President Obama arrived in Thailand on Sunday as part of a three-country visit that includes a historic trip to Myanmar. The administration hopes this trip is the first of many to Asia as President Obama hopes to make Asia a priority for his second term. In addition, Obama has lifted a ban on imports and hopes the visit will jumpstart democratic reforms. Hundreds of prisoners were released ahead of the President’s visit, though human rights activist say none were political prisoners.
Coinciding with President Obama’s visit is the ASEAN Summit, taking place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia this weekend. A human rights accord has been reached, though critics say it will be ineffective. It contains too many loopholes and is to broad to include the varying types of government found in the region, from authoritarian governments like Vietnam to democracies like the Philippines. Also discussed was aggression from China regarding the South China sea, the giant nation claiming virtually the entire body, what with its shipping lanes and vast natural resources.
Speaking of China, the Communist Party has named new leadership in its once-in-a-decade power swap. The new leadership is older and more conservative and economic reforms may not come as quickly as international watchers had hoped, but the new leadership, under new party boss and future president, Xi Jinping, may have it thrust upon them anyway. With China’s rapidly developing economy, the Chinese people have been very vocal about raising their concerns about everything from environmental issues to human rights.
The funeral for one of India’s most divisive politicians took place Sunday in Mumbai. Bal Thackery, who founded the right-wing Shiv Sena party, was beloved by his followers, though he was widely blamed for amplifying tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Security was tight for the funeral procession, but there were no reports of violence. In 2002 and in 2008, he urged Hindus to form suicide squads to attack Muslims.
A slum fire in Bangladesh killed 11 people and left hundreds homeless. Though the cause still isn’t known, it is suspected that a cigarette or mosquito coil started the blaze.
Finally, there is a textbook in India that criticizes meat-eaters, saying that they lie, cheat, forget promises and commit sex crimes. I didn’t know the bacon I had with my brunch this morning would make me morally corrupt.