BANGKOK, Thailand — For army conscript Pramote Wannasuk, 22, and villager Dison Mansu, 36, the military coup in Thailand and all it promises for positive change came too late. Both men, Pramote a Buddhist and Dison a Muslim, were murdered this week in the quiet terrorism that plagues this predominantly Buddhist country’s religiously and culturally divided south. They are among more than 50 people who have been killed or wounded in the past 10 days alone in an escalating conflict that has left about 1,800 dead and many more wounded over the last almost three years. Many hoped that the […]

In late 1979 Craig Etcheson was an impressionable 23-year-old who divided his time between rock concerts and first year Ph.D. studies in mathematical models of war at the University of Southern California School for International Relations. The Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple and The Grateful Dead were his bands of choice. Then Vietnam invaded Cambodia and lifted the veil on the true scale of carnage committed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Images from the Killing Fields shocked the affable Etcheson. The slaughter of about one third of Cambodia’s population in the previous three-and-a-half years was something the young mathematician found […]

WASHINGTON — Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said North Korea’s nuclear test was “a cry for help”, and Iran’s defiant refusal to halt its nuclear program is aimed at forcing the United States to normalize relations between the two countries. Speaking at Georgtown University in Washington Monday, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize told a gathering of foreign policy specialists and college students that testing a nuclear bomb was “the only trump card” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il had. The North Koreans “feel isolated and threatened,” ElBaradei said. Their message was […]

NAIROBI, Kenya — The African Union has released a blueprint designed to guide the continent in its relations with “emerging powers” like China, Brazil and India. A task force formed by the union says Africa must have a strategy for engaging these countries to avoid a “second colonization” and to make sure Africa benefits as much as possible from its relations with them. The strategic plan, completed Sept. 13 at a meeting of the AU “Task Force on Africa’s Strategic Partnership with the Emerging Powers” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, assesses how cooperation with emerging powers can help Africa use her […]

After emerging from decades of single-party rule in 1998, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has become a symbol of freedom in a region that recently has been slowly sliding away from democracy. Today, Indonesia’s story is that of reformasi, or a spirit of reform. After enduring a troubled, violent separation, the culturally distinct province of East Timor is now free. The insurgent Free Aceh Movement has signed a cease-fire with the central government. And, in 2004, the country’s first direct presidential election brought Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono into office. This year, Freedom House upgraded Indonesia from “Partly Free” to […]

Europe’s new concerns about reliance on Russia for much of its energy security are nothing compared with the worries in many other capitals around the world about the problem posed by China’s growing demand for oil and gas, say analysts. Those worries are little mollified by repeated assurances coming out of Beijing that China’s insatiable appetite for energy is not a threat to the rest of the world. Beijing’s assurances don’t sound convincing, many analysts say. Each year since the early 1990s, China has been consuming more and more energy to fuel its fast-growing economy. Last year, the Chinese accounted […]

It was raining in Beijing the morning of Oct. 8 as new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe flew to the city on his maiden official trip to China. As his aircraft touched down in the Chinese capital, the rain stopped and the sky began to clear, a phenomenon cited by both Abe and the Chinese media as a sign that Sino-Japanese ties were slowly but surely on the mend. An editorial in the China Daily, the country’s national English-language newspaper, said the break in the rain illustrated “optimism in the long-strained ties between China and Japan” and urged the two […]

Last February wasn’t a good month for Terry Semel. Not only was the Yahoo! Chairman and CEO in the middle of an ambitious overseas expansion project, but his web search company had been called before Congress to testify about its involvement in a high-profile international incident. Bad news for any businessman, but for U.S. foreign policy it was a sudden and unsettling introduction to the reach of the information age. The trouble for Yahoo started with the jailing of Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist who had been convicted of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities” after an email he […]

KARACHI, Pakistan – The status of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the octogenarian chieftain of a tribe in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan, almost reached the mythical this summer when a late-August operation by the Pakistani military resulted in his death in a cave in the mountains of Dera Bugti. Government officials moved swiftly to bury him quietly and suppress any news of the follies committed during the military operation, which occurred amid nationwide protests and deadly violence in Balochistan. Ten people had already died in bomb blasts, attacks and clashes with police during August, following a year of pitched […]

