NEWS IN BRIEF
Exiled Chinese author in Hong Kong urges 'courage' to defend free speech
Hong Kong, Nov 10 (AFP) - Dissident Chinese author Ma Jian hit out at threats to freedom of speech Saturday saying it was the “basis of civilisation” after a struggle to find a venue to host his talks at Hong Kong's literary festival.
The venue battle fuelled growing concerns that semi-autonomous Hong Kong's freedoms are fast disappearing under an assertive Beijing.
Ma, whose books are banned in mainland China, is due to promote his latest novel “China Dream” at two speaking events Saturday.
The title plays on Chinese President Xi Jinping's rhetoric of national rejuvenation and is described by publisher Penguin as “a biting satire of totalitarianism”.
Melbourne knife attacker named as known extremist
Melbourne, Nov 10 (AFP) - A Somaliborn Australian who carried out a deadly knife rampage in Melbourne held extremist views and was known to intelligence services, authorities said Saturday, as they carried out raids and interviewed dozens of witnesses.
Australian Federal Police said 30-yearold Hassan Khalif Shire Ali -- who was shot dead after driving a 4x4 laden with gas cylinders into the city centre and stabbing three people -- fled to Australia as a child with his family in the 1980s.
He stabbed three people before being confronted by members of the public and armed officers who eventually shot him in the chest. One of his victims died at the scene while two others were wounded.
Trump, Macron may clash on European defence in Paris talks
Paris, Nov 10 ( REUTERS) - U. S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron headed towards a potential clash in talks on Saturday after Trump took offence to what he called a “very insulting” comment from Macron about the need to create a European army.
Fresh off U.S. congressional elections that saw his Republican Party's power erode, Trump is spending the weekend in Paris to bolster the U.S.-European alliance at World War One remembrance ceremonies.
Trump's talks with Macron at Elysee Palace are likely to cover European concerns about Trump's plans to withdraw the United States from the 1980s Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces Agreement and U.S. renewal of sanctions against Iran.
Conjoined twins: Bhutanese girls separated in six-hour surgery
Oct,09 (BBC) - The 15-month-old girls, Nima and Dawa Pelden, had been joined at the torso and shared a liver.
Lead surgeon Dr Joe Crameri told reporters the girls had coped "very well" with the six-hour operation. Dr Crameri said it was a "joy" to inform their mother, Bhumchu Zangmo, that the surgery had been a success.
The Bhutanese family was brought to Australia by Children First Foundation, an Australian-based charity.
The girls, Trishna and Krishna, who were joined at the head, underwent a life-saving 32-hour operation.
Afghanistan war: Taliban attend landmark peace talks in Russia
Oct, 09 (BBC) - Russia has hosted a landmark international meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow aimed at kick-starting peace talks after decades of war.
It is the first time Taliban militants have attended such an event.
Members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which oversees peace efforts but does not represent the Afghan government, were also present.
But the Taliban again stressed the group would only hold direct talks with the US - not the Kabul government.
Syria regime attack kills 23 rebels in truce zone
Syrian government forces killed 23 rebels near Idlib province on Friday, the deadliest clash to rock a buffer zone where a Russian-Turkish truce is to be enforced.
The attack on a position held by the Jaish al-Izza rebel group took place on the edge of the northwestern province of Idlib, in an area due to be de-militarised.
"This is the highest death toll in the de- militarised zone since it was announced," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based monitoring group, told AFP.
He said at least 35 rebel fighters were also wounded in the clash but could not provide a casualty toll for government forces.
Facebook refuses Singapore request to remove post after critical website blocked
Facebook has rejected a Singapore government request to remove a post of an online article that the government said was “false and malicious”, prompting its Law Ministry to say the case illustrated the need to introduce legislation to stop fake news.
Singapore's central bank said on Friday it had filed a police report against an online article by an Australia-based independent blogger about Singapore banks and Malaysia's scandal-linked 1MDB state fund.
STR articles on its Facebook page remained available.