World briefs

Junichi IharaN KOREA-JAPAN The second and final day of talks is underway between North Korean and Japanese officials assessing progress into an investigation of the fates of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and ‘80s.Thailand Rights Activist

THAILAND A Thai court yesterday dismissed the first of four criminal and civil defamation cases filed against a British human rights activist by a Thai fruit processing company accused of mistreating migrant workers. The activist, Andy Hall (pictured), still faces charges in three other separate cases. The next trial begins today.

SRI LANKA A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buries scores of workers’ houses at a tea estate in central Sri Lanka, killing at least three people and causing fears that 150 others are missing.

New Zealand Flag VoteNEW ZEALAND will vote twice over the next two years on whether the country should change its flag, the government said yesterday. Next year, voters will choose their favorite alternative flag from among several options, and in 2016 they will vote on whether that alternative should replace the current flag, the government said.

AUSTRALIA An Australian man who promoted fake slimming products has been convicted of assaulting police and resisting arrest during his recent capture after a year on the run.

TURKEY  Rescue workers have been pumping water out of a coal mine in southern Turkey all night as relatives wait anxiously nearby after surging waters trapped 18 Turkish miners deep underground.

USA Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday approved a recommendation by military leaders that all U.S. troops returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa be kept in supervised isolation for 21 days.

SYRIA A group of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga troops have arrived in Turkey and headed toward the border to help their Syrian brethren fight Islamic State extremists in the embattled town of Kobani. Earlier, they received a rousing send-off from thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters as they left the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil by plane for Turkey.

Islamic State Captive JournalistSYRIA A captive British photojournalist is being used by the Islamic State group to take on the role of a war correspondent in the extremists’ latest propaganda video. In the video, John Cantlie stands before a camera in what he identifies as the embattled Syrian town of Kobani. He denies that Islamic State fighters are retreating from the town despite airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE  With winter rapidly closing in on Ukraine, the European Union is hosting another meeting between Moscow and Kiev in an attempt to make sure that Russian gas will continue to flow to Ukraine and, by extension, the EU.

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