It was the kind of sitdown that China had long resisted: Top US officials telling Chinese counterparts how American troops would enter North Korea if the hermit regime collapsed. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent revelation that such a discussion took place would -- if true -- suggest a major shift in Chinese policy as Beijing comes under pressure to rein in its Korean War ally. For years Beijing had refused US entreaties to discuss the possible collapse of its neighbour, but top US and Chinese military officials have finally met to discuss the once-taboo topic, Tillerson said last week.
Gunmen fatally shot the mayor of Libya's third-largest city, Misrata, late on Sunday, ambushing his car inside the city, security officials said. The North African oil producer has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that unseated Muammar Gaddafi, but Misrata, Libya's biggest port, had been relative peaceful until now. Gunmen chased the car of Mayor Mohamed Eshtewi after he left Misrata airport following his arrival on a plane from Turkey, a security official said, adding it was unclear who was behind it.
The elder son of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was in jail on Sunday, facing assault and burglary charges in her home state of Alaska. Track Palin, 28, appeared in state court in Palmer, Alaska, earlier in the day, on a felony burglary charge and misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief charges, court records showed.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared himself in favour of same-sex marriage in an about turn that will put him on a collision course with the country's powerful Catholic Church. Speaking at the weekend at a gathering of the LGBT community in his home city of Davao, southern Philippines, he vowed to protect their rights and invited them to nominate a representative to work in his government. "I am for (same) sex marriage if that is the trend of modern times," he said. "If that will add to your happiness, I am for it." Profile | Rodrigo Duterte Mr Duterte was quoted previously in the local media as opposing same-sex marriage, using the gender issue to attack liberal Western countries who allow it, especially those criticising his brutal war against drugs which has killed thousands of Filipino citizens. But according to the local Inquirer, Mr Duterte dramatically backtracked from earlier remarks in his latest speech, revealing that he had gay family members and joking that he once toyed with the idea of being bisexual. "Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passe," he said, adding that "there will be no oppression" during his term in office and that his government would recognise the LGBT community's "importance in society". His shift will put him at odds with the Catholic Church who have already strongly criticised his bloody crackdown on drugs. The country's powerful bishops earlier this year voiced concern about any moves to legalise same-sex unions. While most Western countries have legalised same-sex marriage, with Australia being the latest to do so, the LGBT community still faces widespread discrimination across Asia. Only Vietnam and Taiwan have made progress towards marriage equality but have yet to enshrine the right to marry a member of the same sex in law.
Niaz Ali is a deeply religious man: He prays five times a day and visits the mosque as frequently as possible. A sacred intoxication," says Ali, who asked to use a pseudonym, after taking a fresh rip off a hookah packed with pungent hash in Pakistan's bustling northwestern town of Peshawar. While Ali freely acknowledges using hash runs counter to the tenets of Islam, he insists it has its advantages.
US Senator John McCain will miss a key vote on the Republican tax bill because of a viral infection, further narrowing the already-thin margin of support for the controversial plan. The veteran Republican lawmaker, 81, will not return to Washington until January, his office said Sunday. With McCain absent, the Republicans – who have a 52-48 majority in the Senate – can only afford one defection to pass the tax bill, with a vote expected in the coming days. No Democrats or independents support the legislation in the Senate. It is expected to comfortably pass the House of Representatives. The bill, which would slash corporate and individual taxes, has been criticized as primarily benefiting the wealthy. It is President Donald Trump’s last shot at a major legislative accomplishment in his first year in office. McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, was diagnosed in July with a brain tumor known as a glioblastoma, after doctors found a blood clot over his left eye during a routine checkup. Thank you to everyone for their kind words. My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona. If you’re feeling charitable this Christmas @HeadfortheCure or @NBTStweets to help find a cure for brain cancer is what I recommend. ❤️— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) December 17, 2017 The lawmaker "continues to improve" after receiving treatment for his viral infection, said his doctor Mark Gilbert. "An evaluation of his underlying cancer shows he is responding positively to ongoing treatment," Gilbert added. McCain’s daughter Meghan said the celebrated Vietnam War veteran would be spending the holidays with family. "My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona," she wrote on Twitter. McCain’s office said the senator will get physical therapy and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic. "He is grateful for the excellent care he continues to receive, and appreciates the outpouring of support from people all over the country," it added. "He looks forward to returning to Washington in January." McCain has been critical of Trump and cast a crucial "no" vote on the president’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, helping to save the Obama-era health care law. Trump said he spoke with McCain’s wife Cindy, and wished them well. "I understand he’ll come if we ever needed his vote, which hopefully we won’t," Trump said after returning to the White House following a stay at the Camp David presidential retreat. "He’s going through very tough time, there’s no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote." bur-oh/qan
By Phoenix Tso VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - Calming winds on Sunday helped firefighters slow the spread of a California wildfire that already ranks as the third largest in state history, having scorched 270,000 acres (109,000 hectares) along the scenic Pacific Coast north of Los Angeles. Officials said more than 8,500 firefighters were battling the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California, which began on Dec. 4. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 others, including homes in the wealthy town of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara.