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In dig at U.S., China says all U.S. arms embargoes should go

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎19 minutes agoGo to full article
Military vehicles carrying DF-21D ballistic missiles roll to Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in BeijingTaking a dig at the U.S. arms embargo against China, the Chinese Defence Ministry said on Thursday all such U.S. embargoes were a relic of the Cold War and should be lifted, after the U.S. fully removed one against Vietnam. The United States placed an arms embargo on China following the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
 
 

Global stocks higher on oil boost

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎28 minutes agoGo to full article
A Malaysian man watches trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday amid worries about a U.S. rate hike and that a rally in oil prices may not be sustainable. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Global stock markets were mostly higher Thursday after oil prices hit $50 a barrel for the first time since November.
 
 

South Korea's Park facing last chance to push through reforms, boost growth

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is seen during a welcome ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico CityBy Jack Kim and Christine Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - Thwarted in the last parliament, South Korean President Park Geun-hye may be facing her last chance to push through a series of bills aimed at bolstering a flagging economy despite a legislature that will soon be in opposition control. Park, in the fourth year of a single five-year term, faces an uphill battle to pass legislation to loosen the notoriously rigid labor market, boost the services industry, and ease regulations to create jobs and growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy. Despite a parliamentary majority, Park's conservative Saenuri Party chose not to force through legislation to make the labor market more flexible, fearing public backlash over worries about job security.
 
 

Nuclear-free aspirations of Obama, Abe conflict with reality

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎4 hours agoGo to full article
Nuclear-free aspirations of Obama, Abe conflict with realityTOBA, Japan (AP) — There is the soaring rhetoric. And then there's the messy reality.
 
 

Australian lawmaker links trade dispute with asylum seekers

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎6 hours agoGo to full article
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's deputy prime minister is being criticized for suggesting that a temporary ban on cattle exports to Indonesia five years ago hindered ties with Jakarta that contributed to an influx of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores by boats from Indonesia.
 

Race to Rio is intense among South Koreans on LPGA Tour

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎10 hours agoGo to full article
So Yeon Ryu, of South Korea, watches her tee shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the Kingsmill Championship golf tournament at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Friday, May 20, 2016. Ryu finished with a 7-under-par 64, leaving her at 7-under after two rounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The race to Rio is playing out all over the globe with athletes competing for coveted spots.
 
 

Shandong into Asian Champions League last 8 after 2-2 draw

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎11:03:42 PMGo to full article
Shandong Luneng FC's Jucilei raises his arms as the final whistle blows in their round 16 match against Sydney FC in the Asian Champions League soccer in Sydney, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)SYDNEY (AP) — A long-range strike in the 90th minute from substitute Hao Junmin gave Shandong Luneng a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC, putting the Chinese side into the Asian Champions League quarterfinals on away goals.
 
 

Greek police evacuate 1,000 more migrants from squalid camp

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎7:54:30 PMGo to full article
Women queue for food at a gas station near the Greek-Macedonian border on May 25, 2016 in Polykastro as Greek police evacuate the sprawling Idomeni migrant campGreek police on Wednesday moved another 1,000 migrants out of Idomeni, the squalid tent city where thousands fleeing war and poverty have lived for months, on the second day of an operation likely to last a week. The migrants, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, were bussed from the camp on the Macedonian border to newly opened centres near Greece's second city Thessaloniki, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south, bringing the total moved out to 3,000 since Tuesday.
 
 

Azerbaijan frees investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎7:06:20 PMGo to full article
FILE - This Sunday, March 2, 2014 file photo, shows Azeri Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in Baku, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's court has ordered investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova released on probation. In September 2015, a court in Azerbaijan convicted Ismayilova of several financial crimes and sentenced her to 7½ years in prison. (AP Photo/Aziz Karimov, file)BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — A prominent, award-winning Azerbaijani journalist was released on probation Wednesday following a storm of international protests about her imprisonment, which has been widely seen as an attempt to silence a critical voice.
 
 

Obama uses light moment with rapper to espouse free speech

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎5:58:46 PMGo to full article
In this combination of images made from pool video, U.S. President Barack Obama, left, listens as Vietnamese rapper Suboi raps during a town-hall style event for the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) at the GEM Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Suboi rapped and asked Obama about the importance of governments promoting the arts and culture. (Photo via Pool Video)HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (AP) — President Barack Obama's parting shot before leaving communist Vietnam: let people express themselves.
 
 

Obama to Asians worried about U.S. election: It's going to be OK

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎4:50:11 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Barack Obama attends a town hall meeting with members of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative at the GEM Center in Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamBy Matt Spetalnick HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to ease growing Asian worries about the raucous election campaign to succeed him which has been dominated by the incendiary rhetoric of mogul Donald Trump, now the Republican Party's nominee. "I think other people sometimes look at our election system and say 'what a mess'," Obama told a townhall meeting with young leaders in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Obama made the comments just before ending a three-day trip to Vietnam, whose high point was an announcement that Washington's ban on sales of lethal weapons to the country - a vestige of the Vietnam War - would be completely lifted.
 
 

Shandong into AFC Champions League quarters after last-gasp win

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:33:57 PMGo to full article
Shandong Luneng players celebrate qualification for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals after victory against Sydney FC on May 25, 2016Substitute Hao Junmin's last-minute rocket broke Sydney FC hearts and put China's Shandong Luneng into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals after a sensational last-16 second leg on Wednesday. Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic's late penalty save -- after he also stopped a spot-kick in the first leg -- seemed to have earned 10-man Sydney their first appearance in Asia's last eight. It was enough to take Mano Menezes's Shandong into the quarter-finals for the first time in 11 years.
 
 

Indonesia child rapists could face death penalty

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:26:59 PMGo to full article
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday approved a law prescribing the death penalty as the maximum sentence for child rapists, after several brutal gang rapes sparked public outrage. Sexual violence is prevalent in Southeast Asia's most populous country, but gang rape is unusual. The case prompted rights groups to accuse the government of not doing enough to protect women and children, and provoked a tweet by Widodo himself seeking punishment of the perpetrators, although his call came more than a month after the event.
 

Linked to emperor, Ise Shrine is no ordinary shrine

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:03:58 PMGo to full article
In this March 26, 2014 photo, Japan's Empress Michiko walks toward the main hall of Ise Grand Shrine, or Ise Jingu, in Ise city, central Japan. The Shinto shrine that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking his Group of Seven counterparts to on Thursday, May 26, 2016, is no ordinary shrine. The Japanese imperial family was once believed to be direct descendants of the goddess Amaterasu. Rituals at Ise shrine are intended for the imperial family. (Kyodo News via AP) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITISE, Japan (AP) — A Shinto shrine that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking his Group of Seven counterparts to visit on Thursday is no ordinary shrine.
 
 

Image of Asia: Feeding West Indian manatees

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1:54:53 PMGo to full article
Aquarists from the River Safari feed West Indian manatees on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Singapore. The River Safari, a river-themed wildlife park which recently opened, has chosen the manatee to become the park's animal icon. It currently has 14 West Indian manatees which are considered vulnerable on the list of threatened species. Through captive breeding of manatees, the River Safari hopes to contribute to the species' population. To date, over 10 manatees have been born in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)In this photo by Wong Maye-E, aquarists feed West Indian manatees at the River Safari wildlife park in Singapore. The river-themed park recently opened and has chosen the manatee as its animal icon. It has 14 West Indian manatees, a species that is considered vulnerable. Through captive breeding of manatees, the River Safari hopes to contribute to the species' population. To date, more than 10 manatees have been born in Singapore.
 
 

Thailand canvasses support for controversial charter ahead of August vote

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎1:30:50 PMGo to full article
Thailand Election Commission's mascot attends an event to kick off the distribution of five million copies of a controversial military-written draft constitution in BangkokBy Aukkarapon Niyomyat BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuters) - Thailand's military government on Wednesday kicked off a drive to convince citizens to vote in an August referendum for a draft constitution that the junta has said will pave the way for an election next year.Opponents say the constitution will instead enshrine a political role for the military, which seized power two years ago in a coup, besides heralding weak governments and worsening a decade of bitter political division. The government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the junta that seized power in May 2014 after months of political unrest, says the charter will lay the foundations of a stable democracy, and is confident it will be approved. Starting from mid-June, about 100,000 army cadets will fan out across Thailand to discuss the charter and encourage people to vote, said election official Pravich Rattanapian.
 
 

Group of 7 seeks way forward for aging, faltering economies

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎11:33:00 AMGo to full article
FILE - In this May 24, 2016 file photo, a man puts a banner of the G7 Summit at International Media Center in Ise, Mie Prefecture, central Japan. Leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations will undoubtedly voice unity over fighting terrorism, pandemics and tax evasion at their summit in Japan starting on Thursday, May 26. Finding a consensus on how to breathe life into their sluggish economies is proving more elusive. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)ISE, Japan (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations plan to voice unity over fighting terrorism, pandemics and tax evasion at their summit in Japan this week. Finding a consensus on how to breathe life into their sluggish economies is proving more elusive.
 
 

As lines form for water, Myanmar pins hopes on Suu Kyi

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎11:03:34 AMGo to full article
In this May 12, 2016 photo, a man walks on dry and cracked earth with empty plastic containers to collect drinking water from a fenced-off pond in Dala township, south of Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar's dry season, which typically runs from April through May, has been compounded this year by an El Nino-induced drought that added several months to the water shortage affecting Dala township. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)DALA, Myanmar (AP) — Every year at this time, the ponds and wells go dry. People walk for hours to fill their plastic buckets at a lotus-filled pond that is the only clean source of drinking water in this community outside Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon.
 
 

Scandal-hit Tokyo seeks crumbs of comfort from IOC

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎10:00:48 AMGo to full article
John Coates, chairman of the IOC's Tokyo 2020 coordination commission, and his team are likely to face tough questions over the alleged bribery suspicionsBeleaguered Tokyo 2020 Olympic organisers will be hoping for some warm words of comfort from the International Olympic Committee when senior officials arrive for talks on Wednesday. Controversy has once again cast a shadow over Japan's preparations for the 2020 Games after French prosecutors launched an investigation into $2 million in payments allegedly paid to help Tokyo secure the Olympics. John Coates, chairman of the IOC's Tokyo 2020 coordination commission, attempted to deflect attention away from potentially sticky issues on previous visits, such as last year's row over the cost of the main stadium.
 
 

Indonesian birds face extinction due to pet trade: study

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎9:31:12 AMGo to full article
Indonesia’s national bird, the Javan Hawk-eagle, is among 13 bird species at serious risk of extinction mainly due to the pet tradeThirteen species of Indonesian birds, including the country's symbolic Javan Hawk-eagle, are at serious risk of extinction mainly due to the pet trade, a wildlife watchdog warned Wednesday. "This is a multi-million-dollar industry, there's a huge criminal element and many people are profiting illegally from this business," Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC's director for Southeast Asia and a co-author of the study, told AFP. Huge demand for songbirds in Indonesia has also put bird species in other countries such as Malaysia and Thailand in danger, Shepherd said.
 
 

Kerry launches Vietnam's first private university

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎9:17:00 AMGo to full article
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday launched Vietnam's first privately funded university in what he said marked the next stage of an evolving relationship between the United States and Vietnam. The Harvard-affiliated Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City, the country's commercial center, will be the first independent, non-profit university in Vietnam, the White House said in a statement. The launch comes at the end of a three-day visit to Vietnam by U.S. President Barack Obama, part of his administration's "pivot" to Asia that emphasizes the importance of the fast-growing region to the United States.
 

