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April 24, 2018

Top Asian News at 5:30 p.m. GMT

HONG KONG (AP) — Both victims in a double murder case that has shocked Hong Kong were Indonesian women, and one of the victims was frequenting a red light district on a lapsed domestic worker visa, an Indonesian consulate official said Tuesday. Consulate spokesman Sam Aryadi confirmed one of the women found dead in an upscale apartment over the weekend was 29-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, who had come as a domestic worker from the city of Muna on Sulawesi island.

BANGKOK (AP) — One of the founders of popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay has been arrested under an Interpol warrant as he was crossing into Thailand from Laos, police said Tuesday. Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij, who uses the alias TiAMO, was detained Monday by Thai immigration police at a checkpoint in Thailand’s Nong Khai province, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of Bangkok.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday the U.S. and China must work together to stave off a global catastrophe from climate change, as he appealed for greater cooperation between the two world powers despite strains between them over cyber theft and maritime security. Kerry heads to Beijing this week, to set the stage for a visit by President Barack Obama for a regional summit and talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That will be first leg of a three-nation swing through Asia, intended to underscore the president’s commitment to the region.

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s military-installed government appointed a committee on Tuesday to draft the country’s new constitution amid speculation that it will seek to bar former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies from politics. The 36-member panel consists of law experts, academics, former senators and others with close ties to the military and traditional conservative establishment. The appointment came more than five months after the military, led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, toppled an elected government headed by Thaksin’s allies.

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court sentenced a university student to 2 1/2 years in prison on Tuesday for posting a message on Facebook that the court said insulted the country’s king. A Criminal Court judge found 24-year-old Akkaradet Eiamsuwan guilty of violating Thailand’s lese majeste law, which punishes people who defame, insult or threaten the monarchy.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Tuesday ordered that Delhi’s legislative assembly be dissolved for a new election after the three main political parties failed to form a government this year for a city of nearly 25 million people. Delhi has been run by the federal government since the city’s top elected official resigned in February.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand last month was one of five nations to win elections for coveted seats on the U.N. Security Council. It will serve a two-year term as a non-veto-wielding member beginning in January. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it’s an opportunity to boost the South Pacific island nation’s profile and contribute to solving international problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and long-divided Cyprus. The Associated Press recently interviewed McCully about what the win means. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. ___

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Police in Pakistan say a Muslim mob has beaten to death a Christian couple and burned their bodies in a brick kiln where they worked over them allegedly desecrating the Quran. Tuesday’s slaying is the latest targeting minorities in Pakistan who allegedly committed blasphemy.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A big victory by German stallion Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday was overshadowed by the deaths of two horses after Australia’s richest horse race, including the favorite Admire Rakti. Red Cadeaux strode to the lead in the last straight of the 2-mile (3,200-meter) classic but was overhauled on the inside by five-year-old Protectionist, which went on to win by four lengths in only its 10th race.

BANGKOK (AP) — Revelers in northern Thailand have been asked not to launch lanterns into the sky near airports to avoid airborne accidents during a popular festival this week, airport officials said Tuesday. The air traffic control center in Chiang Mai province has declared a 5-kilometer (3-mile) zone around the airport where people are advised not to launch lanterns from Wednesday to Friday, when Loy Krathong festival celebrations will take place, said Kiattisak Rienvatana, the center’s director.

In this photo taken on a smartphone camera by Leesa Willmott, a fallstreak hole forms in the sky over Wonthaggi, Australia. The bizarre sight seen Monday in the town near Melbourne looked like a hole in the sky, or perhaps an alien spacecraft. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Conroy said fallstreak holes are circular gaps that appear in high clouds when a section of the cloud freezes. The ice crystals are heavy, so they fall out of the cloud, leaving a hole. It is a relatively rare phenomenon.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A day after saying a billboard advertisement highlighting climate change was too political for world leaders gathering in the Australian city of Brisbane for a major economic summit, local airport authorities said Tuesday that they had also rejected an ad highlighting corruption problems. Brisbane Airport Corp. confirmed Monday that a World Wildlife Fund ad asking leaders of wealthy and developing countries to put climate change on the agenda of their G20 summit next week had been banned because it had “political intent.”

