Thai authorities bar AI talk on torture
Thai authorities blocked an Amnesty International news conference on torture in the kingdom Wednesday, the watchdog said, the latest move to silence rights groups in the army-run country. Two foreign Amnesty International staff were scheduled to speak at the Bangkok launch of a report detailing 74 cases of alleged torture at the hands of Thai soldiers and police. But the advocacy group was told Wednesday morning that speaking at the event would be cause for legal action, AI spokesman Omar Waraich said. ‘The authorities said to us that… if any representatives from Amnesty International spoke at the event they would be in violation of Thailand’s labour laws,’ he said. — AFP, Bangkok

Corbyn says ready to win UK election
Armed with 10 new policy pledges, Britain’s main opposition Labour Party is ready to rebuild trust and win the next election, even if the ruling Conservatives call one for next year, leader Jeremy Corbyn will say on Wednesday. After winning election as leader for the second time at the weekend, Corbyn will call on his deeply divided party to ‘end the trench warfare’, his spokesman said, and unite to challenge prime minister Theresa May’s government. But underlining the differences in his party, a top aide will criticise Labour for allowing the government to plot a ‘hard Brexit’ to sever ties with the European Union unopposed while they were arguing over their leader. — Reuters, Liverpool

Obama names first ambassador to Cuba
The United States has tapped Jeffrey DeLaurentis, America’s top diplomat in Havana, to become the first official ambassador to Cuba in five decades. ‘The appointment of an ambassador is a common sense step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between our two countries,’ Obama said in a statement. Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro announced a thaw in relations in December 2014. Since then, Washington and Havana have taken once-unthinkable steps to mend ties after more than half a century of enmity. — AFP, Washington

US drone strike in Afghanistan kills 21
A suspected US drone strike against Islamic State in Afghanistan killed at least 21 people on Wednesday, most of them militants but possibly including some civilians, Afghan officials said. Civilians casualties in US air strikes have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and Western allies fighting the Taliban-led insurgency since 2001. The strike in Nangarhar province, on the eastern border with Pakistan, killed 21 people, at least three of them civilians, and wounded another 11, according to the governor of Achin district. — Reuters, Jalalabad

Typhoon Megi kills one in China
Typhoon Megi smashed into the Chinese mainland Wednesday morning, killing one person, after leaving a trail of destruction and four people dead in Taiwan. More than 500 people were hurt when the storm raked across the island, including eight Japanese tourists whose bus was blown over. One remains in a critical condition. Megi hit China with winds of around 120 kilometres an hour, dumping heavy rain, dropping more than 300 mm of precipitation in several areas, according to the official Xinhua news service. — AFP, Beijing

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