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Malaysia king to choose prime minister in post-election crisis

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Malaysia's king said on Tuesday he will pick the next prime minister, after the leading two contenders failed to win a majority in last weekend's election and his proposal for the two to work together was turned down.
The vote resulted in an unprecedented hung parliament, with neither opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim nor former premier Muhyiddin Yassin winning the simple majority needed to form a government.
To break the stalemate, King Al-Sultan Abdullah suggested the two rivals work together to form a ‘unity government’, Muhyiddin said, but added that he will not work with Anwar. Muhyiddin runs a Malay Muslim conservation alliance, while Anwar runs a multi-ethnic coalition.
The Saturday election and the ensuing turmoil prolongs political instability in the Southeast Asian nation, which has had three prime ministers in as many years, and risks delays to policy decisions needed to galvanise an economic recovery.
The king had given political parties until 2 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Tuesday to put together alliances needed for a majority.
But the candidates failed to do so after the incumbent Barisan Nasional coalition refused to align with either.
It is now up to the constitutional monarch, who plays a largely ceremonial role but can appoint whoever he believes will command a majority.
“Let me make a decision soon,” the king told reporters outside the national palace.
He also asked Malaysians to accept any decision about the government formation.
The king later met with Anwar and Muhyiddin, and summoned lawmakers from the Barisan Nasional coalition for a meeting on Wednesday.
Anwar told reporters that the king, in their meeting, expressed his desire to form a strong government “that is more inclusive in terms of race, religion, or region” and one that can focus on the economy.
Anwar’s progressive coalition won the most number of seats, but an Islamist party – which is part of Muhyiddin’s bloc and has touted sharia law – made huge gains, raising fears in Malaysia — which has significant ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian minorities following other faiths.
Malaysian police cautioned the country’s social media users to refrain from posting “provocative” content on race and religion after the divisive election.
The political uncertainty hit the Kuala Lumpur stock market .KLSE, which fell for a second day on Tuesday. Election gains by the Islamist party added to investors’ fears, notably over policies on gambling and alcohol consumption.
Anwar’s progressive coalition and Muhyiddin’s conservative Malay Muslim alliance – which includes ...

Iran situation ‘critical’ with more than 300 killed -UN rights chief

GENEVA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday that the situation in Iran was "critical", describing a hardening of the authorities' response to protests that have resulted in more than 300 deaths in the past two months.
“The rising number of deaths from protests in Iran, including those of two children at the weekend, and the hardening of the response by security forces, underline the critical situation in the country,” said a spokesperson for U.N human rights chief Volker Turk at a Geneva press briefing.
The Islamic Republic has been gripped by nationwide protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody on Sept. 16 after she was arrested for wearing clothes deemed “inappropriate”.
Tehran has blamed foreign enemies and their agents for orchestrating the protests, which have turned into a popular revolt by Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution.
Iran’s World Cup team declined to sing their anthem before their opening World Cup match on Monday in a sign of support for the protests.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that more than 300 people had been killed so far, including more than 40 children. These deaths occurred across the country, with deaths reported in 25 of 31 provinces.
In the same briefing, OHCHR spokesperson Jeremy Laurence also voiced concern about the situation in mainly Kurdish cities where it has reports of over 40 people killed by security forces over the past week.
(Reporting by Emma Farge, Editing by Miranda Murray and Frank Jack Daniel)

