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China aims for the poles, and cartoonist slammed for ‘racist’ Serena Williams cartoon

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Washington has decided to shut down the Palestinian mission, and publisher of Bob Woodward book braces for sale rush ahead of launch.

China launches first domestically manufactured polar ice breaker 

China successfully launched its first indigenous polar ice breaker, Xuelong 2, also known as Snow Dragon 2, in Shanghai Monday, The Diplomat reported.

The vessel is scheduled to undergo a series of sea trials and expected to be deployed in the first half of 2019.

Weighing 13,990 tonnes and measuring 122.5 metres in length and 22.3 metres in width, the ship is capable of reaching a maximum speed of 15 knots, or 27.8 kilometres, per hour.

The vessel is reportedly capable of breaking through ice up to 1.5 metres thick at a top speed of 3 knots on both its bow and stern. It will have an operational range of around 20,000 nautical miles and can accommodate a crew of 90, The Diplomat added.

A report from July in The Diplomat discussed the significance of China’s efforts to build polar ice-breakers for a push into the Arctic. “The Arctic’s melting ice cover is uncovering new opportunities for resource extraction, as well as new shipping routes. The Northern Sea Route (NSR), connecting China with Europe through the Russian Arctic, is gradually becoming more feasible,” it noted.

In latest salvo, US to shut Palestinian mission in Washington DC

The United States has announced the closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington DC, an act Palestinian leaders described as “a declaration of war” on efforts to establish peace in West Asia, Al Jazeera reported.

A statement released by the US state department said the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), which represents the Palestinian people, “has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel”.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has responded by saying that the move would allow Israel to continue “their policies against the Palestinian people and land”.

“It is a declaration of war on efforts to bring peace to our country and the region,” a local news agency quoted PA spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud as saying.

PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat said in a statement that the decision was “yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education”.

The US and Palestine have been at loggerheads of late over the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict, with Washington DC fraying ties further this year by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

On Monday, US national security adviser John Bolton threatened the International Criminal Court (ICC) with sanctions if it carried out investigations against the US and Israel, the Al Jazeera report added. “The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” Bolton is reported to have said.

Australian cartoonist slammed for ‘racist’ Serena Williams sketch

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight, who works with the Herald Sun, has been criticised for his depiction of Serena Williams in an artwork on the controversy surrounding her allegations of sexism during the US Open final, reports The Washington Post.

It has been alleged that the cartoon, released over the weekend, recreates dehumanising caricatures common at the peak of racism and segregation in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries.

https://twitter.com/Knightcartoons/status/1039017329030393856

The cartoon has been widely criticised on social media. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling wrote on Twitter: “Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop.”

British journalist Charles tweeted, “In 100 years’ time, this cartoon will be viewed no differently than old images of Jim Crow, or the newspaper cartoons drawn of Jack Johnson. Mark Knight has just drawn his way into the history books.”

Russia police arrest over 1,000 people over protests on retirement age

Police in Russia have detained at least 1,018 people following nationwide protests against a proposed government pension overhaul, a Russian monitoring group said, reported CNN.

In cities across Russia, protesters gathered to rally against a government proposal to raise the retirement age. According to independent local media, the crackdown was reportedly the heaviest in St Petersburg, where at least 452 people were detained.

The protests were reportedly organised by supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is already under administrative arrest for organising an unsanctioned rally in Moscow in January.

“Protests organised by Navalny have become a vehicle for expressing discontent with Russian President Vladimir Putin and government corruption. Putin’s ratings remain consistently high but have been dented by the pension controversy,” CNN added.

Bob Woodward’s publisher is printing 1 million copies of his book on Trump 

Simon & Schuster, the publisher of veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House, has said that it is printing one million copies of the book to keep up with reader demand, reports CNN.

The book will officially be launched Tuesday in both hardcover and e-book form.

“We have reprinted six times for a total of seven to meet extraordinary demand — that will put one million books in print before we’ve even gone on sale,” said a Simon & Schuster spokesperson.

The book reached No. 1 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s bestseller lists after excerpts of the book were published last week. Also, thanks to the pre-order surge, Fear.. is now the sixth biggest seller of 2018 on Amazon.

India has its sights set on China, to boost tourism 

Indian tourism officials are on a tour to China since late August in a bid to woo more Chinese tourists, the Global Times reported.

The Indian government has vowed to attract 1.4 million Chinese visitors by 2019, the report quoted Satyajeet Rajan, the director general of Indian tourism, as saying. “India will also use its films to attract Chinese tourists. China and India will produce more joint films, and Indian celebrities like Aamir Khan will come to China for promotional tours,” Rajan said.

“In 2015, the annual number of Chinese tourists visiting India was around 200,000, and rose to 253,128 in 2017, according to data provided by India Tourism (sic),” the report stated.

“Chinese tourists made a record high 130 million outbound trips in 2017, according to a report released by the China Tourism Academy (CTA) and the online travel service Ctrip,” it added.

However, Chinese travel agencies and tourists claimed that there were several hurdles holding them back from visiting India, namely safety concerns, visa hassles, pricey tickets for local tourist sites, and the tumultuous China-Indian relationship.

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