Channel NewsAsiahttp://www.channelnewsasia.comChannel NewsAsia Singapore was established in March 1999 by MediaCorp, and is an English language Asian TV News channel. Positioned to Understand Asia, it reports on global developments with Asian perspectives. Channel NewsAsia brings viewers not only the latest news but also the stories behind the headlines. NewsAsiahttp://www.channelnewsasia.com129137en-usCORRECTED: Moon trolls sun on Twitter in solar cyber spat, 22 Aug 2017 03:20:18 +0800REUTERS: (The story corrects to show first coast-to-coast total eclipse, not first total eclipse, in paragraph 1.)

As if a solar eclipse was not enough, the moon threw some virtual shade at the sun on Twitter on Monday, as millions of people watched the first coast-to-coast total eclipse in the United States in nearly a century.

The International Space Station in silhouette as it transits the sun during a partial solar eclipse

"HA HA HA I've blocked the Sun!" wrote NASA Moon (@NASAMoon) on its verified Twitter account, which was created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Make way for the Moon. #SolarEclipse2017."

The tweet was accompanied with a screenshot photo showing that the moon had blocked the verified Twitter profile of NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun). The sun's response was swift.

"Uh EXCUSE me?!? #solareclipse2017," tweeted @NASASun.

Tens of thousands of Twitter users liked the exchange and many social media users responded with amusement.

"This is just too perfect. Congratulations. You have won the entire internet," user Andy Stein (@MandoPony) replied.

"I feel the moon is gonna get some licks in but the sun is gonna come out on top," wrote another user, @GeeInTheNorth.

Some users exacerbated the spat online, using GIFs of celebrities applauding and toasting to the moon, while some accused it of being petty and demanded that the sun respond.

After weeks of anticipation, the sight of the moon's silhouette blotting out all but a halo-like corona of the sun drew whoops and cheers from onlookers when it began over the West Coast on Monday.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)

South Korea's Son advances in world championships, 22 Aug 2017 03:10:08 +0800REUTERS: Badminton world number one Son wan-ho eased past Finland's Kalle Koljonen 21-14 21-16 in the opening round of the BWF World Championships in Glasgow on Monday.

The South Korean top seed dismantled Koljonen, ranked number 72 in the world, in 44 minutes at the Emirates arena. In the second round, the 29-year-old Son takes on the winner of the match between Austria's Vilson Vattanirappel and Hungary's Gergely Krausz.

China's Lin Dan began his quest for a sixth world title with a commanding display against Kieran Merrilees. The 33-year-old seventh seed downed the local hopeful 21-15 21-10

Eighth-seeded Indian Kidambi Srikanth got his campaign off to a smooth start with a 21-13 21-12 victory against Russia's Sergey Sirant in 29 minutes.

"In big events, the first rounds are always tough... this victory is a confidence-booster," Srikanth, who returned to action after back-to-back Superseries wins in Indonesia and Australia this year, said.

Wong Wing-ki, the 12th seed from Hong Kong, powered into the second round with 21-15 21-11 victory against Egypt's Ahmed Salah.

Not all for the fancied players enjoyed routine wins. Thailand's 11th seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk had to fight back from a game down to defeat Dutchman Nick Fransman 20-22 21-12 21-6.

Malaysia's three-time world championships silver medallist Lee Chong Wei begins his campaign on Tuesday against Frenchman Brice Leverdez. China's defending champion Chen Long is up against Georges Julien Paul from Mauritius.

In the women's draw, Denmark's Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt knocked out Ukraine's Maria Ulitina 21-15 21-19 to set up a clash with Japanese top seed Akane Yamaguchi.

Malaysia's Rui Chen Yap despatched Australia's Hsuan-Yu Chen 21-19 21-11 and awaits Thailand's world number eight Ratchanok Intanon in the second round. Hong Kong's Yip Pui-yin set up a match against defending champion Carolina Marin.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Neil Robinson)

Former Michael Jackson lawyer to defend Cosby, 22 Aug 2017 02:55:38 +0800NEW YORK: The one-time attorney of late pop icon Michael Jackson will now defend disgraced television icon Bill Cosby in his upcoming re-trial for sexual assault, the actor's spokesman said on Monday (Aug 21).

After Brian McMonagle quit earlier this month, his California-based co-counsel Angela Agrusa also filed a motion asking to be taking off the trial. The pair helped Cosby secure a hung jury on trial for sexual assault in June.

Bill Cosby

Los Angeles-based Tom Mesereau - known for his flamboyant style and long white hair - will now lead Cosby's legal team, spokesman Andrew Wyatt said in a statement.

Also on Cosby's team will be Kathleen Bliss and Sam Silver, the statement said.

The 67-year-old Mesereau is known for getting an acquittal for Jackson in June 2005 after a four-month trial on child molestation charges.

He will now defend Cosby, the pioneering African American actor and comedian who is due to go back on trial in November for allegedly drugging and molesting former Temple University basketball official Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

Judge Steven O'Neill declared a mistrial in June when a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of aggravated indecent assault after more than 50 hours of deliberations in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

The deadlock was a victory of sorts for Cosby, now frail and isolated, who risked spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

But the trial irrevocably damaged the once towering icon of US popular culture, loved by millions as "America's Dad" and best known for his seminal role as a father and obstetrician on hit 1984-92 TV series "The Cosby Show."

Around 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning actor of being a serial sexual predator, but the trial was the only criminal case brought against Cosby as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Cosby has maintained his innocence, saying his relations with Constand were consensual.

Mesereau is due in court on Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing, Wyatt said.

In a July interview about the case to celebrity news website TMZ, Mesereau said the trial was a "waste of time" as prosecutors had "a very weak case."

Brazilian army, police raid violent Rio favelas, 22 Aug 2017 02:34:33 +0800RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil's army went into action again on Monday (Aug 21) to support police in raids on some of Rio de Janeiro's most violent favelas - but not before a rogue soldier allegedly tipped off the drug gangs.

In the third such operation in just over two weeks, about 5,000 marines, army soldiers, air force personnel, police and agents from the elite federal intelligence service launched raids at dawn in seven neighborhoods, an army spokesman and the Rio state security office said.

Brazil favelas

A year after the world applauded Rio's successful staging of the Olympics, Brazil's second biggest city is in deep financial difficulty and the demoralized police are struggling to contain well-armed drug gangs based in the favelas.

Targets of Monday's raids included the notorious Complexo do Alemao - a dense maze of alleys on steep hillsides where police rarely venture - and Jacarezinho, where seven people have been shot dead just in the last 10 days.

The state security service said in a statement that the principal goal was to serve arrest warrants.

"Teams from the armed forces are responsible for guarding perimeters in some of these regions and basing themselves at strategic points to guarantee order," the statement said. "Some roads are closed and airspace is restricted for civil aviation."

According to Globo news organization, police were looking for 14 people, all of them drug trafficking suspects with street names including "Bamba," "PH" and "Indio do Mandela," or "Mandela's Indian." So far 18 people had been arrested during the sweep and more than 22,000 students were unable to attend school because of the fear of violence, Brazilian media reported.


President Michel Temer's decision in July to deploy thousands of soldiers to Rio acknowledged that state police have lost the ability to cope with the often bloody struggle against the drug traffickers. Nearly 100 police officers have died this year alone.

