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International News

"Affecting everything": COVID-19 cracks the tea cup, too


Older women are the fresh faces of South Korean influencers


Don’t look up! Bangkok’s slitherers keep snake catchers busy


In Sri Lanka, a dangerous climb for online school


Pandemic leaves Indians mired in massive medical debts


From The Asian Reporter, V31, #8 (August 2, 2021), page 2.

Man with coronavirus disguised as wife on Indonesian flight

TERNATE, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian man with the coronavirus last month boarded a domestic flight disguised as his wife, wearing a niqab covering his face and carrying fake IDs and a negative PCR test result. But the cover didn’t last long. Police say a flight attendant aboard a Citilink plane travelling from Jakarta to Ternate in North Maluku province noticed the man change clothes in the lavatory. "He bought the plane ticket with his wife’s name and brought the identity card, the PCR test result, and the vaccination card with his wife’s name. All documents are under his wife’s name," Ternate police chief Aditya Laksimada said after arresting the man upon landing. He was only identified by his initials. Police took him for a COVID-19 test, which came back positive. Coronavirus is surging in parts of Asia. Restrictions on nonessential travel, including a mandatory negative coronavirus test, and public gatherings, were toughened during the Eid al-Adha holiday last month.

Brisbane picked to host 2032 Olympics without a rival bid

TOKYO (AP) — Brisbane has been picked to host the 2032 Olympics, the inevitable winner of a one-city race steered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to avoid rival bids. The games will go back to Australia 32 years after the popular 2000 Sydney Olympics. Melbourne hosted in 1956. "We know what it takes to deliver a successful games in Australia," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told IOC voters in an 11-minute live video link from his office. When the award was later confirmed, winning the vote 72-5, Morrison raised both arms in the air and gave two thumbs up. The victory led to a fireworks display in Brisbane that was broadcast to IOC members in their five-star hotel in Tokyo. Brisbane follows 2028 host Los Angeles in getting 11 years to prepare for hosting the games. Paris will host in 2024. The 2032 deal looked done months before the formal decision at the IOC meeting, which was held ahead of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games. The IOC gave Brisbane exclusive negotiating rights in February. That decision left Olympic officials in Qatar, Hungary, and Germany looking blindsided with their own stalled bidding plans.

Thailand sends COVID-19 patients to hometowns by train

BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Thailand late last month began transporting some people who tested positive for the coronavirus from Bangkok to their hometowns for isolation and treatment to alleviate the burden on the capital’s overwhelmed medical system. A train carrying more than 100 patients and medical workers in full protective gear left the city for the northeast. It will drop patients off in seven provinces, where they will be met by health officers and taken to hospitals. Medical authorities in Bangkok said all ICU beds for COVID-19 patients at public hospitals were full and that some of the sick were being treated in emergency rooms. Officials said they have asked army medics to help out at civilian hospitals. "These are patients from Bangkok who haven’t received treatment in hospitals. We want to bring them to doctors in their hometowns. And the travelling process is controlled all through the journey," said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who was on hand to watch the operation. He said busses, vans, and even aircraft might be deployed to send people back to less badly affected provinces. Thailand initially kept coronavirus cases in check but outbreaks have flared in recent months. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government is facing harsh criticism over its handling of a delta variant-fuelled surge and slow vaccination program amid reports of people dying in the streets or in their homes while waiting for treatment.

Veteran politician becomes Nepal PM for fifth time

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A veteran politician was appointed Nepal’s prime minister for the fifth time last month, a day after the Supreme Court reinstated the House of Representatives and upheld his claim to be the new leader. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s office said Sher Bahadur Deuba, who leads the Nepali Congress party, was appointed the new prime minister. Deuba will lead the Himalayan nation as it struggles with political divisions and the coronavirus.

China tightens control over cybersecurity in data crackdown

BEIJING (AP) — Tech experts in China who find a weakness in computer security would be required to tell the government and couldn’t sell that knowledge under rules further tightening the Communist Party’s control over information. The rules would ban private sector experts who find "zero day," or previously unknown security weaknesses, and sell the information to police, spy agencies, or companies. Such vulnerabilities have been a feature of major hacking attacks including one in July blamed on a Russia-linked group that infected thousands of companies in at least 17 countries. Beijing is increasingly sensitive about control over information about its people and the economy. Companies are barred from storing data about Chinese customers outside China. Companies including ride-hailing service Didi Global Inc., which recently made its U.S. stock market debut, have been publicly warned to tighten data security. Under the new rules, anyone in China who finds a vulnerability must tell the government, which will decide what repairs to make. No information can be given to "overseas organizations or individuals" other than the product’s manufacturer. No one may "collect, sell, or publish information on network product security vulnerabilities," say the rules issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China and the police and industry ministries. They take effect September 1.

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