Philippine Military to take on BIFF, new radiation discovered at Fukushima, NK at UN, and more

Philippine military officials order attacks on BIFF and new radiation leaks are found in a Fukushima nuclear plant. Plus a North Korean diplomat plans to address the UN on human rights and Bangladesh arrests its former PM.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Philippine military officials order attacks on BIFF and new radiation leaks are found in a Fukushima nuclear plant. Plus a North Korean diplomat plans to address the UN on human rights and Bangladesh arrests its former PM.

All-out offensive against BIFF

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. ordered the Western Mindanao Command to launch “all-out offensive” against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). He said the operation sought to protect communities from assaults launched by the rebel group.

New radiation leak found at Fukushima

Tuesday, the operator of the nuclear power reactors in Fukushima said it found a pool of highly contaminated water. The pool was located on the roof of a plant building. Plant operators suspect it may have leaked into the sea via a gutter, perhaps during a rain storm.

North Korea to address UN Human Rights Council

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong looks to be beaded to the March 2nd meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, in what appears to be an attempt to counter international criticism of the country’s human rights record. Ri would be the first North Korean foreign minister to address the council.

Former Bangladesh PM Arrested

A court in Bangladesh issued an arrest warrant yesterday for former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia related to two corruption cases after she failed to appear in court. The former PM’s lawyers argued that she was concerned the ongoing unrest in Bangladesh would affect her personal safety, claiming to be confined to her office.

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Sources

Is MILF training with Abu Sayyaf? Li’s Daughter graft target? Viber may be out of Korea

Are Filipino Muslims training with Abu Sayyaf and Kim Jong-un calls for combat readiness. Plus a former Chinese Premier’s daughter could be the next one snared for graft and messaging app Viber could be out of Korea.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are Filipino Muslims training with Abu Sayyaf and Kim Jong-un calls for combat readiness. Plus a former Chinese Premier’s daughter could be the next one snared for graft and messaging app Viber could be out of Korea.

Could the Philippines’ MILF be training with Aby Sayyaf?

The Philippine government is currently attempting to validate photographs depicting members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front training in Sulu with the presence of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

North Korea must be combat ready

According to state media, North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-un, told the Central Military Commission, they needed to be “fully ready to react to any form of war to be ignited by the enemy.”

Next week, South Korea and the United States begin the annual Key Resolve joint military drill. North Korea views them as hostile and prelude to war.

Former Chinese premier’s daughter in anti-graft crosshairs

Chinese President Xi JinPing’s anti-corruption probe could target the daughter of former premier Li Peng. Many of recent the anti-corruption actions have involved companies related the former premier’s family.

Viber possible forced out of Korea

SK Telecom, South Korea’s leading mobile phone carrier recently won a District Court case against smart phone mobile messaging app Viber. The decision could send the technology company out of Korea. The court said Viber infringed on four of SK Telecoms patents and that it could not distribute its software in the Korean market.

Keep up with news from the region by following Asia News Weekly on Facebook or Twitter. You can also send an email to the show with your comments, questions, and feedback. Just drop a line to podcast@asianewsweekly.net.

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Is China a bully, can Abe complete his reforms, will democracy return to Thailand and more

Is Asia’s alpha dog China? Shinzo Abe pushes reform in Japan, but at what price? And will democracy ever come to Thailand? These stories and more are on the February 20th edition of Asia News Weekly.

Is Asia’s alpha dog China? Shinzo Abe pushes reform in Japan, but at what price? And will democracy ever come to Thailand? These stories and more are on the February 20th edition of Asia News Weekly.

China: Asia’s Alpha Dog?

As we come to the tail end of the Chinese, or Lunar New Year, hundreds of millions of Chinese travelers are returning from visiting family, friends, and other locations around the globe. However, leading up to the holiday the archipelago accused a Chinese Coast Guard vessel of ramming three fishing boats near the Scarborough Shoal.

Is China bullying small, ASEAN nations in the South China Sea, as some have suggested? It’s the question I put to Mark Cozad, Senior Defense Policy Analyst with the RAND Corporation.

