We are back after taking last week off due to the Memorial Day weekend. I spent the weekend in Nashville, TN with my family and large quantities of alcohol (sometimes a necessity for large family gatherings.) My Southern accent came back with a vengeance and I discovered I truly hate Darius Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel” by OCMS.
But you didn’t come here for all that, you guys came here for NEWS! So here we go:
The already tumultuous region of Afghanistan and Pakistan has seen an uptick in violence and unrest as the region prepares for the withdrawal of Western forces in the next year. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad was attacked on Wednesday by insurgents, and an Afghan guard was killed. The attack is the first against the organization that maintains a strict neutrality since it was established in Afghanistan in 1987.
The Taliban withdrew from peace talks with the incoming Pakistani government after a US drone strike killed deputy leader, Waliur Rehman Mehsud. A statement released by the Taliban stated:
We believe drone strikes are carried out with the consent of the Pakistani government and information is passed onto Americans by Pakistani authorities… Waliur Rehman’s death has killed prospects for possible peace talks between the TTP and the new government.
There is fear that the withdrawal of troops in 2014 could see a collapse in funding for Afghan media, which has enjoyed the help and infrastructure of international news organizations.
In other news around Asia, there are fears that nine North Korean refugees that were arrested in Laos have been sent back to North Korea by the Chinese government.
Also, speaking of China, the government is pissed at the U.S .for wanting a full account of those killed, wounded or detained in the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, a subject that still remains taboo in China. As a sidenote: when I visited Tiananmen Square last summer, the security there was intense.
At a security meeting in Singapore, U.S. and Chinese military officials discussed military things in an attempt to lessen tensions. Maybe they should just hug it out. Elsewhere, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wants to talk about those pesky hackers.
Taiwan was hit by a 6.3 earthquake.
Many Western retail companies are banding together to help improve working conditions in the factories in Bangladesh, except for one: Walmart. A former child worker and a survivor of the factory fire in 2012 will protest at Walmart’s annual meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Finally, I noticed discussions on Tumblr of this program by a South Korean pastor who has built a “Baby Box” so that babies who are abandoned are not placed on the streets. Dateline SBS ran a short documentary on it.
The issue of international adoption has been cropping up in the media lately (there’s a great article by Moretta on the subject). The issue is controversial in South Korea where groups are pushing for changes in policy and greater transparency as many adoption papers are lost or falsified by adoption agencies. For a perspective from an adoptee, this Tumblr discusses the issues of international adoption from a Korean-American perspective by a girl who was adopted by an American family and who now lives in Seoul and works with charities for unwed mothers. Her blog addresses the “Baby Box.”