The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, December 18, 2017, Page Page 2, Image 2

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December 18, 2017
U.N.: Global economy is growing at three percent
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The global economy is growing by about three
percent — its highest rate since 2011 and a significant acceleration from last
year, according to the United Nations. In its annual economic report and
forecast, the U.N. said the upturn stems predominantly from faster growth in all
major developed economies, with east and south Asia remaining “the world’s
most dynamic regions.” Compared to 2016, when global growth was just 2.4
percent, “growth strengthened in almost two-thirds of countries worldwide in
2017,” the report said. Liu Zhenim, the U.N. undersecretary-general for
economic and social affairs, called the rise “a welcome sign of a healthier
economy.” But he warned that growth “may come at an environmental cost.” The
“World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018” report said the economic
upturn should now focus governments on longer-term issues, including tackling
climate change and the growing inequality between rich and poor. “The
frequency of weather-related shocks continues to increase, highlighting the
urgent need to build resilience against climate change and contain the pace of
environmental degradation,” the report said, adding that stronger GDP growth
is likely to result in higher levels of global-warming carbon emissions. The U.N.
said the world economy is forecast to expand at a steady pace of three percent in
2018 and 2019.
Mascot designs for 2020 Tokyo Olympics shortlisted
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese schoolchildren will help determine the mascot for
the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
unveiled three sets of designs for the games’ mascots. The 6.5 million
schoolchildren will review the shortlisted designs with their classes casting a
single vote in favor of one of the three sets. The three finalists were selected from
among 2,042 entries submitted by the public. The winner will be announced
February 28. The first set is a pair of humanoid characters clad in the ichimatsu
checkered pattern of the games’ official logo. The second set features a maneki
neko (good-luck cat) and a fox commonly seen at Shinto shrines. The third set
features a fox and a dog with gold ribbons on their backs. The Tokyo Olympics
are scheduled to take place July 24 to August 9, 2020.
Pope recalls suffering faces in Myanmar, Bangladesh
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says he recalls so many “suffering” but
“noble” faces from his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh. In St. Peter’s
Square, Francis thanked god for the voyage’s opportunity to meet residents in
the two Asian countries, citing in particular the tiny Catholic communities
there, adding he was “edified by their testimony.” He recounted that he spoke
frankly but privately in Myanmar about Rohingya refugees’ plight and said he
cried when he met some in Bangladesh, where they have fled a Myanmar
military crackdown. “Impressed on me is the memory of so many faces, tried by
life, but noble and smiling,” he said of his trip. Francis drew criticism for not
publicly citing, while in Myanmar, the Rohingya suffering.
Basketball World Cup to be hosted in Asia in 2023
MIES, Switzerland (AP) — The Basketball World Cup in 2023 will be hosted
by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. The International Basketball
Federation (FIBA) says its central board picked the Asian co-hosting bid over
the Argentina-Uruguay joint candidacy. It is the first time the world
championship will be hosted in more than one country. The United States will
defend its title at the 2019 World Cup in China.
Former Cambodia opposition leader sued over online post
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A lawyer for Cambodia’s military filed a
lawsuit against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy a day after the prime
minister said he should be charged with treason. The lawyer said the complaint
accuses Sam Rainsy of inciting the military to not follow orders, insulting
military leaders, and causing depression of the armed forces. In a Facebook post,
Sam Rainsy called on soldiers not to obey any “dictators” if ordered to shoot
innocent people. Prime Minister Hun Sen took issue with the post. Sam Rainsy
lives in exile. His former political party was dissolved by the courts in November,
meaning Hun Sen faces no serious opposition in next year’s election. The
government has sought to neutralize opponents and critics ahead of the polls.
DELICATE & DIRTY. Tourists walk around the Taj Mahal as workers clean the monument in Agra, India. The Taj
Mahal typically draws between 7 million and 8 million visitors per year. Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of
his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, people are attracted as much by the love story as the spectacular architecture. (AP Photo/Manish
India’s cleaning quandary: How
to scale the Taj Mahal dome?
By Nick Perry
The Associated Press
GRA, India — Authorities in India are
trying to figure out how workers will
scale the Taj Mahal’s majestic but
delicate dome as they complete the first
thorough cleaning of the World Heritage site
since it was built 369 years ago.
Work on the mausoleum’s minarets and
walls is almost finished, after workers began
the makeover in mid-2015.
They’ve been using a natural mud paste to
remove yellow discoloration and return the
marble to its original brilliant white. Called
fuller’s earth, it’s the same clay that some
people smother on their skin as a beauty
But the metal scaffolding used so far is too
heavy and rigid for the dome, said Bhuvan
Vikrama, the superintending archaeologist
from the Archaeological Survey of India. He
said they’re considering other options,
including designing and constructing special
bamboo scaffolding.
He said there’s a precedent, after bamboo
scaffolding was used on the dome in the early
1940s when some conservation work was done.
Vikrama said rain was enough to clean most
of the Taj Mahal in the past, but air pollution
over the last 25 years has taken its toll.
“It became visibly clear it was all yellow,” he
said. “It even started becoming black in the
Asian Currency
Exchange Rates
Units per U.S. dollar as of 12/15
South Korea imposes new sanctions on North Korea
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea added several North Korean
groups and individuals to its sanctions list in a largely symbolic move that is
part of efforts to cut off funding for the North’s weapons programs. The
government said those added were 20 North Korean groups, including several
banks and companies, and 12 individuals. While the fresh sanctions are largely
symbolic because all transactions between the two Koreas have been banned for
years, the government said it hoped its move would prompt the international
community to do likewise. The measure reminds the “international community
of the risks of doing transactions with the groups and individuals,” Baek
Tae-hyun, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman, said during a media
briefing. The blacklist includes Rason International Commercial Bank and
Korea Zinc Industrial Group. Individuals are North Korean officials who work
for the country’s banks or companies based in China, Russia, Vietnam, and
Namibia. The U.S. has been urging the world to cut trade and diplomatic ties
with Pyongyang. In November, North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile
ever, an intercontinental ballistic missile that may be able to target the eastern
seaboard of the United States.
shaded areas not washed by rains.”
He said work on the dome would likely
take 10 months, starting next year and
finishing in 2019. The makeover is costing
about $500,000.
The work has prompted Fodor’s Travel
guide to include the Taj Mahal on its list of
places not to visit next year.
“Unless your dream Taj Mahal visit involves
being photographed standing in front of a
mud-caked and be-scaffolded dome, maybe
give it until 2019 at the earliest,” the guide
Vikrama disagrees, saying photographs
from the 1940s with scaffolding on the dome
are interesting and historically important.
“If the tourism even fluctuates, we should
not bother about that,” he said. “Tourists
should also appreciate they are witnessing the
work going on, the right kind of efforts for the
preservation of monuments.”
The Taj Mahal typically attracts between 7
million and 8 million visitors per year. Built by
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his
wife, Mumtaz Mahal, people are attracted as
much by the love story as the spectacular
“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,”
said Kent Scheibel, a tourist from Los Angeles
who was visiting the site. “It’s a living,
breathing thing that emanates the absolute
beauty of the human spirit.”
Tu Phan
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(503) 780-6872
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