Taiwan says China meddling with elections after Solomon Islands cuts ties

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan accused China on Monday of trying to influence its presidential and legislative elections after the Solomon Islands cut off ties with Taipei. The Solomon Islands was the sixth country to switch allegiance to China since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in Taiwan in 2016. Its decision on Monday dealt her a new blow in her struggle to secure re-election in January amid criticism of her handling of Beijing and rising tension with China.

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Australians flee homes as police investigate suspicious fires

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A 12-year-old boy started a bush fire and two teenage girls were questioned over another blaze in Australia’s Queensland state, police said on Tuesday as forest fires forced hundreds of people to flee their homes in the country’s east. Strong winds have fanned some 140 bush fires in northern Queensland and neighboring New South Wales state this week, with flames ravaging thousands of hectares of land.

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Malaysia sends half a million face masks to haze-hit state, shuts schools

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia sent half a million face masks to the eastern state of Sarawak and closed more than 400 schools there on Tuesday as a haze spread from forest fires, officials said. Smoke was drifting over from blazes in neighbouring Indonesia, Malaysian authorities said – though Indonesia dismissed that accusation and said forest fires had also started in other countries across the region.

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Alibaba set for ‘big challenge’ as flamboyant chairman Ma departs

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma will step down from the Chinese firm on Tuesday, leaving his handpicked successor a daunting task of steering the $460 billion juggernaut at a time when the market for its core e-commerce business has slowed sharply. As Ma, who turns 55 on Tuesday, holds centerstage at his farewell party in the 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center stadium to the accompaniment of music and celebrity performances, attendees will be hoping to get clues on how Alibaba will be run under his heir Daniel Zhang.

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Climate groups call for SUVs to be banned

RANKFURT (Reuters) – Climate groups, including Greenpeace and Deutsche Umwelthilfe, called on Monday for sport-utility vehicles to be banned as part of a wider campaign to curb pollution by the auto industry. Car makers should stop developing large, heavy cars and vehicles with internal combustion engines, the “Exit” consortium said at a news conference on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show.

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