News in Asia

Welcome, welcome everyone. This week’s “News in Asia” is filled with the usual mix of good news and bad news and sometimes really awful news and sometimes some really awesome events. So let us begin…

At least 75 people were killed in twin suicide bombings at the All Saints Church in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and stated it violated the tenets of Islam. Christians only make up about 4 percent of Pakistan’s population and tend to lay low as they are frequent targets for attacks.

NATO will investigate a drone strike that reportedly killed civilians. Though Prime Minister Hamid Karzai has banned the Afghan military from calling in foreign military drones, the commanders on the ground sometimes ignore the ban. The strike was reportedly called on a senior al Qaeda official.

In a sign that conservative politicians in the US aren’t the only ones who are terrible, Australia’s new prime minister, Tony Abbott, immediately ordered the elimination of Australia’s carbon tax and promised he would send asylum-seekers coming to Australia by boat to go back to whence they came. The issue of asylum-seekers was one of the big, hot button issues during the election and many who are already in Australia fear what may happen to them under the new administration. To be fair, the actions of all the political parties on this issue haven’t been great.

Also, Abbott only appointed one woman, Julie Bishop, to his cabinet as foreign minister. Way to go, bro.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is urging the owners of the Fukushima nuclear power plant to shut down the facility and focus on cleanup of leaking nuclear material instead of trying to restart two of the reactors. At this rate, the Kaiju that will devastate the Pacific rim will not be an alien race, but mutants formed from radioactive waste.

In  a story that sounds more like the plot of a Bond film or the 20th sequel to the Ocean’s Eleven movies, Singapore police arrested 14 members of a gang involved in global football (soccer to us Yanks) match-fixing . Some of the matches include World Cup qualifiers and European Championship qualifying games.

There is a widening divide between southeast Asia, where the working-age population is growing, and northeast Asia, where the labor force is shrinking. Countries like Japan, South Korea and China are facing an aging population and workforce, while Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines will see an explosion in their labor force.

Also, as a related note, retirement homes are no longer seen as taboo in many Asian countries, where it was expected that the elderly would be cared for in the homes of their adult children.

Typhoon Usagi has caused major damage in the Philippines and Taiwan and is heading towards Hong Kong.

The South Korean government has criticized North Korea for postponing cross border family reunions, accusing the North of using the gatherings as a political tool.

Vietnam unveiled plans to reform the country’s education system.

The child mortality rate in Bangladesh has dropped by 72 percent in the last 22 years.

A Chinese court sentenced, Bo Xilai, a former top politician, to life in prison.

In animal news, Thailand’s beloved panda, Lin Ping, is scheduled to leave the Chiang Mai Zoo for China later this month for one year. While in China, she’s expected to choose a mate before returning to Thailand. I think that’s romantic speak for Lin Ping is going to take part in a breeding program at the panda research facility in Chengdu.

Finally, in Pakistan, the Marghazar Zoo are installing dinosaur models to replace the leopards, snakes and lion that were once housed in its cages. Zoo attendees have suggested the zoo might want to look into re-populating the zoo with non-extinct forms of life that aren’t made from fiberglass.

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Stephens

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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