A wildfire that burned out an area eight times the size of Manhattan has been put out as torrential downpours across Australia’s east coast brought relief to firefighters who have been battling blazes for several months. The number of fires still burning across New South Wales has reduced to 37, according to the Rural Fire Service, from more than 130 at the start of the year, after parts of the state were hit with several hundred millimeters of rain in recent days. While the downpours will be welcomed by farmers dealing with prolonged drought conditions, they brought with them the risk of flooding across many coastal areas. Sydney was forecast to receive around 100 millimeters of rain yesterday, with the deluge expected to continue today.
Duterte seeks military pact exit as US touts strong ties
President Rodrigo Duterte plans to order the termination of a longstanding military pact with the U.S., the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, though the U.S. State Department reiterated that relations between the nations remain strong. The reported plans follow Duterte’s threat in January to end the agreement after Washington canceled a visa for a senator who used to lead his drug war. Such a move could upend the decades-long alliance as Beijing continues its rise as a military power from the contested waters of the South China Sea to nations across Asia. The U.S. has been seeking to reassure allies in Southeast Asia of its commitment to the region. A State Department official said that the U.S.-Philippine alliance remains a cornerstone of U.S. efforts to promote a free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific region.
Strike shuts Kashmir to remember man executed by India
Shops and businesses shut in Indian-controlled Kashmir yesterday and authorities imposed a lockdown in some parts of the disputed region’s main city after separatists called for a strike to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri man who was convicted in an attack on the Indian Parliament. Hundreds of police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled largely deserted streets in Srinagar. Authorities put old parts of the city under lockdown, with major roads blocked by razor wire and barricades in anticipation of anti-India protests and possible violence. Most Kashmiris were incensed when in 2013, Mohammed Afzal Guru was secretly hanged in a New Delhi jail on charges of being involved in a 2001 Parliament attack that killed 14 people, including five gunmen. Most Kashmiris believe Guru was not given a fair trial.