Vietnamese dissident a reluctant tourist during Obama visit

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎8:11:30 AMGo to full article
Nguyen Quang A watches TV at his home in Hanoi, VietnamBy Martin Petty HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese dissident Nguyen Quang A spent much of Tuesday as a tourist with plainclothes cops - eating fish noodle soup, visiting a temple and a fortune teller – returning home just as President Barack Obama took off from Hanoi aboard Air Force One. "It was a compulsory tour," joked Quang A, 69, a well-known critic of the Communist Party who is famous for creative stunts of his own to make Vietnam's leaders pay more than lip-service to political inclusiveness. Quang A, a former IT entrepreneur, was one of more than 100 Vietnamese who tried to run as independents for last weekend's election to the parliament, which is tightly controlled by the Communist Party.
 
 

Italy, Netherlands and Sweden vie for Security Council seat

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎5:49:27 AMGo to full article
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden all made their cases on Tuesday for why they should be elected to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations' most powerful body.
 

Beijing lines up diplomatic battle groups over South China Sea

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎5:17:10 AMGo to full article
Disputed claims in the South China SeaThe disputed rocks and reefs of the South China Sea are more than an ocean away from the landlocked African nation of Niger. The tribunal case, brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague by the Philippines, is highly technical and hinges on such issues as how international law defines "islands".
 
 

Native Americans protest planned French auction of artifacts

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎5:00:32 AMGo to full article
Pueblo of Acoma Gov. Kurt Riley, center, accompanied by Pueblo of Acoma Traditional Leader Conroy Chino, left, speaks as a group of American Indian Nations and American Indian advocates hold a news conference at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, to contest a Paris auction house's upcoming auction of Native American remains and sacred objects. The items are slated to be sold by the EVE auction house in Paris on May 30. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON (AP) — Native American leaders are protesting the latest plan by a Paris auction house to sell off part of their tribal history, and their demand for the return of their ceremonial objects is getting bipartisan support.
 
 

European stocks retreat

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎2:16:06 AMGo to full article
Around 1115 GMT, the London stock market was up 0.6 percentEuropean stocks jumped Wednesday, mirroring gains in Asia, as investors welcomed Greece's debt relief deal, bright German and US economic data, easing Brexit concerns and firmer oil prices. The region's markets had also climbed the previous day as opinion polls suggested Britain would vote to remain in the European Union in a crucial referendum next month. The deal releases 10.3 billion euros ($12 billion) in bailout funds that Greece urgently needs to repay big loans to the European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July, having already fallen behind in paying for everyday government duties and wages.
 
 

2,000 migrants moved from Greek border camp

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:07 AMGo to full article
Greek authorities predict it will take 10 days to clear all the 8,400 refugees and migrants from a makeshift camp on the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni, on May 24, 2016Greek police on Tuesday transferred some two thousand migrants out of the overcrowded camp of Idomeni, launching a major operation to clear up the squalid tent city where thousands fleeing war and poverty have lived for months. The operation began at dawn, and by evening officials said they had put 2,031 people on buses to newly opened camps near Greece's second city Thessaloniki, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south. A hundred of them refused to enter the new centre and headed off by foot to downtown Thessaloniki, a police source said.
 
 

Christie's fined over elephant ivory sale

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎12:10:51 AMGo to full article
Christie's auction house has been fined £3,250 for selling a piece of elephant ivory without the correct documentation, London police say on May 24, 2016Christie's auction house has been fined £3,250 ($4,750, 4,270 euros) for selling a piece of elephant ivory without the correct documentation, London police said Tuesday. The silver-mounted tusk, put up for auction last year, did not have the right documentation under wildlife protection laws, a police statement said. A representative for the auction house pleaded guilty in London for selling the ivory, in contravention of an article in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
 
 

Wu's late winner puts Shanghai through to AFC Champions League quarters

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎8:55:49 PMGo to full article
Wu Lei of China's Shanghai SIPG celebrates after scoring a goal during the AFC Champions League round of 16 match against Japan's FC Tokyo, on May 24, 2016Wu Lei's dramatic injury-time winner put Sven-Goran Eriksson's Shanghai SIPG into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals against a dumbfounded FC Tokyo on Tuesday. The Japanese visitors were seconds away from Asia's last eight until Wu struck in the 91st minute for a 1-0 win, sparking chaotic celebrations among the SIPG players and fans. SIPG's win on the away goals rule, after the last-16 tie's first leg finished 2-1, means Eriksson's side have reached the quarter-finals at their first attempt after coming through qualifying.
 
 

As disaster risks rise, 20 vulnerable nations get help to prepare

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4:30:47 PMGo to full article
Turkish President Erdogan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands following the closing news conference during the World Humanitarian Summit in IstanbulBy Megan Rowling ISTANBUL (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new scheme launched by U.N. agencies, the World Bank and countries most vulnerable to climate change on Tuesday is seeking funding of up to $130 million to help 20 at-risk nations prepare better for natural disasters. The Global Partnership for Preparedness, launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Tuesday, aims to help the countries attain a basic level of readiness by 2020 for future disaster risks mainly caused by climate change. "The aim is to save lives, safeguard development gains, and reduce the economic impacts of crises," said United Nations Development Program Administrator Helen Clark.
 
 

Obama's Hiroshima trip parachutes him into history disputes

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎4:17:06 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this March 31, 2016, file photo, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as U.S. President Barack Obama watches after their meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. By visiting Hiroshima, Barack Obama parachutes himself into a seemingly endless dispute among key U.S. allies and trading partners over World War II. In Tokyo’s decades-long tug-of-war over history with its neighbors China and South Korea, it’s the American president who could end up losing. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — By visiting Hiroshima, Barack Obama parachutes himself into a seemingly endless dispute among key U.S. allies and trading partners over World War II. In Tokyo's decades-long tug-of-war over history with its neighbors China and South Korea, it's the American president who could end up losing.
 
 

Activists urge inquiry after Rohingya shot in Thai detention center breakout

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3:23:44 PMGo to full article
By Alisa Tang BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Rights groups called on Tuesday for an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar who was involved in a dramatic mass breakout from a detention center in southern Thailand. Eleven more Rohingya were arrested on Tuesday and will be charged with fleeing detention, police said.
 

Europe higher, Asia slumps amid expectations Fed rate hike

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3:19:25 PMGo to full article
A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. Asian stock markets fell in subdued trading Tuesday amid growing expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)TOKYO (AP) — European stock markets rose on Tuesday, despite jitters in Asian trading, and the British pound rose as market expectations faded of an exit from the European Union.
 
 

The Latest: White House protests to Vietnam over activists

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎3:12:08 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Barack Obama and american chef Anthony Bourdain shake hands at a shopping area in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. President Barack Obama taped the second part of an interview with CNN personality Anthony Bourdain before leaving the Vietnamese capital for his next stop: Ho Chi Minh City. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (AP) — The Latest on U.S. President Barack Obama's first visit to Vietnam (all times local):
 
 

Tens of thousands need aid after deadly cyclone pounds Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎1:50:28 PMGo to full article
A car is seen under water on a flooded road in Wellampitiya , Sri LankaBy Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka need aid including clean drinking water, dry food rations and medicines after a deadly cyclone hammered the South Asia region, aid agencies said on Tuesday. With wind speeds reaching 90 kph (56 mph) and heavy rains, cyclone Roanu struck Bangladesh on Saturday, after buffeting India and Sri Lanka in the Bay of Bengal - killing at least 120 people and affecting hundreds of thousands more in the region. Aid workers said Roanu's torrential rains triggered flooding, landslides and tidal surges mostly in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - ripping apart thousands of rickety homes, burying entire villages and inundating swathes of farmland.
 
 

MMA comes to heartland of Thai kickboxing

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎11:30:15 AMGo to full article
In this March 3, 2016 photo, One Championship Strawweight champion Dejdamrong Amnuaysirichoke attends a press conference for his upcoming Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, match in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand will host its first major MMA event on Friday, May 27, 2016 despite the country's traditional Muay Thai kickboxing style being the foundation of its fighting technique. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)BANGKOK (AP) — Of all the various fighting styles that combine to create the burgeoning sport of Mixed Martial Arts, it is Thai kickboxing which is at the core of the new discipline. Yet it has taken until this week for Thailand to host its first major MMA event.
 
 

Singapore kicks out Swiss bank linked to Malaysia's 1MDB

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:52:54 AMGo to full article
Singapore's central bank has ordered the closure of the local branch of Swiss bank BSI, which has been linked to a scandal at Malaysia's troubled state fund 1MDBSingapore's central bank on Tuesday said it was kicking out Switzerland's BSI Bank, which has been linked to a global money-laundering scandal that has embroiled neighbouring Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak. In the toughest legal action so far in the crisis rocking Malaysian state fund 1MDB, Switzerland also disclosed it had launched criminal proceedings against the parent firm BSI SA for "deficiencies" in its internal organisation. “BSI Bank is the worst case of control lapses and gross misconduct that we have seen in the Singapore financial sector," Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said in a statement.
 
 

Forensic experts urged to join Indonesian grave exhumations

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎9:13:19 AMGo to full article
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A human rights group urged Indonesia to involve forensic experts in exhuming mass graves linked to massacres a half-century ago to ensure the preservation of crucial evidence and allow for the identification of bodies.
 

Strongest El Nino in nearly 20 years ends: Australian weather bureau

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎7:46:51 AMGo to full article
By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - The strongest El Nino in nearly 20 years, which damaged crop production in Asia and caused food shortages, has ended, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday. Climate indicators associated with El Nino, which emerged in 2015, have now returned to neutral levels, the BOM said. El Nino sees in a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific which can lead to scorching weather across Asia and east Africa, but heavy rains and floods in South America.
 

Cambodia takes solace from plow ceremony amid worst drought in 50 years

 
‎Tuesday, ‎May ‎24, ‎2016, ‏‎6:36:12 AMGo to full article
A girl sits on her boat at a Bak Angrout dried up pond at the drought-hit Kandal province in CambodiaAnnual rains have come late to Cambodia, exacerbating the drought and forcing farmers to wait before planting this year's crop of rice. Watched by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, and a crowd of thousands in the ceremonial furrow in Siem Reap province, the two cows ate 90 percent of three out of seven snacks on offer in ornate bowls. Each year, based on the oxen's choice of crops and the amount the animals eat, the Royal Palace astrologers forecast coming harvests and pray for regular rainfall.
 
 

How would Bayer-Monsanto affect workers, farmers, investors?

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎11:32:00 PMGo to full article
FILE - The Oct. 2, 2013 file photo shows the logo of Bayer at the Berlin Brandenburg Airport in Schoenefeld, Germany. German drug and chemicals company Bayer AG says it has made a $62 billion offer to buy U.S.-based crops and seeds specialist Monsanto Company. Bayer said Monday, May 23, 2016 that the all-cash offer values Monsanto shares at $122 each. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bayer wants to buy Monsanto for $62 billion, hooking up the German chemical and drug company with the St. Louis-based producer of seeds and weed-killers.
 
 

Zika crisis fuelled by 'massive policy failure': WHO chief

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:16 PMGo to full article
The Zika virus is mainly spread via the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoThe spiralling crisis surrounding the Zika virus is due to decades of policy failures on mosquito control and poor access to family planning services, the World Health Organization said Monday. "The spread of Zika... (is) the price being paid for a massive policy failure that dropped the ball on mosquito control in the 1970s," WHO chief Margaret Chan told the opening of the UN health agency's annual assembly. Experts agree that Zika is behind a surge in Latin America in cases of the birth defect microcephaly -- babies born with abnormally small heads and brains -- after their mothers were infected with the virus.
 
