AU vs. ICC – The chairman of the African Union has accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecuting Africans based on their race, reports the Financial Times. “The ICC has to see to it that it shouldn’t chase Africans … Out of those people who [have] been indicted by ICC, 99 per cent are Africans so this shows that something is flawed within the system of ICC and we reject that,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia’s prime minister. His comments come days after the AU backed Kenya’s request for charges against its president Uhuru Kenyatta to be heard under the laws of Kenya instead of The Hague. The ICC, however, has denied claims of racism, saying that referrals come from Africans themselves.
China Hacking Claims – Chinese hackers have reportedly stolen the floorplans for an Australian spy agency’s new headquarters which is currently under construction, according to local news reports, writes Reuters. The attack supposedly saw confidential documents stolen from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which houses the overseas spy agency the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), said Australia’s ABC Television. The claims come at a time of increasing cyber attacks against the U.S. and its allies, which have frequently been blamed on China. The ABC report said Chinese hackers had been targeting Australian interests more aggressively than previously thought, with victims including a steel manufacturer and a firm that makes civilian communications equipment, writes Reuters.
Japan-Burma Ties – Japan is turning into the dominant economic force in Burma, notes VOA News. Tokyo has already cancelled $1.74 billion in debt, and pledged to lend more than half a billion dollars for infrastructure and power projects in Burma. Forgiving Burmese debt serves Tokyo’s interests and the new development projects will provide opportunities for Japanese companies to win contracts, said experts. Japan is also trying to hedge against what it sees as China’s growing presence in Burma, they said.
Pakistan’s Power Shortage – The New York Times reports that Pakistan is struggling with severe power shortages because of ruined power plants, failing transmission lines, policy mistakes, and unpaid bills. Pakistan’s power delivery system, according to the paper, “is paralyzed by $5 billion in ‘circular debt’ — basically, a long chain of unpaid bills that cuts across society, from government departments to wealthy politicians to slum dwellers.” Unpaid bills mean the power providers have no money to buy fuel, leading the plants to slow or shut down. Experts said systemic graft, political interference, and deep-rooted structural problems have resulted in the South Asian country’s power crisis. Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif has pledged to “end the darkness” but he might lack the political backbone to change the system, given that some of his own supporters are among the bill defaulters.