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  • Australian convicts transferred to Indonesian island for exe …
    Australian convicts transferred to Indonesian island for exe …

    By Johan Purnomo and Darren Whiteside CILACAP, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were transferred on Wednesday from a Bali prison to an island for execution along with other foreigners, underlining Indonesia's determination to use the death penalty despite international criticism. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions between Australia and Indonesia following repeated pleas for mercy on their behalf.

  • China says NGOs need regulating for national security reason …

    China needs to better regulate foreign non-governmental organisations (NGO) operating in the country for national security reasons, an official said on Wednesday, as the government drafts a law that has unnerved many aid groups. Fu Ying, spokeswoman for China's largely rubber-stamp parliament, said she understood there were more than 6,000 foreign NGOs operating in the country, who had brought with them money, expertise and technology. China needed a law to better regulate them to ensure they had "sufficient legal basis" to operate in China, Fu said. "On the one hand, we need to protect their legitimate interests, to let them play an even greater role, and on the other hand they need even more effective management, to sufficiently protect our country's security and social stability." China began an investigation into the operations of NGOs last year, to prepare for tighter regulations, as part of a security drive ordered by a new national panel headed by President Xi Jinping.

  • S.Korea's Asiana settles US court claims by 72 passengers …

    By Joyce Lee and Alex Dobuzinskis SEOUL/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - South Korea's Asiana Airlines Inc has settled compensation claims filed in U.S. courts by 72 people who were passengers on a flight that crashed at San Francisco's main airport in 2013, without disclosing financial terms. A spokesman for the carrier on Wednesday confirmed the settlement, disclosed in a court document. The plane's manufacturer, Boeing Co, and Air Cruisers Co, which made the evacuation slides, also settled claims, according to the document, filed by attorneys in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The settlement is the first instance in which the airline has settled in the U.S. after passengers went to U.S. courts, but Asiana had previously settled with passengers out of court or outside the United States, the spokesman said.

  • Nepal tells Mount Everest litterbugs to take out the trash
    Nepal tells Mount Everest litterbugs to take out the trash

    By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Six decades after the first conquest of the world's highest peak, tons of rubbish and human waste abandoned by hundreds of Mount Everest climbers is starting to raise a stink. Nepal is cracking down on the mountaineers who seek to emulate the 1953 feat of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, in the process giving the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) peak the dubious honour of being the world's highest garbage dump. Now Nepal has threatened stricter enforcement of penalties to persuade climbers to clean up after themselves and carry litter back to base camp. A 2014 rule for a garbage deposit of $4,000 to be forfeited by any expedition from which a climber fails to bring back 8 kg (17.6 lbs) of trash and human waste, will be strictly enforced this year, a tourism official said.

  • Colombia detains China Cosco Shipping vessel over illegal ar …

    BOGOTA/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Colombian authorities detained a vessel operated by China's largest shipping group for illegally transporting thousands of cannon shells, around 100 tonnes of gunpowder and other materials used to make explosives, the attorney general's office said. The Da Dan Xia, operated by Cosco Shipping Co Ltd, was headed for Cuba when it was stopped on Saturday in the northern port of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, after the materials were detected during an inspection. A Cosco Shipping official in the firm's Guangzhou head office said the ship was operated by the company but added she was unaware of the incident. Cosco Shipping is part of the state-backed China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) conglomerate.

  • Australian court backs finding radio royal prank call broke  …
    Australian court backs finding radio royal prank call broke  …

    Australia's High Court on Wednesday backed the broadcasting watchdog's finding that an Australian radio station broke the law with a prank call to a British hospital taking care of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, paving the way for penalties. Two presenters at Sydney's 2Day FM called the London hospital in December 2012, pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. The Indian-born nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who answered and transferred the call committed suicide three days later. On Wednesday, the High Court in Canberra ruled in favour of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), overturning a ruling by the lower Federal Court.

  • Democrats, State Department defend Hillary Clinton over email …
    Democrats, State Department defend Hillary Clinton over email …

    By Steve Holland and Amanda Becker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats scrambled on Tuesday to contain the fallout for Hillary Clinton, their favored 2016 presidential candidate, after allegations she inappropriately used her personal email for work while secretary of state. The Clinton camp quickly sought to discredit a New York Times report published late Monday that said her exclusive use of a personal email account from 2009 through 2013 and a lack of email preservation may have run afoul of the Federal Records Act. The report got wide play, largely because it fuels a political narrative from Republicans that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are obsessed with secrecy and seek to play by a different set of rules. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill, however, said Clinton had followed both the "letter and spirit of the rules" while she was secretary of state.

  • Australian PM says "revolted" by looming Indonesian …
    Australian PM says "revolted" by looming Indonesian …

    By Jane Wardell SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he was "revolted" by the looming execution of two convicted Australian drug traffickers as preparations were under way to move the men to an island where they will be shot. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has adopted a tough stance on carrying out harsh penalties for drug traffickers. Widodo has denied clemency to 11 convicts currently on death row, including the Australian nationals, and warned other countries to stay out of Indonesia's sovereign affairs.

  • FBI investigating reported shots near U.S. spy agency headqu …

    The FBI is leading an investigation into reported shots fired on Tuesday near National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland and damage to an NSA building, an NSA spokeswoman said. There were no reports of injuries to NSA personnel, spokeswoman Meagan Roper said in an email. U.S. Park Police spokeswoman Sergeant Lelani Woods said shots were reported near an exit to Fort Meade, site of the spy agency, along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Officers found damage to an NSA building "and they are investigating if it is damage from shots fired," Woods said.

  • U.S. military's Mosul briefing inaccurate, misguided, Carter …
    U.S. military's Mosul briefing inaccurate, misguided, Carter …

    A U.S. military official who briefed news media about Iraq's upcoming offensive to retake Mosul provided inaccurate information but should never have publicly discussed war plans anyway, Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday. Carter's criticism of the February news briefing by an official from the U.S. military's Central Command was accompanied by an assurance from the top U.S. military officer to Congress that the matter was subject to an internal inquiry. Two influential Republican senators on the committee, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, sent a letter to the White House on Feb. 20, complaining about the briefing, which predicted a Mosul offensive likely to start in April or May, involving 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Mosul, which had a population of more than 1 million people, was captured by Islamic State fighters in June and is the largest city in the group's self-declared caliphate, a stretch of territory that straddles the border between northern Iraq and eastern Syria.