Thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar as Rakhine unrest rages

At least 18,500 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since fighting erupted in Myanmar’s neighbouring Rakhine state six days ago, the International Organisation for Migration said on Wednesday.
Plumes of smoke billowed from several burning villages in the worst-hit section of the state, according to a reporter on a government-led trip to the area, as the violence showed little sign of abating despite security sweeps by Myanmar’s police and troops.

The streets of Maungdaw –…

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South Korea’s former spy chief jailed for election meddling

A former spy chief for South Korea was jailed for four years on Wednesday for leading an online campaign against the man who is now president, Moon Jae-in, during the 2012 election.
Won Sei-hoon, who led the National Intelligence Service (NIS) from 2009 to 2013, orchestrated an illicit smear campaign to sway voters in favour of the conservative party, led at the time by Park Geun-hye, Seoul High Court said.
South Korea only fully embraced democracy in the 1990s and its intelligence services…

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Postman who survived Nagasaki atomic bomb spent life campaigning for disarmament

Prominent nuclear disarmament campaigner Sumiteru Taniguchi, who was delivering mail in Nagasaki when the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, died Wednesday at the age of 88.
Taniguchi, once considered a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize, died of cancer at a hospital in the southwestern Japanese city, according to Nihon Hidankyo, a group that represents survivors of the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
The then-postman, aged only 16 when the attack happened in the…

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Chinese-Australian sex toy tycoon tempts fate, paying US$2m for ‘unlucky 4’ licence plate

A black-and-white number plate with the single digit “4” has sold at a Sydney auction for a record-breaking near US$2 million, reportedly to a Chinese-Australian sex toy entrepreneur.
The sale shattered presale estimates of up to A$1.5 million, with the auction hammer coming down at A$2.45 million – more than twice the average cost of a Sydney home.
“Just nine of these New South Wales number plates were ever issued, making them ultra-collectible and irreplaceable,…

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Chinese-Australian sex toy tycoon tempts fate, paying US$2m for ‘unlucky 4’ licence plate

A black-and-white number plate with the single digit “4” has sold at a Sydney auction for a record-breaking near US$2 million, reportedly to a Chinese-Australian sex toy entrepreneur.
The sale shattered presale estimates of up to A$1.5 million, with the auction hammer coming down at A$2.45 million – more than twice the average cost of a Sydney home.
“Just nine of these New South Wales number plates were ever issued, making them ultra-collectible and irreplaceable,…

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Bangladesh court jails owner of Rana Plaza, where 1,130 people died in collapse, for three years for graft

A Bangladesh court on Tuesday jailed the Rana Plaza owner for three years for graft, the first of many charges laid against him after the garment factory complex collapsed in 2013 and killed more than 1,130 people.
Sohel Rana was given the maximum three-year sentence by a special court in Dhaka for failing to declare his personal wealth to Bangladesh’s anti-graft commission, one of a series of charges brought after the disaster.
“This is the first time he has been convicted and…

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Marcos family to return wealth, including gold bars, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte claims

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday the heirs of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had offered to return to the government some of the family’s disputed wealth, including “a few gold bars”.
Marcos and his wife Imelda were accused of plundering about US$10 billion from state coffers in 20 years in power. A bloodless “People Power” uprising in 1986 chased the family into US exile.
The government announced last month that Duterte, a Marcos ally, may…

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‘Yingluck ditched phones and changed cars to dodge security,’ Thai army chief claims

Fugitive former premier Yingluck Shinawatra discarded her mobile phones and stopped travelling in her usual vehicles in the days before last week’s dramatic escape, Thailand’s army chief said on Tuesday.
Yingluck, whose government was toppled by the military in 2014, staged a disappearing act before a scheduled court judgment last Friday in a criminal negligence trial.
She faced up to 10 years in prison and a lifetime ban from politics if convicted. But instead she was a no-show,…

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‘They chose to fight and die rather than be slaughtered like sheep’: Rohingya men answer call to arms against Myanmar’s forces

Heavily pregnant and confined to a squalid Bangladeshi refugee camp, Ayesha Begum does not regret that her husband will miss the imminent birth of their sixth child as he fights alongside Rohingya militants in Myanmar.
Begum, 25, joined the exodus of Rohingya fleeing troubled Rakhine state in recent days as fresh violence erupted between Myanmar’s security forces and militants fighting for the stateless Muslim minority. But, like many, her husband stayed behind in Myanmar to join the…

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North Korea's Kim had third child, spy agency tells South Korean lawmakers

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has fathered another child, reports said Tuesday, after his wife dropped out of the public eye for several months.
First lady Ri Sol-ju delivered the couple’s third child in February, the Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday, citing South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by the National Intelligence Service.
Ri had disappeared for an extended period last year, raising speculation that she could be pregnant.
News of the new arrival emerged as North Korea…

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‘Missile passing. Missile passing’: Japanese wake to terrifying text message on their phones after North Korean launch

Millions of Japanese awoke to ominous text messages Tuesday warning them to take cover as a North Korean missile flew overhead, with one train operator bluntly explaining its halted service as “Reason: Ballistic missile launch.”
Sirens blared out in northern communities that were on the flight path of the ballistic missile as it soared over Japanese territory for two minutes before crashing into the Pacific.
“Missile passing. Missile passing.” warned an official text…

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Indian ‘guru in bling’ sentenced to 20 years jail for rape, lawyers plan appeals

An Indian court sentenced a controversial religious leader to 20 years in prison on Monday for raping two of his followers, authorities said, days after his followers went on a rampage that left 38 dead.

