Brexit but also by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's "America First" rhetoric and talk of pulling out of trade agreements, was also a focus for the policymakers.

"Not only Brexit but various risks of low growth remain, and there was a lot of debate on the need of monitoring developments including terrorism, geopolitical risks and refugees," said a Japanese finance ministry official.

"A lot of concerns were voiced over spreading measures for protectionism."

In the communique, the G20 underscored "the role of open trade policies and a strong and secure global trading system in promoting inclusive global economic growth, and we will make further efforts to revitalise global trade and lift investment".

But the group also conceded that "the benefits of growth need to be shared more broadly within and among countries to promote inclusiveness".

It recognised problems wrought by industrial overcapacity, particularly the steel sector, which had a negative impact on trade and workers. Overcapacity was a "global issue which requires collective responses".

"We also recognise that subsidies and other types of support from governments or government-sponsored institutions can cause market distortions and contribute to global excess capacity and therefore require attention," the communique said.

Persistent concerns about the potential for competitive currency devaluations were discussed, and the agreement to refrain from them was again in the communique, but they did not appear to figure as prominently as in the ministers' February meeting in Shanghai.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Gernot Heller, Tetsushi Kajimoto, David Lawder and Kevin Yao; Writing by John Ruwitch; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)


Syrian government says ready for further peace talks - state media

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎47 minutes agoGo to full article
BEIRUT: Syria's government said on Sunday it was ready for further peace talks with the opposition and that it was intent on a political solution to the five-year conflict.

"Syria ... is ready to continue the Syrian-Syrian dialogue without any preconditions ... and without foreign interference, with the support of the United Nations," state news agency SANA quoted an official in the foreign ministry as saying.

A Free Syrian Army fighter looks out at a damaged building in Al-Yadudah village

The U.N. hopes to convene a new round of intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva in August. Previous rounds of talks this year broke down as fighting escalated.

(Reporting by John Davison, editing by Louise Heavens)


4 hospitals hit by air raids in Syria's Aleppo: Doctors

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎55 minutes agoGo to full article
BEIRUT: Four makeshift hospitals and a local blood bank in Syria's battered Aleppo city have been hit by air raids in the past 24 hours, a group of doctors said Sunday (Jul 24).

The bombardment killed a two-day-old baby in the children's hospital in a besieged eastern neighbourhood of Aleppo, said the Independent Doctor's Association, a group of Syrian doctors that supports clinics in the city.

A man walks on the rubble of a destroyed building following reported air strikes by Syrian forces in(Photo:AFP)

The infant's oxygen supply was cut after a strike on the hospital at 1:00 am (2300 GMT), the second strike on the hospital in about nine hours, according to the IDA.

"The doctors could only yell for their colleagues to take cover and shield the babies," the group said in a statement.

The IDA said the four hospitals that were hit - the children's hospital, Al-Bayan, Al-Zahraa, and Al-Daqaq - would all be going out of service "as a result of the escalating series of aerial attacks taking place against health facilities in Aleppo by Syrian and Russian warplanes".

The World Health Organisation said Syria was the most dangerous place for health care workers to operate last year, with 135 attacks on health facilities and workers in 2015.

In recent months, several hospitals have been damaged and medical staff killed in the densely populated eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo city.

A hospital in the eastern Maadi neighbourhood was hit just eight days ago, wounding some of the staff and patients inside.

More than 280,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in 2011, and millions have been forced to flee.


Anger, mourning in Afghanistan after Kabul suicide attack

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎57 minutes agoGo to full article
KABUL: Relatives of some of those killed in a big suicide attack in Kabul searched through a bloodied assortment of belongings left after the twin blasts as they prepared for funerals on Sunday in a mood of growing anger with political leaders.

"Those are my cousin's sandals," said Sayed Mohammad as he stood in a crowd of people looking for anything familiar among the remnants spread out by authorities on an Afghan flag in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul where the funerals will take place.

Broken glass and debris are seen inside a resturant a day after a suicide attack in Kabul

Sayed's cousin was one of four relatives he lost on Saturday when suicide bombers set off twin blasts at a demonstration by members of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara community who were protesting against the planned route of a power line.

"His dead body is in a hospital. He was the only bread winner of his family. I'm looking here if I can find anything more from other relatives."

President Ashraf Ghani announced a national day of mourning after the attack, claimed by Islamic State. At least 80 people were killed and more than 230 wounded in one of the worst bombings since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.

The attack, described by the top U.N. official in Afghanistan as a "war crime", drew a shocked reaction from across the world, with condemnation and offers of support from countries including Russia and the United States.

But for some, there was a sense of fury at both the government and Hazara political leaders who they said have exploited the grievances of their community at longstanding discrimination to shore up their own power bases.

"They sold us and we will never forget this," said Ghulam Abbas, a Hazara mourner. "They've built skyscrapers for themselves and their families from our blood."

The Hazara, a Persian-speaking minority who make up about 9 percent of the population, have by and large supported Ghani's government, which includes some of their senior leaders, but many complain bitterly that their support has not been returned.

Saturday's protest over the route of a multimillion dollar power line, which demonstrators wanted to re-route through two provinces with large Hazara populations, had become a touchstone for a wider sense of injustice.

The demonstration took place under tight security, with much of Kabul blocked off. But there was disagreement in the Hazara community as well as in the government about whether it should have gone ahead given the obvious risk of an attack.

For many, such as 42 year-old Dost Mohammad, who was nearby when the two explosions went off, there was a sense of abandonment by the authorities.

"With all this misery, the government doesn't care about its own citizens."

(Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robert Birsel)


7 Indonesians drown after boat capsizes off Kota Tinggi

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
JOHOR BAHRU: Seven Indonesian nationals were found drowned while 34 others were rescued when a boat capsized in Pantai Batu Layar, Sungai Rengit, near Kota Tinggi, on Saturday (Jul 23) night.

Kota Tinggi police chief Supt Rahmat Othman said police received a call from a member of the public who heard cries for help in the waters of Pantai Batu Layar at 9.45 pm.

34 rescued after boat capsizes off Kota Tinggi

A search and rescue operation (SAR) involving police, Marine Operations Force (MOF), Fire and Rescue Department as well as several other agencies was immediately mounted, he said.

"As at noon today, seven bodies had been found comprising two men and five women aged between 20 and 40. All the bodies were taken to Kota Tinggi Hospital for further action," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Pos Sepang Royal Artillery 21 Squad led by Lt Muhammad Aimin Zainuddin detained the 34 illegal immigrants comprising 26 men and eight women.

The illegal immigrants, aged between 20 and 50, were rescued and handed over to the Immigration Department. They are now being held at the Home Ministry Complex in Setia Tropika here for further action.

Rahmat said initial investigations found there were about 60 people in the boat. "The Indonesians were believed to be heading towards Batam when the incident occurred," he said.

He said the SAR operation which was now focusing on three nautical miles of beaches, would involve about 12 marine police, two policemen from Rengit police station as well as five firemen.

Meanwhile, State Immigration Department Director Datuk Rohaizi Bahari said the illegal immigrants paid between RM500 to RM1,200 to local and foreign skippers for the boat passage.

He said they would be gathered in a forest area before being brought out of the country using an ungazetted route.

"The victims said the boat was hit by a big wave of between one to two metres causing the vessel to overturn.

"They were later rescued by villagers and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency personnel before being handed over to the army," he said in a media conference on Sunday.

Based on initial inspection, only three of the 34 victims rescued had passports while the rest did not have any identification documents.

According to him, the Immigration Department would refer the rescued victims to the Indonesian Consulate here for documentation and repatriation processes. For the time being, the case was being investigated under Section 5 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 and the Anti-Trafficking In Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007. 


Suicide bomber kills at least 12 in north Baghdad: Officials

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber struck near a checkpoint in a Shiite area of northern Baghdad on Sunday (Jul 24), killing at least 12 people, Iraqi security and medical officials said.

The blast also wounded at least 22 people, the officials said.

