World News

Feb. 22 (UPI) — The Philippine Senate voted Tuesday to proceed with an investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged ties to a so-called death squad. Ten senators voted in a caucus to continue the probe, launched after retired Philippine National Police officer Arthur Lascanas implicated Duterte in activities of a group known as the Davao Death Squad. The vigilante group is believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 people accused of crimes in Davao City from 1998 to 2008, when Duterte was mayor. Lascana accused Duterte of paying death squad members to kill alleged criminals. Seven senators voted against continuing the investigation, while five abstained from the vote, sources told the Manila newspaper The Inquirer. Among those voting to continue the investigation was Sen. Leila De Lima, a long-time opponent of Duterte’s who after the vote said Duterte was not fit to be president. She called Duterte a “criminal and a …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — South Korea has resumed loudspeaker broadcasts across the demilitarized zone to inform North Koreans of the assassination of Kim Jong Nam. The transmissions are restarting as North Korea state media has begun to address the incident. A South Korean military official told local news service EDaily on Thursday, local time, loudspeaker broadcasts about the assassination have begun so North Korean soldiers and civilians living near the border could hear details of the attack. Facts of the report, including the use of a deadly poison or chemical by two female assailants, are included in the transmission, the official said. Segments from British public broadcaster BBC are also included in the program to emphasize objectivity. The program points out North Korean suspects have either been arrested or are under investigation, the official said. The South Korean “Voice of Freedom” segment runs about 1 minute and 20 seconds, and because it is likely most …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government expects the United States to accept refugees from Manus Island and Nauru or else it will not accept Central American refugees held in Costa Rica. In late January, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said U.S. President Donald Trump agreed during a phone conversation he planned to honor the deal Australia struck with former U.S. President Barack Obama — a deal Trump lambasted as a “bad deal.” Obama struck the deal late last year to accept a number of Indonesian refugees held at camps in Naura and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. In exchange, Australia would take in Central American refugees from Costa Rica. Initially, Trump suggested he would seek to back away from the deal entirely. The deal could be disheveled under Trump’s policies of “extreme vetting” of refugees, which could lead to the United States refusing to accept any refugees from …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami bought a full-page advertisement in The New York Times in which he published an open letter to U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin proclaiming his innocence over drug trafficking accusations. The U.S. Treasury Department on Feb. 13 sanctioned El Aissami through its Office of Foreign Assets Control over allegations he has been involved in the shipment of thousands of pounds of illegal drugs. El Aissami was sanctioned under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. On Wednesday, El Aissami said the U.S. government lacked evidence to levy those claims and accused “political sectors, lobbyists and stakeholders” of attempting to deceive Mnuchin in an attempt to further deteriorate already fraught the relationship between the United States and Venezuela. “They have built a false-positive case in order to criminalize — through me — the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” El Aissami wrote, adding that the U.S. …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — A wrought iron gate that was stolen in 2014 from Germany’s Nazi Dachau concentration camp was returned Wednesday. The gate, through which some 210,000 detainees walked from 1933-45, bore the infamous slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”). A ceremony marked the gate’s return to the site. The gate, which weighs around 220 pounds and was 7 feet by 3 feet, was stolen on Nov. 2, 2014, between security guards’ rounds watching the site. Police found the gate in a parking lot near Bergen in Norway last December after an anonymous tip. No arrests have been made. Karl Freller, who heads the foundation responsible for the Dachau memorial, said to Deutsche Welle “now that we have the gate back we will not let it out of our sight.” The gate will be restored and placed in the museum at Dachau on the 72nd anniversary of the camp’s liberation. More …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — Japanese consumption habits are detrimental to more than 790 endangered and rare species of plants and animals, according to a university economist. Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun reported on Tuesday that 792 threatened life forms around the world are being harmed because of demand in the world’s third-largest economy. Japanese imports have resulted in the destruction of wildlife habitats for a wide range of species, including the Iberian lynx, elephants, leopards, the Malayan sun bear, shrimp species, sea turtles and sharks, according to the report. Keiichiro Kanemoto, an economist at Shinshu University in Japan, said his analysis indicates the imports to Japan have had a profoundly negative impact on hundreds of species. In his study, Kanemoto tracked the patterns of certain kinds of Japanese consumer spending and the import routes to see whether they had any repercussions on the 7,000 species of plants and animals that have been designated as rare or endangered …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — Israel’s government this week issued demolition orders for a Palestinian encampment near Jerusalem, giving residents just a few days to evacuate their homes. Israel Defense Forces raided the settlement and imposed a military closure on dozens of structures in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on Sunday — including tents, huts and a school. Israeli forces stormed the village and even surrounded the 8-year-old school, the only one serving the Bedouin community in the area, preventing teachers and students from entering. Palestinian Education Minister Sabri Saydam called the raid on the school a “systematic and abusive procedure.” About 40 Palestinian-owned homes in the central West Bank community are targeted for demolition. Several other structures in the village were torn down by the IDF last month. Structures in the village were given “construction termination warrants” and villagers will have a chance to present their case during a hearing Thursday, The Times of …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — About 90,000 birds have been killed in South Korea as a precautionary measure against avian influenza, or bird flu. The slaughter comes after local authorities determined they might have been exposed to a strain of bird flu spreading from migratory birds, Yonhap news agency reported. About 100 chickens perished on one farm in central South Korea, in South Chungcheong Province. Fecal samples from three of the chickens tested positive for a strain of bird flu, provincial authorities said Wednesday. In response to the findings, 90,000 birds being raised at the farm, and 1,108 chickens and ducks being raised within a 1.9-mile radius of the infected birds were slaughtered, according to the report. A mobile control center has also been set up to monitor more than 1 million birds at 295 farms within a 6-mile radius of the infection. South Korea’s provincial authority says the source of the virus is migratory bird …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — A South Korean presidential candidate known for his left-leaning populist views is proposing a government-run operation similar to WikiLeaks, the international organization that publishes classified information on its website. Lee Jae-myung, the mayor of Seongnam and a politician with the liberal Minjoo Party of Korea, appeared to be suggesting a new policy, South Korean news service Money Today reported. Lee, 52, said South Korean government staffers who leak information to the press should be protected before they are fired. A South Korean version of WikiLeaks could allow leakers to protect their identities while divulging information to the public, Lee said. In a Facebook post published Wednesday the candidate wrote, “The reality is brave informants are suffering every day, without receiving proper protection.” The South Korean mayor said officials with the country’s auditing agency and journalists who exposed Samsung’s ties to a presidential corruption scandal or uncovered “absentee ballot fraud” in the …

Feb. 22 (UPI) — The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said officers captured Héctor “El Gordo” Arenas Saucedo, a suspected member of the Juárez Cartel who is one of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted fugitives. Arenas Saucedo is wanted in the United States to face charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Mexico’s Criminal Investigation Agency executed an arrest warrant in Mexico City’s Colonia San Rafael neighborhood for Arenas Saucedo’s extradition to the United States, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday. Officers seized a small firearm from Arenas Saucedo. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an arrest warrant for Arenas Saucedo in 2011. A Mexican court approved the United States’ request for Arenas Saucedo’s extradition in 2014.

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