China-Taiwan undersea cable set to open: state media
Beijing (AFP) Jan 16, 2013 – The first undersea fibre-optic cable between China and Taiwan is set to begin operating this week, official media reported Wednesday, the latest sign of closer links between the Cold War rivals. Yang Yi, spokesman for Beijing’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said the cable would enhance communications and was “good news” for the two sides, the Xinhua news agency reported. Yang hail … more

extra extra newspaperJapan, Vietnam vow to cooperate on regional challenges
Hanoi (AFP) Jan 16, 2013 – Vietnam and Japan must “play a more active role” in maintaining regional peace and security, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday, in the face of growing maritime tensions with China. The two countries, both locked in separate bitter disputes with Beijing over contested islands in the resource-rich South China Sea, said they would work towards closer cooperation after talks in H … more

Senate to hold Hagel confirmation hearing Jan 31
Washington (AFP) Jan 16, 2013 – US lawmakers will have their first chance to formally question Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s defense secretary nominee, on January 31 when the Senate convenes a confirmation hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee announced Wednesday it will hold an open hearing, with the possibility of a follow-up session that would be closed to the public and the press. The hearing will be … more

‘No credible evidence’ Syria used chemical arms: US
Washington (AFP) Jan 16, 2013 – A top US official on Wednesday categorically denied a report that according to a leaked State Department cable Syria had used chemical weapons in December. “At the time we looked into the allegations that were made and the information that we had received, and we found no credible evidence to corroborate or to confirm that chemical weapons were used,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nu … more