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese engineers have successfully tested a laser weapon that can shoot down low-flying, slow-moving drones, state media reported Tuesday. The Low Altitude Sentinel system can detect a small aircraft within a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius and shoot it down within five seconds, the newspaper China Daily said, citing a statement from the China Academy of Engineering Physics.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The shooting of a Shiite religious leader outside a Sydney prayer hall appeared to have been influenced by the Islamic State movement, Australia’s prime minister said Tuesday. Rasoul Al Mousawi, 47, was blasted with a shotgun in the face and shoulder in a drive-by shooting outside the Husainiyah Nabi Akram Center in suburban Greenacre early Monday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack similar to previous hacker intrusions from China penetrated computer networks for months at USIS, the government’s leading security clearance contractor, before the company noticed, officials and others familiar with an FBI investigation and related official inquiries told The Associated Press. The breach, first revealed by the company and government agencies in August, compromised the private records of at least 25,000 employees at the Homeland Security Department and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost government contracts.

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Top Asian News at 5:30 p.m. GMT

Top Asian News at 12:30 p.m. GMT

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A big victory by German stallion Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday was overshadowed by the deaths of two horses after Australia’s richest horse race, including the favorite Admire Rakti. Red Cadeaux strode to the lead in the last straight of the 2-mile (3,200-meter) classic but was overhauled on the inside by five-year-old Protectionist, which went on to win by four lengths in only its 10th race.

HONG KONG (AP) — Both victims in a double murder case that has shocked Hong Kong were Indonesian women, and one of the victims was frequenting a red light district on a lapsed domestic worker visa, an Indonesian consulate official said Tuesday. Consulate spokesman Sam Aryadi confirmed one of the women found dead in an upscale apartment over the weekend was 29-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, who had come as a domestic worker from the city of Muna on Sulawesi island.

BANGKOK (AP) — One of the founders of popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay has been arrested under an Interpol warrant as he was crossing into Thailand from Laos, police said Tuesday. Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij, who uses the alias TiAMO, was detained Monday by Thai immigration police at a checkpoint in Thailand’s Nong Khai province, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of Bangkok.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand last month was one of five nations to win elections for coveted seats on the U.N. Security Council. It will serve a two-year term as a non-veto-wielding member beginning in January. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it’s an opportunity to boost the South Pacific island nation’s profile and contribute to solving international problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and long-divided Cyprus. The Associated Press recently interviewed McCully about what the win means. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. ___

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Tuesday ordered that Delhi’s legislative assembly be dissolved for a new election after the three main political parties failed to form a government this year for a city of nearly 25 million people. Delhi has been run by the federal government since the city’s top elected official resigned in February.

BANGKOK (AP) — Revelers in northern Thailand have been asked not to launch lanterns into the sky near airports to avoid airborne accidents during a popular festival this week, airport officials said Tuesday. The air traffic control center in Chiang Mai province has declared a 5-kilometer (3-mile) zone around the airport where people are advised not to launch lanterns from Wednesday to Friday, when Loy Krathong festival celebrations will take place, said Kiattisak Rienvatana, the center’s director.

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court sentenced a university student to 2 1/2 years in prison on Tuesday for posting a message on Facebook that the court said insulted the country’s king. A Criminal Court judge found 24-year-old Akkaradet Eiamsuwan guilty of violating Thailand’s lese majeste law, which punishes people who defame, insult or threaten the monarchy.

In this photo taken on a smartphone camera by Leesa Willmott, a fallstreak hole forms in the sky over Wonthaggi, Australia. The bizarre sight seen Monday in the town near Melbourne looked like a hole in the sky, or perhaps an alien spacecraft. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Conroy said fallstreak holes are circular gaps that appear in high clouds when a section of the cloud freezes. The ice crystals are heavy, so they fall out of the cloud, leaving a hole. It is a relatively rare phenomenon.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A day after saying a billboard advertisement highlighting climate change was too political for world leaders gathering in the Australian city of Brisbane for a major economic summit, local airport authorities said Tuesday that they had also rejected an ad highlighting corruption problems. Brisbane Airport Corp. confirmed Monday that a World Wildlife Fund ad asking leaders of wealthy and developing countries to put climate change on the agenda of their G20 summit next week had been banned because it had “political intent.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack similar to previous hacker intrusions from China penetrated computer networks for months at USIS, the government’s leading security clearance contractor, before the company noticed, officials and others familiar with an FBI investigation and related official inquiries told The Associated Press. The breach, first revealed by the company and government agencies in August, compromised the private records of at least 25,000 employees at the Homeland Security Department and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost government contracts.

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese engineers have successfully tested a laser weapon that can shoot down low-flying, slow-moving drones, state media reported Tuesday. The Low Altitude Sentinel system can detect a small aircraft within a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius and shoot it down within five seconds, the English-language newspaper China Daily said, citing a statement from the China Academy of Engineering Physics.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The shooting of a Shiite religious leader outside a Sydney prayer hall appeared to have been influenced by the Islamic State movement, Australia’s prime minister said Tuesday. Rasoul Al Mousawi, 47, was blasted with a shotgun in the face and shoulder in a drive-by shooting outside the Husainiyah Nabi Akram Center in suburban Greenacre early Monday.

