China frontier ‘fragile’
The situation on the border with China in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh is fragile and dangerous, with military forces deployed very close to each other in some parts, Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said yesterday. At least 24 soldiers were killed when the two countries border forces clashed in the region in the middle of 2020, but the situation has been calmed through rounds of diplomatic and military talks. Violence erupted in the eastern sector of the undemarcated border between the two nations in December last year, but did not result in any deaths. “The situation to my mind still remains very fragile, because there are places where our deployments are very close up and in military assessment therefore quite dangerous,” Jaishankar said.
Trump gifts scrutinized
The administration of former president Donald Trump has failed to report more than 100 gifts from foreign nations worth more than US$250,000, and federal officials have been unable to find a life-size painting of Trump given by the president of El Salvador and golf clubs from the prime minister of Japan, a House of Representatives report showed on Friday. Among the unreported items are 16 gifts from Saudi Arabia worth more than US$45,000 in all, including a dagger valued at up to US$24,000, the report said. Gifts above several hundred dollars that foreign officials give to the president, vice president and their families are required under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to be reported to the Department of State.
Hit-and-run prompts charges
A woman accused of fleeing to Thailand after killing a Michigan State University student in a hit-and-run has been returned to Michigan and is being held on US$1 million bail, authorities said on Friday. Investigators accuse Tubtim “Sue” Howson of striking 22-year-old Benjamin Kable as he was walking on a road before dawn on Jan 1. Howson, 57, left Michigan for Bangkok on Jan. 3. Authorities in Thailand took her into custody. She was returned to the US last month and held in San Francisco. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Friday that Howson was on Wednesday returned to Michigan, where she was arraigned on a charge of failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
No-confidence motions filed
President Emmanuel Macron’s government on Friday faced no-confidence motions in parliament and intensified protests after imposing a contentious pension reform without a vote in the lower house. The situation presents Macron, who has only made occasional public comments on the matter, with one of his biggest challenges less than one year into his second and final term. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Thursday invoked article 49.3 of the constitution to impose the pension overhaul by decree, sparking angry demonstrations nationwide that raged unabated on Friday. Opposition lawmakers filed no-confidence motions, hoping to repeal the deeply unpopular law, which is to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. “The vote on this motion will allow us to get out on top of a deep political crisis,” opposition lawmaker Bertrand Pancher said.
EMBASSY TRAP? A missionary said that the group had been told they needed to report to the Chinese embassy, but added if they were to walk in, ‘they are gone’ More than 60 members of a Chinese Christian church have been detained in Thailand, supporters said yesterday, raising fears they might be returned to their home country, where they face possible persecution. Deana Brown, one of two American supporters detained along with the church members, said that Thai authorities in the coastal city of Pattaya on Thursday detained the 63 church members, many of whom are children. Thirty-two adult Chinese nationals were charged with overstaying their visas, said Colonel Tawee Kutthalaeng, chief of the Pattaya-area Nong Prue police station. The children were not charged, Kutthalaeng said. The two US citizens were not placed under
China and Brazil have reached a deal to trade in their own currencies, ditching the US dollar as an intermediary, the Brazilian government said on Wednesday, Beijing’s latest salvo against the greenback. The deal would enable China, the top rival to US economic hegemony, and Brazil, the biggest economy in Latin America, to conduct their massive trade and financial transactions directly, exchanging yuan for reals and vice versa instead of going through the US dollar. “The expectation is that this will reduce costs ... promote even greater bilateral trade and facilitate investment,” the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency said in a
India yesterday summoned Canada’s high commissioner in India to “convey strong concern” over Sikh protesters in Canada and how they were allowed to breach the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates. Canadian media reported that hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Saturday over demands for an independent Sikh state, a simmering issue for decades that was triggered again in the past few weeks. Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India. “It is expected that the Canadian government will take all steps which are required to ensure the
The Japanese government has made tackling its falling birthrate a top priority, but with few women involved in official debate on the issue, some are making themselves heard on social media. Japan recorded fewer than 800,000 births last year, the lowest in the nation of 125 million since records began. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has warned the trend threatens “whether we can continue to function as a society,” and fresh focus on the issue has sparked countless articles. However, one in particular, which said Japan has the highest ratio in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of women aged 50