Government halts aid talks
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has ordered the suspension of all loan and grant talks with foreign governments that backed a UN resolution to review human rights abuses during his signature anti-drug war. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Aug. 27 issued a memorandum which he signed “by order of the president” to cut off all official development aid talks with the countries that voted for the resolution, according to the document. The memorandum was issued to the heads of all government agencies and was posted on the official Web site of the Bureau of Customs, but was taken down yesterday. “All concerned officials are DIRECTED to suspend negotiations for and signing of all loan and grant agreements with the governments of the countries that co-sponsored and/or voted in favor of the aforesaid resolution,” it said. However, asked late on Friday whether Duterte’s office had issued the document, Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said it was “not true.”
Bus bomb kills 12
A bomb exploded on a minibus packed with passengers outside the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Friday night, killing 12 people and wounding five others, Iraqi security officials and the state news agency said. This was one of the biggest attacks targeting civilians since the Islamic State group was declared defeated inside Iraq in 2017. The group’s sleeper cells continue to wage an insurgency and carry out sporadic attacks across the country The explosion occurred as the bus was passing through an Iraqi army checkpoint, about 10km south of Karbala in the direction of the town of al-Hilla. One official told reporters that before the blast, a passenger exited the minibus, but left a bag containing explosives under one of the seats. The device was then detonated remotely at the checkpoint. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Biden decries Trump reports
Former vice president Joe Biden on Friday decried reports that President Donald Trump urged Ukrainan President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to look into his son’s business dealings there. Biden said in a statement that if the reports are true, “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.” The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said that Trump should release the transcript of his July phone conversation with Zelenskiy “so that the American people can judge for themselves.” Biden released the statement after news organizations reported that Trump had urged Zelenskiy to probe the activities of Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
People trapped in flood
Emergency workers on Friday used boats to rescue about 60 residents of a Houston-area community still trapped in their homes by floodwaters following one of the wettest tropical cyclones in US history. At least four deaths have been linked to the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda, which deluged parts of Texas and Louisiana. Almost 5m of standing water was reported in Huffman, northeast of Houston, when a nearby bayou overflowed. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office deployed its marine unit to evacuate the residents. Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been a combination of at least 1,700 high-water rescues following Thursday’s torrential rainfall.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: In its tender, the Hong Kong administration said that it had failed to ‘mobilise the community to support law enforcement actions’ The Hong Kong government has agreed to pay millions of pounds to a discreet London-based PR firm to counter coverage of the territory in the international media. Consulum, which has also represented Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was on Monday awarded the ￡5 million (US$6.2 million) one-year contract to improve Hong Kong’s reputation — the same day that China passed national security legislation targeting the territory. The Mayfair-based PR business was founded by Tim Ryan and Matthew Gunther Bushell, two former employees of Bell Pottinger, an agency that has been criticized for representing some governments and leaders that other businesses