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Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, spews huge ash cloud

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, spews huge ash cloudBy The Associated Press JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The highest volcano on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java spewed thick columns of ash high into the sky on Saturday, triggering panic among people living nearby. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Mount Semeru’s sudden eruption in Lumajang district in East Java province left several villages around its slopes blanketed with falling ash. The eruption was accompanied by a thunderstorm and rain, which pushed lava and smoldering debris and formed thick mud that destroyed at least one bridge connecting two main villages of Pronojiwo and Candipuro, as well as hampering the evacuation, Lumajang district head Thoriqul Haq told TVOne. “Thick columns of ash have turned several villages to darkness,” Haq   ... Read More

China’s communists bash US democracy before Biden summit

China’s communists bash US democracy before Biden summitBy KEN MORITSUGU Associated Press BEIJING -- China's Communist Party took American democracy to task on Saturday, sharply criticizing a global democracy summit being hosted by President Joe Biden next week and extolling the virtues of its governing system. Party officials questioned how a polarized country that botched its response to COVID-19 could lecture others, and said that efforts to force others to copy the Western democratic model are “doomed to fail.” The harsh rhetoric reflects a growing clash of values that has been thrust into the spotlight as China rises as a global power. The question is whether the United States and other leading democracies can peacefully co-exist with a powerful authoritarian state whose actions are at odds with   ... Read More

Storm weakens after heavy rain, evacuation in southern India

Storm weakens after heavy rain, evacuation in southern IndiaBy OMER FAROOQ Associated Press HYDERABAD, India -- A tropical storm weakened after dumping heavy rains overnight in parts of southern India off the Bay of Bengal as more than 50,000 people evacuated to government-run camps, officials said Saturday. No loss of life or major damage has been reported so far from the rain-hit areas of Andhra Pradesh state. Kanna Babu, a state commissioner for disaster management, said 54,000 people who evacuated on Friday from vulnerable areas were waiting in nearly 200 state-run relief camps for the weather to clear before returning to their homes. Authorities shut schools, canceled trains and anchored fishermen's boats in the affected areas until Sunday. The storm is likely to further weaken later Saturday and   ... Read More

UAE agrees to buy French warplanes as Macron visits Gulf

UAE agrees to buy French warplanes as Macron visits GulfBy BARBARA SURK Associated Press NICE, France -- France announced the signing Friday of a 16 billion-euro ($18 billion) armaments mega-contract for the sale of 80 of its Rafale warplanes to the United Arab Emirates. The French Defense Ministry said the deal was France’s largest-ever weapons contract for export. It came as French President Emmanuel Macron is in the Emirates on the first stop of a two-day visit to the Persian Gulf. There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from Emirati officials. Manufacturer Dassault Aviation said the UAE is buying the upgraded F4 version of its multi-role combat aircraft. That will make the Emirates Air Force the first user outside of France of the Rafale F4, it said. The   ... Read More

US steps up disclosure pressure on Chinese companies

US steps up disclosure pressure on Chinese companiesBy The Associated Press WASHINGTON -- Chinese companies will have to disclose more information about audits and whether they are controlled by a government or else leave U.S. stock markets under a rule approved by securities regulators. The rule approved Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission steps up a long-running standoff between Washington and Beijing over how much information companies with U.S.-traded shares must disclosed. Companies that used an auditor in a foreign jurisdiction will be required to confirm they are not “owned or controlled by a government entity” there, according to the SEC. Companies also will be required to disclose additional information in annual reports. “Trading prohibitions” can be imposed on some companies, the SEC said. Other governments   ... Read More

Pakistan police: mob kills Sri Lankan over alleged blasphemy

Pakistan police: mob kills Sri Lankan over alleged blasphemyBy BABAR DOGAR Associated Press LAHORE, Pakistan -- A Muslim mob attacked a sports equipment factory in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province on Friday, killing a Sri Lankan man and burning his body publicly over allegations of blasphemy, police said. Armagan Gondal, a police chief in Sialkot district where the killing occurred said that factory workers had accused the victim of desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The Sri Lankan, Priyantha Diyawadana, was lynched by the mob inside the factory, Gondal said initial information showed. Videos circulating on social media showed a mob dragging the man's heavily bruised body out to the street, where they burned it in the presence of hundreds of demonstrators who cheered on the   ... Read More

South Korea breaks daily virus record for 2nd straight day

South Korea breaks daily virus record for 2nd straight dayBy KIM TONG-HYUNG Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea broke its daily record for coronavirus infections for a second straight day on Thursday with more than 5,200 new cases, as pressure mounted on a health care system grappling with rising hospitalizations and deaths. The rapid delta-driven spread comes amid the emergence of the new omicron variant, which is seen as potentially more contagious than previous strains of the virus, and has fueled concerns about prolonged pandemic suffering. Since detecting its first omicron infections on Wednesday, South Korea has confirmed six cases, all linked to arrivals from Nigeria, prompting the government to tighten its border controls. The country will require all passengers arriving from abroad over the next two   ... Read More

Hundreds of migrants living in squalor in warehouse in Belarus amid ongoing border crisis

ABC News(BRUZGI, Belarus) -- Parsa Akram now lives with her mother, father and brother under a warehouse shelf. The space is about 2 meters wide. The 18-year-old and her mother sleep in a tent, her brother and father on the ground. They are among hundreds of people -- mostly from Iraqi Kurdistan -- now living in a warehouse about a mile from Belarus' border with Poland, caught up in the migration crisis that, although eased, has not ended. The warehouse in Bruzgi is not a refugee center; it is just a packing warehouse, the kind Amazon or FedEx would use to store goods. People are now living on the stacks of shelves that would normally hold packages. Whole families like   ... Read More

Russia planning ‘significant aggressive moves against Ukraine,’ Blinken warns

GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is "deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday. In the most urgent warning yet, Blinken said the U.S. and its NATO allies would impose a steep cost on Moscow if it attacked its neighbor. But that cost would be economic and political, with the top U.S. diplomat threatening "a range of high-impact economic measures that we've refrained from using in the past." But he and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stopped short of mentioning the use of force to defend Ukraine, which is not a member of the military alliance. "We don't know whether President Putin has   ... Read More

Iran returns to negotiations, with a nuclear crisis still looming large for Biden

Oleksii Liskonih/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Iran returned to negotiations over its nuclear program on Monday -- meeting for the first time in over five months, with the country's new hard-line government now in control. Its chief negotiator emerged from closed doors bullish, as Tehran demands its concerns about continued U.S. sanctions be addressed first after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal. But the U.S. and the deal's European signatories are warning that after months of stalling, Iran is facing its last opportunity to revive the 2015 deal that placed constraints on its nuclear program in exchange for international sanctions relief. A top European Union diplomat who is coordinating the indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran expressed some   ... Read More

61 people snowed in at English pub are now back home

Facebook/Tan Hill Inn(LONDON) -- A British inn and pub officially bid “fond farewell” to 61 guests Monday after a blizzard stranded them for days inside. Located 270 miles north of London, Tan Hill Inn in Yorkshire, England, had arranged an event for an Oasis tribute band on Friday. Later that night, however, the region was hit hard by a late autumn storm which blocked local roads with heavy snow. “The last time we had our costumers locked in was four or five years ago, but that was just for one night. This time it was a very different experience with four days,” Nicola Townsend, the pub manager, told ABC News. The staff and guests came up with spontaneous ideas “to   ... Read More

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