Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Interview with North Korea border crosser Robert Park

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KOREA-NORTH/CROSSING

 (Photographs by Lee Jae-won)

North Korea said on Tuesday it had  detained a U.S. citizen who entered its territory, apparently confirming a report that an American activist crossed into the
state to raise awareness about Pyongyang’s human rights abuses.   Robert Park, 28, walked over the frozen Tumen river from
China and into the North last Friday, other activists said. The Korean-American told Reuters ahead of the crossing that it was his duty as a
Christian to make the journey and that he was carrying a letter calling on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to step down.

Park had an exclusive interview with Reuters last week before starting on his journey. The following are excerpts from the conversation. He requested that the comments be held until he was in North Korea.  

Reuters: Why are you planning to go into North Korea?

Robert Park: The North Korean human rights crisis by murder rate is the worst in the world. An estimated 1,000 people a day die by starvation and starvation is a murder case. North Korea has been sent more food aid than any nation in the world but the food has not gone to the people who need it. So this is murder.

But not only that, there are concentration camps in North Korea that are of the same brutality as in Nazi Germany.

Allah, Antarctica and Ancient Inca-The best reads of 2009

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When I have time to lavish on reading something other than news, I want to spend it on stories that leave me saying, “Wow!” A great read should tell readers something they don’t already know, enlighten them about the world and its people, inform them about the human condition. Readers should be moved to laughter, tears, anger, action through superb writing and extraordinary reporting.  Here are my picks for the best reads of 2009.

As Spain’s jobless lose homes, tensions mount

madrid

A packet of cigarettes is enough to cause a fight among the Spaniards and immigrants shivering in the dark outside an emergency homeless shelter in Madrid, set up for a bitter winter and depression-era unemployment. Police push past jobless Romanian and Hungarian construction workers.  ”One day this place is going to explode,” says unemployed waiter Miguel Roa, a Spaniard.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Failed airline attack raises fresh questions about battle against al Qaeda

departuresIn the absence of a coherent narrative about the failed Christmas Day attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the debate about how best to tackle al Qaeda and its Islamist allies has once again been thrown wide open.

Does it support those who want more military pressure to deprive al Qaeda of its sanctuary on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, or suggest a more diffuse threat from sympathisers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa? Should the United States open new fronts in emerging al Qaeda bases such as Yemen and Somalia, or focus instead on the fact that the attempted airline attack did not succeed, suggesting al Qaeda's ability to conduct mass-casualty assaults on U.S. territory has already been severely degraded in the years since 9/11?

from Africa News blog:

Was Nigerian bomber a one-off?

SECURITY-AIRLINE/TRANSITQuite apart from the Nigerian would-be plane bomber’s lack of success, there are other reasons why Africa’s most populous nation cannot be expected to produce a rash of similar cases.

As this Reuters story from Sahabi Yahaya in the bomber’s home town of Funtua points out, it is Umar Abdulmutallab’s foreign education rather than his background in Muslim northern Nigeria that is seen as having radicalised him.

from Africa News blog:

Lessons for coup makers?

Guinea soldiers.jpgPresident Barack Obama’s decision to end trade benefits for Guinea, Madagascar and Niger shows some stiffening of Washington’s resolve to act against those seen to be moving in the opposite direction to demands for greater democracy in Africa.

But the fact that new benefits were simultaneously extended to Mauritania may also give a lesson in how would-be coup makers should best behave if they want to get away with it.

Meeting the Banda Aceh “tsunami family” five years on

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masakoReuters Television producer Masako Iijima, one of the many journalists who covered the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, went back to Banda Aceh in Indonesia to reconnect with a family she had met five years ago.
Here’s her story :

When I first met Salawati, she was a speck of bright pink among the pile of gray rubble that used to be her house. She had just returned home an out-of-town trip to find that everything had been washed away by the Indian Ocean tsunami, including her two daughters.

“Earth to Ban Ki-moon” or how a deal was sealed in Copenhagen

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cop15Sweden complained that the recent Copenhagen climate change summit was a “disaster.” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described it as “at best flawed and at worst chaotic.” Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, dubbed the outcome confirmation of a “climate apartheid.” For South Africa it was simply “not acceptable.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who for over a year had been urging the 192 members of the United Nations to “seal the deal” in Copenhagen, saw things differently. In a statement issued by his press office, Ban said the two-week meeting had a “successful conclusion with substantive outcomes.” Speaking to reporters, the secretary-general expanded on that: “Finally we sealed the deal. And it is a real deal. Bringing world leaders to the table paid off.” However, he tempered his praise for the participating delegations by noting that the outcome “may not be everything that everyone hoped for.”

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan: Through the eye of a needle

lawyers celebrateFor the first time in many months, the future of Pakistan is being determined not in the fight against Islamist militants, but within its institutions -- its judiciary, its political parties, its government and its military.  Last week's decision by the Supreme Court to strike down a 2007 amnesty given to politicians and bureaucrats has provided Pakistan with a rare opportunity to remodel itself as a civilian democracy based on the rule of law.  But the way forward is so fraught with difficulties that assessments of its chances of success are at best sober, at worst ominous.

The court decision to strike down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) affects some 8,000 politicians and bureaucrats on a list of those who had been covered by the amnesty, including the defence and interior ministers.  President Asif Ali Zardari had also been covered by the amnesty, but remains protected by presidential immunity. Such was the upheaval created by the ruling that foreign exchange markets were briefly shaken last week by unfounded rumours of a military coup. The real impact is likely to be more slow-burning.

Parallel worlds at U.N. climate talks

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protesterWhile UN climate talks involving world leaders descended into chaos and farce in the rooms and corridors of this immediately forgettable Copenhagen exhibition centre, a parallel world flourished in its main conference hall.

Meetings of world leaders and environment ministers through Thursday night and Friday yielded a series of draft climate texts, each more toothless and lacking in ambition than the last. NGOs despaired. The assembled media veered between disbelief and boredom. And outside in the snow the vegans, climate activists and other protest groups kept up a steady drumbeat of protest in the snow.

from The Great Debate UK:

Sudan: Preparing for a peaceful southern secession

francois_grignon_apr09_206[1]- François Grignon is Director of the Africa Program at the International Crisis Group. the opinions expressed are his own. -

Four years ago, the Sudanese people were promised a brighter future. A peace deal had finally ended the two-decades-long civil war between north and south, which killed more than two million people and devastated the south. But today, that bright future is looking decidedly tarnished, and Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup.

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