The Islamic State group carries out frequent suicide bombings targeting Iraqi security forces and(Photo:AFP)

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State jihadist group carries out frequent suicide bombings targeting both Iraqi security forces and members of the country's Shiite majority, whom it considers heretics.

A suicide bomber targeted shoppers in Baghdad's central Karrada district earlier this month, killing 292 people, while an attack on a Shiite shrine in Balad, north of the capital, left 40 dead a few days later.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground and are conducting operations to set the stage for the battle to recapture Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country.

But the jihadists have responded to the battlefield setbacks by hitting back against civilians, and experts have warned there may be more bombings as the jihadists continue to lose ground.


G20 nations warn of Brexit risk to global growth

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
CHENGDU, CHINA: Finance ministers from the world's biggest economies warned of global uncertainty from Britain's looming departure from the European Union, as they gathered in China on Sunday (Jul 24).

Just three months ago, G20 government representatives and central bank chiefs cited Britain's potential exit as one among many "downside risks" for the global economy.

Britain's Finance Minister Philip Hammond (C) speaks with delegates after taking part in a(Photo:AFP)

But with the shock vote in June for Britain to leave, the issue has come to the forefront.

Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Saturday that it was a "major" item on the agenda for the G20 finance chiefs meeting in the Chinese city of Chengdu, according to Japanese media.

Ahead of the meeting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its forecast for global growth this year, and officials in Chengdu said protracted talks between the EU and Britain over the departure could heighten risks.

"It won't mean that they'll get there in a week or a month. It's a process that could take longer," a senior US Treasury official told journalists on Saturday.

"The thing that would be very disruptive to confidence is if this becomes a highly confrontational process," he said.

Britain's new finance minister Philip Hammond on Saturday met his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble and tweeted: "We agree we need a deal that works for the people of Britain & Germany."

At a family photo on Sunday, Hammond was seated in the front row, but spent most of the event conversing only with one of his neighbours, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

Bloomberg News reported that a draft communique for the meeting showed G20 countries would declare themselves able to handle the fallout of the Brexit vote.

"Members of the G20 are well positioned to proactively address the potential economic and financial consequences stemming from the UK referendum," it quoted the draft document as saying.


The IMF appears to be more alarmed.

"'Brexit' marks the materialisation of an important downside risk to global growth," IMF staff said in a report ahead of the meeting.

The IMF recently lowered its forecasts for global growth this year and next by 0.1 percentage point, to 3.1 per cent and 3.4 per cent, respectively.

"But with 'Brexit' still very much unfolding, more negative outcomes are a distinct possibility," the report said.

Other challenges threaten: a slowdown in the Chinese economy, as well as terrorist attacks and the failed coup in Turkey - which have rattled financial markets.

China's economy, the world's second largest, is caught in a fundamental transition to making domestic consumption the key driver instead of massive public spending and cheap exports.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who is attending the meeting, said on Twitter that the attempted putsch against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not merit mention in the final communique.

At a meeting in Chinese commercial hub Shanghai in February, G20 finance chiefs agreed to use "all policy tools" including monetary easing, fiscal spending and structural change to boost growth.

The IMF has called on some countries, notably Germany and the United States, to boost spending on infrastructure, which has been opposed by Berlin.

"The world economy is beleaguered with many serious problems," meeting host Lou Jiwei, China's finance minister, said on Saturday.

"We should make monetary policy more forward-looking and transparent, enhance the effectiveness of fiscal policy... so as to support stronger recovery of the world economy."


Insight - Turkish president gains upper hand in power struggle

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
ISTANBUL: At the crossroads between a divided Europe and a convulsed Middle East, Turkey is caught in a power struggle between former Islamist allies which is shaking democratic institutions and raises questions about its future path.

Since a failed coup on July 15, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by President Tayyip Erdogan has gained the upper hand in its battle with clandestine networks in the military, judiciary and bureaucracy loyal to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reviews a guard of honour as he arrives to the Turkish Parliament

This fight to the bitter end has alarmed the West and unsettled the country of 80 million, which borders the chaos in Iraq and Syria and is a Western ally against Islamic State.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of masterminding the attempted coup by a faction within the military and has rounded up more than 60,000 people in an operation which he hopes will cleanse Turkey of what he calls the Gulenist "virus".

The purges, carried out as Turkey faces attacks by Islamist State and a revived struggle with Kurdish militants, go beyond the more than 100 generals and 6,000 soldiers held, or the nearly 3,000 judges detained.

They already encompass 21,000 teachers and much of the academic community, and new targets in a media already hit by years of firings and fines, jailings and closures.

"They are traitors," Erdogan told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. He described Gulen's network as "like a cancer" and said he would treat them like a "separatist terrorist organisation" and root them out, wherever they may be.

Gulen, 75, denies plotting against the state and suggested the day after the abortive coup that it may have been staged to justify a crackdown on his followers.

The millions of members of Gulen's "Hizmet" (Service) movement do not outwardly identify as supporters. Since the failed coup many are going even further underground, refusing to take calls or trying to leave the country.

Some followers are dumping books in the woods and publishers are getting rid of their stocks, said Nedim Sener, an investigative journalist at Posta newspaper who wrote a book on the Gulen movement’s efforts to infiltrate the state and was jailed in 2011 for more than a year.

A senior journalist at a Gulen-affiliated newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals, said he and other editors were afraid to go to the paper's office in the days following the failed coup and that their printers refused to continue publishing.

"I advised my colleagues not to go to the office for their own safety," he said. "The newspaper has become a liability, it has just disappeared ... I'm afraid for my family and for my life. It's dangerous to go outside."

Asked if he was a follower of Gulen’s teachings, he said: "Answering this question could now be used as evidence against me. Now I could be prosecuted for a book I keep at home ... Everyone is too afraid to call their friends, worried this will cause their detention. It’s a climate of fear everywhere."


Erdogan was prime minister from 2003 until 2014, when he became president. When he first came to power, he led a reinvented Muslim conservative party wary of fiercely secularist generals and judges who had closed a series of Islamist parties.

In the skirmishing that followed, and after the army and the courts tried to push aside the AKP in 2007-08, Erdogan turned for help to Gulen, whose movement had built a loyal following among police, prosecutors and civil servants.

Gulen, a Muslim imam self-exiled in Pennsylvania since 1999, has built a franchise of schools in Turkey and around the world, promoting the importance of education, scientific progress, religious coexistence and fighting poverty.

After their ascent to power, Erdogan and the AKP became dependent on the Gulenists in their common fight against the army. It was mainly Gulenist prosecutors who, after Erdogan and his party narrowly escaped being banned in 2008, built two big conspiracy trials targeting the upper echelons of the army.

These two cases, known as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer, netted more than 40 generals, but also swept up opponents of both the ruling party and the Gulenists. It later became clear after many charges were dismissed that bogus evidence had been used.

Yet at the time, the Gulenists’ apparent success in helping Erdogan break the army’s grip on Turkish politics emboldened them to demand more power in the security services and the army.

"It is essentially not a struggle about ideology because their ideology is so similar. Both want to turn Turkey into a more conservative Islamised society," said one Turkey analyst who asked not to be named after the declaration of emergency laws which could hit those critical of the state.

"It is a struggle about power and that alliance broke down because of disagreement over power-sharing."


If Gulenist penetration of state institutions is as deep as the purges suggest, then much of it must have happened while Erdogan was in charge.

"We never considered even the possibility that they might be involved in this kind of a treason. They were citizens of our country and we supported them to the fullest as citizens of our country," Erdogan told Reuters.

Sener said there had been a tendency to see Gulen as a religious leader, but he has always rejected this.

"He is a man who is in pursuit of power and power alone. Fethullah Gulen and his followers want to take over the organs of the state," he said.

"Had (Erdogan) taken this seriously he would have cleaned this up years ago. But he never imagined the guns would be turned on him."

The struggle between the former allies started in late 2011.

