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Time for News in Asia!

AFGHANISTAN (BBC) Four NATO troops were killed in what is thought to be an insider attack by Afghan police in the Zabul province near the border of Pakistan. This follows the killing of two British soldiers by a man in an Afghani police uniform. Two U.S. Marines were killed by a Taliban attack outside Camp Bastion on Friday. The so-called “green on blue attacks” have left 50 soldiers with the NATO led force dead. Many of the attacks have taken place in southern Afghanistan. The four NATO soldiers were killed by a man in a police uniform as they were trying to stop an attack on a police checkpoint in Mezan. The attacker is still at large. On Saturday, two British soldiers were shot dead in the Helmand province according to the UK defense ministry, bringing the total of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 430 since 2001. The attack on Camp Bastion by the Taliban is believed to be in retaliation for a U.S. film that mocks Islam. Fifteen insurgents who were dressed in U.S. Army uniforms and appeared well trained and rehearsed attacked one point of the perimeter. Fourteen of the attackers were killed and one was taken into custody. Nine coalition personnel were wounded.

CHINA (BBC, CNN) Hundreds of protesters faced off against riot police outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing as anti-Japanese protests continue throughout China over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Japan’s Prime Minster Yoshihiko Noda has called on the Chinese government to protect Japanese-run businesses and interests in the face of violent protests. Reports from all over China about protesters destroying restaurants and stores and even burning Japanese-made cars. “Japanese-made cars were randomly stopped, their drivers grabbed and thrown out… and the cars smashed and burned. The police and army seemed to do little to stop the riot,” said one eyewitness in the city of Xi’an. Tensions have been heightened this week after the purchase of some of the islands by the Japanese government from their private Japanese owners. China briefly sent six surveillance ships into waters around the islands on Friday in response.With an election looming in Japan and a looming change in government for China, the media has been ratcheting up coverage of the dispute in both countries. The Chinese see it as tying up unfinished business and addressing the impact of Japanese occupation of large parts of Eastern China in the 1930s and 1940s. The United States has repeatedly urged Tokyo and Beijing to resolve the dispute through dialogue.

CAMBODIA (ALJAZEERA) Ieng Thirith, wife of ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, is to be freed after a war-crimes court rules her unfit to stand trial. Called the “first lady” of the Khmer Rouge regime, the 80-year-old woman was released after the UN backed tribunal decided she was in too poor health. Experts have said she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and has been released with some provisional conditions. Prosecutors have tried to stop the release by saying the conditions have not been met, including the confiscation of Ieng Thirith’s passport. The former social affairs minister and sister-in-law of the late Pol Pot was accused of being involved in the “planning, direction, coordination and ordering of widespread purges” and was charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, homicide and torture. She is the highest-ranking woman in the Khmer Rouge facing prosecution. Her husband, 86-year-old Ieng Sary, the regime’s former foreign minister, is one of three other senior leaders currently on trial. The tribunal started in 2006 after many delays and nearly 30 years after the fall of the government due haggling between Cambodia and the UN. Survivors of the Khmer Rouge are upset over Thirith’s release saying they have waited for over three decades for justice and have little compassion for the former minister. Many fear the leaders of the Khmer Rouge will die before ever being brought to justice. Thirith remained a staunch defender of the regime long after its demise in the 1990s. An estimated  two million people were killed between 1975 and 1979 during the Khmer Rouge’s reign. Pol Pot also escaped prosecution following his death in 1998.

INDIA (ALJAZEERA) An Indian cartoonist who was jailed for satirizing corruption in the Indian government has been released on bail. Aseem Trivedi, 25, a freelance cartoonist and anti-corruption campaigner, was arrested on sedition charges after a young lawyer filed a complaint with the Mumbai courts that Trivedi’s images mocked national symbols. The cartoonist’s arrest has reignited a debate over freedom of speech and comes weeks after a clampdown on Twitter by the Indian government. Supporters cheered as Trivedi walked out of the Arthur Road Jail on Wednesday. At first, Trivedi said he would refuse bail and insisted the charges be dropped, but accepted bail of Rs5000 ($90) when he was promised a review of the charges.

This battle against sedition and censorship will continue till the time 124A Section is not eliminated from our Constitution. This battle was not confined till my release. It was for the Right of Freedom of Speech, which is not being allowed to exercise across the country – Trivedi

The Indian government is facing both domestic and international criticism of using archaic colonial laws to crush dissent. The cartoonist’s arrest has come after arrests of others under charges of sedition. A university professor was arrested in West Bengal for forwarding an email cartoon that caricatured Mamata Banerjee, the state’s chief minister. Last month, a farmer in West Bengal was arrested and branded a Maoist sympathiser after questioning Banerjee on her farm policy at a public meeting. Indian law defines sedition as an act that brings hatred or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government. The law dates from India’s colonial era when British rulers used it against Indian freedom fighters, including India’s independence leader Mohandas K Gandhi.

VIETNAM (ALJAZEERA) At least 29 people killed, including 16 who died in landslides at a tin mine in the northern province of Yen Bai. Heavy rains have hit northern and central areas with more rain forecast for the flood-hit Nghe An province. Authorities were moving people from dangerous areas. Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee producer and comes second after Thailand in rice exports, though the main coffee producing region is not affected and the floods are not affecting rice production in the Mekong Delta. The country is regularly battered by floods during rainy season. Many areas are low-lying and densely populated and between 2007 and 2011, an average of 430 people were killed each year by natural disasters with property losses estimated at 1 per cent of the gross domestic product.

By 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.

3 replies on “Time for News in Asia!”

I used to live in Hong Kong, and am still in touch with people there. One of my friends (who lives on the southern mainland) went into his apartment building by the back gate on Saturday and didn’t notice anything… he tried to take a nap, but there was a ton of noise, so he went out the front gate and saw that every restaurant, karaoke bar and small market that catered to the Japanese people living in the area were totally and completely destroyed and looted. He even got dirty looks, and he doesn’t look like he’s Japanese. There’s a fair amount of our social group that either lives in Japan or is Japanese, so it’s scary for them too.

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