North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Monday, January 24, 2011

January pause...

It looks like catch-up time ... so in rapid order:

Gbagbo is still squirreled away in the Ivory Coast, the African Union is collectively contemplating its next moves, while the new Ivory Coast leader imposes a month long ban on cocoa exports ...
Recognized Ivory Coast leader Alassane-Outarra hopes an export ban on his country's leading source of foreign exchange will put further pressure on Gbagbo's financial resources.

Tunisia still restive, old regime leadership leaving one by one under continued protests.
Street protests continue in Tunisian cities, pressuring for a more thorough change of regime than simply the ousting of former President Ben Ali.

Lebanese crisis smoulders - Lebanese telecommunications tycoon Najib Mikati, who is backed by Hezbollah and its allies, moved into position on Monday to lead a new government after winning support from Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. Byzantine negotiations and political jockeying continues ...
The man, Mikati, looks nice enough, like a mild-mannered grandfather...

A long awaited Israeli commission's findings on the fatal Gaza blockade incident have finally been released. The Commission found that the blockade was internationally legal as was its enforcement, referring to the incident in the fall of 2010 when several aid ships were boarded, and 9 Turkish activists were killed in one violent confrontation on one of the boats. Turkey quickly rejected the findings, and news reports are that two more flotillas will attempt to break Israel's blockade of Gaza later this spring.
A weathered Israeli flag with a ship in the background symbolizes the brewing tensions over inspecting and monitoring shipments by sea to the Gaza strip in order to intercept smuggled arms.

Egypt's government has blamed a Gaza-based group for the New Year's Eve church bombing that killed 24 Coptic Christians in Alexandria. Interior minister Habib al-Adly said on Sunday that "conclusive evidence" proved the Army of Islam planned and executed the attack on al-Kidiseen Church, which also left scores wounded. The group, based in Gaza, quickly denied responsibility, while expressing support for the bombing. The naming of foreigners as the culprit may help Egyptian authorities in easing escalating tensions between Muslims and Copts, who make up about 10% of the nation's population. Adly also stated however, that the Army of Islam recruited Egyptians in planning the bombing in Alexandria. Cairo has long accused militants in Gaza of using the Palestinian territory to plot attacks across the border to upset Egypt's tourism industry and inflame religious mistrust.

In the aftermath of the church bombing, Egyptian security forces collect evidence on site.

North - South Korea tensions, while remaining high, may witness a step towards peace. South Korea said Thursday it accepted a North Korean proposal to hold high-level defence talks a day after the leaders of the U.S. and China called for better communication between the two Koreas. The talks could prove significant if Seoul and Pyongyang can put aside military and political tensions that soared to their worst level in years in 2010. While agreeing to talks, South Korea continued to display a higher profile of military readiness and willingness to protect its citizens around the world. Most recently, South Korean marines successfully stormed a ship off the Somali coast, killing several pirates, detaining others, and freeing a South Korean tanker and crew.

In 2010, South Koreans volunteered in great numbers for positions in its military forces including a surge of women. These are young female officers at a recent graduation ceremony.

The picture above seems incongruous to this blogger. Feminine young women serving in military positions. But if one takes a broad look at equality for women in societies, this is probably another positive aspect (albeit in a very mysterious calculation considering so many other roles are in need).

Where else do feminine warriors show a presence? Wikipedia notes that from the beginning of the 1970s, most Western armies began to admit women, though only a few permit women to fill active combat roles, including New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Israel, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. Other nations allow female soldiers to serve in certain Combat Arms positions, such as the United Kingdom, which allows women to serve in Artillery roles, while still excluding them from units with a dedicated Infantry role. The United States allows women in most combat flying positions, and both the UK and the US now allow women to serve on submarines.

Women first broke into the Western military world in significant and sanctioned numbers through nursing the wounded.
Women nurses on the field in World War II

The renowned cooking personality Julia Childs was linked to clandestine intelligence gathering during WWII

Women as a critical new workforce segment during the war accelerated a reforming of traditional roles.

Israeli women's egalitarian and crucial role in the defense of their homeland was especially significant in shaping Western nations expansion of women in the military in general. Here, IDF soldiers taking a break at what appears to be a pharmacy.

Chinese women were involved in Mao's insurgency forces in the 1930s and 40s, which has led to today's significant inclusions. In most communist movements or nations, women participated in military units in one way or another.

Pakistan has women in its internal military policing structure - something not uncommon in Muslim nations including Algeria, Iran, and Bahrain. Turkey uses female officers in combat flying (bombardment) missions over Northern Iraq and in ISAF patrol missions in Kabul, Afghanistan, a phenomenon surely opposed by traditional Islamists, though who are not opposed to female suicide bombers of their own.

Kenyan women serve in its armed forces.

The US is pushing the envelope with significant numbers of women Marines in combat roles.

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