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International News

70-year-old with YouTube hit redefining beauty in South Korea


Aged Portuguese mansion a window into India colonial history


Nepal woodcarvers inspired to restore quake-toppled temples


As Indonesia cuts forests, fake nature thrives


From The Asian Reporter, V27, #15 (August 7, 2017), page 2.

Hi Bixby: Galaxy S8 voice assistant speaks English

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics says its Bixby voice assistant for smartphones will start speaking English, but only in two countries: South Korea and the U.S. The South Korean tech giant said users of Galaxy S8 smartphones can speak in American English to their phones to turn on the flashlight, to take a selfie, or to make the phone search the pictures from a summer vacation and create an album. The service, comparable to Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, was previously available only in Korean. Samsung said its virtual assistant can be activated by saying "Hi Bixby" to the phone or by clicking the button on the side of S8 phones.

No plans to remove "comfort women" statues in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s government says police have no plans to remove a pair of statues depicting World War II Japanese army sex slaves known as "comfort women" that were installed in front of Japan’s Consulate in the Chinese territory. Activist Tsang Kin-shing says the statues are a reminder to Japan of its culpability in forcing women recruited or captured from Japan, the Korean peninsula, and elsewhere to serve in frontline brothels. Reached by phone, a government spokesman said Hong Kong’s police have said the statues would not be removed. Many Chinese nationalists say Japan has never repented for its brutal invasion of China and accompanying atrocities, including forcing women into sexual slavery.

Xi says China will never permit any loss of territory

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has issued a tough line on national sovereignty amid multiple disputes with his country’s neighbors, saying China will never permit any loss of territory. Xi’s declaration came during a nearly one-hour speech in Beijing marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army. China is engaged in a border standoff with India, disputes over islands with Japan and in the South China Sea, and has vowed to conquer self-governing Taiwan by force. Xi said the Chinese people treasure peace but will not permit any national territory to be separated by anyone under any circumstances. The speech followed a parade during which Xi declared the military has the "confidence and capability" to ensure China’s sovereignty, security, and national interests.

Robot finds likely melted fuel heap inside Fukushima plant

TOKYO (AP) — An underwater robot has captured images of massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said solidified lava-like rocks are heaped up from the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor. Experts believe the melted fuel fell to the chamber’s bottom and is now submerged by radioactive water. The robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant. Locating the fuel in each of the three wrecked reactors is crucial for the plant’s decommissioning.

Malaysia bans "Despacito" on state radio, TV due to lyrics

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia has banned "Despacito" on state radio and television, though it might be hard to slow the song’s record-breaking popularity. The ban applies only to government-run radio and TV outlets, not to music streaming services or global entertainment providers such as YouTube. Communications minister Salleh Said Keruak said the song was reviewed and banned because of a public complaint that the lyrics are obscene. Salleh urged private radio stations to censor the song themselves out of sensitivity to local culture. The Spanish-language song — its title means "slowly" — was released by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee in January. The original and a remix featuring Justin Bieber are the most streamed tracks of all time with more than 4.6 billion plays.

Samsung to recover rare metals & more in Galaxy Note 7s

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics says it will recover gold and other metals in the recalled Galaxy Note 7 and retrieve components from the fire-prone phones to reduce waste. The South Korean company said in a statement it will likely retrieve 157 tons of gold, silver, cobalt, copper, and other metals from millions of smartphones that were recalled and discontinued last year after they were found prone to overheating. It didn’t say how it would use the retrieved metals. The phones’ display modules, memory chips, camera models, and other components would be separated from the Note 7 for sales or recycling, it added. In another effort to reduce waste, Samsung has also begun selling 400,000 units of Galaxy Note FE phones in South Korea made from unused parts of recalled Note 7 smartphones.

Authorities seize 3 tons of pangolin scales in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Authorities in Ivory Coast say they seized three tons of scales from pangolins, the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal. The small armored creatures are commonly eaten in West and Central Africa as bush meat, but they have been brought to the brink of extinction because their scales are popular in Asian traditional medicine. Environmental group EAGLE Ivory Coast said the total value of the seizure is close to $100,000 and represents the remains of about 4,000 pangolins. The group said eight people were arrested. More than 1 million pangolins have been poached in the past decade worldwide. Ivory Coast has increasingly become a transit hub for wildlife trafficking.

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