The U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet warmongers staged madcap war maneuvers against the DPRK in waters of the West Sea of Korea as part of the Foal Eagle joint military exercises.
Two Aegis destroyers of the navy of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces which entered Phyongthaek Port on March 19 and combat warships including "Great King Sejong", destroyer of the puppet navy, have been busy with anti-warship and anti-aircraft firing exercises, marine interception operation, etc. for several days since March 23.
The military tensions on the Korean Peninsula are further escalating due to the above-said reckless saber-rattling.
And, just in case there was any suspicion of a toning down of the rhetoric, this appeared yesterday:
A spokesman for the Central Committee of the Journalists Union of Korea released a statement on Monday denouncing the puppet conservative group for working hard to put the media in south Korea on its payroll in a bid to reduce them to its tools serving the purpose of its fascist dictatorship and incite confrontation against reunification in violation of justice, conscience and truth....
Only shame and destruction await the reactionary conservative media as they advocate antipathy, distrust and confrontation between fellow countrymen while whitewashing sycophancy and treachery and fascist dictatorship as servants of the group of traitors and political prostitutes.
The conservative media organizations and hack writers are bound to face a stern punishment by the nation as they are hell-bent on malignantly defiling the dignity and system in the DPRK and releasing false reports about it as trumpeters serving the above-said group.
The reptile conservative media would be well advised to bear in mind that they will have to pay dearly for falsifying the reality and stoking confrontation quite contrary to the mindset of the people.
The South Korean government has backtracked, albeit carefully, on the likelihood that the Cheonan was sunk, one way or another, by North Korea, saying now that it is a definite possibility. As a result, the likely impact of the Cheonan tragedy on inter-Korean relations is being debated by experts.
Kim Tae Young, South Korea’s Minister of National Defense, attended the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly on March 29th, a meeting in which he stated, “Neither the government nor Ministry of National Defense ever stated that the possibility of North Korea being involved in the incident had been discounted. All possibilities should be reviewed and then a conclusion reached.”
This is the first time that a high ranking government official has mentioned the possibility of North Korean involvement in public.
It indicates a change to the prior governmental position, which was to reject rumors of North Korean involvement through quotes such as, “No evidence suggesting North Korea’s involvement has been found” or “There was no movement of North Korean ships near the waters where the incident occurred.”
If North Korea was involved, torpedo attack from a submarine or semi-submersible craft and naval mine are the two possible scenarios. The cause of the explosion will be reveal after the vessel is salvaged and a thorough investigation is made. This process will take considerable time, while proving a link between North Korea and the incident will be no easy task even if the circumstantial evidence is convincing.
The possibility of an internal explosion seems now to have been discounted. If the boat had been intentionally attacked by the North Koreans, though, some kind of statement would normally have been expected from the official news agency, the KCNA, along the lines of it being a justified reaction to intolerable provocation from the war-mongering US stooges etc etc.. But there's been silence. Perhaps they realise they've pushed too far this time, especially with a conservative South Korean leader, Lee Myung-bak, who's associated with a more confrontational stance to the DPRK and its provocations. At the moment there does seem to be a feeling of creeping cack-handedness from the normally ruthless and sure-footed regime in Pyongyang after the currency devaluation fiasco, as the Dear Leader's health fails and voices of discontent are making themselves heard.
Now the weather's hampering the rescue operation, but when the ship with the bodies of the forty-six sailors is finally salvaged this story will hit the headlines again. Angry South Koreans may start to reassess their previous apathy about their fellow Koreans north of the DMZ.
A third of all marriages in modern Kyrgyzstan are kidnaps.
From the ICAHK website:
Typically, a man abducts his bride by force or deception, enlisting his family to break her resistance to the wedding through hours of persuasion. If successful, the next morning the bride will sit quietly in a curtained-off area wearing the traditional white wedding headscarf and an imam will be called in to marry the couple.
The Kyrgyz phrase ala kachuu describes this process – literally, it means "grab and run". Some brides are kidnapped by strangers, others by men they know. Some escape after violent ordeals, but most are persuaded to stay by tradition and fear of scandal. In Muslim Kyrgyzstan, where virginity is revered, a girl who has been kidnapped and then leaves is considered to be tainted. If her family refuses to allow her back home because of the shame, she has few options. With their purity in question after a night spent at a man's house, many women accept what they believe is their fate.
