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International News

Alba the albino orangutan returned to jungle in Indonesia


World’s tallest empty hotel lit up with N. Korean propaganda


Himalayan nation Nepal gets first modern train tracks


Anak Krakatau volcano now a quarter of its pre-eruption size


Catriona Gray of the Philippines named Miss Universe 2018



From The Asian Reporter, V29, #01 (January 7, 2019), page 2.

Rover begins making tracks on "dark" side of the moon

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese rover on the "dark" side of the moon is making its tracks on the soft lunar surface. The Jade Rabbit 2 rover drove off its lander’s ramp and onto the soft, snow-like surface about 12 hours after a Chinese spacecraft made the first-ever landing on the moon’s far side. A photo posted online by China’s space agency showed tracks the rover left as it headed away from the spacecraft. Exploring the cosmos from the far side of the moon could eventually help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and even the birth of the universe’s first stars. The far side can’t be seen from Earth and is popularly called the "dark side" because it is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight. Three nations — the United States, the former Soviet Union, and more recently China — have sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon, but the latest landing is the first on the far side. That side has been observed many times from lunar orbit, but never up close. The mission highlights China’s growing ambitions to rival the U.S., Russia, and Europe in space, and more broadly, to cement its position as a regional and global power. The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails. It can climb a 20º hill or an obstacle up to eight inches tall. Its maximum speed is 220 yards per hour. "The surface is soft and it is similar that you are walking on the snow," Shen Zhenrong, the rover designer from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said on CCTV.

Personal info of 997 North Korean defectors stolen

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says it is responding to a hacking attack that stole the names and addresses of nearly 1,000 North Korean defectors who resettled in the South. A regional office of the Hana resettlement center said it has been notifying affected defectors after discovering one of its computers was breached sometime around November. South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the names, home addresses, and birthdays of 997 defectors living in the country’s southeast region were stolen. Police are investigating the hacking attack but have yet to identify the source. The ministry said it has found no further signs of hacking attacks or data breaches after investigating Hana’s offices around the country. Hana runs 25 offices nationwide to provide assistance to North Korean defectors who resettled in the South. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly travelling via China, since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War. South Korea in past years has accused North Korea of cyberattacks on South Korean business and government websites, but the North denies responsibility.

Small bombs hit popular Thai beach, damage statue

SONGKHLA, Thailand (AP) — Police in Thailand are investigating two small bombs, one of which damaged an iconic statue on a popular beach in the country’s south. Police in Songkhla province say they’re looking into whether the bombs were related to a Muslim separatist insurgency that has wracked nearby provinces since 2004, taking almost 7,000 lives. The Golden Mermaid statue, which is an unofficial symbol of the province, was damaged by one bomb. The other bomb was about 300 yards away, near the beach’s Cat and Mouse sculpture. The insurgency has mostly affected the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, which have Muslim majorities in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Songkhla, with a substantial Muslim population, has generally been spared the violence though the provincial capital of Hat Yai has suffered several bombings.

South Korea fines BMW $9.9 million over engine fires

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says it will fine BMW 11.2 billion won ($9.9 million) and file a criminal complaint against the company with state prosecutors over an allegedly botched response to dozens of engine fires reported in the country. South Korea’s Transport Ministry said its investigation panel after a five-month review concluded that the German automaker deliberately tried to cover up technical problems and moved too slowly to recall vehicles after about 40 of its cars caught fire last year. BMW recalled some 172,000 vehicles in July and October over the fires it has blamed on a faulty exhaust gas component. The company said there had been no reports of injuries linked to the fires.

Cambodia inaugurates biggest hydropower dam

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s largest hydropower project officially began producing electricity as the country tries to increase its energy capacity to reduce energy imports and help jump-start industrial expansion. Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated the 400-megawatt Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in the northeastern province of Stung Treng. The project, constructed on a build-operate-transfer basis, will boost the country’s production of electricity by 20 percent, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy. It was built over four years at a cost of nearly $800 million and is a joint venture of China’s Hydrolancang International Energy, which has a 51-percent stake, Cambodia’s Royal Group with 39 percent, and Vietnam’s EVN International with 10 percent. The dam is expected to bring in almost $30 million in tax revenue yearly. Ownership will be handed over to the government after 40 years. Opponents say the dam will damage the biodiversity of two tributaries of the Mekong River and devastate the livelihoods and homes of thousands of people. As many as 100,000 people could lose the ability to catch fish. The dam is the seventh commercial-scale hydropower dam in Cambodia, bringing hydropower production to 1,328 megawatts. Hydropower supplies 45 percent of Cambodia’s electricity consumption.

Falling boulders kill road workers in Himalayas in India

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — A government official says boulders crashed down on workers who were widening a mountainous road leading to a Hindu temple in the Himalayas, killing seven of them.

District Magistrate Mangesh Gildiyal said another three workers were injured and 12 rescued from the site near Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand state. The area is nearly 235 miles northeast of New Delhi.

Badrinath temple is a revered Hindu religious site where tens of thousands of devotees visit each year. Badrinath also is a gateway to several mountaineering expeditions in the area. Uttarakhand state is a popular summer holiday destination for tourists seeking to escape the torrid heat of the plains. It is also a religious pilgrimage site, with four temple towns.

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