At least 60 Rohingya refugees feared dead after boat capsize tragedy

Half a million Rohingya have crushed into camps in Bangladesh in just over a month, fleeing a Myanmar army campaign and communal violence that the UN describes as “ethnic cleanising”.

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They have poured over on foot or crossed the Naf river which bisects the two countries in overcrowded boats.

One of them capsized in rough waters on Thursday agonisingly close to the shore.

The bodies of 23 people have been retrieved from the water so far but the death toll is expected to surge to around 60.

“Forty are missing and presumed drowned,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.

In distressing scenes, refugees on Friday held funerals for loved ones — among them children — who had left to seek sanctuary from violence that has cut through their homeland in Rakhine state.

A woman carried a small white bundle to a grave for a Muslim burial, while male relatives wept at a school building where bodies had been laid out.

“My wife and two boys survived, but I lost my three daughters,” Shona Miah, 32, told AFP.

0:00 IOM confirms 23 dead and 40 missing after Rohingya shipwreck Share IOM confirms 23 dead and 40 missing after Rohingya shipwreck

One toilet for hundreds

Those who have made it to Bangladesh have been squeezed into a vast makeshift refugee settlement that has become one of the world’s in a matter of weeks.

Medical staff say the camps are in imminent danger of disease outbreak, as relief groups are overwhelmed by the numbers of hungry and traumatised Rohingya.

A dire shortage of clean water, toilets and sanitation is spreading disease and pushing the camps to the precipice of a health disaster, the Red Cross warned.

“Our mobile clinics are treating more people, especially children, who are very sick from diarrhoeal diseases which are a direct result of the terrible sanitation conditions,” said Mozharul Huq, Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

In some of the camps hundreds of refugees are sharing a single toilet, said Martin Faller, of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“The conditions for an outbreak of disease are all present – we have to act now and we have to act at scale,” he added.

The UNHCR says nearly one in five of arrivals is suffering from “acute malnutrition”.

Worsening conditions are compelling Rohingya to try to move out of the wedge of land Bangladesh has set aside for the new arrivals.

But Bangladesh police have stopped more than 20,000 Rohingya from going inland, a senior official said Friday, after authorities imposed travel restrictions on the refugees fearing they will move further into the country.

Though Bangladesh has hosted the refugees, it has urged Myanmar to allow a safe return for the Rohingya.

Myanmar says it is ready to begin repatriating refugees to a camp in the Maungdaw district of northern Rakhine.

But rights groups say the criteria for return is convoluted, discriminatory and carefully crafted to take back as few of the reviled minority as possible.

Many Rohingya do not possess the requisite documents to be allowed back or are unwilling to return to villages that have been burnt to the ground.

The Muslim minority are loathed in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and are instead branded ‘Bengalis’ — or illegal migrants who do not belong in the Buddhist-majoriy country.

End the ‘nightmare

‘Attacks on police posts in Rakhine state by Rohingya militant group on August 25, set the crisis in motion.

The kickback by Myanmar’s army killed hundreds and left scores of Rohingya villages in ashes.

Rohingya who fled saying they survived slaughter by soldiers and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists who were once their neighbours.

Ethnic Rakhine and Hindus have also been displaced inside Rakhine, accusing Rohingya militants of atrocities.

Rohingya are still on the move and the UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that the “systemic violence” could spill further south to the central part of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, threatening a further 250,000 Muslims with displacement.

On Thursday, as the UN Security Council held its first meeting on Myanmar in eight years, he implored Myanmar’s leaders to end the “nightmare” faced by refugees.

But the council failed to agree on a joint resolution after China and Russia supported Myanmar’s right to defend itself.

International pressure has so far done little to rein in Myanmar army operations.

Access to the violence-stricken part of Rakhine is tightly controlled by the military, preventing international aid groups reaching desperate Rohingya left behind or independent reporting on the crisis.

‘Get out’: US Air Force general rebukes ‘bigots’ on campus

“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” Lieutenant General Jay Silveria said in an address to cadets, faculty and staff at the academy in Colorado Springs, footage of which has since gone viral.

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“You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being,” the academy’s superintendent said.

Five African-American students at the Academy’s Preparatory School found racist comments on dormitory message boards earlier this week.

One posted an image on Facebook showing a whiteboard with “Go home, nigger” written on it, and parents then alerted faculty.

