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.http://www.channelnewsasia.com/blob/373956/1358751401000/rss-feed-top-mcnilogo-gif-data.gifChannel NewsAsiahttp://www.channelnewsasia.com129137en-usTesla moves closer to deal to build cars in Chinahttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/tesla-moves-closer-to-deal-to-build-cars-in-china-9334022?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/tesla-moves-closer-to-deal-to-build-cars-in-china-9334022?cid=cna_flip_070214BusinessSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:55:10 +0800REUTERS: Electric car maker Tesla Inc said on Sunday it is talking with the Shanghai municipal government to set up a factory in the region and expects to agree on a plan by the end of the year.

China levies a 25 percent duty on sales of imported vehicles and has not allowed foreign automakers to establish wholly owned factories in the country, the world's largest automaker. Those are problems for Tesla, which wants to expand its presence in China's growing electric vehicle market without compromising its independence or intellectual property.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Model 3 cars are seen as Tesla holds an event at the factory handing over its fir

China's government has considered allowing foreign automakers to set up wholly owned factories in free trade zones in part to encourage more production of electric and hybrid vehicles - which the government calls "new energy vehicles" - to meet ambitious sales quotas.

Tesla would still have to pay a 25 percent duty on cars built in a free trade zone, but it could lower its production costs.

“Tesla is working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market. As we’ve said before, we expect to more clearly define our plans for production in China by the end of the year," a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Tesla said in June it was beginning talks with Shanghai.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla and the Shanghai government have already reached a deal in that city's free trade zone. Shanghai is China's de facto automotive capital and a significant market for luxury vehicles of all kinds.

Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd has a five percent stake in Tesla and is seen as a potential ally for Tesla's efforts to enter the Chinese market.

It was unclear if the Chinese government will conclude a deal with Tesla to coincide with U.S. President Donald Trump's visit next month.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has said the company eventually will need vehicle and battery manufacturing centers in Europe and Asia.

Tesla is wrestling with production problems at its sole factory, in Fremont, California. It is trying to accelerate output of its new Model 3 sedan, but conceded earlier this month that production bottlenecks had held third-quarter production to just 260 vehicles, well short of the 1,500 previously planned.

(Reporting by Joe White and Nori Shirouzu; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Catalonia weighs options as Spain ups the stakeshttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/catalonia-weighs-options-as-spain-ups-the-stakes-9333802?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/catalonia-weighs-options-as-spain-ups-the-stakes-9333802?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:36:22 +0800BARCELONA: Catalonia's separatists were planning their response Sunday (Oct 22) after Spain took drastic steps to stop the region from breaking away by dissolving its separatist government and forcing new elections.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his regional executive - who sparked Spain's worst political crisis in decades by holding a banned independence referendum on October 1 - will be stripped of their jobs and their ministries taken over under measures announced Saturday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

A protester shouts slogans during a demonstration in Barcelona on October 21, 2017.(Photo:AFP)

"Yesterday there was a fully-fledged coup against Catalan institutions," said Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull.

"What happens now, with everyone in agreement and unity, is that we will announce what we will do and how," he told Catalunya Radio.

Rajoy has taken Spain into uncharted legal waters by moving to wrest back powers from the semi-autonomous region, which could see Madrid take control of the Catalan police force and replace its public media chiefs.

The move sparked outrage among separatists, with nearly half a million taking to the streets of regional capital Barcelona and Puigdemont declaring Rajoy guilty of "the worst attack on institutions and Catalan people" since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Among other repressive measures, Franco - who ruled from 1939 until 1975 - took Catalonia's powers away and banned official use of the Catalan language.

Though Catalans are deeply split on whether to break away from Spain, autonomy remains a sensitive issue in the northeastern region of 7.5 million people, which fiercely defends its language and culture and has previously enjoyed control over its policing, education and healthcare.

Rajoy said he had no choice but to force Puigdemont out as he refuses to drop his threat to declare independence after a referendum that had been declared unconstitutional.

Responding to accusations of a "coup", Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis retorted: "If there is a coup d'etat, it is one that has been followed by Mr. Puigdemont and his government."

He told BBC television: "What we are doing is following strictly the provisions of our constitution."

Spain's Senate is set to approve the measures by the end of next week. Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) holds a majority in the upper house, while other major parties also back his efforts to prevent a break-up of the nation.

WHAT NOW?

In a crisis that has sent jitters through one of Spain's most important regional economies and rattled the stock markets, Rajoy has ordered fresh elections to be called within six months of the Senate hearing, which would see polls held by mid-June at the latest.

Separatist parties of all political stripes, from Puigdemont's conservatives to the far-left, have dominated the Catalan parliament since the last elections in 2015, holding 72 seats out of 135.

Ahead of a meeting of Catalan parties Monday to set a date and agenda for a crucial session of the regional parliament to debate next steps, Turull insisted on RAC1 radio that elections were "not on the table".

Political analysts warn Rajoy faces a serious struggle to impose control over the unruly region.

Potential scenarios include Catalan civil servants and police refusing to obey orders from central authorities.

"The basic problem is that you have to govern Catalonia with the active opposition of a large part of the population," analyst Jose Fernandez-Albertos told AFP.

Asked if Puigdemont will be arrested if he shows up for work, Dastis tried to strike a reassuring tone.

"We are not going to arrest anyone," he told the BBC, dismissing the idea of the army having to be brought in to enforce order.

But he warned that if Puigdemont's government keeps trying to give orders, "they will be equal to any group of rebels trying to impose their own arbitrariness on the people of Catalonia."

EUROPE LEADERS BACK MADRID

National police said two young people had been charged after physically assaulting police at Saturday's Barcelona protest, which saw some 450,000 separatists flood the streets shouting "freedom" and "independence".

Puigdemont says 90 percent backed a split from Spain in the referendum, but turnout was given as 43 percent as many anti-independence Catalans stayed away.

Polls suggest the wealthy region is evenly split over independence, with separatists saying it pays too much into national coffers but their opponents arguing it is stronger as part of Spain.

Madrid has received vocal backing from European leaders, with EU parliament chief Antonio Tajani stressing Sunday that neighbours would refuse to recognise Catalonia if it unilaterally declared independence.

"It is not by degrading nationhood that we reinforce Europe," he told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

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Former US President Jimmy Carter willing travel to North Korea: Reporthttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/former-us-president-jimmy-carter-willing-travel-to-north-korea-9333396?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/former-us-president-jimmy-carter-willing-travel-to-north-korea-9333396?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:34:43 +0800NEW YORK: Former US President Jimmy Carter said he would be willing to travel to North Korea on behalf of the Trump administration to help diffuse rising tensions, The New York Times reported on its website on Sunday (Oct 22).

"I would go, yes," Carter, 93, told the Times when he was asked in an interview at his ranch house in Plains, Georgia whether it was time for another diplomatic mission and whether he would do so for President Trump.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter sits after delivering a lecture on the eradication of the Guinea

Carter, a Democrat who was president from 1977 to 1981, said he had spoken to Trump's National Security Adviser H R McMaster, who is a friend, but so far has gotten a negative response.

"I told him that I was available if they ever need me,” the Times quoted Carter as saying.

Told that some in Washington were made nervous by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's war of words, Carter said "I'm afraid, too, of a situation."

"They want to save their regime. And we greatly overestimate China’s influence on North Korea, particularly to Kim," who, Carter added, has "never, so far as I know, been to China."

"And they have no relationship. Kim Jong Il did go to China and was very close to them."

Describing the North Korean leader as "unpredictable," Carter worried that if Kim thinks Trump will act against him, he could do something pre-emptive, the Times reported.

"I think he's now got advanced nuclear weaponry that can destroy the Korean Peninsula and Japan, and some of our outlying territories in the Pacific, maybe even our mainland," Carter said.

In the mid 1990s, Carter traveled to Pyongyang over the objections of President Bill Clinton, the Times report said, and struck a deal with Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current leader.

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'Good morning' Facebook post leads to arrest of Palestinianhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/-good-morning--facebook-post-leads-to-arrest-of-palestinian-9333700?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/-good-morning--facebook-post-leads-to-arrest-of-palestinian-9333700?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:29:25 +0800JERUSALEM: Israeli police have mistakenly arrested then released a Palestinian who posted "good morning" in Arabic on Facebook after software mistranslated it as "attack them," police and a media report said Sunday (Oct 22).

Police only confirmed that a Palestinian had been mistakenly arrested then released following suspicions of incitement, but a report in Haaretz newspaper provided further details.

A Palestinian worker walks on a rooftop in the settlement of Beitar Ilit in the West Bank in(Photo:AFP)

According to the report, which police would neither confirm nor deny, the Palestinian man posted a picture of himself leaning against a bulldozer at the Israeli settlement of Beitar Ilit, where he works, in the occupied West Bank.

Along with the picture, an Arabic phrase meaning "good morning" was also posted. Facebook's translation software interpreted the post to mean "attack them" in Hebrew and "hurt them" in English, Haaretz reported.

It was unclear how such a translation error could have been made as there are no apparent similarities between the Arabic expression used for "good morning" and the phrases in Hebrew or English.

Police were notified and the man was arrested last week, the report said. He was released after a few hours when police realised the mistake, it said.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP "a few days ago, a Palestinian was detained for questioning on suspicion of incitement through his Facebook page."

