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Vietnam PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc says early Aug ‘decisive time’ to avert large-scale virus spread

Vietnam PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc says early Aug ‘decisive time’ to avert large-scale virus spread

HANOI (REUTERS) - Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Monday (Aug 3) that early August would be a decisive period for preventing a large-scale spread of the coronavirus, state broadcaster VTV reported, after a reemergence of the virus after more than three months.“We have to deploy full force to curb all known epicentres, especially those in Danang,” VTV quoted Mr Phuc as telling a meeting of government officials, referring to the city where the virus reappeared recently. “Early August will be the decisive time within which to stop the virus from spreading on a large scale.”Mr...

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5d ago
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A quarter of Bangladesh is flooded; millions have lost everything

A quarter of Bangladesh is flooded; millions have lost everything

DHAKA/NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Torrential rains have submerged at least one-quarter of Bangladesh, washing away the few things that count as assets for some of the world's poorest people - their goats and chickens, houses of mud and tin, sacks of rice stored for the lean season.It is the latest calamity to strike the delta nation of 165 million people. Only two months ago, a cyclone pummelled the country's southwest. Along the coast, a rising sea has swallowed entire villages. And while it's too soon to ascertain what role climate change has played in these latest floods, Bangladesh is already...

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Jul 31
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Portland protesters put out fires as feds withdraw

Portland protesters put out fires as feds withdraw

PORTLAND (REUTERS) - Portland had its first day without tear gas in weeks after state police took over from federal agents guarding a courthouse that had become a battleground for agitators and tactical units.Agents withdrew under a deal between Oregon's governor and US officials and a clash between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic mayors over the use of federal force in their cities.President Donald Trump tweeted late on Friday: “Homeland Security is not leaving Portland until local police complete cleanup of Anarchists and Agitators!” Some people again tried to light fires...

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7d ago
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Australia's population growth plunges to lowest in a century as Covid-19 hits migration and births

Australia's population growth plunges to lowest in a century as Covid-19 hits migration and births

SYDNEY - Australia's population growth is set to plunge due to which has led to a sudden stop to migrant flows and an expected drop in the birth rate.The ban on the arrival of international visitors has caused Australia's migrant intake to plummet, marking a drastic change for a nation whose economic success has often been credited to its mass influx of new foreign residents. In addition, the economic slump is set to cause a fall in the birth rate, leaving Australia facing its lowest population increase in more than a century.The Federal Government expects net migration - the overall...

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JONATHAN PEARLMAN
Jul 30
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China denies involvement with Singapore spy, says US has reached 'state of extreme suspicion'

China denies involvement with Singapore spy, says US has reached 'state of extreme suspicion'

BEIJING - China on Monday (July 27) refuted allegations that it recruited Singaporean Dickson Yeo as a spy, and instead accused the US of having reached "a state of extreme suspicion".Responding to questions from The Straits Times at a daily briefing, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin denied knowledge of"But what I want to say is this. In a bid to smear China, US law enforcement has repeatedly made said Mr Wang."It has reached a state of extreme suspicion. We ask the US to stop this, and to stop using the issue of espionage to continue smearing China."This is the latest in the downward...

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ELIZABETH LAW
Jul 27
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JJ Lin forms all-Singaporean e-sports team

JJ Lin forms all-Singaporean e-sports team

Mandopop megastar JJ Lin is popular for his hit ballads, but that is not his only passion. The Singapore singer and avid gamer is also one of the owners of an e-sports organisation.Last Friday, he deepened his e-sports foray and made a splash in the local gaming scene by launching an all-Singaporean e-sports team.The team, set up to compete in the first-person shooter (FPS) game Valorant, is part of Team Still Moving Under Gunfire (SMG), an e-sports organisation formed in 2017 by Lin and e-sports player-turned-coach Kenchi Yap."Team SMG has teams in Shanghai, Malaysia and, finally,...

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TREVOR TAN
Jul 21
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Indonesian court sentences Jemaah Islamiah leader to 7 years' jail for inciting terrorism

Indonesian court sentences Jemaah Islamiah leader to 7 years' jail for inciting terrorism

JAKARTA - The top leader of South-east Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) was sentenced to seven years' jail on Monday (July 20) by an Indonesian court for inciting others to commit an act of terrorism.Para Wijayanto, 56, was named as the emir of JI in 2009.Prosecutors said he was instrumental in recruiting, training and raising funds for Indonesian militants who went to Syria between 2012 and 2018 to fight alongside those opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.He and his wife were arrested on the outskirts of Jakarta in July 2019."The defendant purposely incited others to...

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WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA
Jul 20
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US, Kenya formally launch trade deal talks

US, Kenya formally launch trade deal talks

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Kenya and the United States formally launched negotiations on Wednesday (July 8) for a bilateral trade pact that the two economies hope could serve as a model for additional agreements across the African continent.In a joint statement, trade ministers for the two countries, Betty Maina and Robert Lighthizer, said they were holding an initial round of talks virtually over the next two weeks due to the coronavirus.Kenya wants to do a deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows sub-Saharan African states to export...

