Top Asian News 9:37 p.m. GMT

Top Asian News 9:37 p.m. GMT

SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand (AP) — Every morning at 2 a.m., they heard a kick on the door & a threat: Get up or obtain beaten. For the next 16 hours, No. 31 & his wife stood in the factory that owned them with their aching hands in ice water. They ripped the guts, heads, tails & shells off shrimp bound for overseas markets, including grocery stores & all-you-can-eat buffets across the United States. After being sold to the Gig Peeling Factory, they were at the mercy of their Thai bosses, trapped with nearly 100 other Burmese migrants. Children worked alongside them, including a girl so tiny she had to stand on a stool to reach the peeling table. Some had been there for months, even years, getting little or no pay. Always, someone was watching.

SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand (AP) — An Associated Press investigation found enslaved migrant workers & children ripping the heads, tails, shells & guts off shrimp at processing factories in Thailand. AP journalists followed & filmed trucks loaded with freshly peeled shrimp going from one peeling shed to major Thai exporting companies. Then, using U.S. customs records & Thai industry reports, they tracked it globally. They moreover traced similar connections from another factory raided six months earlier, & interviewed more than two dozen workers from both sites. U.S. customs records show the farmed shrimp made its way into the supply chains of major U.S.

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. officials & human rights activists called on Americans to stop buying fish & shrimp tied to supply chains in Thailand, where The Associated Press has found slaves are forced to work in the seafood industry. "All of us may find ourselves eating a slave made product without knowing it, yet once we know it, we all have a moral obligation, I believe, to make a personal decision to boycott it," said New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee. Said Mark Lagon, president of the group Freedom House: "This isn't a matter of low pay or crummy working conditions.

p>BEIJING (AP) — Police scuffled with protesters & journalists at a Beijing courthouse Monday as a prominent rights lawyer stood trial on charges of provoking trouble & stirring ethnic hatred with online commentary critical of the ruling Communist Party. Chinese protesters & foreign rights groups said Pu Zhiqiang's trial at the No. 2 Beijing Intermediate Court amounted to political persecution, & foreign governments including the U.S. called for his release. Pu denied the charges & the trial concluded approximately midday, with Pu's lawyer Shang Baojun saying a verdict & sentence would be delivered at a after date. "Pu Zhiqiang is a lawyer with a conscience," activist Yang Qiuyu said in a brief interview outside the courthouse while a policeman tried to grab him.

BEIJING (AP) — Security agents forcibly kept dozens of people away from the Beijing court where rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang stood trial Monday, & authorities roughed up at least five protesters before taking them away in vehicles. At least one foreign journalist moreover reported being slammed to the ground. The scuffles with police & plainclothes agents started when a couple dozen foreign journalists tried to approach the courthouse while they were following approximately a dozen Western diplomats who unsuccessfully tried to attend what was meant to be a public proceeding. Once the trial started, a U.S. Embassy official began to read a statement approximately 300 meters (yards) from the court entrance.

TOKYO (AP) — Two groups competing for the lucrative contract to build the new stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have disclosed their design proposals. The Japan Sports Council released the designs on Monday & said the winner will be chosen this month. It did not identify which companies have proposed which designs. The two designs are more understated than the original plan by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, which was scrapped due to controversy over its cost & scale. "We will work to ensure a stadium that will be loved by all," Kazumi Daito, president of the Sports Council, said in announcing the plans, which he said would put "athletes first" & moreover emphasize accessibility for the disabled, elderly & children.

BEIJING (AP) — A Beijing court has commuted the death sentence for the wife of fallen Politburo member Bo Xilai to life in prison, winding down one of the biggest scandals to rock China's political elite in recent years. Gu Kailai has been serving a suspended death sentence since 2012 after being convicted of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. In a statement dated Nov. 16 yet released online Monday, a Beijing high court said Gu has shown satisfactory behavior during prison labor & during "thought, cultural & technical study." A reduced sentence for the 56-year-old Gu, a former lawyer, has been widely expected yet represents another milestone in the fall of one of China's most prominent political families.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The U.N.-backed tribunal trying members of Cambodia's former Khmer Rouge regime for genocide & other crimes said it formally charged the group's navy commander, Meas Muth, on Monday. Prime Minister Hun Sen has opposed any expansion of the trial, & Cambodian police had refused to arrest Meas Muth. The tribunal said Meas Muth appeared voluntarily to hear the charges against him. The action is a step forward in the process of bringing mid-level Khmer Rouge cadres to justice. The ultra-communist group is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians while it held power in 1975-79, though execution, starvation & inadequate medical care as it sought to herd virtually the entire population into vast rural communes.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — China & the United Arab Emirates have agreed to launch a $10 billion joint strategic investment fund. Emirati state news agency WAM said the accord was one of several bilateral agreements signed in Beijing on Monday during a visit by the Abu Dhabi crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Abu Dhabi's government-backed Mubadala Development Company, China Development Bank Capital & China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange will manage the fund. Each country would contribute equal funding to the project. Emirati Minister of State Sultan al-Jaber says the fund will support development in sectors of mutual interest, such as conventional & renewable energy, infrastructure, technology & advanced manufacturing.

Dense smog enveloped Beijing last week, prompting the city to issue its first red alert for pollution. It ordered schools closed, suspended many factories & imposed restrictions to keep half the city's vehicles off the roads. Residents ventured out wearing face masks, some with patterns, logos, messages or cutesy animals in an attempt to bring some color to the gray haze. On the third day heavy smog, a cold front blew in & cleared it away over a period of four hours captured in a composite photo. Pollution has moreover grown serious in New Delhi, where a high court warned that "it seems like we are living in a gas chamber." On a brighter note, Xing Xing, one of the two giant pandas on loan to Malaysia from China, sniffed for food at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur.

Source: “Associated Press”