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International News

Sparkling fish, murky methods: the global aquarium trade


Japan steps up push to get public buy-in to digital IDs


Afraid of needles? China using inhalable COVID-19 vaccine


Fewer willows worry Kashmir’s cricket bat makers


World Cup hopes for South Korea rest on Son Heung-min


From The Asian Reporter, V32, #11 (November 7, 2022), page 2.

Escaped king cobra crawls back to Swedish terrarium

HELSINKI (AP) — A venomous 7-foot king cobra that escaped from its home in a Swedish zoo returned back home by itself, bringing a happy ending to over a weeklong disappearance saga. "Houdini, as we named him, has crawled back into his terrarium," CEO Jonas Wahlstrom of the Skansen Aquarium told the Swedish public broadcaster SVT. The deadly snake, whose official name is Sir Vass (Sir Hiss), escaped October 22 via a light fixture in the ceiling of its glass enclosure at the aquarium, part of the zoo at the Skansen open-air museum and park on Stockholm’s Djurgarden island. As a result of an intensive search with x-ray machines, "Houdini" was located in a confined space near the terrarium in the insulation between two walls. Holes were drilled into the walls where the snake was hiding but the cobra disappeared from the view of the x-ray cameras. It turned out the snake gave up its freedom ride and crawled back to its terrarium. "It was too stressful for Houdini with all the holes in the walls, so he wanted to go home," Wahlstrom told SVT. The park said the snake wouldn’t have survived the cold climate if it had gotten out of the building. King cobras can grow up to 18 feet long and mainly live in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Dubai fire races up high-rise near world’s tallest building

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A fire broke out November 6 at a 35-story high-rise building in Dubai near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were any injuries in the blaze at the apartment building, which had been extinguished by the time an Associated Press journalist reached the site. Black char marks from the blaze could be seen stretching up the building that’s part of a series of towers called 8 Boulevard Walk by Emaar, the state-backed developer in the emirate. A series of fires in tall buildings in skyscraper-studded Dubai in recent years has revived questions about the safety of cladding and other materials used in the country. On New Year’s Eve in 2015, a blaze raced through the Address Downtown, one of the most upscale hotels and residences in Dubai near the Burj Khalifa.

Toyota making cars again in Myanmar after coup delay

BANGKOK (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. began assembling autos last month in Myanmar after more than a year delay following a military takeover in February 2021. The factory in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, outside Yangon, the country’s biggest city, is owned by Toyota and its trading arm, Toyota Tsusho. The factory assembles Hilux pickup trucks from semi-knockdown kits and was originally due to make 2,500 vehicles a year, beginning in February 2021. Original plans called for an investment of $52.6 million. In a statement, Toyota Myanmar said it began selling the Hilux double cab trucks in Myanmar and is taking more orders. It was unclear exactly when the factory began production. Many foreign companies have withdrawn from Myanmar following the military’s seizure of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Toyota is among 100+ Japanese and other foreign companies with investments in Thilawa.

Women’s World Cup individual game tickets now on sale

NEW ZEALAND (AP) — Tickets to individual games for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand went on general sale October 31. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) announced that fans from 100 countries have already secured tickets following a presale for Visa cardholders. Visa is a FIFA partner. Tickets for the matches start at just less than $13.00 in U.S. currency, with children’s tickets starting at about half that. An expanded field of 32 teams will take part in soccer’s premier tournament, including the two-time defending champion United States. There will be 64 games across nine host cities and 10 stadiums, starting on July 20, 2023. The final is scheduled for August 20 at Stadium Australia in Sydney. The draw was held in Auckland last month. The final three teams in the field will be determined in an intercontinental playoff in February 2023.

Google discontinues Google Translate in mainland China

HONG KONG — Google has discontinued its Google Translate services in mainland China, removing one of the company’s few remaining services that it had provided in a country where most western social media platforms are blocked. The Google Translate app and website now display a generic search bar and a link redirecting Chinese users to its page in Hong Kong, which is blocked on the mainland. Users have reported not being able to access the service since early in October, according to Chinese social media posts. The translation feature built into the Google Chrome browser also no longer function for users in China. The Google Translate service was discontinued in China due to "low usage," Google said in a statement. It is not clear how many users were using Google Translate in China. The U.S. technology firm has a fraught relationship with China. In 2010, Google pulled its search engine from the Chinese market after it became unwilling to abide by the country’s censorship rules. China later moved to block other Google services such as its e-mail service Gmail and Google Maps. Chinese authorities typically block most western social media platforms and services, including those of Google, Facebook, and Twitter as the government seeks to maintain strict censorship rules. Chinese platforms must abide strictly by those rules and censor keywords and topics the authorities deem politically sensitive. In 2017, Google made its translation service available on the mainland via a Chinese domain as it explored ways to offer services in the Chinese market. Its Google Translate service competed with other popular, homegrown translation alternatives provided by Chinese technology firms including Baidu and Sogou. Google explored launching a separate, censored search engine for China, but terminated the project in 2019 amid a global backlash.

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