Japan’s Abe Promises Reform

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used a snap election to justify is vision for the country. In his first speech since reorganizing his cabinet following that event, Abe announced he wanted to implement a number of reforms.

“A rocky road lies ahead of all of these goals — the greatest reform effort since the end of the war,” Abe said before continuing, “However, we must undauntedly make progress in carrying out these reforms.” Returning to the podcast is Michael Cucek, Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, to shed a little light on Abe’s plans.

Will Democracy Return to Thailand?

Thailand was riddled by protests in 2014. Clashes between competing Red and Yellow Shirt supports ultimately prompted then General Prayuth Chan-o-cha to step in, first declaring martial law, and then instigating a full blown coup.

The General, now Prime Minister, vowed to implement a wide variety of reforms and restore democracy to the nation. Just when that will take place, is anyone’s guess. He originally said it would be in place in about a year… but that’s continually pushed back.

Politics and Freedom

In the past year, we’ve seen a trend with many governments imprisoning critics. It leaves some to wonder just how free Asia is and what the future holds. What follows are three examples of how some Asia governments are limiting free speech, and perhaps, using political power plays to eliminate opposition leaders.

Regional News

Concluding the podcast is a look at other regional news that may have done unnoticed the past week. Stories include a rather progressive movement in one Japanese ward that would recognize same-sex unions. Another story hails from China, where the black market for blood is the only place some who needed it can to ensure they stay alive. Plus a horrible tail of a girl who killed her infant child, threw it in the river, only to have it found by children on their way to school.

Keep up with news from the region by following Asia News Weekly on Facebook or Twitter. You can also send an email to the show with your comments, questions, and feedback. Just drop a line to podcast@asianewsweekly.net.

Subscribe to this and other podcasts at AsiaNewsWeekly.net or in your favorite podcast application, like iTunes or Stitcher. Subscribing is free and when you do, the next episode is delivered automatically to you.

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Japan out of recession; More calls for Aquino to resign; New PM for ROK; Border clashes in Myanmar

New economic data suggests Japan has emerged from its recession and more voices sound calling for Philippine President Aquino to step down. Plus South Korea’s President Park finally gets a Prime Minister and clashes continue in Myanmar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New economic data suggests Japan has emerged from its recession and more voices sound calling for Philippine President Aquino to step down. Plus South Korea’s President Park finally gets a Prime Minister and clashes continue in Myanmar.

Japan Emerges From Recession

Japan’s economy expanded at a measly 2.2%, compared to an expected 3.7% last quarter. While this is good news, it’s also a sign the economy is still in a fragile recovery stage. Economists are quick to point out that after two contracting quarters, a single expansion doesn’t signify a trend or that the worst is over. Japan’s real estate prices remain high, stock prices have shot up, but the yen weakened.

More Filipinos Call For Aquino to Step Down

One Billion Rising is a Filipino movement calling for an end to violence against women. It’s now added another objective: To press for the resignation of Philippine President Aquino over the controversial police operation that left 44 law enforcement officers dead.

President Park Gets a PM

The third time turns out to be the charm for South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, whose latest Prime Minister nominee was confirmed, all be it along party lines.

Lee Wan-koo met with initial bipartisan support; however, during his confirmation hearing, serious questions arose about avoiding South Korea’s compulsory  military service, property speculation, and exerting influence on the media.

Border Clashes in Myanmar

Fighting between Myanmar’s army and ethnic Kokang fighters in a region bordering China has resulted in death tolls climbing in recent weeks and sent tens of thousands scurrying. China says more than 30,000 raced across the border into Yunnan province last week, after an uptick in the fighting in Myanmar’s northeastern state of Shan.

Keep up with news from the region by following Asia News Weekly on Facebook or Twitter. You can also send an email to the show with your comments, questions, and feedback. Just drop a line to podcast@asianewsweekly.net.

Subscribe to this and other podcasts at AsiaNewsWeekly.net or in your favorite podcast application, like iTunes or Stitcher. Subscribing is free and when you do, the next episode is delivered automatically to you.

