In pictures: here’s how the world has been welcoming 2019, with fireworks, coffins, bells and boxing

Revellers around the globe are bidding a weary farewell to an unsettling year filled with challenges to many of the world’s most basic institutions, including politics, trade, alliances and religion.
Here’s a look at how people have been ushering in 2019 around the world. Kiribati: The Pacific island nation of Kiribati was the first in the world to welcome the new year, greeting 2019 with muted celebrations after spending 2018 on the front line of the battle against climate change…

Bomb blast at Philippine shopping centre kills two and wounds dozen of others

Suspected Muslim militants remotely detonated a bomb near the entrance of a shopping centre in the southern Philippines on Monday as people were last-minute shopping ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations, killing at least two and wounding nearly 30, officials said.
The bomb went off near the baggage counter at the entrance of the South Seas mall in Cotabato city, wounding shoppers, vendors and commuters. Authorities recovered another unexploded bomb nearby as government forces imposed a…

‘Don’t complain, kill them’, India university official urges students who have issues with classmates

A top official at a state-run Indian university urged his students to “murder” fellow students if confronted instead of complaining to him, amid a wave of violence being reported from across the state where the school is based.
From hotpot horror to a hologram bride, these offbeat Asia stories were well-read in 2018
“If you’re a student of this university, never come crying to me,” said Raja Ram Yadav, vice-chancellor of Purvanchal University, in a speech. “…

When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was a teen, he said he did something to his maid under a blanket as she slept

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte drew outrage Sunday after saying he “touched” his maid when he was a teenager, with women’s rights groups accusing him of attempted rape and encouraging sexual abuse.
Duterte frequently sparks uproar with his comments on women, including rape jokes and boasting about adultery.
In his latest remarks, Duterte recounted a confession he had with a priest in high school, detailing how he had entered the room of his maid while she was sleeping….

Indonesian volcano Anak Krakatoa lost two-thirds of its height in deadly eruption

Indonesia’s Anak Krakatoa, an active volcano whose eruption last weekend triggered a deadly tsunami, has lost over two-thirds of its height, the country’s volcanology agency said on Saturday.
The Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said in a press statement that the volcano now stands 110 metres high, down from 338 metres in recent months. According to the centre, which is based in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung, the position of Anak Krakatoa’…

Cambodian strongman Hun Sen unveils monument to himself

Long-serving Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday inaugurated a monument marking the 1998 end of the threat from the communist Khmer Rouge movement, which ruinously ruled the country in the late 1970s and then carried on a guerilla war.
The monument just north of Phnom Penh, the capital, is dedicated to what Hun Sen called his “Win-Win Policy,” which saw the last two top Khmer Rouge leaders surrender in December 1998, eliminating the group as a political force and security…

Two Vietnamese tourists killed, 10 wounded, by roadside bomb near Giza pyramids in Egypt

Two Vietnamese tourists were killed Friday and 10 other travellers were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their bus as it passed close to the Giza pyramids in Cairo, Egypt’s interior ministry said.
A statement said there were 14 tourists from Vietnam on the bus when the home-made device exploded at 6.15pm, and that the bus driver and the tour guide, both Egyptian, were also wounded in the explosion. Two tourists escaped injury. The improvised explosive device was placed near a…

The dead and displaced: Indonesia counts the cost of 2018’s wave of natural disasters

Some 40,000 people have now been displaced by last week’s deadly tsunami in Indonesia – nearly double the initial figure – while more than 7,000 were injured in the disaster, officials said on Friday.
Authorities made the announcement as they trimmed the official death toll to 426, from a previous tally of 430, with double-counting by different districts blamed for the change. Two dozen people remain missing almost a week after the disaster. In total, more than 4,600 people…

Australian trader Jiongsheng Zhao pleads guilty to manipulating Chicago futures market, boosting prices with trades he cancelled milliseconds later

An Australian commodities trader has pleaded guilty in a US federal court in Chicago to manipulating market prices by placing orders in the millions of dollars, then cancelling them within milliseconds so that he could sell smaller orders at a profit.
Jiongsheng “Jim” Zhao pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of spoofing in a deal with prosecutors, who say that from 2012 to 2016, the 31-year-old executed trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange online from Sydney. Spoofing…

Elon Musk claims US constitutional right to call Thai-cave hero Vernon Unsworth a ‘pedo’ and ‘child rapist’, even though he’s not

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has moved to have a defamation lawsuit against him dismissed, arguing that his insults aimed at a Thai-cave rescue volunteer whom he called a “pedo” and a “child rapist” were merely opinions and are protected by the US First Amendment.
“This motion boils down to a single question,” his lawyers wrote in a motion to dismiss filed Wednesday. “Would a reasonable reader believe that Musk’s statements were supported by…