Today's headlines: Famous hip-hop singer arrested in Myanmar; Papua rebels threaten to kill New Zealand pilot in their hostage; Man who opened an emergency door on a plane in Korea arrested; At least 13 killed and eight injured in floods in Afghanistan; Iran and Belgium have made a prisoner exchange; Beijing prefers a Turkmen gas pipeline to Russian projects.
PHILIPPINES - KUWAIT
Kuwait has suspended all new visas for Filipino nationals indefinitley, who make up about 6 percent of the Gulf nation's 4.7 million population. In February, Manila had stopped sending workers after the body of a domestic worker was found in the desert. The last agreement between the two countries had been signed in 2018 to ensure a range of protections for female workers.
Noted hip-hop artist Byuhar was arrested by Burma's junta for criticizing the military's management of electricity on Facebook. It is unclear where the rapper is detained or what condition he is in. Meanwhile, two people who were bringing aid to displaced people in Rakhine also remain in detention on suspicion of having links to "outlawed" news outlets.
According to a video released yesterday, rebels in Indonesian Papua threatened to kill the New Zealand pilot taken hostage in February if talks on the region's independence are not initiated within two months. Phillip Mehrtens, who appears emaciated in the footage, had been captured after he landed a commercial plane in the mountainous Nduga area.
The passenger on an Asiana Airlines plane who opened an emergency door in flight has been arrested. The man told police that he felt "uncomfortable," that he "wanted to get off quickly," and that he was under a lot of stress from losing his job. All 194 passengers who were on board survived but some were hospitalized.
At least 13 people have died and eight others have been injured in nine provinces of Afghanistan due to flooding in the past five days, Taliban authorities announced, adding that more than 50 houses were destroyed and many agricultural fields damaged.
IRAN - BELGIUM
Belgium and Iran conducted a prisoner swap in Oman: Tehran freed aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, imprisoned for 455 days after being accused of espionage, while Brussels freed diplomat Assadollah Assadi, found guilty by a Belgian court of planning a bombing attack on a demonstration by an Iranian opposition group in exile in France.
RUSSIA - CHINA - TURKMENISTAN
Instead of the 50 billion cubic meter "Siberia Force-2" pipeline, which the Kremlin has been trying to build for the past 7 years to increase gas supplies to China, Beijing has decided to prioritize a new "D Line" pipeline from Turkmenistan for 30 billion sq. m. annually, Reuters reports according to Chinese sources in the energy field, despite the higher costs of the operation.