“That kind of behavior has no place at the Prep School, has no place at USAFA (US Air Force Academy) and it has no place in the United States Air Force,” Silveria said.

“If you can’t treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” he said.

At the close of his remarks, the general invited those gathered to take out their phones and record his message.

If “you need my words, then you keep these words, and you use them and you remember them and you share them and you talk about them: If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

US Senator John McCain, a former naval officer who was held captive in Vietnam, tweeted a video of Silveria’s remarks, saying that it was an “important statement.”

Backdrop of racial tension 

“I agree, there’s no place for racism or bigotry in our military or this great nation,” McCain said.

The graffiti — and Silveria’s reply — come at a time of heightened focus on racism in the United States, a context he noted in his speech.

“We would… be tone-deaf not to think about the backdrop of what’s going on in our country, things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL,” he said.

In mid-August, top military officers offered strong condemnation of racism after a violent neo-Nazi and white supremacist rally over the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

One woman was killed when an avowed white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of people after the Charlottesville rally turned violent, and numerous demonstrators were injured during the events of August 11 and 12.

The response of senior officers was in contrast to that of President Donald Trump, who suggested there was blame “on both sides,” and that there were “very fine people” among the white supremacist protesters — remarks that were widely criticized.

There have been heightened calls for the removal of other Confederate statues in the wake of the violence.

Ferguson is a suburb of St Louis that became the focus of national attention following the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown, which sparked demonstrations and a heavy-handed police response.

Protesters have recently taken to the streets in St Louis amid outrage over the acquittal of a white former police officer in the shooting death of a black man.

And NFL players are protesting against racism by kneeling during the national anthem before games — protests that have drawn repeated criticism from Trump.

Hugh Hefner: oppressor or liberator?

Oppressor or liberator? Feminist in a silk robe, or pipe-smoking exploiter? Opinions were flying a day after Hugh Hefner’s death over just what he did – and didn’t do – for women.

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On one side, there were those who saw Hefner’s dressing women in bunny costumes with cottontails on their rears, or displaying them nude in his magazine with a staple in their navels, as simple subjugation of females, no matter how slick and smooth the packaging.

On the other were those who felt the Playboy founder was actually at the forefront of the sexual revolution, bringing sexuality into the mainstream and advancing the cause of feminism with his stand on social issues, especially abortion rights.

“I think it’s disgusting,” said feminist author Susan Brownmiller, of the praise she’d been seeing on social media since Hefner’s death on Wednesday at age 91.

“Even some of my Facebook friends are hewing to the notion that, gee whiz, he supported abortion, he supported civil rights … Yes he was for abortion, (because) if you convince your girlfriend to get an abortion because she got pregnant, you don’t have to think about marrying her! I mean, that was his point.”

Most offensive to Brownmiller was what she called Hefner’s equating the word “feminist” with “anti-sex.”

“It wasn’t that we were opposed to a liberation of sexual morality,” she said, “but the idea that he would make women into little bunnies, rabbits, with those ears … That was the horror of it.”

For Kathy Spillar, executive editor of Ms Magazine, the accolades were a result of something deeper: a decades-long public relations strategy of Playboy to sanitise what she called an empire devoted to the subjugation of women.

“From the beginning, they tried to sell it as women’s liberation,” said Spillar, who also directs the Feminist Majority Foundation. “And so they made huge outreach efforts over the years to women’s rights groups.” But there was nothing liberating about it, Spillar said: “Those photographs of women certainly aren’t empowering of those women. They’re there for the pleasure of men.”

“He was right about one thing,” Spillar added. “Sex sells. But it sells to men. And to put women in those horrible costumes that Gloria Steinem wrote about! Talk about sexual harassment, talk a hostile work environment.” She was referring to the famous magazine expose that a young Steinem went undercover to write, training as a Playboy bunny in a New York club – bunny suit and all.

Hefner himself, obviously, saw it very differently. “The truth of the matter is the bunnies were the pre-feminist feminists,” Hefner told the Associated Press in 2011. “They were the beginning, really, of independent women. The bunnies were earning more money than, in many cases, their fathers and their husbands. That was a revolution.”

To Kathryn Leigh Scott, a former bunny at the New York club, much of what Hefner said then rings true. Scott trained at the club in January 1963, at age 19, she says, with six other bunnies, one of them Steinem. She said she had fun, and made good money. She later wrote a book, The Bunny Years, to counter the view that Steinem portrayed in her article.

