The new drug highway: Pacific islands at centre of cocaine trafficking boom

Explosion in number of boats carrying cocaine and meth from Latin America to Australia is causing havoc for islands on the way It is the drug route youve never heard of: a multibillion-dollar operation involving cocaine and methamphetamines being packed into the hulls of sailing boats in the US and Latin America and transported to Australia via New Caledonia, whose waters and beaches are being used as storage grounds for billions of dollars worth of illicit drugs. Hundreds of kilograms of cocaine have washed up on remote Pacific beaches, ships laden with drugs have run aground on far-flung coral reefs, and locals have discovered huge caches of drugs stored in underwater nets attached to GPS beacons. Draw a direct line …

‘This is not a

They call it X Day a major earthquake striking the heart of the worlds most populous city in the most calamitous event since the second world war. Can hi-tech solutions save Tokyo? Every day, at 5pm, the gentle melody of the childrens song Yuyake Koyake chimes across the Minato area of Tokyo from a loudspeaker one of hundreds dotted across schools and parks throughout this megacity of 37 million people. The daily jingle does more than signify the arrival of evening. It is a test for the system that is designed to save Tokyoites from what would be one of the worst natural disasters in recorded human history: an earthquake striking the centre of the most populous city on Earth. …

Daimler says it has no idea how North Korea got hold of limousines

Kim Jong-un is using stretch limousines despite UN ban on sale of luxury goods The parent company of Mercedes-Benz has said it has no idea how the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, got hold of armoured limousines manufactured by the German company and said it had no business dealings with the UN-sanctioned country. Kim has raised eyebrows by using stretch limousines manufactured by Stuttgart-based Daimler AG at high-profile summits, including his meeting this week with Vladimir Putin and both of his earlier summits with Donald Trump. The sale of luxury goods, including limousines, is banned under UN sanctions intended to put pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. Kim nevertheless had two limos waiting for him at Vladivostok …

Deadly skin-eating fungal disease wipes out 90 amphibian species in 50 years

Study reveals extent of chytrid fungus and how devastating it has been for frog, toad and salamander species worldwide A deadly disease that wiped out global populations of amphibians led to the decline of 500 species in the past 50 years, including 90 extinctions, scientists say. A global research effort, led by the Australian National University, has for the first time quantified the worldwide impact of chytridiomycosis, or chytrid fungus, a fungal disease that eats away at the skin of amphibians. The disease was first discovered in 1998 by researchers at James Cook University in Queensland investigating the cause of mysterious, mass amphibian deaths. Chytridiomycosis is caused by two fungal species, both of which are likely to have originated in …

Vietnam summit: North Korea and US offer differing reasons for failure of talks

US president says North Korea wanted all sanctions lifted for only partial denuclearisation, a claim disputed by Pyongyang North Korea and the US have given differing accounts of why the second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un ended in failure on Thursday. The abrupt end to the Hanoi meeting, which was cut short by several hours, was a setback from both leaders who had made long journeys Kim by rail and Trump by air in the expectation that a deal was within reach. There are no plans for a third summit, but the US has expressed willingness to continue talks at a lower level. In his version of events, Trump said the deal had broken down because Kim wanted …