Erdogan had been re-elected that summer for a third term as prime minister, making no secret of his presidential ambitions. His posters emphasised power until 2023, the centenary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s founding of the modern republic.

But when he suddenly had to pull back from the political fray and undergo surgery, prosecutors assumed to be loyal to Gulen targeted Hakan Fidan, Erdogan’s intelligence chief.

  This apparent attempt to push Gulenist influence into the security services was like targeting Erdogan himself, who complained of betrayal, asking publicly: "What is it that we didn’t give you that you wanted?"

  Tit-for-tat battles followed, electrifying Turkish politics. The government closed down the dershane, a network of private tutoring centres, mostly run by the movement. Gulenist prosecutors in 2013 launched corruption investigations into Erdogan’s cabinet and family. The gloves came off.


  This degree of state infiltration, and the damaging leaks by prosecutors, revealed a power structure Erdogan loyalists described as a "parallel state" intent on taking power.

"It has aspirations to capture the state. They certainly came quite a long way in reaching this objective, they have certainly been helped and assisted by the AKP," said Sinan Ulgen, head of the liberal EDAM think tank in Istanbul and a fellow at the Carnegie Europe think tank.

"When AKP came to power they established an alliance. It helped to populate the Turkish administration with Gulenists."

Government officials say the Gulenists have carefully planned to seize state institutions for over three decades by using their schools and universities to prepare civil servants, something the AKP found difficult to match when it took power.

  Gulen schools have identified and groomed generations of capable students, starting from primary schools through university and into their professional life. Many rose to influential jobs in the state and business.

    "This is the more benign face of the movement but there is a dark face," Ulgen said, adding that it has steadily become more powerful over the past decade and succeeded in penetrating bodies such as the police, judiciary and prosecution service.

Sener said government hotlines set up for people to inform on suspected Gulenists meant the movement looked set for a fall.

"This movement will end," said Sener. "There are a few who are still hidden... To a very large extent, this is the end of the Gulen movement in Turkey."

(Writing by Samia Nakhoul, Editing by Nick Tattersall and Timothy Heritage)


Hunt for missing Indian Air Force plane goes into third day

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
NEW DELHI: The massive hunt for an Indian Air Force plane that went missing in stormy monsoon weather over the Bay of Bengal on Friday (Jul 22) with 29 people on board dragged into a third day on Sunday.

Air Force and Navy officials said the search was continuing but no signs of any wreckage had so far been found.

Indian Air Force plane AN-32

Local media channels reported that clear skies and improved weather on Sunday could aid ongoing search efforts, which India's Defence Ministry said on Saturday were hampered by choppy seas and thick monsoon clouds in the search area.

Sixteen ships, a submarine and six aircraft are searching for the plane that disappeared on a routine re-supply flight to remote islands in the Bay of Bengal on Friday.

The Russian-made AN-32 was on its way to Port Blair, the capital of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, when it vanished from radar.

There were 21 military personnel on board the missing plane including six crew. The remainder were civilians and some family members of soldiers deployed on the islands.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj and Euan Rocha; Editing by Eric Meijer)


India's Rio-bound wrestler Yadav fails doping test

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
MUMBAI: Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav, who was set to compete in the 74kg freestyle category at the Rio Olympics, has tested positive for a banned steroid, the national anti-doping agency (NADA) told Reuters on Sunday.

Both of the 26-year-old's samples from an out-of-competition test returned positive and the wrestler has attended a hearing to present his case before an anti-doping disciplinary panel on Saturday.

Yadav of India looks on after he won the men's 74kg freestyle weight class during the Vantaa C

The panel had asked NADA for further details and should return with a verdict within one week, NADA Director General Navin Agarwal said by telephone.

"Narsingh was surprised with the positive result," Agarwal said. "He kept on saying, 'why would I volunteer for a test if I knew I had taken something illegal?"

Agarwal said it was too early to say if Yadav's Rio hopes are over.

"The disciplinary panel has sought more details on the case," he said. "It's too early to determine how much time they will take to come out with a verdict.

"But I would say we should know in a week."

Yadav, who could not immediately be reached for comment, took India's berth in the 74kg category at the Rio Games by winning a bronze medal at last year's World Championships in Las Vegas.

However, his spot was put in jeopardy when Sushil Kumar, who won a bronze in the 66kg category in Beijing and a silver in London, moved up in weight and asked Delhi High Court to order a bout between the pair to determine who should compete in Rio.

Last month the court ruled against Kumar, the only Indian athlete to win two individual Olympic medals, clearing the way for Yadav to compete in Rio.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)


Changes to Town Council Act expected by year-end: Lawrence Wong

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: Changes to the Town Council Act are in the process of being finalised and are likely to be made by the end of the year, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Sunday (Jul 24) after a ministerial visit to Kebun Baru.

The changes to the Act have been in the pipeline for some time and are aimed at giving the Government more oversight over town councils, as well as the power to investigate and take to task errant ones.

File Photo HDB flats

Currently, town councils are not compelled to give the Ministry of National Development (MND) any information beyond annual financial reports. MND also does not have any powers to investigate irregularities or non-compliance.

Mr Wong was responding to questions following a report earlier this week - by independent auditor KPMG - which flagged "pervasive" systemic weaknesses in the work processes and operations of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang town council.

"So all the more I think these findings by the auditor give us impetus to make sure the Town Council Act will be amended, so that we can have a proper governance structure over the town councils," he said.


Australian Lee matches sister Minjee with US junior title

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Min Woo Lee, younger brother of women's world number 14 Minjee, became the first Australian to win the prestigious U.S. junior golf title on Saturday, matching his sister's feat in the girl's championship in 2012.

The 17-year-old beat Texan Noah Goodwin 2&1 over 36 holes at the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

"It feels great. I'm down in history on the USGA Junior trophy, so it feels really good – it's probably the best I've ever felt," Lee, whose victory earned him a spot in next month's U.S. Amateur championship, said in a Golf Australia news release.

"It's a dream come true for me, I've always wanted to win this tournament.

"I was in good form coming into it and I knew I had a good chance. It feels great to win and be on the trophy with names such as Tiger."

The Lees are the first siblings to have won their respective titles, something which delighted Rio Olympics-bound Minjee.

"I think we made history, so that's pretty cool," the 20-year-old said. "I just told him at the beginning of the day to just have fun. I'm glad that he came out winning and it’s great for both of us."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)


Marvel serves star-studded surprises at Comic-Con for new film slate

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
SAN DIEGO, Calif.: Amid fog and lasers on Saturday, Marvel gave frenzied fans at Comic-Con their first look at a new Black Panther movie cast, the mysterious Doctor Strange, a Spider-Man teen movie and an Oscar-winning actress as the new Captain Marvel.

The 6,500-plus audience, many of whom had queued overnight at San Diego's annual film and pop culture event, were introduced to the lead cast of the "Black Panther" movie, directed by "Creed" filmmaker Ryan Coogler.

Fans of superhero movies, comic books and pop culture arrive in costume for opening day of the annu

Chadwick Boseman plays the titular hero while Michael B. Jordan is his arch nemesis, Erik Killmonger, and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o plays the warrior Nakia.

"I'm looking forward to kicking some ass," Nyong'o said.

Walt Disney Co-owned Marvel showcased diverse casts for its upcoming films after facing criticism over recent years for a superhero franchise dominated by white male actors.

Oscar-winning "Room" actress Brie Larson was revealed as "Captain Marvel," but no details were given on the 2018 movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch entered amid a cloud of fog to show a scene from "Doctor Strange," out in November, in which neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, who lost the use of his hands in an accident, meets the Ancient One to harness the mysterious world of magic and alternate dimensions.

Director Scott Derrickson said "Doctor Strange" comics brought "a whole new voice" to the Marvel universe.

"It's very, very different and the scale is something else," Cumberbatch said.

The casting of Tilda Swinton as a Celtic "Ancient One" caused an uproar among some fans, as the character is of Asian origin in the comics.

