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U.S. could start energy war with Russia – Winnipeg Free Press

U.S. could start energy war with Russia – Winnipeg Free Press.

By: Washington Post

Posted: 03/23/2014 1:41 PM |

A woman holds a banner that reads:

Enlarge Image

A woman holds a banner that reads: “Putin is Occupier” during a rally against the breakup of the country in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (DARKO VOJINOVIC / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES)

Debate has raged over whether the United States can fight Vladimir Putin on the Russian president’s most favourable ground: energy politics. It can, and it should, particularly because there’s an obvious path forward that coincides with American — indeed, world — economic interests. That path is lifting irrational restrictions on exports and making it easier to build natural gas export terminals.

For years, Putin has used his nation’s wealth of oil and natural gas as a cudgel to bully his neighbours. At present, the European Union’s large imports of Russian natural gas discourage a forceful Western response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the United States is tapping massive reserves of unconventional natural gas. That has not only made the U.S. self-sustaining in gas, but also driven down the price of U.S. gas to a point well below what Europeans are paying for the Russian stuff. If the federal government allowed more of it to be liquefied and exported, would the Russians lose a share of the European market?

The story is more complicated than that. Russian gas, which doesn’t need to be liquefied to move (by pipeline) into the European market, would enjoy significant price advantages over imported U.S. gas. The interaction of private buyers and sellers would probably direct U.S. exports to places where gas is more profitable to sell, such as Japan and Korea. The result would be a bounty for the U.S. economy and an improved American trade deficit — but not much direct displacement of Russian gas in Europe.

But that’s also not the end of the story. The U.S. entry into the Asian market would diminish Russia’s opportunity to profit there, as it aims to do. Contributing to an already widening and more diverse global supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would also give European importers more flexibility in sourcing their fuel — from the United States, Qatar, or others — the sort of market conditions that have already enabled Europeans to renegotiate gas contracts with Russia. The Council on Foreign Relations’ Michael Levi points out that Putin might end up with an uncomfortable choice between maintaining market share in Europe and slashing his prices more.

Ramping up U.S. exports would take years, but the effects would not only be long-term, as some critics charge. Action that communicates a certain intent to allow more LNG exports would send a signal that “the U.S. is open for business,” as the Eurasia Group’s Leslie Palti-Guzman puts it. That could deter Putin from playing the energy card and help many buyers in negotiating long-term contracts.

The economic case for allowing natural gas exports is compelling on its own. Doing so would bring money into the country and uphold the vital principle that energy resources should flow freely around the globe, making the markets for the fuels the world economy needs as flexible and robust as possible. The more major suppliers there are following that principle, the less control predatory regimes such as Putin’s will have over the market.

South Korean, European Trade Deals Prove Harper Can Land The Big One

South Korean, European Trade Deals Prove Harper Can Land The Big One.

OTTAWA – No one will ever again accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his trade minister of not being able to land the big one.

After years of hooking minnows like Honduras, Panama and Jordan, Ottawa has now not only concluded talks with the world’s biggest economy — the European Union — but also with South Korea and, in doing so, opened the door to the world’s most promising market.

The double-coup will certainly become a bragging point for the prime minister in next year’s expected election campaign — before the impacts of the deals, both good and bad, are felt in the economy.

The prime minister has placed expanding trade, along with balancing the budget, at the top of the government’s economic action agenda and the Conservatives will likely be able to claim progress on both fronts by the fall of 2015.

The agreements also put the opposition — particularly the left-leaning New Democrats — in the unenviable position of either having to cheer “me too” or risk continuing to be portrayed as ideologically set against free trade, rather than a particular deal.

In an interview and news release, NDP trade critic Don Davies reserved judgment until the text of the South Korea deal is released, but blasted the government for an “utter lack of transparency,” and warned about possible damage to jobs in the auto sector.

The reaction from Liberal critic Chrystia Freeland was somewhat more positive, saying the party was “broadly supportive” but will need time to review the details.

Analysts say the South Korea deal, although it is far smaller in scope that the European agreement in principle, has the potential of being transformative in Canada’s dealings with what is becoming the world’s most important and biggest economic regions.

By way of comparison, Ottawa estimates free trade with Europe will expand Canada’s gross domestic product output by $12 billion once fully implemented, as opposed to only $1.7 billion in the case of Korea.