“I did not feel exploited,” Scott says now. “As a matter of fact, I felt that I was exploiting Playboy – because I was earning very good money in a very safe environment, certainly safer than that many of my friends were working in at the time.”

Following Hefner’s death, many celebrities tweeted affectionate messages. “Thank you for being a revolutionary and changing so many people’s lives, especially mine,” wrote television personality and former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy. “We’ve lost a true explorer, a man who had a keen sense of the future,” wrote writer-producer Norman Lear. “We learned a lot from you Mr. Hefner.”

As for Steinem, who briefly wore that bunny suit in the early ’60s, she preferred not to comment so close to Hefner’s death.

“Obit time,” she wrote in an email, “is not the time for truth-telling. People will now be free to tell it, but later.”

Maxwell still Ashes chance despite ODI axe

Australia stand-in coach David Saker has denied Glenn Maxwell’s axing from the one-day international team is a sign his Ashes hopes are fading.

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The big-hitting Victorian was dumped for Thursday’s dead rubber in Bangalore where Australia posted their first ODI win away from home in more than a year.

“We’re just looking for people to perform and his last 20 games he probably hasn’t done that for us,” Saker said.

“In his position the way he plays he’s a big match-winner but it’s been a while since he’s done (that) for us especially in any consistent form.

“Maxi’s just got to get some numbers to justify getting picked.”

Maxwell is among a group of players vying to bat at No.6 during the Ashes with Marcus Stoinis, Hilton Cartwright and Moises Henriques all in the mix.

“None of our selection is looking forward to the summer,” Saker said.

Since the start of 2016, Maxwell has played 21 ODI innings scoring 500 runs at an average of 26.31.

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke hit out at selectors for dropping Maxwell.

“I thought these two games in particular were a great opportunity for Maxi to understand where he sits in the team,” Clarke told Indian broadcaster Star Sports.

“I thought it was a good chance to (bat him up the order) and make it clear to him … that if he doesn’t make a big score in the next two games, then you’re having a different conversation. Then he could be dropped.”

Clarke acknowledged Maxwell’s performances haven’t been up to scratch, saying Australian fans wanted such a talented player to be more consistent.

“But I think he’s too good a player to now allow him to just go back into the wilderness and go back to first-class cricket,” Clarke said.

“I think the leadership in the team needs to find a way to get the best out of Glenn Maxwell.”

Presidents Cup starts without controversy in front of three ex-presidents

A packed crowded in the grandstands surrounding the first tee warmly greeted Barack Obama, George W.

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Bush and Bill Clinton, keen golfers all, who entered via a tunnel and took their seats to the right of the first tee.

Singer-songwriter Darius Rucker then sang the U.S. national anthem as the American team members stood about 50 yards away down the fairway, standing to attention with their hands across their hearts, not even a whiff of protest in the air.

The scene was far removed from the controversy at National Football League games recently, in which many players have protested during the national anthem against racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

American veteran Phil Mickelson then stole the show by walking over and shaking hands with the three former presidents and taking a selfie.

Ceremonies over, it was down to golf, with the U.S. defending the Presidents Cup against an International team of players from the rest of the world, excluding Europe.

South African Charl Schwartzel had the honour of hitting the first shot in the opening foursomes match, in which he partnered Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama against Americans Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.

A group of about 40 International ‘fanatics’ — mainly Australians and South Africans supporting the visiting team — mischievously chanted: ‘Justin, you’ve got two first names, Justin you’ve got two first names’ as Thomas stood on the tee.

Obama, after shaking hundreds of hands and having a long chat with U.S. assistant captain Tiger Woods, departed adter the third match started but Bush and Clinton stayed until the end.

Clinton even had a few words with the media after the last match had teed off, talking about the difficultly of the first hole and the best way to play it in a strong wind.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Smith sparks crucial run out in India ODI

Steve Smith has emerged from a torrid run in the field to cause a match-turning run out which helped Australia to a breakthrough win in India.

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The Australia skipper’s dropped catches have cost his side during the five-match series, which India won by taking out the first three games.

But he was outstanding in the field during the fourth one-day international in Bangalore, doing his finest work at backward point with Glenn Maxwell dropped for the game.

Stand-in coach David Saker singled out Smith’s efforts after a victory which snapped a 13-match winless run outside of Australia.

