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May, 31, 2016

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Commentary
With the country stuck in the middle-income trap for more than a decade, the government says it is now booting up "Thailand 4.0" to pluck the Kingdom from its "lost decade." How that will come about is perhaps more important than what the ambitious plan is all about.
 
The United States' decision to lift all restrictions on arms sales to Vietnam slays the ghosts of the Cold War, even as it shows how Washington is squaring up to face new challenges to its global dominance.
 
Japan and the United States have forged one of the world's most enduring -- some would say improbable -- relationships in the seven decades since American atomic bombs laid waste to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 200,000 people.
 
Even as Iraq slowly claws back territory from the Islamic State group, faith in the government is crumbling among many, particularly the country's Shiites, angered by political disarray and the continual pounding of the capital, Baghdad, by militants' bombings.
 
The U.S. killing of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour marks a significant shift for President Barack Obama, highlighting a new willingness to target the group's leaders in Pakistan and risk retaliatory attacks against struggling Afghan security forces.
 
Venezuela is sinking deeper into political and economic chaos, but the international response has been timid so far -- and is unlikely to put much pressure on an unbending President Nicolas Maduro, analysts say.
 
In response to the thoughtful inaugural address by Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen, China's Taiwan Affairs Office had a simple rejoinder: her speech was an "incomplete test answer." In China's view, she must do the test over and fully meet China's demands before she can get a passing grade.
 
After decades of officially-imposed detachment from the "Great Satan," Iranians are this time transfixed by the wild U.S. presidential campaign, mindful that the next White House occupant could have direct impact on their lives.
 
Central Asia's autocratic leaders don't want to be liked. They want to be adored. When the Soviet Union collapsed, a clutch of nations emerged in the vast areas of steppe and mountains between Russia's southern border down to Iran and Afghanistan.
 
The lackluster global economy should take center stage as world leaders gather in Japan this week, but with no agreement likely on igniting growth, Barack Obama's visit to the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima looks set to capture the limelight.
 
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