 

Obama banishing Vietnam War vestige by lifting arms embargo

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎10:03:06 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang shake hands at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, May 23, 2016. The president is on a weeklong trip to Asia as part of his effort to pay more attention to the region and boost economic and security cooperation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Eager to banish lingering shadows of the Vietnam War, President Barack Obama lifted the U.S. embargo on selling arms to America's former enemy Monday and made the case for a more trusting and prosperous relationship going forward. Activists said the president was being too quick to gloss over serious human rights abuses in his push to establish warmer ties.
 
 

Iran and India sign port deal, other economic agreements

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:30:56 PMGo to full article
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, walks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during an official welcoming ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 23, 2016. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — India said Monday it will invest up to $500 million in a deal to develop a strategic port in Iran and both countries planned a number of projects they say are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
 
 

U.S. lifts arms ban on old foe Vietnam as China tensions simmer

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎9:01:13 PMGo to full article
U.S. President Barack Obama attends a bilateral meeting with Vietnam's General Secretary of the Communist Party and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong at Central Office of the Communist Party of Vietnam in HanoiBy Matt Spetalnick HANOI (Reuters) - The United States announced a complete end to its arms embargo on Vietnam on Monday, a historic step that draws a line under the two countries' earlier enmity and underscores their shared concerns about China's growing military clout. The move came during President Barack Obama's first visit to Hanoi, which his hosts described as the arrival of a warm spring and a new chapter in relations between two countries that were at war four decades ago. Obama, the third U.S. president to visit Vietnam since diplomatic relations were restored in 1995, has made a strategic "rebalance" toward Asia a centerpiece of his foreign policy.
 
 

India and Iran agree port deal, reviving trade ties

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:51:42 PMGo to full article
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (centre) speaks at a joint press briefing with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Tehran on May 23, 2016India agreed Monday to finance the development of an Iranian port as a trading hub, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to revive economic ties with Tehran after the lifting of sanctions. The Indian leader met Iranian officials including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during a visit that he said would mark "a new chapter in our strategic partnership". Modi and Rouhani oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the provision of a line of credit from India's EXIM Bank to develop Iran's southern port of Chabahar, on the Gulf of Oman.
 
 

Greece to intensify evacuation of squalid migrant border camp

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎7:50:16 PMGo to full article
Children play on railroad tracks in the refugees camp at the Greek-FYR of Macedonia border near the village of Idomeni on May 23, 2016Greece said Monday it will step up efforts to clear the squalid camp of Idomeni where over 8,400 migrants remain on the border with Macedonia after braving a winter in vain hope of being allowed through to Europe. "The transfer of refugees trapped at Idomeni to hospitality areas probably begins tomorrow (Tuesday)," Yiorgos Kyritsis, the government's migration spokesman, told state news agency ANA. Most of the migrants are to be moved to camps at former industrial facilities near Greece's second city Thessaloniki over 10 days, he added, as Greek media reported that around a dozen squads of riot police were heading to Idomeni.
 
 

Cults of personalities proliferate in Central Asia

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎5:33:14 PMGo to full article
FILE - In this Thursday June 17, 2004 file photo, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon, left, and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev listen to Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a press conference after the Uzbekistan security summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Rakhmon’s title looks almost certainly to have been copied from Kazakhstan, where President Nursultan Nazarbayev was elevated to Leader of the Nation in 2010. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, file)DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (AP) — Central Asia's autocratic leaders don't want to be liked. They want to be adored.
 
 

Pope meets top Egyptian cleric, ending five-year freeze in relations

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎3:35:55 PMGo to full article
Pope Francis talks with Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque at the VaticanPope Francis met on Monday the grand imam of Egypt's highest Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, looking to heal Vatican relations with the influential center of Sunni Muslim learning after dialogue was frozen five years ago. The 1,000-year-old mosque and university center cut contacts with the Vatican in 2011 over what it said were repeated insults toward Islam from Francis's predecessor, Pope Benedict. The decision came just days after Benedict denounced what he called "a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target" following a bomb attack outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria that killed 23 people.
 
 

Obama banishes Vietnam war era with lifting of arms ban

 
‎Monday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2016, ‏‎1:59:00 PMGo to full article
US President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam has formally reset the relationship between the former foes with the lifting of a US arms embargoUS President Barack Obama on Monday scrapped a Cold War-era ban on weapons sales to Vietnam, as ties between the former foes grow closer thanks to trade and mutual fears of Chinese expansion in disputed seas. The announcement, made at the start of Obama's three-day visit to Vietnam, could strengthen Hanoi's hand against Beijing, which has been increasingly assertive in its claims to contested areas of the South China Sea. "Over the past century, our two nations have known cooperation and then conflict, painful separation, and a long reconciliation," Obama said at a press conference alongside Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang.
 
 
 

 

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Iran's Khamenei calls for vigilance against West's 'soft war' - state TV

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎4 minutes agoGo to full article
ANKARA: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for vigilance against the West's "soft war" aimed at weakening the clerical establishment, state television reported on Thursday.

"Our officials and all parts of the establishment should be vigilant about the West's continued soft war against Iran ... the enemies want to weaken the system from inside," Khamenei said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves as he arrives to address workers in Tehran

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Toby Chopra)

 

World Cup defeat will spur England in Australia - Clifford

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎4 minutes agoGo to full article
REUTERS: The defeat by Australia at last year's Rugby World Cup will spur England in next month's three-test series Down Under, flanker Jack Clifford has said.

England became the first host nation to be knocked out at the group stages of a World Cup following their 33-13 thumping by the Wallabies at Twickenham.

The Australian-born Clifford, who was included in Eddie Jones' 32-man squad for the tour, said the defeat was still lingering in the players' minds.

"Whoever is lucky enough to get picked will think about that game," he told reporters, ahead of Old Mutual Wealth Cup match against Wales on Sunday.

"I am sure quite a few of the lads who played in it (the defeat by Australia) will be out there and will use it as a driving force to give you an edge."

The 23-year old also hoped that the English back row would be better suited to match Australia's pace and intensity, crediting the work of former Wallabies captain George Smith, who worked with England this season.

"Every back row player in the England squad will say that the work they did with him has helped massively," he added.

"I hope he will be involved (in preparations for the tour) because he was a great coach and a great person to learn off."

England play Wales in a warm up game at Twickenham on Sunday, before heading to Brisbane to play their first test on June 11.

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

 

In dig at US, China says all US arms embargoes should go

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎9 minutes agoGo to full article
BEIJING: Taking a dig at the U.S. arms embargo against China, the Chinese Defence Ministry said on Thursday all such U.S. embargoes were a relic of the Cold War and should be lifted, after the U.S. fully removed one against Vietnam.

The United States placed an arms embargo on China following the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. The European Union has a similar embargo.

"American public figures on many occasions have said that implementing arms embargoes are a manifestation of Cold War thinking," Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news conference.

"In fact, the U.S. still has unilateral arms embargoes against some countries. We think that the United States ought to abandon its Cold War thinking and put an end to such acts that do not accord with the times."

Yang declined to say directly if he was referring to the U.S. arms embargo against China.

The U.S. move with Vietnam, announced this week during President Barack Obama's visit to Hanoi, underscores their shared concern about China's growing military influence and growing assertiveness over claims in the South China Sea.

Obama, the third U.S. president to visit Vietnam since diplomatic relations were restored in 1995, has made a strategic "rebalance" towards Asia a centrepiece of his foreign policy.

Vietnam, which borders China, is a key part of that strategy amid worries about Beijing's assertiveness and sovereignty claims to 80 percent of the South China Sea.

China sees U.S. support for rival South China Sea claimants Vietnam and the Philippines as interference and an attempt to establish hegemony in the region. Washington insists its priority is ensuring freedom of navigation and flight.

China's foreign ministry had given a muted reaction to the lifting of the arms embargo against Vietnam, saying it hoped the development in relations between the United States and Vietnam would be conducive to regional peace and stability.

Yang declined to comment beyond what the foreign ministry had already said.

China is Vietnam's biggest trade partner and source of imports. But bilateral trade with the United States has swelled ten-fold over the past two decades to about US$45 billion (30.5 billion pounds). Vietnam is also now Southeast Asia's biggest exporter to America.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

 

Kremlin - Savchenko's release won't accelerate warming in EU-Russia ties

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎19 minutes agoGo to full article
MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin has consistently expressed his willingness to improve ties with the European Union, the Kremlin said on Thursday, but the release of Ukrainian Nadiya Savchenko from a Russian jail is unlikely to make this task easier.

Savchenko's handover on Wednesday, in return for two Russian prisoners, had been demanded by the West and was cast as a humanitarian gesture by Putin a few weeks before the European Union decides whether to extend sanctions against Russia imposed over its support for rebels in east Ukraine.

Ukrainian servicewoman Savchenko talks to media upon her arrival at Boryspil International airport

"The return of our guys to Moscow and the pardoning of Savchenko and her return to Kiev can hardly be considered as something that is able to significantly change the current atmosphere, which of course we would like to see as more constructive," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with journalists on Thursday.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Alexander Winning)

 

Australian family facing deportation underlines UK govt immigration headache

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎19 minutes agoGo to full article
EDINBURGH: An Australian family living in Scotland, who came to the country four years ago during a drive to attract people to live in rural areas, now faces deportation under new British rules designed to control immigration.

The Brains were due to meet Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday to discuss the rules which one lawmaker of her Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) described as a "blunt instrument".

Kathryn and Gregg Brain and their seven-year-old son Lachlan, who has learnt Scotland's ancient Gaelic language at school, arrived in 2011 as part of a plan backed by the British government to help prop up an ageing and shrinking population in northern Scotland.

But the scheme was closed and a change in the rules meant the family required a different visa to stay in the country - a requirement that has pitted the devolved Scottish nationalist government against the British government in London.

One of the key issues in the debate on Britain's membership of the European Union ahead of a June 23 vote is the arrival of immigrants seeking work, and their status as beneficiaries of Britain's welfare system.

Immigration is above targets set by the government, seen in data released on Thursday showing net migration to Britain rose to 333,000 last year. The number of new arrivals from Europe has driven much opposition to the bloc.

"The government apparently is trying to regulate immigration but what they are actually doing is alienating and deporting the very people with the talent and the skills that we need in Scotland," SNP lawmaker Kate Forbes said.

"These inflexible rules are a blunt instrument," she said.

Gregg Brain is a health and safety expert and Kathryn, who arrived on a student visa, has just completed a degree in Scottish history and has an offer of temporary work in a local distillery.

(Reporting By Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Ralph Boulton)

 

MAS eases rules on motor vehicle financing

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎23 minutes agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Thursday (May 26) announced that the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and loan tenure allowed for motor vehicle loans will be eased, although restrictions will remain in place for the long term. The adjustments follow the sustained moderation in Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premiums and in resulting inflationary pressures over the last three years.
 

In 2013, MAS introduced restrictions on motor vehicle loans by financial institutions, to moderate the demand for cars and COEs and alleviate inflationary pressures. The measures also served longer term purposes: to encourage financial prudence and to support efforts to promote a car-lite society.
 

Car Showroom (3)

Since then, the contribution of private road transport (excluding petrol) to CPI-All Items inflation has eased from +1.3 percentage points in 2011-2012 to -0.5 percentage point in Q1 2016. In addition, outstanding motor vehicle loans have declined by 32% from $14.13 billion in Q1 2013 to $9.55 billion in Q1 2016, MAS said.
 

The allowable vehicle population growth rate remains capped at 0.25 per cent per annum. However, COE quotas have expanded in recent quarters alongside an increase in de-registrations.
 

From May 27, the maximum loan-to-value ratio for vehicles on the open market less than or equal to S$20,000 will be raised from 60 per cent to 70 per cent, and that for vehicles more than S$20,000 will be upped to 60 per cent from 50 per cent. 