But Ian Lee, of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, says Korea’s significance is strategic.

“Now we’re in the major league,” he says. “I see South Korea not so much about the actual dollars of trade that’s involved, but it provides a beachhead into Asia and the Asian-Pacific countries that watch each other like a hawk. So it’s a very important precedent in what I believe is the most important part of the world.”

Next on the menu for Harper and Trade Minister Ed Fast are Japan, India and the biggest prize – the TransPacific Partnership, which includes many of the region’s key economies.

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada president Yuen Pau Woo agrees Korea represents a “breakthrough” in the region that has resisted Canada’s entreaties for years.

“I think it will have a demonstrable effect on our Japan bilateral negotiations because Korea and Japan compete in our market in a number of sectors (particularly autos) and the Korea deal gives it an advantage over Japanese exporters,” he explained.

Economically, trade deals don’t show their true colours until years have passed.

Most economists and business leaders believe the removal of artificial barriers is a general good for a country’s well being, as it forces domestic producers to become more efficient and competitive, while offering consumers lower prices and a wider variety of goods.

Labour groups, however, argue that the theory works only when the playing field is level. In most cases, they see free trade agreements merely resulting in jobs gravitating to low-wage jurisdictions in a classic race to the bottom.

Ford Canada chief executive Dianne Craig’s chief argument in opposing the South Korea deal is not that the Canadian auto sector can’t cope with the removal of a 6.1 per cent tariff on overseas cars, but that South Korea is not a fair player in terms of trade in autos. The deal will allow South Korea to sell more cars in Canada, she believes, while deploying non-tariff barriers to keep Canadian-assembled cars out Korea.

Still the agreement is supported by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which includes Ford Canada and other motor companies as members.

CCCE president John Manley says Ford’s concern has the benefit of putting the government to the test, to ensure Korea does not thwart car imports.

The bigger game, however, is that Canada is positioning itself for the economy of the 21st century that will be dominated by the Asia-Pacific market.

“It’s not enough on it’s own, but it’s consistent with a broader strategy to build better trade links, including supply chains into Asia,” said Manley. “Canada is a small open economy and most of our sectors rely on the ability to export.”

As with the Canada-EU agreement, however, the Korean pact does not guarantee that Canadian firms will be successful in expanding exports and investments.

Toronto-based trade counsel Lawrence Herman says the deal, like all others, should be looked at as a “vehicle” that gives Canadian exporters in goods and services an opportunity, but does not mean they will succeed in seizing it.

He expects they will but also says he is confident that Canadian negotiators have given firms the best deal on offer.

“Canada has some of the best trade negotiators in the world, people don’t realize that,” he said. “They are not going to leave anything on the table.”

Canada-South Korea Free Trade Deal Imminent: Sources

Canada-South Korea Free Trade Deal Imminent: Sources.

canada free trade

CP
Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a bilateral meeting with South Korea President Park Geun-hye during the APEC summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Monday, October 7, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – The Harper government is set to sign a long-sought trade deal with South Korea early next week, despite entrenched opposition by some in Ontario’s critically important auto sector, sources close to the talks say.

Preparations are underway for a signing ceremony in Seoul early next week, ending nearly 10 years of on-and-off talks that one of Canada’s biggest industries has long prevented from reaching the finish line.

Cracks began to appear in the Canadian auto industry’s united front last month when the association representing Japan’s automakers in Canada came out largely in favour of a deal, saying it would complement the agreement signed in the fall with the European Union and ease talks with Japan.

Another impetus was introduced when Korea was able to successfully complete deals with Canada’s two largest trading partners, the United States and the European Union, leaving Canada out in the cold.

Government officials in Ottawa refused to confirm the agreement Thursday.

The deal, coming on the heels of an historic pact with the EU, will go a long way towards cementing the Harper government’s expansionist trade agenda, and its stated goal that it wants to be a serious economic player in Asia.

Still, significant opposition remains. Ford of Canada chief executive Dianne Craig recently called the 2012 Korea-U.S. agreement a “disaster” for the sector — even though Ford, along with the General Motors and Chrysler, initially supported the pact.

At issue for Canada is a 6.1 per cent tariff on car imports. Critics fear once it’s removed, it will further skew the automotive playing field between the two countries, with Korean-made brands Hyundai and Kia selling about 90,000 units in Canada annually in direct competition with Canadian-assembled vehicles. Korea also assembles autos in the U.S., which it exports into Canada duty free.

