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Nauseating trash heaps in India spark citizen cleanup drives


From The Asian Reporter, V27, #18 (September 18, 2017), page 2.

China looks at ending sales of gasoline cars

BEIJING (AP) — China is joining France and Britain in announcing plans to end sales of gasoline and diesel cars. China’s industry ministry is developing a timetable to end production and sale of traditional fuel cars and will promote development of electric technology, state media cited a cabinet official as saying. The reports gave no possible target date, but Beijing is stepping up pressure on automakers to accelerate development of electrics. China is the biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold, giving any policy changes outsize importance for the global industry. France and Britain announced in July they will stop sales of gasoline and diesel automobiles by 2040 as part of efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Communist leaders also want to curb China’s growing appetite for imported oil and see electric cars as a promising industry in which their country can take an early lead. China passed the United States last year as the biggest electric car market. Sales of electrics and gasoline-electric hybrids rose 50 percent over 2015 to 336,000 vehicles, or 40 percent of global demand. U.S. sales totalled 159,620.

Indian journalist shot, killed by unknown assailants

BANGALORE, India (AP) — An Indian journalist was fatally shot by unidentified attackers in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, police said. The assailants pumped bullets into Gauri Lankesh as she left her car after reaching her home in Bangalore, the Karnataka state capital. The attackers fled the scene. Top police officer R.K. Dutta said it was too early to say who killed her. He said he had met Lankesh recently, but she did not mention any threat to her life. She edited a local magazine, Lankesh Patrike, and was found responsible in a defamation case by a lawmaker of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for her writing about Hindu nationalists in 2016. In 2015, an Indian scholar, Malleshappa M. Kalburgi, was killed in a similar way, also in Bangalore. He had received death threats from angry right-wing Hindu groups after he criticized idol worship and superstitious beliefs by Hindus. He was the third critic of religious superstition to be killed in the country in three years. India has long held secularism to be a keystone of its constitution — and a necessity for keeping the peace among its cacophony of cultures defined by caste, clan, tribe, or religion, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

Plane lands safely after engine flame seen at takeoff

TOKYO (AP) — A Japan Airlines (JAL) plane bound for New York returned safely to a Tokyo airport after the pilot reported a bird strike to an engine during takeoff. Television footage showed a red flame flickering from the left engine as the plane ascended from the runway. JAL said the Boeing 777 carrying 233 passengers and 15 crewmembers requested an emergency landing minutes after takeoff from Haneda International Airport. The plane returned to the airport about an hour after takeoff and no injuries were reported. JAL is inspecting the engine. Haneda had the worst record for bird strikes in Japan last year at 182 cases, followed by Osaka with 73 cases and Narita’s 57, though not all of them affected flight operations, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

Vietnam seizes more than a ton of smuggled ivory

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Authorities have seized more than a ton of smuggled ivory at a Vietnamese port where some six tons were seized last year. Customs official Le Dinh Loi in Ho Chi Minh City said the ivory seized in Cat Lai port had been packed with sawdust and layers of plaster and asphalt to hide it. He said the container held 2,983 pounds of ivory smuggled from Africa that was transiting through Vietnam to its destination in neighboring Cambodia. Vietnam bans hunting of its own dwindling elephant population but is one of the world’s major transit points and consumers of ivory and rhino horn, where ivory is often used as jewelry and home decoration.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen says he’ll rule 10 more years

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue leading his impoverished Southeast Asian nation for another 10 years. He made the statement days after the arrest of his leading opponent. Speaking to some 10,000 garment factory workers in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the capital, Hun Sen said he has decided to run for another two terms. After that, he said he’d think about leaving office. In power for 32 years, Hun Sen is already the world’s longest-serving prime minister and among its longest-serving leaders. In 2007, he said he wanted to retire at age 90, but backtracked on the claim in 2015. After the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party mounted a strong challenge in 2013, Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party have sought to stifle dissent and weaken challengers ahead of elections in July 2018. His party has often been accused in the past of using violence or threats against opponents, but in recent years has stalked its foes mostly in the courts. Legal threats forced opposition leader Sam Rainsy to resign this year; he now lives in exile. Cambodian authorities arrested his successor, Kem Sokha. He was formally charged with treason for allegedly conspiring with the United States to topple the government and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The move sharply escalates political tensions and raises questions about whether upcoming elections can be free or fair. The opposition party says the treason allegation is false and politically motivated. Hun Sen urged the factory workers at the event to vote for him next year, promising he would give them better jobs and healthcare.

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