Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fidel's Humanism Emphasized on 40th Anniversary of His Visit to Angola
The Comandante made his first trip to Angola March 23-27, 1977

Roberto Hernández | internet@granma.cu
March 24, 2017 09:03:29

Fidel, during his visit to Angola, in the company of Angolan President Agosthino Neto (right) and Celia Sánchez Manduley (background left). Photo: Joaquin Viñas

LUANDA.–Angolans and Cubans emphasized the humanism of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, during a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of his first trip to Angola, March 23-27, 1977.

"I would like to thank him for the support he gave us, which permitted us to be here in this room today," said General Antonio dos Santos Franza, who traveled to Cuba in 1962 to study agronomy and met Fidel during his talks with students at the University of Havana.

Fidel Castro changed history for the better, he left his mark on history during his life, Santos said.

With his internationalist spirit, Fidel filled us with dignity and made Cubans known throughout the world, Anibal de Melo said during an event in the city's Press Center, attended by Gisela García Rivera, Cuba's ambassador here and other members of the diplomatic corps.

Angolan ambassador in Argentina, Erminio Escorcio, who was protocol director for the Foreign Ministry in 1977, recalled Fidel's historic visit as very moving, while General Roberto Leal Ramos Monteiro, who served on the security commission at the time, commented on the challenge involved in ensuring Fidel's safety as he wanted to see and touch everything.

Lucia Ingles, secretary general of the Organization of Angolan Women and in charge of Presidential communications in 1977, said the visit was a time of great joy since Fidel was such an exemplary humanist.

"Thanks to Cubans, we have achieved what we have today. I have been to Cuba some 10 times, and I am Cuban, as well," she insisted.
The “Grandmother” of All Delegates in Cuba
María Cristina Sotomayor, a founder of the first People’s Power bodies established in Cuba, inspires in her constituents the idea that any difficulty can be overcome with the participation of all

Ventura de Jesús | ventura@granma.cu
March 23, 2017 12:03:55

María Cristina Sotomayor, founder of the first People’s Power bodies established in Cuba. Photo: Ventura de Jesús García

JOVELLANOS.– María Cristina Sotomayor, a founder of the first People’s Power bodies established in Cuba, inspires in her constituents the idea that any difficulty can be overcome with the participation of all. If we’re all here and speak the same language, those of us that together make up the neighborhood, can achieve a great deal, she states.

As such María will participate in the fourth round of accountability reports by delegates to constituents for this mandate, with no regrets but rather the sole purpose of defending the interests of the population.

Thanks to her knack for dealing with people, and above all her tenacity, María has served as delegate to her home constituency of Jovellanos for the last 43 years, proof of her tireless efforts which have earned her all manner of praise.

Having served for 43 years as a delegate, María Cristina Sotomayor - a woman with a kind countenance who meets any challenge head on - is considered to have set a rare record.

How have you assumed this responsibility for so many years?

In reality, it hasn’t been at all easy. My reward is the trust my constituents put in me. I think it’s the greatest prize for the work we do, and it motivates me to continue working harder. In regards to the rest, well, you have to have a great deal of patience.

Sometimes misunderstandings with officials or constituents lead to clashes. In that case you have to reflect calmly so as to give a just and adequate response. I always try to explain in the clearest way possible what we have done and what remains to be done. I take care to plan meetings well and know which path to take. Oh! And when there’s no immediate solution to the problem I discuss it sufficiently and always honestly.

How do you manage to do everything and what role does your family play?

I try to work wonders planning my time. Family support is essential, and so is that of my closest neighbors and work colleagues. None of what I do would be possible without their understanding and help.

How much more of an impact can the work of delegates have?

During the early years of the People’s Power bodies the role of the delegate was highly respected, and all the organization and state entities willingly collaborated to solve the population’s problems.

The way I see it, this support has diminished. Sometimes an old problem, which we have been working on for years and years, persisting but to no avail, suddenly gets resolved because someone higher up gets involved or because the issue gets reported in the press. We know that times have changed, but greater coherence in this regard is necessary.

