- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

PHILIPPINES

U.S. Navy ships arrive for exercises

ZAMBOANGA — Three U.S. Navy ships arrived off the southern Philippines yesterday for joint military exercises in an area threatened by Muslim militants. Officials said the ships were anchored under tight security off this southern city, a frequent target of bombings by Islamic militants.

More than 1,000 U.S. service members are taking part in the exercise here and at Basilan, a nearby island where the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic militant group linked to the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, is active.

CHINA

34 held at border headed to S. Korea

BEIJING — Chinese police have detained 34 persons suspected of being illegal aliens at a city bordering North Korea, Xinhua news agency said at midweek.

“Recently, stowaways from Heilongjiang were biding their time in Dandong, preparing to sneak into South Korea,” it quoted a police official as saying. The group comprised 27 men and seven women ages 21 to 48, Xinhua added.

Chinese people have a long history of leaving poverty, war and famine in their homeland to search for a better life overseas. They usually came from southern coastal provinces and went mainly to Southeast Asia, though significant numbers went to Europe, North America, Australia and Africa.

EAST ASIA

Cancer rise seen in next decade

SINGAPORE — Asia is bracing for a dramatic surge in cancer rates over the next decade as people in the developing world live longer and adopt bad Western habits that greatly increase the risk of the disease.

Smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy foods — all linked to various cancers — will combine with larger populations and fewer deaths from infectious diseases to drive up Asian cancer rates 60 percent by 2020, some analysts predict.

Weekly notes …

Australia and the Philippines agreed yesterday to expand counterterrorism cooperation, with elite Australian troops to train their Philippine counterparts in the restive south. Australia also promised to supply up to 30 high-speed gunboats to the Philippine military to help hunt down militants in the rivers and marshes of Mindanao, the southern island. … Lina Joy, the woman in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who lost a court battle to change her religion from Islam to Christianity, suggested she might leave Malaysia rather than stay without the right to practice the religion of her choice, her attorney said yesterday. Malaysia’s highest civil court on Wednesday rejected Miss Joy’s appeal to have the word “Islam” stricken from her national identity card. The verdict was seen as a blow to religious freedom in this ethnically diverse country made up of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs.”I am disappointed that the Federal Court is not able to vindicate a simple but important fundamental right that exists in all persons: namely, the right to believe in the religion of one’s choice,” Miss Joy said through her attorney, Benjamin Dawson.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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