India's new: Textbooks favor Hindu Nationalist themes

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IND150101aa001.jpegNEW DELHI (RNS) Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conservative Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in an unprecedented victory last summer, he appointed a little-known historian as chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research, a prestigious scholarly institute.

The appointment raised eyebrows.

Read more at Religion News Service

Hong Kong: Protesters take to streets again, marching for democracy

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_CHI141010aa001.jpegHONG KONG — More than 10,000 people marched in Hong Kong on Sunday to press for open elections in 2017, staging the first mass rally since police cleared pro-democracy demonstrators from the streets in December.

Protesters rallied in the financial district known as Central, and the prop that came to define the fall 2014 protests -- the canary yellow umbrella -- was ubiquitous, despite there being nary a threat of rain. But Sunday's mood was perceptibly muted.

Read more at The LA Times

Obama arrives: In Saudi Arabia, promotes tolerance

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA130426AA001.jpegNEW DELHI — President Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, after defending the U.S. government's willingness to cooperate closely with the country on national security despite deep concerns over human rights abuses.

The president is leading a high-level U.S. delegation to the kingdom to pay respects following the death of King Abdullah last week.

Read more at USA Today

Republic Day: Parade centerpiece of Obama visit to India


NEW DELHI — President Obama became the first American leader to be chief guest at India's grand Republic Day celebrations Monday, an honor that underscored the growing warmth between the two countries.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama watched the military displays, musicians and decorated camels from inside a protective glass enclosure.

Read more at USA Today

Obama, Modi: Cite nuclear investment breakthrough

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA130629AA003.jpegNEW DELHI — President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday they reached "a breakthrough understanding" in freeing up U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India, as Obama began a three-day visit to India.

Picking up from a stalled 2008 civil nuclear agreement between the two countries, the deal would allow U.S. firms to invest in energy in India. It also resolves a dispute over U.S. insistence on tracking fissile material it supplies to the country and over Indian liability provisions that have discouraged U.S. firms from capitalizing on the agreement

Read more at USA Today

Right-wing Hinduism: Surges in India as Obama, Modi meet

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IND130723AA001.jpegNEW DELHI, India — At a recent science conference in India's financial capital of Mumbai, one orator spoke about an Indian sage who invented interplanetary spacecraft 7,000 years ago. Another detailed how cows' urine could turn anything into gold.

Many in India's scientific community were aghast, crediting such statements as typical of the "the Hindutva Brigade," the term used for Hindu nationalists.

Read more at USA Today

Pope leaves: Asia after record 6M attend Mass

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ITA130418AA001.jpegMANILA — Pope Francis has left the Philippines, Asia's largest Catholic nation, after a trip that drew what Filipino officials say was a record crowd of 6 million people who braved the rain Sunday to see the pontiff.

President Benigno Aquino III, top church leaders and about 400 street children yelling "Pope Francis we love you," joined the send off at a Manila air base before the pontiff boarded a Philippine Airlines plane for the trip back to Rome.

Read more at USA Today

Pope slams: 'Scandalous' corruption in Philippines

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ITA130418AA001.jpegMANILA — Pope Francis used the first full day of his visit to the Philippines on Friday to defend the Catholic Church's teaching against contraception, and urge people here to fight the "scandalous" corruption and poverty engulfing the nation.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos turned out see the pontiff deliver an address at a rally as part of his first visit to this overwhelmingly Catholic country in Southeast Asia.

Read more at USA Today

Frenzy builds: Over pope's visit to the Philippines


MANILA — Jose William Arana is just one of millions of worshipers in this most Catholic of Asian nations enthusiastic to see Pope Francis when he arrives Thursday for a five-day trip to the Philippines.

The 75-year-old priest hopes the pope's visit will inspire change. "It will (breathe) more life to our way of living, our faith as Catholics," he said.

Read more at USA Today

Indian PM: Narendra Modi takes heat over ‘trick’ Hindu conversions


VARANASI, India — When a group of men approached Abdul Rahman Gazi in early December and offered him help in securing government benefits, including state-subsidized housing, to attend a Hindu religious ceremony in Agra, the Muslim ragpicker was happy to oblige.

