TAIPEI, Taiwan — The man who attacked a guard at the Presidential Office Friday with a katana chose a weapon deep in historical and political meanings. The samurai sword, stolen from the Armed Forces Museum, has "Killed 107 in the Battle of Nanking" carved into its blade collar in Chinese characters, which are also widely used in Japan. The Battle of Nanking, then the capital of the Republic of China, was one of the key battles in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The city also has loaded meaning, as it is the location of the Nanking Massacre, during which Japanese troops engaged in the mass murder and rape of residents after seizing the city. That incident, and such acts by the Japanese in general, are commonly used by authorities in China to stir animosity of Japan and build nationalist sentiment in the process.
August 18, 2017 09:22 UTC
BERLIN -- Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi lead the nominations for the FIFA best men's player for 2017, the world governing body said Thursday. Ronaldo helped Real to a historic defense of their Champions League title and the Spanish domestic title. Messi was part of a Barcelona contingent which also included veteran Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez while Neymar was named after his world record move to Paris Saint-Germain. Germany coach Joachim Loew was included on the 12-strong shortlist to be best men's coach of the year having led his side to a Confederations Cup triumph in July. Tite, coach of the world number one ranked Brazil, is also listed, as is Zinedine Zidane, who led Real Madrid in the defense of their Champions League title.
August 18, 2017 07:41 UTC
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A military police officer on guard outside the Presidential Office was wounded Friday by a sword-wielding man with a PRC flag who allegedly tried to break into the building, according to police and state-run media reports. A man was restrained by security personnel and later taken away for questioning by police officers, according to the Presidential Office. He was carrying a five-star red flag, the national flag of mainland China, police said. The attacker allegedly parked his scooter by the sidewalk and rushed at the guard on the west side of the Presidential Office building, stabbing him in an ensuing struggle, the Central News Agency said, citing eyewitnesses. The Presidential Office has tightened security.
August 18, 2017 06:56 UTC
A story that was debunked after Donald Trump used it in last year's presidential campaign was raised again on Thursday by the president in reaction to the terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain. "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught," Trump said on Twitter. The World War I officer, according to the legend, dipped bullets into pig blood, then used the bullets to shoot 50 Muslim prisoners. The blood of pigs would block Muslims from reaching paradise in the afterlife. Trump was criticized when he repeated the tale during the campaign in defence of his support for methods of torture, such as waterboarding, on terrorist suspects.
August 18, 2017 06:22 UTC
WASHINGTON -- The average temperature over land and ocean surfaces for July was the second highest ever recorded for the month, according to US weather data released Thursday. The July temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.83 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average of 15.8 degrees Celsius, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. The agency also said July 2017 marked he 41st consecutive July and the 391st consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average. Nine of the 10 warmest Julys on record have occurred during the 21st century, NOAA added. Only one year from the 20th century (1998) is among the top 10 warmest Julys on record.
August 18, 2017 06:11 UTC
MADRID -- Spanish police early Friday said they had killed five "terrorists" who reportedly tried to mow down pedestrians in the resort town of Cambrils, hours after a similar attack in Barcelona. "We are working on the hypothesis that events in Cambrils were a terrorist attack. Seven people were injured in the attack in Cambrils, 120 kilometers south of Barcelona, including one police officer. Trapero said two men had been arrested in connection to the attack, a Moroccan and a Spanish national from the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla. The attack on Las Ramblas was "obviously a terrorist attack [carried out] with the intent to kill as many people as possible," he said.
August 18, 2017 06:11 UTC
Infrastructure projects, anti-drug campaigns, elderly care and the "New Southbound Policy" get a sizable boost in funding in the Executive Yuan's budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. NT$1.6 billion of this is directly listed in the budget and NT$32.3 billion is earmarked as a Nonprofit Special Fund. That -- combined with the budget for river management, the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Plan and an amount allocated under Nonprofit Special Funds -- takes the total infrastructure-related budget to NT$$379.1 billion. Budget for the "New Southbound Policy," the government's project to explore the Southeast Asian market, surged by 97.6 percent year-on-year to NT$3.82 billion. The Cabinet's budget proposal requires approval by the Legislature to come into effect.
