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Asia

A desperate rescue attempt managed to save half of a pod of sperm whales which beached off the coast of Aceh, Indonesia.

WWF Indonesia said 10 whales were stranded on Monday, seven of whom were returned to the water thanks to the efforts of the navy and locals.

Three whales died on the beach, and in a heartbreaking development for the rescuers, one of the animals that had been saved came back and was stranded again, this time fatally.

Dwi Aryo Tjiptohandono, WWF Indonesia's marine and fisheries campaign coordinator, said the group was investigating how the whales had come to be stranded – autopsies will be carried out on the dead animals.

He added the rescuers fear the six whales returned to the sea might attempt to come back for the four dead animals, risking being beached again.

According to Whale Stranding Indonesia, a monitoring group, at least 30 animals have beached since the beginning of the year, including whales, dolphins and dugongs, also known as sea cows. cnn.com
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he stabbed someone to death when he was a teenager, using the story to defend his violent drug war during a speech to Filipino expatriates in Vietnam.

The firebrand leader also reiterated his previous threat to slap UN human rights expert Agnes Callamard if she investigates him for thousands of deaths linked to his government’s brutal crackdown on drug suspects.

Shortly after those remarks, Duterte proposed hosting an international human rights summit in the Philippines, saying countries like the U.S., France and Russia needed to be investigated for violating human rights.

Duterte won last year’s presidential elections on a promise to eradicate drug-related crimes – since then, Philippine police have reported killing nearly 4,000 people but thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

Police have maintained that they only kill criminals in self-defence, but Amnesty International has accused them of shooting defenceless people dead and hiring assassins to murder drug addicts.

With Duterte set to host world leaders in Manila on Sunday, human rights groups are concerned that U.S. President Donald Trump and Asian leaders appear unlikely to criticize his violent rule. globalnews.ca
As toxic smog enshrouds India's capital, United Airlines has temporarily suspended all flights between Newark, N.J. and New Delhi through the weekend.

Over the last week, New Delhi’s air quality has dropped to the worst levels of the entire year, over 75 times the World Health Organization’s safety levels regarding breathing and health concerns.

Posting an official notice on their website, United said it was issuing waivers for customers who planned to travel to, from or through New Delhi between Nov. 9 and 13.

The airline will continue to monitor the crisis and advises the public to watch for updates, a United Airlines spokesperson told to DNA India.

Officials have likened the city’s poor air quality to smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day, as the season’s cold air catches pollutants at the ground level and stops them from dispersing into the air.

Through the crisis in New Delhi, schools have been temporarily closed, trucks prohibited from entering, and industrial activity halted. foxnews.com
First lady Melania Trump finished the solo portion of her trip to China on Friday with a visit to the Beijing Zoo.

While President Trump continued on to Vietnam for the fourth leg of his 12-day Asia trip, the first lady spent some time at the Beijing Zoo's panda exhibit, getting the opportunity to interact behind the scenes with a panda "goodwill ambassador of the zoo" named Gu Gu, zoo director Li Xiaoguang told reporters.

As she arrived at the zoo on Friday, Trump was greeted by a group of school children waving Chinese and American flags.

After leaving the zoo, Trump visited the Great Wall, where she took in the view from a watchtower.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of her trip to China, she thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, for their hospitality during the visit.

President Trump said in a tweet on Friday that the first lady would next visit Alaska. thehill.com
Ivanka Trump was reportedly greeted with an underwhelming turnout as she delivered a speech on women's empowerment in Tokyo. 

The US President's daughter was speaking at a conference on women's advancement in the Japanese capital. 

But people there claimed the auditorium was half-empty as she outlined her zero-tolerance stance on sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Officials reportedly blamed stringent security measures that meant not everybody was able to access the hall. 

But one eyewitness told The Guardian they entered the room as the doors were closing and just a handful of people were waiting outside.

Ms Trump was speaking amid a growing sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood and other industries in the US. independent.co.uk
A high-ranking North Korean defector is recommending that U.S. lawmakers greatly increase the dissemination of information inside the isolated country, saying funding for such efforts pales in comparison to U.S. military spending but will ultimately be more effective.

“We cannot change the policy of terror of the Kim Jong Un regime. But we can educate North Korean population to stand up by disseminating outside information,” Thae Yong Ho told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

“The U.S. is spending billions of dollars to cope with the military threat. And yet how much does the U.S. spend each year on information activities involving North Korea in a year?

Unfortunately, it may be tiny fraction.”

Thae was North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom until 2016, when he defected to South Korea in order to save his sons from leading, “a life like me, as a modern-day slave.” 

He is the highest-ranking North Korean defector in two decades. His first visit to Washington, D.C., comes as President Trump is preparing to depart on his first trip to Asia, where North Korea is expected to be a major topic in his meetings. thehill.com
A C.I.A. drone was circling a remote valley in northwest Pakistan last month when it picked up an unusual sight: a young woman and children in a militant camp.

To intelligence analysts, she appeared to be an American abducted five years earlier while backpacking in Afghanistan with her Canadian husband.

The grainy images were a breakthrough.

Military planners mobilized members of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, an elite group of commandos, to mount a rescue, according to senior American officials.

But the operation was called off amid concerns, and days later, the C.I.A. watched in alarm as militants drove the family out of the camp and across Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands. nytimes.com
North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador warned Monday that the situation on the Korean peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment.”

Kim In Ryong told the U.N. General Assembly’s disarmament committee that North Korea is the only country in the world that has been subjected to “such an extreme and direct nuclear threat” from the United States since the 1970s — and said the country has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defense.

He pointed to large-scale military exercises every year using “nuclear assets” and said what is more dangerous is what he called a U.S. plan to stage a “secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership.”

This year, Kim said, North Korea completed its “state nuclear force and thus became the full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges, including the atomic bomb, H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic rockets.” washingtonpost.com
A series of tremors and landslides near North Korea’s nuclear test base likely mean the country’s sixth and largest blast has destabilized the region, and the Punggye-ri nuclear site may not be used for much longer to test nuclear weapons, experts say.

A small quake was detected early on Friday near the North’s nuclear test site, South Korea’s weather agency said, but unlike quakes associated with nuclear tests, it did not appear to be manmade.

The tremor was the latest in a string of at least three shocks to be observed since Pyongyang’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, which caused a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Friday’s quake was a magnitude 2.7 with a depth of 3 km in North Hamgyong Province in North Korea, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) measured the quake at 2.9 magnitude at a depth of 5 km.

The series of quakes has prompted experts and observers to suspect the last test – which the North claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb – may have damaged the mountainous location in the northwest tip of the country, where all of North Korea’s six nuclear tests were conducted. yahoo.com
Hundreds of women stood in the river, held at gunpoint, ordered not to move.

A pack of soldiers stepped toward a petite young woman with light brown eyes and delicate cheekbones.

Her name was Rajuma, and she was standing chest-high in the water, clutching her baby son, while her village in Myanmar burned down behind her.

In the next violent blur of moments, the soldiers clubbed Rajuma in the face, tore her screaming child out of her arms and hurled him into a fire.

Alone, she had lost her son, her mother, her two sisters and her younger brother, all wiped out in front of her eyes, she says.

Rajuma is a Rohingya Muslim, one of the most persecuted ethnic groups on earth, and she now spends her days drifting through a refugee camp in Bangladesh in a daze. nytimes.com