Asia

The Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is poised this week for what could be one of the biggest IPOs in Wall Street history. One reason Alibaba has been so dominant in China is its business-to-consumer platform, Taobao, a sort of Chinese eBay.

Last year, Taobao and Alibaba's brand-name retail site, Tmall, drove nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in transactions.

Along the way, Taobao has even transformed village economies.

In August, monsoon rains brought flooding and landslides to Nepal on a massive scale.

Three days of constant rains inundated valleys and huge swaths of land came tumbling down mountainsides in the western part of the country.

Sgt. 1st Class Tom Albert is with the Army's 2nd Engineers at the massive Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, and he's overseeing operation Clean Sweep here. It's a huge job, because American troops and equipment are scheduled to be out of Bagram and other bases by the end of the year.

The U.S. and Afghanistan are still trying to work out a deal that would allow nearly 10,000 military personnel to stay, but even that would be just a fraction of the force that's been here for the past 13 years.

The Afghan soldier who fatally shot a U.S. major general on Tuesday had no sympathy for the Taliban, and his motives for the shooting are far from clear, according to his fellow soldiers.

Afghan officials have identified the attacker as Rafiqullah, who, like many Afghans, goes by one name. He opened fire on a delegation of NATO officials who were visiting the Marshal Fahim Military Academy outside Kabul. He killed Maj. Gen. Harold Greene and wounded 15 other NATO service members who were visiting the compound. Four Afghans were also wounded.

Need time off from work to watch the World Cup? If you're in China, no problem. Online stores there are providing fake doctor's notes — even extensive falsified medical records — to get you days of sick leave so you can enjoy your favorite teams.

The service may be particularly appealing, given the time difference with World Cup host Brazil. China is 11 hours ahead of Rio. So if you want to catch opening matches, you have to start watching at midnight, Shanghai time.

Japan, which earlier this year said it would scale back what it has described as "research whaling," is signaling that it wants to go back to a larger hunt.

"I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

Japan, which is a signatory to a 1986 International Whaling Commission moratorium, has nonetheless continued to hunt cetaceans using a loophole in the ban that allows taking some whales for scientific purposes.

One day after it was the scene of a terrorist assault that left at least 23 people dead, the largest airport in Pakistan reopened for business Monday afternoon.

Gunmen who were reportedly disguised as security guards attacked Karachi's international airport in the middle of the night Sunday, and several explosions were heard in the fighting that followed.

The 10 attackers are among the dead at Jinnah International Airport, officials say. Several airport workers and at least 10 members of the security force also were killed, according to Pakistani media.

North Korea Says It Has Detained Another U.S. Tourist

Jun 6, 2014

North Korea said Friday that it has detained an American tourist, which if confirmed would bring the number of U.S. citizens known to be held there to three.

A dispatch from the official Korean Central News Agency states that Jeffrey Edward Fowle entered the country on April 29, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Hour after hour passed as Chen Guang stood, gun trembling in his hands, behind the doors of Beijing's Great Hall of the people, waiting for the order to clear Tiananmen Square of its student protesters.

It was 1989, and Chen was a 17-year-old soldier from a small town whose life was changed by his role in the bloody crackdown. His account offers a sharply different perspective of the events of June 3 and 4, 1989, when martial law troops fought their way into the center of Beijing, killing hundreds of people, mainly on approach roads into the square.

Thailand's army is now running the country. Two days after declaring martial law — and saying it wasn't staging a coup — the military has changed its mind, Thailand's army chief says.

A coordinated attack on an outdoor market in northwest China has left 31 people dead and dozens wounded, prompting promises of a vigorous government response. Bombs and cars were used to inflict damage on people at the market.

The Chinese government called the early morning attack in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, a "serious violent terrorist incident of a particularly vile nature," according to The Associated Press. Previous violent attacks have been blamed on the area's Muslim Uighur minority.

Thailand's army has declared martial law less than two weeks after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was thrown out of office by the country's Constitutional Court.

The Associated Press reports:

"The army said in a statement that it had taken the action to 'keep peace and order,' and soldiers entered several private television stations that are sympathetic to protesters.

Rewind to the year 1888: The 202-foot SS City of Chester, departing San Francisco harbor in thick fog, is nearly cut in two by the much larger liner Oceanic, arriving from Hong Kong. Within six minutes, the smaller ship disappears under the turbulent current near the site of the present-day Golden Gate Bridge, claiming 16 lives.