She said he was "immediately released" after the suspicions turned out to be false.

Haaretz reported that the Facebook post has since been deleted.

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US-backed forces seize major Syria oilfieldhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/us-backed-forces-seize-major-syria-oilfield-9333730?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/us-backed-forces-seize-major-syria-oilfield-9333730?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:28:10 +0800BEIRUT: A US-backed Arab-Kurd alliance announced on Sunday (Oct 22) it had retaken one of Syria's largest oilfields from the Islamic State group in the east of country.

The Al-Omar oilfield in the province of Deir Ezzor produced 30,000 barrels per day before the start of Syria's conflict in 2011 and became a key source of income for the jihadists after they seized it in 2014.

A fighter with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State group uses(Photo:AFP)

US-led coalition air strikes destroyed the field in 2015, after the jihadists had reaped estimated oil sale revenues from it of between $1.7 million and $5.1 million a month, according to the coalition.

"The Syrian Democratic Forces seize the whole of the Al-Omar oilfield, the biggest field in Syria," the alliance said in a short statement.

It said regime forces stood three kilometres (less than two miles) away from the field.

The SDF and Russia-backed government forces are waging separate offensives against IS in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor on Syria's eastern border with Iraq.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor relying of a network of sources inside Syria, said SDF fighters took control of Al-Omar three days after IS members retreated.

Its capture came after the jihadists led "a counterattack on regime positions near the field late Saturday, pushing them away from it," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Al-Omar lies on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, around 10 kilometres (six miles) east of the town of Mayadeen.

Government forces and their allies seized Mayadeen from IS last week in an advance whose target the Observatory said was to recapture Al-Omar.

On Sunday, the monitor said the SDF had also seized the Sayjan oilfield to the north of Al-Omar overnight.

Deir Ezzor province is rich with oil and gas fields that served as a key revenue stream for IS at the height of its power.

The SDF, which earlier this week forced IS from its former stronghold Raqa, has been fighting the jihadists on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Syria's army is carrying out a separate operation mostly on the western bank of the river, including in the provincial capital Deir Ezzor city.

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Italy regions vote on autonomy bid http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/italy-regions-vote-on-autonomy-bid--9333304?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/italy-regions-vote-on-autonomy-bid--9333304?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:27:24 +0800MILAN: Voters in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto were voting Sunday (Oct 22) in referendums on autonomy, against the backdrop of Catalonia's push for independence from Spain.

The consultative votes are only the beginning of a process which could over time lead to powers being devolved from Rome.

In Venice, almost everyone seems to be planning to vote for greater autonomy in Sunday's(Photo:AFP)

Secessionist sentiment in the two wealthy regions is restricted to fringe groups with little following.

Nonetheless, with both regions expected to vote in favour of the principle of greater autonomy, analysts see the referendums as reflecting the pressures that resulted in Scotland's narrowly-defeated independence vote, Britain's decision to leave the EU and the Catalan crisis.

The level of turnout will have a critical bearing on the significance of the results. In Veneto, it has to pass 50 percent for the result to be considered valid.

There is no threshold in Lombardy but low voter participation would weaken the region's hand in any subsequent negotiations with the central government.

- New powers -

European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani on Sunday took care to distinguish between Catalan's chaotic independence referendum, deemed illegal by Madrid, and the votes in Italy.

"First of all these two referendums are legitimate, that was not the case in Catalonia," he told the Rome daily Il Messaggero.

"In Spain, it is not about autonomy, but a proclamation of independence in defiance of the rule of law and against the Spanish constitution."

He said Europe should "fear" the spread of small nations: "It is not by degrading nationhood that we reinforce Europe.

Lombardy, which includes Milan, and Veneto, which houses Venice, are home to around a quarter of Italy's population and account for 30 percent of its overall economic output.

With dynamic economies and lower unemployment and welfare costs than the Italian average, both regions are large net contributors to a central state widely regarded as inefficient at best.

"Our taxes should be spent here, not in Sicily," says Giuseppe Colonna, an 84-year-old Venetian.

Veneto president Luca Zaia says 30 billion euros ($35 billion) are wasted every year at a national level and fiscal rebalancing will be a top priority for him and his Lombardy counterpart Roberto Maroni if the votes go their way.

Lombardy sends 54 billion euros more in taxes to Rome than it gets back in public spending. Veneto's net contribution is 15.5 billion.

The two regions would like to roughly halve those contributions -- a concession the cash-strapped state, labouring under a mountain of debt, can ill afford.

The two regional presidents, both members of the far-right Northern League, plan to ask for more powers over infrastructure, the environment, health and education.

They also want new ones relating to security issues and immigration -- steps which would require changes to the constitution.

- Pandora's box? -

The referendums could have a domino effect -- a similar autonomy vote is being debated in Liguria, the region that includes the Riviera coastline, and Emilia Romagna, another wealthy industrial part of the country, is already trying to negotiate more devolved powers.

Economist Lorenzo Codogno says that while Italian unity is not under threat, Sunday could mark the opening of a Pandora's box.

"The issue is likely to spread, and eventually, it will require a generalised approach by the next government and a reform of the constitution."

Although the referendums have been driven by the Northern League, which has long abandoned the secessionist principles on which it was founded, the Yes campaign is backed by most of the centre right and sections of the centre left.

Milan's mayor Giuseppe Sala, a member of the ruling Democratic Party, says greater self-rule "is an idea shared by everyone, not one that belongs to the League."

There is also a substantial body of opinion that regards the votes as unnecessary extravagances: organising them will cost 50 million euros in Lombardy and 14 million euros in Veneto.

The referendum questions are framed differently in the two regions but both ask voters to say Yes or No to "further forms and special conditions of autonomy".

In a first for Italy, voting in Lombardy will be conducted on computer tablets. Acquiring them raised the cost of the ballot but should ensure an early result after polls close at 11 pm (2100 GMT).

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Key events since Catalonia's independence vote http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/key-events-since-catalonia-s-independence-vote--9333910?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/key-events-since-catalonia-s-independence-vote--9333910?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:25:24 +0800MADRID: As Catalonia's independence crisis deepens, here are the key events that have rocked the region since this month's referendum on splitting from Spain.

OCTOBER 1: VIOLENCE-HIT REFERENDUM

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says he has the "mandate of the people" for the region(Photo:AFP)

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans vote in an independence referendum that goes ahead despite a court ban deeming it unconstitutional.

Spanish riot police try to block the vote. Shocking footage emerges of them using batons and rubber bullets on crowds and roughing up voters.

The Catalan government says 90 percent of those who voted backed independence, but turnout was only 43 percent as many who oppose a split boycotted the referendum.

OCTOBER 3: GENERAL STRIKE

A general strike called by unions and political groups disrupts Barcelona's port, transport and some businesses. Up to 700,000 people demonstrate in the city against police violence, defending the right to vote.

King Felipe VI accuses Catalan leaders of threatening Spain's stability and urges the state to defend "constitutional order".

OCTOBER 5: BUSINESS EXODUS BEGINS

Banco Sabadell, Catalonia's second largest bank, announces it will shift its registered domicile out of the region. Nearly 1,200 companies follow suit in a bid to minimise instability.

OCTOBER 7-8: MASS PROTESTS

Tens of thousands of people demonstrate across Spain on October 7, some demanding unity, others demanding dialogue.

The next day hundreds of thousands march in Barcelona to back unity with Spain.

- October 10: 'Suspended' independence declaration

In a move that sparks widespread confusion, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his separatist allies sign a declaration of independence, but say they are suspending its implementation to allow for time for negotiations with Madrid.

The next day, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gives Puigdemont until October 16 to clarify his stance.

OCTOBER 16: SEPARATIST LEADERS DETAINED

Puigdemont refuses to say whether he had declared independence and instead calls for dialogue. Madrid gives him an extended deadline of October 19 to say whether he is planning to secede.

A court orders the leaders of two powerful grassroots independence groups, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, to be detained pending an investigation into sedition charges.

Their detention prompts tens of thousands to protest in Barcelona the following night.

OCTOBER 21: SPAIN TO SACK CATALAN GOVERNMENT, FORCE ELECTIONS

Rajoy takes drastic steps to stop Catalonia breaking away, employing previously unused constitutional powers to seek the dismissal of Puigdemont's government and new elections for the Catalan parliament. The Senate is due to approve the measures by the end of next week.

Some 450,000 people join a separatist protest in Barcelona, with Puigdemont accusing Rajoy of "the worst attack on institutions and Catalan people" since Spain's dictatorship.

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Spain urges Catalonia secessionists to obey Madridhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/spain-urges-catalonia-secessionists-to-obey-madrid-9333928?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/spain-urges-catalonia-secessionists-to-obey-madrid-9333928?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:19:58 +0800BARCELONA: The Spanish government has urged Catalonians to accept direct control from Madrid and ignore instructions from the restive region's secessionist leadership once it has been removed from power.

