Kim Jong-il’s different birthday celebrations in North and South Korea dramatize current tensions. For the first time the South's President Lee openly supported groups lofting balloons northward with leaflets bearing insulting messages.
Japan announced it was suspending its annual whale hunt in the strongest sign yet that direct action from groups like Sea Shepherd and weak consumption of whale meat in Japan are having an impact on whaling.
Proponents say that a safety net in the form of social insurance for Thailand's informal workers – including taxi drivers, food vendors, garbage recyclers – could ease social tensions in a politically polarized nation.
Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of the militant group Jamaah Islamiyah, is facing trial for the third time. It may be Indonesia's last chance to convict the cleric, who was also tried in for the 2002 Bali bombings.
After walking out of a meeting meant as a preliminary step toward six-party nuclear talks, some worry North Korea may stage another nuclear test. Its first test came during a break in six-party talks in 2006.
Standard & Poor’s cut its rating on Japanese sovereign debt one notch last week, strengthening the naysayers. But with falling unemployment, large reserves, and rising corporate profits, 'Japan is punching well above its weight,' says one analyst.
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday he has 'high hopes for a change in attitude' from North Korea and implied that South Korea might consider significant aid for the North’s dilapidated economy.
Japan's Shinmoedake volcano, known by James Bond aficionados as the lair of one of 007's enemies, scattered thick ash over a wide area, toppled trees, and shattered windows in buildings and cars five miles away.