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International News

Civilian drills grow lax among South Koreans used to threats


Labor-short Japan more at home with automation than U.S.


Palm oil is killing orangutans in Indonesia peat swamp


From The Asian Reporter, V27, #17 (September 4, 2017), page 2.

Ship collision exposes Southeast Asian territorial spat

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker has exposed a long-simmering dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over which country should control a 197-foot-wide outcropping at the edge of the South China Sea. Malaysia and Singapore both say the accident happened in their territorial waters because of the competing claims to Pedra Branca. Barely an island, the rocks are home to utilitarian structures, including a communications tower meant to reinforce Singapore’s claim, and lapped by waters often fouled by mini oil slicks in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Despite being devoid of charms, the islet is a major political and economic prize for both countries, each claiming to coordinate the search-and-rescue effort for 10 missing U.S. Navy sailors.

China accuses luxury e-retailer of smuggling

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese news reports say the founder of an online luxury retailer has been charged with smuggling goods into China by having travellers pretend they were personal belongings. The news reports said Ji Wenhong of was extradited from Indonesia to face charges of smuggling goods worth a total of $65.5 million into China while failing to report their true value. The reports said Ji was accused of buying designer clothing from Europe and the United States and shipping them to Hong Kong. They said the company then arranged for travellers to carry them to the mainland in their baggage.

Cambodian newspaper faces closure over tax demand

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — One of Cambodia’s two English-language daily newspapers says it will continue to publish in the face of a reported deadline by tax officials to pay more than $6 million in taxes or get shut down. The Ministry of Economy and Finance told the newspaper it owed the government back taxes and interest dating back 10 years. The letter was part of a crackdown on delinquent taxpayers that prominently targeted media and civic organizations critical of the government. The September 4 deadline was reported by Fresh News, a website close to the government, quoting Taxation Department director Kong Vibol. The newspaper denies owing the tax. It reported that its general manager, Douglas Steele, vowed to keep publishing until being actually stopped by authorities.

Vietnam sentences four to death for transporting heroin

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A court in Hanoi has sentenced four men to death for transporting heroin. The state-run Capital Police newspaper said ring leader Tran Thanh Dong, 26, and three ring members were convicted at the one-day trial of transporting more than 44 pounds of heroin from late 2015 until the ring was busted in April last year. Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Possessing, trafficking, or transporting as little as 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of heroin or 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of opium is punishable by death. The number of executions by lethal injection is a state secret in Vietnam, but many of the death sentences issued in the country are related to drugs.

Philippine leader feasts on chicken to allay bird flu scare

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ate grilled chicken, duck, and eggs with other officials to help allay fears caused by the country’s first large outbreak of avian flu. Accompanied by his health and agriculture secretaries and other officials, Duterte travelled to northern Pampanga province and feasted with his bare hands on the poultry, spread on banana leaves in a traditional feast in front of journalists and TV cameras. "If it’s really your time, it doesn’t matter what you eat," Duterte told the audience in jest. Authorities killed more than 600,000 chickens, ducks, quails, pigeons, and game fowl at the height of the outbreak on poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces, causing a drop in prices and consumption along with misery for farm owners and workers. Duterte also announced financial aid and loans to help affected businesses and workers recover and he thanked more than 300 soldiers and policemen who helped contain the outbreak.

Vietnam tries dozens of bankers for graft, mismanagement

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Nearly 50 bankers are on trial in Vietnam for alleged graft and mismanagement causing $69 million in losses to a joint stock bank. The case is part of communist authorities’ efforts to tackle corruption. Among those accused are Ocean Bank’s former chairman Ha Van Tham and general manager Nguyen Xuan Son, who are accused of embezzling $2.2 million and abuse of power in appropriating another $8.8 million. At the time, the bank was 20 percent owned by state oil-and-gas giant PetroVietnam, where Son had previously served as chairman. Another 44 senior Ocean Bank executives are accused of abuse of power or economic mismanagement and five executives from different companies are also named in the case. The losses led to the bank being taken over by the State Bank of Vietnam.

Six die in Vietnam while sawing leftover mortar shell

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Six people, including four children in a family, were killed when a Vietnam War-era mortar shell they were sawing for scrap metal exploded. State-run Tuoi Tre newspaper said the victims died on the spot following the explosion in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa. The blast also seriously injured the father of one of the victims. The report said the family had collected the mortar shell from a coffee plantation. According to government figures, more than 40,000 people have been killed and some 60,000 others injured by unexploded ordnance since the end of the war in 1975.

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