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Hard Numbers: US camps in Philippines, Malaysia may nix death penalty, Bulgaria’s close vote, Burkina Faso vs. journalists, hungry as a bear in Japan

US ships during an underway replenishment in the Philippine Sea. January 19, 2023.

US ships during an underway replenishment in the Philippine Sea. January 19, 2023.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Greg Johnson via ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters Connect

4: On Monday, the Philippine government confirmed the location of four new military camps that will indefinitely host rotating US forces, despite China’s opposition. The new encampments, which were announced last February, place US forces closer to Taiwan and key trade routes in the South China Sea, where China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

1,300: Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament approved a bill on Monday to abolish mandatory death sentences, possibly sparing over 1,300 death row inmates. If the bill passes the upper house as expected and gets the king’s signature, it will mean capital punishment is no longer obligatory for crimes like murder and drug trafficking.

5: So far, it’s a dead-heat in Bulgaria’s parliamentary election, the 5th in two years, between center-right PM Boyko Borisov and liberal ex-PM Kiril Petkov. Corruption and inflation were the top concerns for voters in the former Soviet ally, which has struggled to form a durable ruling coalition in recent years. Final results are expected later this week.

2: Burkina Faso’s military junta has expelled two French reporters in its crackdown on journalists. The junta, which seized power in a coup last September (the country’s second in 2022), has not offered an official reason for the move, but it comes after one of the journalist’s publications investigated the execution of children inside military barracks in the northern part of the conflict-plagued West African country.

17: Japanese bear encounters have been on the rise in the wild … and at dinner. A new vending machine in Semboku, northern Japan, is clawing a profit by selling wild bear meat for $17 (2,200 yen) per 250 g. It’s proving so popular that the operator is getting mail-order requests from as far away as Tokyo.


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