Ontario’s economic development minister, Eric Hoskins, said Korea out-exports Canada 50 to one in autos. Hoskins said nothing he has heard from Ottawa so far has eased his concern that Canada’s automakers won’t be even more outgunned once tariffs are removed.

“We want a free-trade agreement that’s good for all sectors, but on autos particularly it’s disadvantageous,” he said. “I haven’t been given information to suggest that the improvements that we’ve asked for have been addressed.”

In particular, Ontario and the industry has asked for a slower phase-out of tariffs and a “snap-back” provision allowing Canada to re-impose tariffs if there’s evidence Korea is not meeting its obligations.

With the deal, Canada hopes to arrest the deterioration in exports to Korea since the U.S. agreement went into effect, particularly in the agricultural sector.

But Jim Stanford, chief economist with the Unifor union, which represents Canadian auto workers, says in effect Canada has traded off “billions of dollars” in the auto sector to win over “tens of millions” in more pork and beef exports.

“It’s a trade of cars for pigs and cows,” he said. “The government is willing to sacrifice autos, which is by far the largest trade item with Korea, in order to make some gains in agriculture and that’s all about the government’s political base in the West.”

Rudy Husny, a spokesman for Trade Minister Ed Fast, said Canadian exports to South Korea had fallen by $1.5 billion — or about 30 per cent — since the U.S. agreement went into effect.

“We will only sign an agreement that’s in the best interest of hardworking Canadians including though the elimination of Korean tariffs and creation of effective tools to counter non-tariff barriers to trade,” Husny said via email.

The data is not clear cut, however. According to U.S. trade numbers analyzed by Washington-based Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, the U.S. has also seen the monthly average of exports to Korea fall 10 per cent from prior to the deal. The U.S. Department of Commerce, however, has noted that Ford has increased its export of vehicles into Korea since the deal.

Aside from the auto sector, most business groups in Canada will welcome the breakthrough, particularly if it is the first step to greater economic penetration into the fast-growing economies of Asia.

“Undoubtedly the Canadian-based auto assemblers are concerned, as they rightly should be, but you can’t make trade policy based on only one sector,” said John Manley, who is head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the country’s most influential business lobby group.

“It’s important from an offensive point of view, but it’s also important defensively because, frankly, the United States got in first and they have been methodically taking market share from Canadian producers.”

An agreement will be particularly welcomed by the Canadian agricultural sector, which has complained that Korea’s agreements with other nations has put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Gary Stordy of the Canadian Pork Council said it’s been a straight line down for pork shipments since the Korea-U.S. deal of about two years ago, with exports falling to about $70 million in 2013 from $223 million in 2011.

South Korea is currently Canada’s seventh largest merchandise trading partner and third largest in Asia after China and Japan. But the relationship has been decidedly one-sided, with Korea exports totalling $6.3 billion in 2012 while Canadian shipments totalled $3.7 billion.

N Korea test-fires two short-range missiles – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

N Korea test-fires two short-range missiles – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Seoul says missiles launched from Wonsan likely flew about 500km towards open sea in a northeasterly direction.

Last updated: 03 Mar 2014 04:02

North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s defence ministry has said, after launching similar rockets last week.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the missiles likely flew about 500km after being launched on Monday, adding that they were believed to be Scud-C models.

South Korea’s defence ministry has said the Scuds are normally fired using mobile launch pads which can be activated with minimal preparation.

“North Korea fired two missiles, which are suspected as short-range ballistic missiles, at 6:19 this morning from Wonsan area towards open sea in a northeasterly direction.” South Korea’s Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at a regular news briefing.

“North Korea is taking peace offensive and provocative acts at the same time. We strictly warn against such acts and strongly urge to stop them immediately.”

The distance would mean the weapon can hit targets in South Korea and Japan.

Launches by the North of short-range missiles are not uncommon as part of regular military exercises.

The firing came days after the beginning of annual US and South Korean joint military exercises, which the North routinely denounces as a preparation for war.

Uranium mine troubles Native American groups – Features – Al Jazeera English

Uranium mine troubles Native American groups – Features – Al Jazeera English.

The project would be built on a mountain considered sacred by Navajos and Pueblos in New Mexico.

