The DailyBrief

Wednesday July 5, 2017

Pyongyang-American strike possible? North Korea is claiming it now has the capability to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon, after testing another advanced missile on Tuesday. Harry J Kazianis writes such an assertion is still hard to confirm but one thing is clear: Pyongyang’s missile program is entering a critical phase and is no longer a distant threat.

Asia-Innovation the answer: In the second of a three-part Asia Times series on how tightening by the US Federal Reserve and other central banks will affect Asia, William Pesek says riding America’s coattails is no longer an option for the region’s economic strategists. Instead, governments from Jakarta to Seoul and from Taipei to New Delhi will be forced, finally, to put innovation and startups at the center of growth strategies.

New ISIS leader? A low-profile terrorist, Iyad al-Obeidi, is earmarked to succeed the self-proclaimed commander of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, if the latter is in fact proven dead. Sami Moubayed writes that Al-Obeidi, who until recently served as head of the Islamic State’s Military Command, comes with the right credentials as he was born into a prominent Sunni Muslim family and also formed part of Saddam’s Iraqi military elite.

Russia’s land giveaway: A little over a year ago, Russia started a program which offered citizens free land in the sparsely populated areas of the Far East to encourage migration, reports Irina Drobysheva. The project was initially met with much skepticism but has so far exceeded expectations and, with almost 100,000 applications lodged and more than 21,600 new plots registered, it could prove to be the catalyst for a historic movement of Russian people.

Asia’s top universities: British magazine Times Higher Education released its first Asia-Pacific University Ranking on Tuesday to reflect the region’s growing strength in the higher education sector. Liu Hsiu Wen writes that 243 universities featured on the list with institutions from China and Singapore taking four of the top five places.