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Top Asian News 3:57 a.m. GMT

August 19, 2021 GMT

Afghans plead for faster US evacuation from Taliban rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — Educated young women, former U.S. military translators and other Afghans most at-risk from the Taliban appealed to the Biden administration to get them on evacuation flights as the United States struggled on Wednesday to bring order to the continuing chaos at the Kabul airport. President Joe Biden and his top officials said the U.S. was working to speed up the evacuation, but made no promises how long it would last or how many desperate people it would fly to safety “We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters, adding that evacuations would continue “until the clock runs out or we run out of capability.”

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Taliban militants violently disperse rare Afghan protest

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban militants attacked protesters Wednesday in Afghanistan who dared to take down their banner and replace it with the country’s flag, killing at least one person and fueling fears about how the insurgents would govern this fractious nation. While the Taliban have insisted they will respect human rights, unlike during their previously draconian rule, the attack in Jalalabad came as many Afghans were hiding at home or trying to flee the country, fearful of abuses by the loosely controlled militant organization. Many people have expressed dread that the two-decade Western experiment to remake Afghanistan will not survive the resurgent Taliban, who took control of the country in a blitz that took just days.

Ex-Nissan exec Kelly wants boardroom, not criminal, trial

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TOKYO (AP) — Nearly three years later, former Nissan executive Greg Kelly is still wondering why the questions that led to his arrest and trial in Japan weren’t simply taken up in the automaker’s corporate boardroom. Kelly, an American lawyer who worked for three decades for Nissan Motor Co., is awaiting a verdict in his trial on charges of financial misconduct in the case of Carlos Ghosn. The embattled former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance jumped bail and fled to Lebanon in late 2019, leaving Kelly in Japan alone to face charges of Ghosn’s under-reported Nissan compensation. Kelly has denied the allegations.

Malaysia’s longest-ruling party seems set to return to PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s longest-governing political party appeared set to reclaim the premiership it lost in a shock 2018 election result, with its lawmakers summoned to the palace Thursday to verify their candidate has enough support to take office. The choice of former Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would essentially restore the ruling alliance of Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned as prime minister on Monday after infighting in the coalition cost him majority support. Ismail’s appointment would also see the return of the United Malays National Organization, which ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 before it was ousted in 2018 over a multibillion-dollar financial scandal.

Canadian judge reserves decision on Huawei CFO extradition

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A Canadian judge reserved her decision Wednesday on whether a senior executive for Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies should be extradited to the U.S. after a Canadian Justice Department lawyer wrapped up his case by saying there’s enough evidence to show she was dishonest and deserves to stand trial in the U.S. Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said that on Oct. 21 she will likely announce when she will rule on whether Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Huawei’s Technologies and daughter of its founder, will be extradited. Meng was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018 at the request of U.S.

Prosecutor: Khmer Rouge defendant guilty of regime’s crimes

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — In his position of authority, the former head of the Khmer Rouge shared joint culpability for the regime’s atrocities in Cambodia in the 1970s, prosecutors said Wednesday, rejecting defense arguments that he should not be held responsible. Khieu Samphan, 90, is appealing his 2018 conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is the last surviving member of the inner circle of Pol Pot’s radical communist regime that ruled Cambodia with an iron fist from 1975 to 1979 and was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people. His defense team has argued there were procedural errors in the original Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia trial and challenged the evidence against him.

Mullah’s rise charts Taliban’s long road back to power

The Taliban’s top political leader, who made a triumphal return to Afghanistan this week, battled the U.S. and its allies for decades but then signed a landmark peace agreement with the Trump administration. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is now expected to play a key role in negotiations between the Taliban and officials from the Afghan government that the militant group deposed in its blitz across the country. The Taliban say they seek an “inclusive, Islamic” government and claim they have become more moderate since they last held power. But many remain skeptical, and all eyes are now on Baradar, who has said little about how the group will govern but has proven pragmatic in the past.

The Latest: Food agency warns of hunger in Afghan conflict

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.N. food agency in Afghanistan says a humanitarian crisis is unfolding with 14 million people facing severe hunger following the Taliban takeover of the country. Mary Ellen McGroarty, the World Food Program’s country director, said in a video briefing to U.N. correspondents from Kabul on Wednesday that the conflict in Afghanistan, the nation’s second severe drought in three years, and the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed an already dire situation into a “catastrophe.” McGroarty said over 40% of crops have been lost and livestock devastated by the drought, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as the Taliban advanced, and winter is fast approaching.

Right’s group: 1,001 killed since military took over Myanmar

BANGKOK (AP) — More than 1,000 people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar since the military seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi about six months ago, a human rights group said Wednesday. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors protest-related arrests and deaths in Myanmar, said it confirmed two more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,001. There has been a groundswell of protests against the military-led government since Suu Kyi’s ouster. Casualties are also rising among the military and police as armed resistance grows in both urban and rural areas. Teik Naing, secretary-general of the AAPP, said most of the people killed were anti-military activists and more than 40 were shot in the head.

China state firms invest in TikTok sibling, Weibo chat app

The Chinese government has made investments in two of the nation’s most significant technology firms — ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns global video app TikTok, and Weibo, China’s version of Twitter — in a move apparently intended to bolster its sway over the nation’s flourishing technology sector. In April, ByteDance sold a 1% stake in its Chinese subsidiary, Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., to WangTouZhongWen (Beijing) Technology, a state-backed firm, according to public government records and the corporate information platform Qichacha. WangTouZhongWen is owned by three Chinese state entities, one of which is linked to a fund backed by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the nation’s internet watchdog, according to government records and Qichacha data.