"Any of us can be the Ancient One, that's what's amazing about what's in the comics, who knows who will be the Ancient One. It's a title, and all the things the Ancient One knows and passes on, anyone can do," Swinton said.

"Spider-Man: Homecoming," starring Tom Holland, will be a teen comedy, following 15-year-old Peter Parker hiding his superhero alter-ego as he gets through the struggles of homework, girls and puberty.

Finally, the cast of 2017's "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" entered amid cheers, as new footage revealed Sylvester Stallone in the film, and Kurt Russell playing Star Lord's father Ego.

Lead actor Chris Pratt said the film will pick up a couple of months after the events of the first film, as the rogue, cheeky heroes face a bigger enemy.

Disney also announced a new "Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout" ride, opening at California Adventures in the summer of 2017.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Better late than never, pullout hands Australian Hearn Rio berth

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
SYDNEY: Sixteen years after being an unused reserve at her home Sydney Olympics, Australian rider Sue Hearn will finally make her Games debut at the age of 60 in Rio.

Hearn got her ticket to join the 410-strong Australia team heading for Brazil when Kelly Layne withdrew from the team over the weekend because her horse was suffering from an injury.

"LLOYDY and I are off to Rio! Thank you everyone for your support!" Hearn posted on her Facebook page after getting the news that she had been named to the dressage team with her warmblood gelding (Lloyd) Remmington.

Hearn will be the second oldest Australian to make their Olympic debut after sailor Harold Brooke, who was 61 when he got his first taste of the Games in Rome in 1960.

Although Hearn will bring a measure of maturity to an Australian Olympic team that has an average age of 26, she will not even be the oldest member of the dressage squad.

Her team mate Mary Hanna, one of three Australians who will be taking part in their fifth Olympics, takes that honour at the age of 61.

The youngest athlete in the 207-man, 203-woman Australia team is 16-year-old footballer Ellie Carpenter, who was a babe in arms when Australia hosted the Games in Sydney in 2000.

Australia sent its biggest ever team of 632 athletes to the Sydney Games and the Rio delegation is the equal fifth largest, matching the party that was assembled for London four years ago.

The tallest member of the team is NBA basketballer Andrew Bogut at 213cm (7ft), while Beijing silver medallist in diving Melissa Wu is the shortest at 153cm.

Australia will compete in 26 sports in Rio - they have no entries for fencing or handball - and have targetted a return to the top five on the medal table after finishing eighth in London.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)


Four inmates killed in El Salvador prison riot

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
SAN SALVADOR: Four inmates at a prison in El Salvador were murdered on Saturday amid a fight between inmates, the national prison service said via Twitter.

The inmates, members of the Barrio 18 gang, were killed in the facility which is in the city of Quezaltepeque, 21 km (13 miles) northwest of the capital.

The attorney general's office said that the death toll could rise.

In August last year, 14 inmates were killed in the prison, with authorities saying it was part of a purge within the same gang.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Robert Birsel)


American Morris soars to year's top outdoor pole vault

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Rio-bound U.S. Olympian Sandi Morris soared to the highest outdoor pole vault in the world this year when she cleared 4.93 metres at Houston on Saturday.

The mark, during an American Track League meeting, superseded Russian Yelena Isinbayeva's clearance of 4.90 metres as the best outdoor mark for 2016.

Morris of the U.S. celebrates as she clears the bar at 4.80 meters during the women's pole vau

Only world outdoor record holder Isinbayeva and American Olympic champion Jenn Suhr have ever jumped higher, giving the U.S. a strong 1-2 punch for next month's Olympics.

Isinbayeva will miss the Games because of the Russian ban.

"I'm crying you guys!! I just broke the American Record!" the 24-year-old Morris said on Twitter.

USA Track & Field officials, however, said Morris, the world indoor silver medallist, would receive credit only for the best outdoor pole vault ever by an American since records in the event can be established both indoors or out.

Suhr holds the American record of 5.02 metres set indoors in 2013 with a pending record of 5.03 metres from earlier this year indoors, the officials said.

Morris's indoor best is 4.95 metres, a mark she set in defeating Suhr for the 2016 U.S. indoor title.

The previous outdoor best by an American was Suhr's 4.92 metres from 2008.

Isinbayeva's world record, set in 2009, is 5.06 metres.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)


Venezuela first lady's nephews confessed to drug scheme, US says

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
NEW YORK: Two nephews of Venezuela's first lady, who face charges of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, confessed to U.S. agents after being arrested in November to being involved in the drug scheme, newly-filed court records state.

Details of the confessions by Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 29, were contained in documents U.S. prosecutors filed late on Friday in a Manhattan federal court.

Handout photo of Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Franqui Fancisco Flores de Freitas stand with Hait

The papers include summaries of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration interviews conducted on a Nov. 10 flight to New York from Haiti, where authorities had arrested the two nephews of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores.

The summaries were filed as exhibits to a motion by prosecutors opposing a bid by the men to have their post-arrest statements suppressed on the grounds that they did not fully understand their rights under U.S. law to remain silent.

Both men have been held without bail since their November arrest and indictment for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

According to the DEA records, Campo Flores said they planned to get the cocaine from an individual who was in turn supplied by the Colombian paramilitary group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Asked why he got involved in the deal, Flores de Freitas said: "To make money." Specifically, he expected the first load to make US$5 million, earning him US$560,000, the records state.

Prosecutors said the pair had hoped a series of drug shipments they would be involved in would generate US$20 million.

A lawyer for Campo Flores declined comment, while a lawyer for Flores de Freitas did not respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors accuse the nephews of working with others to try to send 800 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to Honduras so that the drug could be imported into the United States.

The case is one of a series of enforcement actions and investigations by U.S. authorities which have linked individuals connected to the Venezuelan government to drug trafficking.

The nephews' case has been an embarrassment for Maduro, who is embattled by a political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

In Friday's motion, prosecutors said recorded conversations involving the cousins before their arrests suggested they lived lavishly in Venezuela.

Campo Flores was recorded saying he owned Ferraris, and that "ever since we started making money we've been flashy".

But according to court records, Campo Flores told the DEA he did not have even US$10,000 to his name and earned just US$800 per week through taxis he owned in Panama.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Eric Meijer)


Nepal PM appears set to lose no-confidence vote as allies depart

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
KATHMANDU: Two political parties left Nepal's ruling coalition on Sunday, deserting the fractious alliance ahead of a vote of no-confidence that Prime Minister K.P. Oli looks likely to lose.

The no-confidence motion, lodged by former Maoist rebels who installed Oli in October but fell out with him after accusing him of failing to honour a power-sharing deal, is due to be put to a vote in the 595-member parliament later on Sunday.

Nepal's Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, also known as KP Oli, observes a minute of si

Nepal has been plagued by turmoil for years and the latest uncertainty over Oli's fate risks the further sapping of business confidence.

"We were left with no alternative because of the arrogance of the prime minister and his party," Kiran Giri, a senior official of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) told Reuters, referring to party's decision to abandon Oli's coalition.

The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal (Democratic) is the other party that said it was leaving the alliance.

Both parties said they would join the opposition in Sunday's vote aimed at toppling the Himalayan country's 23rd government since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1990 after bloody protests.

Oli was not available for comment but aides said he would respond to opposition accusations in parliament.

Nepal's neighbours, China and India, jostle for influence over the volatile young republic and are concerned that prolonged political paralysis could turn one of the world's poorest countries into a haven for criminal gangs and militants.

Nepal has been flirting with crisis since September when it adopted its first republican constitution.

The ethnic Madhesi minority in the south of the country rejected the constitution, saying new federal states marginalized them by splitting their homeland.

The Maoists called off a bid to oust Oli two months ago after he said he would address the Madhesi concerns and rebuild homes destroyed in earthquakes last year.

But Oli's critics said he did not do as he promised.

"The prime minister became ego-centric and self-centred, refusing to listen," Maoist chief Prachanda, said in parliament on Friday. "This made us unable to continue to work with him."

Prachanda, who goes by his war nom-de-guerre meaning "Fierce", is the favourite to replace the 64-year-old Oli.

Minority Madhesis blocked border trade points with India for four months to demand the redrawing of provincial borders and a fair say in government.

They ended the blockade in February after more than 50 people were killed in clashes with police and widespread criticism of the protest that choked off supplies of vital imports from India, including fuel.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Thousands attend funeral of murdered Cambodian activist

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
PHNOM PENH: Tens of thousands of Cambodians poured onto the streets of Phnom Penh Sunday (Jul 24) for the funeral procession of a prominent political analyst murdered in a brazen daylight shooting that shocked the Southeast Asian nation.

Kem Ley, a popular pro-democracy voice and grassroots rights activist, was shot dead two Sundays ago while drinking coffee outside a petrol station in Phnom Penh, the capital.

Kem Ley funeral\

The murder sent jitters across a country already brimming with political tension as premier Hun Sen faces accusations of clamping down on critics of his 31-year rule.

On Sunday a massive crowd of mourners, many carrying portraits of Kem Ley, trailed for kilometres behind Buddhist monks and a motorcade carrying the 46-year-old's body in a transparent casket.

Tens of thousands of others lined the streets to watch the procession, which will end at the activist's home village some 70 kilometres south of the capital.

"He was a mirror of society, a hero. His murder is a huge loss to democracy," Hul Chan, 39, told AFP while he was walking with the peaceful procession.

Kem Ley, a popular radio commentator, was a regular critic of Hun Sen as well as the political opposition. He called for a new era of clean politics in Cambodia -- one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

He was also a major advocate for land and labour rights, travelling across the impoverished country to speak directly with villagers.

Oueth Ang, a former soldier and Buddhist monk, has been charged with the murder and is facing trial in a Cambodian court.

The 43-year-old, who first identified himself with an alias that translates as "Meet to Kill", claimed he shot Kem Ley over an outstanding debt.

But doubts about the motive persist in a country where the rule of law is weak and critics of the elite are easily silenced.

Shortly before his death Kem Ley gave a lengthy radio interview welcoming a report that detailed wealth amassed by Hun Sen and his family.

Hun Sen's government stands accused of cracking down on critics and political rivals ahead of 2018 elections, using the courts to strongarm opponents.

He has ordered an investigation into Kem Key's murder and urged people not to turn the case into a "political act".


Thai police charge 2 eight-year-old girls who tore down pink lists

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
BANGKOK: Two 8-year-old girls in Thailand have been charged for violating campaigning rules ahead of a contentious referendum next month after tearing voter lists off a wall because they liked the pink paper they were printed on, police said on Sunday (Jul 24).

The military government has clamped down on dissent ahead of the Aug 7 vote on a military-backed constitution that it says will ensure stability in a country rocked by political turmoil for more than a decade.

stand guard during a demonstration by an anti-coup protester at a shopping mall in Bangkok

The girls were charged with obstructing the referendum process and destroying public property after tearing down the lists posted outside a school, said Damrong Phetpong, police commander in the northern province of Kamphaeng Phet.

"They confessed to tearing down the voter lists because they liked the colour pink," Damrong told Reuters.

He said they would not face punishment because they were so young. The referendum will be the first big test of the public's opinion of the military government since it came to power after a May 2014 coup.

Critics, including major political parties, say the draft charter would give the military too much power over elected governments, and would not resolve differences between populist political forces and the military-dominated establishment.

The government, which appears increasingly jittery ahead of the vote, has brought in a law banning discussion of the constitution and lobbying, both for and against, with a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who breaks it.


G20 will use 'all policy tools' to protect growth as Brexit looms

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎5 hours agoGo to full article
CHENGDU, China: Leaders from the world's biggest economies are poised on Sunday to renew their commitments to support global growth and better coordinate actions in the face of uncertainty over Britain's decision to leave the European Union and growing protectionism.

The meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 major economies in China's southwestern city of Chengdu is the first of its kind since last month's Brexit vote and a debut for Britain's new finance minister. Philip Hammond faced questions about how quickly the UK planned to move ahead with formal negotiations to leave the EU.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond walks to a meeting during the G20 Finance

"We are taking actions to foster confidence and support growth," a draft statement by the policymakers seen by Reuters said.

"In light of recent developments, we reiterate our determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural – individually and collectively to achieve our goal of strong, sustainable and balanced growth," it said.

The International Monetary Fund this week cut its global growth forecasts because of the Brexit vote.

Data on Friday seemed to bear out fears, with a British business activity index posting its biggest drop in its 20-year history.

The draft communique, expected to be issued at the end of the meeting on Sunday afternoon, said Brexit added to uncertainty in the global economy but G20 members were "well positioned to proactively address the potential economic and financial consequences".

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Saturday it was important for G20 countries to boost shared growth using all policy tools, including monetary and fiscal policies as well as structural reforms, to boost efficiency.

"This is a time when it is important for all of us to redouble our efforts to use all of the policy tools that we have to boost shared growth," Lew told reporters.

The specter of protectionism, highlighted not only by Brexit but also by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's "America First" rhetoric and talk of pulling out of trade agreements, also hangs over the two-day meeting.

"Not only Brexit but various risks of low growth remain, and there was a lot of debate on the need of monitoring developments including terrorism, geopolitical risks and refugees," said a Japanese finance ministry official.

"A lot of concerns were voiced over spreading measures for protectionism."

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Gernot Heller, Tetsushi Kajimoto, David Lawder, Elias Glenn, Kevin Yao and William Schomberg; Writing by John Ruwitch; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)


EXCLUSIVE: Tesla, SolarCity close to merger agreement - sources

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS - Tesla Motors Inc and SolarCity Corp have made progress in putting together a deal that will merge the electric car maker and the solar panel installer, people familiar with the matter said.

The two companies, which count billionaire Elon Musk as a major shareholder, are in the final stages of carrying out due diligence on each other, and could agree on the terms of a deal in the coming days, though it is still possible that their negotiations end unsuccessfully, the people said on Saturday.

A Tesla logo adorns a 'Model S' car in the dealership in Berlin

It could not be learned whether SolarCity would be successful in including a go-shop provision in a merger agreement with Tesla that would allow it to continue to solicit bids from other potential buyers for a short period of time.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Representatives for SolarCity and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tesla announced last month that it had made an all-stock offer for SolarCity worth US$2.8 billion. It argued that by acquiring SolarCity, the two companies would form a one-stop clean energy shop, offering consumers solar panels, home battery storage and electric cars under a single trusted brand.

SolarCity has not publicly revealed its views on Tesla's offer since it announced on June 27 that it had formed a special committee consisting of two board members to evaluate the offer. The committee said it had retained legal and financial advisers and would review the proposal against SolarCity's standalone prospects and a broad range of strategic alternatives.

As chief executive of Tesla, chairman of SolarCity and the biggest shareholder in both companies, Musk has recused himself from voting on the deal at both companies. Several Tesla and SolarCity executives, including Musk's cousins SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive and SolarCity board member Peter Rive, have also recused themselves from voting.

Elon Musk said on July 20 when he revealed his master plan "part deux" for Tesla that he is looking to create a "smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product."

"We can't do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies," Musk said.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Exclusive: Tesla, SolarCity close to merger agreement

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Tesla Motors Inc and SolarCity Corp have made progress in putting together a deal that will merge the electric car maker and the solar panel installer, people familiar with the matter said.

The two companies, which count billionaire Elon Musk as a major shareholder, are in the final stages of carrying out due diligence on each other, and could agree on the terms of a deal in the coming days, though it is still possible that their negotiations end unsuccessfully, the people said on Saturday.

File photo of Elon Musk, chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, speaks at SolarCity?s Insid

It could not be learned whether SolarCity would be successful in including a go-shop provision in a merger agreement with Tesla that would allow it to continue to solicit bids from other potential buyers for a short period of time.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Representatives for SolarCity and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tesla announced last month that it had made an all-stock offer for SolarCity worth US$2.8 billion. It argued that by acquiring SolarCity, the two companies would form a one-stop clean energy shop, offering consumers solar panels, home battery storage and electric cars under a single trusted brand.