What impact did the experience in Matanzas in 1974 have on the Cuban political system?

Its contribution was undeniable. It showed the importance of people’s power and that the masses are capable of solving many of their problems. It also showed that it is necessary to respect and be able to count on the community.

What is your constituency’s longest standing issue?

The problem of waste disposal and waterproofing buildings.

Do local government authorities support your work?

In general a representative always attends meetings, but sometimes he or she doesn’t have the power to make decisions. They usually participate in constituency assemblies or at the very least walk around the neighborhood to talk and listen to people.

Talk to us about youth participation…

A good part of the young people respond when we call on them to participate in some task or other, but we have to keep encouraging them so that they understand the importance of their contribution. We cannot tire. At the end of the day, this cardinal figure of the delegate within the Cuban political system is also that of an educator.

With a degree in Philosophy and founder of the People’s Power bodies in Matanzas, María Cristina stresses that despite various difficulties, this immense work has made her a better and more revolutionary person.

How do you keep motivated, improve yourself?

My profession helps me a bit. Teachers must be creative in their classes; each one must be different from the other. Life is very dynamic and different things are needed at different times. Your connection with your constituents is the essence of everything. The unity between delegates and their constituents is a strategic force with which to face any challenge. The most important thing is to remain united around the Revolution, as Fidel taught us. 
Cuba and Vietnam Strengthen Bilateral Ties
Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba, Leopoldo Cintra Frías, is currently visiting Vietnam

Prensa Latina(PL) | internet@granma.cu
March 24, 2017 12:03:46

Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba, Leopoldo Cintra Frías was received by Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Photo: VOV Photo: Granma

Hanoi.— Cuba and Vietnam agreed to strengthen their longstanding ties of friendship and cooperation, specifically in the sphere of defense, as part of Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba, Leopoldo Cintra Frías’ visit to the Asian nation.

On receiving the FAR Minister, Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam stated that Cintra Frías’ visit “will contribute to strengthening the exemplary bilateral relations,” between the two countries.

Phu Trong spoke about the historic ties between the two parties, peoples and states, and above all both nations’ armed forces, according to official reports of talks.

During the meeting with Cintra Frías, also a member of the Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau, Nguyen Phu Trong thanked the island for its support and expressed his desire to see both armies continually strengthened in order to meet the expectations of their organizations and peoples, as well as fight for the independence and liberty of their homelands and socialism, reported PL.

Meanwhile, the Cuban official highlighted that progress being made by Vietnam in its Renovation process (Doi Moi) represents a stimulus and example for Cuba, currently updating its socio-economic model.

He also mentioned the 2017-2019 military cooperation plan signed by the two nations, aimed at strengthening ties given the current regional and global context.

The document, signed by Cintra Frías and Vietnam’s Defense Minister, Ngo Xuan Lich, is focused on expanding exchanges across all levels; staff training; military medicine; anti-aerial and aerial defense; and cooperation between military entities, according to VNA.

Cintra Frías also met with President of Vietnam, Tran Dai Quang, who reaffirmed his country’s willingness to stand by Cuba in any situation and thanked the island for its support, both toward his country’s struggle for independence and current efforts to build and protect the nation.
Manipulation of Human Rights Continues
A recurring theme over these days has been human rights, giving rise to media manipulations, and involving individuals who, from centers of power or paid by them, are making a veritable feast with the issue…

Elson Concepción Pérez | internet@granma.cu
March 22, 2017 12:03:37

To date, Venezuela’s Great Housing Mission has built 1,505,028 homes for the country’s most vulnerable. Photo: TELESUR

A recurring theme over these days has been human rights, giving rise to media manipulations, and involving individuals who, from centers of power or paid by them, are making a veritable feast with the issue, for those wanting to impose their model on the world and others who, working as paid mercenaries, are used for that purpose.

Some, such as Luis Almagro, secretary general of the discredited Organization of American States (OAS), have targeted the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, seeking foreign intervention in the country. This could be due to the fact that the nation’s governments, first led by Chávez and subsequently Maduro, have developed social programs to guarantee the population their basic human rights, such as building and delivering over one million homes, free healthcare for all, eradicating illiteracy, or many other achievements which have been recognized both in and outside the country.

