News in Asia

Hello, my fellow unicorns, kittens and poodles. We’ve been on hiatus for a bit, but now we are back thanks to our glorious editors. I hope all is well in your respective worlds. As always there are events in the world that are joyous and sad; unfortunately, this week’s edition contains a trigger warning for suicide. 

Australia elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister last week after defeating Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party. Abbott and his conservative Liberal National Coalition (yes, I am aware of that oxymoron) promised they would be, “Competent and trustworthy,” would “purposefully and steadfastly and methodically … set about delivering on our commitments,” and would “govern for everyone.” The “govern for everyone” statement might be a bitter pill for liberals to swallow since Abbott was called a sexist and a misogynist last year by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

I think the situation can be summed up by my Australian friend who told me, “We’ve just elected our version of Mitt Romney.”

While Congress decides whether the US should pursue military intervention in Syria, drone strikes continue in Afghanistan where four insurgents were killed in the Watapur district of Kunar Province. According to reports, the insurgents were picked up along a road in a truck with civilian passengers, including women and children. There is currently no information on the exact number of civilians killed in the strike.

In response to drone attacks against their interests, the Taliban has reportedly ordered their engineers to find ways of bringing down US drones.

In more upbeat news, Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. In more downbeat news, which the upbeat news is trying to distract us from, there are growing concerns about the stability of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and reports the facility has been leaking toxic water. South Korea has banned fish imports from a large area of waters of the coast of Japan. Japan will reportedly build an “ice wall” to stop the leakage of radioactive water.

(Trigger warning for suicide)

This item is not news about Asia specifically, but concerns those who work in Asia, specifically in areas where there is much suffering. An aid worker with USAID was found dead of an apparent suicide and is the agency’s first known case of war-zone related suicide. This tragedy is raising questions about whether aid agencies are doing enough to help their workers who may be suffering from PTSD and depression as they face many of the same conditions as military personnel stationed in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A popular Indian author was shot and killed by insurgents early Thursday morning after being abducted from her home just before midnight. Sushmita Banerjee was an Indian author married to an Afghan man and was the author of a popular memoir describing life under the Taliban.

Dennis Rodman visited his friend, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on a five day trip to the isolated country. Rodman stated he did not intend on asking for the release of Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary who is currently in prison.

Protests and riots have broken out between Hindus and Muslims in India after three men were killed after objecting to a young woman being harassed. The death toll now stands at 22.

Rebels in the southern Philippines have taken hundreds hostage and officials are worried the hostages are being used as human shields.

South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, visited Vietnam as part of a five day trip to encourage cooperation and business ventures in Southeast Asia.

Finally, an estimated 25,000 swimmers participated in an annual mass swimming event in Taiwan. Swimmers took to the waters of Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest freshwater lake in groups to prevent overcrowding and injury.

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Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

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