Philippines election: Marcos family eye return to power as country votes
Voting has begun in the Philippines, as millions head to the polls today to choose their next president.
The man tipped to win the presidency is Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the son of the nation's former dictator.
If polls suggesting a landslide victory pan out, it will mean the powerful Marcos political dynasty, will sweep back into office.
His closest rival is Leni Rebredo who beat Mr Marcos in the 2016 vice-presidential elections.
Thousands of other roles will also be up for grabs in the general election, including senator posts and seats in the House of Representatives.
A high turnout is expected of the nation's eligible 67 million voters - many of whom are young people.
Whoever wins will take over from Rodrigo Duterte, the outspoken leader who's come to the end of his constitutionally-enforced six year term in office.
Mr Duterte's government has been criticised for its brutality in cracking down on drugs and crime, though the administration has always rejected allegations of wrongdoing.
UN leads £65m plan to stop huge oil spill off Yemen during first ceasefire in six years
The UN is to stage a rare donor conference on Wednesday in a bid to raise the $80m (£65m) necessary to prevent an ageing oil tanker off the west coast of Yemen exploding and causing an environmental disaster potentially four times worse than the Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska in 1989.
The money is needed to offload more than 1.14m barrels of oil that have been sitting in the decrepit cargo ship, Safer, for more than six years because of an impasse between Houthi groups and the Saudi-backed government over ownership and responsibility. Previous UN mediation efforts over the potentially lethal byproduct of Yemen’s civil war have failed, partly because the Houthi rebels that now control the capital, Sana’a, have not been able to agree terms for UN-commissioned engineers to board the ship. The Houthis have regarded the ship and its lucrative cargo as their possession and a bargaining chip in the negotiations with the Saudi- and Emirati-backed forces.
From India’s highs to Thailand’s lows, Asia’s weather is hitting extremes
The final days of April saw further unbearable temperatures recorded in India and Pakistan. Temperatures peaked at 49C in Jacobabad, Pakistan on 30 April, with a high of 47.2C observed in Banda, India. The Indian Meteorological Department confirmed that average temperatures in April were the highest for northern and central parts of the country since records began over 100 years ago.
Heatwaves are a common occurrence at this time of year in India and Pakistan, but scientists believe the intensity, duration and arrival time of the conditions witnessed so far this year are caused by rising global temperatures.
In stark contrast to intense heat across northern India and Pakistan, tropical parts of south-east Asia have seen unusually low temperatures for the time of year. On 2 May, the Hong Kong Observatory reached 16.4C. This was the lowest May temperature recorded since 1917, and broke the previous record set in 2013.
‘Forever chemicals’ may have polluted 20m acres of US cropland, study says
About 20m acres of cropland in the United States may be contaminated from PFAS-tainted sewage sludge that has been used as fertilizer, a new report estimates.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products heat-, water- or stain-resistant. Known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down, they have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, liver problems, birth defects, immunosuppression and more.
Dozens of industries use PFAS in thousands of consumer products, and often discharge the chemicals into the nation’s sewer system. Sludge is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that’s a mix of human excrement and industrial waste, like PFAS, that’s discharged from industry’s pipes. Sludge disposal can be expensive so the waste management industry is increasingly repackaging it as fertilizer because excrement is rich in plant nutrients.
Strong, swirling winds complicate New Mexico's wildfire fight
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Fast winds fanned the flames of wildfires burning across northeast New Mexico on Sunday, grounding firefighting aircraft and complicating work for firefighters as they sought to protect more communities from danger.
"It's been a challenging day. The winds have picked up; they haven't let up," fire spokesperson Todd Abel said Sunday evening.
The rural area's largest town — Las Vegas, N.M., population 13,000 — sits on the eastern edge of the fire area and appeared safe for now thanks to fire lines dug with bulldozers and other preparations over the past week. But the northern and southern edges of the blaze were still proving tricky for firefighters to contain, particularly given winds as fast as 50 miles per hour, Abel said.
The fire's perimeter stretched more than 60 miles from Las Vegas, N.M., on the southeast flank to near Holbrook about 50 miles south of the Colorado line.
Beijing loyalist John Lee elected as Hong Kong's next leader
HONG KONG — John Lee was elected as Hong Kong's next leader Sunday, after winning over 99% of votes cast by a largely pro-Beijing election committee.
Lee received 1,416 votes in the chief executive election, far exceeding the 751 votes he needed to win and the highest support ever for the city's top leadership position. The Election Committee's nearly 1,500 members cast their votes in a secret ballot Sunday morning.
"I look forward to all of us starting a new chapter together, building a Hong Kong that is caring, open and vibrant, and a Hong Kong that is full of opportunities and harmony," Lee said in his victory speech.
Lee will replace current leader Carrie Lam on July 1.
As the only candidate in the polls, Lee was widely expected to win, especially since he had Beijing's endorsement and last month obtained 786 nominations from members of the Election Committee in support of his candidacy.
Grim search in blown-out Havana hotel, death toll at 26
HAVANA, May 7 (Reuters) - Cuban rescue workers on Saturday picked through rubble for bodies and possible survivors after a Havana boutique hotel was devastated by what authorities said was a gas explosion, leaving at least 26 dead.
The blast at the Hotel Saratoga, just a block from the iconic capitol building in a renovated area of downtown Havana, seriously damaged two adjoining upscale apartment buildings and inflicted lighter damage to 17 structures within a two-block radius. Debris fell on pedestrians in the heavily traveled area and glass and debris went flying at a nearby grammar school.
Local authorities said 50 adults and 14 children were injured. Four of the dead were children, they said, providing few details. One of the dead was a Spanish tourist.
Asian stocks follow Wall St futures lower
SYDNEY, May 9 (Reuters) - Asian markets got off to a shaky start on Monday as U.S. stock futures took an early skid on rate worries, while a tightening lockdown in Shanghai stoked concerns about global economic growth and possible recession.
"A series of rate hikes and hawkish communication came against a backdrop of plummeting Chinese and European activity, new plans for Russian energy bans and continued supply-side pressures," warned analysts at Barclays.
"This creates the gloomy prospect of persistent inflation forcing central banks to hike rates despite sharply slowing growth."
There was no let up in China's zero-COVID policy with Shanghai tightening the city-wide COVID lockdown of 25 million residents.
Syria's Bashar Assad pays rare visit to ally Iran
Syrian President Bashar Assad paid a short visit to Tehran on Sunday, meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi during his brief sojourn, according to Iranian and Syrian media.
It was only the second visit Assad has made to Iran since Syria's civil war began in 2011, although Tehran has been a consistent supporter of the Damascus regime and has given it financial and military support during the 11-year conflict.
Assad's last reported visit to Iran took place in February 2019.
According to Iranian state television, Khamenei told Assad that "today's Syria is not what it was before the war [...] but the respect and prestige of Syria is greater than before, and everyone sees this country as a power."
Assad was quoted as saying that "the strategic ties between Iran and Syria have prevented the Zionist regime's [Israel's] dominance in the region.”