It could also be because of Venezuela’s solidarity efforts, primarily with Latin America and Caribbean nations, efforts the OAS and its secretary general have chosen to ignore.

In a move to put pressure on the country, Luis Almagro has requested that Venezuela be suspended from the OAS.

This begs the question: is leaving the OAS is a disgrace or an honor? I’d say the latter, as Cuba has shown.

For decades our country has been targeted by those who critique human rights from behind the bullet proof glass of a command post, in order to wage wars and kill millions of civilians, like in Iraq, or in pursuit of monetary gain by way of illegal arms dealing, causing the death of thousands of people, including U.S. adolescents and children in their own schools, recreation centers, and streets.

They have always used, and are doing so again, some mercenary, who for a couple of bucks would even dress up in white with the sole intention of creating a media circus by causing disturbances in order to later accuse local authorities of human rights violations.

Hence the recent attempt made from within the United States - which pays officials like Almagro extra - to put on a show with counter-revolutionary frills, with the “innocent” OAS secretary general leading the aggression which Cuba has never allowed and never will.

As such the Cuban government has stated that the OAS has always been one of Washington’s tools, a platform from which to launch attacks against Latin America and the Cuban Revolution.

In the same vein, the U.S. State Department draws up lists condemning nations, applying blockades, economic sanctions, and even authorizing military intervention.

It seems to me that the issue of human rights and democracy – from a U.S. perspective – are the most frequent and most damming, and almost always used to enable the powerful to impose their standards on poor nations, and above all, progressive governments.

Of course no one would ever cite what happened to Jesús Navarro as a human rights violation; denied a kidney transplant at the San Francisco University Hospital, in California, for being an undocumented immigrant.

According to a report at the time by newspaper La Opinión, Navarro had been waiting for the transplant for seven years. He worked for 15 years as a welder at Pacific Steel, before he lost his job after the company was audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, with 200 of its 600 workers laid off for being undocumented immigrants.

Family and friends of the patient were told by a hospital official that the transplant could not be performed even if they managed to raise the 200,000 dollars needed to pay for the procedure, because undocumented immigrants are not allowed to receive treatment.

In another case exposed by Europa Press, a dispatch from Washington states that a 14 year old African American boy was exonerated 70 years after his execution in South Carolina, when Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen ruled that he had not received a fair trial.

The boy in question, George Stinney Jr., was executed in 1944 and was so small that he had to sit on a telephone book to reach the headpiece of the electric chair, according to U.S. news agency NBC. Family members stated that the police interrogated the boy without his parents' presence, while it took a white jury less than 10 minutes to find him guilty. The defense attorney didn’t even appeal the conviction.

The words 'human rights' hid beneath them events such as that of a youngster gunning-down his classmates, or another forced to sell sperm on a New York street corner; or the fact that every night, hundreds of human beings sleep under bridges in cities across the United States, with no food or shelter.

None of these are human rights abuses, according to U.S. standards.

Such examples, which are daily occurrences in the richest country on the planet, are never seen, heard of or cited by a man like Almagro – who can read and speak English - and is therefore more than capable of learning more about the monster from inside its entrails, instead of seeking out alleged violations in countries where human rights are more than just simple words, or a tool used by the media for political purposes.

In Venezuela, just like in Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, and other nations the OAS and Washington want to control, human rights consist of guaranteeing the people health; education for all; promoting racial and gender equality; ensuring that every citizen has the right to employment; and that no one dies because they can’t afford an organ transplant; that families never have to mourn the loss of their children, killed in a school shooting…

Isn’t illegally detaining prisoners in the criminal Guantánamo base where they are savagely tortured, denied the right to a lawyer, and imprisoned without officially being charged for over 10 years, a human rights abuse?

What is the economic and financial blockade of Cuba, intended to starve an entire nation, if not a flagrant violation of human rights?