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Whale Sharks and Waterfalls [Oslob, Philippines] – GOT #16



Traveling to the Philippines? How about some fun with nature. On our recent trip, Jo and I visited Oslob, Cebu. What makes this place famous is the ability to jump in the water and swim with whale sharks. They’re not predatory, and in fact, giant fishes that are fairly harmless. It’s an amazing experience and one that I recommend. Nearby there’s also a great waterfall worth your time.

AirAsia Updates; Xiaomi Makes Money; China Blocks Gmail


Debris and bodies have been recovered from the downed Air Asia flight and China’s Xiaomi brings home the bacon. Plus the Great Firewall takes down gmail.

Debris and bodies have been recovered from the downed Air Asia flight and China’s Xiaomi brings home the bacon. Plus the Great Firewall takes down gmail.

NOTES: http://goo.gl/knURvP

Search continues for QZ8501; ISIS Family?; Floods in Philippines; Bird Flu in Hong Kong


The search continues for the missing Air Asia flight and Indonesian authorities thwart a group bound for ISIS. Plus a flood hits the Philippines, forcing thousands to flee and bird flu warnings are issued in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The search continues for the missing Air Asia flight and Indonesian authorities thwart a group bound for Syria. Plus a flood hits the Philippines, forcing thousands to flee and bird flu warnings are issued in Hong Kong.

Missing Air Asia Flight

While the search for missing Air Asia flight 8501 was suspended Sunday night, it resumed early Monday morning with the addition of vessels and aircraft from a number of nations.

An Emergency Call Center is available for those seeking information about relatives or friends who may have been on board the flight. That number is +622129270811.

Reports have come in of debris being found, but nothing has been confirmed and the working hypothesis of those in charge of the search, is that the plane is at the bottom of the sea.

Authorities stop six from joining ISIS

Jakarta Police continued their crackdown on citizens it believes are attempting to leave the country and join the Islamic State. Authorities arrested six at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Saturday allegedly en route to Syria. Police say those attempting to travel, received their funds from an unknown source.

Philippines Floods

A tropical storm dumped rain in the Philippine’s Surigao del Sur province. The storm first struck early Monday morning around 4am local time. Some 4,000 people were moved to emergency shelters, Governor Johnny Pimentel told the press. This is one of the most flood-prone regions of the Philippines, and their effects are made worse by the impoverished life many farmers lead.

Hong Kong issues alert over Bird Flu

A woman infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu transitioned into critical condition over the weekend in Hong Kong, prompting hospitals to raise alert levels. According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection, ten people had previously been diagnosed with the flu; three of which died.

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The Asia Brief is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Filipino Prisoners Live Like Kings; Bird Flu in Japan; US-Philippines Discuss Marine; Indonesia IS Recruits


Some prisoners in the Philippines are living like kings while Japan struggles with bird flu. Plus the US Marine charged with murder may be transferred as Indonesia reports an uptick in ISIS recruits.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Prisoners live like kings

A recent raid uncovered drug lords in Bilibid prison living in luxury cells, complete with stripper bars and jacuzzis. According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, there were 20 premium villas outfitted with air conditioning, including some with methamphetamine.

“The military should take over the prison, and all the people involved from top to bottom must be fired,” said Dante Jimenez, founder of the Manila-based watchdog group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in an interview with AFP. The Bilibid prison was designed to house 8,900 prisoners, but currently has an inmate population of 23,000.

Japan struggles to contain bird flu outbreak

Bird flu was detected at a poultry farm in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan, after which government agencies began screening poultry and sanitizing chicken coops. It’s also been detected in cranes in Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, dating back to November.

In 2011 a bird flu outbreak was responsible for an economic loss of 10 billion yen in the region. Kagoshima prefectural government also held an emergency meeting to discuss how best to prevent the virus’ spread.

Philippines wants custody of US Marine

A US Marine stands accused of murdering a transgendered woman in October. PFC Pemberton has been in US custody since the crime took place, but was recently transferred to a Filipino jail. Now, the Philippines is seeking formal custody, although the US isn’t keen on letting it happen.