Corruption has also hampered police operations. In June, arrest warrants were issued for 185 police officers after a lengthy probe accused them of collaborating closely with drug gangs, even renting out automatic weapons to the gunmen.

The military is often cited as the national institution most respected by Brazilians. Memories of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship are fading and the armed forces are seen as largely having kept out of the corruption riddling Brazil's government at every level.

However, despite that clean image, a 19-year-old soldier was arrested on Monday on suspicion of having tipped off gangs several hours before the operation took place.

Globo quoted police saying that traffickers had been heard warning each other by radio during the night "to disperse."

Colonel Roberto Itamar, a spokesman for the military, told AFP that the soldier was accused of "passing information. We will see if he's proven guilty or not."

In the first half of this year Rio tallied 3,457 homicides - the highest level of violence since 2009 and 15 per cent more than during the same period in 2016.

Brazil as a whole is one of the most deadly countries in the world.

Estadao newspaper on Wednesday reported that this year's six month homicide tally has reached just over 28,000. That is equivalent to 155 killings a day or six an hour around the country of 208 million people.

The toll is almost seven percent higher than last year and indicates that Brazil may again break the ceiling of 60,000 homicides a year in 2017.

By contrast, the United States, with a population of nearly 326 million, had 15,696 murders in 2015, according to the FBI.

Lebanese army finds anti-aircraft missiles in Islamic State cache, 22 Aug 2017 02:30:08 +0800BEIRUT: Lebanon's army found anti-aircraft missiles among with a cache of weapons in an area abandoned by Islamic State militants, it said on Monday.

The arms cache also included mortars, medium and heavy machine guns, assault rifles, grenades, anti-tank weapons, anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices and ammunition.

On Saturday Lebanon's army began an operation to dislodge Islamic State from its small enclave in the mountains straddling the border with Syria.

The Syrian army and Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group are conducting a simultaneous but separate operation against the same pocket from inside Syria.

A Hezbollah offensive last month forced militants from the Nusra Front group, formerly al Qaeda's official Syrian branch, to quit an adjacent enclave on the border for a rebel-held part of Syria.

On Friday, the Lebanese army said it had discovered surface-to-air missiles in a weapons cache left by the Nusra militants in an area captured by Hezbollah and then taken over by the army.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams)

Croatia fights dozens of fires along Adriatic coast, 22 Aug 2017 02:26:04 +0800ZAGREB: Croatian firefighters and armed forces were fighting dozens of wildfires on Monday (Aug 21) along the Adriatic coastline and on the popular tourist islands of Hvar and Brac, officials said.

The situation was most severe in the mountains around the mainland city of Zadar, where 32 fires have broken out since late Sunday, according to Slavko Tucakovic, chief commander of Croatia's firefighters.

Croatia fires

The authorities closed part of the highway linking the capital Zagreb with the second largest Croatian city of Split. Local media reported that some drivers, fearing the fire, turned their cars around and drove in the opposite direction.

A dozen jets and helicopters were trying to bring the fires under control, with some 100 soldiers along with firefighters from other regions sent to help. Strong winds were making the job more difficult, Tucakovic said.

"We have to ... group our forces and move them from one settlement to another to defend houses as fire breaks out," Tucakovic told local media.

One fire threatened a suburban army barracks but was kept under control, he added.

Other blazes broke out near the coastal city Sibenik, where several people were reported to have been evacuated from a hamlet overnight on Sunday.

The forest fire on Hvar could be seen from Split, local media reported, but there were no reports of towns or villages being in danger on the islands.

According to Tucakovic, the causes of the fires were a long drought and strong winds, but also the "irresponsibility of people who, intentionally or not, caused a number of fires".

Soaring temperatures and tinder-dry forest floors across southern Europe have led to a rash of devastating wild fires, notably in Portugal, where 64 people died in a massive inferno in June.

This summer's fires in Croatia are among the country's worst in several years, with 83,000 hectares of forests damaged - double the area burnt in 2012, Tucakovic said.

In neighbouring Bosnia, firefighters were on Monday struggling to defend three villages near the southern town of Mostar that were endangered by one of several active wildfires in the area. Army helicopters were unable to help owing to the strong winds.

Congo Republic president reappoints PM after resignation, 22 Aug 2017 02:20:18 +0800BRAZZAVILLE: Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso reappointed Clement Mouamba as prime minister on Monday, four days after Mouamba and his cabinet resigned, the president's office said in a statement.

Mouamba, who resigned last week, is now charged with forming a new government, the statement said.

Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso speaks during a news conference at Carthage Palace in

Last week's resignations came after Sassou Nguesso said he wanted a new government to help alleviate economic woes caused by a steep drop in oil prices since 2014.

Public debt has shot higher, raising questions over Congo's ability to meet coupon payments for its US$363 million Eurobond.

(Reporting by Christian Elion, Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Alison Williams)

Chile court ruling ends abortion ban; new law allows in limited cases PacificTue, 22 Aug 2017 02:20:14 +0800SANTIAGO: A Chilean court on Monday ruled that a law legalizing abortion in certain cases is constitutional, a win for President Michelle Bachelet's centre-left coalition and for groups that have campaigned for years against the country's strict ban.

With the decision by Chile's Constitutional Court, women in the South American nation will be allowed to seek an abortion when their life is in danger, when a foetus is unviable or when a pregnancy results from rape.

Chile was one of only a handful of countries worldwide where abortion was illegal without exception. The ban was put in place during the closing days of Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship, and Bachelet pledged reform when she took office for a second time in 2014.

The road to passage was difficult and met multiple delays due to deep divisions in the governing coalition and a unified opposition.

The abortion bill was passed in its final form earlier in August, but conservative legislators then challenged its constitutionality.

With the court's Monday ruling, it now becomes law.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Bill Cosby hires Michael Jackson lawyer for sexual assault retrial, 22 Aug 2017 02:10:17 +0800REUTERS: The lawyer who successfully defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges will represent Bill Cosby when he is retried on sex assault charges later this year, the comedian's spokesman said on Monday.

Tom Mesereau, one of three lawyers named as forming Cosby's new legal team, is best known for helping to secure an acquittal for Jackson in the pop star's 2005 child molestation trial in California.

Bill Cosby

Cosby, 80, was long beloved by U.S. television audiences for his family-friendly style of comedy, before dozens of women came forward to accuse him of a series of sexual assaults dating back to the 1960s.

He is due to be retried beginning Nov. 6 on charges of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former administrator at his alma mater Temple University, at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004.

Cosby denies wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact he may have had with his accusers was consensual.

The jurors who heard Cosby's first trial in the Constand case were unable to reach a verdict and Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O'Neill declared a mistrial in May after 52 hours of deliberations that often stretched late into the night.

Besides Mesereau, lawyers Kathleen Bliss and Sam Silver will represent Cosby, according to a statement by Andrew Wyatt, Cosby's publicist.

Cosby is due in court Tuesday for a hearing on changes to his legal representation after both his lawyers from the original trial, Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa, withdrew.

Each has declined to give reasons for withdrawing, but towards the end of the trial they appeared at odds with Wyatt, who would deliver impromptu news conferences outside the courthouse without McMonagle's knowledge.

