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Why athletes are taking acting classes to prepare for the Olympics

In Australia, 20 Olympic hopefuls from around the country travelled to Canberra to participate in a Rio Ready workshop held a…

  • Envoy says Indonesia leader too busy to take Australia call Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Indonesian President Joko Widodo has been too busy during the past three weeks to accept a phone call from the Australian prime minister to plead for the lives of two death row prisoners, an Indonesian envoy said Thursday. More »

  • Australia ready to join China-led bank, seeks clarity on governance
    Australia ready to join China-led bank, seeks clarity on governance Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    Australia is "well and truly" disposed to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday, but wants to know how much power Beijing would hold in the institution before a formal decision. Fairfax Media citing government sources, reported the federal cabinet has approved Australia signing a "memorandum of understanding" on joining the AIIB. Australia, South Korea and Japan are the notable regional absentees from the bank, which the United States had warned against. More »

  • 230 suspected jihadis prevented from leaving Australia Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Counterterrorism squads have prevented 230 suspected jihadis from departing Australian airports for the Middle East this month, including at least three teenage boys, officials said Wednesday. More »

  • Australia gives conditional support to China-proposed bank Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    Australia's prime minister said Wednesday that he supported the proposed development of a Chinese-backed Asian regional bank as long as it was transparent and not run by a single country. Prime Minister ... More »

  • Australian leader gives conditional support to Chinese bank Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    Australia's prime minister says he supports the proposed development of a Chinese-led Asian regional bank as long as it is transparent and was not run by a single country. The Asian Infrastructure Investment ... More »

  • Australian watchdog to block Qantas-China Eastern agreement Tue, Mar 24, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's competition watchdog said Tuesday it was leaning toward blocking a tie up between Qantas Airways and China Eastern Airlines because it could increase fares on the popular Sydney-Shanghai route. More »

  • Top Asian News at 11:30 p.m. GMT Mon, Mar 23, 2015

    SINGAPORE (AP) — Lee Kuan Yew brought prosperity to Singapore with an authoritarian system designed to outlast him, but that legacy may be ill-suited for the 21st-century challenges facing the tropical city-state. One of the last of a generation of Southeast Asian strongmen, Lee died Monday at age 91 after being hospitalized in early February, suffering from severe pneumonia. The famously blunt-speaking autocrat stepped down as prime minister in 1990, but for decades after remained a commanding presence in Singapore politics and the region. His son is the current prime minister. More »

  • Sick man on 2-week ocean voyage to hospital from Antarctica Mon, Mar 23, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A seriously ill man has begun a two-week ocean voyage on an icebreaker from an Australian Antarctic base to a hospital in Australia, officials said Monday. More »

  • Top Asian News at 10:30 p.m. GMT Sun, Mar 22, 2015

    SINGAPORE (AP) — Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. Lee was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb. 5 for severe pneumonia and was later put on life support. More »

  • Australia a puzzling hotbed of Islamic State recruiting
    Australia a puzzling hotbed of Islamic State recruiting Sun, Mar 22, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A nightclub bouncer who reportedly became a terror group leader. A man who tweeted a photo of his young son clutching a severed head. A teenager who is believed to have turned suicide bomber, and others suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State movement. All of them, Australian. More »

  • Japan firms to be a surprise no-show at Australian submarine event Sun, Mar 22, 2015

    By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo TOKYO (Reuters) - Two Japanese firms that until recently were the frontrunners to win a multi-billion dollar contract to build Australia's new submarines have rebuffed an invitation to attend a gathering of top Australian naval officials and politicians this week. The no-show by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries at an event called Australia's Future Submarine Summit, held amid intensifying competition for the deal, exposes a potential weak link in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's more muscular security agenda: Japan Inc. While Abe wants Japanese firms to vie for overseas orders after he lifted a decades-old ban on arms exports last year, such companies are showing little appetite for doing business in foreign markets after being restricted to local sales for so long, Japanese defence officials and experts said. Experts say they also worry about being called "merchants of death" at home, where Japan's wartime role remains a sensitive issue, should they start selling state-of-the-art weapons abroad. More »

  • IMF, ADB add to supporters for China-led development bank
    IMF, ADB add to supporters for China-led development bank Sun, Mar 22, 2015

    By Matthew Miller and Brenda Goh BEIJING (Reuters) - China received critical support from the International Monetary Forum and Asian Development Bank on Sunday for its goal of establishing a new Chinese-led multilateral lender, adding to a growing wave of endorsements that has worried the United States. Leaders of the IMF and ADB, speaking at a conference in Beijing, said they were in talks with or happy to cooperate with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a $50 billion (33 billion pound) lender to be majority funded by China that is seen by some as a rival to these established international financial institutions. The United States, concerned about China's growing diplomatic clout, has urged countries to think twice about signing up and questioned whether the AIIB will have sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards. More »

