Just before midnight on Dec. 17, 1874, a crew member cried out on the deck of the steamship S.S. Japan. There was a fire. In just 45 minutes, the flames engulfed the 4,000-ton ship’s wooden hull, trapping some of the passengers below deck. Others, mostly Chinese migrant workers, could not reach the lifeboats and jumped into the South China Sea, where they were weighed down by their gold-filled belts and sank to the bottom. The Chinese laborers were returning home from the American West.
Chinese authorities are now exerting pressure on Christians in Hong Kong, the latest blow to freedoms in the city that has traditionally enjoyed some autonomy from the mainland, the New York Times reports.
Another mass grave for human trafficking victims has been discovered in Malaysia, according to recent reports, raising further questions about the Department of State’s decision to upgrade the country’s ranking in this year’s Trafficking in Persons report.
Some lawmakers are considering a full-year continuing resolution to fund the government next year, a makeshift measure that would fail to address defense cuts and hamper procurement of new ships, planes, and vehicles, critics say.
Gov. Scott Walker (R., Wisc.), a leading Republican presidential candidate, urged President Obama on Monday to cancel the upcoming state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping amid concerns about Beijing’s military actions and human rights abuses.
Frederic Hof, a former senior adviser on Syria for the Obama administration, assailed the president in a recent op-ed for failing to address the civil war in that country and for indirectly fueling recruitment for the Islamic State terrorist group.
Chinese authorities are still holding 22 human rights lawyers and activists after a widespread crackdown last month, including several in unknown locations.
An Estonian intelligence officer who was allegedly kidnapped by Russian officials inside his country was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday, a warning from Russia to its neighbors that is redolent of show trials from the Soviet era, analysts say.
China and Russia are cracking down on civil society groups that receive funding from the United States and other countries, an escalation of campaigns by both authoritarian governments to maintain popular support through patriotic mobilization.
The frontrunner to become the next leader of Britain’s Labour Party, one of the two major political forces in the country and the party once led by Tony Blair, has expressed a desire for close relations with Islamic terrorist groups and is the preferred candidate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.