There's a photo essay here - a link at the Wiki page on ali kachuu - from The Spektator: "Your monthly guide to what's happening in and around Bishkek". Go to page 10. The reporter struggles between his desire for a good story and his horror at being complicit with what's happening:
Talant thrusts the car door open and pulls out a tiny girl. There is a gash below his left eye and his gold teeth are flashing. He carries the girl screaming to the door of the house where he sets her on her feet, "Ah my sweetheart!" he crows. Old Mother lunges in with the marriage scarf. The girl powerless, just shouting pathetically, "Grandmother, no! Not that! Please don't put it on me. Please don't."
The borsok bread goes flying as the other girls laugh while chucking it at her face. Cheap wrapped chocolates are also thrown - an unexpected addition. The look of sheer distress on the girl's face makes me shudder....
[The next day] And what about Galiza, the girl sitting in the corner while the villagers come in and inspect her like a prized sheep? What is she thinking as this strange foreign man interrupts her crying, coming in with a video camera and asking all kinds of obvious questions, probably to report negatively on her culture? What would you think if, like her, you have a boyfriend you love and have been dating for two years and have dreams of marrying and going to live in the big city? And if yesterday, a drunken man you have never met before kidnapped you and now your family and society declare that this is the man you must now spend the rest of your life with? "Why am I doing this?" I ask myself. And I am hating myself for being a part of this, for being there. Surely her answers are obvious....
"I always thought I would resist, would fight and not let myself be stolen, but they steal you all the same," she tells me between tears and long sighs to herself. "Women are just dolls to be thrown about."
Interestingly, the only voice of dissent is the groom's father, who seems disgusted by the whole thing. It's the women who make all the running.
There's another ali kachuu story here, with video.
Last year we heard reports of the Christmas Massacres carried out by the Lord's Resistance Army in its new base in the north-eastern Congo. Now the BBC reports on what seems to be almost an exact repeat a year later:
Evidence of the massacre of at least 321 people in Democratic Republic of Congo has been uncovered by the BBC.
The killings took place last December but have not previously been reported.
Fighters from the notorious Lord's Resistance Army raided several villages in a remote part of north-eastern DR Congo, killing and abducting children.
Human Rights Watch says this is one of the worst massacres carried out by the LRA, whose fighters roam across several countries after spreading from Uganda. The rebel leaders initially claimed to be fighting to install a theocracy in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments, but they now sow terror in Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as DR Congo.
In the latest attack, the rebels hacked to death villagers and made others carry looted goods. Some 250 people were abducted.
An LRA spokesman has denied the charges, but no one's convinced.
For some background on the complex and brutal history of the Lord's Resistance Army, Wikipedia is probably a good place to start.
For victims of child abuse at the hands of Catholic priests in Ireland, the Pope offers an apology. Victims of the Rwanda genocide, where many Catholic priests were complicit in the slaughter, have yet to hear a word from The Holy Father. Here's Martin Kimani at CiF:
Fifteen years ago, tens of thousands of Catholics were hacked to death inside churches. Sometimes priests and nuns led the slaughter. Sometimes they did nothing while it progressed. The incidents were not isolated. Nyamata, Ntarama, Nyarubuye, Cyahinda, Nyange, and Saint Famille were just a few of the churches that were sites of massacres.
To you, Catholic survivor of genocide in Rwanda, the Vatican says that those priests, those bishops, those nuns, those archbishops who planned and killed were not acting under the instruction of the church. But moral responsibility changes dramatically if you are a European or US Catholic. To the priests of the Irish church who abused children, the pope has this to say: "You must answer for it before almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres."
The losses of Rwanda had received no such consideration. Some of the nuns and priests who have been convicted by Belgian courts and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, respectively, enjoyed refuge in Catholic churches in Europe while on the run from prosecutors....
In the last century, Catholic bishops have been deeply mired in Rwandan politics with the full knowledge of the Vatican. Take Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyumva. Until 1990, he had served as the chairman of the ruling party's central committee for almost 15 years, championing the authoritarian government of Juvenal Habyarimana, which orchestrated the murder of almost a million people. Or Archbishop André Perraudin, the most senior representative of Rome in 1950s Rwanda. It was with his collusion and mentorship that the hateful, racist ideology known as Hutu Power was launched – often by priests and seminarians in good standing with the church. One such was Rwanda's first president, Grégoire Kayibanda, a private secretary and protege of Perraudin, whose political power was unrivalled.
The support for Hutu Power was therefore not unknowing or naive. It was a strategy to maintain the church's powerful political position in a decolonising Rwanda. The violence of the 1960s led inexorably to the 1994 attempt to exterminate Tutsis. These were violent expressions of a political sphere dominated by contentions that Hutu and Tutsi were separate and opposed racial categories. This, too, is one of the legacies of the Catholic missionary, whose schools and pulpits for decades kept up a drumbeat of false race theories.
