Indian farmers said they're being unfairly criticized for causing the worst air pollution in the capital because of the burning of stubbles in fields.
The air quality index stood at 273 on Thursday after authorities declared a health emergency last weekend when the index crossed 500 — 10 times the level considered healthy by WHO standards.
Despite a ban on stubble burning, farmers say they have no choice but to set fire to the crop residue.
Farmers in Haryana and Punjab states, bordering New Delhi, traditionally resort to stubble burning during the months of October and November as a cheap way of clearing their fields after harvesting the crops. This year's record pollution has also been aggravated by smog from festival fireworks.
In an effort to tackle the high pollution levels, the New Delhi government is experimenting at limiting the number of cars on the road and halting construction activity. New Delhi's top elected official, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, said his government had played its part and blamed farmers for setting the fires.
"We are helpless," said Balwinder Singh Chabba, a farmer in northern Punjab state.
He said he cannot afford any delay in getting his fields clear of stubble from the previous crop before sowing the next one.
The farmers, reluctant to stop stubble burning, also criticized the government for blaming them.
"Why doesn't Delhi's air quality improve during other 11 months where when there is no stubble burning," said Gurbhajan Singh, as plumes of acrid smoke rose up from fields.
Punjab on Tuesday reported the season's highest farm fire count at 6,668, as farmers continued to defy the ban, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
The Punjab government offers subsidies for farm equipment to dispose of the crop residue but farmers say the pricy machines have remained out of reach for most.
"The government should either give us a bonus of $2.8 per quintal of our produce or provide us $84.5 per acre so that we can clear our residue without burning it," said Singh.
The state and central governments, often led by rival political parties, have continued to blame each other for the pollution crisis.
"There is passing of the buck," India's Supreme Court observed Monday, calling out both the central and state authorities.
"People are dying and it can't happen in a civilized country," the court said.
In an extremely unusual case, South Korea repatriated two North Korean fishermen on Thursday after finding they had killed 16 other crew members on their boat and then fled to South Korean waters, Seoul officials said.
The two North Koreans, both men in their 20s, were captured in their boat south of the countries' eastern sea border last Saturday, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry. It said a South Korean investigation later found the two had killed 16 colleagues, including the captain.
South Korea has a policy of accepting North Koreans who want to resettle in the South to avoid political oppressions and economic poverty at home. It is the first time that South Korea has deported any North Korean national who has come to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the Unification Ministry, which deals with North Korean affairs.
Ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said South Korea decided to expel the two fishermen to North Korea because they were "heinous criminals" who could not be recognized as refugees under international laws.
According to the South Korean investigation, 19 people were aboard the squid fishing boat when it left the North's Kimchaek port on its east coast in August. While fishing in waters near Russia and elsewhere, the two men collaborated with another crew member and killed the captain, who they said had abused them. The trio later killed 15 other fishermen on the boat to cover up their action.
The three went back to Kimchaek port with the intention of moving to another region of North Korea. But the third fisherman was arrested near the port, and the two fled North Korea using the same boat, the Unification Ministry said, citing the government investigation.
When their boat sailed across the sea border last week, they were chased by a South Korean navy ship which fired warning shots at them. After two days, the two were captured by the South Korean navy on Saturday. They later told investigators they wanted to resettle in South Korea, but South Korean authorities determined they only wanted to avoid North Korean arrest, the ministry said.
North Korean fishing boats have occasionally drifted into South Korean waters, and South Korea has usually accepted those who chose to resettle and repatriated others who wished to return home.
About 32,000 North Koreans have fled to the South since the end of the Korean War, most of them via China and in the past two decades. North Korean defectors are a sore point in relations between the two Koreas, with the North often claiming its citizens are held against their will in the South.
Ties have been strained between the two Koreas as the North ramps up pressure on the United States to make concessions in deadlocked nuclear diplomacy.
The International Criminal Court sentenced a Congolese warlord known as "The Terminator" to 30 years imprisonment Thursday after he was convicted of crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.
The sentence was the highest ever passed by the global court.
Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty in July of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in atrocities in a bloody ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.
Ntaganda showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Robert Fremr passed sentences ranging from eight years to 30 years for individual crimes and an overarching sentence of 30 years.
The court's maximum sentence is 30 years, although judges also have the discretion to impose a life sentence.
Iraqi officials say the country's main port has reopened after being blocked by protesters for five days.
The officials said scores of trucks were picking up imports Thursday from Umm Qasr port in the country's south. The port houses a vital oil terminal and is an entry point for food and basic goods.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Iraq has been gripped by protests in the capital Baghdad and across most of its southern provinces. Scores of people have been killed by security forces.
The protests are a continuation of the economically-driven demonstrations that began in early October. They've since turned deadly as security forces cracked down, using live ammunition.
Italy has given steelmaker ArcelorMittal a few days to agree to a plan to keep operating a southern Italian plant.
The French-Italian steelmaker this week balked at continuing to operate the Taranto steel plant when the Italian government removed immunity from prosecution in case of environmental damage.
Premier Giuseppe Conte says he has rejected as "unacceptable" the steelmaker's plan to cut 5,000 jobs. Political pressure was building Thursday on the center-left government to avoid cuts.
Conte said late Wednesday, after meeting ArcelorMittal executives, that the government offered in the talks to restore the immunity. But he described the immunity shield as a "false problem," saying ArcelorMittal wants to slash jobs and cut production annually to 4 million tons, to far below previously agreed upon levels.