Many school children among 252 dead in Indonesia quake

CIANJUR, Indonesia, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Many children killed when their schools collapsed are among the 252 dead from an earthquake that devastated a town on Indonesia's main island of Java, officials said on Tuesday, as rescuers raced to reach people trapped in rubble.
Hundreds of people were injured in the Monday quake and officials warned the death toll was likely to rise.
The shallow 5.6-magnitude quake struck in mountains in Indonesia’s most populous province of West Java, causing significant damage to the town of Cianjur and burying at least one village under a landslide.
Landslides and rough terrain were hampering rescue efforts, said Henri Alfiandi, head of National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas).
“The challenge is the affected area is spread out . On top of that, the roads in these villages are damaged,” Alfiandi told a news conference, adding that more than 13,000 people had been evacuated.
“Most of the casualties are children, because at 1 p.m. they were still at school,” he said, referring to the time the quake hit.
Many of the fatalities resulted from people trapped under collapsed buildings, officials said.
President Joko Widodo flew in to Cianjur on Tuesday to encourage rescuers.
“My instruction is to prioritise evacuating victims that are still trapped under rubble,” said the president, who is known as Jokowi.
He offered his condolences to the victims and pledged emergency government support. Reconstruction should include earthquake-proof housing, he said.
Survivors gathered overnight in a Cianjur hospital parking lot. Some of the injured were treated in tents, others were hooked up to intravenous drips on the pavement as medical workers stitched up patients under torch light.
“Everything collapsed beneath me and I was crushed beneath this child,” Cucu, a 48-year-old resident, told Reuters.
“Two of my kids survived, I dug them up . Two others I brought here, and one is still missing,” she said through tears.
“Many dead bodies are lying in the hospital grounds, it’s very crowded,” said her relative, Hesti.
Footage from Kompas TV showed people holding cardboard signs asking for food and shelter, with emergency supplies seemingly yet to reach them.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed to help the rescue effort, Dedi Prasetyo, national police spokesperson told the Antara state news agency.
“Today’s main task order for personnel is to focus on evacuating victims,” he said.
The death toll from the earthquake had risen to 252, the district government said in a post on social media. The death toll from the national disaster ...

Top Russian official warns of possible nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The head of Russia's state-run atomic energy agency, Rosatom, warned on Monday there was a risk of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, following renewed shelling over the weekend.
Moscow and Kyiv have traded accusations of shelling the facility for months since Russian forces took control of it in March, shortly after invading Ukraine. Renewed shelling on Sunday triggered fresh fears of a possible disaster at the site.
“The plant is at risk of a nuclear accident. We were in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all night,” Interfax quoted Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev as saying.
Rosatom has controlled the facility through a subsidiary since President Vladimir Putin in October ordered Russia to formally seize the plant and transfer Ukrainian staff to a Russian entity. Kyiv says the transfer of assets amounts to theft.
The IAEA has called for the creation of a security zone around the plant, something Likhachev said would only be possible if it was approved by the United States.
“I think the large distance between Washington and Zaporizhzhia should not be an argument for the United States to delay the decision on a security zone,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
The Rosatom head also said it appeared Kyiv was willing to “accept” a “small nuclear accident” at the nuclear power station
“This will be a precedent that will forever change the course of history. Therefore everything must be done so that no one has in their minds to violate the security of the nuclear power plant,” TASS quoted him as saying.
(Reporting by Reuters)

F1 launches new all-female racing series

ABU DHABI, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Formula One on Friday launched an all-female racing series that is set to hit the track next year and prepare young girls to race in the sport.
The new category, which will be called F1 Academy, will feature five teams run by outfits currently competing in F1-feeder series Formula Two and Formula Three. They will each run three cars, creating a 15-strong grid, Formula One said in a statement.
Drivers will be required to bring 150,000 euros ($155,520) in funding, with F1 matching that amount and teams raising the rest of the 2.25 million euro total budget.
Next year’s inaugural season will comprise seven events with three races each, with one round likely to feature on the Formula One support bill, and 15 days of official testing, the statement said.
The series, which will be run by F2 and F3 organiser Bruno Michel, will feature Tatuus T421 chassis fitted with a 165 horsepower engine and tyres from F1 supplier Pirelli.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential and Formula One wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in the statement.
“That is why I am delighted to announce the F1 Academy that will give young female drivers the best chance to fulfil their ambitions through a comprehensive programme that supports their racing careers and gives them everything they need to move into F3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of Formula One.”
F1’s launch of the new all-female series comes after a cash crunch forced the existing W Series, which was free to enter and paid the championship winner $500,000 out of a total $1.5 million prize money pot, to cancel the last three races of its season last month.
Organisers at the time said they were confident the series, which debuted in 2019, would return in 2023.
There was no mention of prize money in the F1 Academy statement but Formula One said it would prepare young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition including the W Series.
The F1 Academy would complement the W Series providing an “extra route for the next generation of young female drivers,” the statement added.
No female driver has started a grand prix since the late Italian Lella Lombardi, also the only woman to score a top six finish, in 1976.
(Reporting ...