MAS LTV
 

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will apply the revised financing restrictions to non-MAS regulated entities which extend motor vehicle financing on a hire-purchase basis. The Ministry of Law will also require licensed moneylenders to comply with the revised financing

restrictions, MAS stated.
 

Mr Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director of MAS, said: “In 2013, when we
introduced the measures, our immediate aim was to help restrain escalating COE premiums
and consequent inflationary pressures. Since then, demand conditions have moderated and
it is timely to ease the measures. MAS will, however, continue to have the LTV and loan tenure framework in place for the long term to promote financial prudence and help support the promotion of a car-lite society.”


 

 

Controversial Thai abbot taken ill ahead of deadline to turn himself in

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎29 minutes agoGo to full article
BANGKOK: The abbot of the powerful Dhammakaya Temple was taken ill on Thursday (May 26) - on the day he was supposed to have turned himself in at a police station, a temple spokesman said.  
 

Phra Dhammachaiyo is facing charges of money laundering and receiving illegal donations worth US$34 million, and has missed several summons to report to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

Abbot Phra Dhammachayo arrives for a ceremony at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani pro

The DSI issued an arrest warrant last week, with Thursday being the final day for the abbot to surrender to hear charges against him, which carry penalties of up to 20 years in jail.
 

At about 2pm (3pm Singapore time), Dhammakaya monks prepared to walk to the police station ahead of his appearance, but about an hour later the abbot had not appeared and they returned.

 

 

In a statement at around 5pm, the temple said the abbot had fallen ill while travelling to the police station. "He wants to cooperate, but cannot travel out," said the temple spokesperson.

Earlier in the week, it invited the DSI to go to the temple and arrest the abbot, before the Thursday deadline. It said it wanted to prevent a potentially explosive situation between authorities and temple supporters. But the DSI said it would not take any action until the Thursday deadline had passed.

Local media reported that the DSI has put together a team to go to the Dhammakaya Temple, possibly on Friday, to make the arrest if the abbot failed to show up on Thursday.

After the arrest is made, the abbot will be taken to the Criminal Court for detention application.  It is then up to the court to decide whether he will be allowed to be released on bail.

Of concern now, is the possibility of the situation escalating when law enforcement officials set foot on temple grounds to arrest the abbot - if he fails to turn himself in on Thursday. There are thousands of monks and followers residing within Dhammakaya Temple, which is located in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok.

 

Blooming partnership with Anderson pleases Broad

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎39 minutes agoGo to full article
REUTERS: England paceman Stuart Broad believes his new ball partnership with James Anderson has improved a lot in the last two years with their perfect understanding of each other's role.

Anderson and Broad shared 15 of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets to fall at Headingley where the hosts thumped Sri Lanka by an innings and 88 runs in the first test.

England v Sri Lanka - First Test

"We've actually improved in the last couple of years," Broad, who turns 30 next month, told British media.

"We've always been quite good in communicating, but we've taken that to a new level, realising when one of us in on a wicket-taking streak, the other one can apply pressure and not get too greedy, and vice versa."

Anderson, 33, claimed 10 wickets against Sri Lanka to take his tally to 443 and become the sixth-highest wicket-taker in tests.

"Jimmy's an outstanding swing bowler, as we saw at Headingley when conditions swung. I don't really swing it - I look to more seam it," Broad added.

"We feel like we've got the experience now to be able to pick up on conditions quickly and not know who’s day it’s going to be."

The second match of the three-test series begins in Durham on Friday.

(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

 

Young tech professionals co-living in Singapore: What's the draw?

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎40 minutes agoGo to full article
SINGAPORE: “You live in your office? Why?” This is the typical response 26 year-old Lim Weiyuan gets when he tells people where his home is.
 

Mr Lim, who is a co-founder at four year-old startup Reactor, has been living and working out of a condominium unit in East Coast with two colleagues for the last six months. A fourth member, Alex Foo, is due to move in permanently in June, while a fifth member, Puah Jing Wen, only sleeps over on occasion, when she works late.
 

Startup Reactor 1

In the day, the four Singaporeans – whose ages range from 21 to 27 – share the three-bedroom condominium unit with colleagues from a sister startup, Trabble. Come nightfall, Mr Lim and Trabble founder Low Jian Liang retreat to their bunk beds in the master bedroom, while Reactor co-founder Khairul Rusydi – who snores – is banished to a room of his own. The third bedroom hosts guests – usually fellow entrepreneurs from abroad – which helps to pay the rent.
 

“Most of my friends from overseas understand the idea of a 'hacker house', or a co-living space, and when they visit, they want to stay here. And they are mostly working in startups. It helps in bouncing off ideas,” said Mr Low.
 

Such living arrangements first took off among the startup communities in San Francisco and New York, and have spread to other cities with a vibrant startup ecosystem.
 

But in Singapore, Reactor’s home – named ARC-II, after comic book character Iron Man's Arc Reactor – is believed to be the only functioning co-living space. It operates under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Home Office scheme, through which the owner, tenant or authorised occupier of a private residential property can run certain types of small-scale business out of the unit. Commercial co-living spaces that opened in the last couple of years – 13 and Techsquat – are now defunct, although Channel NewsAsia understands there are at least two new co-living spaces that will be established later this year.

Startup reactor 2
 

Members of the Reactor team (left to right) - Alex Foo, 21; Rusydi Khairul, 27; Low Jian Liang, 27; Lim Weiyuan, 26. (Photo: Linette Lim)

CO-LIVING, EXPLAINED
 

“We work where we sleep, and we can wake up in the middle of the night and start working,” said Mr Foo, a coder. Mr Low, who runs a travel-related chatbot app, concurs: “In the middle of the night, if I get a sudden epiphany, we’d start discussing. There are Post-Its all over the place and a giant whiteboard for us to note down ideas.”
 

Co-living is an extension of the co-working trend that is pervasive in startup communities, including Singapore. In a co-working arrangement, people who are self-employed or working for different employers share office space and common facilities in order to save costs and share ideas. Co-living takes that arrangement one step further – so people can work round the clock, if they want to.
 

“Overall, this is more cost-efficient, compared to standard offices that typically aren't utilised over the weekends,” said Mr Rusydi, pointing out that ARC-II is also used as a casual meeting point for the various youth-led startups that Reactor is mentoring.
 

But the co-living arrangement only works if people want to work and live together, and their personalities and career goals are aligned, said the Reactor team.
 

“The reason why we want a space is we want to see each other more often. We find that working remotely doesn’t work out as well as if you have face-to-face interaction. You can’t build culture, you can’t build rapport without that interaction,” said Mr Lim.
 

“If you buy desk space, you’re not really building any kind of rapport with your team. Or you’re a solo-preneur, you can just work out of a coffee joint, so (paying to co-work or co-live) is a needless expense.”

Startup reactor 3
 

The living room in this three-bedroom condominium is a co-working space for startup Reactor and its affiliates. (Photo: Linette Lim)

Co-living has worked out well for Reactor because they feel they are more productive together, are able to work more flexible hours, and can cohere as a team. But this living arrangement is not for everyone.

"I like my own space. There are too many distractions in a co-working space, and I imagine it to be worse in a co-living space,” said Winnie Wu, a 29 year-old creative director.
 

“I like the idea if it is something the company can afford, and if it suits the lifestyle of my teammates,” said Keith Ng, co-founder of gamification platform Gametize. “But as you get older, it could get a little more uncomfortable, because you’d want more personal space.”
 

Mr Ng, 34, added that it may make more sense for members of the same team to co-live, rather than for individuals from different startups to come together and do that.

COMMUNITY VERSUS COMMERCIALISATION
 

ARC-II advertises desks, beds, and rooms for rent on its website – ranging from S$29 a night for a dorm bed, to S$1000 a month for a private room. It is not currently hosting any external parties outside of the Reactor and Trabble teams, not for lack of demand, but for lack of supply.
 

Nearly all the desk space is taken up by the Reactor and Trabble teams. While there is co-living capacity for one more, it is not actively looking for tenants, and is quite selective about who gets to stay there.
 

Reactor is also first and foremost a startup involved in entrepreneurship training and mentorship. It works with schools to conduct workshops for students between the ages of 14 and 20. As such, the team is less concerned with monetising the space in ARC-II, or becoming an operator of a co-living space.
 

“If you ask me whether this place can be profitable or commercialised, it’s possible – given the number of enquiries we have, the number of people who are willing to pay,” said Mr Low.
 

“But we want to strike a balance between building a community and commercialising. Unless we find someone that we’re very close to, and we know them well enough, and they are looking for a space, we’re open to having them,” said Mr Low.
 

“I agree, there’s a filtering process,” said Mr Rusydi, adding that it was important to make sure that the people who share their space are the right fit.
 

Mr Rusydi is known as the house elf - or cleaning dictator to his flat mates. This community manager role – and the entire team effort in cultivating a sense of belong and shared responsibility – is seen as key to the viability and sustainability of the co-living space, said the Reactor team.

Startup reactor 4
 

An example of some of the house rules at ARC-II. (Photo: Linette Lim)

“If you want to co-live and co-work, and want people to pay for it, then there are certain expectations of each other and of the space,” said Mr Low.

“We share the responsibilities very evenly, when we feel that it’s dirty, we clean; when we use something, we wash up. And we have slightly more concrete rules for guests that come over,” said Mr Low.
 

OBSTACLES TO GROWTH
 

Average monthly rents for the three-bedroom condominium unit that houses ARC-II come up to about S$3000. The Reactor team is able to cover these costs on their own, but acknowledged that it may not be viable for everyone.
 

“Most Singaporeans wouldn’t pay for space, as they live with their parents,” said Mr Lim.
 

He added: “And the locals who are in startups – they don’t have cash. Whatever money they are making, they are pumping back (into their business).”
 

Startup reactor 4
 

A shared room in ARC-II houses up to four, in two bunk beds. (Photo: Linette Lim)

Besides financial considerations, other observers pointed out other obstacles to the growth of the co-living trend in Singapore, including cultural and regulatory barriers.
 

“For such a living arrangement to take off, there has to be a mind-set change not only among the adults moving in but also from their parents,” said Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon from the Department of Marketing at NUS Business School.
 

“Even if the young adults embrace this idea of co-living, parental objections may be strong to discourage them from taking part. Mind-set change takes a long time.”
 

Property analyst Ku Swee Yong said there are a number of regulations in place that deter co-living on a large-scale.
 

“Most apartments and HDB flats in Singapore are under 1000 square feet. There are few co-living companies who can find a large enough apartment or house that can be subdivided and yet be comfortable to all the tenants,” said the CEO of property firm Century 21 Singapore.
 

“Let’s not forget that URA/HDB has a guideline which prohibits (having) more than 8 residents for a three-bedroom unit, for example. And we also have a guideline which makes it illegal to lease a home for less than six months.”
 

Mr Rusydi believes it will take time for people to embrace alternative living arrangements.
 

“It will probably rise with time, once there are more precedents. Co-working spaces took a while to come in vogue; now there are a whole bunch of them,” he said. 

 

Guardiola will transform Man City, predicts Ancelotti

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Incoming manager Pep Guardiola will give Manchester City a new identity, replicating the possession-based football that was the hallmark of his trophy-laden stint with Barcelona, according to his Bayern Munich successor Carlo Ancelotti.

Guardiola, who will replace Manuel Pellegrini at City in July, made a stunning start to his managerial career as his immensely successful four-year spell at Barcelona yielded 14 trophies, including two Champions League titles.

Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund - German Cup DFB Pokal Final

The 45-year-old's three-year tenure at German side Bayern was slightly less successful as he guided them to seven trophies but missed out on the elusive Champions League title.

Ancelotti was certain Guardiola would inject new life at the Etihad Stadium.