 Last updated: 09 Feb 2014 13:14

Mounds of radioactive waste dot the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation in the US state of New Mexico. The earthen monoliths contain contaminated material from the more than 250 abandoned uranium minesthat once provided the raw materials for the US nuclear complex.

As the Cold War ended, so did the demand for uranium. Yet growing international investment in nuclear energy has led to the prospect of renewed uranium mining in New Mexico, including the controversial newRoca Honda mine located on Mount Taylor, an area considered sacred by the Navajo and Pueblopeoples of the southwestern United States.

“If developed, Roca Honda will be a huge underground mine with tremendous impacts,” said environmental attorney Eric Jantz. “This mine could destroy people’s water, land, their places of worship – all for the purposes of funnelling profits to a Canadian company that is in turn selling it to Korea.”

The Roca Honda project, operated by Energy Fuels, is one of four proposed New Mexico uranium mines in the permitting stage, said Jon J Indall, an attorney representing the four mining companies ready to begin operations in the coming years. “The market is a bit sluggish now, but these operations are poised to catch the next upswing.”

The prospect of renewed uranium development has triggered a contentious debate in New Mexico, a state still reeling from the radioactive contamination caused by uranium mining and the economic decline that followed the exit of the industry from the country’s third-poorest state.

“These four projects have the potential to provide 1,000 jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue,” Indall told Al Jazeera. “This, all for a state whose economy is not exactly booming.”

Navajo opposition

But many from the Navajo Nation vehemently oppose the return of an industry that left hundreds of abandoned and un-reclaimed mines, mill sites and waste piles on indigenous lands. These continue to contaminate water, soil, livestock and housing, causing heath problems for an impoverished and historically marginalised native community.

Larry King, a former miner and member of the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), said: “People still talk about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Church Rock, where I am from, had the largest radioactive accident in US history, and 19 abandoned mines that remain today, [are] poisoning our community. But no one talks about this, they talk about new mining instead.” 

Oh God yes, this economy needs [uranium mining] bad! Things have changed… I think a lack of education has people still thinking uranium mining is dangerous.

– Jack Farley, miner

Beginning in the 1950s, thousands of Native Americans like King found work in New Mexico’s uranium mines. They were often poorly paid, unprotected and uninformed about the dangers of uranium dust inhalation and chronic radiation exposure.

Nadine Padilla, the director of the MASE coalition, an organisation formed in 2008 by communities affected by mining, spoke to Al Jazeera about what she said were the health effects caused by the mining. “Every day I see people with kidney disease, respiratory problems, and many women fighting various forms of cancer. People still live in houses made with radioactive material from the mills… Baca, where my family is from, has one of the most polluted groundwater systems in the state.”

But others from the region welcome the return of the industry. When asked about his thoughts on new uranium mining projects, Jack Farley, who has worked as a miner for 28 years, exclaimed, “Oh God yes, this economy needs it bad! Things have changed. When I worked there were no laws. I worked 500-1,000 working levels of radiation – that’s 999 times what is allowed now. But I think a lack of education has people still thinking uranium mining is dangerous.”

Health and controversy

The harmful effects of exposure to radon, a radioactive gas often found in uranium mines, are well-known. Yet an absence of health studies or environmental monitoring have led to a poor understanding of the effects of the uranium legacy on the Navajo Nation.

“Part of the reason is that these are marginalised communities, low income, communities of colour, indigenous communities,” said Jantz. “They don’t have the political power or the resources it takes to get the federal government or state government to do the basic science behind the health costs of uranium mining.”

The Church Rock Uranium Monitoring Project (CRUMP) began in 2003 to assess the effects of the 1979 tailings dam failure, which released 1,100 tons of radioactive waste into the Puerco River, and other abandoned mines. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at the infamous Church Rock mine, “residents graze sheep, cattle and horses, and collect herbs around the area. Due to the proximity of the residents to the mine site, this mine was identified as the highest priority for cleanup by US EPA and Navajo Nation EPA of over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.”

King said, “Even before the ’79 spill, contamination from untreated mine watering would flow through our community. After the dam break, it only continued. Kids used to play in the wash, in the mine waste – there were no fences, no signs. I used to graze our sheep where the mines were.”

The CRUMP finding showed contamination of numerous wells and springs in the communities in and around Church Rock, as well as dangerous radon levels in homes made with contaminated materials – equivalent to a lifetime cancer risk of smoking one to two packs of cigarettes a day.