At the ceremony, Mr. Gazi and around 270 other Muslim Indians sat around a fire and recited prayers to the Hindu goddess Kali. Two days later, while reading a newspaper, Mr. Gazi discovered he had unwittingly converted to Hinduism during the ceremony as part of an aggressive campaign among evangelical Hindus that’s stirring political controversy in this diverse country of 1.2 billion people and raising questions about new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Read more at The Washington Times

China Syndrome?: Some firms consider fleeing tense Hong Kong for Singapore

HKG-protest2HONG KONG — Business leaders already are beginning to eye more peaceful markets amid Hong Kong’s massive pro-democracy demonstrations.

Even if the protests against Beijing haven’t delivered an economic knockout, Singapore is looking good these days, regional and financial analysts say.

Read more at The Washington Post

China Syndrome?: Some firms consider fleeing tense Hong Kong for Singapore (2)

HKG-protest2HONG KONG — Business leaders already are beginning to eye more peaceful markets amid Hong Kong’s massive pro-democracy demonstrations.

Even if the protests against Beijing haven’t delivered an economic knockout, Singapore is looking good these days, regional and financial analysts say.

Read more at The Washington Post

Beijing warns: It’s growing tired of Hong Kong protest (2)

HKG-protestHONG KONG — China's communist regime showed signs Wednesday that it is losing patience with tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators blocking Hong Kong streets, as the protesters threatened to occupy government buildings in their bid to oust the city’s top leader and hold elections free of Beijing’s control.

In a speech marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Chinese President Xi Jinping told a Beijing audience that his government will “steadfastly safeguard” Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

Read more at The Washington Times


Hong Kong: Student protests pose challenge to China

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_CHI141002aa001.jpegHONG KONG — Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators clogged Hong Kong streets overnight into Tuesday, defying Beijing in what is quickly becoming China’s biggest political challenge since the Tiananmen Square revolt more than two decades ago.

Protests that began last week as a student boycott of schools and universities erupted into massive demonstrations in the city’s financial district over the weekend, bringing a police crackdown with tear gas and batons.

Read more at The Washington Times

Dams may: Spell disaster for Myanmar's rivers


GLOBAL IDEAS - Gathered on an expansive riverbank, people wearing wide, pointed hats pass heavy sacks to each other from a small wooden boat floating lightly on the dark water. Others nearby coax their buffalo away from the water's edge, driving them and the carts they are pulling high on the bank towards small wooden huts.

It's a typical scene on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, the "lifeblood" of Myanmar. The waterway provides a source of food, work and sanitation to communities living close to its banks while also offering a lifeline for wildlife such as the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, a number of fish species and plants living in the forests surrounding the flowing water, and in the water itself.

Read more at Deutsche Welle

Gang rape: Assault and burning of teen causes outrage in India


NEW DELHI - The death of a 13-year-old girl who was gang-raped and set on fire in central India has fueled new outrage over the frequency of sexual assault in India, and the difficulty victims have in bringing their attackers to justice.

"I don't go out after dark," said Natasha Shah, a 26-year-old writer from New Delhi. "You don't feel so great going to a club, you don't really enjoy it and your parents will be calling you all night to check you're safe."

Read more at USA Today

Large cyclone: Leaves 9 dead in India


NEW DELHI -  A gigantic cyclone, one of the strongest ever to hit the Bay of Bengal, pounded India's eastern cost with heavy winds and rain Saturday, as nearly a million people fled the region.

More than 18 hours after the storm — the strongest to hit India in more than a decade — made landfall in eastern Orissa state, officials said they knew of only nine fatalities, most of them people killed by falling branches or collapsing buildings in the rains ahead of the cyclone.

Read more at USA Today

Pakistan Christians: Take to the streets after bombing


NEW DELHI - In the wake of the worst ever attack on Pakistan's Christian minority, some worry that the new government's strategy for peace through negotiations with extremist Taliban groups is doomed to failure before it even gets off the ground.

