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Top Asian News 3:38 a.m. GMT

November 4, 2021 GMT

Suspect in Australian girl’s abduction to be charged soon

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Police expected to charge a local man Thursday with abducting a 4-year-old girl from her family’s camping tent 18 days before police smashed into a locked house and rescued her in an outcome celebrated around Australia. The 36-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday around the time that police found Cleo Smith alone in the house in the town of Carnarvon. “My name is Cleo,” the smiling girl told the police officers who rescued her and asked her name as confirmation that they had found the right child. Police Minister Paul Papalia said the suspect, a Carnarvon local, would likely be charged on Thursday.

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WHO authorizes Indian-made COVID vaccine, months into use

NEW DELHI (AP) — The World Health Organization granted an emergency use license Wednesday to a coronavirus vaccine developed in India, offering reassurance for a shot the country’s regulators allowed long before advanced safety and efficacy testing was completed. The U.N. health agency said in a statement that it had authorized Covaxin, made by India’s Bharat Biotech. The action makes Covaxin the eighth COVID-19 vaccine to receive WHO’s green light. “This emergency use listing expands the availability of vaccines, the most effective medical tools we have to end the pandemic,” said Dr. Mariângela Simão, WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines.

Officials tell AP that Iran seized Vietnamese oil tanker

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last month and still holds the vessel, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday, revealing the latest provocation in Mideast waters as tensions escalate between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard troops took control of the MV Southys, a vessel that analysts suspect of trying to transfer sanctioned Iranian crude oil to Asia, on Oct. 24 at gunpoint. U.S. forces had monitored the seizure, but ultimately didn’t take action as the vessel sailed into Iranian waters.

Australia regulator demands face-scanning firm delete photos

An Australian privacy authority has ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to stop scanning the faces of Australians and destroy the images and related data it has already collected. It’s the latest challenge for the New York startup that has angered privacy advocates around the world over its practice of “scraping” photos from social media to identify people wanted by police and other government agencies. Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said Wednesday that the company breached Australians’ privacy by pulling their personal data from the web and disclosing it through its facial recognition tool. “The covert collection of this kind of sensitive information is unreasonably intrusive and unfair,” Falk said in a written statement.

Pandemic, politics drive Xi’s absence from global talks

BEIJING (AP) — This week’s global climate talks in Scotland and the recent G-20 summit in Rome aren’t the only international meetings that China’s leader has not attended in person. Xi Jinping hasn’t left China in nearly 22 months, since January 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first exploded. His absence drew criticism from U.S. President Joe Biden and questions about China’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. China, the world’s biggest emitter, has pledged to begin reducing its output by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060. The U.S. and others have urged China to advance those goals, but it has balked so far.

Globe bounces back to nearly 2019 carbon pollution levels

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The dramatic drop in carbon dioxide emissions from the pandemic lockdown has pretty much disappeared in a puff of coal-fired smoke, much of it from China, a new scientific study found. A group of scientists who track heat-trapping gases that cause climate change said the first nine months of this year put emissions a tad under 2019 levels. They estimate that in 2021 the world will have spewed 36.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, compared to 36.7 billion metric tons two years ago. At the height of the pandemic last year, emissions were down to 34.8 billion metric tons, so this year’s jump is 4.9%, according to updated calculations by Global Carbon Project.

Bangladesh’s villages bear the brutal cost of climate change

SHYAMNAGAR, Bangladesh (AP) — With each tide, Abdus Satter watches the sea erode a little more of his life. His village of Bonnotola in southwestern Bangladesh, with its muddy roads and tin-roofed houses, was once home to over 2,000 people. Most were farmers like the 58-year-old Satter. Then the rising seas poisoned the soil with salt water. Two cyclones in the last two years destroyed the mud embankments that shielded the village from tidal waves. Now, only 480 people remain, with the rest rendered homeless by the sea. The effects of global warming — particularly increased cyclones, and coastal and tidal flooding that bring salt water further inland — are devastating Bangladesh and destroying the livelihoods of millions, said Mohammad Shamsuddoha, chief executive of the nonprofit Center for Participatory Research Development.

US woman who killed mom in Bali indicted on US murder charge

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago woman who served more than seven years in an Indonesian prison for killing her mother at a luxury resort on the island of Bali has been indicted on murder conspiracy charges in the United States and taken into federal custody. FBI agents took Heather Mack, 26, into custody on her arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday morning, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago Mack has been charged with conspiring to kill her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack in a U.S. indictment that was unsealed Wednesday. Also charged is Mack’s former boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, who was also convicted of murder in Indonesia and is still imprisoned there.

Myanmar court denies bail for US journalist, adds new charge

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Myanmar on Wednesday rejected the bail application of Danny Fenster, an American journalist jailed for the past five months, and added a new charge against him, his lawyer said. Fenster had already been charged with incitement for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information, an offense punishable by up to three years in prison. He is also charged with violating the Unlawful Associations Act for alleged links to illegal opposition groups, which carries a possible two-to-three year prison term. His lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, said a new charge of violating immigration law was added Wednesday, under a catch-all provision that calls for a prison term of six months to five years for violating visa conditions.

Gandhi to be commemorated on special UK collector’s coin

LONDON (AP) — The life and legacy of Indian independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi will be commemorated on a British special collectors’ coin for the first time, U.K. Treasury Chief Rishi Sunak announced Thursday. The round coin, which features India’s national flower, the lotus, and a famous quote from Gandhi stating “My life is my message,” is part of the Royal Mint’s collection to mark the Hindu festival of Diwali. The announcement marks the first time the man known for his non-violent protests for Indian independence will be commemorated on an official U.K. coin. “As a practicing Hindu, I am proud to unveil this coin during Diwali,” Sunak said in a statement.