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BJP sweeps Kashmir local body polls
PTI, Srinagar:
The BJP emerged victorious in the urban local body elections in four districts of south Kashmir today, winning 53 of the 132 wards, where voting was held in four phases earlier this month, election officials said.
The unprecedented victory for the BJP has given it control of at least four of the 20 civic bodies in the four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian.

Judge drops some charges against Manafort
Reuters, Alexandria
US prosecutors on Friday agreed to drop criminal charges against Paul Manafort that a jury deadlocked on earlier this year, as a federal judge set a Feb. 8 date for Manafort's sentencing on charges of bank fraud and filing false tax returns.
Prosecutors had favored waiting until Manafort finished cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller before addressing the remaining charges, but U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis rejected the timetable so he could move forward with sentencing Manafort, who appeared in court in a wheelchair and was said to be suffering significant health issues.

Australia govt braces for defeat in crucial by-poll
Reuters, Sydney
Australia's center-right government is poised to lose its one-seat majority in parliament after early counting in a crucial by-election on Saturday showed voters deserting the Scott Morrison-led government.
The governing Liberals suffered a 23 percent swing against the party with just over 20 percent of votes counted in the by-election for the constituency of Wentworth, according to the electoral commission.

Japan deepens Southeast Asian ties
AP, Singapore
Japan's defense minister says he plans to start a program for professional airmen to strengthen ties between his country and Southeast Asia.
Takeshi Iwaya says the program fits in with the government's vision to raise defense cooperation with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has "gained momentum" since it was announced in 2016.

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