World News Roundup: US issues China travel advisory amid increased tensions; Rebel infighting escalates in northwest Syria
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Thailand's rebel female Buddhist monks defy tradition
Boodsabann Chanthawong recently joined a growing number of women defying generations of Thai Buddhist tradition by becoming ordained as novice monks at an unrecognized all-female monastery outside Bangkok. Leading a procession of 21 other women - from teenagers to senior citizens - to a chapel in the Songdhammakalyani monastery in Nakhon Pathom province, Boodsabann teared up as she prepared to exchange her white garments for the distinctive saffron robes otherwise seen almost exclusively on male monks.
Russia charges former U.S. marine with espionage: Interfax
A former U.S. Marine detained in Russia has been charged with espionage, the Interfax news agency said on Thursday, meaning he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Russia's FSB state security service detained Paul Whelan, 48, in Moscow last Friday on suspicion of spying, in a case which threatens to aggravate diplomatic tensions with the United States.
U.S. issues China travel advisory amid increased tensions
The U.S. State Department on Thursday renewed its warning for U.S. citizens traveling in China to exercise increased caution due to "arbitrary enforcement of local laws" amid heightened diplomatic tensions over the arrest in Canada of a Chinese technology company executive. The updated travel advisory maintains the warning at "Level 2" but also warns about extra security checks and increased police presence in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions.
U.S. warns Iran on space launches, Tehran rejects concerns
The United States issued a pre-emptive warning to Iran on Thursday against pursuing three planned space rocket launches that it said would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology. Iran rejected the warning, issued by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying its space vehicle launches and missile tests were not violations.
Three-quarters of French unhappy with Macron's government: poll
Three-quarters of French people are unhappy with the way President Emmanuel Macron and his government are running the country, with a majority keen to see more measures to boost household incomes, a poll showed on Thursday. A wave of "yellow vest" street protests in the past two months have rocked Macron's presidency, forcing him into policy concessions including scrapping a planned fuel tax rise to try and defuse anger over a perceived squeeze on family budgets.
Second referendum would only divide UK further: Brexit minister
A second referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union would only exacerbate divisions among the British people, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told a German newspaper. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said last month there would be a "plausible argument" for another referendum if parliament failed to reach a consensus on the way forward, something Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly ruled out.
Gatwick, Heathrow airports order military-grade anti-drone equipment: The Times
London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports have ordered military-grade anti-drone defenses worth "several million pounds" after drones caused three days of disruption at Gatwick last month, The Times newspaper reported on Thursday. Transport Minister Chris Grayling met police, aviation and defense chiefs on Thursday to discuss the issue, the report said. The airports did not immediately comment on the report.
U.N. says Algerian security move has stranded vulnerable Syrians in desert
The United Nations said on Thursday it feared for the safety of Syrians barred from entering Algeria from the south, saying some of those turned back were refugees left stranded in the desert and not suspected militants as Algiers maintains. The official overseeing migrant policy at Algeria's interior ministry said on Wednesday that Syrians who had arrived overland from the south recently were members of defeated militant groups from Syria's civil war who would pose a security threat.
Brazil wants to move embassy to Jerusalem, push reform at WTO
The national security adviser to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that the leader wants to move Brazil's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but that logistical considerations were standing in the way. Retired Army General Augusto Heleno, Bolsonaro's top adviser on security, did not elaborate. But the country's powerful agriculture sector is opposed to moving the embassy from Tel Aviv and angering Arab nations that buy billions of dollars worth of Brazilian halal or "permissible" meat each year.
Rebel infighting escalates in northwest Syria
Clashes among rival Syrian rebel factions have spread across northwest Syria, rebels and residents said on Thursday, in the latest bout of tit-for-tat fighting between opponents of President Bashar al Assad's rule. Infighting has long plagued Syria's armed opposition since the uprising against Assad began in 2011. Turf wars have helped the Syrian president, with his Iranian and Russian allies, recover much of the territory previously held by rebels.
(With inputs from agencies.)