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Jul 8
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Law allowing tiger, pangolin farming risks 'fuelling demand'

Law allowing tiger, pangolin farming risks 'fuelling demand'

YANGON • Conservationists have warned that a sudden change in Myanmar's law allowing the commercial farming of tigers, pangolins and other endangered species risks further fuelling demand in China for rare wildlife products.The South-east Asian nation is already a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife, a trade driven by demand from neighbouring China and worth an estimated US$20 billion (S$27.8 billion) worldwide.Last month, Myanmar's Forest Department quietly gave the green light to private zoos to apply for licences to breed 90 species, more than 20 of which are endangered or...

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Jul 11
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After Kanye West, Paris Hilton claims she will run for US president

After Kanye West, Paris Hilton claims she will run for US president

American rapper Kanye West announced last Saturday (July 4) that he is running for United States president this year, with many people dismissing it as a publicity stunt.Several celebrities poked fun at West's announcement, with actress Tiffany Haddish joking that she would also be running for president and even said that she has chosen her running mate - comedian Dave Chappelle.American media personality and socialite Paris Hilton has joined in the fun, announcing cheekily on social media on Monday that she too is throwing her hat in the presidential ring.The 39-year-old posted a picture...

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LIM RUEY YAN
Jul 8
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Quake rattles China's Tangshan, a city haunted by 1976 massive disaster

Quake rattles China's Tangshan, a city haunted by 1976 massive disaster

BEIJING (AFP) - A 4.7-magnitude earthquake struck the northern Chinese city of Tangshan on Sunday (July 12), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), reviving memories of a devastating 1976 quake there that was the deadliest in modern times.Sunday's tremor occurred at 6.38am, the USGS said, with the epicentre in a suburban residential district just outside downtown Tangshan, about 200km east of Beijing.China's seismological authority put the magnitude at 5.1 and said it struck at a depth of 10km.On July 28, 1976, Tangshan, then a coal mining city of about one million people,...

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Jul 12
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Russia battles wildfires amid record warm weather

Russia battles wildfires amid record warm weather

MOSCOW (AFP) - Wildfires raging in Siberia in have decreased considerably over the past week, Russia's forest service said on Saturday (July 11), as it battles blazes by cloud seeding and explosives.Freakishly warm weather across large swathes of Siberia since January, combined with low soil moisture, have contributed to a resurgence of wildfires that devastated the region last summer, the European Union's climate monitoring network said this week.Both the number and intensity of fires in Siberia and parts of Alaska have increased since mid-June, resulting in the highest carbon emissions...

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Jul 11
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US slaps French goods with 25% tariff over digital tax, but delays effective date

US slaps French goods with 25% tariff over digital tax, but delays effective date

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) -The Trump administration on Friday (July 10) announced additional duties of 25 per cent on French cosmetics, handbags and other imports valued at US$1.3 billion (S$1.8 billion) in response to France's digital services tax, but would hold off on implementing the move for up to 180 days.The US Trade Representative's office said delaying the start of the tariffs would allow further time to resolve the issue, including through discussions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).The decision also reflected France's agreement to defer collection...

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Jul 10
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Tiger, pangolin farming in Myanmar risks 'boosting demand'

Tiger, pangolin farming in Myanmar risks 'boosting demand'

YANGON (AFP) - Conservationists have warned a sudden change in Myanmar's law allowing the commercial farming of tigers, pangolins and other endangered species risks further fuelling demand in China for rare wildlife products.The South-east Asian nation is already a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife, a trade driven by demand from neighbouring China and worth an estimated US$20 billion (S$27.8 billion) worldwide.In June, Myanmar's Forest Department quietly gave the green light to private zoos to apply for licences to breed 90 species, more than 20 of which are endangered or...

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Jul 11
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Bali to welcome international tourists on Sept 11

Bali to welcome international tourists on Sept 11

DENPASAR (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Bali is prepared to welcome back foreign visitors on Sept 11 after imposed amid the coronavirus outbreak, which severely impacted its tourism industry.Bali Governor Wayan Koster said activities on the popular resort island will resume but gradually and in three steps to comply with "new normal" policies.The island will reopen to local tourists beginning on Thursday (July 9)."To that end, we must surrender ourselves and pray so that we will be graced (with good fortune)," he said after participating in a local religious ceremony on Sunday, as...

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Jul 6
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Indonesia is now an upper-middle income country, World Bank says

Indonesia is now an upper-middle income country, World Bank says

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesia is now officially an upper-middle income country, an upgrade from its previous status as lower-middle income, according to the World Bank's latest country classifications by income level.The classifications are based on gross national income (GNI) per capita.Indonesia saw its GNI per capita rise to US$4,050 (S$5,650) in 2019, surpassing the income threshold for upper-middle income, from US$3,840 in 2018.The World Bank uses the indicator to decide whether a country may use the bank's facilities, such as loan pricing.Upper-middle income...

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Jul 3
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Letter of the week: Time ripe for a pan-Asian university

Letter of the week: Time ripe for a pan-Asian university

Fear of China's rise as a superpower, compounded by the coronavirus blame game, is fuelling anti-Chinese sentiment in many Western societies. Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, there have been many reports of physical attacks, verbal abuse and racial tirades directed against those of East Asian descent.Large numbers of international students from China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia may now be reconsidering their plans to study in the West.The time is ripe for a pan-Asian university. It will be beneficial for Asians of different origins to deepen their understanding of...

