Category Archives: Asia

With Trump, it’s hard to tell when news is fake


Yep, the behavior of the orange-haired menace is so extreme that folks are having trouble figuring out whether the latest outrageous ale is true or false.

Consider one bit of satire that picked up by China’s state news agency as a for-real revelation about the Pussygrabber.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

CNN may get a reprieve as the object of President Trump’s ire, thanks to a serendipitous combination of two of the president’s favorite topics: China and fake news.

Published Saturday in The New Yorker, comedian Andy Borowitz’s humorous satirization of a paranoid president wrapping phones in tinfoil got picked up Tuesday by multiple Chinese news outlets. The truth had come out by Wednesday, but not before highlighting how easy it is for sarcasm to get lost in translation.

Riffing on the president’s Twitter allegations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower phones before the election, The New Yorker article depicted a paranoid commander-in-chief insisting aids Obama-proof all White House phones with a layer of tinfoil.

“The President, still wearing his bathrobe after what was reportedly a sleepless night, personally supervised the tin-foil installation, sources said,” read a line from the piece, which bears the label “Satire from the Borowitz Report.”

But that didn’t stop Reference News, a Chinese website run by state media Xinhua that translates international coverage, from reporting the joke as serious on Tuesday. Publications that fell for the misreporting included respected outlets such as the business magazine Caijing, as well as news portal Sina.

Given Trump’s surreal track record, pretty soon we’re all going to be reaching for our tinfoil hats.

Map of the day: Where India’s expatriates live


From the Pew Research Center, which reports:

As of 2015, 15.6 million people born in India were living in other countries. India has been among the world’s top origin countries of migrants since the United Nations started tracking migrant origins in 1990. The number of international Indian migrants has more than doubled over the past 25 years, growing about twice as fast as the world’s total migrant population.

Nearly half of India’s migrants are in just three countries: the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and the United States. About 3.5 million Indians live in the UAE, the top destination country for Indian migrants. Over the past two decades, millions of Indians have migrated there to find employment as laborers. Pakistan has the second-largest number of migrants, with 2 million.

Almost 2 million more live in the U.S., making up the country’s third-largest immigrant group. Among Indian Americans, nearly nine-in-ten were born in India. As a whole, Indian Americans are among the highest educated and have some of the highest income among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

New robot breed needed for Fukushima reactors.


Given that the the radiation from a fuel melt-through has rendered one of the plant’s quake-shattered reactors so hot that the radiation is killing the robots sent to insect the damage.

From Japan Today:

The head of decommissioning for the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant said Thursday that more creativity is needed in developing robots to locate and assess the condition of melted fuel rods.

A robot sent inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel last month could not reach as close to the core area as was hoped for because it was blocked by deposits, believed to be a mixture of melted fuel and broken pieces of structures inside. Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning, said he wants another probe sent in before deciding on methods to remove the reactor’s debris.

The No. 2 reactor is one of the Fukushima reactors that melted down following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), needs to know the melted fuel’s exact location as well as structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to figure out the best and safest ways to remove the fuel. Probes must rely on remote-controlled robots because radiation levels are too high for humans to survive.

Despite the incomplete probe missions, officials have said they want to stick to their schedule to determine the removal methods this summer and start work in 2021.

Earlier probes have suggested worse-than-anticipated challenges for the plant’s cleanup, which is expected to take decades. During the No. 2 reactor probe in early February, the “scorpion” robot crawler stalled after its total radiation exposure reached its limit in two hours, one-fifth of what was anticipated.

Fukushima student survivors bullied in Tokyo


If there’s anything that the recent elections have taught us, it’s that fear leads to violence.

And fear is easily aroused through reckless talk about others we associate with danger, even more so when the objects of are fear are immigrants from a land associated with danger.

The immigrants don’t have to come from other lands or even look different than we do.

Which brings us to our story.

From the Japan Times:

Fresh cases of bullying have been reported targeting children who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture amid the nuclear disaster that started in 2011, this time in Tokyo.

According to Tokyo Saigai Shien Netto (Tossnet), a group of lawyers supporting Fukushima evacuees, three schoolchildren who moved to Tokyo in the wake of the triple core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were subjected to bullying at an elementary school in Chiyoda Ward between 2011 and 2015.

According to the group, one elementary school student and two others who now study at a junior high school were called names repeatedly, with classmates shunning them by saying radiation might spread from them. One of them recalled being called kin (germ).

The group on Monday reported the incidents as cases of bullying to the board of education in Chiyoda Ward. The board of education says it had not been aware of the incidents and will look into facts surrounding them.

Two early economic warning signals sound


From Agence France Presse, two early warning signals.

First:

The US Commerce Department on Tuesday confirmed a picture of sluggish growth in 2016, with the world’s largest economy growing at its slowest pace in five years.

The updated figures left prior estimates unchanged. Official data showed consumers had spent slightly more than originally believed but this was offset by downward revisions in government spending and business fixed investment.

The figures come as President Donald Trump prepares to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, with the world waiting for details on the new administration’s economic policy agenda.

US gross domestic product grew by 1.6 percent in 2016, down from 2.6 percent in 2015 and the slowest pace recorded since 2011.