No alcohol sales permitted at Qatar’s World Cup stadium sites

DOHA Nov 18 (Reuters) - In a reversal, alcoholic beer will not be sold at Qatar's World Cup stadiums, world soccer governing body FIFA said in a statement on Friday.
The announcement comes two days before Sunday’s kickoff of the World Cup, the first to be held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.
“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” a FIFA spokesperson said in the statement.
Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, owned by beer maker AB InBev, was to exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game.
“Tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.
The reversal of that policy comes after long-term negotiations between FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Budweiser, and executives from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which is organising the World Cup, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“A larger number of fans are attending from across the Middle East and South Asia, where alcohol doesn’t play such a large role in the culture,” the source said.
“The thinking was that, for many fans, the presence of alcohol would not create an enjoyable experience.”
Alcohol will still be served inside the stadium hospitality zones, the source added.
Budweiser will sell its non-alcoholic beer throughout the stadium precincts, the statement said.
Neither Budweiser nor the SC responded to Reuters’ request for comment.
Questions have swirled around the role alcohol would play at this year’s World Cup since Qatar won hosting rights in 2010. While not a “dry” state like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, consuming alcohol in public places is illegal in Qatar.
Visitors cannot bring alcohol into Qatar, even from the airport’s duty free section, and most cannot buy alcohol at the country’s only liquor store. Alcohol is sold in bars at some hotels, where beer costs around $15 per half-litre.
Budweiser will still sell alcoholic beer at the main FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha, the source said, where it is offered for about $14 per half pint. Alcohol ...

Biden administration says Saudi prince has immunity in Khashoggi killing lawsuit

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The Biden administration ruled on Thursday that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity from a lawsuit over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, drawing immediate condemnation from the slain journalist's former fiancee.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in October 2018 by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an operation which U.S. intelligence believed was ordered by Prince Mohammed, who has been the kingdom’s de facto ruler for several years.
“Jamal died again today,” Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter minutes after the news became public. She added later: “We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA But again, money came first.”
The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
A spokesperson for the Saudi consulate in Washington could not be reached for comment on Thursday evening, after business hours.
“This is a legal determination made by the State Department under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in a written statement. “It has nothing to do with the merits of the case.”
The spokesperson referred further questions to the State and Justice Departments.
In a document filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Justice Department attorneys wrote that “the doctrine of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law.”
Justice Department lawyers said that the executive branch of U.S. government, referring to the Biden Administration, had “determined that defendant bin Salman, as the sitting head of a foreign government, enjoys head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts as a result of that office.”
In late September, Saudi King Salman named Prince Mohammed prime minister in a royal decree which a Saudi official said was in line with responsibilities that the crown prince was already exercising.
“The Royal Order leaves no doubt that the Crown Prince is entitled to status-based immunity,” lawyers for the prince said in an Oct. 3 petition requesting a federal district court in Washington dismiss the case, citing other cases where the United States has recognised immunity for a foreign head of state.
Biden was criticized for fist-bumping the crown prince on a visit to Saudi Arabia in July to discuss energy and security issues. The White House said Biden had told Prince Mohammed that he considered him responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.
The prince, known by his ...