Here is a bit of advice: Almagro should start to read - in English and in Spanish – the true history of human rights and democracy in the U.S., where the OAS headquarters is based and where these continue to be a pending issue.

Perhaps those who question the validity of the OAS, and if is it worth spending so much money on maintaining this den at the service of the empire, have a point.
Ernesto Che Guevara: His Path to Making History in the Americas
A necessary historical, biographical, military atlas

Mireya Castañeda | internet@granma.cu
March 22, 2017 09:03:22

The Atlas histórico, biogra?fico y militar Ernesto Guevara, by authors Reinaldo Espinosa Goitizolo and Guillermo Grau Guardarrama.

THE figure of Ernesto Che Guevara awakens great passions and has become a symbol of universal appeal. One of his portraits, from the lens of Alberto Korda, is one the world's most reproduced images.

This year, the tragic date of October 9 seems even more piercing: 50 years since his assassination in La Higuera, Bolivia. Despite the dozens of books written about Che, the search for information leads inevitably to the Atlas histórico, biográfico y militar Ernesto Guevara, by authors Reinaldo Espinosa Goitizolo and Guillermo Grau Guardarrama, published in Havana, in 1990, by the Pueblo y Educación house, with the support of the Cuban Institute of Geodesy and Cartography.

It is practically a historic encyclopedia, a first volume in which a synthesis of his life and work can be found, beginning with his birth in Argentina, June 14, 1928, through 1956. The authors have reconstructed his life, without gathering eulogies, and have recovered every episode, every path followed.

It is a chronological story and geographical representation, including, as every atlas does, pages of information on the conventional symbols, scales, and abbreviations used in the maps and city plans it contains.

The authors take care to present brief explanations of the world and especially Argentina in the year 1928 - its government, economy, and population, in addition to curiosities, like those related to the technical revolution between 1900 and 1928, mentioning for example the caterpillar tractor, adrenalin, insulin, penicillin, and military tanks, in an appendix on the historical context of Che's early life, on pages 13-19.

The second chapter, on Ernesto's first years, opens on page 20 with maps portraying the Guevara-De la Serna family's extensive itinerary (at least 12 addresses), the first-born's birth certificate, family photos, and a map of the city of Rosario, with the house where they lived identified as 428 Entre Ríos street, along with the Central Municipal Hospital where he was born June 14, 1928.

 The authors are meticulous - something readers will appreciate - and include a reference to the city of San Isidro, where in 1930 Che suffered his first asthma attack, an ailment which would persist throughout his life and led to his family's long pilgrimage in search of an environment that would be better for his health.

Pages 26-29 address his childhood and adolescence in Rosario, Córdoba, Altagracia, and Buenos Aires.

Before continuing with young Ernesto's life, included is a parenthesis about WWII, information about the post-war era through 1956, in particular the significance of these world events for Latin America, with details about health and educational level per country, as well as the arrival of foreign capital.

Ernesto's first trip across Argentina on a Cucchiolo motorbike began in 1951, and included a visit to see his friend Alberto Granado in Córdoba. He continued northeast to the country's poorest provinces of Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy, Catamarca, and La Rioja, returning via San Juan, Mendoza, San Luis, and south to Nahuel Huapí. He traveled a total of 4,500 kilometers.

His journey with Granado (pages 46-73) included Chile, Peru (Cuzco, Macchu Pichu and Lima), Bogota and Caracas. The authors offer an aside about his stop in Lima where Ernesto took time to visit the National Library, to see an art exhibit entitled De Miguel Angel a Picasso.

The two finished this first tour of South America July 26, 1952, in Venezuela, and Ernesto returned to Buenos Aires via Miami. A year later, June 12, he graduated from medical school, and on July 7 began a second trip across the continent, on this occasion, with his childhood friend Carlos "Calica" Ferrer. Their goal was to reach Caracas, where Alberto Granado was waiting for them.