Indonesia reports more fighting with ISIS

Indonesia estimates 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq, fighting with the Islamic State; fifty more than the previous month. Wawan Purwanto, an expert with the Anti-Terrorism Management Agency, said that most are not coming from Indonesia itself, but rather from countries abroad where they are working.

The Asia Brief is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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The Sydney Siege; Murder in Malaysia; US Marine Charged with Murder


The Sydney Siege; Murder in Malaysia; US Marine Charged with Murder

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Sydney Siege

It began sometime before 8am Monday morning, when at least one perpetrator took hostages at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe located in Sydney’s Martin Place. Witnesses in the area heard loud bangs that sounded like gun shots. Patrick Byrne, a producer at Channel Seven whose newsroom is opposite the cafe, said, “We raced to the window and saw the shocking and chilling sight of people putting their hands up against the panes of glass at the cafe.” Now, the situation is over.

Murder in Malaysia

A 44-year-old mother-of-three is recovering in a Kuala Lumpur hospital after her husband chopped off her hands and feet with a meat cleaver before hanging himself. Reportedly the woman is now in stable condition and has been moved to general care after being in the ICU.

US Marine Charged with Murder

A US Marine has been charged with the brutal murder of a transgendered woman in the Philippines. Pfc. Scott Pemberton is accused of killing Jeffrey Laude, who was also known as Jennifer in October. “We will not accept anything less than justice,” the victim’s sister, Marilou Laude, said.

The Asia Brief is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Hong Kong Protests, Typhoon Hagupit, Japan’s Election, Xi’s Graft Hunt, and more


Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

The Hong Kong protests fade

For nearly three months, the residents of Hong Kong took to the streets demanding electoral reform. They denounced the plan to vet and presumably stack a list of viable candidates in 2017 ahead of the city’s first open vote with pro-Beijing supporters. The peaceful movement was dubbed the Umbrella Revolution and this week it came to an end.

Asia News Weekly host Steve Miller recaps the week’s events, even as Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, calls for more action, “It’s to demonstrate what we’re taking part is an act of civil disobedience action. That means although the government and police might use furious action on the protestors, we still resist till the last moment. It’s not simply for us to be arrested, but to demonstrate our spirit and we will resist till the last moment.”

Typhoon Hagupit

In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan raged across the Philippines, resulting in the death of more than 7,300 souls. This week, it was widely feared that another typhoon, following roughly the same path, would unleash a similar wave of destruction in an area still struggling with recovery.

“Our job really is to calm them down to minimize any of the negative repercussions from an event such as this. So I’m pressing everybody: The checklist of what has to be done, preferably should have been done yesterday,” Philippine President Aquino said last week before Typhoon Hagupit struck.

While there were some unfortunate losses of life from this natural disaster, Miller provides context on why this storm didn’t provide the same results as Haiyan and the possible impact for Filipinos still recovering.

Japan’s Election

Sunday, December 14th, Japan heads to the polls in a snap election called by Prime Minister Sinzo Abe. He dissolved the lower house of Parliament following a tour of top-level Asian summits and is using this vote to seek validation of his economic policies amidst a recession worse than previously thought.

Miller shares the latest poll results and projections, and even thought the LDP is predicted to retain its power in the Diet, what it means for the future of Japan remains unanswered.

Xi’s China Crackdown

Over the past two years, President Xi Jinping has initiated a number of programs aimed at extending China’s influence and cleaning up politics to solidify his control across all levels of power. In what some experts have said is his biggest and boldest move yet, Xi arrested former public security czar Zhou Yongkang. Zhou represents the highest level official to be taken down in Xi’s war on graft. What happened, how did Zhou’s fall from grace occur, and why the story sounds more like a steamy soap opera are all explained.

The Weekly Brief

Michael Farrell returns to the podcast with a short round-up of other stories from the region. In The Weekly Brief, Farrell gives gruesome details on Chinese organ harvesting practices, an update on a Swiss man escapes from the Abbu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines, how cheap instant coffee is supplanting tea as Aisa’s go-to beverage and more.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Download the show notes here.