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Lawyer and activist Nguyen Van Dai sentenced to 15 years in prison

Together with five other pro-democracy activists on trial yesterday for "conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the state".  Sentences total 66 years in prison and 17 years of  house arrest. The defendants are members of the Brotherhood for Democracy, a group founded by Dai in 2013 to defend human rights and promote democratic ideals.

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Rally for activists on trial ends in clash and arrests in Hanoi

The defendants, including lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, are linked to the Brotherhood for Democracy. Uniformed and plainclothes police blocked a group of about a dozen of their supporters heading for the courthouse with signs saying "Democracy is not a crime" and "Oppose suppression of the Brotherhood for Democracy".

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Cases against two ex-presidents of South Korea fit an alarming pattern

The fallen foursome: Lee, Roh, Chun and Park

IT IS a busy time for anyone interested in the fight against corruption in South Korea. In mid-March a court in Seoul began hearing the case of three former spy chiefs who stand accused of funnelling 4bn won ($3.8m) from the National Intelligence Service to the office of the former president, Park Geun-hye, who was impeached a year ago. A week later prosecutors arrested Lee Myung-bak, another former president, over allegations that he had collected more than $10m in bribes while in office and had hidden his ownership of a profitable auto-parts maker. And on April 6th Ms Park is expected to be sentenced to many years in jail for taking bribes and abusing her power. (Prosecutors recommended in February that she get a 30-year sentence.)

All four of South Korea’s living ex-presidents have now either been convicted of corruption offences, or are in jail being tried or investigated for such crimes. In addition to Ms Park and Mr...

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A new study squelches a treasured theory about Indians’ origins

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A CENTURY and a half ago linguists invented a new map of the world. Their research showed that a single family tree stretches its branches almost unbroken across most of Eurasia: from Iceland to Bangladesh, most people speak languages descended from “Proto-Indo-European”. The philologists had a theory to explain why Sanskrit, the ancient forebear of Hindi, has closer cousins in Europe than in south India. They speculated that at some point before the composition of the Vedas, the oldest texts of Hinduism, an Aryan people had migrated into India from the north-west, while their kin pushed westward into Europe.

Long before the Nazis dreamed of an exalted master race, imperialists seized on what some dubbed the “Aryan invasion” theory to paint Britain’s rule of India as the extension of a “natural” order. Indians, too, found a use for it. Caste-bound Hindu conservatives declared that the paler-skinned intruders must be ancestors of higher-caste Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Such talk...

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Taiwan is again becoming a flashpoint between China and America

IF THE partisanship of American politics unsettles you, take heart from a little piece of legislation that sailed through both houses of Congress with not a single vote opposed to it. And though the Taiwan Travel Act could have passed into law without a presidential signature, last month Donald Trump chose to put his cardiogrammatic scrawl to it. Given the chaos in Washington, the act reveals a remarkable consensus. It urges, though it does not mandate, high-level visits between America and Taiwan of the kind that successive administrations have discouraged, so as not to offend China.

That country’s “one-China principle” decrees that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese motherland. The Chinese government wants all other countries to act as if Taiwan belongs to it. America has never agreed to the formulation since breaking off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 in order to establish them with China. It has made plain that Taiwan is a friend, to which it has long offered military...

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