Sunday's message came a day after Madrid resolved to take the unprecedented constitutional step of firing the Catalonia government, a last resort to thwart its independence campaign and calm fears of unrest and economic turmoil in the heart of the euro zone.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (L) has taken Spain into unchartered legal waters by moving to(Photo:AFP)

The decision, to be implemented this week, brought tens of thousands of pro-independence protesters onto the streets of Barcelona on Saturday and was rejected by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

The regional parliament's speaker, Carme Forcadell, said she would not accept Madrid's move and accused Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of staging a "coup".

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis responded on Sunday with the call to obey Madrid.

"All the government is trying to do, and reluctantly, is to reinstate the legal order, to restore the constitution but also the Catalan rules and proceed from there," Dastis told BBC TV.

"We are going to establish the authorities who are going to rule the day-to-day affairs of Catalonia according to the Catalan laws and norms ... I hope everyone will disregard whatever instructions they will be planning to give because they will not have the legal authority to do that."

However, Dastis sought to calm nerves in the region, saying Madrid would not conduct arrests among the pro-independence leadership, though two prominent secessionists were detained on court order this month on allegations of sedition.

“We are not going to arrest anyone," he said

Catalonia's leaders say they will not accept direct rule imposed by Madrid, raising the prospect that they and their supporters will seek to defy the Spanish government when the time comes to remove them from office.

Rajoy's plan still needs Senate approval in a session set for Friday. Once it gains the expected approval Madrid can take full control of Catalonia's finances, police and public media and curb the powers of the regional parliament for up to six months, until fresh regional elections.

Street protests for and against independence in Catalonia have involved hundreds of thousands of people. Though a violent crackdown by national police during Catalonia's Oct. 1 independence referendum left hundreds injured, the protests have remained peaceful so far.

But Rajoy's unprecedented plan to use special constitutional powers has angered both sides and raised concern over the potential for unrest if Catalan leaders resist and call for civil disobedience.

ECONOMIC FEARS

They have not done that, but investors are worried about the possible fallout from such moves by a region that makes up a fifth of Spain's economy. Hundreds of companies have shifted their headquarters outside the region and Madrid has made downward revisions to its economic forecasts.

Mikel Lekue, a 24-year-old Spaniard studying in Barcelona, said he did not support Catalan independence but criticised Rajoy's tactics in invoking article 155 of the national constitution for the first time to take control of a region.

"I don't agree with article 155. For all the errors the Catalan government has made, and they have made many, I don't think the solution is to remove Catalan autonomy," he said as he walked in central Barcelona with a friend.

"I think they need to sit down and talk."

Catalan President Puigdemont, who made a symbolic declaration of independence on Oct. 10 after the referendum, called Rajoy's move the "worst attacks against the people of Catalonia" since Spain's military dictatorship.

Puigdemont has stopped short of saying he would make good his threat to push ahead with a parliamentary vote on independence before direct rule takes effect.

"I ask the (Catalan) parliament to meet in a plenary session, during which we, the representatives of the citizens' sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy, and act in consequence," Puigdemont said in a televised address.

Rajoy, who acted with backing from King Felipe and the main opposition party in Madrid, said the crisis was jeopardising recovery in the euro zone's fourth-largest economy.

"Our objective is to restore the law and a normal cohabitation among citizens, which has deteriorated a lot; continue with the economic recovery, which is under threat today in Catalonia, and celebrate elections in a situation of normality," he said.

The regional assembly is expected to decide on Monday whether to hold a session to formally proclaim the republic of Catalonia.

Catalan media have said Puigdemont could dissolve the regional parliament and call elections by next Friday. Under Catalan law, those elections would take place within two months.

That would enable Puigdemont to go the polls earlier than envisaged by Rajoy, who spoke of a six-month timetable, and to exploit the anti-Madrid sentiment running high in the region.

(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper in London and Isla Binnie, Carlos Ruano and Tomas Cobos in Madrid; Editing by Mark Bendeich and David Goodman)

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Mugabe removed as WHO goodwill envoy after outragehttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/mugabe-removed-as-who-goodwill-envoy-after-outrage-9333828?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/mugabe-removed-as-who-goodwill-envoy-after-outrage-9333828?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:10:01 +0800GENEVA: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been removed as a goodwill ambassador, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday (Oct 22) following an outrage among Western donors and rights groups at the appointment.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus named Mugabe to the largely ceremonial post at a high-level WHO meeting on chronic diseases, attended by both men, in Uruguay on Wednesday.

The naming of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador for the World Health(Photo:AFP)

At the time, Tedros praised Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all".

But Tedros said in a statement that he had listened to those expressing concerns and heard the "different issues" raised.

"Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment," Tedros said.

"I have also consulted with the Government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization," he added.

Several former and current WHO staff had said privately they were appalled at the "poor judgement" and "miscalculation" by Tedros, elected the first African head of WHO in May.

Mugabe was head of the African Union (AU) when the bloc endorsed Tedros - a former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia - over other African candidates for the top post, without any real regional contest or debate, they said.

Mugabe, 93, is blamed in the West for destroying Zimbabwe's economy and numerous human rights abuses during his 37 years leading the country as either president or prime minister.

Britain said Mugabe's appointment as a goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases in Africa was "surprising and disappointing" and that it risked overshadowing the WHO's global work. The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Mugabe for alleged human rights violations, said it was "disappointed".

"He (Tedros) has to remember where his funding comes from," said one health official who declined to be identified.

The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, which is already questioning financial support for some programmes of United Nations agencies, is WHO's largest single donor.

The controversy came as WHO struggles to recover its reputation tarnished by its slowness in tackling the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2014-2015 under Tedros' predecessor Margaret Chan.

The Geneva-based agency is currently grappling with crises including a massive cholera outbreak in Yemen that has infected some 800,000 people in the past year and an outbreak of plague in Madagascar that has killed nearly 100 people in two months.

Combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease linked to smoking, obesity and other risk factors are part of its permanent global agenda.

(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London; editing by Toby Chopra and Jason Neely)

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German zoo hopes to cure panda's bad walking habit with sexhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/german-zoo-hopes-to-cure-panda-s-bad-walking-habit-with-sex-9333982?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/german-zoo-hopes-to-cure-panda-s-bad-walking-habit-with-sex-9333982?cid=cna_flip_070214LifestyleSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:05:13 +0800BERLIN: Zookeepers at Berlin's main animal park are hoping to cure a young female panda's habit of walking backwards by introducing her to one of life's most precious pleasures: sex.

They plan to introduce four-year-old Meng Meng to Jiao Qing, a panda three years her senior, in the hope that romance will help her with the frustrations associated with life in captivity that could be behind her habit.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese female panda bear Meng Meng is seen during a welcome ceremony at the Zoo in Ber

"Meng Meng is in puberty," Berlin Zoo director Andreas Knieriem told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Sunday. "The reverse walk is a protest against things she dislikes, be it the food or the carers."

China lent Meng Meng and Jiao Qing to Germany earlier this year. The two bears are a major attraction at the zoo's US$10-million Chinese compound inaugurated by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Xi Jinping in July.

Giant pandas in captivity are kept apart except for in the mating season, which occurs between February and May.

"By then, Meng Meng will have reached sexual maturity and could focus all her energy on seducing her partner," Knieriem said.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr, editing by David Evans)

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Jepkosgei breaks own half marathon world record in Valenciahttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/jepkosgei-breaks-own-half-marathon-world-record-in-valencia-9333978?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/jepkosgei-breaks-own-half-marathon-world-record-in-valencia-9333978?cid=cna_flip_070214SportSun, 22 Oct 2017 22:05:09 +0800REUTERS: Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei took one second off her own world record when she won the Valencia Half Marathon in a time of one hour 4.51 seconds on Sunday.

The multiple world record-holder reached 15 kilometres in 45:59 which put her target in jeopardy - when she set the previous record of 1:04:52 in Prague in April, she had clocked 45:37 at the same stage.

Jepkosgei dug deep in the closing stages, however, and by the 20-km mark, where she clocked 1:01:30, she was only five seconds off world-record pace.

A thrilling run down the final straight allowed her to beat the clock and reach the finish line in 1:04:51 to set her sixth world record this year.

“It was my first race in Valencia, I enjoyed a lot, the weather is nice, the circuit is perfect to run fast,” said Jepkosgei, who will turn 24 in December. “I hope to come back in March for the World Half Marathon Championships.”

Bahrain’s Abraham Cheroben won the men’s race in 59:11, grabbing his third win in four years in Valencia.

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Abe to push reform of Japan's pacifist constitution after ruling bloc election winhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/abe-to-push-reform-of-japan-s-pacifist-constitution-after-ruling-bloc-election-win-9333972?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/abe-to-push-reform-of-japan-s-pacifist-constitution-after-ruling-bloc-election-win-9333972?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 21:50:08 +0800TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc was headed for a big win in Sunday's election, bolstering his chance of becoming the nation's longest serving premier and reenergising his push to revise the pacifist constitution.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition was set to win 311 seats, keeping its two-thirds "super majority" in the 465-member lower house, an exit poll by TBS television showed. Public broadcaster NHK also said the ruling bloc was closing in on a two-thirds majority, although some other broadcasters had the ruling bloc slightly below the two-thirds mark.

A hefty win raises the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will have a third three-year term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan's longest-serving premier. It also means his "Abenomics" growth strategy centred on the hyper-easy monetary policy will likely continue.