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Jun 19
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Trump aides weigh proposals to undermine Hong Kong's dollar peg

Trump aides weigh proposals to undermine Hong Kong's dollar peg

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Some top advisers to President Donald Trump want the US to undermine the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the US dollar as the administration considers options to punish China for recent moves to chip away at the former British colony's political freedoms, according to people familiar with the matter.The idea of striking against the Hong Kong dollar peg - perhaps by limiting the ability of Hong Kong banks to buy US dollars - has been raised as part of broader discussions among advisers to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and hasn't been elevated to the senior levels of...

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Jul 8
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'Dirty' depiction of Kim Jong Un's wife outraged North Korea: Russian envoy

'Dirty' depiction of Kim Jong Un's wife outraged North Korea: Russian envoy

MOSCOW (AFP) - North Korea's fury over is driven by "dirty, insulting" depictions of leader Kim Jong Un's spouse, Russia's top envoy in the reclusive country has said.In recent weeks, Pyongyang has which defectors based in the South send across the militarised border - usually attached to balloons or floated in bottles.The campaigns have long been a point of contention between the two Koreas, but this time, Pyongyang upped the pressure,One of the most recent launches - carried out on May 31 - included provocative imagery of the North's First Lady Ri Sol Ju, sparking "serious outrage" in...

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Jun 30
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Democracy activist Nathan Law says he has fled Hong Kong

Democracy activist Nathan Law says he has fled Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AFP) - Nathan Law, one of Hong Kong's most prominent young democracy activists, announced on Thursday (July 2) he had fled overseas in response to Beijing imposing a sweeping security law on the city."I have already left Hong Kong and continue the advocacy work on the international level," Law said in a short English message to journalists, declining to say which country he had gone to."Based on risk assessment, I shall not reveal too much about my personal whereabouts and situation now," the message added.The revelation Law had left the city came as the local government released...

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Jul 2
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Hong Kong police make first arrest under new national security law

Hong Kong police make first arrest under new national security law

HONG KONG (REUTERS)- Hong Kong police moved swiftly on Wednesday (July 1) against protesters gearing up for the first rally since the introduction of , making their first arrest under it and warning of punishment for pro-independence material.Beijing on Tuesday unveiled the details of the much-anticipated law after weeks of uncertainty, pushing China’s freest city and one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs onto a more authoritarian path.As hundreds of protesters gathered downtown for an annual rally marking the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China,...

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Jul 1
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Czech leader calls 'Black Lives Matter' slogan racist

Czech leader calls 'Black Lives Matter' slogan racist

PRAGUE (AFP) - Czech President Milos Zeman on Tuesday (June 30) described the "Black Lives Matter" slogan as racist, 11 days after the European Parliament strongly backed the BLM campaign and urged EU countries to embrace its aims.Speaking at the US embassy in Prague to mark US Independence Day on July 4, Zeman compared the BLM leadership to the ever-watchful eyes of "Big Brother" keeping tabs on citizens' behaviour.Zeman targeted the "Black Lives Matter" campaign that has spread around the globe since George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, was killed in US police custody a month...

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Jun 30
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Mice brain breakthrough offers hope for Parkinson's patients

Mice brain breakthrough offers hope for Parkinson's patients

PARIS (AFP) - Scientists have discovered a "one-step strategy" offering hope for treating Parkinson's disease and other degenerative illnesses after converting mice brain cells into functioning neurons, they reported in breakthrough research on Wednesday (June 24).The motor defects associated with Parkinson's are largely caused by the loss of dopamine-emitting neurons - electrically active cells that communicate with others - in the brain.A team of US- and China-based researchers used genome-editing to convert a different type of brain cell - astrocytes - into neurons, thereby slowing the...

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Jun 24
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Cinemas, theatres in Malaysia to reopen from July 1 as businesses urge further easing of coronavirus curbs

Cinemas, theatres in Malaysia to reopen from July 1 as businesses urge further easing of coronavirus curbs

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As cinemas, theatres and live events in Malaysia are set to reopen from July 1, key players in the small and medium industries and tourism sector in the country are appealing to the government to further relax Covid-19 restrictions.Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Senior Minister (Security), said on Monday (June 22) that the government has allowed such activities to reopen from July but they must be held in enclosed spaces and the capacity must be limited to 250 people or fewer, depending on the size of the area."If they can only fit fewer than...

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Jun 22
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Who is affected by Trump's new rules on work visas?

Who is affected by Trump's new rules on work visas?

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump suspended the entry of certain foreign workers on Monday (June 22) until the end of the year, a move the White House said would help the coronavirus-battered economy, but which business groups strongly oppose.The effects of the proclamation might not be immediately felt as the issuance of work visas had already dramatically declined due to the coronavirus pandemic.The following visa categories are affected:The United States grants 85,000 H-1B visas every year to "high-skilled" workers, often in the technology industry. They are generally valid...

straitstimes.com
Jun 23
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