At one point during jury deliberations, the judge expressed annoyance that Wyatt had told reporters the time had come to declare a mistrial, prompting McMonagle to make it clear that Wyatt did not speak for the legal team.

The peak of Cosby's career came in the 1980s when he earned a reputation as "America's favourite dad" for his role as Heathcliff Huxtable on the TV hit "The Cosby Show."

While dozens of women have accused Cosby of assaulting them, sometimes after plying them with drugs and alcohol, all but one of the alleged incidents was too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution. He was charged in the Constand case in December 2015, just days before the statute of limitations was to run out on her claim.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Tom Brown)

US funds get tougher on climate and diversity, but not CEO pay, 22 Aug 2017 02:00:19 +0800BOSTON: Even as top U.S. asset managers BlackRock Inc and State Street Corp pressed companies on climate and diversity issues this year, they made few waves on another area of corporate governance: CEO pay.

Researcher Proxy Insight estimates BlackRock supported management in advisory "Say on Pay" votes at S&P 500 companies 97 percent of the time during the proxy season ended June 30, one percentage point lower than in the previous year, based on a review of voting tallies by eight outside funds that are voted by BlackRock.

Funds voted by a unit of State Street supported executive pay 94 percent of the time this year, also one percentage point lower than in the previous season, based on a similar review of early tallies. More complete filings are due in coming weeks.

The continued strong support helps explain how CEO pay keeps rising, part of a broader debate over inequality, even as large corporations changed their stances on climate and social issues under pressure from investors.

BlackRock for instance has already disclosed it switched sides and helped pass a measure on climate risk reporting at Exxon Mobil Corp's annual meeting in May. State Street says it voted against directors at 400 companies this year that had no female board members and showed no signs of changing, part of a campaign for gender diversity that also included the placement of the famed "Fearless Girl" statue on Wall Street.

Jon Lukomnik, head of the Investor Responsibility Resource Center Institute, a frequent critic of pay designs, said the statistics reflect how it is often hard for large fund managers to vote against pay because the issues can be more complex than on other governance issues.

Factors that could influence a pay vote include a company's bonus metrics or the peers it measures pay against. "If you vote 'no' on executive comp, does it mean you don't like how it is structured? Or you don't like the total amount? It's more of a continuum," Lukomnik said. "When it's a close call, they tend to vote 'yes'."

The median S&P 500 CEO was paid US$12.1 million last year, up from US$11 million among the same group in the previous year, according to ISS Analytics.

To be sure, the S&P 500 index's 9.5 percent rise in 2016 made it easier for many boards to justify pay raises for their leaders. Ira Kay, a corporate pay consultant, said the fact that companies win the vast majority of the advisory votes on pay, even as they lose on other issues, shows their pay plans work as designed.

"The vast majority of shareholders at the vast majority of companies are highly satisfied with their pay and performance alignment," Kay said.

A spokesman for BlackRock declined to comment before its more complete voting data is disclosed in coming weeks. BlackRock has said it expects companies to tie pay to long-term performance and that it may vote against directors when companies have not demonstrated such a connection.

A State Street representative sent data showing that its funds supported pay plans about 94 percent of the time in the first six months of 2017, roughly the same rate as in the same period a year earlier, across more than 2,000 companies in each year.

Technically State Street funds voted "against" pay at more companies this year, 140, than in the first half of 2016 when it voted 'against' pay at 131 companies.

The higher number shows State Street's concerns about "quantum of pay," meaning the overall level of pay, said Rakhi Kumar, State Street's head of governance via e-mail.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Explosion heard in downtown Kabul - witnesses, 22 Aug 2017 02:00:13 +0800KABUL: An explosion was heard in the heart of Kabul's diplomatic area on Monday night, setting off alarms and sirens at foreign embassies.

The blast was preceded by "incoming" announcements, often used by the American embassy to warn of imminent rocket attack.

The explosion came just hours before U.S. President Donald Trump was scheduled to give a prime-time speech outlining the future of the American presence in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Alison Williams)

J&J ordered to pay US$417 million in trial over talc cancer risks, 22 Aug 2017 01:55:12 +0800REUTERS: Johnson & Johnson on Monday was ordered by a California jury to pay US$417 million to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using the company's talc-based products like Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury's verdict in favor of California resident Eva Echeverria was the largest to date in lawsuits alleging J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risks of talc-based products.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York

The verdict included US$70 million in compensatory damages and US$347 million in punitive damages, a spokeswoman for Echeverria's lawyers said. It followed several trials in Missouri state court that resulted in more than US$300 million in verdicts against J&J.

"We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder," J&J said in a statement.

At trial, lawyers for Echeverria accused the New Jersey-based company of encouraging women to use its talc products despite knowing of years of studies linking ovarian cancer diagnoses and deaths to genital talc use.

J&J's lawyers argued that various scientific studies as well as federal agencies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not found that talc products are carcinogenic.

The trial follows five prior ones in Missouri state court. J&J lost four of those trials and along with a talc supplier has been hit with a total of US$307 million in verdicts. Before Monday, the largest verdict was for US$110 million.

The case is Echeverria et al v. Johnson & Johnson, Los Angeles Superior Court, No. BC628228.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Brighton agree deal to sign Zurich striker Dwamena, 22 Aug 2017 01:50:11 +0800REUTERS: Brighton & Hove Albion have agreed a deal with FC Zurich to sign Ghanaian striker Raphael Dwamena subject to work permit and international clearance, the Premier League club said on Twitter on Monday.

"The 21-year-old striker has also agreed personal terms with the club and is now awaiting clearance to travel to the UK for his medical," a Brighton statement said.

British media reported that Brighton's original eight million pound bid for Dwamena was rejected by the Swiss club who wanted 15 million euros (13.73 million pounds).

Brighton have failed to score in losing both their opening two Premier League games this season after gaining promotion from the Championship.

The south coast club have already broken their transfer record three times this summer in signing Colombia winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge, midfielder Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven and goalkeeper Mathew Ryan from Valencia.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Cycling: Froome takes Vuelta lead, Nibali wins third stage, 22 Aug 2017 01:16:58 +0800ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra: Chris Froome climbed into the leader's red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana for the first time since 2011 on Monday (Aug 21) despite missing out on the stage three win to Vincenzo Nibali.

Four-time Grand Tour winner Nibali took the mountainous 158.5km ride from Prades to Andorra la Vella in 4hrs 01mins 22secs ahead of Spaniard David de la Cruz with Tour de France champion Froome in third.

Chris Froome

However, that was enough to move the Briton into the overall lead, two seconds ahead of De la Cruz, Ireland's Nicolas Roche and American Tejay van Garderen.

"It's been a long time since I had the red jersey, it feels amazing to put it back on," said Froome. "To be in this position is something I've thought about for a long time and I worked really hard after the Tour."

Froome is aiming to become just the third man in history to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year after Frenchman Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978).

And despite three second-placed finishes at the Vuelta, it is the first time he has led the race since his breakout Grand Tour when he played a supporting role for Bradley Wiggings in 2011.

With nine summit finishes to come over three gruelling weeks in searing Spanish summer heat, Froome believes it will be difficult to stay in front all the way to Madrid on Sep 10.

"It's going to be really hard to keep it until the end, especially with the time bonuses out there," he added. "It's only two seconds to the next group of riders. It's still really close. I don't expect to keep it til the end but I'm certainly gonna fight for it."