Final official results from the election, which coincided with an approaching typhoon, are expected early on Monday.

The U.S.-drafted constitution's Article 9, if taken literally, bans the maintenance of armed forces. But Japanese governments have interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defence.

Backers of Abe's proposal to clarify the military's ambiguous status say it would codify the status quo. Critics fear it would allow an expanded role overseas for the military.

Abe said he would not stick to a target he had floated of making the changes by 2020. "First, I want to deepen debate and have as many people as possible agree," he told a TV broadcaster. "We should put priority on that."

The LDP's junior partner, the Komeito, is cautious about changing the constitution, drawn up after Japan's loss in World War Two. Several opposition parties favour changes, but don't necessarily agree on details.

REFERENDUMS RISKY

Amendments must be approved by two-thirds of each chamber of parliament and then by a majority in a public referendum.

"Now that pro-constitutional change parties occupy more than two-thirds of the parliament, the constitution will be the most important political issue next year," said Hidenori Suezawa, a financial market and fiscal analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities.

"And as we saw in the U.K. ..., a referendum could be tricky. So while Abe is likely to be prime minister for the time being, it is too early to say whether he can stay in power until 2021.” Abe declined to say if he'd run for a third term.

Abe had said he needed a new mandate to tackle a "national crisis" from North Korea's missile and nuclear threats and a fast-aging population, and to approve his idea of diverting revenue from a planned sales tax hike to education and child care from public debt repayment.

He called the poll amid confusion in the opposition camp and an uptick in his ratings, dented earlier in the year by scandals over suspected cronyism and a perception he had grown arrogant after nearly five years in office.

Abe has backed U.S. President Donald Trump's tough stance towards North Korea, which has test-fired missiles over Japan, that all options, including military action, are on the table. Trump is to visit Japan Nov. 5-7 to reaffirm the leaders' tight ties.

ABE'S GAMBLE PAYS OFF

Abe's snap poll gamble had seemed risky - some early forecasts saw the LDP losing a significant chunk of seats - after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, often floated as a possible first Japanese female premier, launched her conservative Party of Hope.

That party absorbed a big chunk of the failed main opposition Democratic Party, which abruptly decided to run no candidates of its own. But voter enthusiasm soon waned despite its calls for popular policies such as an exit from nuclear power and a freeze on the planned sales tax rise.

Koike did not run for a lower house seat herself - she was in Paris for a climate change event on Sunday - and failed to say whom her party would back for prime minister.

"We had sought to put policies first. But we ended up with a very tough outcome, so I deeply apologise for that," Koike told NHK.

A new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), formed by liberal former DP members, was vying with Koike's party for the top opposition spot, although both will have just a fraction of the LDP's presence if forecasts prove accurate.

"Day by day, we felt we were getting more voter support for our call to revive more decent politics, and not fret about whether it's right or left wing," said CDPJ lawmaker Tetsuro Fukuyama.

Several experts noted the ruling bloc's win was less a victory for the conservative, long-ruling LDP than a defeat for a divided opposition.

"Simply put, this was the self-destruction of the opposition," said Zentaro Kamei, a senior research fellow at think tank PHP Institute and former LDP lawmaker.

Shinjiro Koizumi, the LDP lawmaker son of popular former premier Junichiro Koizumi, warned against LDP complacency.

"It's not just that our party has become arrogant and complacent. People are also getting increasingly fed up with us," he told NHK.

Abe, 63, has already led the LDP and its partner, the Komeito, to four landslide wins since he took the helm of the party. But turnout has been low and the LDP has typically won with about 25 percent of eligible votes. Others either stayed home or backed opposition parties.

Kyodo news agency estimated turnout on Sunday - when heavy rain from powerful Typhoon Lan lashed much of Japan - at 53.7 percent, one point above the record low in the last lower house election in 2014.

(Additional reporting by Hyun Oh, Elaine Lies, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Yoshiyuki Osada, Sumio Ito, Malcolm Foster and Hideyuki Sano.; Editing by Kim Coghill and Nick Macfie)

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Boxing - Murata beats N'Dam in WBA middleweight title rematchhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/boxing---murata-beats-n-dam-in-wba-middleweight-title-rematch-9333966?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/boxing---murata-beats-n-dam-in-wba-middleweight-title-rematch-9333966?cid=cna_flip_070214SportSun, 22 Oct 2017 21:45:13 +0800REUTERS: Japan's Ryota Murata scored a seventh-round technical knockout over Frenchman Hassan N'Dam to win the WBA middleweight title in a Tokyo rematch on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Japanese made sure the judges were not a factor as the title changed hands, five months after N'Dam won it on a controversial split decision.

FILE PHOTO: Boxing - "Clash of Champions" middleweight division fight

Following a slow start at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, Murata took control with a series of combinations as N'Dam found it increasingly difficult to move away from his opponent.

Murata, who improved his record to 13-1, landed more precise and effective punches in the fifth round before a right hand backed N'Dam into the ropes a minute into the sixth.

In a completely one-sided encounter, a weary N'Dam was convinced he could no longer continue after seven rounds as he suffered his third loss in 39 professional bouts.

Murata became only the second Japanese to win a world middleweight title after Shinji Takehara in 1995.

"This victory was for everyone," Murata was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency. "The hard part starts after I win the belt. It was the same with the Olympics. Getting there was the easy part, moving forward after that was the hard thing."

"I hope this inspires those (in Japan) who love boxing. I hope they aspire to be middleweight champs and be stronger boxers than I am."

Murata dominated their first bout in May but two judges, Panama's Gustavo Padilla and Canadian Hubert Earle, scored the fight for N'Dam, who took the vacant title.

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza called for the rematch and apologised for the decision, suspending Earle and Padilla over their scoring of the fight.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Herrera highlights lack of passion and calls on United to respondhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/herrera-highlights-lack-of-passion-and-calls-on-united-to-respond-9333952?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/herrera-highlights-lack-of-passion-and-calls-on-united-to-respond-9333952?cid=cna_flip_070214SportSun, 22 Oct 2017 21:35:08 +0800REUTERS: Midfielder Ander Herrera said Manchester United players lacked the passion of their Huddersfield counterparts in the 2-1 defeat at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday and called on his side to respond immediately to the setback.

First-half goals from Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre were enough for the promoted Yorkshire side to secure a first win over United since 1952, inflicting a first defeat of the season on Jose Mourinho's men.

Herrera was clearly unhappy with a defeat which left United five points adrift of rivals Manchester City at the top of the table, saying Huddersfield wanted the victory more than United. The midweek League Cup match against Swansea offered a perfect opportunity to issue a response, he added.

"It was a very tough day because we had a big chance to keep winning games," the Spaniard told MUTV. "We didn’t do it. They were more aggressive in the first half and played with more passion in the first 30-35 minutes.

"They deserve the victory. We didn’t do enough to get the three points and we cannot think now that we have lost everything because we still have to play a lot of games. We now have two very tough Premier League games, you never know, you can win against anyone and lose against anyone.

"You want the opportunity to play again as quickly as possible and that’s what’s going to happen again against Swansea."

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Czech president aims to name Babis prime minister after election winhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/czech-president-aims-to-name-babis-prime-minister-after-election-win-9333944?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/czech-president-aims-to-name-babis-prime-minister-after-election-win-9333944?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 21:30:14 +0800PRAGUE: Czech President Milos Zeman said on Sunday he intended to name ANO party leader Andrej Babis as the next prime minister after the anti-establishment movement won an election over the weekend by a huge margin.

The billionaire businessman Babis's party won 29.6 percent at the polls, nearly three times as much as the closest competitor in the election, but ANO may struggle to find willing coalition partners while Babis faces fraud charges that he denies.

Czech President Milos Zeman casts his vote in parliamentary elections at a polling station in Prague


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Bangladesh braces for possible surge in Rohingya arrivalshttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/bangladesh-braces-for-possible-surge-in-rohingya-arrivals-9333924?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/bangladesh-braces-for-possible-surge-in-rohingya-arrivals-9333924?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 21:16:24 +0800TEKNAF, Bangladesh: Authorities in Bangladesh were bracing Sunday (Oct 22) for another possible surge in Rohingya refugee arrivals, with thousands from the Muslim minority believed stranded along the border with Myanmar waiting to cross.

Border guards are also concerned that the relaxing later Sunday of a temporary ban on fishing in the Bay of Bengal could see a surge in people-smuggling along the coast as unscrupulous captains return to the seas.

Bangladeshi fishermen work on their boats near Teknaf(Photo:AFP)

Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh have received videos from families across the border showing thousands of displaced Muslims massing near crossing points, waiting for an opportunity to cross.

"We have seen some videos sent by people across the border. There are many gathered there. The number could be big," Border Guard Bangladesh commander Lieutenant Colonel S.M. Ariful Islam told AFP, without giving an estimate.

Almost 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since late August, when militant attacks on Myanmar's security forces in Rakhine state sparked a major army crackdown on the community likened by the UN and others to ethnic cleansing.

Around 10,000 were left stranded in no man's land near Anjumanpara village for three days last week after being prevented from crossing into Bangladesh. They were finally permitted by authorities to enter Thursday.

The influx has slowed since then, with charities and officials reporting about 200 people crossing the Naf River dividing the two countries.

