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20 killed, dozens wounded in Philippines church bombings

(CNN)Two bombs tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral in southern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and leaving dozens wounded, authorities said. ISIS did not provide evidence for its claim, nor can CNN independently verify it. The nation’s military and the police are securing the area and all casualties were immediately evacuated, regional officials said. In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana condemned the bombing and said he has directed troops to “heighten their alert level” and secure places of worship and public spaces. “As we convey…

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One dead after multiple explosions in Chinese apartment building

Beijing (CNN)A man has been killed after a series of explosions at an apartment building in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun Friday, local authorities said in a statement. A car had exploded in the parking lot in an underground car park at the Wanda Plaza apartment building on Hongqi Street, the statement said. Just minutes later, a second explosion in an office on the 30th floor of the building sprayed smoke and glass onto the ground below. “After the incident, provincial leaders immediately ordered rescue work to be carried…

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Thais to vote in elections nearly five years after military coup

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN)Thailand’s long-awaited election will be held on March 24, the country’s Election Commission announced Wednesday, after almost five years of military rule. Following the royal decree, the Election Commission had five days to set a date, which is final and official. A statement from the Prime Minister’s office on Wednesday said that the House of Representatives and a new government would both be in place “by the middle of this year.” Former army Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha seized power in a military coup in 2014, following six months of…

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China’s censors face a major test in 2019. But they’ve spent three decades getting ready

Hong Kong (CNN)The internet blackout began with no warning. In response to a day or so of protests and riots in one city, the whole of Xinjiang — a region of more than 617,700 square miles (1.6 million square kilometers) and 20 million people in 2009 — was cut off from the internet for almost 10 months. Businesses dependent on the web, like internet cafes or travel agencies, quickly went under, while others had to send staff on the 620-mile (1,000-kilometer) journey to the neighboring province of Gansu to get…

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Are the wheels coming off China’s Belt and Road megaproject?

Hong Kong (CNN)Kenya is the latest country where China is frantically defusing a public relations storm over President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road megaproject. Despite Beijing and Nairobi’s vehement denials, concerns over the loans speak to a growing fear in many developing countries that their governments, in rushing to cash in on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), have left themselves overextended, with Chinese state-owned companies ready to snap up ports, railways and other key infrastructure across the globe should debtors default. Five years into the BRI, the sheen…

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Man in Pakistan guns down five family members before killing himself

(CNN)A young man in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed five of his family members early Wednesday night before taking his own life, police said. The father died immediately, along with all three of Abdullah’s brothers, whose ages ranged from 12 and 18, police said. While on the run, Abdullah then killed his uncle before killing himself, police said. The case is still under investigation. Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/26/asia/peshawar-murder-suicide/index.html

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Can Japanese tech ease traffic jams in India’s Silicon Valley?

(CNN)It’s one of India’s top IT hubs, but Bangalore is looking to Japan rather than homegrown talent for a groundbreaking solution to its notorious congestion problem. Cameras and sensors will be laced across the city, and GPS devices placed on public buses to enable traffic busters to monitor congestion levels. That data will be fed into a traffic control center, which will then divert traffic away from hotspots. Tarun Rambha, an assistant professor at the India Institute of Science’s Department of Civil Engineering, however, says Bangalore has the benefit of…

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‘We are at the mercy of men’: Reports of rape and sexual abuse in North Korea

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)Harrowing accounts of widespread sexual abuse allegedly carried out by North Korean officials against ordinary women have been laid out in a new report, that details evidence of a culture where officials commit acts with near total impunity. Harrowing accounts Of all the sexual assault survivors interviewed for the report, only one said she had tried to report it. None of the others report the assault they suffered because “they did not trust the police and did not believe police would be willing to take action,” the…

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Thai cave boys surprised by their hero Zlatan on US talk show ‘Ellen’

(CNN)The Thai soccer team whose escape from a waterlogged cave transfixed the world appeared on the US talk show “Ellen” on Monday, where they had a surprise meeting with their hero soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Amid excited smiles from the Thai team, Ibrahimovic high-fived all the players before complimenting them on their bravery. “I thought I was brave, but these kids, this team, is more braver than me … This is probably the best team in the world,” he said. Speaking through a Thai translator, the boys and their coach…

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Taiwan’s president calls on Beijing to not be a ‘source of conflict’ worldwide

(CNN)Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on China to be a “responsible” country on the world stage rather than provoking unnecessary conflict, amid worsening relations between Beijing and the island it considers a renegade province. Tsai said she would work to strengthen the island’s national security in response to the increasing threats from Beijing, which she said had been exerting growing pressure on the island. In September, the US approved a $330 million arms sale to Taiwan, primarily spare parts for the island’s air force. Tsai’s speech echoes strong comments made…

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Bihar report details abuse, neglect in care homes across Indian state

New Delhi, India (CNN)Disadvantaged children and adults living in care homes in the Indian state of Bihar were subjected to sustained sexual, mental and physical abuse, according to a newly released report that has caused national outcry and demands for reform. “The girls had no access to any sort of open space and were literally locked up in their wards except for when they went to the dining hall to take their meals. Vocational trainings and recreation were unheard of,” reads the report.   Allegations from other homes detailed severe…

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Afghan forces confront Taliban militants in Ghazni days after brazen attack

(CNN)Afghan security forces are engaged in intense fighting with Taliban militants in Ghazni, three days after the start of an offensive on the strategic city that has so far killed more than 150 people, according to a local member of parliament. The move perhaps the most serious challenge to the government’s hold in urban areas since the Taliban briefly occupied the city of Kunduz in 2015, and comes at a time when the Trump administration appears to be accelerating negotiations with an insurgency it has been fighting for 17 years.…

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Asia Stocks Mixed on Trade Volleys; Kiwi Slumps: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks traded mixed as China hit back against the Trump administration’s latest tariffs and tensions ratcheted up between the U.S. and Russia. The yen edged higher, while oil held on to its losses. Shares fell in Japan and South Korea, fluctuated in Hong Kong, and pushed higher in China and Australia. Treasuries added to gains made as investors scooped up a record $26 billion 10-year auction. The kiwi tumbled to a two-year low after the New Zealand central bank pushed out its forecast for a rate increase by a…

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At least 91 dead after powerful earthquake strikes Indonesian resort islands of Bali, Lombok

(CNN)At least 91 people were killed when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake and strong aftershocks rocked Indonesia’s resort islands of Bali and Lombok on Sunday, causing people to rush out of homes, hotels and restaurants. The quake occurred in the early evening after sunset and was the second powerful temblor on Lombok in a week. A 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook the island July 29, killing more than a dozen people and briefly stranding hundreds of hikers on the slopes of a volcano. The United States Geological Survey slightly downgraded Sunday’s quake after initially…

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Japan: Deadly heat wave continues as temp hits record 41.4C near Tokyo

Tokyo (CNN)Dozens of people have died across Japan as the country continues to swelter under scorching summer temperatures. The authorities have forecast extreme high temperatures — exceeding 35C (95F) — for most of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu islands, with northerly Hokkaido the only one of the country’s four main islands to escape the scorching heat. “Potential for heat illness is higher than usual,” the agency said in a statement, adding that people should “take appropriate measures,” including drinking lots of water, staying away from direct sunlight and using air conditioners.…

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