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Hundreds Killed as Kerala, India, Is Hit by Worst Floods Since 1920s

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, New York Times

Hundreds Killed as Kerala, India, Is Hit by Worst Floods Since 1920s

The idyllic tourist destination of Kerala, India, is experiencing some of its worst floods in nearly a century, with torrential rains killing at least 324 people, state officials said, and shuttering the state’s major infrastructure. Scores have been injured in landslides, and authorities said nearly 220,000 more have been displaced since heavy rains began battering the southern Indian state last week. Officials said the rains were the heaviest since 1924. Floodwaters had risen high enough Friday to lap at the engines of jets parked on the runway of Kerala’s main international airport in Kochi, and authorities ordered it closed until Aug. 26, further complicating relief efforts.

U.S. Will Not Spend $230 Million Allocated to Repair Devastated Syrian Cities

The Trump administration announced Friday that it had decided against spending $230 million earmarked to help stabilize Syria, the United States’ latest step back from a seven-year war that has been largely won by a brutal government and its Russian and Iranian backers. Administration officials said they would alert Congress that the money, which had been approved, would not be spent to fix water systems, clear rubble or dig up unexploded mines in Syrian cities and towns that have been devastated by the war. Those repairs were seen as vital to persuading hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to return home.

Imran Khan, Elected as Prime Minister, Offers Little Conciliation to Foes

Imran Khan, the charismatic cricketer-turned-politician, was elected Pakistan’s prime minister Friday in an acrimonious vote in the lower house of parliament that was punctuated by partisan shouting. “Those people who have looted the country, I promise that they will be brought to justice,” Khan said in a brief speech after the vote, repeating an anti-corruption campaign theme and offering little conciliation to his adversaries. “No one has ever been able to blackmail me before. I tell you please go ahead and protest and hit the streets.” Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, is scheduled to take the oath of office Saturday.

China Fires 4 Officials Over Defective Vaccines

Chinese leaders have fired four officials and punished dozens more in connection with a scandal over faulty vaccines that has undermined President Xi Jinping and fueled protests by parents. China’s top leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee, announced the punishments Thursday in a bid to restore confidence in the nation’s health care system, experts said. The government drew widespread criticism last month amid reports that hundreds of thousands of children had been injected with faulty vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. While the government has said the children were unharmed, the case has touched a nerve among Chinese parents frustrated by years of similar food and medicine scandals.

North Korea Presses Demand for End of War Amid Talk of Pompeo Visit

North Korea pressed its demand Friday that the United States agree to declare an end to the Korean War, as South Korea’s leader indicated that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was preparing for his fourth visit to the North. Pompeo, point man in President Donald Trump’s efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, has been struggling to follow up on the agreement reached between Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, when they met in Singapore in June. In Singapore, Kim committed to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But the summit agreement lacked details on how to achieve that goal.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Myanmar Military Over Rohingya Atrocities

The Treasury Department announced Friday that it had imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar security forces for what U.S. officials said was their role in “ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims and “widespread human rights abuses” against other ethnic minority groups. The action targets four Myanmar military and border guard commanders and two military units. The United States had previously penalized only one Myanmar commander for the violence, which has caused 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh and other parts of Asia. The European Union and Canada had hit seven officials with sanctions.

Crows Are Taught to Pick Up Trash at French Theme Park

In France, the wily but maligned crow is getting a makeover. Puy du Fou, a historical theme park in the Loire region, has trained six crows to pick up cigarette butts and bits of trash and dump them in a box. The crows are part of an educational campaign. “We want to educate people not to throw their garbage on the ground,” said Nicolas de Villiers, president of Puy du Fou. As de Villiers put it, if crows can be schooled to pick up trash, why can’t humans? "Sometimes it is good to make people feel a little bit guilty,” he said.

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