"(But) those that came told us thousands were still stranded on the other side of Naf," Jashim Uddin, a volunteer for the International Organisation for Migration, told AFP.

Another border guard told AFP an estimated 10-15,000 refugees were heading to Anjumanpara but had been pushed back.

"We heard from their relatives that the Myanmar army has stopped them from heading to the border," said a Border Guard spokesman, Iqbal Ahmed.

Refugees arriving Sunday described violence in their villages in Rakhine and food shortages that had forced countless numbers to flee.

"We hardly had any food for the last 10-15 days. They torched our home. We did not have any choice but to leave," Yasmin, who goes by one name, told AFP at the coastal village of Shah Porir Dwip.

Authorities meanwhile are on high alert for fishermen seeking to ferry refugees to Bangladesh via the open sea as the temporary fishing ban expires later Sunday.

"It is risky, but you can make a lot of money ferrying Rohingya to Bangladesh," said local fisherman Shawkat Hossain.

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Five key events that shaped Abe's career http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/five-key-events-that-shaped-abe-s-career--9333772?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/five-key-events-that-shaped-abe-s-career--9333772?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 20:54:18 +0800TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who won a majority in Sunday's (Oct 22) election, first came to power in 2006-2007. He returned as prime minister in 2012, a rare comeback in Japanese politics.

Here are five key events that have defined his career:

Japan's Shinzo Abe is now on course to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in the(Photo:AFP)

BLUE BLOOD, BAD BOWELS

Abe is a third-generation politician groomed from birth for the job by his elite conservative family. His grandfather served as prime minister and his father was foreign minister.

He took his father's seat as an MP in 1993 and, after a stint as chief cabinet secretary became the country's youngest post-war prime minister in 2006 at the age of 52.

But his term was abruptly cut short after only a year when he stepped down, citing bowel problems caused by extreme exhaustion and stress.

He later gave a somewhat overly detailed explanation of the effects of ulcerative colitis. This involved toilet visits which he said were too frequent to be compatible with one of the great offices of state.

COMEBACK KID

Abe got a rare second chance in December 2012 when a disillusioned public ended a three-year experiment with the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan.

The DPJ pledged to remake the country after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party but fell foul of a wave of scandal and ineptitude.

Abe was also able to capitalise on the DPJ's missteps in tackling the atomic accident at the Fukushima power plant, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March 2011 triggered a massive and deadly tsunami which smashed into the power station and overwhelmed reactor cooling systems, sending three into meltdown.

Despite this, Abe has steadfastly promoted nuclear energy which he calls essential to powering the world's third-largest economy.

Abe and utility companies have been pushing to reactivate reactors shut down after the Fukushima crisis for safety reviews.

ABENOMICS

Abe swept back to power on a pledge to revive Japan's once-booming economy with a plan dubbed Abenomics.

The scheme - a mixture of massive monetary easing, government spending and reforms to the economy - stoked a stock market rally and fattened corporate profits.

Japan has posted its longest economic expansion in over a decade but inflation is still far below the Bank of Japan's (BoJ) target, discouraging spending by consumers.

The country has been struggling to overcome years of deflation and slow growth that followed the collapse of an equity and property market bubble in the early 1990s.

PACIFISM, NORTH KOREA

Throughout Abe's career he has striven to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, imposed on the defeated country by the United States in 1947, seven years before he was born.

Abe is a staunch supporter of the security relationship with the US but has long called for revising the constitution, seen by conservatives as an outdated legacy of the country's wartime defeat and subsequent US occupation.

Japan in 2015 passed controversial new laws that could, under certain circumstances, see its troops fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

Abe says the legislation is necessary because of perceived threats from an increasingly assertive China and an unstable North Korea.

Opponents argue that they go against both the constitution and the national psyche, and could see Japan dragged into wars led by treaty ally the US.

Abe took a tough line on North Korea throughout the campaign, calling for maximum pressure on the regime and sticking to the US line that "all options" were on the table to counter its nuclear threat.

SNAP ELECTION

Abe took a major gamble by calling the snap election.

He maintained he wanted a fresh mandate for his policies on North Korea and the economy, but sceptics said he needed to divert attention from a series of damaging scandals that had eroded his popularity.

For a time, it looked like the gamble had backfired as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike launched a new party in a blaze of publicity.

But Koike's bubble soon burst and Abe is now on his way to becoming the longest-serving leader in Japanese post-war history.

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Tens of thousands advised to evacuate in Japan as typhoon threatens on election dayhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/tens-of-thousands-advised-to-evacuate-in-japan-as-typhoon-threatens-on-election-day-9333888?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/tens-of-thousands-advised-to-evacuate-in-japan-as-typhoon-threatens-on-election-day-9333888?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 20:50:07 +0800TOKYO: Tens of thousands of people across Japan were advised to evacuate, hundreds of flights were cancelled and train services disrupted on election day on Sunday as a typhoon roared towards the coast, bringing heavy rain and strong winds.

Typhoon Lan, classified as an intense Category 4 storm by the Tropical Storm Risk monitoring site, was south of Japan and moving northeast at 50 kph on Sunday night, speeding up slightly, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

Lan appeared to have weakened slightly from its peak, but it was still a powerful storm that could pound parts of Japan with more than 80 mm (3 inches) of rain an hour, an agency official told reporters.

It is set to make landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu, possibly near Tokyo, early on Monday, at which time it is likely to have weakened to a Category 2 storm.

"The wind and rain will grow stronger as the night goes on, so take measures as needed as early as possible, preferably before it gets dark," the official said.

One man was knocked unconscious after scaffolding collapsed at a building site, NHK said. There were a handful of other injuries caused by falls, all minor.

The agency issued warnings for heavy rain and flooding on the Pacific side of Japan including the Tokyo metropolitan area, even though the typhoon is likely to be downgraded.

More than 70,000 households in various parts of Japan were advised to evacuate, with more than 5,000 ordered to do so, NHK public television said.

"I live alone and at night it's scary, so I came here as early as I could," one elderly woman told NHK at a evacuation centre in western Japan.

Wind gusts of up to 180 kph (111 mph) were possible across central and eastern Japan early on Monday, the JMA said, possibly hampering the morning rush hour even after the rain is expected to have largely dissipated.

Several small landslides had occurred and rivers were rising close to the top of their banks. One part received more than 600 mm (23 inches) of rain in 48 hours, twice the usual amount of rain for the whole month of October.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters he had called on the government to take steps to minimise any threats to life.

More than 300 flights were cancelled and rail services were interrupted in southern and western parts of the country.

Toyota Motor Corp said it was cancelling the first shift at all of its assembly plants and that it would decide on a later shift around Monday noon.

Abe's ruling bloc was headed for a big win in the election, exit polls showed, potentially reenergising a push towards his cherished goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution. It was not immediately clear how the storm and warnings to evacuate affected voting.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Elaine Lies; editing by Jacqueline Wong and Nick Macfie)

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'I just want to balik kampung': Outgoing Malaysia Airlines CEO says no politics involved in move to quithttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/malaysia-airlines-ceo-peter-bellew-ryanair-balik-kampung-9333712?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/malaysia-airlines-ceo-peter-bellew-ryanair-balik-kampung-9333712?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 20:26:00 +0800KUALA LUMPUR: Outgoing Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew has refuted suggestions that political interference in the management of the airline was the reason he left the company. 

Mr Bellew unexpectedly announced on Tuesday (Oct 17) that he is returning to Ryanair as chief operations officer, just over a year after he became Malaysia Airlines (MAS) CEO.

mas ceo peter bellew

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad claimed in a recent blog post that the resignation was due to Prime Minister Najib Razak's interference in the management of Malaysia's flag carrier. 

According to Dr Mahathir, Mr Bellew had disagreed with Mr Najib over the latter's decision to order 16 Boeing aircraft that was announced during his official visit to the United States last month.

"I just want to balik kampung," said Mr Bellew in a news conference on Sunday (Oct 22), using local lingo which means he just wants to go home.

“Tun Mahathir is completely wrong. 100 per cent wrong ... There is no mystery, no conspiracy," he added.

In a 45-minute long news conference, Mr Bellew said it was entirely Malaysia Airlines' decision to purchase the new aircraft that will replace some of the existing fleet.

He also reiterated that there was no interference from anyone in the state-owned investment arm Khazanah Nasional, the sole shareholder of Malaysia Airlines.

The Irishman is due to start work at Dublin-based Ryanair as director of flight operations on Dec 1. He also clarified that he tendered his resignation on Oct 8, before he accepted the offer from Ryanair.

Ryanair then made the corporate announcement about Bellew's appointment on Oct 17. He is seen as the best man to manage labour issues that have plagued Ryanair. A pilot-staffing issue has led to the cancellation of around 20,000 flights.

"I can calm things down," said Mr Bellew of his new role. "I know the people there, I know what to do."

"Ryanair is a remarkable company - fourth largest airline in terms of passengers. I think I contribute to regain its position of strength."

https://twitter.com/MelGohCNA/status/922031896518725632Although he is no longer at the helm of Malaysia Airlines, he believes that the national carrier, under its home-grown chief Captain Izham Ismail, will be able to continue with the recovery path towards profitability in 2018 and the eventual relisting in 2019.

