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Thursday, April 20, 2017 

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International News

Comedian Pikotaro astonished by viral success of "PPAP" song


National Geographic’s famed "Afghan girl" denies getting fake ID


Rehabilitated orangutans freed in Borneo as species dwindles


Group hopes to preserve heritage of Myanmar’s biggest city


U.S. fast-food chain in Malaysia told to change hot dog name


From The Asian Reporter, V26, #21 (November 7, 2016), page 2.

Wanda lures Hollywood to China with rebate offer

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese entertainment giant Wanda is offering producers a rebate of 40 percent to promote its upcoming $8 billion movie studio in eastern China in an ambitious bid to establish the complex as a major production base in Asia. The 408-acre Qingdao Movie Metropolis is due to open in the port city in August 2018. Not just a movie studio, it is slated to include four indoor theme parks and even international schools to encourage foreign filmmakers to live there with their families. In an announcement in Los Angeles, Wanda said the next installments of Pacific Rim and Godzilla, made by Wanda-owned Legendary Entertainment, would be filmed in Qingdao, as well as unspecified films by Lionsgate. Wanda said it and the Qingdao city government established a film and TV industry development fund to enable Chinese and international producers to receive a rebate of 40 percent of their Qingdao production expenses. The announcement is the latest by Wanda to promote its growing entertainment brand on the global stage, even as U.S. lawmakers raise concerns about the company’s investment in Hollywood.

Nepal drains dangerous glacial lake to safe level

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepalese officials have reported that army soldiers and local villagers dug through rocks and boulders to drain a glacial lake just south of Mount Everest, bringing the water to a safe level and possibly preventing an outburst that could have flooded several villages. Lt. Col. Bharat Lal Shrestha, who led the team of soldiers, said they were able to lower Imja Lake’s level of water by 11 feet, making it safe and for now averting the risk of outburst. The 40 soldiers working with 100 villagers dug through boulders and rocks to build an outlet to drain out as much as 1 million cubic liters of water. The lake, at 16,400 feet altitude, is considered one of the most likely glacial lakes to have an outburst.

Abu Sayyaf received $7.3 million from kidnappings

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — A Philippine government report says Abu Sayyaf militants pocketed at least 353 million pesos ($7.3 million) from ransom kidnappings in the first six months of the year and have turned to abducting foreign sailors as military offensives restrict their mobility. The confidential military and police threat assessment report seen by The Associated Press said the offensives have taken their toll on the Abu Sayyaf, slightly reducing the number of the militants although they remain capable of launching attacks. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered troops to destroy the notorious Muslim extremist group, which has been blacklisted by the U.S. and the Philippines following more than two decades of bomb attacks, raids on civilians, mass kidnappings, and beheadings.

Woman mauled by tiger at park demands compensation

BEIJING (AP) — A woman who was mauled by a tiger after getting out of her car at a Beijing safari park, reportedly because she felt carsick, is demanding compensation of more than 2 million yuan ($300,000) from the facility. Her mother was killed in the incident after also leaving the vehicle to come to her assistance. The attack happened in July in the enclosure of the animals at Beijing Badaling Wildlife World near the Great Wall of China. The park confirmed media reports that the survivor, identified only by her surname, Zhao, is requesting 1.5 million yuan for her "serious injuries," including nerve damage, scarring of her face, and psychological trauma, along with 1.24 million yuan as compensation for the death of her mother. Spokesman Cao Zhijie said that even though a district government investigation found the park was not to blame, they were willing to pay some compensation "out of our humanity." No figure has been decided. Media reports cited Zhao as saying that she got out of the car because she felt carsick and thought they had already driven out of the enclosure.

In Dubai, a showdown on shawarma is reportedly coming

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A showdown over shawarma has come to Dubai. A state-owned newspaper has reported that nearly half of all shawarma stands in Dubai either will be shut down or have stopped selling the popular Mideast street food. The National newspaper of Abu Dhabi quoted Sultan al-Tahir, head of food inspection in Dubai, as saying the city-state’s more than 570 shawarma stands had six months to update their operations to comply with new hygiene regulations. Al-Tahir says 113 stopped making the meat wraps, while another 141 took no action and will be shut down. The others followed the rules or are in the process of complying. Shawarma is typically cooked outdoors, with spiced chicken, lamb, and beef shaved off a vertical spit. Al-Tahir said Dubai’s high heat can cause bacteria to spread.

Sony Music apologizes for Japanese band’s Nazi-like outfits

TOKYO (AP) — Sony Music Japan apologized after a popular Japanese all-girls band came under fire for performing in outfits resembling Nazi-era German military uniforms. The members of Keyakizaka46 appeared at an October 22 concert in black knee-length dresses that looked like military overcoats, and black capes and officer caps with a Nazi-like eagle emblem. Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) is the group’s label. "We express our heartfelt apology for causing offense ... because of our lack of understanding," Sony Music Japan said in a statement posted on its website. "We take the incident seriously and will make efforts to prevent a recurrence of a similar incident in the future." Sony Music spokesman Yasuyuki Oshio said there had been no intention to link the performance to Nazism.

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