The United States is urging North Korea to refrain from a new nuclear test amid indications of "heightened activity" at Pyongyang's Punggye-ri test site.

"We have certainly seen the press reports ... regarding possible increased activity in North Korea's nuclear test site," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We are closely monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula."

Reuters says:

Cowardice comes in many forms, but there's a special sense of shame reserved for captains who abandon ship.

South Korean authorities have arrested Capt. Lee Jun-Seok, who was one of the first to flee from the ferry as it sank on Wednesday.

"I can't lift my face before the passengers and family members of those missing," Lee told reporters.

Japan says it will kill fewer whales when its seasonal Pacific hunt begins next week and will only observe whales in the Antarctic, after a U.N. court ordered it to stop taking the marine mammals from the Southern Ocean.

At least 12 Sherpa guides died Friday on Nepal's side of Mount Everest when an avalanche buried them on the world's tallest mountain.

This post is being updated as news comes in.

Unsuccessful in their attempts to find the missing in a sunken ferry off the southern coast of South Korea overnight, rescue divers resumed their search at day break Thursday, Jason Strother reports from Seoul.

A day after the boat began to sink, the cause of the accident is unclear and less than half of the passengers who were on board have been rescued, Strother tells NPR's Newscast Desk.

Most of those unaccounted for are high school students who were on a trip to a resort island.

sreenisreedharan / Creative Commons

A troupe of actors from Kerala, India will perform an ancient, traditional drama known as Kudiyattam this weekend in New Haven.

A move by embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to shut down Twitter in Turkey looks to be backfiring. The hashtag #TwitterblockedinTurkey quickly spread upon news of the ban, and the country's own president tweeted his disdain.

We're updating this post as new information comes in.

There's still no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 or the 239 people on board.

The plane went missing March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on what was supposed to be about a six-hour flight to Beijing.

Malaysian officials are asking more than a dozen nations to help find the jetliner that went missing last weekend. The search area for the Boeing 777 was widely expanded Saturday; investigators are now looking for potential motives among the plane's crew and passengers to disrupt the flight.

Malaysia's prime minister says he is now certain that someone disabled the communication systems on the passenger jet that disappeared last week with 239 people aboard.

The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flew more than six and a half hours after its last communication with air traffic control, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a news conference early Saturday.

"These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," he said.

Commercial aviation pilots tell NPR that they would have no idea how to disable all the systems designed to automatically communicate with ground stations, though they could probably figure it out from checklists and other documentation available aboard an aircraft.

Update at 10:20 a.m. ET: After Flight MH370 Disappeared, It Kept Telling Satellites 'I'm Awake':

Communications satellites continued to receive signals from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane for at least 5 1/2 hours after it disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand, a source familiar with the investigation tells NPR's Frank Langfitt.

Frank, reporting from Shanghai, writes that:

"Flight MH370's last known communication came after 1 o'clock last Saturday morning, local time, according to Malaysian officials.

This post is being updated.

Just a few hours after a stunning report from The Wall Street Journal — headlined "U.S. Investigators Suspect Missing Airplane Flew On For Hours" — the Malaysian officials in charge of the investigation say that story's central premise isn't true.

This post is being updated throughout the day Sunday.

After a second day of frantic searching failed to uncover the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, ships and aircraft are combing over parts of the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea where the jetliner is suspected of crashing with 239 people aboard more than 48 hours ago.

Vietnamese officials say search planes have spotted an object that could be debris from the jet — but darkness fell in Asia hours ago, complicating any attempts to verify or expand on that claim.

This post was updated at 9:20 p.m. ET.

A gang of 10 knife-wielding men killed at least 29 people and wounded 130 others at a train station in southern China in what the government is describing as a "violent terror attack," Xinhua News Agency reports.

Four of the assailants were also killed by police, reports the Associated Press. One suspect was arrested.

Gary Locke may have won over ordinary Chinese with his conduct in the country, but not everyone was impressed with the first Chinese-American to serve as the U.S. envoy to China.

"North Korea fired four projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles off its southeast coast Thursday," South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports, citing a "South Korean defense ministry official" as its source.

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