"If they can continue with revenue growth of four to five per cent, it is very possible that the airline will be back to the black next year. It is up to the new CEO to decide the plan ahead," added Mr Bellew.

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Indonesia says military chief barred from US, seeks explanationhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-says-military-chief-barred-from-us--seeks-explanation-9333814?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-says-military-chief-barred-from-us--seeks-explanation-9333814?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 20:23:40 +0800JAKARTA: Indonesia said Sunday (Oct 22) its military chief had been refused entry to the United States and asked Washington for an explanation.

General Gatot Nurmantyo was due to attend a conference in Washington at the request of General Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the military said he was unable to board his Emirates flight in Jakarta on Saturday.

Photograph released by the Indonesian Military shows Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmantyo (R)(Photo:AFP)

Military spokesman Brigjen Wuryanto said the general was refused entry by the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

Nurmantyo has decided not to attend the conference until the situation is explained, Wuryanto said.

"Shortly before the departure the TNI (military) commander and his wife received a notification from the airline that they were not allowed to enter US territory," Wuryanto told a press conference.

The Indonesian embassy in Washington has sent a formal note to the State Department asking for clarification and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has sought an explanation from the embassy in Jakarta.

"The (US) ambassador is currently not in Jakarta so we have asked the deputy chief of mission in Jakarta to come into the ministry tomorrow for clarification," foreign affairs spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir told AFP.

The US embassy said in a statement it had been in touch with the general's staff about the matter throughout the weekend and working to facilitate his travel.

It said US ambassador Joseph Donovan has apologised to Marsudi for any inconvenience.

"The US Embassy was, and remains, prepared to facilitate the General?s travel to the United States," it said.

"We remain committed to our Strategic Partnership with Indonesia as a way to deliver security and prosperity to both our nations and peoples."

The conference of national defence chiefs is on countering violent extremism.

Since being appointed armed forces chief by President Joko Widodo in July 2015, Nurmantyo has been at the centre of several controversies.

Earlier this year he abruptly suspended all military cooperation with Australia in a row over teaching materials, and has been rebuked by members of Widodo's cabinet for making misleading public remarks.

He helped stoke a wave of anti-communist sentiment sweeping Indonesia by ordering the screening of an anti-communist propaganda film to members of the military

Nurmantyo will step down as leader of the armed forces in 2018 and many analysts believe he has political ambitions.

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Airbus turmoil overshadows bid to rescue CSerieshttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/airbus-turmoil-overshadows-bid-to-rescue-cseries-9333826?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/airbus-turmoil-overshadows-bid-to-rescue-cseries-9333826?cid=cna_flip_070214BusinessSun, 22 Oct 2017 20:10:13 +0800PARIS: Airbus's coup in buying a US$6 billion Canadian jetliner project for a dollar stunned investors and took the spotlight off a growing ethics row last week, but internal disarray has raised questions over how smoothly it can implement the deal.

The European planemaker secured the deal for Bombardier's CSeries program by pledging to throw its marketing might behind the loss-making jets, just as the Airbus sales machine reels from falling sales and internal and external corruption investigations.

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders waves to employees followed by chairman of the board of Bombardie

Chief Executive Tom Enders has urged staff to keep calm in the face of French reports describing payments to intermediaries and growing concern over fallout from the investigations.

But the mood at the group's Toulouse offices remains grim.

"Bombardier asked for an ambulance and sent a hearse," said one person with close ties to the company.

French media attention on the growing scandal helped to camouflage talks to buy the CSeries. Rumors circulated in late August that Enders and a colleague were visiting Paris to meet investigators. In fact, they were holding the first of several secret dinner meetings with Bombardier.

But the same affair, which first came to light in 2016, has begun to cloud sales momentum. In the first nine months of the year Airbus accounted for only 35 percent of global jet sales in its head-to-head battle with U.S. rival Boeing .

The Airbus sales operation is demoralized and in disarray, multiple aerospace and airline industry sources said, with some blaming Enders for turning the company against itself.

Two people said the situation is so tense that some employees have begun to shy away from selling in problematic countries, rather than risk being drawn into the investigation.

Soon-to-retire sales chief John Leahy has been asked to stay until the end of the year to help steady the operation, but his successor has not been officially confirmed, adding a sense of vacuum that has also sapped morale.

Leahy designated his deputy Kiran Rao as his successor earlier this year but the chaos engulfing Airbus means now is not considered the right time for major new announcements.

POST-BOOM SLOWDOWN

A spokesman for Airbus, which has long predicted a slower year after an order boom, dismissed reports of instability.

"We have a great sales team ... but it is fully understood that they cannot repeat records every year; and the year is not over," he said.

Enders has strongly defended his decision in 2016 to report flawed paperwork to UK authorities, which prompted UK and French investigations focusing on a system of sales agents run by a separate Paris department that has since been disbanded.

Airbus says no evidence of corruption has been uncovered, but Enders has pledged to continue the overhaul of sales practices historically shared between Toulouse and Paris.

A source close to Bombardier acknowledged disruption at Airbus but predicted things would settle down by the time the deal for Airbus to sell the CSeries closes next year.

At that point Airbus will face a second challenge in marketing the CSeries, which for years it dismissed as a weak upstart. Now it must offer the aircraft side by side with the older A320.

Airbus plans to refresh the A320 further after adding new engines and this will bring it closer to the smaller CSeries in performance, two people close to the plans said. It may also make some CSeries features more compatible with its own A320s.

That comes on top of plans to enhance the larger A321neo in response to Boeing's launch of a new mid-market plane, which industry sources expect to happen next year.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by David Goodman)

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Abe to push reform of Japan's pacifist constitution after ruling bloc election winhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/abe-to-push-reform-of-japan-s-pacifist-constitution-after-ruling-bloc-election-win-9333794?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/abe-to-push-reform-of-japan-s-pacifist-constitution-after-ruling-bloc-election-win-9333794?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 19:50:11 +0800TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc was headed for a big win in Sunday's election, bolstering his chance of becoming the nation's longest serving premier and reenergising his push to revise the pacifist constitution.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition was set to win 311 seats, keeping its two-thirds "super majority" in the 465-member lower house, an exit poll by TBS television showed. Public broadcaster NHK also said the ruling bloc was closing in on a two-thirds majority, although some other broadcasters had the ruling bloc slightly below the two-thirds mark.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, and Japan's De

A hefty win raises the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will have a third three-year term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan's longest-serving premier. It also means his "Abenomics" growth strategy centred on the hyper-easy monetary policy will likely continue.

Final official results from the election, which coincided with an approaching typhoon, are expected early on Monday.

The U.S.-drafted constitution's Article 9, if taken literally, bans the maintenance of armed forces. But Japanese governments have interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defence.

Backers of Abe's proposal to clarify the military's ambiguous status say it would codify the status quo. Critics fear it would allow an expanded role overseas for the military.

Abe said he would not stick to a target he had floated of making the changes by 2020. "First, I want to deepen debate and have as many people as possible agree," he told a TV broadcaster. "We should put priority on that."

The LDP's junior partner, the Komeito, is cautious about changing the constitution, drawn up after Japan's loss in World War Two. Several opposition parties favour changes, but don't necessarily agree on details.

REFERENDUMS RISKY

Amendments must be approved by two-thirds of each chamber of parliament and then by a majority in a public referendum.

"Now that pro-constitutional change parties occupy more than two-thirds of the parliament, the constitution will be the most important political issue next year," said Hidenori Suezawa, a financial market and fiscal analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities.

"And as we saw in the U.K. ..., a referendum could be tricky. So while Abe is likely to be prime minister for the time being, it is too early to say whether he can stay in power until 2021.” Abe declined to say if he'd run for a third term.

Abe had said he needed a new mandate to tackle a "national crisis" from North Korea's missile and nuclear threats and a fast-aging population, and to approve his idea of diverting revenue from a planned sales tax hike to education and child care from public debt repayment.

He called the poll amid confusion in the opposition camp and an uptick in his ratings, dented earlier in the year by scandals over suspected cronyism and a perception he had grown arrogant after nearly five years in office.

Abe has backed U.S. President Donald Trump's tough stance towards North Korea, which has test-fired missiles over Japan, that all options, including military action, are on the table. Trump is to visit Japan Nov. 5-7 to reaffirm the leaders' tight ties.

ABE'S GAMBLE PAYS OFF

Abe's snap poll gamble had seemed risky - some early forecasts saw the LDP losing a significant chunk of seats - after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, often floated as a possible first Japanese female premier, launched her conservative Party of Hope.

That party absorbed a big chunk of the failed main opposition Democratic Party, which abruptly decided to run no candidates of its own. But voter enthusiasm soon waned despite its calls for popular policies such as an exit from nuclear power and a freeze on the planned sales tax rise.

Koike did not run for a lower house seat herself - she was in Paris for a climate change event on Sunday - and failed to say whom her party would back for prime minister.

"We had sought to put policies first. But we ended up with a very tough outcome, so I deeply apologise for that," Koike told NHK.

A new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), formed by liberal former DP members, was vying with Koike's party for the top opposition spot, although both will have just a fraction of the LDP's presence if forecasts prove accurate.

