Romania, Hungary recruit in Asia to fill labour shortage | AFP

Sporting yellow helmets, some 30 men are busy on a construction site south of Bucharest, exchanging a few words in Vietnamese. Faced with a growing labour shortage, which threatens their economies, Romania and Hungary alike are courting Asian workers, belying Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

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Flying taxi on show in Singapore ahead of test launch | AFP

German firm Volocopter has brought its drone-like flying taxi to Singapore this week as it eyes a push into the Asian market. The 18 propeller vehicle flew for about two minutes and 30 seconds during a test flight on Tuesday.

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Fit Tiger Woods ready to go in Japan | AFP

Tiger Woods says his fitness is ahead of schedule after arthroscopic knee surgery. Woods is in Japan this week to play in the US PGA Tour’s inaugural Zozo Championship, a $9.75 million event that is the second tournament of an almost $30 million Asian swing.

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Timelapse: Hong Kong | AFP

A timelapse video filmed in Hong Kong, a key Asian financial hub which has been rocked by political crisis and anti-government protests. IMAGES. AUDIO MUTE

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French ‘Spiderman’scales HK skyscraper, unfurls ‘peace’ banner | AFP

French ‘Spiderman’ Alain Robert begins scaling a skyscraper in Hong Kong amid rising political tensions and unfurls a banner showing a handshake alongside emblems of the city and China. The key Asian financial hub has been rocked by pro-democracy demonstrations for more than 10 weeks. IMAGES

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Awkwafina: Inclusiveness ‘can’t be a trend’

At the New York premiere of comedy drama “The Farewell,” actors Awkwafina and Tzi Ma and director Lulu Wang talk about Asian representation on the big screen. (July 9)

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Adorable baby elephant takes her first steps at Belgium zoo | AFP

Taking her first steps: An adorable baby Asian elephant is seen wobbling as she tries to stand just moments after being born. The new arrival is the fourth elephant to be born at the Pairi Daiza zoo in Belgium in six years. Elephant manager Rob Conachie says the zoo feels “very lucky”.

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Single use plastics | AFP Animé

Videographic on single-use plastic pollution. Tonnes of garbage sent to the Philippines years ago was shipped back to Canada on Friday after a festering diplomatic row, as Asian nations increasingly reject serving as dumping grounds for international trash.VIDEOGRAPHICS

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Trying to blend in? Elephant casually strolls through city in China

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A young, wild male Asian elephant who became separated from his herd caused havoc by taking a detour through the city in southwestern China over the weekend. Local authorities managed to capture the peculiar scene using a drone.

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Xi Jinping arrives at Quirinal Palace in Rome

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at the Quirinal Palace in Rome meeting his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella. It kicks off a whistlestop European tour amid growing Western unease over Italy joining the ever-expanding Asian giant’s new Silk Road project. IMAGES of Xi Jinping arriving at the Quirinal Palace.

US, Asian military forces hold annual ‘Cobra Gold’ exercise

The US and Thailand hold the annual joint ‘Cobra Gold’, the largest US-led military exercises in Asia involving gruelling drills in the Thai jungle, war games, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise. This year’s 11-day exercise is the 38th edition which sees 4500 U.S. personnel participate directly in the exercise.

Soviet-Afghanistan veterans march in Moscow for 30th anniversary

Russian veterans march in Moscow to mark the 30th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. A ceremony is held in honour of the soldiers who fought in the Asian country. IMAGES of the march in Moscow

What It’s Like To Apply To Ivy Leagues Under The Cloud Of The Harvard Admissions Lawsuit (HBO)

Three of the highest performing seniors at Glen Ridge High School in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, are involved in so many extracurriculars, they all lost count when asked to recite them. They’re ranked among the top 10 in a grade that’s placed over a third of its students in the National Honor Society.

Despite the students’ impressive qualifications, they began to worry about their applications to elite colleges. An ongoing lawsuit challenging the consideration of race in admissions could harm the use of affirmative action in education. And the seniors — Ryan Henry, Ethan Che, and Cadmus Cai — are all non-white.

The litigation, brought by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, argues that Harvard University has negatively stereotyped Asian applicants and held them to higher test standards and tougher personality assessments. The constitutionality and value of affirmative action has repeatedly held up in the courts, but if the lawsuit reaches the now conservative-majority Supreme Court, the decision could alter the way all colleges consider diversity in admissions.

