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International News


One of two giant yellow ducks in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor deflates

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In workaholic Japan, "job leaving agents" help people escape the awkwardness of quitting

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Iconic HK dragon boat races are back in full force with thousands of spectators

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In rural India, summer’s heat can be deadly. Ambulance crews see the toll up close.

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From The Asian Reporter, V33, #7 (July 3, 2023), page 2.

Veteran Sherpa guides to compete next season for record

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The race for the record to have successfully scaled Mount Everest the most number of times is still on. Sherpa guide Pasang Dawa, 48, plans to climb the 29,032-foot peak next year in an attempt to again match the record set by a fellow Sherpa guide. "I will continue to climb (Everest) as long as my body can, as there are people over 60 years who have climbed it," he told The Associated Press last month. "But that does not mean I will climb until I am 60 years old, but as long as I am able to." Pasang Dawa reached Everest’s peak twice this spring. On May 14, he equalled the record of 26 successful ascents set by Kami Rita, who went on to reach the top of the mountain a 27th time. Pasang Dawa matched the new record on May 23, but Kami Rita regained his title with a 28th climb that same day. Kami Rita, 53, has said he would head to the peak again during the 2024 climbing season, when Pasang Dawa also will be at the mountain to guide foreign clients up Everest. Pasang Dawa first began working as a porter at age 12, carrying equipment and supplies from his village home on the foothills of Everest. He graduated to kitchen helper and finally got his chance to carry equipment up to higher camps in 1997. He first summited Everest in 1998 while guiding British adventurer Bear Grylls. He slipped and fell some 650 feet near the summit but survived with only a few bruises. Since then, he has made it to Everest’s top almost every year, not making ascents only when the mountain was closed or because of a death in the family. Like most Sherpa guides and workers on Mount Everest, Pasang Dawa makes money during the spring climbing season that is his family’s main source of income and has to last all year. This spring, Nepal’s government honored Sherpa guides and record-holding climbers during celebrations of the first ascent of Mount Everest 70 years ago.

Groundbreaking held for Cambodia’s second expressway

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last month presided over a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the country’s second expressway, which will link the capital, Phnom Penh, to the eastern border with Vietnam. The road to Bavet city in Svay Rieng province, a total length of 84 miles, is projected to take 48 months to construct and cost $1.35 billion. It is a project of China Bridge and Road Corp., which is building it under a 50-year build-operate-transfer contract. The road is Cambodia’s second expressway after the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which opened last year and connects the capital with the country’s main port on the Gulf of Thailand. China is Cambodia’s biggest investor and closest political partner, whose assistance largely underpins the Southeast Asian nation’s economy. Speaking at the ceremony, Hun Sen praised the expressway for being part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its worldwide infrastructure development program. He said the initiative has played a significant role in boosting socio-economic development in Cambodia and other participating countries. Critics of the Chinese program accuse it of imposing financial terms that have led to onerous debts. Hun Sen said a feasibility study is underway for a third expressway that would link Phnom Penh to Siem Reap province, site of the famous Angkor temples, and extend to Poipet on the western border with Thailand.

Japan, Australia, U.S. to fund undersea cable connection

TOKYO (AP) — Japan has announced that it joined the United States and Australia in signing an agreement on a $95 million undersea cable project that will connect East Micronesia island nations to improve networks in the Indo-Pacific region where China is increasingly expanding its influence. The approximately 1,400-mile undersea cable will connect the state of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia, Tarawa in Kiribati, and Nauru to the existing cable landing point located in Pohnpei in Micronesia, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Japan, the United States, and Australia have stepped up cooperation with the Pacific Islands, apparently to counter efforts by Beijing to expand its security and economic influence in the region. In a joint statement, the parties said the next steps involve a final survey and design and manufacturing of the cable, whose width is about that of a garden hose. Completion is expected around 2025. The announcement came weeks after leaders of the Quad, a security alliance of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India, emphasized the importance of undersea cables as a critical component of communications infrastructure and the foundation for internet connectivity. "Secure and resilient digital connectivity has never been more important," Matthew Murray, a senior official in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in a statement. "The United States is delighted to be part of this project bringing our regions closer together."

Myanmar burns $446 million worth of seized illegal drugs

BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Myanmar destroyed more than $446 million worth of illegal drugs seized from around the country to mark an annual international anti-drug trafficking day, police said. The drug burn came as U.N. experts warned of increases in the production of opium, heroin, and methamphetamine in Myanmar, with exports threatening to expand markets in South and Southeast Asia. Myanmar has a long history of drug production linked to political and economic insecurity caused by decades of armed conflict. The country is a major producer and exporter of methamphetamine and the world’s second-largest opium and heroin producer after Afghanistan, despite repeated attempts to promote alternative legal crops among poor farmers. In the country’s largest city, Yangon, a pile of seized drugs and precursor chemicals worth $207 million was incinerated. The destroyed drugs included opium, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, kratom, ketamine, and crystal meth (a.k.a. ice).

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