Top Asian News at 7:30 a.m. GMT
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) South Korean banks, media report network crashSEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Police and South Korean officials were investigating the simultaneous shutdown Wednesday of computer networks at several major broadcasters and banks. While the cause wasn't immediately clear, speculation centered on a possible North Korean cyberattack. The shutdown came days after North Korea blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks that temporarily shut down websites in Pyongyang.
Speculation mounts of Aussie leadership challengeCANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ Speculation is intensifying that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be challenged soon for her party's leadership as opinion polls increasingly suggest her government would be crushed at Australia's upcoming elections. Center-left Labor Party government lawmakers publically stood by their beleaguered leader Wednesday. But The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported three unnamed senior Gillard backers saying support among government ranks for her predecessor Kevin Rudd was growing.
Malaysia charges 8 Filipinos with terror crimesKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Malaysian prosecutors have charged eight Filipino men with terrorism-related offenses following an armed siege in Borneo that killed 71 people. The eight are the first to face charges after an estimated 200 members of a Filipino Muslim clan slipped into Malaysia's Sabah state last month and took over a village to highlight their long-dormant territorial claim to the timber-rich state.
Renewed nuke sale fear after recent NKorea testSEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea's nuclear test last month wasn't just a show of defiance and national pride; it also is advertising. The target audience, analysts say, is anyone in the world looking to buy nuclear material. Though Pyongyang has threatened to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S., the most immediate threat posed by its nuclear technology may be North Korea's willingness to sell it to nations that Washington sees as sponsors of terrorism. The fear of such sales was highlighted this week, when Japan confirmed that cargo seized last year and believed to be from North Korea contained material that could be used to make nuclear centrifuges, which are crucial to enriching uranium into bomb fuel.
Sri Lanka's ex-army chief says not to fear inquiryCOLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The army chief who led Sri Lanka's bloody campaign to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels says the country should not shy away from a possible inquiry into its wartime conduct. The comments from the former commander turned politician, Sarath Fonseka, come amid growing international pressure for an independent investigation into possible war crimes as the United Nation's Human Rights council discusses a resolution on Sri Lanka.
UN concerned over tobacco fair in PhilippinesMANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The World Health Organization has expressed concern that the Philippines is encouraging smoking by hosting one of the world's largest tobacco trade shows. The two-day fair called ProTobEx ASIA opened Wednesday in the capital's Pasay city for the second consecutive year. Organizers said they chose the Philippines over other locations in Asia because of its vibrant tobacco industry and the "phenomenal" support of the Pasay city government.
Lawyer: Urinating on Taliban bodies no desecrationCAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina (AP) _ Urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan was in "poor taste" but it wasn't desecration, the lawyer for a U.S. Marine said Tuesday. Sgt. Robert W. Richards and three other Marines were videotaped relieving themselves on the corpses during a July 2011 mission in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province. The video shows four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three Afghans. One Marine looks down at the bodies and says, "Have a good day, buddy."
Sea Shepherd ships dock in Australia without bossCANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ The founder of Sea Shepherd left the environmental group's fleet of anti-whaling ships before they docked in Australia, though the government says it has no reason to arrest him. Three ships belonging to the U.S.-based group docked at the southern port of Williamstown on Wednesday after weeks of harassing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic Ocean.
Power, cooling restored at Japanese nuclear plantTOKYO (AP) _ Cooling systems were restored for four fuel storage pools at Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear plant, more than a day after a power outage halted the supply of fresh cooling water and raised concerns about the safety of the facility, which still relies on makeshift equipment. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the cooling system at the last pool at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was repaired early Wednesday. It said pool temperatures were well within safe levels and the reactors were unaffected.
Philippine top court halts contraceptives lawMANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The Philippine Supreme Court temporarily halted the implementation of a law that provides state funding for contraceptives, legislation opposed by the dominant Roman Catholic Church but supported by reproductive health activists. The Responsible Parenthood Law was passed by lawmakers late last year despite the church's opposition but petitioners questioned its legality on several grounds, saying it offends religious beliefs and fosters abortion, which remains illegal in the country.
Bus falls off bridge in India, killing at least 37NEW DELHI (AP) _ A bus packed with passengers crashed through a guard rail and fell off a bridge in western India early Tuesday, killing at least 37 people and injuring another 15, police said. The overnight bus was carrying passengers from the beach resort state of Goa to Mumbai when it crashed in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, said Mahendra Singh Pardeshi, a police official present at the site. The area is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Mumbai.
UN Sri Lanka vote threatens India's governmentNEW DELHI (AP) _ A dispute over a United Nations resolution on the bloody end to Sri Lanka's civil war with ethnic Tamil rebels is threatening the stability of India's already shaky coalition government. A key ethnic Tamil party withdrew from the coalition Tuesday, accusing the government of watering down a U.N. resolution criticizing Sri Lanka's war-time conduct against its minority Tamil population. The party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has demanded the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution accuse Sri Lanka of genocide and that it lead to the formation of an international inquiry into possible war crimes. The party also demanded a similar resolution be passed by India's Parliament.
Pakistani girl shot by Taliban returns to schoolLONDON (AP) _ Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban, has returned to school for the first time since she was targeted. The 15-year-old joined other girls at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham for her first day back at school on Tuesday, said Edelman, the public relations agency handling her media relations.
China's homegrown hit films getting lost overseasHONG KONG (AP) _ The surprise hit in Chinese theaters last year was a low-budget, wacky road-trip comedy that even beat out global blockbuster "Avatar" to become the country's highest-grossing film ever. But "Lost in Thailand" disappeared overseas. The film that earned 1.26 billion yuan ($200 million) in China earned a paltry $57,000 during its U.S. theatrical release, joining other homegrown hits that have flopped internationally. It is the latest sign that while the country has become a box-office superpower, it faces a harder task fulfilling its leaders' hopes that its studios will be able to rival Hollywood for global influence.
Powder, AK-47s and hashish: Skiing in KashmirGULMARG, India (AP) _ There are very few ski resorts in the world where you see a soldier in uniform waiting for the gondola with a snowboard in one hand and an AK-47 in the other. Welcome to Gulmarg, nestled in the Himalayan mountains in Indian-held Kashmir, one of the most militarized places on earth.
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