VICE News documented the experiences of the three students as they grappled with the lawsuit’s potential effects and the stress of early action application deadlines.

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Why Dragon Fish Are So Expensive | So Expensive

Dragon fish, or Asian arowana, are some of the most expensive pet fish in the world. And for a fish lover like me who has one of the 3 gallon fish tanks for Betta Fish in his house, this fish sounds a good enough fish to add to one’s collection(provided the person has the money to but it). It often sells for tens of thousands of dollars, and one was rumored to have sold for $300,000 in 2009. The fish is highly coveted for the red and gold colors, and new color variations that it has been bred for. Emily Voigt, author of The Dragon Behind The Glass, talks about the peculiarities of the arowana trade.

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Narrator: What would you rather have, a new car, or this fish? Turns out they cost around the same. A single dragon fish can go for tens of thousands of dollars. So, what’s so special about it? Well, it might not look it, but this endangered fish is so coveted, people have actually gone to prison over it.The dragon fish gets its nickname for how it resembles a dragon in flight as it swims. However, its real name is the Asian arowana. It’s a freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia, and it has taken the aquarium market by storm. Today, these fish are so prized that some have their own motorcades, and breeders protect their stock with layers of concrete walls, complete with guard dogs and watchmen. There’s even a market for cosmetic surgery to help subpar fish who need eye lifts or chin tucks. And that may sound like overkill, but it’s really not.

Emily Voigt: It’s a very valuable commodity, and that had driven a tremendous amount of crime around the areas where it’s bred.

Narrator: That’s Emily Voigt, who explores this world for her book, “The Dragon Behind the Glass.” We’re talking murder and midnight fish-napping. This wasn’t always the case, however.Up until the second half of the 20th century, these fish weren’t flaunted. They were fileted and eaten by locals. Then, in 1967, an aquarium trader traveling through northern Malaysia saw a dead arowana at a food market and found it so attractive that he sought one out to keep as a pet. By the 1980s, arowanas had turned up in Taiwan, and eventually people all over Asia wanted one. In particular, the red and gold varieties of arowana came to symbolize luck and wealth in several Asian cultures.

Voigt: All that has led to a whole mythology about the fish. It’s supposed to bring good luck and prosperity, even to jump out of its tank to save its owner.

Narrator: Nowadays, breeding for new color combinations is all the rage. Like this fish, called the chili red, which you can get for around $1,400 each. Or the emerald violet fusion super red, which goes for about $12,000 each. But no fish is more rare and valuable than the albino. In 2009, one of these supposedly set a record, selling for $300,000 to an anonymous high ranking official in the Chinese government. In fact, most people who buy dragon fish are middle-class Chinese men, who’ll collect the fish as a status symbol.

Voigt: So keeping this fish is very much a macho hobby. There’s not a lot of women that do it. And it’s almost like collecting cars or something like that.

Narrator: So in the mid-90s, when dragon fish were successfully bred in captivity on certified farms, it was a big deal, because they were becoming rare in the wild due to overfishing and harvesting for the pet trade. Since then, more demand has led to breeding operations all over Southeast Asia. And while it’s perfectly legal to buy a dragon fish in the area, it may not be in other non-Asian countries. In the US, for example, you can only find the Asian arowana on the black market. And in fact, you can’t bring it into the country legally, because it’s banned by the US Endangered Species Act. People have actually gone to prison for trafficking this fish. So if you have an itch to have a dragon-like pet, maybe you should stick to something safer, like bearded dragons.

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Why Dragon Fish Are So Expensive | So Expensive

Looking Eastward: Valdai Club conference in Malaysia focuses on problems facing Asia

The growing prominence of Asian nations on the world stage, and the region’s current hurdles, are in focus right now – at a #conference in #Malaysia, organised by the Moscow-based think-tank, the #ValdaiClub.

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‘There was magic in the air’ on ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ set

(8 Aug 2018) “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu says the all-Asian set made cast emotional, while stars Constance Wu, Gemma Chan and Henry Golding talk about the film being a stepping stone for Asian representation. (Aug. 8)

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