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Argentina missing navy submarine: Search stepped up

The Argentine navy is stepping up its search in the South Atlantic for a 44-crew submarine that has been out of radio contact for three days. President Maurico Macri said all national and international resources were being deployed to help find the San Juan as quickly as possible. A Nasa research plane has joined the search for the vessel. Britain and countries in the region have offered help after it disappeared 430km (267 miles) off the coast. "We have not been able to find, or have visual or radar communication with the submarine," navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told a news conference. The diesel-electric submarine was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southern-most tip of South America, to its base at Mar del Plata, south of Buenos Aires. Its last contact with the navy command was on Wednesday morning. An Argentine destroyer and two corvettes are conducting a search around the area of the sub's last known position off the south-eastern Valdez peninsula. But so far there are no clues about its whereabouts. The rescue operation has been formally upgraded to a search-and-rescue procedure after no visual or radar contact was made with the submarine, Mr Balbi said. "Detection has been difficult despite the quantity of boats and aircraft involved in the search", he said. The task of the rescuers has been further complicated by heavy winds and high waves. Mr Balbi said that the number of hours that had passed since there had been any communication with the vessel was of concern. It is thought that the submarine may have had communication difficulties caused by a power cut. Navy protocol dictates that a vessel should come to the surface if communication has been lost. "We expect that it is on the surface," Mr Balbi said. The German-built submarine was inaugurated in 1983, the newest of the three submarines in the Argentine navy's fleet. President Macri said the government was in regular contact with the crew's families. "We share their concern and that of all Argentines," he wrote on Twitter. "We are committed to using all national and international resources necessary to find the ARA San Juan submarine as soon as possible." A US Nasa P-3 explorer aircraft - capable of long-duration flights - is preparing to take part in the search, Mr Balbi said, in addition to a Hercules C-130 from the Argentine Air Force. Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, and South Africa have all formally offered assistance in the search. (BBC)

George Clooney returning to TV - two decades after ER

Clooney will direct and star in a six-episode series based on Joseph Heller's twisted modern classic Catch-22. George Clooney is returning to television, nearly two decades since his last appearance on the hit medical drama ER. The Hollywood star will direct and star in a TV adaptation of Joseph Heller's 1961 novel Catch-22, about the absurdity of war. The announcement was made by Paramount Television, who will be backing the show which has yet to be acquired by a network for distribution. Set in Italy during World War II, the novel follows US soldier Yossarian, fighting against a seemingly endless number of missions in order to be discharged from duty. The phrase "catch-22" was coined by Heller, and is used to describe a maddening bureaucratic paradox where Yossarian declares insanity to avoid more missions but, by doing so, proves he is in fact sane. George Clooney as Dr Doug Ross in ER Clooney will not play the lead character, but Commander Colonel Cathcart - the novel's main antagonist and a military hypocrite. The show has been written and produced by Luke Davies, who wrote the award-winning drama Lion, and David Michod, the Australian indie sensation who directed The Rover and Animal Kingdom. Clooney's move to television comes as Oscar-winning stars such as Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas also take on small-screen projects. The 56-year-old actor broke out on television series such as The Facts Of Life, Roseanne and was part of the original cast of medical drama ER, playing Dr Doug Ross until 1999. (SKY NEWS)

Ben Affleck: Men 'must be accountable'

The star admits he did not have a "scope of the problem" when claims were made against Harvey Weinstein, who launched his career. Ben Affleck says men must face up to allegations about their behaviour Ben Affleck has called on men to "hold themselves accountable" as Hollywood stars continue to face sexual misconduct allegations. During an appearance on US talk show The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Thursday, the Oscar-winning actor admitted that he did not have a sense of "the scope of the problem" in the industry and described his relationship with producer Harvey Weinstein as "tainted". The 45-year-old was one of the first to comment when allegations surrounding the disgraced movie mogul first emerged in October, which has prompted alleged victims of other stars - including Kevin Spacey and Sylvester Stallone - to come forward. The actor has now said he will donate his residuals from other Weinstein-backed films - such as Shakespeare In Love - to non-profit arts group Film Independent or RAINN, America's largest anti-sexual assault organisation. Speaking about the wider scandal, Affleck - who worked with Weinstein on his breakout hit Good Will Hunting - said that men needed to be "really mindful" of their behaviour. The shadow of the Harvey Weinstein allegations continue to follow the world of film He told Colbert: "I thought I had a sense of the scope of the problem and I thought I understood it, and the truth is I really didn't. "I didn't understand what it's like to be groped, to be harassed, to be interrupted, talked over, paid less, you know, pushed around, belittled. All the things that women deal with, that for me, as a man, I have the privilege of not having to deal with. "It's just the kind of thing we have to, as men, as we become more aware of this, be really, really mindful of our behaviour and hold ourselves accountable and say: 'If I was ever part of the problem, I want to change. I want to be part of the solution.'" He added that men must be prepared to face up to any "uncomfortable or awkward or strange encounters" that they may have had, rather than shy away from them. Ben Affleck stars in Justice League, his latest project Ben Affleck stars in Justice League, his latest project Last month, Affleck apologised over accusations he groped actress Hilarie Burton during a live music show when she was 21. Afflect, who stars as Batman in Friday's cinema release of Justice League, added: "I'm not a spokesman, I'm not a superhero, I can't change it by myself. I can just be accountable for myself and for my actions. "Part of this, for me, has been listening to people I really care about and love as they tell me stories of stuff that has happened to them - this is men and women - and recognising that it's a real thing." (SKY NEWS)