  • Probe reveals sexual exploitation at Nauru asylum camp
    Probe reveals sexual exploitation at Nauru asylum camp Sat, Mar 21, 2015

    Inquiry finds abuse of asylum seekers by security guards at Australian immigration processing centre on Pacific island. More »

  • Top Asian News at 8:30 p.m. GMT Fri, Mar 20, 2015

    LONDON (AP) — A North Korean envoy says his country has developed nuclear missiles and is prepared to use them at any time. North Korean Ambassador to Britain Hyun Hak Bong said in a recent interview with British broadcaster Sky News that his government would use the missiles in response to a nuclear attack by the United States. More »

  • Australia signals approval of China-based AIIB; Japan divided
    Australia signals approval of China-based AIIB; Japan divided Fri, Mar 20, 2015

    By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Ian Chua TOKYO/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia said on Friday there was a lot of merit in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) while Japan's finance minister signalled cautious approval of the institution that the United States has warned against. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that Canberra could formally decide to sign up to the AIIB when the full cabinet meets on Monday. Japan, Australia and the South Korea, all major U.S. allies, are the notable regional absentees from the AIIB. More »

  • Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser dies aged 84
    Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser dies aged 84 Fri, Mar 20, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Malcolm Fraser, the former Australian prime minister who was notoriously catapulted to power by a constitutional crisis that left the nation bitterly divided, died on Friday his office said. He was 84. More »

  • Australian premier takes back his 2nd recent Nazi comparison
    Australian premier takes back his 2nd recent Nazi comparison Fri, Mar 20, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's gaffe-prone prime minister publicly apologized Friday for comparing the opposition party leader to German World War II-era propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels — the second Nazi-related comment he has withdrawn in a month. More »

  • Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's office says he has died … Thu, Mar 19, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's office says he has died aged 84. More »

  • Top Asian News at 6:00 p.m. GMT Thu, Mar 19, 2015

    TANNA ISLAND, Vanuatu (AP) — When her roof started collapsing during the cyclone, Christine Iakangem felt she had no choice but to grab her 1-week-old baby Angeline and start running. On another part of the island, Kelson Hosea and his family crammed themselves into a shelter that he had just finished building. More »

  • Mutiny on the Bounty descendants to lose self-rule
    Mutiny on the Bounty descendants to lose self-rule Thu, Mar 19, 2015

    A remote Pacific island whose residents are descendants of the swashbuckling British sailors and Tahitian women immortalised in the "Mutiny on the Bounty" movies is set to lose its right to self-rule. More »

  • Vietnam calls for 'self-restraint' in disputed South China Sea
    Vietnam calls for 'self-restraint' in disputed South China Sea Wed, Mar 18, 2015

    Vietnam and Australia called on Wednesday for "self-restraint" in the South China Sea and warned against the unilateral use of force, an obvious reference to China's increasingly aggressive presence that has stirred concerns across the disputed region. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met Australian counterpart Tony Abbott in Canberra, where they will sign a deal on issues including security and climate change. Vietnam and other wary Southeast Asian countries have complained about China's controversial policy of land reclamation on disputed isles in the South China Sea. Dung told the Australian parliament there was an imperative need to draw up a code of conduct for the South China Sea. More »

  • IS extremism fight may take a generation: Australia
    IS extremism fight may take a generation: Australia Wed, Mar 18, 2015

    The battle against the Islamic State group's extremism may last a generation, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned, likening the jihadists to fanatical followers of Adolf Hitler. More »

  • Vietnam and Australia leaders agree to closer defense ties
    Vietnam and Australia leaders agree to closer defense ties Wed, Mar 18, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Vietnam and Australia agreed to closer security ties Wednesday, including training Vietnamese troops in Australia as Canberra seeks to balance its relationship with its biggest trading partner China and relations with other neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region. More »

  • Top Asian News at 5:30 p.m. GMT Tue, Mar 17, 2015

    PORT VILA, Vanuatu (AP) — Relief workers saw a flattened landscape and widespread destruction in their first views of Vanuatu's outer islands Tuesday after struggling for days to assess the areas of the South Pacific nation hardest hit by a fierce cyclone. Radio and telephone communications with the outer islands were just beginning to be restored, but remained incredibly patchy three days after Cyclone Pam hit. People were expressing their need for help any way they could: flashing mirrors or marking an "H'' in white on the ground to signal planes that were surveying the outer islands. More »