A lawyer for the victims had said Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 10 years in jail, but India’s Central Bureau of Investigations later clarified he received two consecutive 10-year sentences.

“He has been sentenced for 10 plus 10, which is a total of 20 years of…

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North Korea scraps Wonsan Air Show as sanctions tighten

North Korea has cancelled this year’s Wonsan Air Show, travel agents said Monday, with reports suggesting tightened travel restrictions by several countries due to nuclear tensions with Pyongyang could be behind the move.

The first-ever Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival was held in September last year, attracting hundreds of foreigners as the isolated North showcased a line-up of civilian and military aircraft.

The event had been planned to take place every two years, but…

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Banking tycoon among dozens on trial in Vietnam for approving dodgy loans

A former banking magnate and 50 others went on trial in Vietnam Monday over a multimillion dollar fraud at a major private bank, as the communist nation cracks down on corruption in the sector.
Authorities have vowed to clean up an industry plagued by favouritism and dodgy loans – part of a broader drive against corruption in the country.
In the latest trial the ex-chairman of Ocean Bank, Ha Van Tham, is accused of illegally approving loans worth US$23 million in 2012, ultimately leading to the…

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Thousands of followers of convicted Indian guru leave compound peacefully

Thousands of supporters of a controversial Indian guru ended a tense stand-off with soldiers on Sunday, avoiding renewed violence after their leader’s rape conviction sparked riots in which at least 36 people died.
Followers of Ram Rahim Singh, whose loyalists went on a rampage after he was found guilty on Friday, began trickling out one by one under army guard from the compound of their spiritual headquarters in Sirsa, a town in the northern state of Haryana.
Hundreds of soldiers and…

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Face scans, robot baggage handlers: how Asia is leading the new airport revolution

Passengers’ baggage is collected by robots, they relax in a luxurious waiting area complete with an indoor garden before getting a face scan and swiftly passing through security and immigration – this could be the airport of the future.
It’s a vision that planners hope will become reality as new technology is rolled out, transforming the exhausting experience of getting stuck in lengthy queues in ageing, overcrowded terminals into something far more pleasant.
The Asia-Pacific…

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Harrowing accounts of Myanmar security forces firing on terrified Rohingya as they fled bloodshed to Bangladesh border

Myanmar security forces fired mortars and machine guns at terrified Rohingya villagers fleeing northern Rakhine State for Bangladesh, witnesses said as clashes which have killed scores continued for a second day.
The fighting, concentrated around remote border villages, is between suspected Rohingya militants and Myanmar security forces, but is increasingly sweeping in civilians – from the Muslim minority as well as local Buddhists and Hindus.
Rakhine State has become a crucible of religious…

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Uber to resume Philippine service ‘soon’ after agreeing multimillion dollar fine

Uber said on Saturday it expects to resume operations in the Philippines “soon” after regulators agreed to lift a ban slapped against the American ride-sharing giant in exchange for a fine.
The government meted Uber a one-month suspension on August 14 following a tussle over driver permits, sparking public outrage as some 66,000 vehicles were forced off the streets.
Hundreds of thousands of Manila commuters find Uber and its ride-sharing rivals welcome alternatives to the country…

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Thailand’s Shinawatra era is over, but questions remain about junta’s role in aiding Yinglick’s flight from justice

Yingluck Shinawatra departed the Thai political scene with a dramatic flourish befitting her roller-coaster six-year journey from political novice to premier – finally falling victim to the army-backed establishment who loathe her family.
According to a senior source in her Pheu Thai party, the 50-year-old former premier fled Thailand a few days before the Supreme Court was set to rule whether she was guilty of criminal negligence over a rice subsidy scheme that lavished cash on the…

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Backlash builds over two Singaporean men jailed for one year in UAE for ‘dressing feminine’

The family of a Singaporean man jailed with a transgender friend in the United Arab Emirates for dressing in a “feminine” way called on Friday for their release, as activists raced to raise funds for legal fees.
Fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli bin Abdul Rahman and transgender friend, Noor Vitriya Kistina Ibrahim, were arrested at a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi and sentenced to a year in jail at the weekend, according to relatives.
Fadli’s brother Saiful said from Singapore…

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