Category: APAC

NEW DELHI, India — She is only a footnote in one of the biggest diplomatic rows between India and the US in recent memory.

But for Agnes Samuel, the high-profile dispute between her daughter-in-law and diplomat Devyani Khobragade had terrifying consequences.

The dispute involves Khobragade, a 39-year-old consular official in New York, who was recently arrested on charges of falsifying visa documents to get her housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard, into the country. Khobragade said she paid Richard $4,500 a month, while being accused of actually paying her around $3 an hour. [Read the full article]



The Great Wall of China, built more than 2,000 years ago, stands as one of the monumental feats of ancient engineering. Stretching thousands of miles, it protected the newly unified country from foreign invaders.

But before the Great Wall, warring Chinese dynasties built many other walls for protection. An American archaeologist recently began surveying one of the biggest. [Read the full article]


China has called for calm in South Sudan, urging both factions to start ceasefire talks as soon as possible, the Foreign Ministry has said.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that the deteriorating situation in the country was cause for concern.

“We are negotiating with both sides in the conflict in various ways. China’s special representative on African Affairs, Zhong Jianhua, talked with South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin on the phone, calling for calm and restraint from both sides to start ceasefire talks as soon as possible. [Read the full article]


English: Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited a shrine honouring Japan’s war dead in a move that led to China warning that already poor relations would worsen.

Thursday’s visit to the shrine, which honours 2.5 million war dead including convicted Japanse war criminals, prompted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to summon Japanese Ambassador to China Masato Kitera. [Read the full article]


It’s a move worthy of Shakespeare: two years after he came to power, North Korea’s young ruler has apparently purged and executed his own uncle for plotting a coup against him.

The brutal tale, broadcast at length on state media, had the world gripped. But how much is true? And how much has it revealed about the way North Korea’s ruling family works?

Sitting on the podium beneath a giant beaming portrait of his late father, Kim Jong-un wore an expression that seemed calculated to catch attention. [Read the full article]


After the end of World War II, the Japanese constitution, written in part by the United States for the defeated Japanese nation, rejected war as a solution for conflict. The Preamble to the Japanese constitution recognized the Japanese government’s brutal actions in Asia during World War II.

It stated, “we resolve that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government,” and continues “We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human relationship, and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all people of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.” [Read the full article]

Now that a storm, perhaps the most powerful in recorded history, has struck the Philippines, with winds gusting to 170 mph, a storm surge exceeding 20 feet, and an estimated 10,000 people dead; now that bodies are piling up in such quantities that local officials are digging mass graves; now that desperate survivors are telling reporters things like “Help us, help us, we are very thirsty,” and “There were people—babies, children, old people—lying out on the street, with blisters over their bodies … hundreds of them;” now the world is rushing to send help.

“American military search-and-rescue helicopters, surveillance planes and Marines streamed toward the central Philippines on Sunday to survey the devastation and assist survivors,” The Los Angeles Times reports. “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed the U.S. Pacific Command to deploy rescue teams, helicopters for airlifts, logistics officers and cargo planes to assist in the relief efforts.” [Read the full article]


Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile


CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – The advocacy groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are accusing the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama of possible war crimes for drone strike campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen. These charges won’t have much weight within the United States — after all, even Hollywood now portrays the way we tortured detainees, and no one has been held to account.

But the reports presage what will probably become history’s verdict on drone strikes taking place off the battlefield in weak states: bad for human rights, bad for the rule of law — and bad for U.S. interests in the fight against terrorism. [Read the full article]


Drawing on a pad of paper in a Washington DC hotel, Nabeela ur Rehman recalled the day her grandmother was killed. “I was running away,” the nine-year told the Guardian. “I was trying to wipe away the blood.”

“It was as if it was night all of the sudden.”

The date was 24 October 2012, the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holy day. Nabeela’s father, Rafiq ur Rehman, a school teacher living in the remote Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, was dropping off sweets at his sister’s home when it happened. [Read the full article]

Tina Bidzinashvili and her husband have harvested apples, quinces and peaches from the orchard behind their house since the perestroika years, when they were given it by the local collective farm in reward for hard work. But one morning recently, she woke up to find armed Russian border guards erecting a barbed wire barricade around one side of the orchard.

Her house might be in the Georgian village of Gugutiankari, the Russians explained to her, but her orchard is in the territory of South Ossetia, a small province that the international community believes is part of Georgia, but which since the Russia-Georgia war of 2008 is recognised as an independent country by Russia.

The wire is part of a process of “borderisation” by Russian border guards, during which EU monitors claim about 40km of fencing or barbed wire have been erected, augmented with hi-tech surveillance cameras mounted on poles. The fence follows a Soviet administrative boundary that was never previously applied in practice, and which runs through villages, and in some cases, through individual houses. For residents, it is the equivalent of a fence being erected to demarcate Kent and Sussex. [Read the full article]


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