“That was as good a fielding display as I’ve seen from anybody in the world,” Saker said.

“It was good he brought that sort of energy to the game”

A miraculous stop from Smith caught Indian opener Rohit Sharma off guard just as we was threatening to take the game away from the visitors.

He had smashed five sixes to race to 65 off 55 balls when he ended up at the same end as Virat Kohli, forcing Sharma to make a futile dash back to the non-striker’s end.

Smith’s initial throw fell to Handscomb who got the ball to bowler Kane Richardson to whip off the bails.

It was the fourth wicket Richardson was involved with, also picking up 3-58 from his 10 overs.

“I thought Kane Richardson was outstanding at the back end of the game,” Saker said.

Richardson, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile starved the Indian batsmen at the death, forcing mistakes which saw the run chase fall 21 runs short.

“I thought our last 10 overs was particularly good,” Saker said.

“The rest of the innings I don’t think we could have bowled as well as we could but I thought we held our nerve at the end.”

All Blacks cope with rival crowds by being best – Hansen

The teams meet at Velez Sarsfield on Saturday with New Zealand looking to retain their Rugby Championship title.

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The Pumas are seeking their first win at the 26th attempt, with one draw their closest effort 32 years ago.

The less experienced All Black players got a taste last Sunday of what to expect at Velez.

They felt the passion of Argentine supporters while attending a first division soccer match at the River Plate stadium where the All Blacks narrowly escaped defeat in 2001.

“The home crowd will be boisterous and passionate and just themselves. Some of the guys went to the soccer on Sunday and they experienced that,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told reporters on Thursday.

“We’ve got eight guys that haven’t been here before, so a lot of them went and what I do know is the only way to keep the crowd out of it is by playing well and that will quieten them down a bit,” he said before the team’s practice.

“So (the team’s) aim is to keep them quiet, but, you know, it creates an atmosphere which is really unique and one that we enjoy.”

Hansen said All Blacks learn quickly how to handle being favourites and the pressure a hostile crowd can generate.

“It is an everyday thing when you’re with the All Blacks. When you come in to the environment, whether you are a coach, a manager or a player you know that’s expected,” he said.

“Doesn’t matter who you play, you’re expected to win and win well and the quicker you can understand that and accept that, then the quicker you can deal with the pressure.”

(Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Labor ‘open-minded’ on China’s Silk Road

Labor is keeping the door open on signing up for China’s ambitious new Silk Road plan.

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One Belt One Road is the superpower’s vast infrastructure blueprint to boost trade and cut transit times by forging a connection via the ancient Silk Road land route and sea routes with Eurasia, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Sixty-eight countries have signed up for the scheme including New Zealand but Australia is holding out, mostly over national security concerns.

In a speech to the Asia Society in Sydney on Friday, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen will flag support for potential Australian involvement.

He’ll argue the scheme “will have profound ramifications for years to come”.

“We will come to office if we win the next election with an open mind as to how Australia and China can best collaborate on the Belt and Road Initiative, with a clear-eyed approach to our respective national interests,” Mr Bowen will say.

“We will examine proposals on a case by case basis including considering how the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and the Belt and Road Initiative can best complement each other.”

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong has also spoken favourably of the scheme and believes Australia should be more confident about harnessing its opportunities.

She maintains the Abbott government’s initial reluctance to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2014 was “timorous and self-defeating”.

Roads, railways, high-speed train networks, maritime ports and airports are among the projects the scheme is building and funding.

It’s open to all countries, not just those physically on the ancient trade routes.

There is $1.8 trillion worth of projects already initiated.

The scheme – which is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy – is more than seven times larger than America’s Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.

Dutton describing refugees as Armani-clad ‘absurd beyond belief’

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has taken aim at the first group of refugees to leave Australia’s offshore detention centres for resettlement in the United States.

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Sydney radio host Ray Hadley put to the minister during a regular interview on Thursday that a photograph of the group published by News Corp this week looked like a fashion show on a catwalk in Paris or New York.

“Somebody once said to me the world’s biggest collection of Armani jeans and handbags was up on Nauru waiting for people to collect it when they depart,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio.

More than 50 refugees this week left offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru for a new life in the US.

‘Enjoying themselves’

Mr Dutton, asked about an image of those preparing to depart Port Moresby, said a lot of people who ended up in the island camps had not come from war-ravaged areas but were instead economic refugees.