North Korea fires long-range missile landing near Japan, draws condemnation

SEOUL/TOKYO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday that Japanese officials said had sufficient range to reach the mainland of the United States and that landed just 200 kilometres (130 miles) off Japan.
The launch, reported by both South Korean and Japanese officials, comes a day after a smaller missile launch by the North and its warning of “fiercer military responses” to the U.S. boosting its regional security presence.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and leaders of Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand condemned the launch at an emergency meeting called on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Friday.
“We strongly condemn these actions and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilising acts,” Harris said during the meeting, convened to discuss the launch.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned of further missile launches by the North and a possible nuclear test, the Japanese government said in a statement.
Harris is in Thailand for the APEC summit, amid heightened geopolitical tensions over the war in Ukraine and other flashpoints such as Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.
Friday’s launch adds to a record-breaking year for North Korea’s missile programme, after it resumed testing ICBMs for the first time since 2017 and broke its self-imposed moratorium on long-range launches as denuclearisation talks stalled.
“Pyongyang is trying to disrupt international cooperation against it by escalating military tensions and suggesting it has the capability of holding American cities at risk of nuclear attack,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
North Korea’s stepped-up development and testing of missiles also indicates that, despite its dire poverty and sanctions by the United Nations as well as the United States and other nations, it has faced few hurdles obtaining the technology and materials it needs for its missile programme.
The South Korean military said that, in response to Friday’s launch, South Korean F-35A fighters and U.S. F-16 jets flew in formation off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula and conducted a firing drill against targets that simulated North Korea’s mobile missile launchers.
Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters on Friday that the missile was capable of flying as far as 15,000 km, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said it flew to an altitude of about 6,000 km with a range of 1,000 km, before landing in the sea roughly 200 kilometres west of Oshima-Oshima ...

Musk’s ‘Hardcore’ Ultimatum Sparks Exodus, Leaving Twitter at Risk

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk gave Twitter Inc. employees an ultimatum to either commit to the company’s new “hardcore” work environment or leave. Many more workers declined to sign on than he expected, potentially putting Twitter’s operations at risk, according to people familiar with the matter.
So many employees decided to take severance that it created a cloud of confusion over which people should still have access to company property. Twitter closed its offices until Monday, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg. “Please continue to comply with company policy by refraining from discussing confidential information on social media, with the press or elsewhere,” the memo added.
Musk tried, in the final hours before his deadline, to convince people to stay. Key staff were brought into meetings as the Thursday evening deadline neared to hear pitches on the social network’s future, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk, who had earlier said he was strictly against remote work, also sent a follow-up email Thursday softening his tone.
“All that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” he wrote, adding that staffers should have in-person meetings with their colleagues not less than once per month.
It wasn’t enough. Twitter’s internal communications channels filled with employees offering a salute emoji, which has become a symbol for departing the company. Former staff tweeted the salute publicly, too, along with their internal Slack messages.
Some employees who were departing speculated that so many were leaving, along with their knowledge of how the product works, that the social network may have trouble fixing problems or updating systems during its normal operations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Twitter’s future is also complicated by a possible national security review of Musk’s deal by the US government, people familiar said earlier.
Elon Musk’s Tumultuous Twitter Takeover: Timeline
Musk on Wednesday had asked employees to formally state whether they were willing to keep working at the company – a commitment that would include “working long hours at high intensity.” Employees had until 5 p.m. Eastern time Thursday to fill out a Google form.
The form included just one possible response: “Yes.” Anyone who failed to accept the form by the deadline was told they would be out of the company with three months severance.
The ultimatum from Musk came less than two weeks after he laid off 50% of Twitter’s workforce, or roughly 3,700 employees. ...

