Macau’s Casinos – The Chinese government, reports the Wall Street Journal, is stepping up its oversight of Macau’s lucrative casino industry and its junket operators, the middlemen who extend credit to high-rolling gamblers from mainland China and collect the debts later. Chinese citizens aren’t allowed to move more than $50,000 per year out of the country and observers point out that rich Chinese use casinos to launder the profits of corruption and to illegally siphon money overseas. In response, authorities in Macau, an autonomous Chinese territory, are trying to clamp down on cross-border financial transactions and review its money-laundering regulations, notes the Journal.
Human Trafficking — In India, growing demand for domestic helpers is fueling human trafficking by unregulated placement agencies, reports Reuters. Although there are no reliable statistics on how many people are trafficked for domestic servitude, more than 126,300 children were rescued from domestic work in 2011/12, said the Indian government. In 2011, there were 3,516 reported cases of human trafficking, but the conviction rates for trafficking-related offenses–bonded labor, sexual exploitation, child labor, and illegal confinement–were around 20%, writes Reuters.
Talking Turkey — Turkey has requested a boost in defenses along its border with Syria, writes the BBC. The 28-member NATO alliance of foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss the request and have made it clear that such a move would be purely defensive. The Turkish plea comes amid fears that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is holding chemical weapons. Although Syria has denied possession of such weapons, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that it would be a “tragic mistake” and “totally unacceptable to use the weapons.”
Belfast Riots – Following a row about the union flag flying at the city hall, riots broke out in the streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland on Monday night, reports the Guardian. Fourteen police officers were injured along with a security guard and press photographer. The sectarian disturbances came in response to a Belfast city council vote which passed by 29-21 to end the practice of flying the union flag 365 days a year from the city hall. The first minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, has condemned the violence, saying it is “totally unacceptable and must be unreservedly condemned.”
Shi’ite Killings – For the past year, the Hazara community, a Persian-speaking Shi’ite minority in Pakistan, has been targeted and attacked by Sunni extremist gunmen, writes the New York Times. More than 100 Hazaras have been killed this year, many in broad daylight. The bloodshed is part of a larger spread of violence across Pakistan which has seen the death of at least 375 Shi’ites in 2012. Local communities argue that the Pakistani state is refusing to protect them while the government insists it is taking the threat seriously.