Japan orders culling of 4,000 chickens after bird flu outbreak

The Japanese government on Tuesday (December 16) ordered the culling of roughly 4,000 poultry at a farm in western Japan after bird flu was detected in three of the chickens there, Japan’s Kyodo News reported. Health authorities said three chickens from a farm in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, tested positive for a highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza, Kyodo News said. Local government on Tuesday began slaughtering all of the roughly 4,000 birds raised at the farm. Officials said they will […]

Abe coalition secures big Japan election win with record low turnout

(Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition has cruised to a big election win, ensuring he will stick to reflationary economic policies and a muscular security stance, but record low turnout pointed to broad dissatisfaction with his performance. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior partner, the Komeito party, won 326 seats in Sunday’s election, more than the 317 seats in the 475-member lower house required to maintain a two-thirds “super-majority” that smoothes […]

Hostages held in Sydney cafe, forced to hold Islamic flag in window

An armed assailant was holding an unknown number of hostages inside a central Sydney cafe on Monday, police said, with local television showing some being forced to hold up a black flag with white Arabic writing in the window. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has warned of militant plans to strike Australian targets, said there were indications the hostage situation at the Lindt Cafe was politically motivated. “This is a very disturbing incident. I can […]

HK police to clear out last protest camp in Causeway Bay today

The Hong Kong Police Force has vowed to clear out the last protest camp on Monday morning (December 15)  as scheduled, putting an end to demonstrations that have blocked traffic in the city’s streets for 10 weeks. The clearance of the protest area in the retail hub of Causeway Bay, which is the smallest and the last remaining site occupied by the student-led demonstrators, will start at about 09:30 on Monday, according to Reuters. It quoted police authorities […]

Hong Kong democracy students reject calls to retreat

(Reuters) – Hong Kong students vowed to stay put at protest sites in key parts of the Asia financial center on Wednesday in their demand for electoral reforms, defying calls by leaders of the civil disobedience movement Occupy Central for them to retreat. Hundreds remained at the main protest site of Admiralty, next to government headquarters and the Central business district, determined to continue their fight for free elections for the Chinese-controlled city’s next leader in […]

Japan’s Mt. Aso erupts, causes flight cancellations

Mount Aso in Japan’s southern Kumamoto prefecture began erupting on Friday (November 28), spewing a thick cloud of ash high into the air, and causing flight cancellations. The eruption, which could be Mt. Aso’s first in the past 22 years, prompted safety alerts from Japan’s Interior Ministry  A Level 2 warning for Mount Aso was issued by Japan’s Meteorological Agency after it began spurting magma and ash. A Level 2 warning means the immediate area around the volcano’s crater […]

Vietnam warships visit Philippines amid South China Sea dispute

(Reuters) – Vietnam on Tuesday showed off its two most powerful warships in the first-ever port call to the Philippines but an official said it was not trying to challenge China’s superior naval forces amid tension in the South China Sea. Hanoi invited the diplomatic community to its Russian-built missile-guided frigates docked in Manila Bay at the start of a three-day goodwill visit. China lays claim to almost all of the entire South China Sea, believed to be […]