Ukraine Latest: Grain Deal, Zelenskiy to Speak After US Rebuff

(Bloomberg) -- Damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure from Russian missile attacks since the war’s start may exceed $100 billion, the country’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.
Wheat, corn and soybean oil extended losses after Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said a Black Sea grain-export deal will be prolonged by 120 days.
Two Russians and a Ukrainian were found guilty by a Dutch court of carrying out an attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 that led to the deaths of all 298 people on board. And President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said officials will travel to the site of a missile blast in eastern Poland that put his country’s air defenses under the spotlight as Kyiv’s allies face growing pressure to deliver more anti-air weapons.
Key Developments
Grains Extend Losses as Ukraine Says Black Sea Deal to Continue
Zelenskiy Softens Stance on Rocket Origin After Biden Comment
Zelenskiy Says No Peace Until Ukraine Gets Crimea, Donbas Back
Polish Blast Puts Focus on Ukraine Need for Stronger Air Defense
Repair Crews Dodge Bullets, Splice Cable to Keep Ukraine Online
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
On the Ground
Russia has launched 148 missiles and 26 drones against Ukraine since Nov. 11, General Staff spokesman Oleksii Hromov said. Odesa was attacked with Kalibr missiles from the Black Sea by Russian ships, and all were downed by Ukrainian air defenses, Southern Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humeniuk said. The death toll from Russian shelling of Vilnyansk increased to seven people after strikes on Dnipro, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian president’s deputy chief of staff said. Ukrainian forces downed 4 X-101 missiles, 5 Shahed drones and two guided aviation missiles, which were launched from the Russian Rostov region, Belarus and the Black Sea, Ukrainian Air Defense said on Telegram.
(All times CET)
Infrastructure Damage May Top $100 Billion, Minister Says (7:39 p.m.)
Damage to Ukraine’s key infrastructure from Russian missile attacks since the war’s start may exceed $100 billion, Finance Minister Marchenko said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin.”
The costs for restoration, including for damaged energy facilities, will come on top of the country’s needs in budget financing, according to Marchenko, who estimated that could be $3 billion a month next year, down from $5 billion currently.
UkrLandFarming Sees 2023 Crop Yields Falling 20-25% (5:21 p.m.)
Yields of crops being planted for harvest in 2023 are likely to fall 20-25% year-on-year as farmers face difficulties buying enough fertilizer, according to the chief operating officer ...

Western New York prepares for up to 4 feet of lake-effect snow

BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov 17 (Reuters) - Up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) of lake-effect snow could bury parts of Western New York and other states by the end of the weekend, forecasters said on Thursday, paralyzing the city of Buffalo and other areas downwind of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
By Lindsay DeDario and Rich McKay
Snow could fall at the rate of 3 inches (8 cm) an hour in some locations to the south and east of the two Great Lakes starting late on Thursday, said Liz Jurkowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.
The squalls could persist through Sunday, creating sporadic bursts of intense snowfall along narrow bands. The heaviest totals are likely in Buffalo, the weather service said on its website, stressing it was difficult to predict exactly where the snow bands would develop.
“What we are talking about is a major, major storm,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul, said on Thursday, a day after she declared a state of emergency in the Buffalo area.
“This is considered an extreme weather event. That means it is dangerous. It is life threatening,” she said at a press briefing.
By Thursday morning, snow squalls already carpeted parts of New York southeast of Lake Erie with 10 inches of snow.
“The heavy stuff is expected to start by 10 p.m. tonight,” Jurkowski said. “It will be hard for the snow plows to even keep up with. It’s potentially paralyzing snow.”
Visibility is expected to drop to zero, creating “white-out” conditions and making travel nearly impossible.
With blinding conditions expected, motorists were advised to stay off the roads starting late Thursday afternoon.
More than 350 snowplows were on standby to help clear roads and 5,700 utility workers were ready to restore power, Hochul said.
Snowfall of such proportions are not uncommon for Western New York in November, when the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes can mix with frigid air in the upper atmosphere dropping down from the Arctic, the NWS said.
While the storm is not expected to be one for the weather history books, Jurkowski said it could rank in the top five snow accumulations over the last 20 years.
In November 2014, an epic barrage of lake-effect snow deposited more than 5 feet of powder east of Buffalo but dropped just a few inches of snow a few miles to the north, according to the NWS, illustrating the highly localized nature of the phenomenon.
(Reporting by Lindsay DeDario ...

Six killed, 30 wounded in gas cylinder explosion in Iraq’s north

SULAIMANIYA, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Six people were killed and 30 injured on Thursday when a large gas cylinder exploded in a residential area in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya, police and health officials said.
Civil defense firefighters managed to contain the fire, which damaged several houses and destroyed at least five vehicles, the police added.
Police officers said at least three houses were completely destroyed by the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder that was installed on the rooftop of one of the houses.
Firefighters are still searching for people missing from the collapsed houses, and health officials said the death toll might rise.
(Reporting by Baghdad Newsroom; Editing by Mark Porter)

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