World briefs

MALAYSIA Lost in the glare of North Korea’s missile launches and charm offensive at the Winter Olympics, two women stand accused of a crime that could send them to the gallows — the stunning assassination of Kim Jong Nam, a year ago. It’s a crime the young Southeast Asian women almost certainly had a part in — possibly without even knowing it. More on p12


SOUTHEAST ASIA Thailand and the United States downplayed the presence of a Myanmar military officer at the opening of the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia. Myanmar has been accused of massive human rights violations in its crackdown on the Rohingya minority. 11,075 service members from 29 countries are taking part in this year’s exercise.

S. KOREA A confidante accused of collaborating with South Korea’s former president for personal gain was sentenced to 20 years in prison for bribery and other crimes in a political scandal that triggered the impeachment and the conviction of an heir to the Samsung empire. A court convicted Choi Soon-sil (pictured) of abuse of power, bribery and other crimes and fined her 18 billion won.

KOREAS Kim Jong Un said it is important to continue a reconciliatory mood between the Koreas and expressed satisfaction with the North Korean delegation’s visit to the South, in his first remarks since the high-level guests led by his sister returned to the North. Kim was impressed with Seoul’s welcome and treatment of the high-level delegation.

USA Donald Trump unveiled a USD4.4 trillion budget plan that envisions steep cuts to America’s social safety net but mounting spending on the military, formally retreating from last year’s promises to balance the federal budget. If enacted as proposed, though no presidential budget ever is, the plan would establish an era of $1 trillion-plus yearly deficits.

SOUTH AFRICA’s ruling party says the scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma (pictured) must leave office. Ace Magashule, secretary-general of the African National Congress, said the ANC’s national executive committee has decided to “recall” Zuma, who has been discredited by corruption scandals. If Zuma refuses his party’s instruction, the matter could go to parliament for a vote on a motion of no confidence.

MEASLES The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says the number of measles cases across the continent tripled last year and is continuing to cause new outbreaks due to low immunization rates. In an update published this month, the agency said more than 14,400 cases were reported by 30 countries last year — compared with about 4,600 cases the year before.

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