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Thursday, April 20, 2017 

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International News

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From The Asian Reporter, V27, #1 (January 2, 2017), page 2.

How many women can have a baby in S. Korean cities?

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government has closed a website that drew fury for showing the number of women of childbearing age by each city district and region. The Ministry of the Interior’s website featuring the pink birth map remained closed a day after its launch, showing instead a notice that the site is undergoing corrections. The website went offline after just a few hours following criticism the government is trying to shame women for not having babies. The site also featured a ranking of regions by the number of women between ages 15 and 49. The government had touted it as a tool to increase the public’s understanding of the country’s low birth rate. South Korea is struggling to boost its rock-bottom birth rate, one of the lowest among rich countries.

North Korean defector impressed by Seoul political protests

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A high-profile North Korean defector has told South Korean lawmakers the massive protests that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye still feels strange to him, but he sees the demonstrations as the country’s strength. The office of lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo said former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong Ho commented in a closed-door briefing to legislators that he was impressed with the South’s democracy because its government continued to function despite the protests. The South Korean government in August announced that Thae, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to London, defected to the South with his family because of his disgust with the North’s government under leader Kim Jong Un.

Cheetah bones, ivory shipped from Mozambique seized

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has made one of its biggest seizures ever of smuggled animal parts, including more than a ton of ivory, according to a wildlife protection group. The Wildlife Alliance said 1.3 metric tons of ivory, 10 cheetah skulls, 180 pounds of cheetah bones, and 301 pounds of pangolin scales were found December 16 concealed in three containers shipped from Mozambique. The group said in a statement that another shipment of illicit ivory by the same company was intercepted in Vietnam in October. The Wildlife Alliance said Cambodia has made 19 seizures of ivory and rhino horn from six African countries since 2014. A major international conference on wildlife trafficking was held in November in Vietnam, one of the major transit points and consumers of trafficked ivory and rhino horns. The pangolin is considered the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal, sought for its meat, eaten as a delicacy, and for its scales, which are used in traditional medicine.

James Taylor cancels concert over Duterte’s drug war

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — James Taylor has cancelled his February 25 concert in Manila, saying reports of summary executions of suspected drug offenders in the Philippines without judicial proceedings are "deeply concerning and unacceptable." The American singer-songwriter tweeted that he had been looking forward to performing in Manila and that it saddened him to cancel the concert. He apologized to his Filipino fans and said all tickets sold for the performance at Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena would be fully refunded. Since taking office in June, President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a crackdown on illegal drugs that has left more than 6,000 people dead. While acknowledging that drug addiction is a worldwide problem that seriously harms society, Taylor criticized the anti-drug campaign. "For a sovereign nation to prosecute and punish, under the law, those responsible for illegal trade in drugs is, of course, understandable, even commendable," Taylor tweeted. "But recent reports from the Philippines of summary executions of suspected offenders without trial or judicial process are deeply concerning and unacceptable to anyone who loves the rule of law." Dozens of tweets from people reacting to Taylor’s message praised the musician and voiced respect for his stand. Others urged artists to follow his lead, while a handful of Duterte supporters said Taylor should see the situation for himself instead of basing his opinion only on media reports.

Aid groups warn of crisis as Mongolia hit by harsh winter

BEIJING (AP) — Another unusually harsh winter in Mongolia that’s decimating livestock and sending temperatures to minus 70° Fahrenheit may create a humanitarian crisis, with worse conditions still to come, aid groups warn. Save the Children and the International Federation of the Red Cross say this winter will likely see vast swathes of the Mongolian steppe affected by the extreme weather phenomenon known in Mongolia as dzud. A dzud typically happens once a decade, but could strike for the second consecutive year. The dzud last year killed more than 1 million animals, afflicting the majority of Mongolians who depend on livestock for food, milk, and income. The Mongolian government said it met with international organizations including Save the Children, the Red Cross, and the United Nations Development Program to discuss efforts to deliver heating fuel and medical supplies amid "worsening" conditions and heavy snowfall since October. Aid groups say the situation is compounded by last year’s harsh winter and a deep recession amid a market bust for Mongolia’s mineral exports. The country is struggling to repay debt with its hard currency stocks while household savings have also evaporated. Red Cross disaster program manager in Mongolia Davaajargal Batdorj said more livestock deaths are expected this year with far northwestern areas of the country already buried under one yard of snow. The organization will begin sending cash to herder families in the far west in the coming weeks. "It’s a natural disaster on top of an economic crisis," Davaajargal said.

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