"Day by day, we felt we were getting more voter support for our call to revive more decent politics, and not fret about whether it's right or left wing," said CDPJ lawmaker Tetsuro Fukuyama.

Several experts noted the ruling bloc's win was less a victory for the conservative, long-ruling LDP than a defeat for a divided opposition.

"Simply put, this was the self-destruction of the opposition," said Zentaro Kamei, a senior research fellow at think tank PHP Institute and former LDP lawmaker.

Shinjiro Koizumi, the LDP lawmaker son of popular former premier Junichiro Koizumi, warned against LDP complacency.

"It's not just that our party has become arrogant and complacent. People are also getting increasingly fed up with us," he told NHK.

Abe, 63, has already led the LDP and its partner, the Komeito, to four landslide wins since he took the helm of the party. But turnout has been low and the LDP has typically won with about 25 percent of eligible votes. Others either stayed home or backed opposition parties.

Kyodo news agency estimated turnout on Sunday - when heavy rain from powerful Typhoon Lan lashed much of Japan - at 53.7 percent, one point above the record low in the last lower house election in 2014.

(Additional reporting by Hyun Oh, Elaine Lies, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Yoshiyuki Osada, Sumio Ito, Malcolm Foster and Hideyuki Sano.; Editing by Kim Coghill and Nick Macfie)

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Austria's likely next chancellor hopes to form government in 60 days: Paperhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/austria-s-likely-next-chancellor-hopes-to-form-government-in-60-9333782?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/austria-s-likely-next-chancellor-hopes-to-form-government-in-60-9333782?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 19:45:15 +0800ZURICH: Austria's likely next chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, wants talks over a new government to last no more than two months, he said in a newspaper interview published in Sunday.

Austria's president on Friday gave the green light to conservative leader Kurz, whose People's Party (OVP) secured 31.5 percent of the vote in last week's parliamentary election, to form a government.

OeVP leader Kurz addresses the media after formally being asked to form a government by Austrian Pr

"The Austrians expect that there is quickly a strong and stable government which takes up work," Kurz was quoted as saying by Austria's Kronen Zeitung. "That means that negotiations should be concluded in less than 60 days."

Kurz campaigned on a platform that combined a hard line on immigration similar to that of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) with traditional conservative principles like slimming down the state and cutting taxes.

To form his coalition, only two of Austria's parliamentary parties, the Social Democrats (SPO) and FPO, have enough seats to give Kurz a majority if they go into coalition with the OVP.

Kurz is currently holding an initial round of discussions with the leaders of all parties in parliament, the last of which is his meeting with outgoing Chancellor Christian Kern, the head of the Social Democrats, later on Sunday.

In a separate interview with tabloid Oesterreich, Kurz said his party has common ground with the FPO and that he had already held constructive talks with FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

"In the conversation with Heinz-Christian Strache, I also had the impression that he has a strong willingness to effect change and creative drive," Kurz was quoted as saying by OE24.

"But now I will conclude these talks on Sunday, and then take up coalition negotiations with a partner."

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Istana could be open to the public on more occasionshttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/istana-could-be-open-to-the-public-on-more-occasions-9333702?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/istana-could-be-open-to-the-public-on-more-occasions-9333702?cid=cna_flip_070214SingaporeSun, 22 Oct 2017 19:35:18 +0800SINGAPORE: The public could get more opportunities to visit the Istana, as President Halimah Yacob is looking to introduce programmes beyond the five open houses held annually. 

"That's what I intend to do. I want to see the Istana becoming more accessible to ordinary Singaporeans," Mdm Halimah told reporters on Sunday (Oct 22) as she hosted her first Istana open house since being elected President in September.

halimah istana open house

"I also have ideas, which I am exploring with my colleagues, to come up with programmes to make it more accessible not just during the Istana opens houses five times a year but maybe other days as well," she added.

halimah open house

Sunday's open house was held in celebration of Deepavali. The other four open houses are during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Labour Day and National Day.

More than 9,300 visitors were entertained by a display of birds by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, balloon sculpting, as well as a series of music and dance performances from community clubs and schools on Sunday.

https://www.facebook.com/ChannelNewsAsia/videos/10155069587817934/For students from the St Patrick’s school band, among their audience was Singapore’s head of state. Mdm Halimah also patiently obliged as many eager members of the public asked to take photos and selfies with her.

halimah istana open house

As part of her efforts to include more segments of the community in open houses, Mdm Halimah invited a group of women aged 50 and above from non-profit organisation Society for WINGS which helps older women age actively.

The group of women were accompanied by volunteer guides from Singapore Polytechnic and Mdm Halimah noted this as a good example of inter-generational bonding.

“Most particularly those who are beneficiaries of social service organisations, but also my focus will be on families, help encourage family bonding, help encourage youth, the young, so those will be areas I intend to focus on when we talk about accessibility,” said Mdm Halimah.

halimah istana open house (1)

She added: “The Istana is a very important institution, declared a national monument in 1992, was the governor’s house, residence and has evolved over the years, and now is the symbol of our independence and sovereignty.

“I’m really glad that members of the public could come and explore the grounds, and understand a lot more about our heritage as well as our Istana, and our presidency.”

A number of tours were available to members of the public, including the Nature Guided Walk, a collaboration between the President’s Office and the National Parks Board which showcases the Istana’s flora, fauna and biodiversity.

Nature lovers could also opt to do a self-guided Plants Trail tour with the help of the Istana Garden Walk mobile application, which allows them to discover 10 types of plant species in the Istana gardens.

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Japan PM Abe's ruling bloc on track for big election win: Exit pollshttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/japan-pm-abe-s-ruling-bloc-on-track-for-big-election-win-exit-9333774?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/japan-pm-abe-s-ruling-bloc-on-track-for-big-election-win-exit-9333774?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 19:25:31 +0800TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition is on track for a big win in Sunday's (Oct 22) election, according to media exit polls, handing him a mandate to harden his stance on North Korea and re-energise the world's third largest economy.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition is set to win 311 seats, keeping its two-thirds "super majority" in the 465-member lower house, an exit poll by TBS television showed. Some other broadcasters had the ruling bloc slightly below the two-third mark.

Japan's Shinzo Abe is now on course to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in the(Photo:AFP)

Abe enjoys a clear lead in parliament but only lukewarm support in the country

A hefty win raises the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will win a third three-year-term as LDP leader next September, and go on to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister. It also means his "Abenomics" growth strategy centred on the hyper-easy monetary policy will likely continue.

A "supermajority" would allow Abe to propose changes to Japan's US-imposed constitution that forces it to "renounce" war and effectively limits its military to a self-defence role. Critics fear it would allow an expanded role overseas for the military.

The LDP's junior partner, the Komeito, is cautious about changing the constitution, drawn up after World War Two, but media have forecast that the LDP and pro-revision opposition parties are on track for the two-thirds majority needed to begin to make changes.

Abe said he needed a new mandate to tackle a "national crisis" from North Korea's missile and nuclear threats and a fast-aging population.

His remarks come after North Korea fired two missiles over Japan in the space of a month.

MILLIONS VOTED IN BAD WEATHER 

Millions of Japanese braved torrential rain and driving winds to vote, as a typhoon bears down on the country with many heeding warnings to cast their ballots early.

"I support Abe's stance not to give in to North Korea's pressure," said one voter, Yoshihisa Iemori, as he cast his ballot in rain-swept Tokyo.

Abe called the poll amid confusion in the opposition camp and an uptick in his ratings, dented earlier in the year by suspected cronyism scandals.

A new conservative party, the Party of Hope, led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, is jostling with a new liberal opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, for the top opposition spot, the exit polls showed.

Koike's party had lost steam from early in the campaign and is on track to win around 50 seats, the TBS projection suggested.

A new centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party fared slightly better than expected but was still far behind Abe.

"The LDP's victory is simply because the opposition couldn't form a united front," political scientist Mikitaka Masuyama from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told AFP.

VOTERS SAY ECONOMY IS TOP PRIORITY

The short 12-day campaign was dominated by the economy and the global crisis over North Korea, which has threatened to "sink" Japan into the sea.

Nationalist Abe stuck to a hardline stance throughout, stressing that Japan "would not waver" in the face of an increasingly belligerent regime in Pyongyang.

Despite the sabre-rattling from North Korea, many voters said reviving the once-mighty Japanese economy was the top priority, with Abe's trademark "Abenomics" policy failing to trickle down to the general public.

The Tokyo stock market has recently hit a 21-year high

The three-pronged combination of ultra-loose monetary policy, huge government spending and structural reform has catapulted the stock market to a 21-year high but failed to stoke inflation and growth has remained sluggish.

"Neither pensions nor wages are getting better ... I don't feel the economy is recovering at all," said 67-year-old pensioner Hideki Kawasaki.

Although voters turned out in their millions to back Abe, support for the 63-year-old is lukewarm and surveys showed his decision to call a snap election a year earlier than expected was unpopular.

Voter Etsuko Nakajima, 84, told AFP: "I totally oppose the current government. Morals collapsed. I'm afraid this country will be broken."

"I think if the LDP takes power, Japan will be in danger. He does not do politics for the people," added the pensioner.