A more comprehensive health study, still under way, found that of the 1,300 people surveyed, “those people living closer to waste site were more likely to have hypertension, auto-immune disease, while people who had history of exposure during active mining had an additional likelihood of kidney disease”, as principal investigator Johnnye Lewis told Al Jazeera.

[Marginalised communities] don’t have the political power or the resources it takes to get the federal government or state government to do the basic science behind the health costs of uranium mining.

– Eric Jantz, environmental lawyer

In response to the contamination, the Navajo Nation enacted a moratorium on uranium mining in 2005, as well as a ban on transporting uranium across reservation land.

Now, the prospect of new mining projects has created a rift within the country’s largest Native American reservation, as certain chapters and officials have come out in support of new uranium projects.

A new bill sponsored by Navajo Council Delegate Leonard Tsotsi has allowed Uranium Resources, Inc to construct a “demonstration project” that would extract uranium ore in the Church Rock chapter. The legislation, seemingly at odds with the uranium ban, has been endorsed by chapter president Johnny Henrie as well as a number of other prominent Navajo officials. Henrie was unavailable for comment for this article.

Some, including Navajo activist Leona Morgan, assume foul play. “These are old tactics from the past, divide-and-conquer. Today, companies target families who have rights to lease their land, they target politicians and offer them something. Right now, everyone is wondering what Leonard Tsotsi and these pro-uranium families are getting.”

King, who lives just across the road from the proposed mine, agreed with Morgan’s assessment. “These men are supposed to protect the community. But you show them a little green, and that changes.”

Increased demand?

In the end, the prospect of new uranium mining will likely have less to do with the internal controversy than with global economic factors related to the growth of the nuclear energy industry.

According to a January 3 report by the World Nuclear Association, there are 435 operable reactors in the world right now, 71 reactors under construction, 172 planned, and another 312 have been proposed.

As Curtis Moore, the director of investor and public relations at Energy Fuels, told Al Jazeera, “There is clearly significant growth in the industry. We’re going to have to get the uranium from somewhere. There is certainly a probability some will come from New Mexico.”

The controversy over renewed mining is far from over, but Curtis believes it comes down to economy. “Uranium mining has gotten a bad rap in the past. But the bottom line is that these projects create jobs, they create tax revenues, they provide clean nuclear energy for the world.”

But King remains sceptical. “Clean has not been my experience.”

South Korea Quarantines Farms in Two Provinces on Bird Flu – Bloomberg

South Korea Quarantines Farms in Two Provinces on Bird Flu – Bloomberg.

South Korea banned the movement of people who work with poultry and products from two provinces after confirming an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 at farms in the country’s south.

Authorities have restricted movement in North Jeolla province, South Jeolla province and Gwangju Metropolitan City, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Seoul, for 48 hours until midnight Jan. 20, Lee Dong Phil, minister of the agriculture, food and rural affairs, told reporters today.

The ministry confirmed the first outbreak in Gochang, North Jeolla province on Jan. 17, and at a duck farm in nearby Buan county today, according to separate statements on the ministry’s website. South Korea has culled 90,000 birds at six farms within a 500-meter radius, the ministry said today.

“It was inevitable to announce a stand-still in order to prevent further damage,” Lee said. “We ask all to comply thoroughly with the stand-still instructions.”

South Korea is the world’s third-biggest buyer of corn, used in food, livestock feed and biofuel. The country destroyed 6.5 million chickens and ducks in the previous outbreak spanning December 2010 through May 2011, according to government data.

Shares of Harim Holdings Co. (024660), which manufactures packaged chicken through its subsidiaries, fell 6.4 percent, the most since June, to close at 4,500 won on Jan. 17 in Seoul. The benchmark Kospi stock index declined 0.7 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Rose Kim in Seoul at rkim76@bloomberg.net; Sungwoo Park in Seoul at spark47@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stanley James at sjames8@bloomberg.net

US sends troops and tanks to South Korea – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

US sends troops and tanks to South Korea – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US stood united with South Korea against the North [AP]
The United States is to deploy more troops and heavy tanks in South Korea as part of a military rebalance at a time of raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Forty M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, 800 soldiers and 40 Bradley fighting vehicles from the 1st US Cavalry Division will be sent on deployment in February, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying that the new troops and materiel would be deployed in North Gyeonggi Province, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.

