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Retired Marine general James Mattis was sworn in as US defense secretary, praising intelligence agencies and calling for stronger ties with allies in a break from positions taken by President Donald Trump. Mattis was confirmed by a 98-1 vote earlier Friday in the first action taken by US senators after Trump took the oath of office, and was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence. "Together with the intelligence community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation," Mattis said in a statement to the Department of Defense -- tipping his cap to the agencies that Trump has sharply criticized as they investigate claims of Russian interference in the US election.
South Korea's culture minister resigned after being arrested Saturday for allegedly creating a "blacklist" of nearly 10,000 artists who voiced criticism of impeached President Park Geun-Hye. Cho Yoon-Sun, who is the first minister in active service to be arrested in South Korea, is accused of creating the vast catalogue to starve the artists of government subsidies and private investments and place them under state surveillance. The list's existence has sparked widespread anger, raising the spectre of Seoul's 1960-80s army-backed rule -- including under dictator Park Chung-Hee, the impeached leader's late father -- when the news, arts and entertainment were heavily censored.
"Elephant's skin can cure skin diseases like eczema," one shop owner, who requested anonymity, told AFP next to a counter brimming with porcupine quills and snake skins. Another young man touting his wares nearby promised a paste made from ground up elephant teeth would "cure pimples and remove black spots".