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From The Asian Reporter, V27, #3 (February 6, 2017), page 2.

Drug crackdown in the Philippines faces court challenge

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — A survivor of an alleged Philippine police raid that killed four other drug suspects has asked the Supreme Court to stop such operations and help him obtain police records to prove his innocence in a test case against the president’s bloody crackdown. Lawyer Romel Bagares says his client, Efren Morillo, a survivor of the August police raid in Payatas village in metropolitan Manila, and other petitioners also asked the court to order police to stop threatening witnesses. Bagares says four policemen shot Morillo and four other men whom they accused of being drug pushers. Morillo survived and denied police allegations that he and his friends were drug dealers and that they fought back during the raid.

Defector says his two sons were a reason to flee

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The highest-level North Korean diplomat ever to defect to South Korea says he decided to flee because he didn’t want to see his children living "miserable" lives. Thae Yong Ho, a former minister at the North’s embassy in London, said his two sons were one of the main reasons why he came to South Korea last year. Thae says his sons complained about being made fun of by their classmates in London because of the nature of their homeland. Thae subsequently told them the truth about the North and concluded his sons would have "miserable" lives when they returned home later because they came to know the truth of the North. His disappointment with leader Kim Jong Un was another reason given to defect.

Vietnam to allow locals in casinos under test project

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese gamblers will soon be allowed into local casinos because of a three-year pilot project. Under a decree signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc that takes effect in mid-March, Vietnamese over 21 years of age with a monthly income of at least 10 million dong ($440) will be allowed in casinos. After three years, the government will decide whether to continue the arrangement. There are about a dozen casinos in Vietnam, but only foreigners are allowed entry. The latest decree only includes entertainment and hotel complexes with investment of at least $2 billion. Vietnam has long banned most types of gambling, but bets on European soccer championships or World Cups are common.

India’s low-cost airline to buy up to 205 new Boeing planes

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s low-cost airline SpiceJet plans to buy up to 205 next-generation Boeing planes worth $22 billion in a major deal to expand its domestic and international operations. A joint statement by the two companies said the planes booked at the end of 2016 include 100 new Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 42 MAXs, 13 additional 737 MAXs, as well as purchase rights for 50 additional planes. SpiceJet is India’s fourth-largest airline by number of passengers carried with a market share of 12.9 percent. It flies more than 300 daily flights to 41 Indian and international destinations. Ray Conner, a top Boeing official, said the economics of the 737 MAXs would allow SpiceJet to profitably open new markets and expand connectively within India and beyond. India’s booming economy and growing middle class have helped make it the world’s fastest-growing air travel market. The number of passengers grew 20 percent last year and airlines are announcing flights to new destinations in the country almost every week. The number of domestic air passengers is expected to jump from the current 70 million to 300 million by 2022, and to 500 million by 2027.

Indo narcotics chief blames pilots on drugs for crashes

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The head of Indonesia’s narcotics agency says most of the country’s airline accidents have involved pilots on drugs, including a Lion Air jet that slammed into the sea four years ago while trying to land on Bali. Budi Waseso made the comments at a ceremony inaugurating Bali’s traditional village security guards as anti-drug volunteers. "Almost all air accidents in Indonesia, whether it was just a skid or whatever, the pilots are indicated to be positive for drugs," he told reporters. He said the Lion Air pilot hallucinated that the sea was the runway. The comments came after a video circulated online showing an apparently intoxicated pilot in the cockpit of a passenger plane. News reports said two other pilots recently tested positive for drugs.

Lawyer for Myanmar ruling party assassinated at airport

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A legal adviser for the National League for Democracy (NLD) was assassinated at an airport in Myanmar (also known as Burma) after returning from a trip overseas, according to the government. Ko Ni was the Supreme Court advocate for the NLD and a longstanding adviser to the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The unidentified gunman made a close shot to the head while Ko Ni walked out of the arrival gate at Yangon’s airport, the Ministry of Information said in a video posted on state-run MRTV. A friend of Ko Ni who witnessed the shooting said the suspected assassin also shot a taxi driver known as Nay Win who tried to stop him from fleeing. The taxi driver’s condition was not clear. The Ministry of Information identified the suspect as Kyi Linn from Mandalay. The motive was not known. Kyee Myint, a former chairman of the Myanmar Lawyer Network who has a close relationship with Ko Ni, also confirmed his death. "It is a big loss for us that Ko Ni, our beloved friend, has been killed. He is the face of the democracy in our country and this is a big loss for us," Kyee Myint said. Ko Ni was a Burmese Muslim and as a practicing lawyer had handled more than 900 criminal cases and more than 1,400 civil cases. In 1995, he established the Laurel Law Firm with two other advocates.

Medals for 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be made of recycled metal

TOKYO (AP) — Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics say metal from discarded electronic devices will be used in the production of the medals that will be awarded to athletes. Japanese citizens are being asked to give the organizing committee unwanted devices. Organizers say the program highlights the theme of sustainability and gives the whole nation a chance to participate in the preparations for the games. The organizing committee aims to collect as much as eight tons of metal which, after the production process, will result in two tons, the amount needed to produce 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals. Collection boxes will be set up throughout the country. The collection will end when the eight-ton target is reached.

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