They’d received “an enormous amount of support” from Australian taxpayers for a long time.

“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence,” Mr Dutton said.

“These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Mr Dutton said he had long predicted once people were off Manus Island and Nauru “they’ll start to tell a very different story about how it wasn’t that bad”.

“There is a very different scenario up on Nauru and Manus than people want you to believe,” he said.

‘Lack of understanding’

Amnesty International labelled the comments extremely irresponsible.

“They also show a complete lack of understanding of the refugee convention,” refugee co-ordinator Graham Thom said in a statement.

He suggested Mr Dutton is putting at risk the opportunity for vulnerable and traumatised refugees to be safely resettled in the US.

“It is absolutely despicable that Peter Dutton would risk that by downplaying the acute vulnerability of these refugees at a time when the US is looking to cut its humanitarian program to its lowest level in over a decade,” he said.

The refugees arrived in Australian waters years ago and were transferred to offshore detention under a strict government policy to block anyone who arrived by boat from entering the country.

They were recently cleared by US authorities for resettlement under a deal struck between the former Obama administration and the Turnbull government.

Up to 1,250 refugees are expected to be resettled in the US.

Related Reading

Kurds living in Australia celebrate independence vote amid fears for loved ones abroad

Days after 93 per cent of voters showed their support for independence, the Kurdish community in Australia have celebrated the country’s break from Iraq.

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Kurds gathered in Sydney on Wednesday night at an event organised by the community with live entertainment, including traditional music and dancing.

Kurdish Lobby Australia is a not-for-profit association that helps individuals and groups in and outside Australia.

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Co-chairman Zirian Fatah told SBS World News the celebrations had been a long time coming.

“It’s a 100-year-old argument that’s been continually fought, we no longer wish to go through the route of war,” Mr Fatah said.

“We believe if the Iraqi Prime Minister has the good intention, we can be good neighbours and it can be resolved through dialogue peacefully.”

The Iraqi government on Thursday escalated its confrontation with its northern Kurdish region, vowing to shut down Kurdistan’s airspace, borders and oil exports.

“Because they’ve already threatened war, the closing of our airports, closing of our borders, we don’t think that it’s a constructive way forward. The way to have dialogue is to sit down on the table and not make threats,” Mr Fatah said.

Kurds in Erbil celebrate after the announcement of the results of the independence referendum.AAP

The Australian representative of Kurdistan National Congress, Ismet Tastan, says he is concerned for the welfare of family and friends abroad.

“It was a bit shocking for us,” Mr Tastan said.

“We’re told it was going to be a peaceful process.

“I spoke to my mum yesterday, and she says all my family, her side of the family and our neighbours are really concerned, and they expect the international community to support Kurdish people.”

Mr Tastan said it could be too soon for celebrations here in Australia.

“We don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said.

“We are living in Australia and we don’t want to cause trouble living here.”

Despite pressure from the Iraqi government, Mr Fatah says nothing will halt their celebrations and their support for Kurdish independence.

Kurdish Lobby Australia and members of the Democratic Kurdish Community Centre are calling for Australian backing.

“We sincerely hope that the Australian government and the international community can support Kurdistan in their efforts of achieving independence,” Mr Fatah said.

SBS World News has contacted the Iraqi community for comment. 

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Ryanair has a day to sort out compensation

Ryanair has been ordered by the UK’s aviation regulator to sort out compensation for hundreds of thousands of travellers hit by mass flight cancellations by 5pm on Friday.

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The Civil Aviation Authority instructed the budget airline to tell passengers they are entitled to be re-routed by another carrier and explain how that will work.

Ryanair must also publicly state it will reimburse expenses for affected customers, according to a letter from the CAA.

In addition, the Dublin-based carrier must commit to helping passengers who chose an unsuitable option as a result of being misled.

It comes after the regulator accused the airline of “not complying with the law” over its handling of the fiasco.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said he was “furious” after Ryanair cancelled an extra 18,000 flights for the winter season on Wednesday – a move that will hit 400,000 customers.

“They are not making it clear to people their entitlement,” Haines told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

“If they follow through on what they are saying, then they would be breaking the law.”

A Ryanair spokesman said the company will meeting with the CAA and comply fully with its requirements.

The latest round of cancellations adds to mounting anger against Ryanair, which was already coming under heavy fire after cancelling up to 50 flights a day earlier this month.

