World News Brief, Wednesday December 4

Anti-government protestors storm Thai PM's compound; Biden works to ease tensions between Japan and China; Kim Jong-un fires his uncle and has two of his aides executed; poverty facilitates return of polygamy in Kazakhstan; number of US banks falls to record low; and more 

Top of the Agenda: Thai Police Defuse Protests

Hundreds of anti-government protestors stormed the Thai prime minister's office compound on Tuesday as police stood by and watched, in a reversal of a policy to confront demonstrations at the site (AP). The symbolic victory for the protestors allowed them to occupy the grounds for an hour and provided a lull in violence ahead of the birthday of the country's revered king on December 5. Police even handed out roses to flag-waving protestors (Reuters). Despite reduced tensions on the streets of Bangkok, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, said the month-long effort to unseat the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will continue (Bloomberg).


"The United States, along with China, is the most important partner of Thailand; Thailand is a treaty ally and a major non-NATO ally, and the U.S. response to any crisis in Bangkok carries significant weight with all sides of the Thai political spectrum. Thus, Washington should, even before December 5, make it clearer to all sides of the Thai political spectrum that the United States will take a much harder line against an extraconstitutional intervention than it has done in the past," writes CFR Senior Fellow Joshua Kurlantzick.

"The protest movement in Thailand is not triggered by class differences as described by many foreign journalists. It is, in fact, inspired by the discontentment towards the unprecedented levels of governmental corruption, the elective dictatorship in parliament, and doubts about the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's expertise and competence to lead the country based on good governance and respect for the rule of law," writes former foreign minister of Thailand Kasit Piromya for al-Jazeera.

"So Thailand's would-be-revolution, paid for by a few but brought to the streets by tens of thousands, has got stuck. For as long as Thais can recall, their governments have built up their majorities in the provinces. The same governments have been unmade rather handily in the capital, to the perennial relief of the Bangkok elite who enjoy ties with the royal palace. The notion that power has shifted permanently from the center to the provinces—where the Shinawatras have their base—seems to be unacceptable to many of the old guard. The elite are used to thinking that power can always be clawed back in Bangkok," writes the Economist.


Biden Seeks to Soften Tensions in Japan, China

Vice President Joe Biden met with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday and said the United States is "deeply concerned" about China's attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea, an issue he said he will raise when he meets Chinese president Xi Jinping on Thursday (AP).

NORTH KOREA: Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader, is believed by the South Korean spy agency to have sacked his powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek, the vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, and had two of Jang's aides executed in public last month (Yonhap).


Poverty facilitates return of polygamy in Kazakhstan

Number of US banks falls to record low

 This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on