The deployment comes at a time of raised tensions on the peninsula after the North’s young leader, Kim Jong-Un, executed his powerful uncle last month, the biggest upheaval inside the ruling dynasty for years.

The North under Jong-Un has continued to develop nuclear weapons and test missiles in defiance of UN resolutions.

Commenting on the deployment, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said: “The United States and the Republic of Korea stand very firmly united, without an inch of daylight between us, not a sliver of daylight, on the subject of opposition to North Korea’s destabilising nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and proliferation activities.

Army Colonel Steve Warren said: “This addition is part of the rebalance to the Pacific. It’s been long planned and is part of our enduring commitment to security on the Korean peninsula.

“This gives the commanders in Korea an additional capacity: two companies of tanks, two companies of Bradleys.”

The US has 28,000 troops based in South Korea, which has remained technically at war with Communist North Korea since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended in stalemate.

A Pentagon spokesman said the additional equipment would be left behind after the nine-month deployment to be used by follow-on rotations of US forces.

Barack Obama, the US president, announced a strategic rebalancing of priorities toward the Pacific in late 2011 while winding down US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NK offers olive branch after holocaust threat – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

NK offers olive branch after holocaust threat – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

S Korea has rejected calls for an end to the mudslinging, saying it does not slander or threaten the North [AP]
North Korea has called on South Korea to end “all acts of provocation and slander”, a day after it warned of “an unimaginable holocaust” if the South carried out military exercises with the United States.

The National Defence Commission in Pyongyang adopted the conciliatory tone on Thursday in line with leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year speech about greater co-operation between the two countries.

In a statement posted on the official KCNA news agency, the NDC said: “We officially propose the South Korean authorities to take a practical measure of halting all acts of provoking and slandering the other side from January 30, a day before the Lunar New Year’s Day.”

But the olive branch was rejected by Seoul on Friday, with a government spokesman saying there was no intention of changing its behaviour or plans.

“We don’t slander North Korea so there is nothing for us to stop,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-Do said.

“Our military exercises are routine defensive drills, like those conducted by all sovereign states.”

The North has regularly denounced the annual drills staged by South Korea and US as preparation for invasion.

This year, Pyongyang said the exercises were dangerous and “may push the situation on the peninsula and the north-south ties to a catastrophe,” KCNA reported.

A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said in a statement: “They should clearly understand that the north-south ties will plunge into a deadlock and unimaginable holocaust and that disaster will follow should they go ahead with the nuclear war drills and make military provocation.”

Last year’s exercises were held in the wake of North Korea’s third and largest nuclear test, prompting months of heightened military tensions that saw Pyongyang issue apocalyptic threats of nuclear war against the South and the US.

Japan Calls China “Voldemort”, China Responds With “Darkest Devil” | Zero Hedge

Japan Calls China “Voldemort”, China Responds With “Darkest Devil” | Zero Hedge.

The war of words (and deeds) is once again escalating between China and Japan. As we detailed last night, this has been a long time coming and as Reuters reports today took a further turn for the worse. In an op-ed in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, wrote last week: “If militarism is like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation’s soul.” Liu’s commentary was followed by another published on Sunday by his Japanese counterpart, Keiichi Hayashi, in the same newspaper, headlined: “China risks becoming Asia’s Voldemort“. As was noted, “Five thousand years of traditional virtues have been turned into this?”

Via Reuters,

China lambasted Japan on Tuesday for comparing it to Lord Voldemort, the villain in the Harry Potter stories, after both countries used the character to describe each other in a tit-for-tat diplomatic spat.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s December 26 visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals are enshrined along with other war dead, infuriated China and South Korea and prompted concern from the United States, a key ally.

Both China and Korea suffered under brutal Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied in the 1930s and Korea colonized from 1910 to 1945.

In an op-ed in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, wrote last week: “If militarism is like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation’s soul.”

Liu’s commentary was followed by another published on Sunday by his Japanese counterpart, Keiichi Hayashi, in the same newspaper, headlined: “China risks becoming Asia’s Voldemort”.

“I would like to point out that, to Asia and countries in other regions of the world, militaristic invasion is the darkest devil in the history of Japan,” Hua said at a daily news briefing, according to a transcript posted on the foreign ministry’s website.

the People’s Daily, said the “Sino-Japanese war of public opinion is facing an escalation on all fronts“.