It was another disappointing day for three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador in his final race before retirement as he finished more than two minutes down on the leaders to trail Froome by 3mins 10secs overall.

"I don't know what happened to me, I don't know what it is down to, but I felt really flat," said Contador. "It was difficult just to save the day as much as possible."

The rest of the general classification favourites finished together, as after a team time trial in the opening stage and a long flat ride from Nimes to Gruissan on Sunday, the race exploded into life as it passed from France into Andorra.

Nibali is one of the few contenders who missed the Tour de France.

And the Italian looked to have the fresher legs as he headed a nine-man group including Froome, Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet, De la Cruz, Roche, Van Garderen, Esteban Chaves and Domenico Pozzovivo to the line.

"I thought it was a good opportunity to win some time and very happy to win the stage," said Nibali.

Tuesday's fourth stage sees the race finally enter Spain under heightened security measures following a pair of terrorist attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

The 198.2km ride from Escaldes to Tarragona finishes just 20 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast from Cambrils.

Kanu loses appeal and misses three games, 22 Aug 2017 01:10:11 +0800REUTERS: Hal Robson-Kanu has lost his appeal for his sending off against Burnley on Saturday, the Football Association said on Monday.

The West Bromwich Albion striker was dismissed for elbowing Matthew Lowton after scoring the decisive goal in Albion's 1-0 victory.

Premier League - Burnley vs West Bromwich Albion

Referee Martin Atkinson's decision was upheld by an FA commission and Robson-Kanu will now miss three games.

Robson-Kanu is ineligible for Tuesday's EFL Cup clash with Accrington Stanley and the Premier League games with Stoke City and Brighton & Hove Albion.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Total solar eclipse completes path across America, 22 Aug 2017 01:02:15 +0800MADRAS/CHARLESTON: The Great American Eclipse completed its journey across the United States on Monday (Aug 21), with the path of totality stretching coast-to-coast for the first time in nearly a century.

Totality began over Oregon at about 1716 GMT and ended at 1848 GMT over Charleston, South Carolina, where sky-gazers whooped and cheered as the Moon moved directly in front of the Sun.

total eclipse1

"It was incredibly beautiful. I am moved to tears," said Heather Riser, sitting on a blanket in Waterfront Park in Charleston, a bustling East Coast city where thousands had gathered to watch.

Eclipse chasers and amateur star watchers alike had earlier converged in cities along the path of totality, a 113-kilometre wide path running through 14 US states, where the Moon blocked out all light from the Sun.

eclipse watch

Festivals, rooftop parties, weddings, camping trips and astronomy meet-ups popped up nationwide for what NASA expects will be the most heavily photographed and documented eclipse in modern times, thanks to the era of social media.

At about 1605 GMT, eclipse fans in Lincoln Beach, Oregon were the first to witness the partial phase of the eclipse.

partial eclipse

More than 100,000 people have gathered in Madras, Oregon, typically a town of 7,000 for what experts described as perfect viewing conditions.

sun corona

In Los Angeles, "oohs and aahs" emanated from the crowd of thousands of people gathered at the Griffith Observatory in the hills above the city as the partial eclipse began.

Many hiked to the site to avoid massive traffic jams. Some watchers had fashioned their own pinhole projectors out of cardboard and scotch tape.

In Mexico, where there was a partial eclipse, astronomy buffs set up telescopes fitted with special sun filters in parks and squares in various cities.

"Put down your smartphone and experience this one emotionally, psychologically, physically, rather than just through the screen," advised prominent US astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.


In the US capital, where 81 per cent totality occurred, eclipse watchers flocked to the National Air and Space Museum, where solar telescopes were set up for the occasion. The National Zoo staged a viewing party, and national parks across the country organised programmes for children.

total eclipse

In downtown Charleston, the last point in the path of totality, crowds of tourists - some in special eclipse T-shirts and star-printed trousers - made their way to the bustling East Coast city's storied waterfront to stake out a prime spot.

eclipse watchers

"It is very exciting," said Kwayera Davis, 34, an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston who was setting up telescopes in a waterfront park. "Here we will get to see it because we are off on the water, with the shadow going off into the Atlantic."

One bar had installed outdoor speakers which blasted Bonnie Tyler's mega-hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - which she was to sing on a cruise ship on Monday.

"I am really pumped up about it," said t-shirt vendor Jan Dahouas, who is from Atlanta, Georgia. "I hear it is supposed to be really moving."

President Donald Trump was expected to watch the partial eclipse from the White House with his wife Melania, his office said.

Many people who have seen eclipses in the past describe the experience as an emotional one, as the sky goes black, birds return to their nests and the air chills.

"It is such an incredible, sensory-overload kind of event," eclipse-chaser Fred Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist, told AFP of the first total solar eclipse he saw in the United States back in 1970.


Experts warn that looking directly at an eclipse can cause permanent eye damage.

"The damage can really be permanent and right smack in the centre of their vision," said Vincent Jerome Giovinazzo, director of ophthalmology at Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health.

The only safe time to look at it is for those within the path of totality - and only during the brief moments when the Sun is completely blocked.

Everyone else should use proper solar eyeglasses, which are far darker than regular ones, or make a pinhole projector to see the eclipse while avoiding the glare of the Sun.

Cloudy weather and thunderstorms threatened to dash viewers' hopes in some places, including Charleston. But so far, it was sunny in South Carolina.

Some of the clearest views were expected along the West Coast and in the Midwest.

Scientists plan to study the eclipse to learn more about the super-hot corona, or outer edge of the Sun.

Astronauts orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station are also planning to document the eclipse, and will get to see it three times.

"My first solar eclipse from space ... We're ready!" wrote Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli on Twitter.

Syrian refugees in Germany name daughter Angela Merkel Muhammed, 22 Aug 2017 00:55:11 +0800BERLIN: A Syrian refugee family in Germany has named their newly born baby girl Angela Merkel Muhammed out of gratitude to the chancellor for her open-door asylum policy in 2015, hospital officials said.

"The first name of the girl is Angela, the second is Merkel. With this decision, the parents wanted to show their thankfulness to the chancellor," said a spokeswoman for St. Franziskus Hospital in the western German city of Muenster.

Angela Merkel Muhammed was born on Aug. 16, measuring 53 centimeters (21 inches) and weighing 3,920 grams (8.6 pounds), he said, adding the girl was the parents' fifth child.

Her mother, Asia Faray, and father, Khalid Muhammed, arrived in Germany with their then four children at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

Merkel, due to hold an election campaign rally in Muenster on Tuesday, lost popular support last year over worries about how Germany could absorb an influx of over a million migrants.

But with the refugee flow now stemmed, Merkel's popularity has recovered. Opinion polls put her conservatives some 15 percentage points ahead of their nearest rivals ahead of a national election on Sept. 24.

It is not the first time that a refugee family in Germany has named its newly born baby this way. In February 2015, Angela Merkel Ade was born in a hospital in the northern city of Hanover. Her mother had migrated from Ghana to Germany.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Pakistani army says it has acted against militants including Haqqani network PacificTue, 22 Aug 2017 00:45:17 +0800ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has taken action against all Islamist militants including the Haqqani network, the army spokesman said on Monday hours ahead of a U.S. announcement on Afghan policy that could herald a tougher stance towards Islamabad.

