WASHINGTON:The United States will prohibit entry of citizens from North Korea to the United States as part of a sweeping new travel ban that also slaps restrictions on Iran, Chad, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia, the Trump administration said on Sunday (Sep 24).
The new restrictions, slated to go into effect on Oct 18, resulted from a review after President Donald Trump's original travel bans were challenged in court.
The addition of North Korea and Venezuela broadens the restrictions from the original, mostly Muslim-majority list.
"North Korea does not cooperate with the United States government in any respect and fails to satisfy all information-sharing requirements," the proclamation said.
An administration official, briefing reporters on a conference call, acknowledged that the number of North Koreans traveling to the United States now was very low.
LONDON: The British armed forces is selling off military equipment in the “biggest-ever" fire sale of its kind, reported on Sunday (Sep 24).
The assets on sale include the Singapore-made Warthog armoured troop carriers, which the report said were "praised for saving the lives of UK troops in Afghanistan”.
Developed by Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics, the Warthog all-terrain vehicles were delivered to the British Army in 2010.
Under the contract with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD), four Warthog variants – troop carrier, ambulance, command and repair and recovery – were developed by ST Kinetics.
In its report, the Daily Mail said: “Some 17 Warthogs were blown up by Taliban roadside bombs, but not a single soldier travelling inside the vehicles was killed.”
Eighty-five Warthogs will go on sale with an estimated price tag of £500,000 (US$676,000) per vehicle, the report said. They were reportedly bought for £1.8 million each.
The sale of the Warthogs is part of a wider sell-off exercise by the British armed forces, with the equipment featuring in an MOD-issued sales catalogue that was distributed to prospective buyers at a recent arms fair in London.
Also up for sale, according to the reporter, are Special Forces helicopters and around 50 ships, including a helicopter carrier and hundreds of combat and support vehicles.
SINGAPORE: Thumbprint scanning will soon be extended to all car travellers at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Monday (Sep 25).
The BioScreen system, which captures the thumbprints of those arriving at and departing from Singapore's checkpoints, will be progressively implemented at car counters at the two land checkpoints. This will allow travellers time to become familiar with the new process, ICA said.
Thumbprint scanning will be required for all car travellers aged six and above.
"The driver and passengers will be required to step out of their car and scan both thumbprints when they seek immigration clearance at the car counters," ICA said.
"With the implementation of BioScreen at car counters, travellers may experience slightly longer immigration clearance time," it added.
The expansion of the trial will be "monitored closely" and processes adjusted accordingly, ICA said.
"Security at our checkpoints is ICA’s top priority. The BioScreen system is an important measure in this regard, as it enables ICA’s verification of travellers’ identities to be more robust," it added.
Launched in April last year, the system has been rolled out to various clearance zones at land checkpoints such as for train and bus travellers, and lorries and goods vehicles.
DENPASAR, Indonesia: Thousands of residents were evacuated from villages near an active volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali, officials said on Friday, as seismic tremors rattled some areas and smoke rose above one of the world's most popular tourist spots.
The alert status for Mount Agung in eastern Bali was at 3, one level below the highest, and authorities warned tourists and residents to avoid camping or hiking within a 6 km (4 miles) radius of the crater.
"Volcanic activity remains high and there are indications of magma rising to the surface and causing tremors," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Management Agency.
"There should be zero public activity within the specified radius in case there is an eruption," Nugroho said.
However, flights at Bali's international airport were operating as normal and there was little disruption to tourism operators across the rest of the island, authorities said.
Nearly 6,000 people have been evacuated so far and that number was expected to rise, officials said.
Some residents in villages at the foot of Mount Agung said they were reluctant to leave immediately. Others gathered to watch the volcano.
"I'm here with my husband. We need to feed the animals so that's what we're doing first," villager Wayan Suarda told the reporter.
Others packed their belongings into trucks for evacuation, while more stopped to watch as clouds of white smoke rose from the crater, which is around 3,000 metres (9,840 feet) above sea level.
Indonesia straddles the "Pacific Ring of Fire", where several tectonic plates meet and cause 90 percent of the world's seismic activity, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.
A series of eruptions at Mount Agung between 1963 and 1964 killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds.
SINGAPORE: The foreign workers who came together to help move a stuck car at Waterway Point in Punggol were employees of the car's driver, a spokesperson for the mall clarified on Friday (Sep 22).
The workers had been lauded as "heroes" online after a video of them moving a silver Honda that was stuck on a flight of stairs was widely shared on Facebook.
After the incident, which happened on Thursday evening, three foreign workers tried moving the car, but were unable to. They then took out their phones to call for reinforcements. At least another 10 workers later turned up to help move the car.
A Waterway Point spokesperson said the car had taken a wrong turn from the driveway and ended up stuck on the stairs. Its staff then cordoned off the area and helped to direct traffic.