WAGAH, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistanis mourned on Monday for the victims of a massive suicide bombing near the border with India as the death toll from the explosion the previous day rose to 60, police said. The attack, for which a Taliban splinter faction claimed responsibility, was the deadliest to hit the country in over a year. In September 2013, a suicide bombing killed at least 85 people in a church in Peshawar province.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — Attacks across Afghanistan, including the fatal shooting of a provincial deputy governor, killed five people as the country marked a major Shiite holiday, authorities said Monday. In southern Kandahar province, a gunman attacked Deputy Gov. Abdul Qadeem Patyall, shooting at him Sunday through the window of a classroom at Kandahar University, said Samim Khpolwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Patyall, who was studying to become a teacher, was seriously wounded and later died, Khpolwak said.

MILAN (AP) — The body of an Indian waiter who was the last missing victim of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner has been found by crews dismantling the vessel, authorities said Monday. The body was discovered by workers clearing debris from the ship in a passenger’s cabin on the eighth deck, said Carabinieri commander Capt. Massimo Pittaluga. He said the victim was wearing a shirt that contained an identification card for missing crew member Russel Rebello.

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Top Asian News at 12:30 p.m. GMT

Russian ship reaches space station

A Russian supply ship has arrived at the International Space Station with a load of fresh supplies, hours after a US cargo mission ended in flames.

Orbital Sciences’ unmanned Antares rocket had just lifted off from Wallops Island, Virginia, when it exploded. The rocket was carrying a Cygnus capsule loaded with more than two tons of station experiments and equipment for Nasa.

Ground teams are gradually getting access to the damaged launch pad and fire-stricken area after the explosion.

No one was injured and nothing on the lost flight was urgently needed by the six people living on the 260 mile-high space station, officials said.

The Russian supply ship launched early today from Kazakhstan and arrived at the orbiting lab six hours later with three tons of food, fuel and other items.

The first catastrophic launch in Nasa’s commercial spaceflight programme i s likely to draw criticism over the space agency’s growing reliance on private US companies in the post-shuttle era.

Nasa is paying billions of pounds to Orbital Sciences and the SpaceX company to make station deliveries, and is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start flying US astronauts to the orbiting lab as early as 2017. This was the fourth flight by Orbital Sciences to the orbiting lab.

The firm’s executive vice president Frank Culbertson said things began to go wrong 10 to 12 seconds into the flight and it was all over in 20 seconds when what was left of the rocket came crashing down. He said the range safety staff sent a destruct signal before it hit the ground.

The two Americans, three Russians and one German aboard the space station were watching a live video feed from Mission Control and saw the whole thing unfold before their eyes.

This was the second launch attempt for the mission. Monday evening’s effort was thwarted by a stray yacht in the rocket’s danger zone. The restrictions are in case of just such an accident.

Mr Culbertson said the top priority will be repairing the launch pad “as quickly and safely as possible”.

He said he could not guess how long it would take to determine the cause of the accident and to make repairs.

Mr Culbertson added that the company carried insurance on the mission, which he valued at more than 200 million US dollars (£124 million), not counting repair costs.

The Wallops facility is small compared with Nasa’s major centres like in Florida, Texas and California, but vaulted into the public spotlight in September last year with a Nasa moonshot and the first Cygnus launch to the space station.

This newest Cygnus cargo ship was carrying 357 stone of space station experiments and equipment for Nasa, as well as pre-packaged meals and eagerly awaited crab cakes, freeze-dried for safe eating. It had been due to arrive at the orbiting lab on Sunday.

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Russian ship reaches space station

Crews search off Jamaica for private plane carrying prominent upstate New York couple

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Rescue crews searching off Jamaica’s coast on Saturday said they could no longer see debris spotted earlier, stymieing efforts to solve the mystery surrounding a small plane carrying a prominent upstate New York couple that went on a ghostly 1,700-mile journey after the pilot was apparently incapacitated.

Jamaican officials said that possible wreckage from the single-engine turboprop Socata TBM700 was sighted Friday evening by a military aircraft flying off the island’s northeast coast, drifting roughly 24 miles (38 kilometres) off the coastal town of Port Antonio.

The island’s military said in a statement that Jamaican and U.S. officials felt the sighting was “consistent with that of a high-impact debris field.”

But on Saturday Jamaica Coast Guard Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman said that the pieces of floating debris could no longer be seen.

