China urged to cease support
An alliance of China-backed ethnic rebels on Thursday called for Beijing’s help to diffuse a post-coup crisis that is ravaging the country. China is a major ally and arms supplier of the internationally isolated junta and has refused to denounce the 2021 putsch, which ousted a Aung San Suu Kyi-led elected administration. However, Beijing also backs and arms several ethnic rebel groups along its border with the country, some of which have clashed repeatedly with the military in the aftermath of the coup. The Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee groups seven ethnic outfits, which together can call on tens of thousands of well-armed and well-trained fighters, analysts say. “We welcome and support China’s involvement to end domestic conflicts happening in Myanmar,” the alliance said following a meeting in an autonomous enclave run by the United Wa State Party.
Uranium gone missing: UN
About 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium stored in a site in the war-torn country have gone missing, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, raising safety and proliferation concerns. However, forces allied to a warlord battling the central government later in the day said that his fighters recovered the material. UN inspectors said they were trying to confirm that. Natural uranium cannot immediately be used for energy production or bomb fuel, as the enrichment process typically requires the metal to be converted into a gas and spun in centrifuges to reach the levels needed. However, each tonne of natural uranium — if obtained by a group with the technological means and resources — can be refined to 5.6kg of weapons-grade material, experts say.
Macron forces pension reform
President Emmanuel Macron’s administration on Thursday rammed a controversial pension reform bill through parliament without a vote, risking more turbulence and street protests after a day of high political drama. The move to use a special constitutional power enabling the government to pass legislation without a vote amounted to an admission that the government lacked a majority to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The Senate had adopted the bill earlier in the day, but reluctance by right-wing opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly to side with Macron meant his administration faced defeat in the lower house. “We can’t take the risk of seeing 175 hours of parliamentary debate come to nothing,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told lawmakers as she announced the move amid jeers and boos from the opposition.
Surfer sets endurance record
Former pro surfer Blake Johnston yesterday shredded the world record for the longest surfing session, saying he felt “pretty cooked” after catching waves for more than 30 exhausting hours. The 40-year-old broke down in tears after beating South African Josh Enslin’s previous record of 30 hours 11 minutes. In front of hundreds of cheering supporters at Sydney’s Cronulla Beach, Johnston braved swarms of jellyfish and pitch-black seas that are home to many species of shark. Johnston briefly thanked the crowd lining the beach during one of the short food and water breaks he was allowed to take, before paddling back out to try to push the record to 40 hours. “I’ve still got a job to do. I said 40 so I’ll go and give it a crack,” he told reporters. “I’m pretty cooked, yeah, but we’ll push through.”
SOUTH CHINA SEA SPAT: The image bolsters a Philippine Coast Guard assertion that Chinese inflatable boats deployed floating barriers at the shoal’s entrance last week Satellite images of the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島) in the South China Sea show a new floating barrier across its entrance, near where Philippine ships and Chinese coast guard vessels have had frequent run-ins. One of the images taken by Maxar Technologies on Thursday last week and viewed by Reuters showed the barrier blocking the mouth of the shoal, where the Chinese coast guard last week claimed to have driven off a Philippine vessel “illegally intruding” into Beijing’s waters. Manila, which last week deployed a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel to patrol the shoal and
Satoshi Kirishima spent almost half a century evading arrest, until mortality intervened. As deathbed confessions go, his was astonishing: Having lived a double life as a construction worker, the 70-year-old was admitted last month to a hospital near Tokyo where he told staff he was one of Japan’s most-wanted fugitives. In a more recent image provided to Japanese media by an acquaintance, it is just possible to discern a resemblance with the black-and-white photograph that has adorned Japanese police boxes for decades showing a bespectacled, smiling university student with shoulder-length hair. While he shared details of his family and his organization that only
‘RUSSIA CANNOT WIN’: The French president declined to say which nations were considering sending troops, saying he prefers to maintain some ‘strategic ambiguity’ French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said that sending Western troops on the ground in Ukraine is not “ruled out” after the issue was debated at a gathering of European leaders in Paris, as Russia’s full-scale invasion grinds into a third year. The French leader said that “we will do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war” after the meeting of more than 20 European heads of state and government, and other Western officials. “There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground, but in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out,” Macron said
CHINA LINKS: A report said that there were concerns about the loyalty of Qiu Xiangguo and Cheng Keding due to their direct contact with entities linked to China Two scientists at Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory lost their jobs after reviews found that they failed to protect sensitive assets and information, and failed to acknowledge collaborations with China, newly released records showed. The scientists, Qiu Xiangguo (邱香果) and her husband, Cheng Keding (成克定), were stripped of their security clearances in 2019 at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory over questions about their loyalty to Canada, and the potential for coercion or exploitation by a foreign entity, the documents say. More than 600 pages were made public on Wednesday following a special all-party review of the records. The records show that the Canadian Security