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Top Asian News 1:15 a.m. GMT

September 7, 2021 GMT

Taliban say they took Panjshir, last holdout Afghan province

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban said Monday they seized the last province not in their control after their blitz through Afghanistan last month, overrunning forces who had opposed their takeover. Thousands of Taliban fighters charged into eight districts of Panjshir province overnight, according to witnesses from the area who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the province, which is north of the capital, was now held by their fighters. “We tried our best to solve the problem through negotiations, and they rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight,” Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul later Monday.

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Volunteers help poorest survive Thailand’s worst COVID surge

BANGKOK (AP) — For two months, carpenter Tun Nye hasn’t been able to send any money home to his parents in Myanmar to help them care for his 11-year-old son, after authorities in Thailand shut down his construction site over coronavirus concerns. No work has meant no income for him or his wife, who have been confined to one of more than 600 workers’ camps dotted around Bangkok, living in small room in a ramshackle building with boards and blankets to cover missing windows. In Thailand’s worst virus surge yet, lockdown measures have reduced what little Bangkok’s have-nots had to zero.

Chinese star cuts ties with Swiss watch brand over Taiwan

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BEIJING (AP) — Chinese singer and actor Lu Han, a former member of popular K-pop boy band EXO, said Sunday he would cut ties with Swiss luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet after its CEO referred to Taiwan as a country in an interview. China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, objects to any reference to the self-governing island as a country. Under the one-country policy, other countries have diplomatic relations with either China or Taiwan, but not both. In a video circulating online, the watch brand’s CEO François-Henry Bennahmias referred to Taiwan as an “ultra-modern, high-tech country” in an interview. Lu has been an ambassador for Audemars Piguet since 2018.

Sri Lankan Parliament approves state of emergency

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s Parliament on Monday approved a state of emergency declared by the president, who said it is needed to control food prices and prevent hoarding amid shortages of some staples. Opposition lawmakers said the emergency declaration isn’t needed because other laws can be used to maintain essential supplies, and the tough emergency rules can be misused to stifle critics. The emergency law enables authorities to detain people without warrants, seize property, enter and search any premises, suspend laws and issue orders that cannot be questioned in court. Officials who issue such orders are also immune from lawsuits.

The Latest: US helped family escape Afghanistan overland

“A childless father”: MH-17 families speak of deep trauma

SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) — Since her father and stepmother died in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17, Ria van der Steen has been dealing with feelings of hate, revenge, anger and fear. She is not alone. Seven years later, Sander Essers still feels guilty about the death of his brother. And for Peter van der Meer, Father’s Day has become the one of the most horrible days of the year, following the loss of his three daughters aged 12, 10 and 7 in the crash. “I’m a father without children, a childless father,” he said in an emotional speech.

Firebrand Myanmar monk Wirathu released from prison

BANGKOK (AP) — A nationalist Buddhist monk in Myanmar notorious for anti-Muslim remarks was freed from prison on Monday after charges that he tried to stir up disaffection against the country’s previous civilian government were dropped. The monk, Wirathu, became prominent in 2012 after deadly riots broke out between Buddhists and ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine. He founded a nationalist organization that was accused of inciting violence against Muslims. Muslims from other ethnic groups and in other areas also faced disrespect and occasional violence after Wirathu and his supporters launched their nationalist campaign. Time Magazine called Wirathu “The Face of Buddhist Terror” in a cover story in 2013.

Myanmar court extends pre-trial detention of US journalist

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Myanmar on Monday extended the pre-trial detention of Danny Fenster, an American journalist in the military-led Southeast Asian nation who was arrested in May. Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport on May 24, as he was about to board a flight to go to the Detroit area in the United States to see his family. He is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an online magazine based in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city. “Danny’s next trial date is set for September 20,” said his lawyer, Than Zaw Aung. “The court held a video conference with Danny Fenster this afternoon and he is healthy, according to the clerk from the court.” Fenster has been charged with incitement for which he could be sentenced to up to three years’ imprisonment.

Climate change pushes New Zealand to warmest recorded winter

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The southern winter that just ended in New Zealand was the warmest ever recorded, and scientists say that climate change is driving temperatures ever higher. For the three months through August, the average temperature was 9.8 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), according to New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. That’s 1.3C above the long-term average and 0.2C higher than the previous record posted last year. Scientists have been keeping records since 1909, but most of the warmest winters have been recent. Nava Fedaeff, a meteorologist at the institute, said that on top of a background of global warming, this year there were more warm winds than usual from the north and warmer sea temperatures.

China’s Weibo bans BTS fan account for illegal fundraising

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese social media platform Weibo banned a fan club of popular South Korean K-pop band BTS from posting for 60 days, saying it had raised funds illegally, days after photographs of a customized airplane funded by the fan club were posted online. The fan club account, which had over 1.1 million followers on Weibo, was centered around BTS member Jimin. The restrictions imposed on the account came amid China’s campaign to clean up the entertainment industry and clamp down on “irrational behavior” exhibited by fans. Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion.