Rainstorms douse bushfires across eastern Australia

Rainstorms douse bushfires across eastern AustraliaRain and thunderstorms doused long-burning bushfires across much of eastern Australia Saturday, but they also brought a new threat of flooding in some areas. Major bushfires continued to rage in regions of the south and southeast of the country that have so far missed out on the rain, including in wildlife-rich forests on Kangaroo Island off the southern coast. The fire service in New South Wales (NSW) state, the country’s most populous and the hardest hit by the crisis, said 75 fires continued to burn Saturday, down from well over 100 a few days earlier.


U.S., Japan May Invest in Indonesia Islands Near South China Sea

U.S., Japan May Invest in Indonesia Islands Near South China Sea(Bloomberg) — The U.S., Japan and South Korea are keen to invest in Indonesia’s Natuna Islands as President Joko Widodo steps up efforts to rebuff Chinese claims over the resource-rich waters in the South China Sea.The countries are interested in building fisheries processing and manufacturing industries in Natuna, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan, told reporters in Jakarta on Friday. Indonesia can manage the sea dispute with China without going into a war, Pandjaitan, a former general, said.“The U.S. investors have expressed their interest, along with investors from Japan, Korea and China,” Padjaitan said. “For us, it doesn’t matter where they come from.”Widodo’s efforts to lure foreign investment into the Natuna islands may ratchet up tension with Beijing following the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels into an area claimed by Indonesia as an exclusive economic zone. Indonesia is not a claimant in the broader dispute over the South China Sea, but it does insist on its sovereign rights to waters around the Natunas.Beijing says while it has no territorial disputes with Jakarta, claims over maritime interests in certain waters in the South China Sea “overlap.”“War is the last resort in our negotiation process,” Pandjaitan said referring to the standoff with China on Natuna. “But under no circumstances will we negotiate our sovereignty and territorial rights.”Jokowi, as Widodo is commonly known, visited the Natuna islands last week and asserted Indonesia’s sovereignty over the waters after authorities deployed fighter jets and warships to push back the Chinese fishing vessels, which were accompanied by coast guard ships. The president also inaugurated a fisheries processing center in the region and days later invited Japan to invest in Natuna to develop the fishing industry.Indonesia is also seeking investment by Vietnamese marine processing companies. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met officials of Hai Nam Co., a seafood importer this week in Ho Chi Minh City, and asked it to explore a joint venture with Indonesian companies for a fisheries processing unit in areas including Natuna, according to a foreign ministry statement Thursday.It has identified a location in north Natuna for a fishing port, while southern Natuna will serve as a base for the navy, Pandjaitan said. The country will also soon acquire its first ocean-going vessel, probably from Denmark, to beef up its sea powers, he said.To contact the reporters on this story: Arys Aditya in Jakarta at aaditya5@bloomberg.net;Harry Suhartono in Jakarta at hsuhartono@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net, Thomas Kutty AbrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


U.S. sanctions Iranian commander over Mahshahr killings

U.S. sanctions Iranian commander over Mahshahr killingsThe U.S. State Department said on Saturday it had imposed sanctions on a general of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who commanded units blamed for a massacre of protesters in November. The U.S. State Department has said previously it had received videos of the Revolutionary Guards opening fire without warning on protesters in Mahshahr county in southwest Iran.


AP Photos: Taal volcano emits ash, threatening more eruption

AP Photos: Taal volcano emits ash, threatening more eruptionThe Taal volcano near the Philippine capital emitted more ash clouds on Saturday, posing the threat of another eruption. The ash and steam explosions have gotten weaker after seven days of eruption. The volcano in Batangas province, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital, Manila, has remained at alert level 4, the second-highest warning, indicating a hazardous explosive eruption is possible in hours or days.


Meghan and Harry will need taxpayer funded security ‘for years to come’

Meghan and Harry will need taxpayer funded security 'for years to come'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will need to be protected at taxpayers’ expense against the threat of terror attacks and kidnap for years to come, security experts have said. Police and former security chiefs fear the couple will continue to be at risk from organised terror groups, political fanatics and lone obsessives long after they separate from the Royal family. Talks are understood to be taking place at senior levels over the best way of providing protection for Meghan and Prince Harry as they divide their time between Britain and their new life in North America. But there are fears among some experts that palace and government officials may be underestimating both the potential threat and what is required to protect the couple against it. Dai Davies, who was Head of Royal Protection from 1994 to 1998 and former Chief Superintendent (Divisional Commander) Metropolitan Police Service, said: “We have to learn the lessons of history and act on them. Anyone in charge of security has to think the impossible and then think it again and I fear there is not enough of that going on by the experts currently in charge. “One thing you can be sure of is that terrorists and others who pose a threat are thinking about it all the time.” Mr Davies said the three main threats come from jihadist terrorists targeting Prince Harry, who also served in Afghanistan; lone ‘fixateds’ and royal obsessives; and right wing extremists with an hatred of Meghan as a woman of colour marrying into the royal family. Minister and senior police officers are thought to be determined to avoid the mistakes made over Diana, Princess of Wales, who in 1993 turned down publicly funded police protection except when she was with her sons William and Harry or staying at Kensington Palace. That left her relying on private security at other times, leading to her being in the hands of the Ritz Hotel’s head of security Herni Paul on the night she died when their car crashed in the Pont de l’Alma underpass as he tried to evade photographers following Diana. Her bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones was badly injured in the crash, on 31 August 1997. Ken Wharfe, who served as Diana’s royal protection officer for six years, resigned from the position in 1993, has since said that if he and his team were working with the Princess in 1997, they may have been able to prevent her death.  Mr Davies, who said there have been far more plots against the Royals than publicly acknowledged, added: “We don’t want the situation where Harry and Meghan are being followed, without protection, by paparazzi or people with a fixation and we need to be sure that protection is of the highest level.” But he added that the high cost of providing security may cause resentment among British taxpayers if the Sussexes begin to earn large sums of private income outside of any Royal duties they continue to carry out. “The question is whether the British public will wear the cost of security, even if it is miniscule in real terms, over a long period,” said Mr Davies, who was in charge of protection for the Queen and the Royal family throughout the UK and worldwide. Lord West of Spithead, who was a security minister from 2007 to 2010, said that Harry and Meghan would be expected to make a contribution towards the cost of their security should they start earning a large amount of private income. But he said there was no question that high levels of police protection would have to be provided by the British government into the future. “We have got an obligation to provide security for one of the Queen’s sons and his family and that’s a long term obligation,” he said. “It would be nice to work out an arrangement with the Canadians, but we can’t not provide that protection ourselves, regardless. Mike Penning MP, who was police minister from 2014 to 2016 and went on to serve as justice and Armed Forces minister, said: “It doesn’t matter who they are, if they are at risk we have a duty to protect them, it’s as simple as that. That requirement should be based on any risk assessment made by our intelligence services and by the Canadians.”


Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protests

Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protestsAn off-duty Hong Kong police officer was arrested along with seven other people on Friday as they tried to put pro-democracy posters on a footbridge, police said. It’s the first known case of a police officer being apprehended for supporting the massive demonstrations that have led to more than 6,500 arrests in the past seven months. The officer, 31, and the seven other people aged 14 to 61, were arrested at 3:00 am on Friday in Tuen Mun, a district in northwest Hong Kong.