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Showing posts from December 18, 2012

Kim Jong-un: North Korean dictator and Time readers' person of the year

How did the baby-faced leader of the pariah state win? Blame it on online messageboard 4Chan
Supremely popular? Kim Jong-un. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images Age: 29. Probably. Appearance: Kim Jong Deux. As in the leader of North Korea? No, as in the Supreme Leader of North Korea. Is there a difference? Of course. A Supreme Leader is better than a normal leader. Do we have any evidence for that? We do now. Kim Jong-un was just voted Time magazine readers' person of the year. Seems legit. Was it close? Not even slightly. He beat the second most popular candidate, US satirist Jon Stewart, by more than three million votes. Seems less legit. What happened? Users of online messageboard 4Chan hijacked the poll and sent Kim Jong-un, as he would put it, "onwards toward the final victory". How come they were able to vote for him at all? He was one of 40 possible candidates put forward by Time's editors. Why exactly? Maybe because he had already been voted the sexiest man alive. Really? Well…

US to 'increase pressure' on N Korea

The US has said that North Korea's rocket launch in defiance of a UN ban has left no option but to increase pressure on Pyongyang.  North Korea was also condemned on Sunday by South Korea and Japan for launching the satellite last week, while some officials feared it was a veiled test for a long-range ballistic missile.   The criticism on Sunday comes as a US scientist said that the satellite appears to not be functioning properly. North Korea had succeeded on Wednesday in putting an object into orbit that the communist state said was observing the earth and airing patriotic songs. "What's left to us is to continue to increase pressure on the North Korean regime and we are looking at how to best to do that, both bilaterally and with our partners going forward until they (North Korea) get the message. We are going to further isolate this regime,'' Victoria Noland, a US state department spokeswoman, said on Monday. The US and its allies are pushing for tighter sanctions …

Syrian forces surround Palestinian camp

Middle East Syrian forces surround Palestinian camp Troops stationed outside Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus day after air raid killed eight people there. Last Modified: 17 Dec 2012 20:06 Syrian troops have surrounded a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus a day after air raids killed at least eight people sheltering in a mosque there. Many residents on Monday fled the area amid clashes between Palestinian factions loyal to and opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rasim Abu Thawra, an activist who lives close to Yarmouk, told Al Jazeera that the neighbourhood has been bombarded again on Monday. "Hundreds of families had the opportunity to escape the camp this morning," he said. "They headed to different destinations. Some of them have relatives outside the camp so they can take shelter there. Others went to mosques in neighbouring areas like al-Midan and al-Zahira." Hundreds of Palestinians also crossed into Lebanon. The attack on the Yarmouk refugee camp comes …

EUROPE COMPASS WEEKLY UPDATE DECEMBER 17, 2012

Solidarity summit
The European Council agreed on December 14 to establish a single supervisory mechanism (SSM) for the banking system within the euro-area. The first sentence of its conclusions explains that this outcome reflects the desire for "deeper integration and reinforced solidarity". Many observers will regard that statement as ironic. The results of the summit were less than was anticipated when the European Council met last June. Instead of offering a fully fledged set of legislative proposals for banking supervision, resolution and deposit insurance, it only seemed to sketch the broad principles for just one of these three pillars of a European banking union. Indeed, the conclusions provide little details on how SSM will work, beyond insisting that it should be "effective".
Space for backsliding
This qualification is important, because the June 29 Euro-Area Summit Statement provides for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to inject capital directly into …