Koike briefly promised to shake up Japan's sleepy political scene with her new party but she declined to run herself for a seat, sparking confusion over who would be prime minister if she won.

In the end, the 65-year-old former TV presenter was not even in Japan on election day, preferring an official engagement in Paris as head of the world's biggest city.

"I thought that I would vote for the Party of Hope if it's strong enough to beat the Abe administration. But the party has been in confusion ... I'm quite disappointed," said 80-year-old pensioner Kumiko Fujimori.

The 12-day campaign was marked by a near-constant drizzle in large parts of the country and rallies frequently took place under shelter and a sea of umbrellas.

Rain lashed most of Japan on election day as Typhoon Lam approaches the country

But this did not dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of doughty, sash-wearing parliamentary hopefuls, who have driven around in minibuses pleading for votes via loudspeaker and bowing deeply to every potential voter.

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WHO poised to row-back on Mugabe appointment after outragehttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/who-poised-to-row-back-on-mugabe-appointment-after-outrage-9333734?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/who-poised-to-row-back-on-mugabe-appointment-after-outrage-9333734?cid=cna_flip_070214WorldSun, 22 Oct 2017 18:50:09 +0800GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) was poised on Sunday to sideline Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador after major Western donors and rights groups voiced outrage at the hastily-announced appointment.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus named Mugabe to the largely ceremonial post at a high-level WHO meeting on chronic diseases, attended by both men, in Uruguay on Wednesday. Tedros praised Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all".

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwean President Mugabe gestures as he attends the 2nd Session of the South Africa-

Tedros, who has returned to Geneva, said in a tweet on Saturday evening that he was "rethinking the approach in light of WHO values" and that a statement was forthcoming.

Several former and current WHO staff said privately they were appalled at the "poor judgement" and "miscalculation" by Tedros, elected the first African head of WHO in May.

Mugabe was head of the African Union (AU) when the bloc endorsed Tedros - a former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia - over other African candidates for the top post, without any real regional contest or debate, they said.

Mugabe, 93, is blamed in the West for destroying Zimbabwe's economy and numerous human rights abuses during his 37 years leading the country as either president or prime minister.

Britain said Mugabe's appointment as a goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases in Africa was "surprising and disappointing" and that it risked overshadowing the WHO's global work. The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Mugabe for alleged human rights violations, said it was "disappointed."

"He (Tedros) has to remember where his funding comes from," said one health official who declined to be identified.

The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, which is already questioning financial support for some programmes of United Nations agencies, is WHO's largest single donor.

The controversy came as WHO struggles to recover its reputation tarnished by its slowness in tackling the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2014-2015 under Tedros' predecessor Margaret Chan.

The Geneva-based agency is currently grappling with crises including a massive cholera outbreak in Yemen that has infected some 800,000 people in the past year and an outbreak of plague in Madagascar that has killed nearly 100 people in two months.

Combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease linked to smoking, obesity and other risk factors are part of its permanent global agenda.

(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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MMA star Angela Lee engaged to fellow fighter Bruno Puccihttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/mma-star-angela-lee-engaged-to-fellow-fighter-bruno-pucci-9333634?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/mma-star-angela-lee-engaged-to-fellow-fighter-bruno-pucci-9333634?cid=cna_flip_070214LifestyleSun, 22 Oct 2017 18:32:45 +0800SINGAPORE: Mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Angela Lee is engaged to fellow ONE Championship fighter Bruno Pucci. 

She made the announcement on Instagram on Saturday (Oct 21), when the couple was in Hawaii. 

angela lee engagement

"YES! YES! YES! A million times, YES! Bruno Pucci, thank you for completing my fairytale I can't wait to (officially) be yours forever!" said Lee in an Instagram post. This was followed by photos of her engagement ring.

On his Instagram account, Pucci said: "I’m super excited to build our future together and enjoy this new journey ... Love you now and forever, my future wife!"

angela lee engagement ring

Lee, 21, and Brazilian fighter Pucci, 27, have been dating since January this year.

Pucci is a jiu-jitsu trainer with Evolve MMA and a fighter with ONE Championship. 

Canadian-American Lee, who is of Singaporean-Korean parentage, is best known for becoming the youngest MMA champion in 2016 when she beat Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi in ONE Championship.

Earlier this year, she successfully defended her atomweight (52.2kg) title by defeating Brazil’s Istela Nunes.

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Henkel may make US acquisitions: CEO in newspaperhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/henkel-may-make-us-acquisitions--ceo-in-newspaper-9333696?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/henkel-may-make-us-acquisitions--ceo-in-newspaper-9333696?cid=cna_flip_070214BusinessSun, 22 Oct 2017 18:05:09 +0800"If there are opportunities for acquisitions, we will take a look at whether they are a good fit in terms of strategy and price. In the United States we are for instance not yet a leading seller of beauty care products," he said.

Henkel's beauty care brands include Syoss and Schwarzkopf hair care products as well as Dial soap.

Henkel CEO Van Bylen is pictured at the company's AGM in Duesseldorf

He also said that there was opportunities around the world for purchases in the laundry care, detergents and adhesives sectors.

Acquisitions are a key part of Henkel's strategy. Earlier this year it made a binding offer to buy sealant maker Darex Packaging Technologies for US$1.05 billion. Last year, it spent US$3.6 billion to buy North American detergent maker Sun Products, known for its Snuggle brand.

Van Bylen also told Welt am Sonntag that profit margins at Henkel's U.S brands Purex, Dial and Sun had been improving.

"Henkel will have a very successful 2017 in the United States. That will also be reflected at the group level," he said.

Henkel is due to publish third-quarter financial results on Nov. 14.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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Indonesia to demand answers after military chief denied US entryhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-to-demand-answers-after-military-chief-denied-us-entry-9333668?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-to-demand-answers-after-military-chief-denied-us-entry-9333668?cid=cna_flip_070214Asia PacificSun, 22 Oct 2017 17:55:10 +0800JAKARTA: Indonesia intends to send a diplomatic note to the U.S. secretary of state and summon Washington's deputy ambassador in Jakarta to explain why the head of its military was denied entry to the United States, an Indonesian official said on Sunday.

Indonesia's Armed Forces Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo was about to board a flight on Saturday when the airline informed him that U.S. authorities had denied him entry, according to Indonesian media reports.

FILE PHOTO: Indonesian military Chief Nurmantyo gestures as he sits in his car after talking to rep

Nurmantyo was going to the United States at the invitation of General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and a former head of the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the reports. He was also due to take part in a forum organised by the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington on Monday.

Arrmanatha Nasir, a spokesman for Indonesia's foreign affairs ministry said that Nurmantyo had informed the ministry of the entry denial but the spokesman could not confirm details.

"After receiving that information, our foreign affairs minister has asked our ambassador in Washington DC to send a diplomatic note to the U.S. secretary of state to ask for clarification," he said.The ministry will also summon the U.S. deputy ambassador in Jakarta on Monday to seek explanation, Nasir said, adding that the ambassador is presently not in Indonesia.

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.

Nurmantyo has frequently courted controversy in Indonesia because of his actions and what analysts perceive as his political ambitions. The general promotes the notion that Indonesia is besieged by "proxy wars" involving foreign states and even a renewed communist threat.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said this month that the armed forces should stay out of politics and ensure their loyalty is only to the state and the government.

Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, generally enjoys good ties with the United States although in the past ties between the two countries' armed forces have been strained by alleged rights abuses involving Indonesia's armed forces.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Jacqueline Wong)

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Korean Ji ends eight-year LPGA title drought in Taiwanhttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/korean-ji-ends-eight-year-lpga-title-drought-in-taiwan-9333660?cid=cna_flip_070214http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/korean-ji-ends-eight-year-lpga-title-drought-in-taiwan-9333660?cid=cna_flip_070214SportSun, 22 Oct 2017 17:40:17 +0800REUTERS: South Korean Ji Eun-hee lifted her first LPGA title in eight years with an emphatic six-stroke victory at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship on Sunday.

Ji, who held a six-stroke overnight lead, cruised through a bogey-free final round of seven-under 65 at the par-72 Miramar Resort and Country Club.

LPGA: Canadian Pacific Women's Open - First Round

The 31-year-old fired three birdies on the front-nine as she made the turn at 13-under, still six better than second-placed Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

Another birdie for Ji at the 10th hole opened a seven-shot lead over Ko, who got one back with a birdie of her own at the 11th but never threatened the South Korean's title bid in the rest of the round.

Ji calmly tapped a three-foot par putt on the 18th to capture her third LPGA title and her first since her U.S. Women's Open triumph in July 2009.

"I'm so happy and excited because I haven't won for the past eight years," said Ji, who finished with a 17-under 271. "So I was waiting for this moment for so long, so I'm super happy right now."

"It is a nice day for playing golf today, and I have a really good group with Lydia and Jenny (Shin), so I was more relaxed with them and enjoyed playing with them."

Ko took the runner-up spot with a spotless seven-under 65 to finish with 11-under 277.

Ji became the 11th different South Korean to lift an LPGA title this season, joining Jang Ha-na, Amy Yang, Park In-bee, Lee Mi-rim, Ryu So-yeon, Kim Sei-young, Kim In-kyung, Park Sung-hyun, Lee Mi-hyang and Ko Jin-young.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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