North Korea Using Psychological Warfare to Bargain with U.S.

We have all witness numerous attempts by North Korea to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with from threats of war against South Korea to attacks on the United States with long range nuclear missiles, however the end result of these threats have left the North Korea with little bargaining power as the United Nations has sanctioned them for repeated offenses and South Korea grows tired of the tantrums. What is the next logical step in North Korea’s psychological warfare? North Korea now hopes to use an old trick from the past that is sure to get the United States’ attention. On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that North Korea will try an American detainee for allegedly trying to overthrow the government complicating an already tense relationship between Pyongyang and Washington. The indictment comes as North Korea has run out of ammo to use against the U.S. and South Korea in order to force bargaining between the nations. North Korea remains angry over U.N. sanctions passed in February over nuclear tests and the ongoing U.S. South Korean drills though most believe the motive behind the indictment is to force its Korean War foes to negotiate on its own terms according to the Associated Press.

The man identified above, Kenneth Bae, also known by his Korean name in North Korean state media, Pae Jun Ho, is a tour operator arrested after arriving with a tour on Nov.3 in Rason which is a special economic zone bordering China and Russia. He is the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009, however the other detainees were eventually deported or released after high profile diplomatic interventions with some involving President Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. According to the Korean Central News Agency, “The preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by American citizen Pae Jun Ho closed. In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it. His crimes were proved by evidence.” Under North Korea’s criminal code terrorist acts include murdering, kidnapping and injuring the country’s citizens can lead to a death sentence or life in jail AP reports.

The actual trial of Bae has not been set and the charges have yet to be announced by the KCNA as little information has been made public. North Korea and the United States do not have diplomatic relations due to the 1050-53 Korean War as the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represent the United States. Friends, colleagues and activist in South Korea said that Bae is a missionary based in a border town in China who made frequent trips to North Korea to feed orphans , but do not know whether he tried to evangelize while in North Korea AP reports. Officially, North Korea guarantee freedom of religion, however authorities have been known to crack down on Christians who are seen as threats to government because of the western influence. The distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services do carry a penalty of banishment to a labor camp or execution according to defectors from the country.

 

The Ongoing Korean War

 

On Wednesday, North Korea announced it was cutting the last line of communication with South Korea as war could break out any moment warning the United States and South Korea of nuclear attack a few days earlier. The threat comes in line with the latest from North Korea in response to new U.N. sanctions imposed after the third nuclear test in February and to hostile military drills under way in South Korea with the United States according to Reuters. The North stopped communicating with the U.S. military that supervises the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the Red Cross line that both sides use. As the North’s KCNA news agency reports, a military spokesman stated that, “Under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications which were laid between the militaries of both sides. There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the north and the south.”

However, few believe North Korea, formally known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), will start a full scale war as North and South Korea are still at war after the 1950-1953 civil conflict ended with an armistice not a treaty which the North will not honor anymore, Reuters reports. The “dialogue channel” used everyday is to process South Koreans who work in the Kaesong industrial project which is comprised of 123 South Korean firms who employ 50,000 North Koreans to make household goods and on average 120 South Koreans are stationed here at any one time. It is the last remaining project the two Koreas share as South Korea cut off aid and trade in response to the shooting of South Korean tourist in Pyongyang and the sinking of a naval vessel. As a last resort, Pyongyang would close Kaesong which is one of the last currency earners for North Korea doing $2 billion a year in trade with the South. The South said it would take steps to protect the workers at Kaesong but would not elaborate according to Reuters.

Five Men Arrested In Gang-Rape Of Swiss Woman In India

 Five Men Arrested In Gang-Rape Of Swiss Woman In India.

On Sunday, five men in connection with the gang rape of a Swiss woman attacked in central India while on a cycling vacation with her husband were arrested according to the police. All five who live in a nearby village admitted the attack took place Friday night as the couple camped out in the forest in Datia district of Madhya Praesh state and were arrested in Datia, while police search for two others involved in the attack are still at large according to D.K. Arya, a senior police officer. Arya explains the couple stated that the woman was raped by seven or eight men but could not tell the exact number as it was dark outside. The husband was also attacked by the men. The woman, 39, was treated Saturday at a hospital in nearby Gwalior and was released. The attack comes only three months after the brutal gang rape of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus outraged Indians and again appeared on the front page of Indian newspapers on Saturday. Unfortunately, in that case the girl did not survive her injuries. The couple had  set out for Orchha on Friday and pitched their tent in the forest when they were attacked by men armed with sticks who beat up the husband, tied him to a tree and raped the woman and taking their cellphone, laptop computer, and 10,000 rupees ($185) police reports confirm. Police were able to recover the cellphone and laptop from one of the men arrested.

