Month in brief

Sri Lanka’s looming debt crisis

Sri Lanka’s looming debt crisisSri Lanka’s finance ministry has warned that the island nation faces an impending debt crisis, due to a series of costly projects commissioned by the previous government. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said payments of capital and interest would reach US$2.84 billion (S$3.8 million) this year, mostly to repay loans for extravagant projects under former president Mahinda Rajapakse. In a statement, Mr Samaraweera predicted that the crisis would worsen next year, adding that repayments are expected to soar to US$4.28 billion in 2019.


Terror in Indonesia

Four men were shot dead in the Indonesian province of Riau after they attacked the police headquarters in Pekanbaru using samurai swords. The attack left one police officer dead and two others injured.This was the latest in a series of recent ISIS-linked suicide assaults in the island nation, including a bombing by a family of five at police HQ in the East Javan city of Surabaya, which injured 10 people, and three coordinated suicide bombings at churches in Surabaya, carried out by a family of six, which claimed 12 lives.


Zia poised for release

Bangladesh’s 72-year-old opposition leader Khaleda Zia was granted bail on corruption charges following pleas from her lawyers that her health was at risk. This paves the way for her release from jail, where she has been imprisoned since February after being accused of embezzling money intended for an orphanage. Zia insists the allegation is politically motivated.For years Bangladesh has witnessed the conflict between Zia, who has served as prime minister three times, and her arch-rival, current leader Sheikh Hasina.


T-shirts spark Vietnamese ire

Anger has erupted in Vietnam over a photo of Chinese tourists wearing T-shirts depicting Beijing’s claims to the disputed South China Sea. Pictures of the garments showing a map of China with the sea boundary found on some 1940s-era maps – which Beijing says proves its claim to most of the waterway –were widely viewed on social media, leading to demands for the tourists to be deported.Vietnam and China have a long-running feud over the resource-rich sea.


New law urges more women into Japanese politics

The Japanese parliament has passed a law to boost the number of female candidates standing for elections in a country where women are hugely under-represented in politics, comprisingonly 47 of the 465 members of parliament’s lower house.Under the new law, political parties are being urged to set targets to make the number of male and female candidates as equal as possible. However, there will be no legal penalties for parties that fail to do so, nor incentives to encourage them.


Immunity upheld for ‘killer’ diplomat

Pakistani authorities have allowed an American diplomat involved in a fatal car accident to leave the country, despite officials having earlier prevented him from boarding a US military plane. Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, a military attaché at the US Embassy in Islamabad, is accused of running a red light and fatally hitting a 22-year-old cyclist. Pakistan demanded that the US waive Col Hall’s diplomatic immunity, but US officials refused.


Sherpas break own Everest records

Two Nepali Sherpas have beaten their own world records for the most Everest summits by a man and a woman, reaching the top of the world’s highest mountain for a 22nd and ninth time respectively. Mr Kami Rita Sherpa, 48, a professional guide for more than 20 years, and Ms Lhakpa Sherpa, 44, who works in a supermarket in Connecticut, summited from opposite sides of the 29, 029-foot mountain.


It’s a bear’s life

A family from the city of Kunming in China’s Yunnan province got more than they bargained for when they brought home what they thought was a puppy. Their surprise at the pet’s huge appetite was magnified when it kept growing and began to walk on its hind legs. The reason? It was not a dog but an endangered Asiatic Black Bear. The animal, which now weighs 250 pounds, was taken into care at the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Centre after the family requested help.

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