Aircraft Carrier — China has commissioned its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, at a ceremony at Dalian port, reports the BBC. The commissioning of the 990-ft (300m) vessel, named after a northeastern Chinese province, is seen as an indication of Beijing’s growing maritime ambitions. As of now, reports the BBC, the Liaoning has no operational aircraft and will be used for training.
Vietnamese Bloggers — Human rights groups and the U.S. State Department are criticizing the Vietnamese government for handing jail terms to three bloggers who spoke out on corruption in the Southeast Asian country, notes Radio Free Asia. A Ho Chih Minh city court sentenced Nguyen Van Hai, a founding member of the banned ‘Free Journalists Club’ website, to 12 years in prison, while fellow bloggers Ta Phong Tan and Phanh Thanh Hai received jail terms of ten and four years, respectively. The trio was convicted under Article 88 of the country’s penal code, which Vietnamese authorities have used to silence dissent and maintain harsh control over the media, said RFA.
Debt Crisis? — Economic analysts in South Korea say the country’s rising household debt could lead to a U.S. or European-style debt crisis, said VOA News. South Koreans, who used to be considered big savers, are now overspending because of two major factors: real estate and education. Analysts believe that inflation, stagnant wages, and high-interest loans are also adding to the problem and, if current trends continue, the government might have to intervene sometime between 2015 to 2020 to prevent a national crisis, quoted VOA.
New World Order – In an exclusive interview conducted by the Associated Press, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outlined his hopes for a new world order — one where every country has an equal standing and U.S. power is sidelined. Dodging questions on Tehran’s nuclear program, he claimed the age of empires was ending and that even young school children “understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying.” The interview was held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting, which will be Ahmadinejad’s last as president of Iran. The AP’s interview comes as Iranian leadership condemned the U.S. for removing the Mujahadin-e Khalq (ME) from a list of terrorist groups, Reuters reports.
Austerity Protests – Trade unions in Greece have called for a nationwide strike to protest new austerity measures being discussed by the country’s government, the New York Times reports. The strike is the first since Prime Minister Antonis Samaris came to power in June. Samaris is in the midst of negotiating an 11.5 billion euro austerity package that would bring about salary and pension cuts in order to persuade international creditors to release 32 billion euros in “financial aid that the country needs to stay solvent.” Meanwhile, thousands of protesters clashed with police in Madrid as the Spanish government embarks on similarly unpopular measures for the 2013 budget, according to the Daily Telegraph. At least 22 demonstrators were detained with 28 injured after more than 1,500 police in riot gear were deployed to the area near parliament. “Police fired rubber bullets and beat protesters with truncheons, first as several protesters were trying to tear down barriers and later to clear up the square,” the Telegraph reports.
Corruption Charge – South Africa’s controversial politician Julius Malema is facing charges of money laundering after he allegedly abused his position as leader of the African National Congress’ Youth League to “enrich himself and his business partners,” the BBC reports. Police used razor wire to prevent more than 1,000 Malema supporters from entering the police station and court in Polokwane, the capital of Malema’s native province, Reuters adds. Malema has been pushing for the nationalization of South Africa’s mines and has been backed by the wildcat miners. The trial is being viewed as one of the biggest since apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela’s ANC party took power in 1994.