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International News

China building boom uncovers buried dinosaurs, makes a star


Melting glacier in China draws tourists, climate worries


Philip Morris woos puff-happy Japan for post-smoking era


Nepal’s masked dancers mark the end of monsoon


From The Asian Reporter, V28, #21 (November 5, 2018), page 2.

Paraguay contestant wins, then swoons at beauty pageant

BANGKOK (AP) — A Paraguayan beauty pageant winner swooned on stage after admitting the anticipation just before the announcement was unbearable. Miss Grand International 2018 Clara Sosa fell as soon as she was announced this year’s winner. At the time, she was holding hands with the first runner-up, Meenakshi Chaudhary of India, who tried to help but failed to catch Sosa as she collapsed and hit the floor. Sosa soon recovered and waved, cried, and smiled to cameras before she was surrounded by fellow contestants who congratulated her. In an interview before the winner was announced, Sosa said breathlessly that she might need a doctor because she felt like she would have a heart attack. Earlier in the night, contestants were asked which country they would visit to campaign for an end to wars and violence. Sosa said if she won she would "strategically" choose to visit President Donald Trump "because the United States is an example for other countries. So my first message to him would be: please be an example of peace, love, and tolerance."

Spacecraft sent on seven-year journey to Mercury

TOKYO (AP) — European and Japanese space agencies say an Ariane 5 rocket successfully lifted a spacecraft into orbit for a joint mission to Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. The European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency say the BepiColombo spacecraft successfully separated and was sent into orbit from French Guiana to begin a seven-year journey to Mercury. The mission is complicated by the intense gravity pull of the sun, forcing the spacecraft to take an elliptical path that involves two fly-bys of Venus and six of Mercury itself. Once the spacecraft arrives in late 2025, it will release two probes that will independently investigate the surface and magnetic field of Mercury.

Chris Evert trophy will go to No. 1 player in WTA

SINGAPORE (AP) — The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has dedicated its trophy for the top-ranked player of the year in honor of Chris Evert. Simona Halep has received the newly named Chris Evert WTA World No. 1 Trophy. She’s the year-end No. 1 for the second straight season. Halep isn’t playing in the current WTA Finals because of a back injury. Evert was the first WTA No. 1 in 1975, when she won 15 titles. She said she’s "honored and privileged" to have her name on the trophy. The American finished her career in 1989 with 157 singles titles and 18 Grand Slam singles titles. Steffi Graf earned the year-end No. 1 a record eight times from 1987-1996.

China says internment camps are "free vocational training"

BEIJING (AP) — A senior Chinese official is describing the mass internment of ethnic minority Muslims in the country’s far west as a system of training centers that saves Muslims from religious extremism by teaching them to speak Mandarin and accept modern science. It was a rare instance of the ruling Communist Party publicly detailing its vision of what the extrajudicial detention of an estimated 1 million ethnic minority Uighur (WEE-gur) and Kazakh Muslims is setting out to achieve. Shohrat Zakir, governor of the Xinjiang region, said in a report by the official Xinhua News Agency that the centers also train people to work in factories. Former detainees have told The Associated Press that they were held in camps where they were forced to recite party slogans and renounce their faith.

Nepal blocks 25,000 websites in pornography ban

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepalese internet providers have begun blocking thousands of pornographic websites as part of a government directive aimed at stopping sexual violence. The government issued new criminal and civil codes this year that include regulations against the use, broadcast, and publication of pornographic materials. Min Prasad Aryal of the Nepal Telecom Authority said more than 25,000 websites were blocked under the campaign. Internet service providers say they are complying with the government order but say it would be impossible to weed out and block all such sites. The government issued a similar ban in 2011, but this time there are more serious punishments for violations.

Sri Lanka president sacks PM, appoints strongman

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan state television says President Maithripala Sirisena has sacked the prime minister and replaced him with a former strongman. The state-run Rupavahinj station reported that Sirisena replaced Ranil Wickremesinghe with his former nemesis, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The move ends a more than three-year-old coalition government that was formed between bitterly opposed political parties in 2015 on a platform of good governance.

Vietnam frees popular blogger on condition she leave Asia

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has freed a well-known blogger after two years in prison on the condition that she leave for the United States. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as "Mother Mushroom," was arrested in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of defaming the Communist government. The conviction of the popular blogger, who wrote about human rights and industrial pollution, drew criticism from some western governments and international human-rights groups. Friends of the 39-year-old blogger said she was on her way to the U.S. with her mother and two young children. Quynh’s lawyer, Ha Huy Son, said her release was good news but did not lift the obstacles faced by people who fight for democracy in Vietnam.

Explosion at Indian fireworks factory kills eight people

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — A powerful explosion at a fireworks factory in northern India killed at least eight people and injured three others, as Hindus prepared to celebrate the highly popular Diwali festival. Police officer Ashok Kumar said the blast badly damaged the factory and some adjacent shops in Budaun district in Uttar Pradesh state. It killed six workers and two people who were passing by. Three people were hospitalized with serious injuries. The area is about 175 miles southwest of Lucknow, the state capital. India has a huge demand for firecrackers, which are used in religious festivals and weddings. Accidental explosions are common at fireworks factories, which often ignore safety. In June last year, an explosion at a fireworks factory killed 23 workers in Madhya Pradesh state.

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