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International News

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For 10 years, possibly biggest pearl was hidden under bed


From The Asian Reporter, V26, #17 (September 5, 2016), page 2.

Seoul: Surviving sexual-slavery victims will receive $90,000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Surviving South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s military in World War II will be eligible to receive around 100 million won (about $90,000) each from a foundation that will be funded by the Japanese government. Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said the families of deceased victims will be able to receive about 20 million won ($18,000), and added it expects the Japanese government to soon transfer a promised 1 billion yen ($9.9 million) to a foundation formed in July. South Korea and Japan had agreed to set up the foundation in December as they settled the long dispute over South Korean sex-slave victims. Seoul says there are currently 46 surviving South Korean victims and 199 victims who have died. The opening of the foundation’s office in Seoul was met by protests. Many people in South Korea believe the Seoul government settled for far too less in the December settlement. Under the agreement, which was described by both governments as "irreversible," Japan pledged to fund the foundation to help support the victims. South Korea, in exchange, vowed to refrain from criticizing Japan over the issue and will try to resolve a Japanese grievance over a statue of a girl representing victims of sexual slavery that sits in front of the Japanese Embassy in downtown Seoul.

Locally transmitted Zika virus infects 41 in Singapore

SINGAPORE (AP) — More than 40 people have been infected locally by the Zika virus in Singapore, but most have fully recovered, according to officials. Singapore announced its first Zika infection in May, with the virus imported by a 48-year-old man who had travelled to Brazil. The Ministry of Health confirmed 41 locally transmitted cases of the virus. The ministry said in a statement that the patients were "not known to have travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, and are thus likely to have been infected in Singapore. This confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place." Of the group, 34 people have recovered, while seven remain at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the statement said. The ministry named two residential districts of Singapore where the disease was transmitted and said the bulk of those infected were foreign construction workers. The virus was mostly detected through tests. Among those still hospitalized is a 47-year-old Malaysian woman, identified by authorities as the first locally transmitted case. Zika has mild effects on most people, but can be fatal for unborn children. Infection during pregnancy can result in babies with small heads — a condition called microcephaly — and other brain defects.

Vietnam lifts ban on commemoration of 1966 battle

VUNG TAU, Vietnam (AP) — Under pressure from top Australian officials, Vietnam lifted its sudden ban on veterans who had travelled to the country to mark the 50th anniversary of Australia’s most costly battle of the Vietnam War, with the government allowing low-key commemorations. More than 1,000 Australian veterans and their families travelled to Vietnam to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan at a cross marking the site where 18 Australian soldiers and hundreds of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops died in a rubber plantation on August 18, 1966. The reversal over the ceremony, which drew some Australian veterans back to the Communist country for the first time since the war, comes after Vietnam told Australia that the event was cancelled. That decision prompted urgent talks between foreign ministers of both countries, with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaking to his Vietnamese counterpart by phone. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that small groups of people would be allowed into the site, but visitors would be banned from wearing medals or uniforms and from carrying banners or flags. The Long Tan anniversary is Australia’s official Vietnam Veterans Day and has been commemorated by Australians at the battle scene since 1989.

‘SOS’ in sand leads to rescue of people stranded on island

CHUUK STATE, Micronesia (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard says two stranded mariners were rescued August 26 after crews saw their "SOS" in the sand on an uninhabited island in Micronesia. A U.S. Navy aircraft crew spotted the pair on the beach and gave their location to the Coast Guard in Guam. Hawaii News Now said the two, who had no emergency equipment, were picked up and taken to a patrol boat. The Coast Guard received a report about the couple’s 18-foot vessel going missing on August 19. Hawaii News Now said the two departed Weno Island on August 17 and were expected to arrive at their destination, Tamatam Island, the next day. Hawaii News Now said a ship noticed flashing lights from the uninhabited Chuuk State island where the two were later found. The U.S. Navy was alerted and spotted the survivors on the beach.

Would-be bomber fails to detonate in Indonesian church

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Police in western Indonesia say a would-be suicide bomber failed to detonate explosives in a packed church during Sunday Mass. National police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the assailant left a bench and ran toward a priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack apparently did not detonate and left the attacker injured. Amar said the man kept running toward the priest with a burning backpack as the congregation chased and captured him. The motive of the attack was not clear. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has suffered a spate of deadly attacks by Muslim militants since the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

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