Category - Asia

Gujarat remains tense after Patel caste violence

Tension prevails in India’s Gujarat state where two days of caste-related violence has left eight people dead.

BBC, August 27

Fresh clashes were reported overnight and the army has been deployed to maintain peace.

A curfew has been imposed, after members of the influential Patel community, demanding quotas in government jobs, clashed with the police and local people.

[…]

Gujarat has been particularly alert to incidents of violence since 2002 when religious riots left at least 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.

[…]

Patels are now demanding affirmative action and classification as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) so that they are entitled to quotas in state-run education centres and in government jobs.

OBC refers to the castes – in the middle of the Hindu caste hierarchy – who do not face so much exclusion or isolation in society but have been traditionally socially and economically disadvantaged.

Second Bomb Found After Explosion Kills 12 at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine

Khaosod English, August 17

Bangkok — Explosives experts reportedly have located a second bomb set in the Thai capital’s commercial heart after a large explosion killed at least 12 people and injured others around 7pm tonight.

National police spokesman Prawuth Thawornsiri said the explosion was caused by a bomb and killed 12 people.

Photos from the scene show blood and bodies on the ground as rescue workers rush to provide aid near the local landmark, which is heavily frequented by Thais and tourists alike and is especially busy during rush hour.

In images tweeted by JS 100 radio just after the blast, fires were burning in Sukhumvit Road. A explosives unit has been dispatched to the site of a deadly bombing in Bangkok this evening to look for another possible bomb, according to a JS100 account.

China stuns financial markets by devaluing yuan for second day running

Stocks, currencies and commodities fall sharply across region as investors fear a stalling China economy and possible currency war despite Beijing’s assurances.

The Guardian, By Martin Farrer & Fergus Ryan, August 11

Beijing – China stunned the world’s financial markets on Wednesday by devaluing the yuan for the second consecutive day, triggering fears the world’s second largest economy is in worse shape than investors believed.

The move sent fresh shockwaves through global markets, pushing shares sharply lower and sending commodity prices further into reverse as traders feared the move could ignite a currency war that would destabilise the world economy.

There were widespread losses in Asia, and in Europe stock markets suffered falls of about 1%, with the FTSE 100 tumbling almost 2% at one stage.

[…]

The unexpected yuan devaluation saw Chinese stocks slump in Hong Kong, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index sliding 2.6%, extending its loss this quarter to 15%. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1% to 3,886.32 and the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 1.2% to 4,016.13 points.

TPP talks make progress but no deal on Pacific trade

BBC, August 1

Negotiators from 12 Pacific nations have finished a week of talks without agreement on a regional trade deal.

But the US trade representative Michael Froman said ministers were more confident than ever that a deal on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership was within reach.

He said it would support jobs and economic growth.

Among the sticking points were issues relating to the automobile sector and access to dairy markets.

No date has been set for the next round of talks.

India, Bangladesh swap border enclaves, settle old dispute

AP, July 31

New Delhi – At the stroke of midnight Friday, tens of thousands of stateless people who were stranded for decades along the poorly defined border between India and Bangladesh will finally get to choose their citizenship, as the two countries swapped more than 150 pockets of land to settle the demarcation line dividing them.

Television images showed people bursting firecrackers and raising an Indian flag in the Masaldanga enclave, which became part of India.

India’s External Affairs Ministry in a statement described July 31 as a historic day for both India and Bangladesh as “it marks the resolution of a complex issue that has lingered since independence” from British colonialists in 1947.

Nearly 37,000 people lived in 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh, while 14,000 lived in 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India. These people are getting citizenship of their choice.

US set to be India’s biggest arms supplier

TNN, By Rajat Pandit, July 13

New Delhi – The US is fast consolidating its position as India’s largest arms supplier with a flurry of new defence deals and joint projects, after having inked the expansive new 10-year defence framework in June and bagging contracts worth $10 billion over the last eight years.

Sources said the Manohar Parrikar-led defence acquisitions council (DAC), in its meeting slated for Tuesday, is likely to clear the decks for acquisition of another four P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft for almost $1 billion.