"When Guardiola left Barcelona, people said, 'Ah he is not able to repeat the same style of play at Bayern Munich because he doesn't have (Lionel) Messi'," British media quoted him as saying.

"But by the end Bayern were playing with the same style as Barcelona. Different players, but the style is there. It will be the same at Manchester City.

"Guardiola for this reason is a fantastic manager because he is able to build a really strong identity of his team. I think Manchester City signed Guardiola for this reason, to establish a new identity, a new style, a new culture."

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; ediitng by Amlan Chakraborty)

 

Hong Kong pro-democracy protester guilty of assaulting police

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
HONG KONG: A Hong Kong pro-democracy activist who was allegedly beaten by police in an attack captured by television cameras and beamed around the world was found guilty Thursday (May 26) of assaulting and resisting police officers.

Political activist Ken Tsang was accused of splashing liquid on police officers during mass street rallies in 2014 -- the same night as he was beaten in an attack. He denied the charges.

Ken Tsang

Tsang, 40, a member of the pro-democracy Civic Party, was found guilty of one count of assault and two counts of resisting police officers, charges which could carry up to two years in jail.

"The evidence showed that the defendant did indeed pour liquid, and that liquid fell on police officers," magistrate Peter Law told the Kowloon City courthouse.

"Although he did not have a specific target, he clearly knew there were many officers below," he said, adding that it showed "hostility."

Tsang, wearing a dark suit, sat calmly in the courtroom -- which was packed with both journalists and his supporters -- as the verdict was delivered.

Around 30 supporters, some carrying yellow umbrellas -- a symbol of the city's democracy movement -- protested outside the courthouse, shouting slogans including "political prosecution is shameful!"

The police who allegedly beat him, who are not the same officers Tsang is accused of assaulting, are to stand trial separately.

After the verdict, Tsang's lawyer Robert Pang argued that the attack his client had been subject to was far more serious than the charges he has been found guilty of.

"His body was covered in wounds... he was tortured. He was punched and kicked in a dark corner as a punishment," Pang said, adding the police had used "disproportionate violence".

Tsang has said police brought assault charges against him to distract from the case against them.

The two incidents took place at the height of mass protests seeking free leadership elections in Hong Kong, and rocked the reputation of the city's police force.

Video footage aired by local television network TVB at the time showed a group of men hauling a handcuffed Tsang to a dark corner in a public park in the early hours of October 15, 2014.

One man stood over him and punched him, as three others were seen repeatedly kicking him.

Seven policemen will stand trial for the assault on the activist later this year. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

It took a year for charges to be brought against both Tsang and the officers accused of beating him, a delay that further increased controversy surrounding the cases.

Thousands of protesters blocked major thoroughfares in Hong Kong in 2014, calling for a free vote on the city's chief executive, but the demonstration failed to win any concessions from either Beijing or the city authorities.

 

Bianchi family plan legal action against F1

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
MONACO: The family of the late French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi are planning legal action against the sport's governing body, his former Marussia team and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Group, they said in a statement on Thursday.

"We seek justice for Jules, and want to establish the truth about the decisions that led to our son’s crash at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014," his father Philippe said in the statement issued by British firm Stewarts Law.

Philippe Bianchi, the father of late French Formula One driver Bianchi, is hugged by Formula 1 driv

"As a family, we have so many unanswered questions and feel that Jules’ accident and death could have been avoided if a series of mistakes had not been made."

Bianchi, 25, died in hospital in his home town of Nice last July after suffering serious head injuries when he crashed into a recovery crane at Suzuka during the October 2014 race.

He was the first Formula One driver to die of injuries sustained during a race since Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Stewarts Law, representing the family in the English legal system, said formal pre-action letters of claim had been sent this week ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

The recipients were the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), the defunct Marussia team who are racing under new ownership as Manor, and the Formula One Group.

Stewarts said errors were made in the planning, timing, organisation and conduct of the race and the family felt the actions of one or more of the named parties may have contributed to the fatal accident.

"The Bianchi family are determined that this legal process should require those involved to provide answers and to take responsibility for any failings," said Stewarts partner Julian Chamberlayne.

"This is important if current and future drivers are to have confidence that safety in the sport will be put first. If this had been the case in Suzuka, Jules Bianchi would most likely still be alive and competing in the sport he loved today."

There was no immediate response from the FIA, whose report into the accident said that the Frenchman had not slowed sufficiently under warning flags before crashing.

The report found Bianchi's car hit the tractor at 126 kph and said medical services were not at fault in their handling of the aftermath.

Chamberlayne said it had been "surprising and distressing to the Bianchi family that the FIA panel in its conclusions, whilst noting a number of contributing factors, blamed Jules."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ossian Shine/Amlan Chakraborty)

 

New York financial regulator gearing up to probe online lenders: Source

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎1 hour agoGo to full article
REUTERS: New York state's financial regulator, which recently launched a probe into LendingClub Corp, is preparing to look into the activities at other online lenders and whether they should be licensed in New York, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has not yet established which companies it may target, but information it receives in response to a May 17 subpoena sent to LendingClub, one of the largest online lending services, could shed light on broader industry practices that require scrutiny, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

File photo of United States one dollar bills seen on a light table at the Bureau of Engraving and P

Last week, NYDFS subpoenaed San-Francisco based LendingClub, a so-called peer-to-peer lender, asking for information about loans it issued to New Yorkers since May 17, 2013. Information demanded by the regulator includes interest rates that LendingClub charges, underwriting standards and details about how the company verifies borrower information.

LendingClub has until June 21 to respond. It has said it will cooperate fully with the investigation.

Hailed as a "fintech" rival to traditional banks in the wake of the financial crisis, lenders like LendingClub enjoyed rapid growth and attracted plenty of investor dollars through their promise to provide quick and cheap unsecured personal and business loans online. Unlike banks, which retain some of the risk from the loans they make, marketplace lenders sell the loans on to hedge funds, pension funds or individual investors.

U.S. regulators have taken baby steps so far to regulate the sector with the Treasury this month calling for greater scrutiny.

The NYDFS can determine whether a lender's interest rate practices comply with the state's usury laws, which cap interest rates at 16 percent. LendingClub charges interest rates as low as 5 percent and as high as 29 percent, according to the company's data.

LendingClub, which is not licensed in New York, has previously said it is able to charge rates above 16 percent because it funnels its business via WebBank in Utah, where there is no interest rate cap.

Broader examination of the industry by NYDFS could lead to licensing requirements for online lenders in the state along with additional oversight of business practices and loan terms.

The ramped-up scrutiny could trigger headaches for other leading online lenders such as Prosper, the second-largest marketplace lender, and Ondeck, among others. Prosper, which declined to comment, does not have a New York license, according to its website. It is unclear where Ondeck is licensed, and a representative did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

The entire industry is already smarting from weakening investor appetite for their loans as defaults rise.

New York's action is at least the second probe launched against LendingClub since its founder and chief executive, Renaud Laplanche, was ousted earlier this month after an internal probe found the company had falsified documentation when selling a package of loans.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the events leading up to Laplanche’s departure. LendingClub has also said that it was in contact with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, although the reason for those communications was unclear.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Additional reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Matthew Lewis)

 

UK business investment falls ahead of EU referendum

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
LONDON: Business investment in Britain fell in early 2016, a sign that uncertainty caused by the country's impending referendum on European Union membership is weighing on companies.

Growth in the economy slowed to 0.4 percent in the January-March period, the Office for National Statistics confirmed on Thursday, and many economists said it might lose further momentum in the second quarter.

Workers are seen in office windows in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London

Business investment fell in annual terms for the first time in three years, depressed by weaker spending on offices and other non-residential buildings. Weak trade figures again dragged on growth, leaving consumers as the economy's drivers.

The services sector, which makes up 80 percent of the UK economy, showed signs of losing steam.

The Bank of England has previously said uncertainty hanging over the June 23 referendum was crimping investment, especially in the commercial real estate sector where transactions dropped 40 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Chris Hare, an economist with Investec, said the figures might suggest that a lot of the economic slowdown derives from concerns around the referendum, something which could lift quickly if the country votes to stay in the 28-nation EU.

"But the downside risk is that more of the slowdown relates to underlying weakness," Hare said.

The ONS said the economy grew by 2.0 percent versus a year ago, below expectations that the data would confirm an initial estimate of 2.1 percent annual growth in the first quarter.

Business investment was weaker than expected, slackening by 0.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter after rising 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Business investment also declined compared with the fourth quarter although the 0.5 percent decline was less steep than a 2.0 percent fall between October and December 2015.

The government in recent weeks has stepped up its warnings of the risk of Britain leaving the EU, and the Bank of England recently said a Brexit could tip the economy into recession.

World leaders and international organizations from U.S. President Barack Obama to the International Monetary Fund have echoed these concerns.

Earlier this month, the heads of 15 major international companies that are major investors in Britain, including GE, Cisco, Mars and Airbus, called for Britain to remain in the EU and said future investment decisions could be affected by a decision to leave the bloc's single market..

The BoE earlier this month cut its economic growth forecast for this year to 2.0 percent from 2.2 percent and also stepped up its warnings on the economic risks of Brexit.

The economy grew 2.3 percent in 2015, the ONS said.

Household spending rose by 0.7 percent in the first quarter, picking up a bit of speed from late last year.

Consumer spending has been the main propellant of Britain's recovery from the financial crisis and policymakers have said they want to see greater investment by businesses to secure a more balanced economy.

In another sign of the slowdown, output in the services sector fell 0.1 percent in March, its first decline since August of last year.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

China's SAIC-GM to recall 2.16 million vehicles as crankcase valves may corrode: watchdog

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
BEIJING: General Motors Co's joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd will recall about 2.16 million vehicles starting Aug. 15 because the engine crankcase valves may corrode, China's principal consumer protection watchdog said on Thursday.

The recall applies to roughly 834,000 Buick Excelle vehicles, 1.1 million Chevy Cruzes, 159,000 Chevy Epicas and 18,000 Chevy Aveos, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

File photo of General Motors' new Chinese-made cars at a parking lot in Shenyang

A Shanghai-based spokeswoman for GM confirmed that the recall only affects China, but did not provide further details.

(Reporting by Beijing monitoring desk and Jake Spring; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

 

Football: Bale feels right at home in Madrid

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
MADRID: It took more than two seasons but Gareth Bale finally feels settled at Real Madrid and is dreaming of big things to come.

The Wales international will play his second Champions League final with Real in three seasons in Milan on Saturday.

Football Soccer - Real Madrid training session

Bale, who moved to Real from Tottenham in September 2013, lifted the European Cup in his first year with the Spanish giants.

"I feel much more comfortable this year, it's true," Bale said to Marca newspaper.

"You can notice that on the pitch.

"I feel more integrated, I have more personal relationships with my team-mates and that always gives you more happiness and that reflects on my game.

"I'm enjoying myself a lot in Madrid and I hope this continues for many years."

After scoring an equaliser in the Champions League final in 2014 in Lisbon, which saw Real beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 in extra-time, Bale found his second season abroad more challenging.

Injuries and a drop in form saw the winger end the 2014-15 campaign with 17 goals in 48 games for Real.

Some critics believed the club had paid too much money in his 91 million euro transfer.

"It's true that I went through a difficult spell here but everything has changed," the 26-year-old Bale said.

"Now I feel that the fans are with me and that they know that I'm giving my all.

"I think I've proved this season what I'm capable of and the fans are happy with me."

Bale has struggled with injuries again but his numbers have improved. Despite being limited to 30 appearances in all competitions for Real, he has scored 19 goals and provided 10 assists.

"I think my performances have been very good this season but I can still improve a lot," he said.