Xi commits unwavering cooperation in phone call with Saudi king Salman

China's determination to deepen strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia will not waver, no matter how the international and regional situation alters, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in his phone conversation with the ruler Thursday. Congratulating Xi on the successful conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and his re-election as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, King Salman said he believed the congress would guide the Chinese people to greater achievements. Xi appreciated the congratulatory call and said the party congress was a landmark in China's development, determining its guiding ideology and making strategic deployment for China's modernization. "We are confident of leading the Chinese people toward the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," Xi said. Remarking on the importance of maintaining close communication between the two countries' heads of state, Xi said China and Saudi Arabia were comprehensive strategic partners with deepening strategic mutual trust and win-win cooperation. China supports Saudi Arabia's efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and realize greater development, the Chinese president said. China is also willing to work with Saudi Arabia to deepen strategic cooperation, advance the strategic integration of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, and conduct cooperation in a variety of areas through the China-Saudi Arabia High-level Joint Committee, Xi said. The Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, was proposed by Xi in 2013 to build a trade, investment and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes. In a bid to diversify its oil-dependent economy, Saudi Arabia announced the Saudi Vision 2030 growth strategy last year, which includes privatizing some state-owned companies. King Salman said the Saudi Arabia-China relations have achieved significant development. Saudi Arabia is willing to further bilateral cooperation via the Saudi Arabia-China High-level Joint Committee, integrate the Saudi Vision 2030 plan with the Belt and Road Initiative, and deepen cooperation in energy and finance, the Saudi king said. He also said his country was ready to become an important partner of China in the Gulf region and commit to enhancing their bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership. "This is in the interest of our two countries and is conducive to world and regional peace and stability," he said. The two heads of state also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


China, Philippines sign 14 deals, enhance positive momentum in ties

China and the Philippines on Wednesday signed 14 cooperation deals as leaders of the two countries pledged to strengthen "positive momentum" in bilateral relations. After meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the press in Manila that the Chinese-Philippine relations have improved and both sides hope to "work together to make up for the time that we might have lost." Li is the first Chinese premier to pay an official visit to the Philippines in a decade. He came to the Philippines at a time the bilateral ties are warming up, a development that has continued since Duterte came to office last year. Li said Duterte's visit to China in October last year was an "ice-breaker" and he has come this time to carry forward the traditional friendship. The two leaders witnessed the signing of the 14 cooperation agreements on infrastructure financing, bridge construction, bond issuance, drug rehabilitation, climate change, intellectual property protection, industrial capacity cooperation. The leaders also announced the start of work for two river bridges in Manila and two drug rehabilitation centers in Mindanao. Looking forward, Li said China commends the Philippines' Ambisyon Natin 2040 development strategy and is happy to be involved in the Philippines' large-scale infrastructure programs. Cooperation strategies, spanning five to 10 years, in areas like infrastructure can be discussed and formulated to send out a message that the China-Philippines relations will continue to go forward, he said. Li pledged 150 million yuan (22.7 million U.S. dollars) in grants from the Chinese government to assist the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi in the southern Philippines. The Philippine government in October declared victory over Islamic State (IS)-linked extremists in Marawi, ending nearly five months of fierce fighting that left many parts of the city destroyed. Li said he believed that with Duterte's leadership the rebuilding of Marawi will be completed at a very early day and local people will enjoy an even better life. For his part, Duterte thanked China for aiding the Philippines in its takeover and rebuilding of Marawi and the assistance given to boost the Philippines' "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure development initiative. "I am pleased to note the positive turnaround and vigorous momentum of Philippines-China relations," Duterte said. "Practical cooperation in many areas is bringing in an early harvest of tangible benefits." He said the joint efforts to improve ties have secured peace, stability, and development in the region. (Xinhua News Agency)