"The driver activated his workers from his company to push his car back to the driveway," the spokesperson said, adding that the man drove off before a tow truck could arrive.
Nobody was injured in the incident.
MEXICO CITY: A young girl supposedly trapped in the rubble of a Mexico City school toppled by a powerful quake this week never existed, officials said Thursday (Sep 21), denying accounts that had gripped all of Mexico and spurred international media attention.
"We are certain that she was not real," Angel Enrique Sarmiento, a top officer in the Mexican marines, told reporters.
"We never had knowledge" of the version relating to her, he asserted.
Rescue efforts were still going on at the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school brought down in Tuesday's 7.1 earthquake, with some indications that a person, possibly an adult, might be alive inside.
But the sense of drama that had hung over the operation for two days - with round-the-clock media coverage and scores of volunteers working toward what they hoped would be a "miracle rescue" of the young girl -- eased with the revelation.
Details given by officials and rescue workers for two days had built up a detailed narrative about the child.
She had even been named, as "Frida Sofia," although some elements differed, such as her age, which ranged from 6 to 12, and no one could locate her parents.
Workers had said they had seen her hand move in the rubble. Televisa reported she had spoken of other children near her. Rescuers had halted their tunnelling work at times to listen for sounds of her and other potential survivors.
Authorities had reported that a slightly built civilian volunteer was able to squeeze into a narrow passage through the rubble so as to pass the girl oxygen and water through a tube.
Rescue coordinator Jose Luis Vergara had told Televisa: "We know that there is a child alive inside. What we do not know is how to reach her... without risking a collapse and putting rescuers in danger."
He had said the girl spoke, managing to say "I'm very tired."
A BITTER BLOW
For many, young "Frida" was the human face of the quake disaster, which killed more than 270 people in Mexico. Rescuing such a vulnerable individual would have been a ray of hope for a country still trying to locate people in the rubble.
It would also have been welcomed as a rare bit of good news at the school, where 19 children died.
Learning that "Frida" never existed was a harsh blow for hundreds of volunteers working tirelessly at and near the mangled building, alongside soldiers and police.
"I was completely sure that there was a girl under the rubble. I was bringing smelling salts and oxygen tanks to the exact spot where the rescue workers said she was trapped," said Aracely Suarez, a 23-year-old economics student whose face was reddened by the sun after two days working at the site.
"We were all giving everything we had to rescue that girl, all the children," she told the reporter.
Sarmiento told Televisa all the children at the school had been accounted for.
"We have carried out a full count with the directors of the school and we are sure that all the children are either safe at home, in the hospital or unfortunately died," he said.
"There are indications there may be an (adult) still alive in the rubble. There are traces of blood... as if the person had dragged him or herself and may still be alive," he added.
Rescuers were still working on the assumption an adult survivor could be inside.
Early Thursday, an industrial crane on a truck was moved into place to lift part of the pancaked structure, which had been bolstered with wooden and metal beams to prevent it settling further.
SINGAPORE: CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT), Singapore’s largest office real estate investment trust, is acquiring Asia Square Tower 2 building at Marina Bay for a property value of S$2.09 billion.
CCT made the announcement on Thursday (Sep 21) afternoon, following a trading halt of the REIT's counter on the Singapore Exchange.
The total acquisition cost from BlackRock Asia Property Fund III LP is S$2.15 billion, comprising of the agreed property value of S$2.09 billion, which was negotiated on a willing-buyer and willing-seller basis, estimated net cash, receivables and payables of S$21.7 million as well as acquisition fees and transaction costs of S$34.8 million.
The agreed property value is lower than an independent valuation of S$2.11 million conducted by estate agency Knight Frank.
The acquisition which costs S$2,689 per square foot, is expected to take place in November 2017 or a date to be agreed between the two parties, CCT said.
The deal for Asia Square Tower 2 comes a little more than a year after BlackRock sold the larger Tower 1 to the Qatar Investment Authority for S$3.28 billion in Singapore's largest office transaction.
Asia Square Tower 2 is a 46-storey integrated commercial development comprising of a premium quality Grade A office building and amenities including The Westin Singapore and a two-storey retail podium.
It is expected to yield a net property income of 3.6 per cent per annum, based on a committed occupancy rate of 88.7 per cent as on Jun 30.
CCT said it will fund this acquisition through a combination of a fully-underwritten and renounceable 166 for 1,000 rights issue to raise gross proceeds of approximately S$700 million, external bank borrowings of S$1.12 billion, and divestment proceeds of approximately S$340.1 million from previous property deals such as One George Street (50 per cent stake), Golden Shoe Car Park and Wilkie Edge.
Commenting on the acquisition, chairman of the trust's manager Soo Kok Leng said: "With this acquisition, CCT is now well anchored in all the key sub-markets in Singapore’s Central Business District: Marina Bay, Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar and City Hall, cementing its position as the largest landlord of prime office assets in Singapore."