"My plan is clear: improve each season and raise the level of my performances.

"I want to be better each season and win many titles along the way.

"I hope on Saturday I can wrap up a great season in the best possible way but knowing that I can still improve."

As for his long-term future, Bale said, "I'm very happy in Madrid and I have three years left on my contract. We will see what happens in the future but my idea is to continue here because I'm very happy."

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

 

China's Lenovo swings to full-year loss on M&A costs

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
HONG KONG: China's Lenovo Group Ltd on Thursday reported its first loss in six years, with earnings pulled down by acquisition and restructuring costs as well as weak sales of smartphones and personal computers (PCs).

The world's biggest PC maker booked a net loss of US$128 million for the business year ended March, from US$829 million profit a year earlier. The result compared with the Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate loss of US$123.6 million.

A Lenovo logo is seen at the computer in Kiev

Revenue fell 3 percent to US$44.9 billion. Discounting the impact of foreign exchange, revenue rose 3 percent. In the fourth-quarter alone, revenue fell 19 percent.

The results come as Lenovo curbs its reliance on the slowing PC industry in favour of smartphones and servers. It said profit was pulled down by costs of multi-billion dollar acquisitions in 2014 - for the Motorola handset division of Google Inc and low-end server arm of International Business Machines Corp.

It also booked a charge of US$923 million for costs related to restructuring and clearing its smartphone inventory.

The revenue decline was "due to currency fluctuation and the slower PC demand, while the Group was building up the quality of its smartphone business," Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said in a filing to Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Analysts said cost-cutting was not enough to mask the impact of smartphone sales that were lower than forecast.

Subsidy cuts by local network providers and sluggish demand in emerging markets contributed to Lenovo's global smartphone shipments falling 32 percent in January-March from a year prior to 11.5 million handsets, showed data from researcher TrendForce.

Smartphones are Lenovo's biggest challenge and a turnaround in the foreseeable future is unlikely, Jefferies analyst Ken Hui wrote in a note to clients, highlighting competition in emerging markets such as India and Brazil.

Lenovo's slow smartphone sales prompted Morgan Stanley and HSBC to lower their ratings of the firm's stock this month, after which its share price fell to its lowest since late 2011.

The shares closed down 0.4 percent prior to the earnings announcement. By comparison, the benchmark Hang Seng index was up 0.1 percent.

In PCs - by far Lenovo's largest business - shipments fell 7 percent in January-March versus 9.6 percent in the broader industry, showed data from researcher Gartner.

(Reporting by Clare Jim and Yimou Lee; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

 

Duterte vows economic growth outside of 'dead' Philippine capital

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
DAVAO: Incoming Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte pledged on Thursday (May 26) to spread economic activity beyond the overpopulated capital of Manila, calling it a "dead" city overrun by shantytowns.

Duterte said he would create new jobs by setting up economic zones outside of Manila to spread the wealth beyond the sprawling metropolis of about 15 million people, and that he would not allow any more factories to be built in the capital.

"I have to create more jobs but Manila is already saturated," Rodrigo Duterte told(Photo:AFP)

"I have to create more jobs but Manila is already saturated," Duterte told reporters in the southern city of Davao, which he has ruled as mayor for most of the past two decades.

"If there are any investors coming in, I will tell them I will not allow factories anymore in Manila, not only because it is a dead city but because I have to build a new environment for the people."

Duterte, who won a landslide election victory just over two weeks ago, said repeatedly while campaigning one of his top priorities would be improving the lives of about 26 million Filipinos, more than a fourth of the population, who live on US$1.30 a day or less.

Popular frustrations over the sharp rich-poor divide that largely remain despite years of continuous strong economic growth under incumbent leader Benigno Aquino helped to bring Duterte to power, analysts have said.

Lack of opportunities around the rest of the Philippines have for decades made Manila a magnet for people seeking a better life, but millions have instead been forced to live miserable existences in mega-slums.

Manila financial district and slum
 

Manila's financial district is seen from a slum area on Mar 28, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Noel Celis)

The nation's rich-poor divide is on vivid display in Manila, where the slums are just a few kilometres (miles) from gated villages with luxury homes for the rich, as well as glittering skyscrapers and billion-dollar casino complexes.

Duterte expressed dismay at the sight of Manila's polluted canals, which are surrounded by shantytowns.

Duterte, who will begin a six-year term on Jun 30, said he wanted to create opportunities elsewhere so people would not have to live in such squalid conditions.

"I will ask the engineers to find land because we will build economic zones there," Duterte said, adding people living in the Manila slums would be moved there. "I have to relocate them but before I relocate them, I have to establish economic activity."

Manila accounts for more than a third of the economic output of the country, with two surrounding regions contributing another quarter, according to official data.

 

Big Guards-owned company may lose out as Iran economy, politics shift

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
DUBAI: Long used to lucrative state contracts, Iran's biggest construction company faces leaner times, as overseas firms better able to attract financing push for orders in an economy trying to open to the world after years of sanctions.

The misfortunes of Khatam al Anbia Construction Headquarters (KAA) are an unwelcome novelty for its powerful owners, the Revolutionary Guards, a military unit created by the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini which also secured an economic foothold after the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

Labourers work at the construction site of a building in Tehran

The conglomerate came to dominate the building sector under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad between 2005 and 2013, winning billions of dollars of state contracts for oil and gas facilities, roads and dams.

The Guards have not hesitated to make their displeasure public.

"The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has huge potential in construction fields," Tasnim news agency quoted Guards chief Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying in March.

"Unfortunately, the government has not welcomed its (project) suggestions and activities."

KAA chief Ebadallah Abdollahi, who as a Guards commander often wears military uniform, said this month that one million people were working on the company's projects.

But KAA's dominance looks likely to fade as President Hassan Rouhani's administration draws up plans for huge infrastructure projects to jump-start the economy after international sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme were removed in January, industry executives and analysts say.

Instead of enlisting KAA, the government is turning to foreign firms to discuss contracts for the projects partly because, with its budget strained by low oil prices and damage from the sanctions, it wants financial support from abroad.

"Iran is experiencing one of its worst financial times in history. The government has no money and KAA and other contractors have no financial resources," said Saeed Laylaz, a Tehran-based economist. "So the government's priority for construction projects is finding foreign sources of finance."

KAA did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

CONTRACTS

This month, South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co reached a preliminary agreement with Iran to arrange US$1.5 billion in financing for part of a highway connecting Tehran to the Caspian Sea, the company said.

KAA had expressed interest in the project but offered to provide only 40 percent of the required financing, reported the Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Guards.

China's National Transportation Equipment & Engineering Co is close to agreeing with Tehran on a US$3 billion railway project to connect the capital with the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, a Chinese source familiar with the talks told Reuters. KAA had also expressed interest in that project.

Another Chinese group, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co, has been discussing a proposal to build container ships and oil tankers for Iran for up to US$12 billion, sources said. If Dalian wins the contracts, it will squeeze out Iran Marine Industrial Co, majority-owned by KAA.

Since February, KAA has proposed participating in over 10 mega-projects but the government has not agreed in a single case, said a businessman who operates in the oil and gas sector and has direct contacts with senior Iranian officials.

Several factors appear to be behind the sidelining of KAA. One is that Chinese and Korean firms can count on financial support from their country's deep-pocketed export promotion institutions and banks.

Another is that while state-linked enterprises such as KAA prospered during the sanctions years, officials in Rouhani's administration have said they want to build a more efficient, dynamic economy in the post-sanctions era by increasing the role of market forces and the private sector.

"KAA has enormous engineering and technical power, but is not efficient," Laylaz said. "It will be downsized under the pressures of competition."

Politics may also be involved. The Guards are allied to conservative political interests who opposed the relatively liberal Rouhani's rise to power; his administration may now see little reason to support the Guards' commercial interests.

In any case, even after the removal of most sanctions against Iran, some penalties continue to overhang KAA because of its links to the Guards and their involvement in projects such as ballistic missile development.

KAA will remain on a European Union list of sanctioned entities for up to seven years, and on a U.S. sanctions list indefinitely. This will not block all foreign firms from doing business with KAA, but it will make them think carefully about the risks of dealing with an entity whose assets are frozen by the United States and the EU, sanctions experts said.

"Given the long reach of U.S. sanctions, there is a risk assessment that any prudent multinational company will need to undertake any time they do business with KAA and any of its subsidiaries," said Ramsey Jurdi, a Dubai-based sanctions lawyer with DLA Piper.

COMPLAINTS

In private discussions with government officials, KAA is protesting its exclusion from contracts, but it is unclear if the firm will have much success, construction industry sources said. The Guards and executives in the KAA group have also complained publicly about the company's plight.

KAA has said repeatedly it would have no problem working with foreign companies and that it has started talks on cooperation with some Asian and European firms.

A test of its prospects will come later this year, when the oil ministry is expected to release new contract terms for foreign investors in Iran's energy industry.

The ministry is expected to list some of KAA's affiliates as qualified potential partners for the foreign firms; the foreigners will have to decide if they want to stay away from the affiliates because of legal risk related to sanctions.

Reza Mostafavi Tabatabaei, a London-based oil analyst who has worked on projects in Iran, said it would be wrong for the Iranian government or foreign firms to count the company out.

"They should both accept KAA as a reality in Iran's economy. In the upstream oil sector there are not many companies that have KAA's technical and logistical power. Governments come and go, but KAA is here to stay."

(Additional reporting by Nataly Pak in Seoul, Yeganeh Torbati in Washington, Chen Aizhu in Beijing, Editing by Andrew Torchia, William Maclean and David Stamp)

 

For world records, Indian man removes teeth and gets over 500 tattoos

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
NEW DELHI: An Indian man obsessed with setting Guinness world records got 366 flags tattooed on his body and had all his teeth removed so he could put nearly 500 drinking straws and more than 50 burning candles in his mouth.

Har Parkash Rishi, who claims to have set more than 20 records, now calls himself Guinness Rishi.

Guinness Rishi, multiple world record holder including most flags tattooed on his body, poses for a

Born in 1942 in a cinema hall in the capital, New Delhi, Rishi first got into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1990 when, with two friends, he rode a scooter for 1,001 hours.

The passion to get his name in the record book led him to perform some bizarre acts, including delivering a pizza from New Delhi to San Francisco and gulping a bottle of tomato ketchup in less than four minutes.

He even got his family involved - his wife Bimla holds a 1991 record for writing the world's shortest will: "All to Son".

While it is the tattoos on his body, more than 500 in all, that brought him fame, Rishi, an auto parts manufacturer by profession, says the toughest one was stuffing the straws in his mouth.

"I am the world record holder of 496 straws in my mouth ... For that record, I needed space, I had to remove every tooth so that I could put maximum straws in my mouth," Rishi told Reuters Television before re-enacting the feat on camera.

He is now getting images of global leaders tattooed on his body to add to images of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.S. President Barack Obama, Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India's independence movement.

(Writing by Aditi Shah; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

 

Taiwan angry over 'emotional' female president comments

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
TAIPEI: Outraged Taiwanese took to the Internet Thursday to slam sexist comments by a Chinese analyst saying the island's new president practises "emotional" politics because she is a single woman.

The scathing attack Tuesday from a member of China's organisation overseeing relations with the island comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei after the election of Taiwan's first female leader, Beijing-sceptic Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai inauguration with outgoing president Ma

Tsai's office and the ruling DPP declined to comment on the remarks, but enraged politicians and citizens openly voiced their displeasure.

"It's such a ridiculous remark and discrimination against single people. Everyone has the right to choose his or her lifestyle by having partners or staying single and that should be respected," DPP lawmaker Yeh Yi-chin told AFP.

Another lawmaker Wang Yu-min was equally incensed over the comments.