“We need to make our demands simple and clear, that is, the Japanese prime minister cannot visit the war criminals in Yasukuni because it is equivalent to paying homage to criminals like Hitler and Goebbels,” the newspaper said, referring to the leaders of Nazi Germany.

Five thousand years of traditional virtues have been turned into this?” wrote another microblogger.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : World Danger Spots for 2014

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : World Danger Spots for 2014.

written by eric margolis
Kiev Nov

Where are the world’s most dangerous places in 2014?

*Mostly forgotten, but the highly dangerous, Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir. Rebellion against Indian rule by Kashmir’s majority Muslims is again boiling. Over 1.6 million Indian and Pakistani troops, backed by nuclear weapons, are in confrontation. Skirmishing along Kashmir’s Line of Control is frequent. The nuclear strike forces of both India and Pakistan are on a perilous hair-trigger alert, with about three minutes warning of an enemy attack.

A false warning of incoming missiles or aircraft, a border clash, or a massive offensive by India exasperated by guerilla attacks from Pakistan could set off a war that could kill millions and pollute the entire planet with radioactive dust. India and Pakistan aside, hardly anyone even thinks about beautiful, remote, perilous Kashmir.

*Korea’s Demilitarized Zone, the world’s second most dangerous place where 1.5 million North and South Korean troops, and 28,000 Americans, face off. Tension crackles along the DMZ. Some 11,000 N Korean guns and rockets are targeted on South Korea’s capitol, Seoul. The North is believed to have 4-6 crude nuclear devices that could hit S Korea or Japan.

In December, North Korea’s new ruler, Kim Jong-un, had his powerful uncle arrested and shot. This was another sign of the Pyongyang regime’s instability, and dangerously erratic behavior by youthful hothead leader, Kim Jong-un. War could erupt anytime along the DMZ. Just as likely, North Korea could collapse, sending 25 million starving northerners to seek refuge in South Korea, something that Seoul dreads.

*The dear old Mideast. Syria may continue disintegrating into warring mini-states. The US, Saudi, Israel, and Turkey sparked the uprising against Syrian ruler Bashar Assad to punish Iran, causing millions of refugees to flood the region. This after the US invasion of Iraq caused 3 million refugees. Iran and Saudi Arabia (backed by secret ally Israel) will fight over Syria’s bleeding body as this once lovely country is relentlessly destroyed. Yemen will continue to burn.

Intense efforts are underway by American neocons and their hired hands in Congress to get the US to attack Iran, or at least force the US to go to war against Iran if Israel initiates a conflict. Meanwhile, Israel is gearing up for another invasion of Lebanon aimed at destroying Hezbollah, and it may intervene directly in Syria. Egypt, now ruled by a fascist military junta, is working hand in glove with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The so-called Israel-Palestinian peace agreement is a very bad joke, a Mideast Kabuki dance in which no one believes.

*East Africa – A new cauldron of trouble. Efforts by Washington to forge a US-led African protectorate of South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia – dominated by close US ally Ethiopia – have run into trouble. All are dictatorships that are rent by tribal, ethnic and regional problems.

Watch the new US Africa Command get drawn ever deeper into East, Central and North Africa, all regions, by no coincidence, with oil.

*China Sea – China has blundered into open confrontation with Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines over its claims to islets in the East China Sea. This has caused the US to beef up its Pacific forces and alliances. Japanese and Chinese warplanes and ships play a daily game of chicken around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. China’s aggressive stance is causing Japan to increase military spending and may, along with North Korean threats, cause Japan to deploy nuclear weapons – which it can produce in only 90 days.

Chinese, usually deft, cautious diplomats, have alarmed much of East Asia for no good purpose. China’s government has been foolishly fanning the flames of nationalism among young people. All this resonates with the same type of idiotic, primitive behavior that unleashed World War I. The clock is ticking down rapidly.

*Strife-torn Ukraine is another powder keg. Its western half wants to join Europe; the Russian-speaking eastern half wants to reunite with Russia. The West is busy stirring the pot in Kiev. Moscow is furious and sees nefarious western plots to begin tearing apart the Russian Federation, which is beset by rebellion in the Caucasus. All this threatens a clash between Russia and NATO. Diplomacy, not subversion, is urgently needed.

Flickr/Oxlaey.com

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