Growth slows in India

And the second:

India’s economic growth rate fell to seven percent in the third quarter of the financial year after the controversial ban on high-value banks notes in November, the government said Tuesday.

Gross domestic product in one of the world’s fastest growing economies expanded 7.0 percent year-on-year in the three months to the end of December, down from 7.3 percent in the previous quarter, official figures showed.

While growth came in lower than the previous quarter, it exceeded most analyst predictions in the wake of the government’s shock move to remove all 500 (around $7.50) and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation immediately.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended his so-called demonetisation scheme as a necessary strike against corruption.

With a belligerent, capricious, bombastic President Pussygrabber at the helm of the world’s largest economy and a trade war already developing with Mexico and military tensions rising in Asia, bubbles could burst, and quickly,

U.S. missiles in Korea prompt a Chinese warning


The Game of Zones is heating up, a clash of powers triggered by an American vision of a unipolar world and growing Chinese assertiveness.

Throw in historical legacies and conflicting claims over marine resources and you’ve got reason to take heed.

China takes issue with U.S. missiles in South Korea

with the Korean government signing an agreement with with a Korean conglomerate to swap the company’s golf course for military land to install a U.S.-provided anti-missile.

The ostensible reason for the base is North Korea’s nuclear missile program, but the Chinese see it differently.

From Xinhua, China’s official state news agency:

China on Monday warned against the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the Republic of Korea (ROK), saying China’s security interests should not be undermined.

There were media reports that the Lotte Group board of directors met on Monday to approve a land swap deal between the military and Lotte — a move to facilitate the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

The THAAD deployment initiated by the United States and the ROK seriously undermines regional strategic balance and the strategic security interests of regional countries including China, and is not favorable to safeguarding peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing.

“China has stressed time and again that it understands the reasonable security concerns of certain parties, but one country’s security should not come at the expense of another,” Geng said.

China regrets the persistent ignoring of its concerns over security interests, the spokesperson said. “China expresses firm opposition and strong dissatisfaction,” he said.

China will take necessary measures to safeguard its security interests, and the U.S. and the ROK will have to bear all the resulting consequences, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile in Japan. . .

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been doing some fast spinning after it emerged that a private school owner hailed as an ideological colleague turned out to be an openly racist zealot.

Abe’s regime has been the recipient of major Pentagon largess, boosted by Barack Obama’s Asian Pivot, a policy based o containment of China’s growing military prowess and the ongoing disputes over rights to the islands and resources of the China Seas.

The latest on Abe’s flub from the Japan Times:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday sought to deny allegations that he is linked to an Osaka-based ultranationalist kindergarten as the public outcry over the operator and its alleged efforts to indoctrinate children with xenophobia and pre-war militarism grows.

At the center of the controversy is Tsukamoto Kindergarten, a private school that recently came under fire for distributing letters to parents that accused Korean residents and Chinese of “possessing wicked thoughts.”

It has also emerged that the principal, Yasunori Kagoike, had briefly used Abe’s name in the past to raise funds to build Mizuho no Kuni, an elementary school slated to open April this year.

It was at this elementary school that Abe’s wife, Akie, had assumed the position of honorary principal until Thursday last week, when her name was abruptly removed from the school’s website amid a groundswell of public attention focused on the pair’s dealings with Moritomo Gakuen, which runs both schools.

TV footage has surfaced online over the past few days showing kindergartners participating in a sports festival at Tsukamoto, lined up, standing at attention, and shouting a nationalist chant that said: “Japanese adults should make sure South Korea and China repent over treating Japan as a villain,” and “refrain from teaching lies in history textbooks.”

>snip<

On Feb. 17, Abe had described Kagoike as someone with an “admirable passion for education” and “whose ideology is similar to mine.”

A Muslim girl fights for her individuality


And we mean fight literally.

A wonderful documentary from Jayisha Patel of Australia’s SBS Dateline, a look at Fareeha, a remarkable young Indian women skilled in a very untraditional martial art struggling to make her way to the national championships.

It’s a story about a person from Hyderabad whose dream is to become a police officer so that she can protect young girls in a nation riven by religious and sexual violence.

Her struggle reveals tensions universal in modern life, created when cultural norms created in an era of slow travel and limited technology were evolved at a time when organized religion dominated all aspects of civic and familial life.

While the West dubs the struggle triggered by America’s armed imperialism Islamist, what has happened in the U.S. and Europe might be called a Christianist insurgence. While authoritarianism in the Mideast and North Africa is fueled by an authoritarian interpretation of the Koran and sayings attributed to the Prophet, while the authoritarianism of the West is inspired by an authoritarian interpretation of the Bible, relaying heavily on particularist selection of passages from practices proscribed by Torah and a vision of the imminent future taken from Revelation.

The cultural norms   struggles against are not so different than the gender-based laws many Republicans dream of enacting.

And when you look at how the Christianists really want to control women and their roles, is it really that different from what the Islamists want?

In that context, enjoy a remarkable, true story about a triumphal struggle.

From SBS Dateline:

India’s Wushu Warrior

Program notes:

What happens when cultural tradition clashes with a young person’s dream? Dateline meets a Muslim girl whose passion for martial arts is raising difficult questions for her family.