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  • US affirms 'ironclad' promise to defend Philippines
    US affirms 'ironclad' promise to defend Philippines

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington's pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains "ironclad" and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief "reaffirmed" the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

  • Philippine, Vietnam troops play sports on disputed island
    Philippine, Vietnam troops play sports on disputed island

    Filipino and Vietnamese troops played football and tug-of-war on a disputed South China Sea island on Wednesday, officials said, closing ranks as their rival China ramps up construction of artificial islands. The games took place on Philippine-held Northeast Cay, just 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) from Southwest Cay which is controlled by Vietnam, where a similar contest was held last year. "It was a navy-to-navy confidence-building engagement," Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, the Philippine …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • Richest Australian Rinehart loses control of family trust
    Richest Australian Rinehart loses control of family trust

    Australia's richest person Gina Rinehart was Thursday ordered by a court to relinquish control of a multi-billion dollar family trust to her eldest daughter, culminating a long and bitter feud. The New South Wales Supreme Court appointed Bianca Rinehart as head of the trust, reportedly worth Aus$4.0-5.0 billion (US$3.1-3.8 billion), which was established by her grandfather, the late mining magnate Lang Hancock. "The court concluded that Bianca was better suited than any of the alternatives to …

  • Technology replaces schmoozing: the future of private banking
    Technology replaces schmoozing: the future of private banking

    Swiss private bankers are turning to video games and virtual reality to attract a new generation of skeptical clients and see off digital rivals. Technology is likely to appeal to multi-tasking millionaires with little time to spare. In a fifth floor office just off Zurich's main shopping street, researchers at UBS are testing dozens of technologies to see what could make the world's biggest wealth manager more appealing as fortunes pass to the next generation. …

  • Poland's love affair with allotments
    Poland's love affair with allotments

    Pitchfork in hand, Hanna Wielgus turns the dark, rich soil of her allotment on a major thoroughfare of the Polish capital known for its monster traffic jams. "I use them to make jam and give away anything I don't use." Her plot is part of the Defenders of Peace allotments, a utopian leftover of the Communist era where around 300 inner-city families grow lettuce and carrots and even raise chickens and goats. "Warsaw is the only European capital with garden allotments in its city centre," he …

  • Iconic Martha's Vineyard lighthouse being moved inland
    Iconic Martha's Vineyard lighthouse being moved inland

    AQUINNAH, Mass. (AP) — An iconic lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard's is set to begin a multi-day trek to a new home farther inland. …

  • Malaysia's Maybank posts forecast-beating Q1 profit, cautious on 2015

    Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Malaysia's No.1 lender by assets, posted a better than expected 6.3 percent rise in quarterly profit on higher fee income and robust loans growth but gave a cautious outlook due to the launch of a new consumer tax. Net profit for January-March was 1.7 billion ringgit ($466.65 million) compared with 1.6 billion ringgit a year ago, Maybank said in a stock exchange filing. Maybank, which is also Southeast Asia's fourth-biggest bank, faces a challenging …

  • Dollar soars to more than 12-year high against yen
    Dollar soars to more than 12-year high against yen

    The greenback briefly touched 124.30 yen in Tokyo midday trading, its highest level since late 2002, before settling back to 123.82 yen. "It's likely that the yen will continue to slowly weaken and we'll have a global risk-on mode," said Mitsushige Akino, executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. The dollar has resumed its bull run against the yen on growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates by the end of the year while the Bank of Japan is tipped to launch …