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International News


Library on wheels brings joy of books to Afghan kids

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Lincoln to Thai king: Thanks but no thanks for the elephants

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Pakistan’s first trans TV anchor hopes to change perceptions

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Hong Kong’s skyline farms harvest more happiness than food

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From The Asian Reporter, V28, #7 (April 2, 2018), page 2.

South Korean K-Pop singers to perform in North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea sent a 160-member artistic delegation to North Korea, including about 10 popular K-Pop singers, on March 31. A joint statement issued after the two Koreas made the agreement said the South Korean artistic group’s visit to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, would last through April 4 and feature two performances. The development occurred during a thaw in the North Korean nuclear crisis. A North Korean band performed in South Korea during the recently ended PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The South Korean delegation includes some of the country’s most celebrated singers, including Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sunhee, and Cho Jin Hee, who performed in Pyongyang during a previous era of detente. Popular girl band Red Velvet is also among the South Korean groups.

Papuan teen dies hours after release from Indonesia jail

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A spokesman for the family of a Papuan teenager who died after 24 hours in Indonesian police custody said the 17-year-old had multiple bruises and injuries, and that it did not accept the explanation he died of alcohol poisoning. Rico Ayomi died March 13 just hours after police returned him to his family after holding him in custody for alleged theft. According to police, they had rescued him from an angry mob in the coastal West Papua city of Sorong. A photo released by police showed the dead teenager with a container of 70 percent alcohol beside him. The leader of the Sorong Youth and Student Association, Simon Soren, who is representing Ayomi’s family, said police officers returned Ayomi to his family home unable to stand or speak.

Tahiti loses rugby qualifier over ineligible players

SYDNEY (AP) — Tahiti’s 13-9 win over the Cook Islands in a Rugby World Cup qualifier has been overturned because Tahiti used two ineligible players, meaning the Cook Islands will proceed to the next round of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Japan. World Rugby said in a statement that followed a request from the Cook Islands Rugby Union, it investigated claims that the Tahiti Rugby Union had used the ineligible players during the match in Rarotonga on August 4, 2017. It said independent judicial officer Tim Gresson of New Zealand determined that the Tahiti Rugby Union had breached regulations because neither player had family ties to Tahiti or had fulfilled three-year residency requirements to make them eligible to play. With Cook Islands declared the winner, they will now play the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship in the Cook Islands on June 30, and the return leg on July 7. Malaysia, South Korea, and Hong Kong will play in the Asia Rugby Championship, a four-match round-robin tournament ending in early June.

Ban on Filipinos going to work in Kuwait stays as talks fail

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — A Filipino official says the Philippines and Kuwait have failed to conclude a migrant labor protection pact after two days of talks sparked by the February discovery of a dead Filipina housemaid in an apartment freezer there. Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III told reporters that a ban on Filipino workers going to Kuwait will continue indefinitely after negotiators failed to conclude a labor pact after the talks in Manila. They agreed to hold more talks later. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said the ban won’t be lifted until Filipino workers are given better protection in Kuwait and justice is served for the death of the woman, Joana Demafelis.

Thailand drafting plans to regulate, tax cryptocurrencies

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s cabinet has agreed to draft a law to oversee cryptocurrency trading, seeking to tax the largely unregulated market. Government spokesman Nathporn Chatusripitak said the Ministry of Finance also proposed the new regulations to help prevent the use of digital currencies in money laundering and fraud. He said details of the proposed regulations would be announced soon. In February, Thailand’s central bank issued a circular asking financial institutions to not handle transactions involving cryptocurrencies. Across Asia, governments have been belatedly moving to exert control over bitcoin exchanges and other fast-growing cryptocurrency-related activities.

India sends notice to Facebook over alleged data breach

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government has sent a notice to Facebook asking whether the personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica or any other downstream entity. A similar notice was dispatched to Cambridge Analytica following media reports that it had misused data to profile Indians and influence their elections. The government set an early April deadline for Cambridge Analytica and April 7 for Facebook to respond to its inquiry. Facebook is facing unprecedented scrutiny following reports that the data-mining firm used ill-gotten data from tens of millions of its users to try to influence elections. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement that Facebook has its largest footprint in India in terms of its user base and sought to know "what proactive measures it is taking to ensure the safety, security, and privacy of such large user data and to prevent its misuse by any third party." The governing Bharatiya Janata Party and the main opposition Congress Party have accused each other of utilizing the services of the British company, but denied any link with it. Cambridge Analytica’s allegedly unauthorized harvesting of Facebook data and a series of leaks linked to India’s biometric database has refocused public attention on digital privacy in the country. Digital law experts say Indian regulations offered particularly weak safeguards against data breach.

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