US trade deal approved
The parliament yesterday approved a trade deal that was agreed on earlier this year by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump. The deal cutting tariffs between the countries takes effect from the beginning of next month. Some critics have said that the deal is more advantageous to the US, because the US would continue to levy a 2.5 percent tariff on vehicles manufactured in the nation.
Chinese investment sealed
China is to help build several major infrastructure projects, including a stadium and water treatment plant, the two nations said in a joint statement on Tuesday. President Nayib Bukele, who this week met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing, said that the investment represented a “gigantic, non-refundable cooperation,” without disclosing the planned investment amount. The projects offer the strongest signal yet of the nation’s embrace of close ties with Beijing. The nation “adheres to the principle of one China, categorically rejects any act that goes against this principle and any form of ‘independence of Taiwan,’” the joint statement said.
Typhoon leaves 17 dead
The death toll from Typhoon Kammuri yesterday rose to 17 people, after the weather system destroyed houses and displaced hundreds of thousands on its path across the nation. As it neared its exit yesterday, signals for tropical cyclone winds were lifted for 10 out of about a hundred areas placed on alert this week, the national weather bureau said. Parts of 12 roads and three bridges remain closed, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s latest bulletin said.
Body found in hiker search
Police yesterday said they believe they have found the remains of a woman missing in the country’s remote outback for two weeks. “Police located the body, which is believed to be that Claire Hockridge during search efforts,” Northern Territory police said in an e-mailed statement. Hockridge had been missing since she went hiking with two friends, both of whom had been found.
‘Tank’ bear sparks concern
A video showing a polar bear painted with the name of a Soviet-era tank, T-34, has caused alarm. A senior researcher at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Anatoly Kochnev, told RIA Novosti news agency that “at first, until he cleans himself off, it will be hard for him to hunt.” The video was posted on Facebook on Monday by Sergei Kavry, who works for the World Wildlife Fund in the Chukotka region. He said he was concerned at the large letters daubed on the side of the bear, seen plodding through snow. “Why? Why? He won’t be able to hunt inconspicuously,” Kavry wrote. Severpress news agency on Tuesday reported that scientists had marked the bear because it was scavenging for food near an inhabited area in Novaya Zemlya, a remote Arctic archipelago, but that the paint would wash off in two weeks.
Islamists besiege newspaper
Dozens of angry Islamists on Tuesday night swarmed the building of independent newspaper Dawn in Islamabad, blocking its entrance for several hours, threatening the staff and demanding that its editor Zaffar Abbas be hanged. A simultaneous protest took place in Karachi, where the protesters gathered at the Press Club, demanding that Abbas and Dawn publisher Hameed Haroon be hanged. The demonstrators were angered that the English-language paper had reported that the assailant in the London Bridge attack on Friday last week was of “Pakistani origin.”
An engineer working for French aerospace and defense company Thales has been shot dead in Bogota in an apparent targeted assassination, officials said on Tuesday. The 45-year-old victim was shot late on Monday as he left a restaurant with a French colleague in the upscale northern district of Chapinero, the police and Thales said. “We reject the hypothesis of a robbery. According to the evidence we have, this is an assassination perpetrated by a hitman,” police Major Robert Mendez told reporters. The killer had approached from behind after the men left the restaurant and targeted only the victim before fleeing, a police source said. The French embassy said the victim, whose identity has not been made public, had been on a work assignment. The city is currently hosting the Expodefensa defense and security trade fair.
Kushner in talks with China
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has added another role to his long list of White House duties — trade negotiator — as Washington and Beijing try to reach an initial agreement to avoid new US tariffs on Dec. 15. People familiar with the talks said that Kushner has increased his involvement in the negotiations with China over the past two weeks. A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Kushner’s involvement, but declined to provide details on the influence he has had on the negotiations.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after