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 "

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ivory Coast, Libya, Yemen, Japan ... and Mexico

Six days since the last "news" update, and four stories continue to capture the world's attention. In a search for a small antidote to the troubles contained within these nations, we can at least end with a glimpse of something positive in Mexico.

Ivory Coast

The needless conflict inflicted by the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, continues to a bitter end. After widespread fighting in Abidjan, the ex-president is holed up in one of his private bunker-like residences, defended according to some accounts by the last 1000 or so troops loyal to his person. However, the latest reports are that Gbagbo's supporters are staging somewhat of a comeback ...

The recognized President, Outarra, will face new and possibly substantial hostility from those supporting Gbagbo, as well as a stalled and damaged economy stemming from this failed leadership transition.

Pro-Outarra forces surround Gbagbo's center of resistance.

The French have been drawn into Ivory Coast's conflict, seen here patrolling an Abidjan street.

Gbagbo soldiers who have surrendered wait in holding area for further processing.


The stalemate continues with the improbable situation where Libyan rebels are vocally unhappy with the inadequate level of assistance provided by the NATO-led coalition. Gadaffi forces have apparently adjusted to the hostile skies by infiltrating civilian concentrations, even using pickup trucks with weaponry just as the rebels do to avoid attention from NATO jets.

Libyan rebels do not have the ability, structure or weaponry, to take the offensive against Gadaffi in the foreseeable future unless further forms of support emerge.


With hundreds of protesters now dead and Generals defecting, Yemen's President still holds on. Perhaps a pattern is emerging that while the media often emphasizes the size and strength and developments that challenge a ruler, which all may be true, there still remains a sizable unknown segment of the population supporting the status quo. We've seen this with Gbagbo, Gadaffi, and now Saleh...

The long standing Yemeni President,Ali Abdullah Saleh

Supporters of President Saleh seen here.


Progress has been made in containing a leak of radioactive water from one of the damaged Fukushima reactors. But the issue has emerged over what to do with the water used to cool fuel rods and thus becoming contaminated itself. At this point, Japanese authorities have had to pump low level radioactive water into the sea in order to store more highly contaminated water within the plant's storage facilities. Radioactive traces have thus been found in Northern Japan's seafood, another blow to the country's attempts to stabilize its economic footing.

Nevertheless, quiet clearing, cleaning and rebuilding efforts are underway. Though the task is enormous.

Relief supplies being handed out to factory workers

Buddhist monks pray at a mass memorial service

Elderly tsunami survivor looks out where 130 homes had been swept clean away to the sea.


The world's richest man, Carlos Slim, a Mexican businessman and philanthropist of Lebanese background, formally opened a world class museum of art in Mexico city last week. Mr Slim expressed pride and satisfaction that he could "deliver" the museum to his fellow Mexicans, thereby contributing to "important human development and education." This same wish was shared by Mexican President Calderon, who said that the museum will place Mexico and its people in the world's cultural vanguard.

The breathtaking new museum

The Soumaya Museum stands majestically in the western part of the Mexican capital in a nicely-configured building and a facade covered by 16,000 hexagonal mirrors of different sizes. The museum's six floors will house part of the 16 art collections owned by the Carlos Slim Foundation, including works by Rodin, Tintoretto, El Greco, Rubens, Picasso, Renoir, Miro, Dali, Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne, Matisse and Da Vinci as well as Mexico's Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The foundation also has a collection of pre-Columbian art from Mexico and Central America.

Mr Slim is the chairman and CEO of telecommunications companies Telmex and América Móvil - Latin America's largest mobile phone carrier - and has extensive holdings in other Mexican companies and business interests elsewhere in the world. The museum bears the name of Slim's late wife, Soumaya Domit, who, Slim relates, was the one who inspired him to acquire works of arts in order to show them to the world.

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim (L) stands next his daughter Soumaya (2nd L), Mexican President Felipe Calderon (3rd L), his wife Margarita Zavala (3rd R), Colombian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker" sits at the entrance to the new museum

Mexico hopes the museum will attract high numbers of tourists and citizens alike

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