WNPR

Asia

The American Green Berets were seated around a long, plywood table at their base when they spotted the Taliban counterattack on their screens.

The burly Americans were working on computers, drinking coffee and munching on chips and peanut butter cookies. Their team leader answered an ever-ringing phone, giving his superiors updates on an Afghan commando mission in the mountains just north of Afghanistan's Kandahar Airfield.

"Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed," President Obama said Friday, in the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Hiroshima, Japan.

In 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb used in warfare on that city, killing an estimated 140,000 people. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Within weeks, Japan surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific Theater.

President Obama wraps up a weeklong Asia trip on Friday with a historic visit to Hiroshima, Japan. Obama will be the first sitting president to visit the city synonymous with the deadly nuclear age that began there more than seven decades ago.

Obama said he plans to "honor all those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will accompany Obama, told reporters the trip "will no doubt create further, powerful momentum" toward that goal.

President Obama announced Monday that the U.S. is fully lifting a five-decades-long arms embargo against Vietnam.

The embargo on lethal military equipment had been partially lifted in 2014; now it will be raised fully, the White House says. The president spoke about the decision from Hanoi, during the first day of a weeklong trip to Asia.

Martin Garrido / Creative Commons

America's Asian population is growing faster than any other racial group in the country. According to the White House, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will account for nearly ten percent of all U.S. residents by the year 2050. So why, then, don’t we hear more about them in our communities? 

A new picture of Manuel Santos appeared on Facebook yesterday, taken shortly after he'd learned that a Thai court ruled that his husband, Gordon "Bud" Lake III — their daughter Carmen's biological father — was the baby's sole legal guardian.

China has gotten very good at making steel. And making it and making it and making it.

In fact, that "excess" production is causing such a crisis for the global steel industry that the United States is joining an international push to try to cut the glut.

An deadly earthquake struck southern Japan on Thursday.

At least nine people were killed and more than 700 were injured, The Associated Press reports, citing the government's chief spokesman.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Kumamoto at 9:26 p.m. local time. The organization evaluated the earthquake's damage as level red, meaning "extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread," the website said.

A court in central China has ruled against a gay couple seeking to register for marriage. It's the first time a Chinese court has addressed the issue of same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit against authorities in the city of Changsha, Hunan province, was filed after they said Sun Wenlin, whose age has been put at 26 or 27, could not register to marry his 36-year old partner, Hu Mingliang. In January, a district court unexpectedly accepted the case.

Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima on Monday, making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the site since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb there at the end of World War II.

Kerry didn't apologize for the U.S. attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, as some Japanese activists have pushed for. He did honor those who died in the bombings, NPR's Elise Hu reports.

On the visit, Kerry toured the peace museum and laid a wreath at the monument to the attack, The Associated Press reports.

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi is now in charge of part of Myanmar's government, after a trusted ally in her party was sworn in as president Wednesday. Despite the change in leadership, Myanmar's military still holds significant power.

Suu Kyi was just steps away from her aide, U Htin Kyaw, when he was sworn in as president. Prohibited from seeking her country's top post, she now becomes Myanmar's foreign minister and will head other ministries, as well.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports:

At least 70 people have died in an explosion in the city of Lahore, Pakistan, according to local police. Hundreds more were injured. According to Reuters, the attack was claimed by the Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

"The target were Christians," said a spokesman for the faction, Ehsanullah Ehsan. "We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore. He can do what he wants, but he won't be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks."

North Korea fired a pair of medium-range ballistic missiles from its east coast into the Sea of Japan at about 6 a.m. local time, according to South Korea's military. The first missile flew about 500 miles.

This follows the launch of two short-range missiles last week. A senior defense department official says neither missile was a threat to the U.S. or regional allies, but that the launches violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Myanmar has elected its first civilian president after decades of military rule.

U Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Nobel laureate and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, won the legislature's vote. Suu Kyi was barred from running herself by the country's constitution — drafted by the former military leaders — because she has two foreign sons.

Bad weather is seen as a possible cause for the crash of a small passenger plane in Nepal that was navigating between mountains in an area that's popular for treks and sightseeing. The plane, with a crew of three and 20 passengers, reportedly flew into the side of a mountain.

Pages