Month in brief

Bonus boost for North Korean defectors

BONUS BOOST FOR NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS

Seeking to lure more high-level North Korean defectors, South Korea quadrupled the cash reward tothose with important military or political information to 1 billion won, or $860,000. The same amount will be given to those who escape with a warship or fighter jet, while defectors who bring smaller weapons such as a tank can earn between $43,000 and $260,000. Over 30,000 North Koreans have fled to the South in the past two decades.

 

US hero invited to India

Ian Grillot, an American shot during a deadly gun attack on two Indians at a Kansas bar, has been invited to visit India. A gunman opened fire on two Indian engineers, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, killing the former, and shot Grillot in the hand and chest when he tried to intervene. Indian diplomats visited him in hospital and invited the 24-year-old to visit India after his recovery. ‘We will stand with you,’ Anupam Roy, the consul-general based in Houston, told him.

 

New Zealand ejects US diplomat

New Zealand expelled a US diplomat after his embassy refused to waive his immunity during a police investigation. The man, who was not named, was allegedly involved in an incident near the capital, Wellington, but the US embassy did not allow police to question him. Though police refused to give further details, New Zealand Radio reported the diplomat had left the country with a broken nose and a black eye.

 

Plant trees, says Taliban

The leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hibatullah Akhundzada, called for trees to be planted‘for the beautification of Earth and the benefit of almighty Allah’s creations’. The country suffers badly from deforestation, with trees cut down for fuel or illegal logging. Akhundzada is known more as a religious leader than a fighter, which is reported to have caused divisions in the movement. Kabul dismissed his message as an attempted distraction from the Taliban’s ‘crimes and destruction’.

 

China orders tracking of cars

All vehicles in an area of China’s restless Xinjiang region, where Muslim Uighur separatists have been active, are being required to fit satellite tracking systems as part of a security crackdown. Electronic tags in car licence plates will also be used, and drivers will be able to buy petrol only if their cars are equipped with the technology.

 

Nuclear victims face tough choice

Thousands of Japanese who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 face losing financial assistance. Nearly 27,000 people moved away, fearing radiation after an earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns in three nuclear reactors, but they lived outside the mandatory evacuation zone. Unconditional housing subsidies from the local government are due to be abolished, forcing some to choose between financial hardship or returning to homes they consider unsafe.

 

Free fowls for Pacific islanders

Tonga deliveredover 10,000 free chicks and ducklings to villages across the islands to encourage people to cut down on fatty imported meat. A discount on animal feed is also being offered to combat obesity in the Pacific nation, where a third of the population has type 2 diabetesand life expectancy for both men and women has fallen. Earlier measures included a discount on fresh fish and increased taxes on tobacco and fatty meats.

 

‘Grinning tiger’ statue destroyed

The Indonesian army demolished a tiger statue in front of a base in West Java after it became a laughing stock online.The wooden tiger was put up several years ago as a mascot for the Siliwangi Military Command, but its grinning face was so different from the fierce image on the unit’s official logo that it went viral after a visitor posted a picture on Twitter. Finally soldiers were ordered to destroy the carving with chisels.

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