Many observers complain that people on Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media platforms spend too much time posting cute photos of dogs, cats and other pets along with wild animals.

The general idea is that there are so many problems in the world that we should be spending our time on things that are more constructive, like saving the world. However, the cute furry memes may serve a good purpose after all.

Just look at how many environmental, conservation and animal welfare groups use these memes as part of their publicity campaigns. They know that posting pics of cute animals can help familiarize those who do not have much experience with nature and animals.

A cat in a box or a puppy sitting on one of his siblings may help give people a different perspective on animals and maybe, in some cases, help get them to treat animals with kindness.

Animal pics along with those of the great outdoors might help convince city dwellers to get out and visit national parks or wildlife sanctuaries. By gaining an appreciation of nature, they may be more careful about not wasting goods and about reducing their ecological impact.

Grumpy Cat
by PKM
Saturday, July 13, 2013, 06:59 PM

The Chinese economy is stalling led by a major decline in exports, according to recent news reports. Analysts attribute the downturn to various factors including the overall weak world economy and structural problems in the Chinese economy.

Some experts also believe that China has been digging itself deeper into a Western-style debt crisis.

However, how much of the current slowdown links to tensions caused by China's hostile policies with bordering nations?

Beijing has been confronting governments from Tokyo and Manila to Saigon and New Delhi recently. Not only has this been a major turnoff in the Asia Pacific region, but nations around the world are looking askance at Chinese actions on land and sea.

A recent article, for example, notes that in Vietnam, people are avoiding imported Chinese fruit due to the recent maritime standoffs between the Vietnamese and Chinese navies.

One major importer, Jack Nguyen, said that his business dropped sharply last year: "Nguyen says sales at his firm, one of the largest fruit importers in the country, were down to $6 million last year from $11 million in 2011. While he and others in the trade say Vietnam's economic slowdown is partly to blame, he complains the constant media reports of toxic fruit are strangling businesses, even for those like him who no longer import from China."

Vietnam, though, may be small potatoes compared to any fallout from decreased imports from Japan. The island nation is still one of the world's leading economies and one of China's leading trading partners. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which count the Philippines and Vietnam as members, is the combined fourth largest trader with China after the EU, US and Hong Kong.

If China's economy continues to slide, what will that mean for the government in Beijing? Will there be pressure on the government to reverse its strategy of butting heads with its neighbors?

by PKM
Friday, July 12, 2013, 01:13 PM

The recent news that the Philippines will allow U.S. and Japanese forces to use its military bases, highlights the action in Asian countries to deal with China's increasingly aggressive claims on sea and land borders.

India recently has also been expressing worries about Chinese military maneuvers in Bhutan, which included troops crossing well into Bhutan's internationally recognized borders. The forum of Southeast Asian nations, known as ASEAN, is meeting on security issues and China appears to be trying to calm the situation down, especially after pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

No one is 100 percent sure what China's intentions are regarding its recent standoffs that range from Japan and South Korean in the northeast to the Indian Ocean to the west.

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama urged China not to use [rul=]"coercion"[/url] in its disputes over marine territorial claims.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, in particular, have been cooperating to counter China's increasingly belligerent moves. Vietnam, for example, has been urging India to mutually explore waters off its coast for natural resources like oil and natural gas. The country has left an open invitation for Indian military forces to make more frequent visits to Vietnamese ports.

RHIB off Philippine coast
U.S. forces train with their Philippines counterparts in the seas to the west of the Philippine coastline

Thursday, July 11, 2013, 07:58 PM

As the jury prepares to go into deliberations in the case of Travyon Martin's death at the hands of George Zimmerman, minorities in America will be watching closely. People of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in America have been victims of zealous gun owners in the past.

In one case, a homeowner shot an Asian international student who walked up to his door by mistake. The gun owner thought the Asian student was about to break into his home. With some states enacting "stand your ground" laws, do minorities have good reason to worry?

Many of the incidents involving stand your ground shootings have indeed involved people of color. In many cases, stereotypes can contribute to accidental shootings that need not occur.

In the Travyon Martin case, Zimmerman was pursuing Martin based on the fact that he was wearing a hoodie and apparently also because he was black. There is no evidence that Martin was up to any wrongdoing, and he had no past criminal record.

Do people of color have more to worry about regarding America's new gun culture and lenient laws allowing deadly force by ordinary citizens in wide range of situations?
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 07:01 PM

Check out this blog for news and opinions on the Asia Pacific region and the Asian Pacific Islander diaspora!
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 05:18 PM

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