YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A Japanese whaling operator, after struggling for years to promote its products amid protests from conservationists, has found a new way to cultivate clientele and bolster sales: whale meat vending machines. The Kujira (Whale) Store, an unmanned outlet that recently opened in the port town of Yokohama near Tokyo, houses three machines for whale sashimi, whale bacon, whale skin and whale steak, as well as canned whale meat. Prices range from 1,000 yen ($7.70) to 3,000 yen ($23). The outlet features white vending machines decorated with cartoon whales and is the third location to launch in the Japanese capital region.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Taliban on Saturday doubled down on their ban on women’s education, reinforcing in a message to private universities that Afghan women are barred from taking university entry exams, according to a spokesman. The note comes despite weeks of condemnation and lobbying by the international community for a reversal on measures restricting women’s freedoms, including two back-to-back visits this month by several senior U.N. officials. It also bodes ill for hopes that the Taliban could take steps to reverse their edicts anytime soon. The Taliban barred women from private and public universities last month. The higher education minister in the Taliban-run government, Nida Mohammed Nadim, has maintained that the ban is necessary to prevent the mixing of genders in universities — and because he believes some subjects being taught violate Islamic principles.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Authorities said Saturday that three people had died and at least one was missing after record levels of rainfall pounded New Zealand’s largest city, causing widespread disruption. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins flew to Auckland on a military plane after a state of emergency was declared in the region. “Our priority is to ensure that Aucklanders are safe, that they’re housed and that they have access to the essential services that they need,” Hipkins said. He said the city was in for a big cleanup and that people should remain indoors if possible. He said a break in the weather could prove temporary, with more heavy rain forecast.
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Authorities in Western Australia were searching for a tiny but potentially deadly radioactive capsule that got lost while being transported on a truck from a mine to a depot in the city of Perth, officials said Saturday. Emergency services said they were hampered by a lack of equipment and have called on the Commonwealth and other states to provide assistance. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has deployed teams with handheld radiation detection devices and metal detectors along 36 kilometers (22 miles) of a busy freight route to look for the 8 millimeters by 6 millimeters (0.31 inches by 0.24 inches) unit.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president suspended Parliament until Feb. 8, when he said he would announced a new set of long-term policies to address a range of issues including an unprecedented economic crisis that has engulfed the Indian Ocean nation for months. President Ranil Wickremesinghe issued an extraordinary decree suspending Parliament from midnight Friday. The government did not give a clear reason for the move, but Wickremesinghe’ s office in a statement said his address to lawmakers on Feb. 8 will announce new policies and laws, which will be implemented until the centenary celebrations of Sri Lanka’s independence in 2048.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Two Indian air force jets crashed in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, killing one pilot, officials said. The Indian air force said on Twitter the aircraft were on routine operational training mission. One of the three pilots involved sustained fatal injuries, and an inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the accident. It added the accident occurred near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh state. The air force did not name the aircraft involved in the crash, but local media reported they were the Sukhoi-30 and Mirage-2000 fighter jets. Images from the crash site showed plumes of black smoke and flames rising from the debris of the aircraft.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the 35-year-old was reportedly killed by her employer’s son then dumped with burn marks, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said. Filipino officials were trying to confirm news reports that she was raped and was pregnant when she was killed by the 17-year-old suspect, who has been taken into custody by Kuwaiti police, she said.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government said Friday it will promote civilian efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea in hopes of softening a diplomatic freeze deepened by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s growing nuclear ambitions. South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Youngse didn’t specify the type of aid he sees as conceivable or whether it was realistic to expect those exchanges to induce meaningful diplomatic breakthroughs. North Korea has suspended virtually all cooperation with rival South Korea since the collapse of its nuclear negotiations with the United States in 2019 over disagreements in exchanging the release of U.S.-led sanctions and steps to cut back its nuclear weapons and missiles program.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea condemned on Friday the decision by the United States to supply Ukraine with advanced battle tanks to help fight off Russia’s invasion, saying Washington is escalating a sinister “proxy war” aimed at destroying Moscow. The comments by the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un underscored the country’s deepening alignment with Russia over the war in Ukraine as it confronts the United States and its Asian allies over its own growing nuclear weapons and missiles program. North Korea has blamed the United States for the crisis in Ukraine, insisting that the West’s “hegemonic policy” forced Russia to take military action to protect its security interests.
BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s military-controlled government has enacted a new law on registration of political parties that will make it difficult for opposition groups to mount a serious challenge to army-backed candidates in a general election set to take place later this year. The new electoral law, published Friday in the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper, sets minimum funding and membership levels for parties participating in the polls. It also bans participation by parties or candidates deemed unlawful or linked to organizations declared by the military government to be terrorist groups. The army seized power in February 2021 from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, arresting her and top members of her governing National League for Democracy party, which had won a landslide victory for a second term in a November 2020 general election.