Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

Agencies

JAPAN

Craft to land on asteroid

A spacecraft is approaching the surface of an asteroid about 280 million kilometers from Earth. Hayabusa2 began its approach at 1:15pm, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said yesterday. The start was delayed for about five hours for a safety check, but the uncrewed craft is still due to touch down as scheduled this morning. It is to attempt to collect material from the asteroid that could provide clues about the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. Hayabusa2 is aiming for a 6m-wide strip to avoid obstacles on the asteroid, which is about 900m in diameter.

PHILIPPINES

Maternity leave expanded

President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded leave benefits for working new mothers, a move that could bring more women into the workforce in the nation with the least female participation in Southeast Asia. A new law has increased paid maternity leave to 105 days from 60, of which seven can be given to fathers, Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement yesterday. Single mothers would get additional 15 days. Luring and keeping more women in the job market is among government initiatives outlined by National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Ernesto Pernia to boost labor force participation, which dropped last year. The World Bank estimates more than half of Philippine women are not in the labor force.

PAKISTAN

Rain, flooding kills 26

Torrential rains lashed several cities yesterday, triggering flash floods and leaving at least 26 dead, many swept away by the waters or killed when their roofs collapsed before dawn, authorities said. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Disaster Management Authority said that 14 people, including children, were killed. Emergency workers were trying to rescue people from flooded parts of Lasbella, authority spokesman Imran Zarqoon said. At least nine people were killed in three incidents of roofs collapsing amid the rains, four of them in the city of Multan, police and rescue services said.

CHINA

Genetics firm pulls out

Thermo Fisher Scientific said it would no longer sell or service genetic sequencers in Xinjiang following criticism that they were used for surveillance that enabled human rights abuses, the Wall Street Journal reported. The US company cited its “values, ethics code and policies,” the Journal said. Thermo Fisher faced criticism from human rights groups and US lawmakers for supplying the equipment used to identify individuals in Xinjiang.

SYRIA

Last evacuations expected

The last civilians were expected to be evacuated from the Islamic State (IS) group’s final enclave in the east of the country yesterday, clearing the way for US-backed forces to attack militants holed up inside, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said. The village of Baghouz at the Iraqi border is the last scrap of territory left to IS in the Euphrates valley region. Taking it would nudge the eight-year civil war toward a new phase, with US President Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw troops leaving a security vacuum that other powers could seek to fill. SDF media office head Mustafa Bali told reporters that the SDF would attack once the civilian evacuation is complete. Bali did not say how much more time was needed to finish off the remaining IS militants, nor did he give a fresh estimate of how many fighters remained.

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