"Such a personal attack is extremely improper. It's gender discrimination and we strongly oppose such remarks," said Wang, from the Beijing-friendly KMT party.

The remarks from Wang Weixing, a military analyst and a board member of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, claimed that Tsai's politics were affected by her status as a "single female politician".

"In political style and strategy, often she tends to be emotional, personal and extreme. In terms of political tricks, she considers strategy less, tactical details more, and short-term goals are paramount, while long-term goals are less taken into account," Wang wrote.

Internet users in Taiwan joined lawmakers in slamming Wang's comments Thursday.

"Why doesn't he criticise a bunch of married male politicians who are having extramarital affairs? (He's) a chauvinist pig who hurts gender equality," wrote one post on the Facebook page of Taiwan's Liberty Times newspaper.

"It is a crime to be single? Such a remark only shows the world how perverted China is," wrote one message on the Apple Daily's website.

Another blasted: "China is so barbaric."

Tsai, from the Beijing-wary Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was inaugurated last week, succeeding Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) who oversaw an unprecedented rapprochement with China.

Beijing has since warned the new president against any move to declare formal independence and threatened to cut contact unless Tsai states support for the "one China" principle.

Although Taiwan is self-ruling after splitting with the mainland in 1949 following a civil war, it has never formally declared independence and Beijing still sees it as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

 

Africans in India living 'in fear' after killing: Envoys

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
NEW DELHI: African nationals in the Indian capital live in a "pervading climate of fear and insecurity", a group of African ambassadors has said, after the brutal murder of a Congolese teacher sparked allegations of racism.

The Group of African Heads of Mission said they may recommend their governments not to send students to India until safety conditions improve, following a string of what they say are unpunished racial attacks.

India heatwave (1)

In the latest case, Masunda Kitada Oliver, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was allegedly bludgeoned to death in New Delhi on Friday night by three Indian men after an argument over an auto-rickshaw.

"Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, the African Heads of Mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed," Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, Eritrean ambassador and dean of the group said in a statement Tuesday (May 24).

"Several attacks and harassment of Africans in India have gone unnoticed without diligent prosecution and conviction of perpetrators," he said.

In an embarrassment for New Delhi, the envoys said they would not participate in Africa Day celebrations being organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations on Thursday.

They said the African community was in mourning over Oliver's death and asked for the event to be postponed. Oliver had completed his postgraduate study in India and was teaching at a private institute in the capital.

Police have arrested two of the three men accused in the attack but deny the murder was racially motivated. India's foreign ministry condemned the killing but said not every attack on an African national should be regarded as racist.

"Thousands of African students continue to pursue their education in India without any issues," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Junior minister V K Singh will meet mission heads and students to assure them of their safety, the spokesman said, without specifying a date. In 2013, a Nigerian national was killed by a mob in western Goa state, with local politicians later comparing Africans to "cancer".

Meanwhile in January, an Indian mob beat a Tanzanian woman and her male friends in Bangalore and set their car ablaze before dragging them off a bus, in an apparent revenge attack for an earlier road accident.

Delhi's former law minister was also accused in 2014 of harassing African women after he led a vigilante mob through an area of the capital, accusing the women of being prostitutes.

 

Football: Benitez has full control over football matters at Newcastle

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎2 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has been assured full control of football-related decisions by the club's hierarchy as he aims for the side's immediate return to the Premier League.

The 56-year old signed a three-year deal to remain as Newcastle's manager, despite a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave St. James' Park if the Magpies were relegated to the Championship.

Newcastle United - Rafael Benitez Press Conference

Newcastle's transfer policy has come under heavy criticism after being involved in a relegation scrap all season, having spent around 80 million pounds on signings in the last two transfer windows.

The Spaniard said he was under no pressure to sell any of his players.

"What I have is the assurance that if I don't want to sell any players I don't have to. We can keep all the players who we want to," Benitez said.

"To keep these players, if I want them, is massive because we have a good team. We saw that in the last games."

"Football business, I will have responsibility off."

Newcastle were last relegated to the Championship in 2009, but secured promotion back to the top flight the following season.

The former Real Madrid boss said he was looking forward to the challenges of Championship football.

"It is difficult because you have good teams and intensity. It is an exciting league and we have to be ready," he added.

"I am here because I am convinced we can go up next season, stay there for a long time and even win trophies."

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

 

England must be more streetwise to prosper at Euro 2016 - Dier

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
REUTERS: England must be a bit more 'streetwise' if they are to have any chance of winning the Euro 2016 in France, according to defensive midfielder Eric Dier.

England, who play Australia in Sunderland in a warm-up game on Friday, face Russia, Slovakia and Wales in Group B of the 24-team tournament, which starts on June 10.

England Training

"There's a lot of European and international teams who have that intelligent edge as much as an aggressive edge in the things they do," Dier told British media.

"They win fouls in clever places on the pitch, they keep possession, they know how to wind people up they know how to agitate people. Streetwise is the perfect way to put it.

"I think the English are a bit too honest. We need to be clever but we don't want to lose that English attitude either."

Tottenham Hotspur's Dier was named in Roy Hodgson 26-man provisional England squad last week.

Dier also said Spurs, who finished third in the Premier League, were keen to shrug off their 'soft team' tag next season, though he said his side had crossed the line on the day their title bid ended in a bitter game against Chelsea.

A league record nine Tottenham players were booked in the ill-tempered draw and the club handed a heavy fine.

"Things boiled over at times, but at the same time Tottenham are trying to get rid of a certain image at the moment and I think that helped," Dier said.

"I think for a long time Tottenham have had a certain image which I don't think this group of players and this manager enjoy.

"Obviously we are trying to change that. It isn't easy and it is going to take time but that is our aim."

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

 

Seleznyov added to Ukraine's provisional Euro 2016 squad

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
KIEV: Striker Evhen Seleznyov was added to Ukraine's provisional Euro 2016 squad by coach Mykhaylo Fomenko late on Wednesday after he was surprisingly missing from the initial team named last week.

The 30-year-old had helped Ukraine qualify for the finals in France but Fomenko named just three forwards in his initial squad.

Seleznyov joined the team in Sardinia for their training camp, the Ukraine Football Federation said on their website.

The FFU added that Oleksander Zinchenko, who was named in the provisional squad last week, was battling an unspecified injury.

Ukraine are scheduled to play friendlies against Romania on May 29 and Albania on June 3 before they face world champions Germany in their opening game at Euro 2016 on June 12.

Poland and Northern Ireland are also in Group C for the championship, which starts on June 10.

Revised provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar), Denys Boyko (Besiktas), Mykyta Shevchenko (Zorya)

Defenders: Evhen Khacheridi (Dynamo Kiev), Bohdan Butko (Amkar), Artem Fedetskyi (Dnipro), Mykyta Kamenyuka (Zorya), Oleksandr Karavaev (Zorya), Oleksandr Kucher (Shakhtar), Yaroslav Rakytskyi (Shakhtar), Vyacheslav Shevchuk (Shakhtar).

Midfielders: Oleh Gusev (Dynamo Kiev), Serhiy Rybalka (Dynamo Kiev), Denys Garmash (Dynamo Kiev), Serhiy Sydorchuk (Dynamo Kiev), Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev), Evhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Ivan Petyak (Zorya), Ruslan Rotan (Dnipro), Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar), Viktor Kovalenko (Shakhtar), Maksym Malyshev (Shakhtar), Evhen Shakhov (Dnipro), Anatolyi Tumoschuk (Kairat)

Forwards: Arem Kravets (Stuttgart), Roman Zozylya (Dnipro), Pylyp Budkivskyi (Zorya), Evhen Seleznyov (Shakhtar).

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

 

Cricket: Australia embrace guided missile technology in Ashes quest

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
SYDNEY: Australia are resorting to guided missile technology to help their fast bowlers reclaim the Ashes from England next year.

Steve Smith's team have been grappling with injuries in their pace attack with Peter Siddle and James Pattinson out of action, while Mitchell Starc has just recovered after being sidelined since November with a foot fracture.

Australia Nets

The upcoming tour of Sri Lanka will see the Australian bowlers embrace the "torpedo technology", using "smart algorithms" planted in a wearable tracking device, to track and reduce injuries to the pacemen.

Sports scientists at Australian Catholic University's School of Exercise Science developed the algorithms and have recommended in a report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that cricket coaches use them.

"These 'smart algorithms' rely on the interaction of the accelerometers, magnetometres and gyroscopes housed within the wearable unit - the same technology used to navigate submarines, guided missiles and spacecraft," the report's co-author Dr Tim Gabbett said.

Existing methods of measuring the workload of the bowler only take into account the number of deliveries bowled and not the intensity and effort required.

"Tagging individual balls with an intensity measure provides both immediate analysis such as identifying effort balls, or potentially a drop in performance due to fatigue, or longer term workload analysis," Dean McNamara, the other co-author, added.

"Measuring bowling intensity for individual balls or sessions provides context for the acute and chronic workload of the individual bowler, and ultimately the preparedness of the bowler for the maximal workload of the immediate competition."

The researchers have also assisted the Wales rugby union team, who take on world champions New Zealand in a three-test series next month, and believe the technology could be applicable in baseball, tennis, football and many other sports.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru and Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

 

EU states approve plans to coordinate key mobile spectrum

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
BRUSSELS: EU member states approved plans on Thursday to coordinate the roll-out of a key spectrum across the 28-nation bloc to provide faster mobile broadband speeds and improve access to Internet services, including in remote areas.

The proposal foresees the roll-out of the 700 MHz band for wireless broadband services by June 30, 2020. Member states can delay that by up to two years if they have legitimate reasons, such as unresolved coordination issues with neighbouring non-EU countries or they need more time to reallocate the spectrum from broadcasting services.

Broadcasting services would keep priority in the sub-700 MHz band at least until 2030.

The European Parliament will have to approve the proposal before it can become law.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

 

Niger Delta militant attack shuts down Chevron facility - company source

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
YENAGOA, Nigeria: Chevron's onshore activities in Nigeria's Niger Delta have been shut down by a militant attack at its Escravos terminal, a company source said on Thursday.

A militant group called the Niger Delta Avengers, which has told oil firms to leave the Delta before the end of May, said late on Wednesday it had blown up the facility's mains electricity feed.

"It is a crude line which means all activities in Chevron are grounded," the source told Reuters, without elaborating.

There was no immediate official confirmation from Chevron.

Zebo Austin, who lives nearby, told Reuters: "We heard a loud blast at the Abiteye to Escravos crude pipeline which was blown up last night by yet-to-be identified militant group."

A Twitter account with the group's name said late on Wednesday: "We Warned #Chevron just blow up the Escravos tank farm Main Electricity Feed PipeLine."

The Avengers and other militants, who say they are fighting for a greater share of oil profits, an end to pollution and independence for the region, have intensified attacks in recent months, pushing oil output to its lowest in more than 20 years and compounding the problems faced by Africa's largest economy.

Abuja has responded by moving in army reinforcements but British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said this month President Muhammadu Buhari needed to deal with the root causes of the conflict.

Crude oil sales from the Delta account for 70 percent of national income but residents in the area, some of whom sympathise with the militants, have long complained of poverty.

Buhari has extended an amnesty deal signed with militants in 2009 that stepped up funding for the region. But he has cut funding for the amnesty programme and cancelled contracts with former militants to protect the pipelines they used to attack.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing and Ed Cropley; Editing by Louise Ireland)

 

Malaysia's immigration department says computer system sabotaged since 2010

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Immigration Department has found elements of sabotage in the enforcement of the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) dating back to 2010.

Immigration Director-General Sakib Kusmi revealed this on Thursday (May 26) when asked to comment on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement on Monday in regard to the issue.