Ryanair says the cancellations were brought about because of an error with pilot holiday rosters.

Passengers have expressed their frustration with the airline, with many left out of pocket due to a lack of alternative flights and accommodation bookings they can no longer use.

Haines said airline passengers are “well-protected by the law”.

“They are entitled to compensation and if there is a cancellation, they are entitled to be re-routed by other airlines.

“The chief executive of Ryanair (Michael O’Leary) has gone on record and said he is not going to do that. He then issued a clarification.

“But yesterday when they announced 18,000 further cancellations, they failed to follow through on that.

“We are furious they are not complying with the law and they are not giving customers what they are entitled to.”

The regulator could take legal action against the airline for breaching consumer protection laws.

It says Ryanair has falsely claimed it did not have to re-route passengers on other airlines, particularly when there are no other services available.

The CAA also accused the airline of stopping short of providing details on its obligations to refund additional expenses incurred by passengers as a result of cancellations including for meals, hotels and transfer costs.

North Korean firms in China ordered to close

The ministry said the companies, including joint ventures with Chinese firms, have 120 days to close from the date the United Nations resolution was adopted, September 11.

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The announcement comes days after China confirmed that it will apply another major part of the sanctions: a limit on exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea starting October 1 and a ban on textiles from its neighbour.

China’s application of UN sanctions is particularly biting for North Korea. Beijing is Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner, responsible for around 90 percent of the hermit nation’s commerce.

The United States has pressed China to use its economic leverage to strongarm North Korea into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Beijing this weekend for talks with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Tillerson will discuss the North Korean nuclear tensions, trade issues and President Donald Trump’s planned trip to China in November, the US State Department said.

Trump’s tour will also take in regional allies Japan and South Korea.

‘Abyss of misery’ 

Washington has alternated between criticising and praising Beijing’s role in the North Korea crisis, on the one hand welcoming its support for new sanctions but also insisting it must do more to rein in its unruly neighbour.

For its part, China has called on both Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un to tone down their increasingly bellicose rhetoric and instead try to begin peace talks.

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“We are opposed to any war on the Korean peninsula, and the international community will never allow a war (which would) plunge people into an abyss of misery,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

“Sanctions and the promoting of talks are both the requirements of the UN Security Council. We should not overemphasise one aspect while ignoring the other,” Lu said.

While China has imposed sanctions on its renegade neighbour, it wants to avoid precipitating the regime’s downfall over fears that its collapse could send an influx of refugees across its border and place the US army at its doorstep.

But Beijing appears to be running out of patience with North Korea’s nuclear antics — the last test earlier this month triggered an earthquake that was felt in northeast China.

Branches of China’s biggest banks have told AFP that they have suspended financial transactions for North Koreans, a measure that is not required under UN sanctions.

Australian jihadist Prakash, on trial in Turkey, ‘regrets joining IS’

Neil Prakash, who was detained one year ago inside Turkey close to the Syrian border, is jailed in the Gaziantep region of southern Turkey.

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However, his trial, which got under way earlier this year, is being held in the neighbouring Kilis region with Prakash being cross-examined via video link.

In his testimony, Prakash said he said received training from IS in their de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria before moving north to the town of Kobane to fight Kurdish militia.

He was wounded in the fighting and then requested to be moved to another area where he did not have to fight.

“But I went to Raqqa and was told I had to fight,” he said, quoted by the Turkish-language Dogan news agency. “I was also made to speak in propaganda videos.

“I decided to escape after seeing the true face” of IS, he added. “I very much regret joining the organisation,” he said.

Prakash denied being the Australian “representative” of IS in Syria and asked to be released and deported to a Muslim country and not Australia. However the court decided to keep him in custody, Dogan news agency said.

The trial was adjourned to an unspecified later date.

Australia last year had asked Turkey to extradite Prakash, who Canberra previously had reported as having been killed in a US airstrike in northern Iraq.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called Prakash the senior Australian operative in IS. He was reportedly on a list of high-value IS recruiters targeted by the US in drone attacks in Iraq.

Prakash told the court he had spent his early life in Cambodia in a Buddhist family but had decided to become a Muslim after watching IS videos.

Turkey had been under fire from its allies for not taking a hard enough line against jihadists on its territory but stepped up arrests from 2015 after a string of terror attacks.