A security guard standing at the entrance of a Mercedes Benz dealer in Islamabad. Photo: Kuni Takahashi/New York Times

Controlling the government, Pakistan’s elite pay few taxes, widening the vast gap between rich and poor, hindering development, and creating conditions that have sparked insurgency

by Sabrina Tavernise New York Times July 18, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Much of Pakistan’s capital city looks like a rich Los Angeles suburb. Shiny sport utility vehicles purr down gated driveways. Elegant multistory homes are tended by servants. Laundry is never hung out to dry....

Many North Koreans lack food and basic medical care, a report by Amnesty International said this week Photo:Gerald Bourke/AP

North Korea’s giant leap backwards: Last year’s disastrous currency reform wiped out savings and caused healthcare to collapse–now many fear another famine

by Barbara Demick The Guardian July 17, 2010

For North Koreans, the definition of success is when you can eat an occasional egg, preferably with a bowl of rice, instead of the unappetising concoction of corn and weeds on which most of the population survives. Until recently, a sizeable segment ...

An aerial shot of a palm oil plantation on Sumatra Island. Photo: Jefri Aries/IRIN

Indonesia: Demand for palm oil fuels land-grabbing

by IRIN July 6, 2010

"Each year, more people are fighting palm oil companies to hold on to their land," said Gefri Saragih, campaign department head of Sawit Watch, a local NGO monitoring palm oil cultivation....

Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawatdiphol, who had allied himself with protesters, was shot in the head on Thursday in Bangkok. Photo: Steve Pace/Reuters More Photos

Thai general linked to protests is shot

by Thomas Fuller and Seth Mydans New York Times May 13, 2010

BANGKOK — A renegade major general who allied himself with the protesters who have paralyzed Bangkok for weeks was shot in the head and critically wounded here on Thursday as the military began sealing off a barricaded encampment of antigovernment ...

An estimated six million Indonesian woman – some 90 percent of all Indonesian migrant laborers – are now working overseas. Most go to the Middle East,  with the rest are in Asia Pacific. Many Indonesian villages are left with a shortage of women with many men assuming the role of a single parent for years at a time. Photo: David Swanson/IRIN

Families struggle as 6 million Indonesian women work abroad

by IRIN News May 7, 2010

The number of women leaving the archipelago, legally or illegally, has been steadily climbing over the past decade, according to the National Authority for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers. ...

lyas Masih with one of his seven daughters. Feeding so many is not easy. “I struggle even to buy a single kilo of `atta’ [wheat flour], which costs Rs 30 [36 US cents], and even that produces just about half a `roti’ [flat bread] for each of us,” he said. For Ilyas’s family, securing each meal – eaten on the floor around a kerosene oil stove on which his wife, Nasim, cooks – is an ordeal. “Especially at night, it is painful to hear the children beg for more food. Sometimes they snatch food from each other,” Ilyas said. Photo: Kamila Hyat/IRIN

Pakistan: A family of 9, living on $1.20 a day

by IRIN News May 7, 2010

In their two-room tin-roof house in one of the many shanty towns that dot Lahore, in eastern Pakistan, Ilyas and Nasim Masih and their seven daughters, aged three to 15, eke out an existence dependent on Ilyas’s meagre income as a day labourer. ...