The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

UN reveals North Korean chemical link to Syria:  A confidential United Nations report unearthed by Reuters Monday has revealed on two occasions over a six-month period shipments from North Korea destined for Syria were intercepted by two member states.

The report did not disclose when the shipments were seized or which nations intercepted the cargo. Destined for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, which is responsible for overseeing Syria’s chemical weapon program, the shipment originated with North Korea’s Korea Mining Development Trade Cooperation (KOMID).

KOMID is known to maintain relations with Syria.

Neither North Korea nor Syria responded to the UN report, which said a independent panel was investigating “prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation” between the two nations.

Cambodia shuts down independent radio stations:  In a blow independent broadcasting, the Cambodian Ministry of Information ordered 15 private radio stations to cease operations.

The closures, the ministry claims, is over the stations’ failure to pay licensing fees exceeding $6 million and refusing to report the sale of air time and to which persons or firms it was sold.

Despite the ministry claiming it was not targeting independent radio stations, the stations ordered closed had routinely broadcast programming featuring the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.

Officials with the ministry have warned of further closures.

India high court sustains right to privacy:  In a consequential decision which turned away the rulings of two lower courts on Thursday, as the Supreme Court of India issued a decision judging that privacy is a fundamental right in India under the constitution.

Confronted with New Delhi’s plan for compulsory registration in the Aadhaar database, the court said the growth and development of technology created devices which could lead to invasion of privacy. Implemented in its earlier form in 2009, the program has slowly expanded to require users to register for financial transactions.

The world’s largest biometric data system, Aadhaar counts over 1 billion Indians as registered users.

ISIS throws back SDF, Damascus troops at Raqqa:  After days of advances aimed at retaking the de-facto capital of the Islamic State (ISIS) caliphate, ISIS fighters launched a counteroffensive near Deir al-Zor and reclaimed territory lost to Syrian and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fierce fighting erupted after a Syrian convoy was attacked by ISIS militants near Madaan in eastern Raqqa, leaving 34 Syrian troops and 12 ISIS members dead.

Raqqa detailed Aug 1

Deir Az Zor, Raqqa and Maadan are among the last bastions in ISIS’ hands in Raqqa Governorate.

Hong Kong protesters demand release of pro-democracy activists:  Demonstrators numbering over 20,000 turned out on Sunday, Aug. 20, to protest the sentencing of three pro-democracy activists.  Some clad in prison uniforms, the protesters were demanding the immediate release of Alex Chow, Nathan Law and Joshua Wong, ages 20–27.

The trio of activists were sentenced in mid-August to sentences ranging between six and eight months for their role in the “Umbrella Movement.”  A September 2014 mass protest which lasted 79 days, Chinese authorities have accused Wong, Chow and Law of trespassing Hong Kong’s Central Government Complex, which triggered the protest.

Reuters reported demonstrators chanting: “Release all political prisoners. Civil disobedience. We have no fear. We have no regrets.”

“This shows that the Hong Kong government, the Chinese Communist regime and the Department of Justice’s conspiracy to deter Hong Kong people from continuing to participate in politics and to protest using harsh laws and punishments has completely failed,” protest organizer Lester Shum said.

All three held by authorities have been barred from running for political office for five years.


[Middle East Monitor] [Phnom Penh Post] [Asharq Al-Awsat] [BBC News] [South China Morning Post]