China satellite heralds first mission to dark side of Moon

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China launched on Monday a relay satellite that will allow a rover to communicate with the Earth from the far side of the Moon during an unprecedented mission later this year. The Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge”) satellite was blasted into space from the southwestern Xichang launch center in the pre-dawn hours, according to the China National Space Administration. The satellite split from its carrier, a Long March-4C rocket, after 25 minutes and unfolded […]

Egypt opens Gaza border for month of Ramadan: president

CAIRO, Egypt (AFP) — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has made a rare decision to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for a month, allowing Palestinians to cross during the period of Ramadan. The decision to keep the crossing open was taken “to alleviate the suffering” of residents in the Palestinian enclave, Sisi said on Facebook late Thursday. The Rafah crossing is Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, but Egypt […]

Trump says US not notified yet on North Korea threat to cancel summit

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump sounded a note of caution Wednesday about his much-vaunted summit with Kim Jong Un, saying “we’ll see” after Pyongyang threatened to cancel. Trump said the US government had not received any official word of a change in plans for the June 12 meeting in Singapore. “We haven’t been notified at all. We’ll have to see,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “We haven’t seen anything. […]

Officer, 4 attackers dead in Indonesia police station assault: official

PEKANBARU, Indonesia (AFP) — Four men were shot and killed as they staged an attack on a police headquarters that left one officer dead and two wounded, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, days after a wave of deadly suicide bombings in another part of the country. The group slammed a minivan into a gate at the station in Riau on Sumatra island and then attacked officers with samurai swords, according to the country’s national police. “Four have […]

Malaysia’s Anwar walks free following pardon

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP)– Jailed Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim walked free on Wednesday after receiving a royal pardon, paving the way for his return to national politics as the presumptive successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed following a stunning election upset. Smiling and looking spry in a tailored black suit, Anwar emerged from a Kuala Lumpur hospital where he had undergone surgery for a shoulder problem, giving a thumbs-up to a crowd of journalists before leaving in a […]

Malaysia poll win offers hope: Anwar

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim Wednesday said his country was on the verge of a new “golden era”, with the toppling of a corruption-riddled regime offering hope to people “clamouring for freedom” everywhere. But Anwar, a leading member of the People’s Justice Party that teamed with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to oust scandal-tainted premier Najib Razak, also cautioned that “one election does not a democracy make”. “I always believed in […]

Japan economy shrinks after two years of growth

    TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan’s economy shrank for the first time in two years in the first quarter of the year amid weak consumption, official data showed Wednesday. The world’s third-largest economy contracted by 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period, compared with growth of 0.1 percent at the end of 2017, the Cabinet Office said. Private consumption was flat after an uptick of 0.2 percent in the final quarter of last year. Private […]

US moving ahead with N. Korea summit prep: State Dept

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The United States said Tuesday it was moving ahead with preparations for a much-anticipated summit next month between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after Pyongyang appeared to cast doubt over the event. “We will continue to plan the meeting,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, adding that Washington had received “no notification” of a position change by North Korea. “We have not heard anything from that […]

N. Korea casts doubt on Trump summit

  SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — North Korea on Wednesday called into question a much-anticipated and unprecedented summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. Pyongyang also cancelled high-level talks due Wednesday with Seoul over the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the US and the South, Seoul said. “There is a limit to the amount of good will and chances we can give,” the North’s official news agency KCNA […]

Gaza toll rises to 59 with more protests against Israel planned

by Joe Dyke and Adel Zaanoun Agence France Presse GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) — Fresh protests were expected Tuesday a day after Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians during clashes and protests along the Gaza border against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem in the conflict’s bloodiest day in years. Palestinians on Tuesday mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s […]

Dismantling of N. Korea nuclear site ‘well under way’: US monitor

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — Satellite photos indicate North Korea has begun dismantling its nuclear test site ahead of a historic summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, a US monitor said Tuesday. In a move welcomed by Washington and Seoul, North Korea said at the weekend it will “completely” destroy the Punggye-ri test site, in a ceremony scheduled between May 23-25 in front of invited foreign media. Punggye-ri, in the northeast […]