Sunday, June 2, 2013

Japan in Depth / U.S. key in trilateral talks / 3 states to cooperate on N. Korean threat

On Saturday, a meeting between the Japanese, U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs in Singapore was held to discuss the containment of the North Korean nuclear and missile threat.  As the relation between Tokyo and Seoul has recently been deteriorating due to renewed controversy over various perceptions of history , this meeting is believed to have been arranged at the initiative of Washington.The three defense chiefs agreed to cooperate in deterring North Korea from engaging in further acts of nuclear and missile provocation. After the meeting, the defense chiefs issued a joint statement demanding Pyongyang abandon its nuclear weapons and development program. The statement also confirmed that Japan, the United States and South Korea would continue to cooperate in achieving that goal. Washington emphasized the importance of increased cooperation between Tokyo and Seoul in order to deter North Korea from engaging in new act of provocation.
Honami Nabeshima

U.N. urges end to 'comfort women' denial

The U.N. Committee against Torture has requested the Japanese government to reject attempts by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to deny its wartime “military sexual slavery”, which has recently been a controvertial issue inside and outside of Japan.  The Mayor has been strongly criticized for his remark that comfort women were necessary for imperial Japanese Army. 
The U.N. committee urged Japanese government to “refute attempts to deny the facts by the government authorities and public figures and to retraumatize the victims through such repeated denials”, requiring Japan "to publicly acknowledge legal responsibility for the crimes of sexual slavery, and prosecute and punish perpetrators with appropriate penalties.” Committee member Fernando Marino expressed his concern about this issue at a press conference saying that more action is needed from the Japanese government to solve the comfort women issue in both “historical and real” terms. He said this phenomenon should be mentioned in Japanese history textbook so that the further violation of this kind would be prevented.
Honami Nabeshima

Six Child Laborers Injured This Morning in Kathmandu, India During Protest

At least 6 child workers have suffered from bone and head injuries during a protest in Kathmandu , India today to end violence and sexual exploitation of indentured child laborers. The murder of a twelve year old girl earlier this year sparked the peaceful protest that turned violent after police intervened.


UK considers an offer to engage in talks with Ecuador over Julian Assange

The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister has requested to engage in talks with the UK government regarding the fate of wikileaker Assange. Last year Julian Assange, an Australian, has received political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy fearing an eventual extradition to the United States. London police continue to monitor the Ecuadorian Embassy, on orders to arrest Assange if he leaves.

Sunni Cleric

This article describes the call (issued through a fatwa) by one Sunni Cleric to support the Syrian rebels against their government, and at the same time decrying Iran and the Hezbollah.  The rest of the article further describes the Sunni and Shiite divide involved with the war in Syria and how this is involving Lebanon in that divide.  Specifically, how it involves the Hezbollah and the conflict spreading into Lebanon.

Gaddafi assets in South Africa

There are currently investigations into Muammar Gaddafi, the ex-Libyan leader, and his family about assets worth roughly $1 billion stashed in South Africa. Libyan government has asked for help in retrieving diamonds, gold and cash to the country. It is believed that the assets were being held in four different banks and security companies in South Africa. There have been estimated that Muammar Gaddafi’s foreign assets are roughly worth $80 billion. In October 20011 Gaddafi was killed and any asset that belonged to him or his family is said to belong to the Libyans and should be returned. A Libyan official had said “officials have been appointed to investigate and secure assets in Africa on behalf of the people of Libya. Libya’s justice and finance ministers have been talking to the South African government about how Gaddafi had “possessed, obtained, looted, deposited or hidden” many of his assets illegally. Libyan investigators are currently meeting with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to talk about how they are going to locate and return the money.

In Syria, Hezbollah forces appear ready to attack rebels in city of Aleppo

Outside of Aleppo, Lebanese Hezbollah militants have assembled around the city. Many believe that this will invoke an attack on the city soon. According to an unnamed commander, there are 2,000 Hezbollah fighters that have stationed themselves outside of Aleppo. The article stated that the fighters have been previously stationed at cities such as Quisar and Damascus—here they have guarded the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zaynab. The unnamed commander goes on to state that infiltrating into Aleppo is only the start of the game. He ends by saying that they will go after strongholds once they are in the city. 

By: Allison Vigna

Hezbollah and Syria

This article describes the ongoing conflict in Syria, looking at the current situation in the town of Quasir in addition to the larger picture. The town, held by rebel forces, is besieged by the Syrian army with the Hezbollah partially involved.  The general situation in the town, as the article indicates, is poor.  Foreign aid (the Red Cross) cannot get in to the city because the Syrian army is not allowing any to enter.


Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

This article really is not surprising to me that some groups, especially religious groups, are deciding to not participate in the Boy Scouts anymore. Most Church groups do not believe in gay marriage and consider it a sin to engage in such acts. This article explains how Baptists from Arkansas are making the decision to discontinue their ties with the Boy Scouts of America after their decision to lift the ban on gay individuals being allowed as troop leaders. The article goes on to say that Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts in huge numbers because of the recent decision. Most Baptists are saying that it isn't because of hatred towards gay people, but because of a moral stance in their religion.

James Modelski

Al Qaeda Prisoner Transferred to Maurtania

In this article, there are multiple sources confirming that Al Qaeda member Younis al-Mauritani, who was arrested in 2011, has been transferred to a prison in Mauritania. He was originally detained at an American Military base in Afghanistan. It is understood that it was American intelligence services.

Post written by Patrick Weisgerber

Egyptian Court Rules Upper House of PArliment Elections Illegal

An Egyptian Court has ruled that the Shura Council was elected illegally, delivering a serious blow to Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party. This ruling questions the legitimacy of the constitution drawn by the FJP. The Court stated that the existing Shura Council may remain until new elections. The date of these new elections has not been decided as of yet. Whether this results in further growth in Egyptian political institutions remains to be seen.

William Ragan

Myanmar reaches preliminary truce with Kachin rebels

The Kachin rebels and government representatives have signed a seven-point plan, which includes an agreement to halt all hostilities. In addition, they promised to hold political dialogue with the rebels, who have long wished for political recognition and autonomy.The two sides also agreed to hold discussions on resettling people displaced by the fighting and create a joint monitoring team.

-Madelyn Higdon

Illinois same sex marriage

In this Chicago Tribune article, the writer explains the decision of the state of Illinois to not discuss the issue of gay marriage. Lawmakers never voted on the decision after weeks of build-up of the possibility of Illinois becoming the 13th state to approve same sex marriage. Democrats across the state of Illinois are mostly in favor of the decision to approve same sex marriage. Governor Quinn said that he was ready to sign the bill, but as we saw he never had the chance to.

James Modelski

Lashio continues to be site for Buddhist/Muslim conflict

Due to a rumor spread the day before that a Muslim man had doused a Buddhist woman with fuel and set her on fire, many Buddhist youths set to the streets to find Muslim residents to attack. The mobs went on to set fire to many buildings, especially after the police refused to give over the man who was accused of setting fire to the Buddhist woman. At least one person has died due to being 'hacked to death.'

Clashes continue in Turkey

Thousands of protesters in Istanbul are participating in the second day of the country’s most intense anti-government demonstrations in years. Turkish riot police are using tear gas and water cannons to subdue the crowds, but this is only fueling them even more. Plans to redevelop a city park in Taksim Square prompted a peaceful protest, to which the police responded harshly, and in what many believe was an unjust manner. Since then, the public has responded in the manner that is currently being played our across the country.

At least 80 people have been injured, while hundreds have been detained by police. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the vice president of foreign affairs, said the excessive police force that began the anti-government protests would be investigated because it “is not acceptable” as the country is trying to democratize.

Crowds marching down major streets chanting “unite against fascism” and “government resign” were fired at with tear gas and water cannons as police helicopters flew overhead. The protesters are young men and women with surgical masks or bandannas around their mouths. They are using Twitter and Facebook to organize themselves and regroup when dispersed. Anger is now pointed towards the Prime Minister and the media. They say the media has “sold out” to the government and is not covering the protests.

Read more here

Saturday, June 1, 2013

U.S. Eases Tech Exports to Help Iranian Dissenters

This article is about the eased restrictions of selling devices such as smartphones, laptops, and computer software from the United States to Iran. The purpose of easing the restrictions is to increase the use of social media during the protests. Unfortunately the United States moves would not have any immediate impact on the election campaign. It will take time for companies to examine the decision and develop strategies

Partiers Disappear in Mexico City

Eleven young people, seven men and four women, disappeared after a night of partying in the popular Zona Rosa neighborhood.  All of them are from Tepito, a crime ridden slum in the heart of Mexico City.  Five days after the investigation started, it is not sure whether they were abducted or not, their disappearance remains a mystery.  This disappearance in particular is surprising because it most likely took place in Zona Rosa, an area very populous and popular and only steps away from the American and British embassies.  The one common denominator of all the missing people was that they all went to the Heavens After Nightclub that night.  A man informed the families of the missing people that employees had ushered the young people into SUV's from the nightclub.  That man escaped before he could be questioned further and is now missing. The state Anti-Kidnapping Office has taken the case and according to them no ransom notes have been issued.  In just six years however, Mexico City has been deemed one of the safest cities in the country.  Homicides from .0171% to.0095%, violent thefts from .2309% to .1571% and kidnappings from .001% to .0004%.  This sudden mass kidnapping is alarming and hopefully does not become a common occurence.

Zabludovsky, K. (2013, Jun 01). Concern grows as group disappears in mexico. New York Times. Retrieved from

By:  Adam Sehr

Hagel Warns China on ‘Growing Threat’ of Cyberattacks

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses strong concerns over growing Chinese cyberattacks against the U.S. at the on-going annual Asia Security Summit of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Singapore- The Shangri-La Dialogue. He called on America and its allies to “establish international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace," especially as earlier this week leaked report from the Pentagon Chinese hackers having had access to secret US weapons programmes hit the news.

In the same gesture, Mr. Hagel stressed that more talks between American and Chinese militaries are essential for building trust and reducing the risk of mistrust. The U.S. and China dialogues have been remarkably direct at this Summit as Chinese delegate immediately challenged Mr. Hagel's comments. Major General Yao Yunzhu said that she was not convinced - and China was not convinced - that the U.S. wanted a "comprehensive" relationship with China, and "the new United States policy in Asia and the Pacific amounts to containment of China."

In addition, it is also very interesting to see Mr. Hagel's stress on the role of new technologies on the U.S.'s re-approach to Asia - the Obama administration's "Asia pivot." He said that the U.S. will keep its "decisive military edge." Lastly, the article also talks about the printing of a new South China Sea map by China that redesignates the nine-dash line as its national boundary, in accordance with Chinese law, which a recent Pentagon report said they "did not comport" with the UNCLOS.

It is also worth-noticing that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, which involves in a long territorial disputes with China over the Islands in South China Sea, gave a "feisty" opening address that drew big attention from international media. He stressed that the repeatedly lamenting lack of trust between China and its neighbors, between China and the U.S. has paved way for rising regional tensions. Mr. Nguyen said that regional organizations are supposed to take care of such tensions but "the missing strategic trust in implementing arrangements" has undermined their efforts.

It will be interesting to watch the connections of Shangri-La Dialogue with the meeting between China's new President Xi Jinping and President Obama at a summit in California next week.

Read more at:

By Yen Do

Apartheid Still Being Practiced in South Africa

Two decades after the racist, segregationist system in South Africa known as apartheid was abolished, a new town was just discovered that maintains much of that discriminatory tradition. This white-only town has its own school, and has a statue of the ex-Prime Minister associated with apartheid. They claim they aren't racist, just trying to preserve their own culture, language, and minority interests.

Taliban Won't Confess to Red Cross Assault

The Taliban, or "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" (their preferred title), is now claiming that their group was not involved in the recent attack on the Red Cross office. They respect the neutrality of the organization, but their denial is untrustworthy. Even if it wasn't the senior Taliban agents who carried out a suicide bombing and short raid on the Red Cross, it was likely junior agents also responsible for roadside bombs. Communication and management between the higher and lower ranks of the Taliban isn't strong.