The DailyBrief

Thursday January 5, 2017

With heavily sanctioned North Korea marching undeterred toward possession of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), calls for serious consideration of military intervention are gaining rare prominence, writes John Power for Asia Times. Usually relegated to the fringes of debate, the specter of military action by the United States has grown since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced in his New Year’s address that the regime was in the “final stages” of testing an ICBM. As a great military power, Kim said, North Korea was now untouchable to “even the strongest enemy.”

Bangalore, India’s IT capital, has long held a reputation of being the South Asian nation’s Silicon Valley, but the groping of a woman as she was heading home from New Year’s Eve celebrations and the mass molestation earlier in the night hit headlines. Women in both cases did not file a report with police, bringing to light the plight of thousands of women in India who do not report what they suffer out of fear of humiliation and retaliation. Anusha Venkat reports on why these women do not go to authorities as studies show over 90% of cases go unreported.

As the January 20 inauguration fast approaches plenty has been written about the pros and cons of the next administration in the United States. In the second of a three-part series looking at the possible direction of the US economy under president-elect Donald Trump, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics tells Orla O’Sullivan for Asia Times that there are grounds both for optimism and pessimism with regard to whether or not productivity can be boosted.

After “the Force” went missing on its Japanese debut, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story got shown who’s boss of the Korean box office by the crime drama Master in the opening week of 2017, writes Russell Edwards for Asia Times. In its second week out, Cho Ui-seok’s Master controlled 44% of the market and added just over US$10 million to reach a cumulative gross of US$37.6 million. In contrast, Rogue One has grossed a mere US$6.1 million since its Korean premiere on December 28. Adding melodic insult to intergalactic injury, Sing (total gross US$8.4 million) and La La Land (total gross US$17.8 million) have both outperformed the George Lucas franchise.

Dust really can turn into gold, especially in northern China, reports Benny Kung. As heavy smog blankets the region for a seventh day, even trains can’t escape the scourge of pollution. High-speed trains running through the region reveal just how serious air pollution is, with pictures of the usually white carriages covered in pollutants posted on Chinese websites. In our photo slideshow, we can watch how a “smoggy gold” train is cleaned.