TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese began voting in midterm local elections Saturday seen as a referendum on the independence-leaning administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, amid growing pressure from the island's powerful rival China. The elections that follow Tsai's landslide victory in 2016 will decide the races for 22 mayors and county magistrates along with thousands of local officials. Driven from power two years ago, the opposition Nationalists, known also as the KMT, hope to regain territory from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party by emphasizing their pro-business image and a more accommodating line toward Beijing. Since her election in 2016, Tsai has walked a fine line on relations with China, maintaining Taiwan's de facto independent status that the vast majority of Taiwanese support, while avoiding calls from the more radical elements of her party for moves to declare formal separation from the mainland.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Saturday that the United Nations Security Council granted an exemption to sanctions that will allow surveys on North Korean railroad sections the Koreas want to connect with the South. The surveys would require the South to bring to the North fuel and a variety of goods, including possibly cars to test on northern tracks. The Koreas plan to hold a groundbreaking ceremony by the end of the year on an ambitious project to connect their railways and roads as agreed by their leaders. But beyond surveys and tape-cuttings, they cannot move much further along without the lifting of U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea, which isn't likely before Pyongyang takes firmer steps toward relinquishing its nuclear weapons and missiles.
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Armed separatists stormed the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi on Friday, triggering an intense hour-long shootout during which two Pakistani civilians, two police officers and all three assailants were killed, including one who was wearing a suicide vest, Pakistani officials said. The brazen assault, claimed by a militant group from the southwestern province of Baluchistan, reflected the separatists' attempt to strike at the heart of Pakistan's close ties with major ally China, which has invested heavily into road and transportation projects in the country, including in Baluchistan. The Baluch Liberation Army said it was fighting "Chinese occupation" and released photos of the three attackers.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An explosion ripped through a mosque inside an Afghan army base in the country's volatile eastern Khost province as Friday prayers were drawing to a close, killing 27 soldiers and wounding 57, the military said. The blast may have been set off by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb but nothing was officially confirmed and details were sketchy. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement as "anti-Islamic and inhumane." He also wanted to know how the army's security was breached, demanding a swift investigation and the officials responsible held accountable.
PARIS (AP) — The Japanese city of Osaka will host the World Expo in 2025, after beating out cities in Russia and Azerbaijan in the race to host an event expected to draw millions of visitors and showcase the local economy and culture. Shouts of joy in Japanese erupted in the Paris auditorium when the 170 member states of the Bureau International des Expositions voted Friday in favor of Osaka's bid. Dark-suited officials hugged and jumped up and down, and Japan's economy and trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, said he felt "Excellent! I'm excited! I also feel a heavy responsibility to make Expo 2025 successful."
NEW DELHI (AP) — The young American, paddling his kayak toward a remote Indian island whose people have resisted the outside world for thousands of years, believed God was helping him dodge the authorities. "God sheltered me and camouflaged me against the coast guard and the navy," John Allen Chau wrote before he was killed last week on North Sentinel Island. Indian ships monitor the waters around the island, trying to ensure outsiders do not go near the Sentinelese, who have repeatedly made clear they want to be left alone. When a young boy tried to hit him with an arrow on his first day on the island, Chau swam back to the fishing boat he had arranged to wait for him offshore.
BEIJING (AP) — The co-founders of Dolce&Gabbana apologized Friday in a video on Chinese social media after promotional videos seen as racist and subsequent Instagram messages stoked a furor in one of the world's largest markets for luxury goods. Domenico Dolce and Steffano Gabbana appeared in a nearly 1 ½ minute video posted on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, saying they hope to be forgiven and will do their best to better understand and respect Chinese culture. "We have always been in love with China," said Dolce. "We love your culture and we certainly have much to learn. That is why we are sorry if we made mistakes in the way we expressed ourselves.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics apologized Friday for illnesses and deaths of some of its workers, saying it failed to create a safe working environment at its computer chip and display factories. The announcement by the South Korean technology giant came weeks after the company and a group representing ailing Samsung workers agreed to accept compensation terms suggested by a mediator and end a highly-publicized standoff that went on for more than a decade. The company's apology was part of the settlement. Kinam Kim, president of Samsung's device solutions division, said the company failed to "sufficiently manage health threats" at its semiconductor and liquid crystal display manufacturing lines.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean government must pay 80 million won ($70,700) to three men who were enslaved on salt farms in remote islands off the country's southwest coast for several years, a court ruled Friday. The Seoul High Court said the government was responsible for their ordeals because local officials and police failed to properly monitor their living and working conditions. The court said the government should pay 30 million won ($26,500) each to two of the men and 20 million won ($17,700) to the third plaintiff. More than 60 slaves, most of them with intellectual disabilities, were rescued from the islands following an investigation led by mainland police in 2014.
MUMBAI, India (AP) — Ten years ago, chef Raghu Deora stood face-to-face with death. He was in the kitchen of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel's private club, The Chambers, when four gunmen walked in with assault rifles and sprayed the guests and hotel staff with bullets. He tried to hide, but his efforts were for naught. "I was found out by the terrorists. They got me out. Me, along with two more guests, we were made to stand in line and we were shot point blank," he says. On Nov. 26, 2008, India's financial capital Mumbai was turned into a war zone by a group of Pakistani gunmen who launched coordinated attacks in the heart of the city.