"There are no terrorist hideouts in Pakistan. We have operated against all terrorists, including (the) Haqqani network," spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told a media briefing in Islamabad.

He said evidence to that effect was shared with General Joseph Votel, chief of the U.S. Central Command, who visited Pakistan over the weekend.

U.S. officials say Afghan's Islamist Taliban insurgents and the allied Haqqani network, deemed the most lethal Afghan militant group, are supported by elements of Pakistan's military and top intelligence agency, a charge Islamabad denies.

U.S. President Donald Trump was expected in an address to the nation due at 0100 GMT to address the future of relations with Islamabad, part of a review of policy on the protracted war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

With Taliban insurgent forces no nearer to defeat after more than 15 years of conflict, Trump was likely to announce a modest increase in U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, a senior administration official said.

"As regard to U.S. policy, and even if it comes with certain

coercive, you know, announcements, Pakistan shall do whatever is best in the national interest," Ghafoor said.

Votel met Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and on Saturday toured the Waziristan area that was long the base of local and foreign militants along the Afghan border, where Pakistan's military waged a campaign to drive them out.

Washington and Islamabad have at times had a rocky relationship, including over the secret U.S. raid inside Pakistan in 2011 that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Relations have been under scrutiny in Trump's lengthy review of a new strategy and troop levels in the fight against the Taliban and other Islamist militants in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Armed group stopping migrant boats leaving Libya, 22 Aug 2017 00:30:17 +0800TUNIS/ROME: An armed group is stopping migrant boats from setting off across the Mediterranean from a city west of Tripoli that has been a springboard for people smugglers, causing a sudden drop in departures over the past month, sources in the area said.

The revelation throws new light on the sharp reduction in migrant arrivals from Italy, which took over from the Aegean route as the main focus of European concerns in the crisis. 

A member of the Libyan Coast Guard uses a pair of binoculars as he searches for migrants off the co

Arrivals in Italy from North Africa, the main route for migration to Europe this year, dropped by more than 50 percent in July from a year earlier, and August arrivals so far are down even further. July and August are peak months for migrant boats because of favourable sea conditions.

Sources in Sabratha, 70 km (45 miles) west of the capital, said the sudden drop had been caused by a new force in the seaside city, which is preventing migrants from leaving, often by locking them up.

The group in Sabratha "works on the ground, the beach, to prevent the migrants leaving on boats towards Italy," said a civil society organiser from the city, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The group is made up of several hundred "civilians, policemen, army figures," he said. It is conducting a "very strong campaign" that was launched by a "former mafia boss", said a second Sabratha source who follows smuggling activity closely.

A third source with contacts in Libya, who also asked not to be named, said the Sabratha group was making "a significant effort to police the area".

The two Sabratha sources said the group was running a detention centre for migrants who are turned back or taken from smugglers. One sent a picture of hundreds of migrants sitting in the sand in front of a high wall.

One of the sources said he thought the group was seeking legitimacy and financial support from Tripoli, where European states have tried to partner with a U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to stem migrant flows. An official from the interior ministry's department for combating illegal migration in Sabratha did not respond to a request for comment.

It was not possible to contact the group, which the third source said was called Brigade 48, although other sources did not confirm this.

Italy has been trying to bolster the GNA's ability to stop people smuggling with cash, training and by sending a ship to help repair Tripoli's coastguard and navy vessels. Some 600,000 migrants have reached Italy by sea from North Africa since 2014, testing the country's ability to cope. More than 12,000 have died trying.

Most leave from Libya's western coast. Following a local backlash against smugglers in Zuwara in the west in 2015, Sabratha became the most frequently used departure point.

Italy wants to replicate a deal with Libya that the EU struck with Turkey last year, largely shutting down the migrant route through Greece and the Balkans.

With a national election looming during the first half of next year, the government in Rome is under pressure to show it can stop, or at least slow, migration.

But any progress in Libya is likely to be fragile, with the country in a state of conflict since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted six years ago. Rival governments are vying for power and local militias battle each other for territory and smuggling profits.

Last week Italy seized on the drop in arrivals, with Interior Minister Marco Minniti saying he saw a "light at the end of the tunnel".


Migrants rescued last week in the Mediterranean confirmed that conditions had changed in Sabratha, according to a spokesman at the International Organization for Migration, which interviewed migrants who arrived in Trapani, Sicily, on Saturday.

"They said that it was very difficult to depart from Sabratha. There are people stopping the boats before they set out, and if they get out to sea they're immediately sent back," said Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman in Rome. Some migrants were also turned back before reaching Sabratha, he said.

The European Union's border control agency Frontex last week said "clashes in Sabratha" contributed to July's decline, also citing changeable weather and increased Libyan coastguard presence. The Sabratha sources were not aware of any clashes.

Another shift in recent weeks has been a clampdown on smuggling of Bangladeshi and North African migrants through Tripoli's Mitiga airport, after a militia that controlled the trade was forced out by a GNA-aligned armed group at the start of July, Libyan and European officials said.

But that, like a slowing of flows into Libya through Niger, might take time to take effect. Hundreds of thousands of migrants are already in Libya.

In Sabratha, the changes may not stick.

In the past, with no central authority to constrain them, smugglers have adapted and routes have shifted, as already is happening.

Last week smugglers moved departures to east of Tripoli, near Al Khoms, Chris Catrambone, co-founder of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) charity, told Reuters. Three large rubber boats set out from the east, he said, while only a small boat with 26 people was found west of Tripoli.

"The sea was like a lake last week and yet there were few boats," Catrambone said.

Everyone on the Phoenix, a rescue vessel operated by MOAS, was taken aback because it was so unusual, he said.

The GNA has little control over armed groups in western Libya, including the capital, and none over factions that control the east of the country.

The civil society member from Sabratha said the new group there might stop working if it does not receive support from Tripoli.

The power of the smuggling networks would not be broken until there was a "legitimate source of order" in Libya, said a senior diplomat, speaking of the change in Tripoli airport and comparing the situation to broken vase.

"In one corner we stuck it together, but everything else is in pieces."

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Elumami; editing by Giles Elgood)

ASL Strategic Fund asks Community Health to replace CEO, 22 Aug 2017 00:25:24 +0800REUTERS: ASL Strategic Value Fund has sought the replacement of hospital operator Community Health Systems Inc's chief executive, Wayne Smith.

Shares of the company rose about 11 percent to US$7.80 in afternoon trading on Monday.

ASL, which is a long-time investor in the company, said it had tried to contact the management to voice its concerns on weak quarterly results but failed to get a response.

In a letter dated Aug 8, the fund said the management had failed to meet its own operating outlook for revenue growth and EBITDA, among others, over the course of the year.

Earlier this month, Community Health posted a surprise quarterly loss and narrowed its full-year revenue forecast range amid weak patient volumes.

It was not clear how much shares the fund owns in the company.

(Reporting by Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Froome new Vuelta leader after coming third in first mountain stage, 22 Aug 2017 00:25:22 +0800BARCELONA: Chris Froome became the new leader of the Vuelta A Espana on Monday after finishing third in the mountainous stage three as Italian Vincenzo Nibali snatched the stage win in the final 400m of the race in the Pyrenees in Andorra.