In the latest human rights blow to a Central Asian nation dominated by Soviet-style oppression, Uzbek officials are proposing tougher measures against Uzbek citizens practicing their religion. Under a proposal revealed by the Uzbek government’s Religious Affairs Committee in August, massive fines and imprisonment will await anyone who shares religious convictions with another person outside of an officially sanctioned house of worship. Under the new plan, through which officials say individual religious leaders will be held accountable for the actions of those in their congregations, a first offense would earn the guilty party a fine between 200 and 600 times […]

TEL AVIV, Israel — You don’t have to understand Hebrew to read the worried faces of Israelis glancing at this week’s newspapers. The picture under yesterday’s bold headlines shows the familiar round face of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. Looking at him from a Tel Aviv sidewalk near the beach, Israeli readers show a familiar expression: one of profound worry. “Now Iran will feel it can do whatever it wants,” said Nili Orvin, a local businesswoman. North Korea, on Asia’s Pacific rim, lies thousands of miles from the Mediterranean Sea that laps gently upon Tel Aviv’s shore. Still, Israelis know […]

BUSAN, South Korea — The Korea Earthquake Research Center recorded a tremor in North Korea at 10:36 a.m. on Monday. It measured 3.6 on the Richter scale and was not a natural event. Shortly after the seismic activity, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced they had successfully completed a nuclear test, calling it a “historic event,” and a “great leap forward.” North Korea became the ninth member of the elite club of nations that possess the nuclear bomb. The test was conducted in a tunnel dug into a small mountainside near the village of Hwadae on the northeastern coast […]

WASHINGTON — With its move into eastern Afghanistan last week, NATO assumed full responsibility for security throughout the entire country, but the commander of the Atlantic alliance said in Washington Wednesday that victory “will not be resolved by military means.” U.S. Marine General James L. Jones said NATO’s troop strength of 35,000 from 26 member countries is “adequate for the mission,” but he said the real challenge is to break the logjam in the faltering reconstruction effort and halt the growth of the narco trade. Troops from some NATO countries were first deployed in Kabul in 2001 as ISAF, the […]

HONG KONG — The arrest of the most high-profile public figure in China in a decade may be a shocking example of endemic corruption in the world’s biggest out-of-control economy, but the question on the lips of some financial investigators in the West is: Will the trail of Chen Liangyu’s ill-gotten loot lead to the United States? The shadow economy in China, a combination of embezzlement, bribery, tax avoidance and underground banking of both legal and illegal money, is huge, and growing. Much of this money is laundered abroad, mostly via Hong Kong, say investigators, and there is growing evidence […]

BAMAKO, Mali — Lambert Coulibaly, 40, seems an unlikely proponent of the global marketplace. Employed as a maintenance worker by a hotel in the River Quarter of Mali’s capital, he spends not a little of his day sitting around and smoking. Yet Coulibaly commutes to his job each day on a Chinese-made Yamaha motorcycle. As he travels around Bamako, he is joined by tens of thousands of Malians on motorcycles and mopeds, the majority of which are also Chinese. “The Chinese motorcycles are cheaper. Plus the Japanese are more expensive,” Coulibaly said. He said his Chinese-made Yamaha cost about $620. […]

ANKARA, Turkey — Not since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire — the seat of the 400-year old Turkish Muslim caliphate — have Europeans been so preoccupied with Turkey. As poor Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Africa flood the gates of Europe in search of work, the prospect of Turkey’s accession into the EU has provoked the EU’s most heated existential crisis to date. Turkey, the gateway between Europe and the Middle East, began its Europeanizing mission well over half a century ago when it first applied to join what was then called the European Economic Community. Until […]

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UNITED NATIONS — South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon seemed assured of becoming U.N. secretary general Monday after emerging unscathed from an informal Security Council straw poll in which each of the other five remaining candidates were vetoed. Ban led the field with 14 out of a possible 15 “encouragements” and no “discouragements,” but one “no opinion” from a non-permanent council member. The five permanent members with veto power — the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France — made no attempt to block his progress. Ban has led the field in all four straw polls the Security Council has […]

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