“The contract negotiation committee (CNC) has completed its work. Now, the DAC approval is needed for the offsets deviation. The proposed contract will then go to the finance ministry for vetting before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for the final nod,” said a source.

This “follow-on contract” comes even as the Navy has now inducted seven of the eight P-8Is ordered from Boeing in the $2.1 billion deal inked in January 2009. Based at the Arakkonam naval air station in Tamil Nadu, these radar-packed aircraft serve as “intelligent hawk-eyes” over the Indian Ocean. They are also armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges to take on enemy warships and submarines.

The Times of India: 10 yrs since nuke deal, India-US on cusp of sea change: Biden

Over a million people evacuated from China east coast as typhoon Chan-hom hits

RT, July 11

A heavy storm forced more than a million people to leave their homes on the Chinese east coast not far from Shanghai on Saturday. Typhoon Chan-hom might be the strongest to hit the region in over 60 years, the national weather service said.

Some 1.07 million people were evacuated from coastal areas of Zhejiang and the Jiangsu provinces south and north of Shanghai, ahead of the typhoon that reached the coast on Saturday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Although China’s National Meteorological Center downgraded the storm from super typhoon to strong typhoon on Saturday, it still whipped up winds of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, CCTV reported. Dumping over 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain since late Friday, the storm made landfall in the city of Zhoushan in Zhejiang province.

UN warns of children in peril in North Korea’s ‘worst drought in 100 years’

Urgent action needed to save children’s lives says UNICEF as failures of early-harvest crops of wheat and barley loom.

AFP, July 9

A serious drought in North Korea requires urgent action to prevent the deaths of children already weakened by widespread malnutrition, the United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF, warned on Thursday.

“The situation is urgent,” said UNICEF east Asia regional director Daniel Toole in a statement. “But if we act now – by providing urgently needed expertise and prepositioning supplies – we can save lives

“If we delay until we are certain of crop failures, it may well be too late to save the most vulnerable children.”

North Korea is suffering what its official media described last month as the worst drought in 100 years that has severely affected the main rice-growing areas.

Pakistan heat wave claims hundreds of lives

CNN, By Ralph Ellis & Sophia Saifi, June 23

Islamabad – Hundreds of people have died in a three-day heat wave affecting Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, according to local media reports.

A spokesperson from the Sindh province Ministry of Health told CNN that 323 people had died in Karachi as a result of the heatwave.

The ministry also told CNN that the number of patients treated for heat stroke in Jinnah hospital, the largest in the city, is 2.360.

Others, unable to make it to a hospital, may have died at home. At least one city morgue, CNN affiliate Geo.tv has reported, has been overwhelmed with the numbers of dead.

Death tolls in local media reports vary.

Why Is The U.S. Desperate To OK Slavery In Malaysia?

Huffington Post, By Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Ryan Grim & Laura Barron-Lopez, May 26

Washington – On Friday night, in an impressive display of dysfunction, the U.S. Senate approved a controversial trade bill with a provision that the White House, Senate leadership and the author of the language himself wanted taken out.

The provision, which bars countries that engage in slavery from being part of major trade deals with the U.S., was written by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). At the insistence of the White House, Menendez agreed to modify his language to say that as long as a country is taking “concrete” steps toward reducing human trafficking and forced labor, it can be part of a trade deal. Under the original language, the country that would be excluded from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership pact is Malaysia.

But because the Senate is the Senate, it was unable to swap out the original language for the modification. (The chamber needed unanimous consent to make the legislative move, and an unknown senator or senators objected.) So the trade promotion authority bill that passed Friday includes the strong anti-slavery language, which the House will now work to take out to ensure that Malaysia (and, potentially, other countries in the future) can be part of the deal.

Observers are left with a deeper question: Why, in the year 2015, is the White House teaming up with Republican leaders essentially to defend the practice of slavery?

[…]

But Malaysia also borders what is effectively China’s jugular vein: the Strait of Malacca.

Via Naked Capitalism: America’s First Black President Throwing Slaves Under the Bus on TPP

3bb1012ca7881a903f6bb688401857a5453d3be4