Froome, who is bidding to become the first rider to do a double of the Tour de France and the Vuelta in 39 years, set the stage alight with a vicious pace on the final climb of the 158.5 km stage, chaperoned by team mate Gianni Moscon, although he was eventually caught on the descent.

Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race

The Briton takes a two-second lead in the general classification over Spaniard David de la Cruz, Irishman Nicolas Roche and American Tejay Van Garderen, while Nibali, who won the Vuelta in 2010, is fifth, 10 seconds behind the four-time Tour de France champion.

Frenchman Axel Domont took a 25-second lead over the escapees and a 4:40 lead over the peloton into the final 50km but his advantage rapidly eroded in the second climb.

Sky surged ahead in the final climb, led by Moscon with Froome on his wheel, with fellow general classification contenders Fabio Aru, Daniel Chaves and Nibali close behind although Alberto Contador was unable to sustain the pace.

The Spaniard trails Froome by 3:10, all but blowing his chance of an overall win in his final professional race before retirement.

Froome led at the top of the climb with Chaves on his wheel but the pair were soon caught by Romain Bardet and Aru on the descent, with Nibali and Roche joining them in the final 700m.

Roche made a futile attempt at breakaway as Froome slowed, but Nibali timed his attack to perfection to take the stage and 10 bonus seconds. De La Cruz finished second, taking six bonus seconds along with Froome.

The Vuelta moves into Spain in Tuesday's stage, 198.2km route from Escaldes-Engordany in Andorra to Tarragona, Catalonia.

(Reporting by Richard Martin)

Russia hails progress in Syria conflict, ups bombing runs, 22 Aug 2017 00:25:18 +0800MOSCOW: Russia on Monday hailed what it said was "a dramatic shift" in the Syria conflict, saying that the Syrian army, with Moscow's help, was well on its way to pushing militants out of the central part of the country.

In a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry, Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi said that the province of Aleppo had been entirely "liberated" with control of 50 population centres and more than 2,700 square kilometres (1042.48 square miles) of territory taken back.

"In the last month a dramatic shift has taken place in Syria," said Rudskoi. "With the support of the Russian air force, Syrian forces have notched up a series of significant successes and won a major defeat over a big group of Islamic State fighters in the central part of Syria."

With Islamic State fighters concentrated in Deir al-Zor, he said Russia had stepped up its reconnaissance and bombing runs in the area and that the Syrian army was closing in on the militant group from three sides.

Rudskoi said the Syrian army was advancing at a pace of 30-40 kilometres (43.5 miles) or more every 24 hours and that - with Russia's help - it was using new battlefield tactics such as surprise landings by helicopter.

"The main aim is to destroy the last stronghold of the terrorists in the Deir al-Zor region," said Rudskoi.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christian Lowe)

Global markets jittery as Trump fears persist, 22 Aug 2017 00:24:51 +0800FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Global stock markets failed to recoup pre-weekend losses on Monday (Aug 21) as traders eyed geopolitical uncertainty and hoped for hints from central bank chiefs later this week.

Wall Street equities trod water while markets in Europe and Japan slid, suffering from lingering concern over President Donald Trump's volatile administration and unclear prospects for achieving economic reform.

LSE London Stock Exchange

Worries over Trump's stalled economic agenda and upcoming high-stakes Washington fights had hurt global stocks on Friday, with valuations pressured further by the terror attacks in Spain as investors sought haven investments such as the yen and gold.

"Global sentiment remains jittery on exacerbated US political uncertainty and geopolitical concerns, while the Fed's key Jackson Hole symposium looms on the week's horizon," commented Schwab analysts.

The cautious mood on markets comes as investors look to a central bankers' gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday for hints about a future with less monetary stimulus on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Traders are keen to get more insight into the plans of the two central banks" direct from Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, Oanda analyst Craig Erlam pointed out.

The Fed is expected to announce next month that it will wind down its near-US$4.5-trillion balance sheet.

And ECB policymakers appear set to unveil in autumn a long-awaited "tapering", or gradual reduction of its tens of billions in monthly bond purchases.

Meanwhile, major takeover activity within the oil and car sectors failed to lift overall sentiment.

European markets were little moved by French oil giant Total's announcement that it would buy Maersk Oil, a unit of the Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, for US$7.45 billion (€6.35 billion).

Total shares gained 0.3 per cent , although in Copenhagen A.P. Moller-Maersk shares won 2.9 per cent in late trading.

Total said the deal would make it the second-largest operator in the North Sea, with substantial operations in Britain, Norway and Denmark.

Elsewhere on Monday, China's Great Wall Motor signalled an intention to make an ambitious offer to buy all or part of Italian-American car maker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

FCA shares jumped 6.9 per cent in Milan.

Asian traders moved cautiously on Monday following fresh turmoil in the White House, with Tokyo ending down 0.4 per cent.

There are fears that Trump's promises of tax reform and other pro-business measures will not see the light of day, with his support from corporate America damaged by his much-criticised response to a white supremacist rally in Virginia over a week ago.

Hopes that his tax and spending plans would fire up the world's top economy had helped stoke a rally in global markets and the dollar at the start of the year but that has foundered in recent months.

Upheaval in the US administration continued Friday after Trump's top adviser Steve Bannon was dismissed - marking the fifth inner circle casualty in just six months - while there has been talk too that his economic adviser Gary Cohn would step down.

Meanwhile, tensions over North Korea which had sent investors fleeing equities and piling into safe haven assets like gold and the yen could flare up again.

"Tensions surrounding North Korea are still running high, and this week we could see them ratchet up as the US and South Korea will commence their annual 10-day military exercise," said analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

"The North Korean regime are always upset by it, and I would be surprised if we didn't have some sort of angry reaction from Pyongyang."

2 men arrested over brawl at Balestier bak kut teh stall, 22 Aug 2017 00:19:30 +0800SINGAPORE: Two men were arrested on Monday (Aug 21) for a brawl at a popular pork rib soup, or bak kut teh stall in Balestier, police said in a statement on Facebook. 

The two men, aged 50 and 53, caused a scene at Balestier Bak Kut Teh (Kian Lian) at 365 Balestier Road in the early hours of Saturday. 

balestier bkt altercation

The older man is also being investigated for a separate offence of committing a "rash act", police added.

A video posted on the restaurant's Facebook page on Saturday showed a man in a black t-shirt throwing cutlery on the ground. He also picked up a chair and hurled it against a rack before walking towards a steamer - commonly used to keep buns warm - and pushing it to the ground. He was also seen toppling a table.

In its account accompanying the video, the restaurant said the altercation took place when four men arrived at about 2.35am on Saturday. The men appeared to be drunk, it added.

A staff member gave them the menu and some utensils, and another staff member said she would be back to take their orders, when the men threw the chopsticks towards the counter. The men got into a taxi and left the area less than five minutes later, the restaurant said. 

Balestier Bak Kut Teh (Kian Lian) added that the incident cost it at least S$5,000. 

Police investigations are ongoing. 

Anyone convicted of causing a public nuisance could be fined up to S$1,000. Those convicted of committing a rash act could be jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$2,500, or both.

Normanton Park up for en bloc sale with reserve price of S$800 million, 22 Aug 2017 00:10:41 +0800SINGAPORE: Owners of Normanton Park condominium have launched a tender for the collective sale of the privatised housing estate with a minimum asking price of S$800 million on Monday (Aug 21).

