In today’s bulletin: we look at how conflict might erupt in the Middle-East after the United States took out its deadly adversary, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani; Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan raised their border vigilance after a mysterious illness affected about 30 people who were at a produce and wildlife market in Wuhan; and Jakarta struggles to keep heavy downpour out of the city by making it rain elsewhere through cloud seeding.
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DEATH OF IRANIAN GENERAL MAY SPARK CONFLICT IN MIDDLE-EAST
Qassem Soleimani, the feared Iranian general who through proxy militias extended his country’s power across the Middle East, has been killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad. The death of the man, who led the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, heightened fears of an armed conflict between the US and Iran that could easily pull in other countries. Tensions have been building for months, complicated by widespread protests in Iraq and Iran.
HEALTH ALERT OVER CHINA PNEUMONIA OUTBREAK
On New Year's Eve, officials in the Chinese city of Wuhan announced that several clinics and hospitals in the city had received patients suffering from pneumonia and the cause was not known. Twenty-seven people were reported to have been infected, with seven of them seriously ill. They were believed to have fallen sick after visiting a market that sold birds, pheasants, and snakes, along with organs of rabbits and other wildlife.
MOVE TO STOP MORE RAIN IN FLOOD-HIT JAKARTA
The Indonesian government will start cloud seeding to the west of the capital - inducing rain using chemicals sprayed from planes - to prevent approaching rainfall from pounding the region. The move comes as rescuers are still mounting a desperate search for those missing after flash floods and landslides sparked by torrential rains have killed at least 43 people across the Jakarta region, leaving whole districts under water and hundreds of thousands homeless. This is Jakarta’s worst flood since 2013.
ANIMALS ARE THE BIGGEST CASUALTIES IN ENVIRONMENT DISASTERS
Close to half a billion animals in Australia's New South Wales state may have been killed in wildfires since September, according to a research by the University of Sydney. Many of the mammals, birds and reptiles have either been directly killed by the fires or indirectly through loss of habitat. Distressing images of injured or dead Australian native animals - including koalas and kangaroos - have been flooding social media streams as the wildfires sweep through south-eastern Australia. The human death toll since the fire season began months ago in the southern hemisphere winter stands at 20.
ASIAN INSIDER VIDEO EXCLUSIVE
Three political warlords and dozens of their kin were found guilty in December over the slaughter of 58 men and women, including dozens of journalists, in a brazen act that horrified the world more than a decade ago. The Philippines court found Andal Ampatuan Jr, a former town mayor, and his brothers, Zaldy, a former governor, and Anwar, a former vice-mayor, guilty of the mass killing and sentenced them to a maximum 40 years in prison, without parole. But has justice been served after a decade-long trial? The Straits Times US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh explores the issue with the CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler.com, Maria Ressa.
IN OTHER NEWS
HONG KONG: The city’s Law Society and Bar Association have condemned abusive graffiti sprayed by protesters on a court building that insulted a judge by name.
NEW DELHI: Our India Correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta reports on the valiant efforts of the volunteer medical brigades who soldier on amid the violent protests relating to the citizenship law.
It’s not exactly Star Wars but in a galaxy far, far, away, a star and a planet orbiting it now have new names, thanks to Singapore Anglo Chinese School (Independent) student Jordan Sun Jing Tai. Singapore was among over 110 countries, including Malaysia, France and Australia, which took part in the NameExoWorlds II Project organised by International Astronomical Union as part of the union's celebration of their 100th anniversary last year.
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