This turning away from the Rwandan victims of genocide comes at a time when the Catholic church is increasingly peopled by black and brown believers. It is difficult not to conclude the church's upper reaches are desperately holding on to a fast-vanishing racial patrimony.
Perhaps it is time Catholics forced the leaders of their church to deal with a history of institutional racism that endures, if the church is truly to live up to its fine words. Apologies are not sufficient, no matter how abject. What is demanded is an acknowledgment of the church's political power and moral culpability, with all the material and legal implications that come with it.
The silence of the Vatican is contempt. Its failure to fully examine its central place in Rwandan genocide can only mean that it is fully aware that it will not be threatened if it buries its head in the sand. While it knows if it ignores the sexual abuse of European parishioners it will not survive the next few years, it can let those African bodies remain buried, dehumanised and unexamined.
Nowadays the police description would no doubt concentrate on ethnic identity, but in those days it was complexion - nearly all described as "fresh" though it's not the first word that comes to mind, with the one rather foreign-looking gentleman labelled with the disparaging "sallow" - and shape of face - round, oval, or thin. Professions: hawker, woodchopper, tube drawer, bedstead polisher, groom, japanner, blacksmith...and most of the women labelled prostitutes. Was that really the case, I wonder, or did the police tend to assume that any woman who went out to the pub and got drunk had to be on the game?
"Are you related to any of these people? Or do you know anyone who is?", asks the Mail. "If so, then tell us your story..." Which brings to mind to one of Armstrong and Miller's better sketches:
Michael J Totten had a couple of articles back in 2008 on the spread of Saudi-financed hard-line Wahhabism in the Balkans, and particularly in Macedonia. Now here's Bojan Pancevski in the Sunday Times:
Saudi Arabia is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.
According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.
Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans....
Sulejman Rexhepi, leader of the Islamic community in Macedonia, said a number of mosques had been forcibly taken over by radical groups. Four in central Skopje are no longer under the control of the official Islamic authorities. New imams claim they have been “spontaneously” installed by the “people”.
“Their so-called Wahhabi teachings are completely alien to our traditions and to the essence of Islam, which is a tolerant and inclusive religion,” said Rexhepi.
In some mosques believers are being told that Macedonia, which sent 200 soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, has been tricked into supporting a crusade against Islam spearheaded by Britain and America. Radical clerics have shown footage from Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories to illustrate their claims that the West is waging war on Islam.
Rahman, a 35-year-old cab driver from Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, said he had stopped going to his local mosque since it was taken over by extremists. “Following the Haiti earthquake the new imam said God would punish the West for their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with natural disasters,” he said....
The West has put considerable political and financial efforts into helping build democracy in Bosnia following its civil war in the 1990s. Saudi organisations have also asserted considerable influence, giving more than £450m to build more than 150 mosques and Islamic centres.
In Macedonia, Fatmir, a former disc jockey, explained how he became an adherent of Salafism. The father of two has grown a beard and instructed his wife to wear a niqab. He now makes his living by selling Islamist literature. “Ours is the Islam of the 21st century,” he said.
Shimon Samuels at the Jewish Chronicle: In Venezuela, antisemitism is state policy.
A new report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has criticised the Venezuelan government for encroaching on the civil and political rights of its people, and particularly those of its Jewish community.
The report expressed particular concern about the rising number of antisemitic incidents, and noted that the government-controlled media "contributed to creating an atmosphere of intimidation and violence against the Jewish community in Venezuela".
This is cause for serious alarm. However, it is hardly surprising.
Since Hugo Chavez took power, antisemitic expression has grown exponentially: in government media; in the dissemination of the Protocols of Zion; in the accusation that "Semitic banks" are sabotaging the economy; in the fact that the Caracas Jewish school was raided twice by armed forces "searching for Mossad-supplied arms caches"; in the desecration of two synagogues; and in the closing of the Israeli Embassy. The Venezuelan ambassador to Moscow even alleged that Jewish citizens implicated in a 2002 anti-Chavez coup were "Mossad agents". [...]
Mr Chavez is undoubtedly obsessed with a world Jewish conspiracy represented by the less than 12,000 Jews remaining in Venezuela. They are becoming the scapegoat for his dysfunctional administration and the economic crisis that is engulfing a country blessed with oil, coffee and sugar.
One third of the Jewish community has fled, fearing Soviet-style state antisemitism. Indeed, such a policy has all the appearances of having already begun.
A pro-Chavez television show named Venezuelan Jewish leaders as anti-Venezuelan conspirators, and called on other Jews "not involved in the conspiracy" to publicly denounce their coreligionists. A Chavista newspaper editorial questioned whether "we will have to expel them from our country… as other nations have done."