At this price, each unit owner of the 488-unit development at Kent Ridge stands to receive between S$1.6 million and S$1.8 million.

Normanton Park

However, developers will have to take into account additional costs when bidding for the site. These include the estimated differential premium for intensification of the site of about S$225.3 million, and another S$220.6 million for topping-up the lease to a fresh 99-years.

All in, the developer may have to fork out around S$1.25 billion for the former government housing project built for military personnel and their families.

This is the 40-year-old estate’s second go at an en bloc sale after their failed first attempt in October 2015, which had a reserve price of around S$840 million.

Normanton Park’s marketing agent Knight Frank said that the condominium has the potential to house more than 1,200 new residential units of about 1,076 square feet each.

Mr SS Chopra, the chairman of the sale committee, said that they want to ride on the current bullish sentiment in the en bloc market, which has seen seven collective sales so far this year.

“It took us a mere 11 days to reach the 80 per cent consensus and a further two weeks to launch the tender today,” he said.

Mr Nicholas Mak, ZACD Group's head of research and consultancy, said the developer who will buy Normanton Park could launch the new homes at more than S$1,400 per square foot.

“By the time the new development on the site of Normanton Park would be ready for launch to homebuyers, it could be some time in 2019, or even 2020,” Mr Mak said. “The market then could be quite different from what it is today. It could be in the middle of market recovery at that time, so prices could also be higher."

Market players said at least four other privatised government housing projects may go on the market soon.

Laguna Park and Lagoon View in Marine Parade have already appointed marketing agents, while real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle will launch the tender for Florence Regency on Aug 23.

Channel NewsAsia understands that Chancery Court will also be holding a meeting this weekend to form a sales committee.

CAS upholds life ban on former top officials for doping blackmail, 22 Aug 2017 00:10:12 +0800ZURICH: Sports highest tribunal has upheld life bans on two top Russian athletics officials and the son of former world governing body president Lamine Diack for covering up an elite Russian athlete's positive dope test and blackmailing her over it.

Valentin Balakhnichev, the former head of the Russian athletics federation, and Alexei Melnikov, the country's former head distance coach, were banned by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) ethics commission in January last year.

Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant to the IAAF, was also banned. All three denied any wrongdoing and subsequently appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"The IAAF Ethics Commission decision is confirmed and Valentin Balakhnichev, Alexei Melnikov and Papa Massata Diack remain banned for life from any involvement in the sport of athletics," said CAS in announcing its verdict on Monday.

"The panel concluded that on the evidence adduced, the charges established against Messers Balakhnichev, Melnikov and Diack were established beyond reasonable doubt and the sanctions imposed should be upheld."

It said it would give a full reasoned decision at a later date.

The bans followed the previous year's World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission report that found a state-sponsored culture of doping in Russia and prompted the country's suspension from the sport.

The sanctions related primarily to the case of Russian former London marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova, who paid US$600,000 to have positive dope tests covered up.

Russia remains banned from athletics although its athletes can apply to compete as neutrals if they meet stringent criteria set by the IAAF. Nineteen Russian athletes competed as neutrals at this month's World Championships in London.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

SEA Games: Quah Zheng Wen suffers upset, but his sisters sweep gold on Day 2, 22 Aug 2017 00:07:51 +0800KUALA LUMPUR: It was a good first day at the pool on Monday (Aug 21) for Singapore's Quah sisters, who swept gold in their opening events. Brother Quah Zheng Wen, however, suffered a shaky start. 

The Singapore swim star, though widely tipped to defend his 2015 title, only managed to finish second in his only event of the night - the men's 50m backstroke. 

SEA Games Day 2 collage

The 20-year-old clocked a time of 25.39s to clinch silver - about 0.6s off previous Games record. 

"I'm kind of disappointed with the result as it wasn't what I wanted. But you know, there are no guarantees in the 50m," said the undergraduate at the University of California in Berkeley. 

Quah Zheng Wen SEA Games 2017

On losing to Indonesia's I Gede Sudartawa, Quah said: "He just happened to have a better swim tonight. 

"I've got to put it behind me and look forward to the rest of the events."


Not only did his youngest sister Jing Wen step up to deliver Singapore's first swimming gold, she also set a new national record in women's 200m butterfly.

Her first gold-winning SEA Games showing clocked a time of 2:12:03 - tearing down Tao Li's nine-year record of 2:12.63s.

Women's 4x100m freestyle SEA Games 2017

Later teaming up with elder sister Ting Wen, Amanda Lim and Natasha Ong, the talented 16-year-old anchored the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay to again win gold. A record fell once more – this time, the SEA Games record of 3:45.73 which was set in 2009 in Vientiane.

When Ting Wen gushed about her siblings after the relay, she did not discriminate. "I'm very proud," she told reporters. "I didn't have to warm up so much before my swim because my heart rate was already very high ... watching her and Zheng Wen race."

Earlier, 100m butterfly Olympic champion Joseph Schooling collected his first gold medal at the KL SEA Games, with a clinical win at the 50m butterfly event that also set a new SEA Games record at 23.06s. 

Joseph Schooling 2017 SEA Games 50m butterfly


Singapore missed out on a podium finish in two of the six swimming events on Monday, coming in fourth place in both the 400m freestyle and women's 100m backstroke. 

Pang Sheng Jun, 24, narrowly missed out on bronze, but set a new personal best time of 3:54.64.

Eighteen-year-old Hoong En Qi timed 1:05.03 in the women’s 100m backstroke.


Fencing: Teen fencer Amita Berthier bags women's foil gold and dedicates the win to her late father. Nicole Wong and Ahmad Huzaifah both win bronze after losing in their respective semi-finals.

Bowling: New Hui Fen and Cherie Tan win silver in women's doubles, while Daphne Tan and Shayna Ng take bronze.

Triathlon: Clement Chow finishes third with a time of 2:03.24, bringing home the bronze medal for Singapore.

Wushu: Jowen Lim wins Singapore's first wushu gold with a total score of 19.37.

Additional reporting by Nadia Jansen Hassan

JPMorgan pledges up to US$2 million to fight racism, support human rights, 22 Aug 2017 00:05:13 +0800NEW YORK: JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Monday it will contribute up to US$2 million to fight racism and support human rights in light of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to violence and the death of a protester.

The sum includes US$500,000 each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League "to further their work in tracking, exposing and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations," Peter Scher, head of corporate responsibility wrote in a memo to employees that was provided to Reuters by the company.

A J.P. Morgan logo is seen in New York City

As much as US$1 million more will be contributed in two-for-one matches of donations by employees to "a wide range of human and civil rights organizations," according to the memo.

The bank is also contributing US$50,000 to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.

Racial conflict in Charlottesville earlier this month was followed by intense political controversy over remarks by President Donald Trump.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan, said he "strongly" disagreed with Trump as he and other CEOs moved to disband an advisory panel to the president.

