News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

Business: HSBC announced that it will slash 50,000 jobs over the next two years.

The decision allows the banking giant to shift its business focus to Asia, where more promising markets could be found, particularly in the industrialized region of southern China.

The bank’s chief executive officer, Stuart Gulliver, told investors that the sale of its operations in Brazil and Turkey alone would axe 25,000 jobs.

A similar cut would be achieved by shutting 12 percent of branches in its main markets and shifting more operations to a digital model, according to the Financial Times.

The massive downsizing is expected to save HSBC as much as US$5 billion annually by 2017.

But, in reality, more than half of those reductions will go to hiring new employees in Asia and meeting new regulatory requirements.

For more, Bloomberg reports:


US: Prison officers were mocked when convicted murders Richard Matt and David Sweat left a Post-It note on their escape route bearing a smiley face and a “Have a nice day!” greeting when they freed themselves from the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York State last Saturday.

The facility is ranked among the country’s highest-security prisons, and no one has ever escaped from its walls in its 170-year history.

Richard Matt, 48, was interned for murdering his former boss, while David Sweat, 34, was serving a life sentence for having killed a sheriff’s deputy in 2002.

The two escapees made their way to the outside world by negotiating through labyrinths of prison walls and pipes with power tools and sophisticated plans.

Authorities, who are investigating how the pair came by the equipment and evaded notice while drilling through brick walls and steel plates, arrested a female prison employee who may have served as an accomplice.

Here’s the latest from CNN:


Korea: Two hospitals in South Korea have been ordered to close temporarily as part of the measures to contain the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, which has killed 13 Koreans.

Mediheal Hospital in the western part of Seoul and Changwon SK Hospital in the southern city of Changwon were ordered to temporarily shut down after MERS patients were found to have had contact with hundreds of people there before they were diagnosed.

MERS is an acute respiratory illness caused by a virus and exhibits symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing problems. In more severe cases, pneumonia and even kidney failure may follow, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

MERS has a death rate of about 40 percent, and no vaccine has been developed.  The source of the virus is still unknown, although CDC suspects that some people became infected after contact with camels.

The virus was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. It was brought to South Korea last month by a 68-year-old businessman returning from Saudi Arabia.  Since then, more than 120 South Koreans have been diagnosed with the disease.  Nearly 3,000 people have been isolated and 2,470 schools closed.

The World Health Organization’s spokesperson in Manila, Alison Clements-Hunt, has said the organization is not recommending travel bans to Korea as most cases of MERS had been limited to healthcare facilities, according to Al Jazeera, the Doha-based state-funded broadcaster.

But Hong Kong issued a red travel warning for South Korea on Tuesday and advised residents against unnecessary travel there.  A red travel warning is issued when there is a “significant threat” and people should adjust travel plans and avoid non-essential travel, according to the Hong Kong government.

Should you be worried about MERS? DNews tells us more.


UK: Visitors had better learn the local customs when treading on unfamiliar territories or they could face dire consequences.

Such is the case of 23-year-old Eleanor Hawkins, a recent graduate of Southampton University, who received a master degree in aeronautical engineering.

Hawkins was arrested in Malaysia last Tuesday and charged with a public nuisance offence along with a group of tourists who posed naked for a selfie after climbing Mount Kinabalu on 30 May, in spite of the warning from their guide.

The local magistrate court sentenced her to three days in prison and a fine of close to £900 (US$1400).

But Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and Joseph Pairin Kitingan, both Malaysian politicians, held forth a more serious accusation: they blamed the visitors for the deadly 5 June earthquake because the group showed disrespect to the sacred Kinabalu mountain.

Eleanor was fortunately released on Friday after she pleaded guilty to the charge of indecency.

We leave you this week with a lighter look at nude selfies:


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Lead-In Image: “SOUTH KOREA – JUNE 10”; Freedom Man /