“We would have to assume it may have sunk,” she said.

The area where the private French-made plane went down has depths of up to 2,000 metres (more than 6,500 feet), according to Leroy Lindsay, director general of Jamaica’s civil aviation authority.

Lindsay said that French authorities have volunteered to provide help to bring wreckage up from the ocean depths when it is found.

The plane was carrying Rochester real estate developer Laurence Glazer and his entrepreneur wife, Jane — both experienced pilots. On Friday, U.S. fighter pilots were launched to shadow the unresponsive aircraft observed the pilot slumped over and its windows frosting over. Officials say the plane slammed into the sea when it ran out of fuel at least 14 miles (22 kilometres) off Jamaica’s northeast coastline.

In a Friday statement, the Coast Guard 7th District command centre in Miami said three people were reportedly on board the plane. A 154-foot (47-meter) U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a helicopter crew are aiding in the Saturday search off Jamaica.

Son Rick Glazer said he could not confirm his parents were killed, adding that “we know so little.”

But public officials offered their condolences for a prominent couple described as a linchpin in efforts to rejuvenate an upstate New York city stung by the decline of corporate giants Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox.

Laurence Glazer co-founded Buckingham Properties and served as chief executive and managing partner, working alongside two sons. Overall, the company owns more than 60 properties in the Rochester area and in central Florida.

His friend Harold Samoff said Saturday that he and Glazer got started in the real estate business in 1970 with a small apartment building, then went on to acquire and revitalize more and bigger properties on the inner-city periphery, reasoning that “just like blight can spread, improvement can spread, also.”

Glazer went on to more complex projects, such as converting former industrial properties into loft apartments and turning a shuttered hospital into offices. More recently, he bought Xerox Corp.’s Rochester tower — the city’s tallest — and Bausch & Lomb’s building.

Jane Glazer started QCI Direct, which produces two national retail catalogues selling household and other products. It made Rochester’s Top 100 list of fastest growing privately held companies last year, according to its website.

“It’s beyond tragic here. We’re reeling,” Rochester Downtown Development Corp. President Heidi Zimmer-Meyer said, calling the couple “people who just cannot be replaced.”

Their single-engine plane took off at 8:45 a.m. Friday from the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York en route to Naples, Florida. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot at 10 a.m., the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

On a recording made by LiveATC, a website that monitors and posts air traffic control audio recordings, the pilot is heard saying, “We need to descend down to about (18,000 feet). We have an indication that’s not correct in the plane.” A controller replied, “Stand by.”

After a pause, the controller told the pilot to fly at 25,000 feet (7,620 metres). “We need to get lower,” the pilot responded. “Working on that,” the controller said.

Controllers then cleared the plane to descend to 20,000 feet (6,096 metres), a command which the pilot acknowledged. A couple minutes later, a controller radioed the plane by its tail number: “900 Kilo November, if you hear this transmission, ident” — identify yourself. There was no response.

At 10:40 a.m., two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from a National Guard base in South Carolina to investigate, according to a statement by the North American Aerospace Defence Command. Those jets handed off monitoring duties around 11:30 a.m. to two F-15 fighters from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida.

The U.S. fighter jets followed the plane until it reached Cuban airspace, when they peeled off, said Preston Schlachter, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defence Command & US Northern Command.

On a LiveATC recording, the fighter pilots can be heard discussing the Socata pilot’s condition.

“I can see his chest rising and falling right before I left,” one said.

“It was the first time we could see that he was actually breathing. It may be a deal where, depending on how fast they meet them, he may regain consciousness once the aircraft starts descending for fuel …” the fighter pilot said.

The pilot was speculating that the Socata pilot was suffering from hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, but Schlachter said the Air Force doesn’t know for certain that was the case.

Cases of pilots becoming unresponsive while their planes wander the sky are unusual, with probably not much more than a handful of such incidents over the last decade, said aviation safety expert John Goglia. They sometimes occur when a pilot becomes incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke, but more often the problem is insufficient cabin pressurization that causes the pilot to pass out, he said.

In 1999, the pilots of a Learjet carrying professional golfer Payne Stewart from Orlando, Florida, to Texas became unresponsive. The plane took a turn and wandered to South Dakota before running out of fuel and crashing into a field west of Aberdeen. Stewart and five others on board were killed. An NTSB investigation blamed the accident on depressurization.

___

Joan Lowy reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York City; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; George M. Walsh in Albany, New York; and Judith Ausuebel at the News Information Research Center in New York contributed to this report.

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Crews search off Jamaica for private plane carrying prominent upstate New York couple