JPMorgan has reacted to a wide range of traumatic events in the past with contributions and matches of employee donations. The events have included the recent Grenfell Tower apartment fire in London, the 2016 Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub mass shooting, earthquakes and tropical storms.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Jeffrey Benkoe)

US Navy orders 'operational pause' after 10 sailors missing in collision PacificMon, 21 Aug 2017 23:59:58 +0800WASHINGTON: The US Navy declared a worldwide pause in its operations on Monday (Aug 21) after the latest in a series of accidents left 10 sailors missing and five injured.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson ordered an "operational pause" to allow a "comprehensive review" of practices after the destroyer USS John McCain was hit by a merchant tanker off Singapore.

A general view of the USS John S. McCain with a hole on its port side, outside Changi naval base in(Photo:AFP)

"As you know this is the second collision in three months and the last of a series of incidents in the Pacific theatre," Richardson said.

"This trend demands more forceful action. As such I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world."

US Defence Secretary James Mattis, on a visit to Jordan, said Richardson's "broader enquiry will look at all related accidents, incidents at sea, that sort of thing. He is going to look at all factors, not just the immediate one."

There was no official word on how long the disruption to the world's most powerful navy, active in all of the world's oceans, might last. But some US media suggested the pause would last for a day.

Ten US sailors were still missing after the USS John McCain collided with a tanker on Monday, tearing a large hole in its hull in the second accident involving an American warship in two months.

The badly damaged destroyer limped into port in the city-state of Singapore in the afternoon under escort after the dramatic pre-dawn accident, which sent water flooding into the vessel.

A major search involving ships and aircraft from three countries was launched for the missing sailors after the McCain hit the Alnic MC in the busy shipping lanes of the Singapore Strait, near the Strait of Malacca.

Analysts said the accident, so soon after June's collision off Japan involving a US warship, raised questions about whether the US Navy was overstretched in Asia as it seeks to combat Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The US Navy said there was "significant damage to the hull" of the warship in the latest collision, which led to flooding of crew sleeping areas, machinery and communications rooms.

"Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding," they said in a statement after the John S. McCain arrived at Changi Naval Base in the city-state.

A helicopter took four of the injured to a Singapore hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening while the fifth did not need further medical attention, the navy said.

The 154-metre vessel could still sail under its own power after the collision at 5.24am with the Liberian-flagged tanker, which was slightly bigger at 600 feet. Two other vessels escorted it into port, AFP journalists saw.

The warship had been heading for a routine stop in Singapore after carrying out a "freedom of navigation operation" in the disputed South China Sea earlier in August around a reef in the Spratly Islands, sparking a furious response from Beijing.

The vessel is named after US Senator John McCain's father and grandfather, who were both admirals in the US navy.

McCain himself, who as a naval pilot was shot down during the Vietnam War and held prisoner, welcomed the review.

"I agree with Admiral Richardson that more forceful action is urgently needed to identify and correct the causes of the recent ship collisions," he said.

"I expect full transparency and accountability from the Navy leaders as they conduct the associated investigations and reviews."


President Donald Trump tweeted: "Thoughts & prayers are w/ our @USNavy sailors aboard the #USSJohnMcCain where search & rescue efforts are underway."

Ridzwan Rahmat, a naval expert at Janes by IHS Markit, said initial indications suggested the US warship may not have been obeying rules designed to separate maritime traffic passing through the Singapore Strait.

With the accident coming soon after the freedom of navigation operation, he told AFP that it raised questions "whether there is crew fatigue setting in, whether or not the tempo of operations by the US Navy in this region is getting too fast."

"Are they doing too much within this region with North Korea, and Japan and then now in the South China Sea?"

Singapore, Malaysia and US ships and aircraft were all involved in the hunt for the missing sailors.

The tanker involved in the collision, which was used for transporting oil and chemicals and weighed over 30,000 gross tonnes, sustained some damage but no crew were injured, and Singapore said there was no oil pollution.

In June, seven American sailors died when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship in a busy channel not far from Yokosuka, a gateway to container ports in Tokyo and nearby Yokohama.

The dead sailors, aged 19 to 37, were found by divers in flooded sleeping berths a day after the collision tore a huge gash in the side of the Fitzgerald.

A senior admiral announced last week that the commander of the destroyer and several other officers had been relieved of their duties aboard their ship over the incident.

Both the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald are part of the US Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka.

Turkey-Singapore FTA to come into force in October, 21 Aug 2017 23:51:05 +0800SINGAPORE: The Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) will come into force on Oct 1 after it was ratified on Monday (Aug 21), announced Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at a joint press conference at the Istana. 

The FTA was signed back in November 2015.

turkish pm w pm lee

“Singapore and Turkey are gateways to our respective regions. We both benefit from open and free trade. Our bilateral trade have grown steadily and has exceeded S$1 billion in the last decade," said Mr Lee.

"This free trade agreement is another significant milestone in our relationship. It will send a strong signal to our business communities and strengthen our economic ties.”

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the TRSFTA will reduce barriers to trade and investment between both countries, enhance access to services sectors and procurement markets, as well as promote greater connectivity between businesses and people.

It will also help more Singapore companies to leverage Turkey’s location as a gateway to the larger regional markets in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

“Within the last decade, our bilateral trade has been on the rise," said Mr Yildirim. "But I believe with the recently ratified FTA, we will see further improvement of these figures. There is a high potential for us to foster our cooperation between our two countries.”

At the conference, both parties also noted that there has been significant progress since they signed a Strategic Partnership in October 2014. The ratification of the TRSFTA builds upon the partnership signed between Mr Lee and Turkey’s then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, they said.

Mr Lee said relations have broadened in areas such as defence, counter-terrorism, culture, technical training, as well as science and research cooperation. He added that Singapore had welcomed and supported Turkey recently becoming a sectoral dialogue partner of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as it will encourage the country to engage actively with the region. 

Mr Yildirim has said Turkey sees Singapore as its main partner in its opening into the ASEAN region and beyond.

“We attach great importance to the development of our relations with ASEAN, a leading regional organisation ... Our trade with ASEAN countries has increased six-fold over the past 14 years, reaching US$8.7 billion (S$11.8 billion) at the end of 2016.”

Mr Yildirim is in Singapore for a three-day official visit. On Monday morning, he visited the Botanic Gardens where an orchid was named in his honour. He also called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana. 


Separately, Minister for Industry S Iswaran said Singapore companies can tap on Turkey's location as a gateway to larger regional markets in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

“Turkey represents a large, dynamic market for Singapore businesses, with a population of 80 million and a GDP of nearly US$860 billion in 2016. Turkey is a successful regional hub for manufacturing and other business activities," he said at the Turkey-Singapore Business Forum. 

“At the government level, Turkey and Singapore are working closely together to create conducive conditions for our businesses to grow. Both governments have put in place frameworks to promote trade and investment relations between our countries.”

With the FTA, tariffs for Singapore's exports to Turkey on 80 per cent of all tariff lines will be eliminated from Oct 1. This will increase to more than 95 per cent of all tariff lines over a period of 10 years. 

Mr Iswaran said both countries have prioritised development in infrastructure, healthcare, fintech and e-commerce, adding that other key benefits of the TRSFTA included the ability to bid for government procurement contracts.

In 2015, Turkish direct investment in Singapore was S$135 million, while Singapore’s direct investment in Turkey amounted to S$218 million, according to MTI. 

Mr David Yang, co-chair of the Turkey-Singapore Business Council said: "Singapore and Turkey will commit to granting better access to each other's services markets, including areas such as retail services, business services, and construction services."