XI says China will not bully smaller neighbors
BEIJING — Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday said his country will not seek dominance over Southeast Asia or bully its smaller neighbors, amid ongoing friction over the South China Sea.
Xi made the remarks during a virtual conference with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, held to mark the 30th anniversary of relations between China and the grouping.
Two diplomats said ASEAN member Myanmar was not represented at Monday’s meeting after its military-installed government refused to allow an ASEAN envoy to meet with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other arrested politicians. Military ruler Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was also barred from representing his country at the last ASEAN summit.
China has repeatedly sought to overcome concerns about its rising power and influence in the region, particularly its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea that overlaps the claims of ASEAN members Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.
“China resolutely opposes hegemonism and power politics, wishes to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors and jointly nurture lasting peace in the region and absolutely will not seek hegemony or even less, bully the small,” Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Xi’s remarks came days after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and sprayed a powerful stream of water at two Philippine boats carrying supplies to troops at a disputed South China Sea shoal and forced them to turn back.
Ex-Netanyahu aide testifies in ex-PM’s corruption trial
JERUSALEM — A ex-aide to Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday took the stand in the former Israeli prime minister’s corruption trial, describing his boss as a “control freak” who was obsessed with the way he and his family were portrayed in the media.
Nir Hefetz, a former spokesman for Netanyahu, is a key prosecution witness expected to deliver critical testimony in the trial, which revolves around accusations that Netanyahu committed fraud, breach of trust and accepted bribes. The former premier, now opposition leader, denies any wrongdoing.
Hefetz left a long career in journalism in 2009 to work as a spokesman for Netanyahu’s government, and in 2014 became the Netanyahu family’s spokesman and adviser. In 2018, after he was arrested in connection with one of Netanyahu’s corruption cases, Hefetz signed a state’s witness deal and provided investigators with recordings of conversations with Netanyahu and his family.
His testimony was delayed by a week after Netanyahu’s defense attorneys requested time to review new evidence. The information presented last week alleged that Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, had accepted an expensive bracelet as a gift from two billionaire friends, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.
Netanyahu appeared in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday morning flanked by fellow Likud party politicians. Hours later, he was given permission to leave the court before the testimony ended.
Netanyahu is charged in three separate cases. The first alleges that Netanyahu received gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy friends, including Milchan and Packer.
In the second case, Netanyahu is accused of orchestrating positive coverage in a major Israeli paper in exchange for promoting legislation that would have harmed the news outlet’s chief rival, a free pro-Netanyahu daily.
The third, nicknamed Case 4000, alleges that Netanyahu promoted legislation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owner of Israeli telecom giant Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage on its Walla news site.
Crabs, octopus and lobsters feel pain, study reveals
Lobsters, octopus and crabs will be recognized as sentient beings in the U.K. after new research suggested they have a central nervous system and can feel pain.
The U.K. government announced Friday that all decapod crustaceans and cephalopod mollusks will be added to the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill after a study from the London School of Economics and Political Science found evidence that the sea creatures are sentient, or can feel.
Decapod crustaceans include shrimp, lobsters, crayfish and hermit crabs. Cephalopod mollusks include squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
“The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our Action Plan for Animal Welfare goes even further by setting out our plans to bring in some of the strongest protections in the world for pets, livestock and wild animals,” Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in the announcement.
The legislation will not affect fishing practices or restaurants that sell shellfish but will protect the animals in future decision-making. Once the bill becomes law, an Animal Sentience Committee will be created and report on how well the government is accounting for sentient animals it its decisions.
— The Associated Press
“The Animal Welfare Sentience Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal well-being is rightly considered when developing new laws,” Goldsmith said.
“The science is now clear that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation.”