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 "

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An August review

If one can fight through the media frenzy over Hurricane Irene, and the constant coverage of Libya, there are a few items to note and some followups.

Libya - Tripoli the capital city is now firmly, though roughly, in the hands of what we will now call the new government - the Transitional National Council (TNC)with a few of its leaders having moved to the capital in the past few days. There are hopeful signs that the leadership have been able to instill discipline on its armed forces, with little reprisals to date. The TNC, headed by Mahmoud Jibril, is also pragmatically stating the TNC goals of restoring order, requesting aid in rehabilitation, and resuming oil production as the nation's primary source of wealth.

During his two-day visit to Egypt, the second in command of Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) and its executive head, Mahmoud Jibril, met with the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, another newer face from Egypt.

The hunt for the dictator Gaddafi continues, and early reports that his sons had been captured turned out to be premature. There are fears over the fate of thousands of political prisoners who cannot be located, and at least two massacre sites of rebels have been uncovered. One report noted the long steep climb for the country as Gaddafi had ruled for over 40 years keeping national institutions at a minimum, and playing one tribal group against another as a strategy for holding power. The shadow of Iraq looms, as well as the similar governing arrangement in Syria, where a sense of unity and purpose was considered a threat by the dictators that ruled then.

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Libyan fighter stands bemused in one of Gaddafi's luxury palaces

Islamic extremist violence continues.
In Nigeria, a bombing damages a UN office with over 21 dead, and in Iraq, another Sunni mosque torn apart with the loss of life nearly 30, this by a suicide bomber. At the same time, the US announced the killing of al-Qaeda's new number two man in Pakistan. It seems those names are less and less significant, however, as replacements step forward, and the bombings continue.

Smoke pours from a UN building in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city. The bombing was claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamic sect with possible links to Al Qaeda’s affiliates in the region.

UN vehicles destroyed in the blast

And let's not forget the East Africa famine. While Irene seemed to be the newest event to cover, and one especially easy and inexpensive to pontificate on, the seemingly forgotten story in Somalia with spillovers into Kenya and Ethiopia remains. The UN and humanitarian agencies struggle to cope with the challenges of over-promised and under delivered aid funds, as well as the complications of delivering food into a country torn to shreds from violence and anarchy.

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Forgotten this week by the world media, human suffering in the Horn of Africa continues. Here a little one is laid to rest under the most basic of conditions

As Teatree was reminded this week, a quote from Helen Keller, ""although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." Here an unknown Somali transports an elderly woman

Singapore elects a new leader
But let's also end on a positive note - some countries continue to move forward, changing their leadership in peaceful ways, with blessings for their citizens who voted both for and against the winner. Dr Tony Tan has been voted Singapore's seventh President - a prosperous city state in Southern Asia.

One of the smallest nation states in the world, Singapore is situated along a major shipping route, and thus provides strategic and practical services for that activity

The modern Singapore skyline

71 year old Dr Tony Tan- with a very narrow win for the presidency under his belt (a split win with only 35% of the full vote) - said some of the ways he would reach out to Singaporeans include attending events, organising tea sessions and engaging Internet users via social media. Describing the result as "decisive", he added: "We should look forward to see what we can do rather than look backwards as to the narrow victory, the votes for the other candidates and for myself."

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