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FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks about the nation's new anti-extremism strategy during a question time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Feb. 23, 2015.

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Fast Track Trade Bill Opens Economic, Political Divisionsi
Mil Arcega
April 18, 2015 12:00 AM
U.S. lawmakers agreed on draft legislation this week to give the White House “fast track” authority to negotiate a free trade deal with Pacific nations. If approved, the bill gives lawmakers the authority to set trade objectives, but limits their ability to make changes once agreement is reached. Trade officials say the bill would help President Barack Obama realize his so called “Asia pivot,” but as Mil Arcega reports, it also sets the stage for economic and political divisions at home.

Video Fast Track Trade Bill Opens Economic, Political Divisions

U.S. lawmakers agreed on draft legislation this week to give the White House “fast track” authority to negotiate a free trade deal with Pacific nations. If approved, the bill gives lawmakers the authority to set trade objectives, but limits their ability to make changes once agreement is reached. Trade officials say the bill would help President Barack Obama realize his so called “Asia pivot,” but as Mil Arcega reports, it also sets the stage for economic and political divisions at home.

Video Economy Leads Agenda on Chinese Leader's Pakistan Trip

Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day trip that Pakistan says will be a game-changer in the economic development of the region. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Malaysia's Tough New Anti-Terror Laws Raise Worries

A new anti-terrorism law in Malaysia is set to revive indefinite detention without charges or trial. It has also toughened up the country’s controversial Sedition Act. The government says the measures are vital to maintaining stability and security. But critics, including Malaysia’s political opposition, civil rights watchdogs and the United Nations, worry the laws will be used to silence dissent. Mahi Ramakrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur.

Video Mumbai Baker Has Success With Macaroons With Indian Twist

The French delicacies known as macaroons - sweet, creamy, delicious - are almost impossible to resist. Indian chef and business owner Pooja Dhingra has brought the sugary treat to her hometown. Her bakery -- Le15 Patisserie -- offers traditionally flavored macaroons like vanilla and chocolate, and others with Indian flavors such as masala chai, paan and chilli. Marveline Dandin reports, George Putic narrates.

Video China Infrastructure Bank - World Bank Rival or Partner?

Iran has just joined 34 other countries to become the newest member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The new development bank, launched late last year by the People’s Republic of China, aims to provide multilateral financing for infrastructure projects in Asia. With its membership growing, the bank is seen by some as a rival to the western-led World Bank and a means for Beijing to flex its economic muscle. But, as Mil Arcega reports, Washington may be partly to blame for that.

Video Carter Talks Defense Aid, Not Missile Defense, With Korean Counterpart

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is in South Korea for the second leg of his trip visiting U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region. He says the U.S. is preparing to deploy new weapons to area. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb is traveling with the secretary as he focuses on strengthening military ties.

Video Seoul Highlights Environmental Investments at Climate Change Conference

South Korea’s capital city showcases its efforts this week to greatly reduce air pollution, increase energy efficiency and improve urban environments. At a major climate change conference, VOA’s Brian Padden spoke with the mayor of Seoul about how investments in green technology are paying off and how he is working with neighboring cities to prevent toxic dust from blowing in across the border.

Video Amnesty: Afghanistan Turning Its Back on Women’s Rights

Amnesty International says activists battling for women’s rights in Afghanistan are facing mounting violence, including threats, sexual assault and assassinations. In a new report, the London-based group says the Afghan government is failing to protect women, and the human rights gains made since the fall of the Taliban are at risk. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Secretary Carter Urges Restraint in South China Sea

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter laid out the U.S. commitment to Japanese security Wednesday, urging restraint in territorial disputes between Japan and China. The Secretary's remarks came as he began his first Asia tour in Tokyo. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.

Video Pakistan has Complicated Nuclear Relationship with Saudi Arabia, Iran

Iran’s foreign minister is due to arrive in Pakistan Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Yemen, which many see as a fight for influence between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran also has recently reached a framework nuclear agreement with six world powers. Saudi Arabia, in the past, has reportedly sought to form its own nuclear alliances to counter a perceived Iranian threat. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem looks at Pakistan’s relationship with the two countries.

Video Pakistan Walks Tightrope as Saudis Request Support in Yemen

Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan to join its Arab coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Supporting the other side of the Yemeni conflict is Iran, which shares a long border with Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province. The situation leaves Islamabad walking a fine line. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

Video Outpriced, Hong Kong Home Buyers Look Abroad

Mainland Chinese buyers have boosted real estate prices in Hong Kong, making life in the city more difficult for some residents. As Hong Kong's government tries to prevent a real estate market bubble, local buyers also are starting to look to purchase property abroad. Shannon Van Sant reports from Hong Kong.

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.

Video World Leaders in Singapore Sunday for Funeral of Lee Kuan Yew

Dozens of world leaders will be in Singapore on Sunday for the state funeral of the small country's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. As VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok, Mr. Lee was greatly admired in the region where other leaders sought to emulate him and replicate his success.

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