Tokyo slams China drilling
The government has protested to China for allowing a gas drilling vessel to operate in disputed waters in the East China Sea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference yesterday. The two nations agreed to jointly develop gas fields in the area in 2008, but talks have since stopped. “It is extremely regrettable that China continues its unilateral development in the sea area in a situation where the maritime boundary between Japan and China has not been fixed in the East China Sea,” Suga said, adding that Japan would continue to urge China to return to talks. Bilateral relations have improved in recent years after deteriorating sharply in 2012, when Japan nationalized a cluster of East China Sea islets that China also claims.
Five charged with trafficking
Five people arrested last week for allegedly providing commercial surrogacy services were on Thursday also charged with human trafficking, Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophana said. Four Cambodian women and a Chinese man were formally charged with two counts of “The Act of Selling, Buying or Exchanging a Person for Cross-border Transfer,” which is punishable by seven to 15 years in prison, he said. The five had earlier been charged with providing surrogacy services, which were outlawed in 2016 as the nation was becoming a popular destination for would-be foreign parents seeking women to give birth to their children. That offense in punishable by one to six months in prison. Phnom Penh anti-trafficking police chief Keo Thea last week said that police who raided the surrogacy business rescued 33 pregnant surrogates who were allegedly hired by the Chinese man. The women are now under the care of the social welfare ministry.
Oleg Navalny freed
The brother of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was jailed for three-and-a-half years in a fraud case that supporters say was politically motivated, was freed yesterday after serving his sentence. About 50 supporters and journalists had gathered outside the prison for the release. Oleg and Alexei were convicted in a 2014 fraud trial related to their work for French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. The opposition politician received a suspended sentence, while his brother was jailed for the same amount of time in a move activists compared to hostage-taking. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the convictions were “arbitrary and unreasonable,” and ordered Russia to pay the pair 83,000 euros (US$96,766) in damages. The older Navalny brother has served repeated short jail sentences in connection to his political activities. He most recently served a 30-day sentence for organizing a protest against President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration and was freed the day the World Cup started.
US forces open new HQ
US forces yesterday opened their new headquarters on what they called Washington’s biggest overseas base just weeks after US President Donald Trump said he wanted to bring the troops home. For decades, US Forces Korea have been headquartered in Yongsan in the center of Seoul. The two allies agreed as long ago as 1990 to relocate the headquarters to Camp Humphreys, about 60km south of the capital, but the project was delayed for years by resident protests, financial issues and extensive construction work. It was not until 2013 that the first unit transferred to the camp. The headquarters moved yesterday along with the US-led UN Command, with more units to follow suit later. US forces Commander Vincent Brooks told the opening ceremony that Seoul had contributed more than 90 percent of the US$10.8 billion cost of Camp Humphreys, “which we believe to be the largest overseas US base in the world.”
Twenty-sixth diplomat ill
The US Department of State on Thursday confirmed that another diplomat has been affected by mysterious health incidents, bringing the total of Americans suffering from such ailments to 26. The diplomat was “medically confirmed” to have experienced health effects similar to those reported by other members of the US Havana diplomatic community, spokeswoman Health Nauert said. This and another case confirmed last week resulted from a single occurrence late last month in a diplomatic residence in which both officers were present, Nauert said. They were the first confirmed cases in Havana since August last year. Cuba has assured the US that it would continue its investigation, she added.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and