South Korea has urged North Korea to release the Baptist missionary Kim Jung-wook, who was sentenced last month to hard labor for life on charges of spying and trying to set up underground churches.
South Korea has denied that Jung-wook is its spy and said that his punishment is too harsh, according to Mission News Network, which also reported that the North has ignored the South's pleas to free the missionary.
Kim allegedly admitted to committing anti-North Korean religious acts and "malignantly hurting the dignity" of the country's supreme leadership, or the ruling Kim family (no relations). more >>
China has "effectively" banned Hillary Clinton's newly released memoir, Hard Choices, as the former Secretary of State criticizes the Asian country's dedication to democracy, its government leaders, and its treatment of human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng in her new book.
A spokesperson for Clinton's publisher, Simon & Schuster, said in a recent interview that Chinese publishers had refused to purchase the translation rights for Clinton's new memoir, and they have also refused to sell the book in English.
Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp told Buzzfeed in a recent interview that China's rejection of Clinton's book amounts to an "effective ban" on the memoir in the Asian country. "It's outrageous and unfortunate," Karp said. "And it's a pretty clear indication of the low level of intellectual freedom in China right now." more >>
The government of North Korea has expressed outrage over the upcoming movie "The Interview" starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, calling it "undisguised terrorism," and threatening "merciless counter-measure" at the comedy about two talk show hosts who are asked to assassinate Kim Jong Un.
"The enemies have gone beyond the tolerance limit in their despicable moves to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told the country's state-run news agency on Wednesday, CNN reported.
He added that "The Interview," set for release in October, is "the most undisguised terrorism and a war action to deprive the service personnel and people of the DPRK of their mental mainstay and bring down its social system." more >>
The interdenominational Christian Federation of Malaysia has warned that believers in the country face "serious negative consequences" after the Supreme Court again confirmed that a Catholic newspaper is not allowed to use the word "Allah" to refer to God.
"We continue to support that the decision of the Court of Appeal, upheld by the Federal Court, is seriously flawed in many respects. According to Justice, many erroneous and inaccurate observations had to be corrected. Now there will be serious negative consequences for the religious freedom of Christians in Malaysia," the group said, according to Fides News Agency on Monday.
The long-standing case concerns the Catholic weekly newspaper "Herald," which was initially told in 2007 by Malaysian authorities to stop using the word "Allah." While in 2009 a lower court defended the newspaper's right to use the term, in October 2013 chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali ruled that "the usage of the word 'Allah' is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity," and that it would "cause confusion in the community." more >>
Opera singer Tamar Iveri has been released from her contract with Opera Australia and what was supposed to be her lead role as Desdemona in "Otello" next month, after controversial comments were uncovered on her Facebook page that compared gay and lesbian people to fecal matter.
"Opera Australia confirms soprano Ms Tamar Iveri will not be performing in 'Otello.' Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract with the company," the company said in a statement on Monday. "Ms Iveri has unreservedly apologized for those comments and views. Opera Australia believes the views as stated to be unconscionable."
Australian Broadcasting Corporation News reported that the controversial comments on Iveri's Facebook page, which were posted last year but deleted shortly afterwards, described gay people as "sewage" and "fecal masses." more >>
The CIA once considered a plan of developing Osama Bin Laden dolls that turned into a demon when exposed to heat in an attempt to counter Bin Laden's influence on children in Afghanistan.
The agency produced three prototypes of the doll with the help of Donald Levine, the former head executive of the Hasbro toy company. The final prototype of the toy, although it was never released to the public, included an Osama Bin Laden face that, when exposed to heat, melted off to reveal a demonic expression with red and black designs and piercing green eyes. The toy was designed so the evil face would be exposed when heat from a child's hands touched the doll.
The purpose of the toys was to counter Osama Bin Laden's powerful influence on Afghani children and their parents. The 12-inch doll came wearing traditional Afghani clothing and was sold in a cheap box wrapped in plastic. The body of the doll had already been in production in China when Levine partnered with the CIA to superimpose the Bin Laden face. more >>