SolarCity has not publicly revealed its views on Tesla's offer since it announced on June 27 that it had formed a special committee consisting of two board members to evaluate the offer. The committee said it had retained legal and financial advisers and would review the proposal against SolarCity's standalone prospects and a broad range of strategic alternatives.

As chief executive of Tesla, chairman of SolarCity and the biggest shareholder in both companies, Musk has recused himself from voting on the deal at both companies. Several Tesla and SolarCity executives, including Musk's cousins SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive and SolarCity board member Peter Rive, have also recused themselves from voting.

Elon Musk said on July 20 when he revealed his master plan "part deux" for Tesla that he is looking to create a "smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product."

"We can't do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies," Musk said.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Magic lights up Warner Bros' Comic-Con panel, superheroes reign

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7 hours agoGo to full article
SAN DIEGO, Calif.: Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne brought the wizarding world of "Harry Potter" to real life briefly on Saturday, as he helped hand out wooden wands to the 6,500-plus audience at a Comic-Con panel and made everyone perform a spell.

Redmayne, the lead actor of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," asked the audience to shout the incantation for the light-up spell "Lumos Maxima" to unveil a new trailer. "Fantastic Beasts," due out in November, is a spin-off from the magical "Harry Potter" universe created by J.K. Rowling.

An attendee dressed as the Flash walks the convention floor at the pop culture event Comic-Con Inte

The movie's cast remained tight-lipped about the plot and their characters, but the trailer shows "magizoologist" Newt Scamander (Redmayne) arrive in New York in 1926 with a case of magical creatures that escape, wreak havoc and face threats from the non-magical humans in the city.

Warner Bros showcased its upcoming blockbuster films at the annual four-day San Diego convention for film and pop culture fans, including "Kong: Skull Island," "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," "Suicide Squad" and the rest of its expanding DC Comics superhero universe, following in the footsteps of Disney's blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Ben Affleck, the latest actor to don Batman's cape and cowl, said he felt "tremendous amount of pressure" both starring in and directing the next standalone Batman movie.

"It's terrifying and inspiring and really exciting because it's one of most iconic, fascinating characters ever created in American drama," he said.

The cast of 2017's "Wonder Woman" discussed exploring the origins of the Amazonian warrior heroine played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, and bringing a strong female lead to the male-dominated superhero movie world. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman's debut in comic books.

"Wonder Woman has the heart of a human and the strength of a goddess and combination of the two is very powerful," Gadot said.

Batman and Wonder Woman will join forces in the "Justice League" film with Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Superman, who, it was revealed Saturday, had survived the events that appeared to kill him in "Batman V Superman" earlier this year.

Rivaling Affleck's Batman at the panel was Lego Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, the star of next year's animated "Lego Batman Movie," a spin-off from 2014's "The Lego Movie."

Animators recreated the Comic-Con panel setup in a short sketch that included a Lego version of panel moderator Conan O'Brien asking Lego Batman, Lego Joker and Lego Robin about the new film, in which Batman tackles fatherhood.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Nick Zieminski)


IOC faces historic call on Russia Rio ban

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7 hours agoGo to full article
LAUSANNE: The International Olympic Committee was set to decide Sunday (Jul 24) on whether to ban Russia from the Rio Games over state-run doping, an unprecedented move that could spark the Olympic movement's worst crisis in decades.

While countries have been banned from past Games for grave, political reasons, throwing an entire nation out for drug cheating would be a first.

IOC chief Thomas Bach will lead a conference call with the organisation's powerful executive(Photo:AFP)

But the IOC is facing global pressure to take bold action given the jaw-dropping nature of the allegations against Russia.

According to an independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Russia's sports ministry directed a vast doping programme with support from the FSB intelligence agency.

More than 30 sports were affected by the cheating that went on during the 2014 Sochi Games and other major events, said the WADA report released last week by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren.

WADA, along with fourteen national anti-doping agencies -- including the United States, Canada and Germany -- as well as multiple national Olympic committees have urged the IOC to ban Russia from Rio.

IOC chief Thomas Bach will lead a conference call with the organisation's powerful executive board on Sunday.

The IOC said a final decision on Russia's eligibility could be issued after the call, but a definitive ruling may be put off until early next week.

With the Rio Games set to start on August 5, the IOC has taken every last agonising day before ruling on one of the toughest questions it has faced in recent history.


The key issue is whether the extent of the alleged cheating in Russia gives the IOC grounds to punish athletes with no positive drug tests on their record.

"We will have to take a very difficult decision," Bach said this week, addressing the ethical and legal tension "between a collective ban for all Russian athletes, and...the natural right to individual justice for every clean athlete in the world."

Officials in Moscow led by Russian President Vladimir Putin have vowed to help crack down on doping while voicing fierce opposition to the prospect of a blanket ban.

Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also intervened: "For me the principle of collective punishment is unacceptable," wrote 85-year-old Gorbachev in a statement, asking Bach to make a "just decision."


Russia's entire track and field squad has already been banned from Rio by athletics governing body IAAF over an earlier WADA report which detailed "state-supported" doping.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) this week rejected an appeal by 67 Russian athletes against the IAAF ban.

The IOC has said it would closely study the CAS ruling as it tried to assess the legal basis for a collective national suspension.

Meanwhile, an ongoing IOC reanalysis of samples from Beijing 2008 and London 2012 revealed 45 new doping failures.

That brought the total number of positive drug tests to 98 since a retesting programme was launched, underscoring the severity of the doping crisis within the Olympics.


If the IOC bans Russia from Rio, it will be the first time a country has been excluded since 1988, when South Africa's IOC suspension over apartheid was still in force.

The most extensive set of national bans came at the 1920 Games in Antwerp, when a long list of World War One "aggressors" -- including Germany, Austria, Turkey and Hungary -- were told to stay away.

Multiple countries have boycotted Games, however, notably the United States at Moscow 1980, which preceded Russia's boycott of Los Angeles 1984.


Solar plane takes off from Egypt on final leg of world tour

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7 hours agoGo to full article
CAIRO: An aircraft powered by solar energy left Egypt on Sunday on the last leg of the first ever fuel-free flight around the globe.

Solar Impulse 2, a spindly single-seat plane, took off from Cairo in darkness en route to Abu Dhabi, its final destination, with a flight expected to take between 48 and 72 hours.

Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane piloted by Swiss aviator Andre Borschberg, is seen as it pre

The plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies.

"The round the world flight ends in Abu Dhabi, but not the project," Piccard told Reuters a few days before takeoff.

Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings. It relies on solar energy collected during the day and stored in batteries for electrical energy to fly at night.

The carbon fibre plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car can climb to about 8,500 metres (28,000 feet) and cruise at 55-100 kph (34-62 mph).

"The project is a big promotion of clean technologies around the world and the legacy of Solar Impulse is the created international community," Piccard said.

Last week, the solar-powered aircraft landed in Egypt for on its penultimate stop. The flight's takeoff from Egypt to the United Arab Emirates was delayed due to a heatwave in Saudi Arabia.

"I started to dream about this project 17 years ago in 1999 when I finished my hot-air balloon landing in Egypt, so 17 years later I take off where the balloon landed," Piccard said.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)


Bottom line: brands chase China's high-end lingerie market

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7 hours agoGo to full article
HONG KONG: High-end lingerie sales are outpacing China's generally downbeat luxury market, and heating up competition between international brands and local rivals looking to go upmarket.

U.S. brand Victoria's Secret will open its first store, and companies including Italy's ultra-luxury La Perla and Germany's Triumph are adding stores and moving beyond China's mega-cities to tap a lingerie market that has more than doubled in five years to US$18 billion, according to Mintel Group.

