Barack Obama joined leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations for a weekend summit on 20 November to discuss international cooperation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. However, U.S. lawmakers and rights groups allege that his administration has ignored Malaysia’s abuse of trafficking victims to secure the country’s help in sealing the trade deal and offsetting China’s growing political clout.
As the Brussels district of Molenbeek becomes a focus for police pursuing those behind 13 November’s mass attacks in Paris, Belgian authorities are asking what makes its narrow, terraced streets of different from a thousand similar neighbourhoods across Europe. Molenbeek is home not just to militants among Belgium’s own half a million Muslims but, it seems, for French radicals seeking a convenient, discreet base to lie low, plan and arm before striking their homeland across the border. “Belgium is a federal state and that’s always an advantage for terrorists,” said Edwin Bakker, professor at the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
When the bodies of scores of refugees were found decomposing in the back of a truck at the side of a motorway in Austria this September, Europe and the world was shocked. It was a grim reminder of the human impact of the continent’s worst refugee crisis since 1945. Blame was quick to fall at the feet of the people-smugglers who move migrants across borders for a fee. Here, Reuters speaks to one of the smugglers who is now in hiding after five men he helped to leave Iraqi Kurdistan died in the back of that truck in Austria. “I feel really bad about what happened, but it wasn’t my fault. I was helping them,” he says.
Online shopping is booming in India thanks to the availability of cheap smartphones. Deliveries have proven to be challenging through the country’s busy roads – but now Amazon is bringing the innovations from India back to the US and UK. “There is so much focus on India and the kind of growth that is happening here... People say, if it works for them, let’s see what we can pick and learn,” said Akhil Saxena, director of operations at Amazon India.
In few places are the wounds of Greece's economic depression more evident than in the mouths of the nation's children. By most indicators of dental health, Greece is one of the unhealthiest places in Europe. In a special report, Reuters finds that dental problems are particularly acute among children. "The effect on Greece is going to be huge, not just in terms of the economic impact, but also the health, quality of life and employability of people," says Paula Vassallo, chair of a European lobby group that promotes oral health.
The move may seem insignificant compared to other countries, where same-sex couples can legally marry but being openly gay remains largely taboo in Japan. Hiroko Masuhara and Koyuki Higashi said they are delighted that they will now be able to do things that most couples take for granted, such as rent an apartment and visit each other in hospital.
A deaf-mute Indian girl stranded in Pakistan for 13 years after wandering over one of the world's most militarized borders has finally arrived home but failed to recognize the family she has identified from photographs. The story of Geeta, a Hindu woman in her early 20s, has captivated people in both countries at a time of heightened tension and border clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals. Hostilities have kept apart many families since majority-Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan became separate countries in 1947.
Disaster tourism has become more common in Indonesia, where visitors are drawn to sites of earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions to witness the aftermath of catastrophes or simply do some soul-searching. But it is also helping people who lost their jobs and homes in such disasters, and who now act as tour guides, reports Reuters.
The number of complaints about workplace age discrimination in the U.S. is on the rise. Legal and employment experts warn that ageism will remain a persistent problem with millennials eager to enter the workforce and baby boomers reluctant to leave it. Stereotypes and perceptions that older workers are less savvy about technology, cost more or are not as productive also fuel age discrimination, they tell Reuters.
A ground-breaking course at Kabul University has enrolled its first students – it is Afghanistan’s first Master's degree in gender and women's studies. Eighteen women and 10 men have enrolled in the two-year course, which will tackle subjects like gender and violence. However, the course has been met with disapproval by some who object to it because promotes gender equality.
Rachel Denton is a former nun and now a hermit, living in seclusion in Lincolnshire, England. Surprisingly, however, she has embraced the internet age, regularly updating Twitter and Facebook. Denton was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer, earlier this year but it has not changed her desire for solitude.
Ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, climate negotiators deliberate how to get 200 governments to commit to the toughest possible cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Critics say the absence of a legal stick to enforce compliance is a deep - if not fatal - flaw in the Paris process.
Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet has won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping build democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring. The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised the quartet for providing an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war.
Reuters investigates claims that Beijing is using intimidation tactics to deflect scrutiny of China’s human rights record at the very venue that is supposed to protect victims of state oppression – the U.N. Human Rights Council. In the past, China has sought to block high profile human rights activists from attending, including the Dalai Lama. At home, activists say China is conducting the worst domestic crackdown on human rights in two decades.
The last known nomadic tribe in Colombia is at risk of extinction, forced to flee their lands by warring factions in the country's 51-year conflict. Joaquin Niijbe, leader of the Nukak Maku tribe tells Reuters that their clash with the modern world, and the loss of ancestral rainforest homelands, has driven many to alcoholism, drug abuse and even suicide.
In Tanzania, Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Young victims who have had body parts removed in horrific attacks were recently rescued to be fitted with prosthetic limbs in the U.S. But now they are being sent back home, where their futures are bleak.
As sports arenas rise up around them and neighbours' houses are demolished, around 50 families remain in Vila Autodromo, a favela bordering the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. Those who refuse to leave their “paradise” tell Reuters they why vow to fight eviction whatever the cost.
Paragliding is rising in popularity in Afghanistan. “When I went up to the sky, I thought I was a bird which had just been freed from a cage,” says Zakia Mohammadi, one of 15 young Afghans taking to the skies above Kabul, where military helicopters are a far more familiar sight. Despite the threat of being hit by bullets, she is determined to prove that women should have the rights to participate in social activities, like sports.
Cuba's 35 new Wi-Fi hotspots are being welcomed in a highly controlled country where less than a third of the population has access to the web. But going online comes at a high price of $2 per hour. While the government blames cost for lack of investment in internal infrastructure, critics suggest the real impediment is its fear of losing control of the media and seeing new avenues of political opposition open up.
The amount of fish in the oceans has halved since 1970, in a plunge to the “brink of collapse” caused by over-fishing and other threats, the WWF conservation group said last week. Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, told Reuters mismanagement was pushing “the ocean to the brink of collapse”.