The Swiss ambassador in India, Linus von Castelmur, spoke with the couple to offer the Swiss government’s support and help stating, “Their health and treatment is the priority of the moment.” The embassy asks that a “swift investigation and for justice to be done.” Rapes in India happen every 20 minutes with many going unreported due to social stigma in this conservative society and the conviction rate for crimes against women is the lowest in the world reports the Indian National Crime Records Bureau. Last month,  the Swiss government issued a travel warning because of the increased number of rapes and other sexual offenses in India and this recent rape could push other countries to do the same. According to government stats, around 6.5 million foreign tourists visited India in 2011 grossing $120 billion for the nation’s travel and hospitality sector. The gang rape of a 23 year old student in December sparked debate about violence against women in India and the inability of law enforcement to protect them. One of the six suspects int he December rape hung himself in a New Delhi jail last week, but his family and lawyer believe foul play was involved prompting an investigation the other four men and juvenile remain on trial. In response to the public outcry, the government has increased prison terms for rape from seven to 10 years to a maximum of 20 years. The law also calls for the death penalty in extreme rape cases that leave the victim in a coma or results in death. It also made voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and trafficking of women punishable under criminal law according to the Associated Press.

Cuba’s Raul Castro Mentions Possible Retirement

Cuba’s Raul Castro Mentions Possible Retirement.

This will be an end of an era for Cuba and a new beginning hopefully between the U.S. and Cuba if Raul Castro does actually retire. In Havana on Friday, Cuban president shocked everyone by announcing he may leave his post saying he is old and has the right to retire, but did not announce when the move would be made. On Sunday, he will be named by parliament to a new five year term and Castro urges reporters to listen to his speech. He announced the news while at a joint appearance with visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev with a huge smile on his face making it hard for people to tell if he was joking. Castro explained,”I am going to be 82 years old. I have the right to retire, don’t you think?” When reporters tried to ask him further what he meant, Castro told them to stop questioning his decision and listen to his speech on Sunday. The tone of his comments were light and informal at the mausoleum dedication to soldiers from the former Soviet Union who died around the world. The Cuban leader has alluded to the desire to implement a two term limit for all Cuban government positions including the presidency as well as his limited time to overhaul the weak Marxist economy. Many have made the conclusion that this upcoming term will be his last even though no term limits exist in Cuban law. No remarks or comments have come from Washington yet.

 

Most Havana residents who did not know of Castro’s comments were skeptical none the less about his retirement. Castro will be 86 when his term is up in 2018 and most people right now are more focused on who will be his first and second vice president during Sundays proceedings. The positions as of now are taken by two loyal octogenarians who fought in the 1959 revolution. If Castro puts someone younger into one of these positions then for most it would be sign that he was positioning that person to be his next generation successor something he and his brother Fidel never have done. In his December 2010 year end speech to lawmakers, Castro explained that,”The time we have left is short, the task is enormous…I think we have an obligation … to set (the country) on the right course.” When an if Raul Castro leaves the political arena, it would end the more than half a century rule of two brothers who came to power in 1959 against U.S. backed strongman Fulgencio Batista. Armando Gutierrez, a 78 year old Cuban American in Florida and 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion vet, said he hopes Castro was serious about retiring but doubts his successor will bring true political change.

Relations with the United States have been sour since the revolution as one of the key provisions of the 51 year U.S. economic embargo on Cuba states that the embargo cannot be lifted until the Castros are no longer in power. Since taking over for Fidel who is 86 and retired, Raul Castro has made a series of economic and social reform policy, however the island is still ruled by one party. The elder brother also met with the Russian prime minister according to Cuban state run media and the Communist party paper Granma reports the two countries signed an agreement to restructure $20 billion in Soviet era debt Cuba owes. The debt has been a sore point for both countries over the years as it originally was built up in rubles to pay for Soviet services in the 1980s leaving Cuba to question how much it is worth today.

 

Pope Conclave Change? Vatican Raises Possibility Of Early March Election

Pope Conclave Change? Vatican Raises Possibility Of Early March Election.

Exciting time for everyone whether Catholic or not because most people only see one pope elected in the church I am young and this will be the second one. The election of new pope may happen sooner than March 15 according to the Vatican even though the rule requires 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papacy vacancy. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said the rules are open for interpretation and any change to the law would have meet the approval of the pope before he leaves the office. However if Vatican officials determine its a question of interpreting existing laws then the college of cardinals on the first day of the papal vacancy can discuss moving up the conclave. The 15 to 20 day waiting period is to allow all the cardinals to arrive in Rome, but since the circumstances are unusual the cardinals already know the pope will resign Feb. 28 giving them plenty of time to take part in a conclave.

The date of the conclave’s start is important since the beginning of Holy Week March 24 with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter March 31. In order to elect a pope in time for one of the most important week on the church calendar the new pope would have to be installed by Sunday March 17 because of the strong tradition to hold installation Mass on Sunday. Many questions have arisen since the pope announced his retirement on Feb. 11, the first to do so in 600 years. The unique problem here is how to proceed given that usually the plans follow the papal death with a period between papacies are based on this process. Cardinal Franc Rode who will participate in the conclave said that right now the Vatican is not prepared and has not had the time to predict, strategize, plan or pick candidates yet but hopes everything will be in place in two or three weeks.