A sales representative works at Ordifen lingerie store in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen

Chinese consumer tastes are maturing, women are more confident about buying for themselves and President Xi Jinping's drive against conspicuous consumption is likely diverting spending from flashy branded bags and accessories to sports and ath-leisure wear and the more discreet lingerie.

"Luxury is ... not about buying to show off, it's about buying items that make you feel good," says Chiara Scaglia, La Perla's Asia chief.

China's women's underwear market is expected to have a retail value of US$25 billion by next year - double that of the United States - and will grow to US$33 billion by 2020, according to Euromonitor.

Chinese firms such as Beijing Aimer, Maniform and Ordifen are also chasing that money, targeting higher-end customers and raising their quality.

"That means foreign brands will have to out-compete local brands not just on quality, but also innovation," said Matthew Crabbe, director at Mintel.

For now, the market is highly fragmented, with none of the leading firms having more than around a 3 percent share. International brands see China as a priority to help bolster overall sales given a fairly bleak global outlook.

La Perla, which sells bras priced around 2,000 yuan (US$300), has eight stores in China and plans additional outlets in Chengdu and Chongqing within the year. It also aims to open a men's store in Beijing.

"The perception of the lingerie sector has changed," Scaglia told Reuters. "At the beginning many people we spoke to were confused as to why anybody should spend over US$1,000 on panties for something nobody sees."


Victoria's Secret will open a 20,000 square foot (1,860 square meter) flagship store in Shanghai this year, taking over a prime downtown location that used to house a Louis Vuitton store. "I think it will announce our arrival in China in a very significant way, and should be the beginning of an enormous business for us," said Martin Waters, L Brands International President.

Triumph, which already has 1,000 China stores, plans to open in five new cities this year and up to 11 cities next year.

Cosmo Lady , a Chinese firm that has focused on the mass market, selling bras from 50 yuan (US$7.50), last year bought Ordifen to increase its presence in the luxury market.

"We would like to gradually step into the high-end market," said Peter Lam, Cosmo Lady's assistant chief financial officer.

Gao Qiannan, a 22-year-old Shandong student who says she spends upwards of 1,500 yuan a year on lingerie, doesn't think there's a big difference between Chinese and foreign brands.

"If I can buy a domestic brand, I will, but if I particularly like the international brand's style, I'll get that," she said.

The international brands say they don't offer products specifically for the Chinese market, though La Perla notes that some colors - red and baby pink - sell far better in Asia than in Europe or the United States. The Italian brand has also used Chinese supermodel Liu Wen in its campaigns.

Japanese and South Korean brands are also growing in popularity in China.

Yin Huijuan, 23, who spends 800 yuan (US$120) on lingerie every three months, said she prefers Japanese brands such as Wacoal and Narue. "I feel foreign brands' style is more detailed and diversified, these are areas where domestic brands fall short," she said.


Even in the lingerie market, though, there are bumps.

Cosmo Lady, which has 8,600 outlets including Ordifen's 550 China stores, saw robust growth in its mass market sales last year, but has warned about its profits for the first half of this year, citing China's slowing economic growth, consumer caution and competing online sales.

Hong Kong-listed Embry Holdings , which owns the Embry Form lingerie brand, said its group retail sales slipped by nearly a fifth in April-June on tougher competition and the economy.

Despite those bumps, the lingerie sector retains a strong appeal, said Eugene Mak, an analyst at China Merchant Securities in Hong Kong, and firms like Cosmo Lady are still outperforming other apparel retailers.

He predicts the market will hit a consolidation phase at some time. "It's a very young market, but in the near-term it's going to be messy," he said.

(Reporting by Farah Master, with additional reporting by Giulia Segreti in Milan, Shanghai newsroom, and Sharon Shi and Joyce Zhou in Hong Kong; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)


ASEAN pushes for South China Sea breakthrough

‎Today, ‎July ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8 hours agoGo to full article
VIENTIANE: Southeast Asian foreign ministers will hold crunch talks in communist Laos on Sunday (Jul 24) at a summit already overshadowed by infighting over Beijing's sabre rattling in the South China Sea.

The gathering in Vientiane is the first major regional talks since the UN-backed tribunal ruled earlier this month that China did not have historic rights to vast swathes of the strategic sea.

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrives in Laos on Monday, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are among the delegates attending meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes four members who have competing claims with Beijing over parts of the strategic sea, has long presented itself as the best place for China to negotiate with neighbours over disputes.

Beijing has resisted that approach, insisting that territorial disputes must be settled bilaterally.

In recent years ASEAN has struggled to present a united front against China with allegations that the regional superpower has forged alliances with smaller countries like Laos and Cambodia through aid and loans.

The UN tribunal ruling was a victory for the Philippines, which brought the case, and fellow ASEAN members Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia who also claim parts of the South China Sea.

But it infuriated Beijing which rejected the verdict and has ramped up both its rhetoric and military manoeuvres in the disputed waters in the last two weeks.

Disputed claims in the South China Sea

ASEAN diplomats have been working on a joint communique to be issued at the end of the five-day meeting but disagreements have festered on how to approach the tribunal ruling.

Those involved in talks told AFP that Cambodia, a staunch Beijing ally, has so far opposed any mention of it.

A working draft of the communique obtained by AFP on Saturday showed the section titled "South China Sea" as blank.


"Our house is in a mess right now," one diplomat involved in the talks told reporters late Saturday as the day's attempts to reach a consensus came to a close.

Washington has backed the Philippines and other South China Sea claimants against Beijing, arguing for free passage through what it considers international waters.

A State Department official said the US would push for ASEAN to ease tensions over the South China Sea and find common ground.

But the official added: "I'd put a little more value on the conversation that happens among the ministers themselves than I do in the often lengthy and torturous prose that is pulled together by the staff afterwards."

It is not clear whether Kerry intends to meet his counterpart Wang for talks during their visit.

Chinese pressure was blamed last month for a startling show of discord by the bloc, when countries swiftly disowned a joint statement released by Malaysia after an ASEAN-China meeting.

That statement had expressed alarm over Beijing's activities in the South China Sea. Cambodia and Laos were later fingered as being behind moves to block the joint statement.

The ongoing impasse in Vientiane has led to fears of a repeat of a 2012 summit in Cambodia where the bloc failed to issue a joint communique for the first time in its history because of disagreements over the South China Sea.

A failure by ASEAN to respond to the tribunal will do little to counter criticism that the bloc risks veering into obscurity as a talking shop with little real diplomatic clout.

South China Sea watch


Pokemon live-action movie a go at Legendary

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:28:32 AMGo to full article
LOS ANGELES ( Legendary Entertainment has won the rights to a Pokemon movie and is partnering with the Pokemon Company to launch the first live-action Pokemon film franchise with a Detective Pikachu movie.

Legendary said details are being kept under wraps but added that the film will be fast-tracked for production to start in 2017. Detective Pikachu is a new character in the Pokemon universe, introduced through a video game in Japan.


The deal comes two weeks after the Pokemon Go app game was released and became a worldwide phenomenon, so much so that it led to a 25 per cent jump in the stock of part owner Nintendo. The augmented reality game allows players to capture, battle and train the Pokemon virtual creatures.

Pokemon was introduced in Japan in 1996 and has sold 279 million video games worldwide with 21.5 billion cards shipped to 74 countries, and an animated series spanning 19 seasons. The hugely popular Pokemon Go app recently saw the pocket monsters surge back into the pop culture consciousnesses.

Universal Pictures will handle distribution of the live-action film outside Japan as it has done with Legendary's other films for years.

The Pokemon Company's long time movie collaborator, Toho, will handle distribution of the film franchise in Japan, as it had similarly done in its partnership with Legendary on the reboot for the Godzilla franchise.

Legendary was acquired in January by Chinese entertainment giant Wanda for US$3.5 billion. The Pokemon movie deal is the third major project it's acquired in less than a month, following the Jun 23 purchase of Bad Blood, starring Jennifer Lawrence, and an untitled project set up this week for The Birth of a Nation producer-director Nate Parker.