CEO of the trust's manager Lynette Leong added that the acquisition will "substantially enhance the quality, resilience and diversity of CCT’s portfolio".
"Together with the redevelopment of Golden Shoe Car Park which we recently announced, the acquisition of Asia Square Tower 2 will catalyse CCT as a landlord of choice office properties and enlarge its capacity for long-term value-creation," added Ms Leong.
MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will have his son killed if drug trafficking allegations against the younger politician are true, and that the police who carry out the hit will be protected from prosecution.
Paolo Duterte, 42, this month appeared before a senate inquiry to deny accusations made by an opposition lawmaker he was a member of a Chinese triad who helped smuggle in a huge shipment of crystal methamphetamine from China.
President Duterte did not refer to the allegations specifically but reiterated his statement from last year's election campaign that none of his children were involved in drugs, but they would face the harshest punishment if they were.
"I said before my order was: 'If I have children who are into drugs, kill them so people will not have anything to say'," Duterte said in a speech on Wednesday night before government workers at the presidential palace in Manila.
"So I told Pulong (Paolo's nickname): 'My order is to kill you if you are caught. And I will protect the police who kill you, if it is true'," he said.
Duterte, 72, won the presidential elections on a brutal law-and-order platform in which he promised an unprecedented campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society by killing up to 100,000 traffickers and addicts.
Since he assumed office in the middle of last year, police have reported killing more than 3,800 people in anti-drug operations while thousands of others have been murdered in unexplained circumstances.
Duterte has, as president, said he would be "happy to slaughter" three million drug addicts, and described children shot dead in the drug war as "collateral damage".
But he has also repeatedly insisted he has never instructed police to do anything illegal, and that they must only kill in self-defence.
Duterte's aides have cautioned journalists not to believe everything the president says, sometimes describing his comments as "merely rhetoric" or "hyperbole".
Some opposition lawmakers and other Duterte critics allege he and his family have long been involved in corrupt activities dating back to the president's two-decade reign as mayor of the southern city of Davao.
Duterte denies all allegations of corruption, and insists he is an anti-graft crusader who lives a humble lifestyle.
In this month's senate hearing, an opposition lawmaker said Paolo Duterte, who is vice mayor of Davao, and
the president's son-in-law were involved in a criminal syndicate called the "Davao Group"
The pair denied any wrongdoing.
SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc on Wednesday (Sep 20) conceded its latest smartwatch unveiled a week ago has problems with its most important feature: The ability to make phone calls and access data without an iPhone nearby.
Several prominent reviewers said Wednesday they could not recommend the device because of cellular data connectivity glitches.
The Watch Series 3 starts at US$399 and was launched alongside new iPhone models. Unlike previous versions of the watch, it has cellular network connectivity built in.
Apple said the watch can experience LTE connectivity problems when it connects to open wi-fi networks that require a login screen, such as at a hotel or a coffee shop.
The company is "investigating a fix for a future software release," Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette told reporter.
Many reviewers such as the New York Times praised the new features and gave generally positive assessments.
But several other prominent publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Verge, recommended against purchasing the new model because the LTE cellular data connectivity did not work as expected.
The mixed reviews weighed on Apple shares, which were down about 2 per cent at US$155 in afternoon trading.
"Considering that my Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE (both first and second review units) didn't function like it was supposed to, I can't recommend buying it — and paying the monthly cell fee — based on promises,"
Apart from connection issues, some reviewers were disappointed with the drain on the watch's battery while making calls. Apple had touted up to 18 hours of battery life but said the watch would get only one hour on a cellular phone call.
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern wrote that users "should all hold off until, say, Series X," referring to the latest iPhone X model number.
Gene Munster, a longtime Apple analyst with Loup Ventures, doubted issues with the Series 3 Watch would hurt Apple's bottom line. "That review takeaway is a negative but is not a surprise. This is the first generation watch with LTE," he told reporter.
Apple also experienced hiccups with iOS 11, the new operating system the firm released Tuesday.
For business users, iOS 11's Mail application had problems sending mail for Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.com mail accounts.
"We're working closely with Microsoft to resolve the issue and will release a fix soon in an upcoming software update," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told the reporter.
JOHOR BAHRU: The crown prince of Malaysia's southern state of Johor granted an audience to a North Korean envoy on Tuesday (Sep 19), with the diplomat granting the royal the "highest honour" of full access to North Korean airspace.
The meeting between Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who is also the president of the Football Association of Malaysia, and North Korean Charge D'Affaires to Malaysia took place at the palace in Johor Bahru ahead of an Asian Cup football qualifier between teams from both nations in Pyongyang on October 5.
The match has been delayed twice due to security concerns, after diplomatic ties between the two nations were strained in the wake of the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia in February.