More details have emerged about Benedict’s final public audience and plans for retirements according to Lombardi who says that 35,000 people have requested tickets for his final general audience on Feb. 27 in St. Peter’s Square. He continued to explain that Benedict will spend two months at the papal summer retreat with him immediately after his abdication until his retirement home is finished- a converted monastery inside Vatican walls. Then he will return to the Vatican no longer as pope around the end of April beginning of May. As whether the pope would meet with his successor or participate in his installation Mass, Lombardi said that both issues are not resolved at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meteor Explosion: Russian Region Begins Recovery In Frigid Weather

 Meteor Explosion: Russian Region Begins Recovery In Frigid Weather.

On Saturday as many begin to repair and replace acres of windows caused by a meteor explosion, many residents joked about what happened saying the residents of the meteor were terrified to see Chelyabinsk approaching. The situation has brought together people in the area to fix damage done by the meteor explosion and many residents together on the Internet to find out more about the meteor and to have a laugh. The temperature during winter drops to minus 30 Celsius or minus 22 Fahrenheit making it very important for the repair to be completed.

The concern from Friday’s meteor hit surrounds the dangerous facilities located near Chelyabinsk. The fireball itself reportedly injured 1,200 people by the shock wave from the explosion which is the equivalent to 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In 1957, the Mayak nuclear weapons plant had one of its waste tanks explode contaminating 9,200 square miles and causing the evacuation of 10,000 residents. It is now Russia’s main disposal facility and only 50 mile east of the city.

This one traumatic event has brought more than  24,000 people from all over the region to help with the relief efforts. The goal for them is to cover windows, gather warm clothes and food, and other efforts as well according to the governor’s office. Glass companies adjacent to the region were also flown in. Gov. Mikhail Yurevich on Saturday said that the damages are at 1 billion rubles or $33 million, but he promises that all broken windows will be fixed within the week as temperatures in the region are dropping. The immediate task by midday in Chelyabinsk where temperatures dropped to minus 12 Celsius or 10 Fahrenheit  was to cover the windows with plastic sheeting and boards until they can be repaired.

 

 

As the search for the meteor fragments in Chebarkul continue, other places in the world are experiencing something similar to Chelyabinsk. In the town of Chebarkul, divers explore the 20 foot wide hole left by a meteor fragment that hit the lake and haven’t found anything yet according to the Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius. Residents of San Francisco on the other side of the planet experienced lights in the sky on Friday night as reports to the science institute in Northern California. In Cuba, residents described a bright light and loud explosion similar to that in Russia that shook windows and walls. There were no reported injuries or damages like the Russian meteorite.

 

 

First Pope to leave office in 600 years – timesofmalta.com

First Pope to leave office in 600 years – timesofmalta.com.

It is rare in any lifetime to witness a pope being chosen from the college of cardinals but even rarer to see a pope leave before his time is up. In my young existence, I have witnessed both happen and will see another cardinal become a pope of one of the largest church organizations in the world, the Catholic Church. Say what you will, this will still go down in history and will be remember for a long time.

On Monday February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI did the unthinkable and said he will resign on February 28, becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to take such a step. The leader of the 1.2 billions Catholics around the world, Pope Benedict in a statement read in Latin during a church council with cardinals said that he no longer had the strength to fulfill his duties which has shocked the world. As he says,”My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” Vatican officials explained that the statement had been translated into different languages before the Pope could make his announcement for immediate dissemination. The decision by the 85 year old German Pontiff who was elected to the papacy in April of 2005 has left many wondering what to do with two living Popes and has caused a paradox for the church as this has not happened in 600 years. A conclave of cardinals expected to be he;d in March will elect a new Pope. Arrangements are underway to provide Pope Benedict with a place of residence which may be a disused monastery on Vatican grounds.

Today on Ash Wednesday in Vatican City, the Pope celebrated his final mass as pontiff presiding over services hours after explaining his decision to the faithful. The mood in St. Peter’s Basilica was somber as the finality of weight of Benedict’s decision registered with thousands of the faithful present, but ended with a standing ovation as Pope Benedict exited for the last time as pope bring tears to eyes of those closest to the man. “We wouldn’t be sincere, Your Holiness, if we didn’t tell you that there’s a veil of sadness on our hearts this evening,” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s longtime deputy, told the pope at the end of the service, his voice breaking. The crowd yelled “Viva il papa!” as the Pope stepped off the altar. By March 31, the church will have a new pope elected as it marks the end of Lent and the celebration of Easter which commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.
Benedict explained to his flock why he broke with a 600 year tradition and decided to retire: “As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005…I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.” The Vatican has revealed his final days as pope saying he will attend a farewell ceremony with his cardinals then fly to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo. Under the timetable, Benedict will be far from the Vatican when he ceases to be pope at 8p.m. on February 28 a deadline he decided on. The College of Cardinals will then organize a conclave where the 117 or so cardinals under 80 will vote to see who will succeed Benedict. Benedict’s final appearance will be on February 27 and is expected to draw a crowd and will allow the faithful to say farewell under happier circumstances than his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, died in 2005.