  • Australian archbishop charged with concealing child abuse Tue, Mar 17, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A Roman Catholic archbishop in Australia was charged Tuesday with covering up for a pedophile priest during the 1970s. More »

  • Prince Harry will train with Australian army next month
    Prince Harry will train with Australian army next month Tue, Mar 17, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Prince Harry will be embedded in Australian army units on the north, west and east coasts of the country during the British royal's hectic four-week secondment to the Australian defense forces next month before he ends his decade-long military career, officials said Tuesday. More »

  • World Bank chief says welcomes China-backed development bank Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    The president of the World Bank said on Friday he welcomed the setting up of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a day after Britain became the first Western nation to embrace the institution. With U.S. interest rates likely to rise later this year, capital flows to emerging markets and low-income countries will face greater challenges over time, Jim Yong Kim told a news conference. "From the perspective simply of the need for more infrastructure spending, there's no doubt that from our perspective, we welcome the entry of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," he said. The AIIB was launched in Beijing last year and was seen as a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank. More »

  • UK to join China-backed Asian development bank
    UK to join China-backed Asian development bank Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    Britain said it has sought to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), making it the first Western nation to embrace the China-backed institution, but the United States reacted frostily to the development. The AIIB was launched in Beijing last year to spur investment in Asia in transportation, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure. Analysts have said it could challenge the Western-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Britain would meet other founding members this month to agree on the principles of the bank's governance and accountability arrangements, the ministry said. More »

  • Aussie teen charts path from school to Islamic State bomber
    Aussie teen charts path from school to Islamic State bomber Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    An Australian 18-year-old who reportedly blew himself up in Iraq this week has described his march to "martyrdom", blogging about the path he took from talented schoolboy to fanatical jihadi. More »

  • Top Asian News at 12:30 p.m. GMT Thu, Mar 12, 2015

    DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The roof of a five-story cement factory under construction in Bangladesh collapsed Thursday, killing at least four workers and trapping many others, an official said. About 150 workers were on duty when the collapse occurred at Mongla in Bagerhat district, fire official Mizanur Rahman said. More »

  • Australia offers to pay for 2 prisoners' keep in Indonesia
    Australia offers to pay for 2 prisoners' keep in Indonesia Thu, Mar 12, 2015

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has offered to cover Indonesia's costs for keeping two Australian heroin traffickers in prison for life if Jakarta grants permanent stays of execution, the foreign minister said Thursday. More »

  • Indonesia Threatens Oz With A 'Human Tsunami'
    Indonesia Threatens Oz With A 'Human Tsunami' Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    A senior Indonesian minister has warned a "human tsunami" of asylum seekers will be unleashed on Australia if it keeps pursuing clemency for two drug smugglers. Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, are due to be executed by firing squad after being convicted of drug smuggling in Bali 10 years ago. But a growing campaign to save the Australians has angered Indonesia, with security minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno warning its neighbour over asylum seekers. More »

  • London's National Gallery bans selfie sticks
    London's National Gallery bans selfie sticks Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    London's National Gallery has banned selfie sticks, it said Wednesday, following the lead of museums around the world alarmed by the possible hazards to visitors and artworks. More »

  • Virgin's Branson joins clemency calls for Indonesia death row inmates
    Virgin's Branson joins clemency calls for Indonesia death row inmates Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    By Jane Wardell SYDNEY (Reuters) - British businessman Richard Branson has joined calls for clemency for convicted foreigners on death row in Indonesia, as an Indonesian minister warned of a renewed influx of asylum seekers into Australia if it continues to push the issue. Virgin founder Branson said on Wednesday he and fellow members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy had written to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, calling the planned execution of up to 11 foreigners a barbaric and inhumane form of punishment. The planned executions by Indonesia of the death row inmates, most convicted on drug smuggling charges, have been condemned internationally. More »

  • Insight - Testing Beijing, Japan eyes growing role in South China Sea secur …
    Insight - Testing Beijing, Japan eyes growing role in South China Sea secur … Wed, Mar 11, 2015

    By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo TOKYO (Reuters) - Seventy years after its imperial forces were kicked out of the South China Sea, Japan is quietly moving back into the region, forging security ties with the Philippines and Vietnam as both Southeast Asian nations try to cope with China's territorial ambitions. Tokyo's security cooperation is broad-based: It is supplying maritime patrol boats to the two countries while Japan will hold its first naval exercises with the Philippines in the coming months. Japan is providing this help, and more, in a calibrated escalation of involvement to avoid a backlash from Beijing, said Japanese sources with knowledge of the assistance. More »