Taiwan's technology minister on Thursday laid out an ambitious plan to spend NT$16 billion to beef up the domestic artificial intelligence (AI) industry. The ministry aims to create a constellation of AI research centers across Taiwan by the end of 2017. It will launch an AI manufacturing base in Central Taiwan Science Park this September and an AI development base in Southern Taiwan Science Park this week. The plan has five initiatives: incubating AI-based services, "adding value" to sectors like medicine and finance using AI, helping companies incorporate AI, promoting public participation in AI development, and building up innovation capacity for smart robotics. Funding for the AI development plan will come from Taiwan's flagship infrastructure bill and the Cabinet's annual budget.
New Delhi (dpa) - A video published on China's state-run media with derogatory depictions of Indians has provoked accusations of racism in India. Late Wednesday night, China's official news agency, Xinhua, released the English-language video accusing India of committing "sins." It shows a Chinese actor in a turban and faux beard speaking in a strange accent, apparently mocking Indians. The Hindustan Times said the Xinhua's "racist video parodying Indians" particularly targets the Sikh minority. The video also sparked off debate on the Doklam issue on Twitter and Facebook.
Washington (dpa) - White House advisor Steve Bannon took a swing at rivals in the Trump administration, telling a liberal magazine in a rare interview that officials who do not want to take a hard line on China are "wetting themselves." Bannon told The American Prospect that the US is at "economic war with China." I'm getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State," he said. "We gotta do this," Bannon said when asked about the scepticism in some quarters of the administration about taking harsh measures against China for its trade practices. On Monday, Trump signed an order asking US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether US trade with China - including China's alleged theft of US intellectual property - warrants investigation.
August 17, 2017 19:41 UTC
Geneva (dpa) - Uganda has now taken in more than 1 million people who have fled the conflict in South Sudan, but funds to aid the refugees are running low, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Thursday. Over the past year, 1,800 South Sudanese have been crossing the border to Uganda every day on average. South Sudan has been engulfed by a military conflict since a split between President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar escalated in late 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and two million have been displaced within South Sudan. The Red Cross said physical and sexual attacks against civilians continue across South Sudan, while the numbers of wounded have been rising.
August 17, 2017 18:33 UTC
“The NPP strongly condemns the actions and calls on the international community to countenance the situation regarding the rule of law in Hong Kong,” it said. The sentences are in violation of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Hong Kong’s legal guarantees for the freedom of assembly, it said. “The last remnants of Hong Kong’s democracy and rule of law are under attack by China and they are in danger of being destroyed altogether,” the NPP said. “It is the government’s unchanging position to support the people of Hong Kong in their pursuit of democracy, freedom, rule of law and human rights,” Chiu said. “The council takes notice of the Hong Kong High Court’s ruling.
Wong was jailed for six months, Chow for seven months and Law for eight months. Law had been Hong Kong’s youngest-ever democratically elected legislator before he was stripped last month of his seat by a government-led lawsuit. “In recent years, there’s been an unhealthy trend in Hong Kong society. When we are released next year I hope we can see a Hong Kong that is full of hope. “The relentless and vindictive pursuit of student leaders using vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities,” Amnesty International Hong Kong director Mabel Au (區美寶) said.
Reuters, BRASILIABrazilian prosecutors plan to investigate last year’s controversial sale of the Argentine subsidiary of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, a lawyer representing some Petrobras shareholders said on Wednesday. Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, sold its 67.2 percent stake in Petrobras Argentina SA for US$892 million to Pampa Energia SA, Argentina’s largest power company. Petrobras bought the Argentine unit from energy conglomerate Perez Companc in 2002 for US$1 billion, plus US$2 billion in debt. The sale 14 years later for much less sparked controversy in Brazil and led lawmakers to call on Petrobras and Pampa executives, and lawyer Caldeira, to testify before a committee hearing on Wednesday. Brazil’s federal audit court has said it was investigating the sale of Petrobras Argentina at the request of a senator, but has not concluded its findings.
However, Washington’s negotiating partners made clear they view the free trade deal as a success and only want to see it modernized and improved, not weighed down with unreasonable goals. Freeland said trade is not “a zero-sum game,” and deficits are not the way to gauge success of any free trade deal. Trump famously denounced NAFTA as “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere” and threatened to pull out of the agreement he said has destroyed US jobs. However, he recently said again that he will “terminate NAFTA” if “we don’t get the deal we want.”Lighthizer did not repeat the threats to pull out of NAFTA. Mexico is “part of the solution, we are not part of the problem,” he told reporters following the first day of talks.