TOKYO (AP) — Faced with the killing of its leader’s half brother in what appears to have all the trappings of a politically motivated hit, North Korea is turning up the volume on a familiar defense: Flatly deny the allegations, viciously attack the accusers. It’s a position the North has been in before, from dismissing U.N. reports outlining human rights abuses or the findings to disputing who threw the first punch in the Korean War. But, while master of the message at home, rarely, if ever, has Pyongyang managed to effectively sway world opinion. With evidence emerging that seems to strongly implicate some kind of North Korea connection to the killing of Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother Kim Jong Nam, the North is intensifying its public attack on the officials in charge of the investigation in Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — After more than a week of silence in its state-controlled media, North Korea on Thursday slammed the investigation into the death of one of its citizens in Kuala Lumpur, saying Malaysia’s probe is full of “holes and contradictions.” The report from the highly-selective official outlet KCNA did not acknowledge the victim was Kim Jong Nam, an exiled scion of Pyongyang’s ruling family, and it largely echoed previous comments by North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia. But the publication of at least some news inside North Korea could be a sign of the country’s concern over growing international speculation that Pyongyang dispatched a hit squad to kill Kim Jong Nam.
TOKYO (AP) — North Korea’s state-run news agency issued a tough critique of China on Thursday, suggesting Beijing’s criticism of the North’s recent missile test and suspension of imports of North Korean coal are tantamount to the actions of an enemy state “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” The article took a tone normally reserved for North Korea’s overt enemies — Washington, Tokyo and Seoul. Without directly using China’s name, but referring to it as “a neighboring country, which often claims itself to be a ‘friendly neighbor,'” the Korean Central News Agency report accused Beijing of essentially abandoning North Korea in favor of the United States by cutting off imports of coal in compliance with United Nations sanctions.
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — An explosion rocked an upscale neighborhood in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, killing eight people, officials said, in what could be the latest in a string of brazen attacks over the past two weeks that have killed over 125 people. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which took place at a popular restaurant. Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told The Associated Press that along with the eight killed, 23 people were wounded in the blast. “Our focus at the moment is to rush the victims to hospitals and secure the scene of crime,” said Lahore operations police chief Haider Ashraf.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine court has issued an arrest warrant on drug charges for a senator and former top human rights official who is one of the most vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs. The Regional Trial Court issued the warrant Thursday for the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima and other officials who have been charged by Department of Justice prosecutors with receiving bribes from detained drug lords. De Lima has vehemently denied the charges, which she says are part of Duterte’s attempt to intimidate critics of his crackdown, which has left more than 7,000 drug suspects dead.
BEIJING (AP) — China’s defense ministry said Thursday it expects economic growth and a strengthened social security system to solve problems faced by former soldiers, following reports of new street protests by disgruntled veterans who say they’ve been denied their promised retirement benefits. The remarks came after cellphone video circulated online showing a large group of veterans in military fatigues walking through central Beijing on Wednesday and gathering outside the offices of the ruling Communist Party’s corruption watchdog body. Ministry spokesman Col. Ren Guoqiang said the government and the party are concerned about veterans’ issues, but didn’t say whether anyone had met with the protesters or whether any new policies were planned to assist them.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s Supreme Court has upheld but reduced the jail sentence of a magazine editor who is currently the longest-serving prisoner convicted of lese majeste — insulting the monarchy. The court on Thursday cut to seven years the 11-year sentence given in 2011 to Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who was the editor of a magazine found to have published two articles deemed insulting to the Thai royal family. Because Somyot has already served almost six years, he will be released in 2018. Thailand has come under increasing criticism for its lese majeste law, which mandates three to 15 years in jail for “whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent.” Critics say it is used as a political tool used to jail opponents of the country’s ruling junta.
BANGKOK (AP) — Activists are urging Unilever, a major investor in Myanmar, to speak out against the country’s treatment of its Rohingya minority, which the U.N. has said may be “crimes against humanity.” More than 10,000 people have joined the Facebook group for the campaign, known by the hashtag #WeAreAllRohingyaNow, and hundreds have signed on. A letter sent this week to Unilever CEO Paul Polman asked the company to clarify its stance on the Rohingya. “Silence in the face of genocide, whilst doing business, is simply not an option,” said Britain-based campaign organizer Jamila Hanan. “Multinational corporations must start to speak out.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ top diplomat says any move by China to transform a Manila-claimed shoal into an island would be a “game-changer” in blossoming relations although he says Beijing has pledged not to undertake any construction in the strategically located area of the South China Sea. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said in response to a reporter’s question Thursday that any Chinese construction in Scarborough Shoal would be “a very serious, provocative act” that would undermine the Philippine claim to the rich fishing area. Five months after President Rodrigo Duterte made a state visit to China, Yasay disclosed for the first time that Chinese President Xi Jinping had told the Philippine leader during their meetings that China had no plans to build on Scarborough.
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — If basketball and soccer had a baby and put it on skates, it might look like roll ball, a little-known sport whose top performers worldwide vied for the championship in Bangladesh over the past week. Played on a basketball court, with a small soccer-type goal in lieu of a basket, roll ball requires players on roller skates to dribble and pass a basketball-sized ball as they try to score. Some 750 competitors from 40 countries, including hosts Bangladesh, participated in the meet at three venues in Dhaka, the capital. Most were from Asia or Africa, but Europe, South America and the South Pacific island nation of Fiji were also represented.