Malaysia immigration KLIA

According to Mr Sakib, the covert activities had reached a serious level warranting harsh action.

"The Department has identified the individuals involved, but the investigation is still ongoing and the outcome will be announced when the time comes," he said.

Without disclosing the number of individuals involved, he said the culprits would be dealt with pursuant to regulations stipulated for civil servants. Mr Sakib said the police were aiding the investigation.

On Tuesday, a task force headed by Home Ministry secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim was formed to probe the implementation of the system. Mr Alwi said the team was gathering documents to identify weaknesses in the system's implementation.

The Auditor-General's 2015 Report in its first series stated that myIMMs, set up to support the Immigration Department's main operation was not functioning satisfactorily, impairing its objective.

The report said a biometric facility worth RM10.3 million (US$2.5 million) was procured for myIMMs to screen and identify foreigners as well Malaysians at the country's entry points but had not been installed and used.
 

 

Football: Bayern hint Goetze not first choice under Ancelotti

 
‎Today, ‎May ‎26, ‎2016, ‏‎3 hours agoGo to full article
BERLIN: Bayern Munich on Thursday suggested attacking midfielder Mario Goetze's playing future at the German champions may remain on the bench, even though he showed his desire to earn a starting spot after turning down a possible move away.

The Germany international, who scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, has failed to carve out a starting spot since joining Bayern from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2013 and had been linked with a possible move to Liverpool.

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid training

The 23-year-old, who had said at the start of last season he wanted to play more regularly, on Monday poured cold water on a move, saying he wanted to see out his contract until it expired in 2017 and looked forward to the next season under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is replacing Pep Guardiola.

"I had talks with him (Mario) and Ancelotti. Mario knows the thoughts of Bayern," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Kicker magazine. "Everything was clearly and seriously explained to Mario.

"He knows what the club thinks and what the new coach thinks. Mario has to evaluate for himself whether he wants to play constantly."

Goetze, hailed as the most talented German player of his generation, only returned to fitness in February following a five month injury break and made just 11 starts for Bayern in the Bundesliga, scoring three goals.

On Monday he split with his long-time agent before committing to Bayern, who won the domestic double this season.

"I look forward to the new season in Munich and will do everything possible to be in top shape for my first training session under Carlo Ancelotti," said Goetze.

German media had reported Ancelotti had informed the player he would not have any guarantees of more playing time.

Goetze has been included in Germany's preliminary 27-man squad for Euro 2016 which starts on June 10.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann)

 

Football: Shandong into AFC Champions League quarters after last-gasp win

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:46:14 PMGo to full article
SYDNEY: Substitute Hao Junmin's last-minute rocket broke Sydney FC's hearts and put China's Shandong Luneng into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals after a sensational last-16 second leg on Wednesday (May 25).

Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic's late penalty save - after he also stopped a spot-kick in the first leg -- seemed to have earned 10-man Sydney their first appearance in Asia's last eight.

Shandong Luneng players celebrate qualification for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals after(Photo:AFP)

But with the scores at 2-1 on the night, and 3-2 on aggregate after last week's 1-1 draw, Hao's long-range shot swerved past Janjetovic and into the top corner, stunning the Sydney crowd.

It was enough to take Mano Menezes's Shandong into the quarter-finals for the first time in 11 years. Despite the 3-3 aggregate score, they squeezed through on the away goals rule.

"There's a lot of disappointments in football and there's a lot of happy times -- this is an extremely disappointing time for the players," an emotional Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said afterwards.

"It took a great goal to beat us ... all I can say is, these things happen in football," he added.

Sydney got off to a dream start when with less than two minutes gone, midfielder Brandon O'Neill's low free kick somehow ended up in the net for what was his first goal for his club.

But Shandong didn't take long to respond when striker Diego Tardelli picked out Walter Montillo in the box and the Argentine midfielder swept home the equaliser on 12 minutes.

The legs of Sydney goalkeeper Janjetovic denied Tardelli when the Brazilian went through one-on-one, before tempers frayed at the end of the first half.

After Matt Simon became embroiled in a shoving match with Shandong players, O'Neill charged across and knocked defender Dai Lin flying. Both Sydney players were booked.

Sydney made a sensational start to the second period when, with less than a minute gone, Rhyan Grant blasted them 2-1 ahead from the right side of the box after being teed up by Milos Ninkovic.

The hosts had their hearts in their mouths when Zac Anderson manhandled Yang Xu in the box and was shown a straight red, with Tardelli stepping up for the crucial spot-kick on 77 minutes.

But the normally reliable Brazilian saw his half-hearted effort saved by Janjetovic and he then miscued the rebound onto the bar, sparking relieved celebrations among the Sydney players.

However, their joy proved premature when in the final minute Hao received a lay-off from Montillo. He let fly with a sizzling shot which was beyond the reach of even the agile Janjetovic.

 

Ford recalls about 271,000 F-150 pickup trucks

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:40:13 PMGo to full article
REUTERS: Ford Motor Co said it was recalling about 271,000 F-150 pickup trucks in North America to replace their brake master cylinders.

The company said on Wednesday the recall involved vehicles of model years 2013 and 2014. (http://ford.to/25lDEx4)

A Ford logo is pictured at a store of the automaker, in Mexico City

(Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

 

France to deploy security force of 90,000 to police Euro 2016 - minister

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:40:12 PMGo to full article
PARIS: More than 90,000 police, soldiers and private security agents will be deployed across France to ensure safety for the Euro 2016 football tournament, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday.

The month-long tournament opens across France on June 10 with a state of emergency still in force after Islamist attacks last November that killed 130 people in Paris at several sites across the capital, including the Stade de France stadium.

French emergency rescue forces take part in a mock terrorist attack drill at a "fan zone"

About 2.5 million spectators are expected for 51 football matches involving 24 teams in games played at 10 stadiums across France. There will also be "fan zones" for crowds watching games on giant TV screens in major cities.

"Such a unique event in exceptional circumstances requires extra security measures," Cazeneuve told reporters.

Citing potential "terrorist" attacks and acts of hooliganism as the main threats, he said some 77,000 police, gendarmes and riot control officers would be deployed alongside 13,000 private security agents and 1,000 volunteers.

A portion of the 10,000 soldiers already stationed across cities as part of anti-terrorism measures, will also be handed more responsibility to protect sites during Euro 2016, he said.

The tournament also comes at a time of mass protest ahead of next year's presidential elections - with wave after wave of violence-marred demonstrations against a labour reform law adding further challenges for a stretched police force.

The government and organisers came under fire this week after security failures were exposed at the French football cup final on May 21.

Saturday's match between arch-rivals Paris St Germain and Olympique Marseille at the Stade de France had been deemed a high risk event and a first test for organisers of security measures required for the Euros.

Fans threw firecrackers and flares inside and outside the stadium and banned objects were brought into the grounds despite close searching, security officials said. There was also serious overcrowding."

"After several meetings ... I told everybody of their obligations and it was decided to adapt the measures immediately," Cazeneuve said.

He said problems over guaranteeing the flow of supporters at entry points to the stadiums, carrying out security checks by private security firms and ensuring that end-of-match exit points for fans were safe would be resolved.

Security experts and police officials have said the fan zones, where some 8 million people are expected over the period, will be the biggest challenge.

"I hear critics saying these fan zones should have been abandoned, but then how would we ensure security for supporters in public spaces spread out everywhere?

"These fan zones will be maintained with an adapted and stringent security protocol," he said.

(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

 

Israeli rights group accuses military of whitewashing soldiers' abuses

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:35:21 PMGo to full article
JERUSALEM: B'Tselem, one of Israel's leading human rights groups, said on Wednesday it would no longer refer complaints of abuse carried out by Israeli soldiers to Israeli military courts because the system was biased and set up to whitewash cases.

The group, which has monitored Israel's occupation of the West Bank and incidents of violence and abuse by soldiers against Palestinians for 25 years, said the military's legal system was too narrowly defined and served to protect its own.

"B'Tselem will no longer play a part in the pretense posed by the military law enforcement system and will no longer refer complaints to it," it said in an 80-page report.

"The experience we have gained... has brought us to the realisation that there is no longer any point in pursuing justice and defending human rights by working with a system whose real function is measured by its ability to continue to cover up unlawful acts and protect perpetrators."

The Israel Defense Forces said the picture presented by B'Tselem was inaccurate and did not reflect reality.

"The IDF is committed to the rule of law and its legal system acts with utmost professionalism and thoroughness," it said in a statement. "The IDF thoroughly checks and investigates any and all claims of misconduct including those from B'Tselem and many other organisation, and will continue to act transparently in order to arrive at the truth."

B'Tselem, one of whose workers in the West Bank city of Hebron captured video footage in March of an Israeli soldier fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker, said it had analysed 739 cases it referred to the Military Advocate General between 2000 and 2015.

In a quarter of those cases, it said no investigation was launched, while in 343 the investigation was closed without further action. Only 25 led to charges being brought, while 132 remain open in some capacity. Forty-four have been lost.

The cases involved allegations of fatal shootings, injuries, beatings, damage to property and the use of Palestinians as human shields.

B'Tselem said the military justice system created the impression of action, with a multi-step process that allowed government officials to say that something was being done.

"Among other things, the semblance of a functioning justice system allows Israeli officials to deny claims made both in Israel and abroad that Israel does not enforce the law on soldiers who harm Palestinians," the report said.

The Israeli soldier involved in the Hebron shooting is currently on trial in a military court for manslaughter.

Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government have called for clemency, saying the soldier did nothing wrong. Netanyahu has spoken to the defendant's parents to reassure them that he will be treated fairly and urged prosecutors to consider the context.

At the time, army commanders described the shooting as a disgrace and a gross violation of military ethics. There were initially calls for the soldier to be charged with murder.

(Additional reporting by Ori Lewis; editing by Jermey Gaunt)

 

Police ready for protests at Trump California rally after New Mexico chaos

 
‎Yesterday, ‎May ‎25, ‎2016, ‏‎3:30:15 PMGo to full article
WASHINGTON: Police in Anaheim, California, braced for protests at a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday, a day after chaos broke out at an event for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in New Mexico.

Hundreds of protesters tried to swarm the convention centre in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Trump spoke on Tuesday, knocking down barricades and hurling rocks and bottles at police officers dressed in riot gear.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses members of the National Rifle Association

Police said they made arrests both outside and inside the rally, where protesters continually interrupted the billionaire New York developer's speech. The police department's Twitter feed said officers were treated for injuries caused by thrown rocks.

Outside the centre, demonstrators chanted anti-Trump slogans and waved Mexican flags before they began climbing atop police cars and throwing objects. Police responded with smoke bombs and pepper spray.

In Anaheim, where Trump was scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) at the city's 7,500-seat convention centre, authorities boosted staffing levels, deployed officers on motorcycles to control traffic and urged attendees to be on their best behaviour, Anaheim Police Sergeant Daron Wyatt said.

"We respect the rights of everyone to protest and get their word out," Wyatt said, adding they must do so "peacefully and within the confines of the law."

"If they choose not to, we're prepared to take swift and decisive enforcement action," he said.

Clashes between Trump's fervent supporters and rowdy protesters have marked many of his campaign appearances. The violence could prove a hindrance to his efforts to mend divisions within the Republican Party and reach a broader section of the American electorate ahead of the Nov. 8 election in which he is likely to face Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Seventeen people were arrested last month at a Trump rally in Costa Mesa, about 20 miles (32 km) south of Anaheim, media reports said, after protesters blocked traffic and threw rocks and debris at motorists and police officers.

(Reporting by Megan Cassella; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in Albuquerque; Editing by Bill Trott)

 

 

 

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