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International News


Indonesia’s leader says sinking Jakarta needs giant sea wall

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From The Asian Reporter, V29, #15 (August 5, 2019), page 2.

East Timor parliament OKs sea border treaty with Australia

DILI, Indonesia (AP) — East Timor’s parliament has voted in favor of ratifying a maritime boundary treaty with Australia that governs how the two countries will share billions of dollars of oil and gas riches lying beneath the Timor Sea. East Timor, one of the world’s youngest and poorest nations, and Australia, one of the richest, signed a historic treaty in March last year drawing their maritime borders, ending years of wrangling. It paves the way for development of the offshore Greater Sunrise gas field. East Timorese independence hero Xanana Gusmao said his country was losing $5 million a month while the agreement remained unratified. He said the treaty will be ratified when Australia’s prime minister visits East Timor on August 30, the 20th anniversary of a referendum that granted independence from Indonesia.

89 safely rescued after Mumbai office building catches fire

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Firefighters rescued 89 people after a nine-story office building caught fire in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, an official said. No injuries were reported. Sixteen fire engines battled the blaze and evacuated people from the building using hydraulic platforms in the city’s Bandra area, fire official Rohan More said. The building houses the offices of a state-run telephone company. All of the 89 escaped without injuries, More said. The firefighters restricted the blaze and smoke to the third and fourth floors, where it started, More said. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Television images showed people breaking window panes and waving to firefighters to evacuate them. A woman who was rescued told the New Delhi Television news channel that she and some others were rescued from the fourth and fifth floors of the building. A newly introduced robot, Robofire, was used to control the blaze, the Press Trust of India news agency reported, without giving details. Fires are common in India, where building laws and safety norms are often flouted by builders and residents. In February, 17 people were killed by a fire in a six-story hotel in New Delhi that started in an unauthorized rooftop kitchen.

Unexploded grenade found near ruling party office

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — An unexploded grenade was discovered next to a township office of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, police said. An officer who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to release information said police cleared away the grenade soon after it was discovered in the early morning and are investigating. He gave no other details. No one has claimed responsibility. The NLD is headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, who also heads Myanmar’s government. The party will contest a general election next year. Suu Kyi and her party hold a majority of seats in parliament, but are forced to share power under rules in the constitution imposed by a previous army-led regime. A pro-military party is the NLD’s biggest challenger, but some radical nationalists are also bitter critics of Suu Kyi. Aye Win, a local NLD official who works in the office, said police were checking security video for clues.

Women charged with violating surrogacy, trafficking laws

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A court official says three Cambodian women have been charged with violating surrogacy and human-trafficking laws after they gave birth to babies they delivered to Chinese nationals in Vietnam. A Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman said the three women are being detained pending further investigation. The Phnom Penh Post quoted a senior anti-human trafficking police officer as saying the women were detained by Vietnamese police and returned to Cambodia after having illegally crossed into the country to deliver their children to Chinese nationals for $8,000 per baby. They were charged in court. Cambodia’s anti-surrogacy law carries a penalty of one to six months in prison, while the human-trafficking charge is punishable by 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Afghan radio station closes down following Taliban threats

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A local radio station in eastern Afghanistan was forced to shut down after repeated threats from the area’s Taliban commander, the head of the station said. Ramez Azimi, director of the Samaa station in the city of Ghazni, the capital of eastern Ghazni province, said he received phone calls as well as written warning notes purportedly from the Taliban commander. The commander was not identified. Azimi said Taliban insurgents, who control several districts in Ghazni province, threatened them because three of the station’s 16 employees are women. The Taliban are against women’s rights to education and work. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, denied the insurgents had threatened Samaa. The Taliban currently control nearly half of Afghanistan and are more powerful than at any time since the October 2001 U.S.-led invasion. A local radio journalist was killed recently in neighboring Paktia province. The police said it was not immediately clear if the killing of Nader Shah, a newsreader for Radio Gardez, was linked to his work or a personal dispute. The developments came despite stepped-up efforts by the United States to find a negotiated end to the country’s nearly 18-year-long conflict, America’s longest war. Afghan talks that brought together the country’s warring sides ended recently in Qatar’s capital, Doha, with a statement that appeared to move closer to peace by laying down the outlines of a roadmap for the country’s future. Azimi told The Associated Press this is its third closure in the past four years. The station was forced to shut down twice in 2015, the first time for a month after which it reopened thanks to mediation by the elders, he said. Later that year it closed again, for nine months.

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