The Pokemon deal was brokered by Don McGowan at The Pokemon Company International, who led the negotiations with outside counsel Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig. Marty Willhite, Daniel Feinberg and Mike Ross represented the studio.


Defeated Milan mayoral candidate vows to unite Italy's centre-right

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:25:15 AMGo to full article
ROME: The centre-right candidate narrowly defeated in mayoral elections in Milan last month said he wanted to unite Italy's conservatives nationally to oust Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the next election.

Stefano Parisi, 59, a former business leader and government consultant on labour and economic issues, won plaudits for his campaign in Milan, where he united disparate centre-right parties to come within a whisker of defeating Renzi's candidate.

The centre-right has been in disarray since former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was banned from public office following a conviction for tax fraud in 2013. In recent months Parisi has often been tipped as a possible successor.

Despite its divisions, opinion polls show that if the conservative parties were to unite behind a single leader they would have roughly the same support as Renzi's Democratic Party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

Parisi told La Stampa daily on Thursday that he wanted to regenerate the centre-right and would organise a convention in Milan in September to discuss a policy platform.

Known for his soft-spoken and moderate tones, Parisi will need to win the backing of the anti-immigrant Northern League, Berlusconi's Forza Italia and smaller right-wing parties and their voters before the next national election due in 2018.

"I am appealing to moderate public opinion which needs to be woken up ... we need a renewal, a regeneration, and that is what I want to achieve," he said.

Parisi said the centre-right should take a tough line on immigration, tackle bureaucracy and stop asking for exemptions to European Union fiscal rules.

He said he would vote against Renzi's proposal to reduce the role of the Senate (upper house) in a referendum to be held in the autumn, arguing that the reform would "increase confusion" rather than simplify lawmaking procedures.

Renzi has repeatedly said he will resign and quit politics if he loses the referendum, the result of which appears highly uncertain.

(Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Keith Weir)


Hughes hopes Arnautovic will stay at Stoke

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:10:18 AMGo to full article
REUTERS: Marko Arnautovic is yet to agree to a new contract with Stoke City but manager Mark Hughes is hopeful that the Austrian striker will commit his future to the Premier League club.

Arnautovic, who joined from German club Werder Bremen in 2013, has 12 months remaining in his four-year deal and has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions Paris St Germain, according to British media reports.

Iceland v Austria - EURO 2016 - Group F

"We are where we were with Marko, but we remain very hopeful of being able to keep him here," Hughes told the club's website (

"He isn't going to rush into any decision - clearly he has had an offer on the table from ourselves for a period of time now but his advisors want to take a look at the options for him."

Arnautovic, the club's top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions last season, also racked up six assists to help the team to a ninth-place finish in the league.

"Marko knows what he has here and knows the environment that he is in, he is well liked in the dressing room and in the stands too, Hughes said. "Those sort of things are important to Marko, and he understands that."

The 27-year-old was in Austria's squad at the European Championship in France, where the team were eliminated at the group stages.

(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)


China's Panchen Lama carries out religious rite in Tibet, first in 50 years

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:05:11 AMGo to full article
BEIJING: A youth named by China as the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, but reviled as a fake by many Tibetans, began an important Buddhist rite on Thursday, the first time in 50 years it has happened in Tibet, state media said.

Although officially atheist, China selected Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995 in a drive to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans.

Gyaltsen Norbu, the 11th Panchen Lama, attends a Buddhism gathering at the Tashilhunpo Monastery in

Tibet's current spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a dangerous separatist, had announced his own choice of a six-year-old boy, but he was taken away by authorities and has since vanished from public view.

The Kalachakra ritual is an esoteric but for Buddhists very important rite for activating dormant enlightenment, and has not been carried out in what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region for half a century.

The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and lives in exile in India, has carried out the rite overseas.

Activists say China has violently tried to stamp out religious freedom and culture in Tibet, which remains under heavy security. China rejects the criticism, saying its rule has ended serfdom and brought development to a backward region.

The official Xinhua news agency said China's Panchen Lama had begun the ritual at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, the Panchen Lama's traditional seat.

Monks from the monastery would join those from Labrang, another important seat of Tibetan Buddhist in Gansu province, for the four-day event, the report said.

About 50,000 Buddhists were expected to attend, it said.

China has gradually exposed its Panchen Lama in public roles in the hope he will achieve the respect commanded by the Dalai Lama among Tibetans and globally, and in 2012 he made his first trip outside mainland China when he visited Hong Kong.

The London-based group Free Tibet said the ritual would be the biggest religious platform Beijing has given its Panchen Lama to date.

"The officially atheist Chinese government has long tried to impose its authority on Tibet by co-opting Tibetan Buddhism," said Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren.

"Its decision to have Gyaltsen Norbu preside over a ritual as important as the Kalachakra marks a stepping up in these efforts."

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950. After the Dalai Lama fled, the 10th Panchen Lama stayed on and was initially seen as a collaborator. It later emerged that his criticism of Beijing had earned him more than a decade spent either in prison or under house arrest.

Freed in 1977, he was politically rehabilitated the following year, and died in 1989.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by John Ruwitch and Nick Macfie)


Top online pirate suspect arrested in Poland, charged in US

‎Thursday, ‎July ‎21, ‎2016, ‏‎10:01:26 AMGo to full article
WASHINGTON: A Ukrainian alleged to be the ringleader of the world's biggest online piracy site, Kickass Torrents, was hit with US criminal charges on Wednesday (Jul 21), accused of distributing over US$1 billion worth of illegally copied films, music and other content.

The Justice Department unveiled a criminal complaint against Artem Vaulin, 30, of Kharkiv, Ukraine, who was arrested in Poland earlier in the day and is being sought by US authorities for copyright infringement, money laundering and other charges.

A man uses a laptop computer at a wireless cafe in Beijing on July 1, 2009(Photo:AFP)

Vaulin is alleged to own Kickass Torrents or KAT, which in recent years has eclipsed Pirate Bay and others to become the world's biggest source of pirated media.

The criminal complaint said the website offers "a sophisticated and user-friendly environment in which its users are able to search for and locate content" which is protected by copyright.

KAT, which distributes films, video games, television programs, music and other electronic media, is estimated to be the 69th most frequently visited website on the internet, according to a Justice Department statement.

"Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over US$1 billion of copyrighted materials," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.

"In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice."

US officials will seek to extradite Vaulin to face charges filed in federal court in Chicago, which ordered the seizure of one bank account and seven domain names associated with the file-sharing website.

The complaint said officials were able to track and identify Vaulin from records provided by Apple on his iCloud account.


According to the complaint, KAT operates in 28 languages and has made available movies that were still in theatres along with other content, earning revenue from advertising throughout its site.

The website's value is estimated at more than US$54 million, with annual advertising revenue in the range of US$12.5 million to US$22.3 million, according to the complaint.

KAT has moved its domains several times after being blocked in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, according to the complaint, and has relied on a network of computer servers located around the world, including in Chicago.

Recently, the website allowed users to download illegal copies of recent hit movies such as "Captain America: Civil War," "Now You See Me 2," and "Finding Dory."

Vaulin, who used the screen name "tirm," was involved in designing the original website and ran the site which has been operating since 2008 through a Ukrainian-based front company called Cryptoneat.

According to the Justice Department, KAT's website "purports to comply with the removal of copyrighted materials" but evidence showed it did not remove content requested by organisations such as the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and Entertainment Software Association.

The move comes with US officials in a long battle to extradite the head of Megaupload, another major piracy site shuttered by the FBI in 2012.

The head of Megaupload, known by the pseudonym Kim Dotcom, is free on bail in New Zealand pending the extradition effort, and recently vowed to revive his operations. His extradition appeal is set to begin in the High Court in Auckland on Aug 29 and is expected to last four to eight weeks.

Pirate Bay meanwhile has been able to keep operating despite jail sentences handed down in Sweden against its founders, and the seizure of its web domains.

Authorities say they can seize or shut down illegal file-sharing sites but that the operators often reopen with servers in different jurisdictions.



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