Critics worry that the government is only allowing the Islamists time to get stronger.

Read more at USA Today

Pakistan attack: Kills 81, renews fear of Taliban


NEW DELHI - A pair of suicide bombers killed 81 people outside a church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday in the deadliest attack yet on the country's Christian minority, reviving fears that the newly installed government is powerless to stop the resurgent Taliban's reign of terror.

The attack on the 19th-century All Saints Church in Peshawar took place as hundreds of worshippers were streaming out of the church, police chief Mohammad Ali Babakhel told the newspaper Dawn.

Read more at USA Today


Federal reserve: Cast shadow over India


NEW DELHI — Travelospin, a medium-sized travel agency, occupies a prominent spot in a large commercial complex in the central Indian city of Jaipur's affluent shopping district of Vaishali Nagar. Surrounded by the large showrooms of international brands such as Nike and Levi's, Travelospin is one of the thousands of small travel agencies that popped up in the past decade after India liberalized its economy.

Then, Indian middle-class families found themselves with cash to spare and a desire to travel. Firms like Travelospin rushed in to cater to them. With the recent declines in Indian rupee, though — the currency fell by nearly 20% in the past three months against the dollar — it looks like the honeymoon is over.

Read more at USA Today

Pakistan ex-leader: Musharraf charged in Bhutto death

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAK130912aa001.jpegLAHORE, Pakistan - The murder indictment Tuesday of Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former military chief and president, in the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is the first time an army chief has been charged with a crime in Pakistan.

That means the landmark case is sure to draw the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for about three decades, into the fray. And a decade-long rivalry between the country's two most powerful political families will be stirred into the judicial process.

Read more at USA Today

Immigration debate: Ensnares foreign workers


NEW DELHI - Sukh Singh had a college degree in mechanical engineering and a dream of working in the United States, but that seemed impossible from his small farming village in northern India.

Then a man named Sukhwinder came to town in November. He says he had just come back from America. He dressed the part, with designer jeans, distinct T-shirts and "fancy sunglasses." He even talked the part, sporting close to an American accent. He says he could help college grads find a job in a big American city for a big engineering firm. Ears perked up when he mentioned Austin as a possible destination.

Read more at USA Today

Myanmar forests: Facing new risks


With the lifting of economic sanctions, Myanmar is opening its doors to big agribusinesses in palm oil and rubber. It's good for the economy, but not for the country's natural resources, especially its forests.

Branches heavy with dark green leaves and wooden tendrils hang across a winding path beaten flat by the stomping feet of elephants training for a life of logging . Now just learning the trade, the animals carry tourists on their backs through the deep jungle, trundling over undergrowth and through bubbling streams before being released at night to wander the area with their free cousins.

Read more at Deutsche Welle

Defending Japan: Foreign-born media watchdogs


Have the foreign media got it in for Japan? Do they unduly focus on, and sensationalize, Fukushima radiation leaks, alleged racial intolerance and the self-aggrandizing policy pronouncements of the reborn Liberal Democratic Party? Worse still, are non-Japanese journalists prejudicing perceptions of Japan in the wider world, further eroding the nation's global significance?

Though right-wing Japanese apologists have long identified, in the words of Michael Cucek, research associate with the MIT Center for International Studies, "the existence of an international cabal of anti-Japanese media types," some ardent foreign-born Japan residents are also defending their adopted home from "Japan-hating" media.
Read more at The Japan Times

Japan's glory: Returning to the golden days


TOKYO - In an effort to climb back to its Walkman glory days, Japan is investing heavily in R&D, especially in its technology strongholds. But the culture may not have the same appetite for risk as its competitors and may be outpaced by more aggressive countries, experts say.

When Japan exclusively developed and manufactured Walkmans, Honda hatchbacks and Nintendos, it was set to overtake the United States as the world's largest economy. Today, Japan continues to be a world-leading high-tech innovator. Yet in commercial terms, the competition has caught up, and is often running ahead. As the Apples and Samsungs of the world outcompete Sony and Panasonic, Japanese companies are trying to revive the country's economic miracle.

Read more at The Globe and Mail

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