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International News


Christmas cards collected for jailed Hong Kong protesters

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Easy-to-make flowers for traditional Japanese hair ornaments

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Nadim plans return to Afghanistan to inspire girls in soccer

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Shinto festival carries on centuries-old tradition in Japan

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Michelle Obama promotes girls education in Vietnam school

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From The Asian Reporter, V29, #24 (December 16, 2019), page 2.

Pope names Manila Cardinal Tagle to major Vatican post

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has named Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to a major Vatican post, in a move that could boost the Asian prelate’s chances of perhaps someday becoming pontiff himself. The Vatican announced that Tagle, 62, will head the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples. The appointment of Tagle as prefect of that office highlights the attention Francis is giving to the church in the developing world. Vatican observers have long tabbed Tagle as having the qualifications of a "papabile,’" churchmen widely considered to have the makings to potentially be elected pope someday by their fellow cardinals. Tagle was raised to cardinal’s rank in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The Philippines is the country with the most Catholics in Asia. Transferring Tagle to the Vatican will give the prelate experience in the Holy See’s operations.

Court fines Philip Morris $39.7 million for tax evasion

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Thailand has found the local unit of tobacco giant Philip Morris guilty of evading taxes by under-declaring the value of cigarettes it imported from the Philippines. It ordered the company to pay a fine of 1.2 billion baht ($39.7 million). The Criminal Court found Philip Morris Thailand as a company guilty but acquitted seven employees for lack of evidence they were responsible. The company said it would appeal the ruling. Thailand’s state prosecutor accused the company of evading some 20 billion baht ($662 million) in taxes between 2003 and 2006. The case triggered an international trade dispute, with the Philippines winning a World Trade Organization ruling that Thailand’s import tariffs were unfairly used to give an advantage to the state-controlled Thailand Tobacco Monopoly.

Liverpool in talks to sign midfielder Takumi Minamino

SALZBURG, Austria (AP) — Takumi Minamino could soon become the first Japanese player to sign for Liverpool. Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund said his club is in talks with Liverpool over the transfer of the 24-year-old Minamino, who impressed in two games between the teams in the group stage of the Champions League this season. "We’re honored by the kind of clubs who are interested in our players," Freund said on Salzburg’s Twitter page. Minamino, an attacking midfielder who can also play as a forward, joined Salzburg from Japanese club Cerezo Osaka in 2015. He reportedly has a release clause of 7.25 million pounds ($9.5 million). Klopp was very complimentary about the way Salzburg attacked Liverpool in his team’s 2-0 win, which sealed the defending champions’s spot in the last 16 and dropped Salzburg into the Europa League. The other two members of Salzburg’s forward line, Norway’s Erling Braut Håland and South Korea’s Hwang Hee-chan, have also been linked with moves away from the club. Shinji Okazaki won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2016, while Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton), and Junichi Inamoto (Arsenal and Fulham) are among other Japanese to have played in England’s top division.

Duterte to end martial law in Philippine south

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to end more than two years of martial law in the southern Philippines after government forces weakened Islamic militant groups there with the capture and killing of their leaders, his spokesman said. Duterte placed the Mindanao region under martial law after hundreds of local militants aligned with the Islamic State group and backed by foreign fighters occupied buildings, a commercial district, and communities in Marawi city starting May 23, 2017, in the worst security crisis Duterte has faced. Troops quelled the disastrous siege after five months of intense airstrikes and ground offensives with the help of American and Australian surveillance aircraft. The Philippine congress approved an extension of martial law in Mindanao three times after Duterte warned that militants continued to recruit fighters and plot attacks. Duterte decided not to further extend martial law, which expires at the end of the year, after his defense and security advisers provided an assessment that "the terrorist and extremist rebellion" has been weakened with the losses of the militants’ leaders and a drop in crime in the region, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said. The military welcomed Duterte’s decision to follow its recommendation to end martial law in the south.

Hotel catches fire in Thai resort, 400 safely evacuated

BANGKOK (AP) — About 400 guests and staff were safely evacuated from a hotel in Thailand’s popular seaside resort of Pattaya whose facade caught fire, police said. Police Capt. Sakda Poonya said the blaze at the Holiday Inn Express caused no injuries or deaths. He said an initial investigation found that a short circuit sparked the fire, which began in an area overhanging the hotel’s entrance and spread along cables to the third floor and then to several higher floors. Three fire trucks took about half an hour to put out the blaze. A hotel staffer who declined to give her name said by phone there was no major damage and guests were later allowed back into their rooms. A daytime photo of the hotel appeared to show that most of the damage was external, with siding and some windows burnt. The hotel, with 241 rooms, opened in August this year. In 1997, more than 90 people were killed in Pattaya in one of Thailand’s worst hotel fires. Authorities blamed the management of the 17-story, 450-room Royal Jomtien Resort Hotel for neglecting fire safety measures. That blaze drew calls for stricter safety regulations. Antiquated laws had left fines for violations so low that owners would pay them daily rather than correct problems.

Huawei moving U.S. research center to Canada

BEIJING (AP) — The founder of Huawei says the Chinese tech giant is moving its U.S. research center to Canada due to American restrictions on its activities. In an interview with Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Ren Zhengfei said the restrictions would prevent Huawei from interacting with American employees. Huawei is one of the biggest global makers of smartphones and network gear for phone companies. The U.S. government accuses the company of being a security risk, which Huawei denies, and announced curbs in May on access to American components and technology. Ren gave no details of how many jobs might be affected. Huawei operates a research and development center in Silicon Valley in California. It confirmed in June it was cutting jobs following the U.S. sanctions.

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