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Even poop is cute at Japanese museum that encourages play


Success has Malaysian rapper Bunga dreaming of music


Japanese collector returns ancient artifacts to Cambodia


From The Asian Reporter, V29, #14 (July 15, 2019), page 2.

Deer at famed park in Japan die after eating plastic bags

TOKYO (AP) — Nine deer at a famed park in western Japan have died recently after swallowing plastic bags. Nara Park has more than 1,000 deer, and tourists can feed them special sugar-free crackers sold in shops nearby. The crackers don’t come in plastic bags, but people still carry them. A veterinarian says the deer may associate the plastic with food. The Nara Deer Preservation Foundation says nine of the 14 deer that have died since March had plastic in their stomachs. Masses of tangled plastic litter and packets of snacks were retrieved from their stomachs, with the heaviest amount weighing 9.5 pounds. Rie Maruko, a veterinarian who belongs to the animal conservation group, was quoted by Kyodo News as saying the dead deer were so skinny he could feel their bones. Deer have four-chambered stomachs and eating objects that can’t be digested can leave them malnourished and weakened. Deer are traditionally a messenger of gods in Japan’s native Shinto religion and roam freely in the park in the capital city of Nara prefecture. Volunteers participated in a cleanup campaign in the park in early July.

India’s economy likely to grow 7%, government says

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government says the economy is expected to grow at 7% in 2019-2020, up from a five-year low of 6.8% in the past year. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the economic report in parliament a day before unveiling the annual federal budget. India’s financial year runs April-March. Economic growth slowed to a five-year low of 5.8% in the January-March quarter with consumer spending and corporate investment faltering. Declining industrial output and automobile sales also raised fears of a deeper slowdown. The ministry attributed the slowdown to national elections and said higher economic growth is likely, with oil prices expected to decline in coming months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing strong pressure to help keep growth robust and create jobs for India’s 1.3 billion people.

More than 200 fall ill after eating at party for Imelda Marcos

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials say more than 240 people were brought to hospitals due to suspected food poisoning at an event celebrating the 90th birthday of former first lady Imelda Marcos. Bryant Wong, a disaster-response officer, says dozens of ambulances transported at least 244 people who either vomited or grew dizzy hours after eating a breakfast of chicken stew with egg and rice and drinking water in a sports center in suburban Pasig city in metropolitan Manila. The incident cut short what was supposed to be a daylong celebration by more than 2,000 Marcos followers. Marcos’s husband, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted by a 1986 "people power" revolt amid accusations of massive corruption and human-rights violations. He died in Hawai‘i in 1989.

K-Pop star Park Yoo-chun given suspended sentence

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Park Yoo-chun, a former member of the South Korean boy band JYJ, has received a 10-month suspended sentence for illegal drug use. Suwon District Court also ordered the 33-year-old star to undergo probation and drug treatment. The judge said in the ruling that drug crimes should be harshly punished, but that Park had acknowledged his crime and was remorseful. Yonhap news agency said Park was indicted in May on charges of purchasing and injecting 1.5 grams of methamphetamine with his former girlfriend. Park briefly teared up and apologized to his fans after leaving the court following the sentence. Media reports said more than 50 South Korean and Japanese fans filled the small courtroom.

Woman who took dog into mosque faces blasphemy case

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian woman who doctors say should receive psychiatric treatment has been named a suspect in a blasphemy case after taking a dog into a mosque. A video circulated online in Muslim-majority Indonesia shows the dog running around a mosque in the West Java city of Bogor while the woman is confronted by angry worshippers. Many Muslims consider dogs to be impure. Bogor police chief Andi Mochammad Dicky Pastika said the woman is a blasphemy suspect and an investigation is continuing. Blasphemy is a criminal offense in Indonesia with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. It was reported that the woman was detained at a police hospital. The hospital says doctors are recommending her transfer to a psychiatric facility. Amnesty International says the case is "unfortunate and absurd."

India eyes bigger investment in aviation, media, insurance

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has proposed heavy investments in infrastructure, the digital economy, and job creation to lift a sluggish economy burdened with a 45-year-high unemployment rate of 6.1%. Unveiling a draft budget after a major victory in national elections, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a bigger role for foreign direct investment in aviation, media, and insurance. The government set a target for the economy to grow to $5 trillion by 2025 from the present $2.7 trillion. Sitharaman said it would reach $3 trillion by March next year. She told parliament that India’s economy is now the sixth largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, it is the third largest after the United States and China, she said. She also announced cash handouts for small farmers, a pension scheme for informal workers, and a doubling of tax relief for the lower middle class.

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