The authors entitled the chapter on this period (pages 74-89) "Ernesto al encuentro de Che." (Ernesto on discovering Che) He returned to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, and reached Panama and Costa Rica, where he first came into contact with Cuban revolutionaries who had participated in the assault on the Moncada Garrison in Santiago de Cuba, July 26, 1953, among them Calixto García, later meeting Antonio Ñico López in Guatemala.

After the coup to remove Jacobo Arbenz from the Presidency in this country, Ernesto traveled to Mexico, arriving September 21, 1954. In Mexico City, events moved rapidly. He married Hilda Gadea, his first daughter Hilda Beatriz was born, and he met the leader of the July 26 Movement, Fidel Castro, in the home of Cuban María Antonia González, at 49 Emparán Street.

The Atlas provides maps of the jail where Fidel, Guevara, and other Cuban revolutionaries were held; the sites where they trained for the guerilla war; and the Granma yacht's route from the port of Tuxpan, on the Gulf of Mexico, to Cuba.

To conclude, the authors have written a chapter entitled "Ernesto Che Guevara / aspectos personales" (personal aspects) with a graphic summary of his life (1930-1956); a Guevara-De la Serna family tree through 1956; extensive bibliographic notes; references; an index of significant names and sites; and a collection of photos.

The Atlas histórico, biográfico y militar Ernesto Guevara includes, as an obligatory item, the poem "Canto a Fidel," written by Che in 1956, upon their departure to Cuba. The first and last verses are translated here:

Let's go,

ardent prophet of the dawn,

along remote, unlighted paths

to free the green caiman you love so much…

And if along our way, iron should intervene,

we ask for a shroud of Cuban tears

to cover our guerrillero bones

in the journey of American history. Nothing more.

The visionary Guevara de la Serna. This next stage will have its own space.
Cuba and Bolivia Leaders in Female Parliamentary Representation
Bolivia and Cuba occupy second and third place respectively, in regards to the percentage of women parliamentarians, according to a Global Women in Politics Map released March 15, by UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

Prensa Latina(PL) | internet@granma.cu
March 16, 2017 09:03:17
Prensa Latina

The United Nations. Bolivia and Cuba occupy second and third place respectively, in regards to the percentage of women parliamentarians, according to a Global Women in Politics Map released March 15, by UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Women make up 53.1% (69 out of 130) of representatives in Bolivia’s parliament, and account for 48.9% (299 out of 612) in Cuba, only surpassed by Rwanda, with 61.3% (49 out of 80).

Nations with at least 40% female legislators also include; Nicaragua in fifth place with 45.7; Mexico in eight with 42.6; and Ecuador in eleventh with 41.6%.

According to the map presented by UN Women Executive Secretary Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Secretary General of the IPU, Martin Chungong, Micronesia, Qatar, Vanuatu and Yemen have no women parliamentarians.

Regionally, Nordic territories have the highest rate of female representatives (41.7%), followed by the Americas (28.1%) and Europe (26.3%), while Arab and Pacific states have the lowest: 18 and 17.4% respectively.

The map also details women’s representation in senior government positions.

In this sense, it shows that there are currently only 17 female heads of state, and 1,237 women ministers.

The document was presented on the second day of the 61st session of the Commission on the Legal and Social Status of Women, a two-weeks long event focused on female empowerment and gender equality
The CIA’s Secret Arsenal
Today’s is a world where your phone or even your TV can be used to spy on you

Sergio Alejandro Gómez | informacion@granma.cu
March 21, 2017 14:03:25

Many instant messaging systems encrypt data to offer more security to users, but the CIA is able to exploit vulnerabilities on phones to access the information before it is encrypted. Photo: AP
THE world is learning more everyday about the functioning and scope of U.S. espionage. While former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency's massive surveillance programs in 2013, the spotlight is now on the CIA, considered a state within the state, given its modus operandi and infamous independence.

According to the most recent documents released on Wikileaks, directed by Australian Julian Assange, the CIA runs a network of hackers charged with exploiting weaknesses in the security systems of the world's most widely-used digital devices, with the goal of gathering information and carrying out secret operations.

Under the title of “Year Zero,” Wikileaks published 8,761 documents and classified files, from the period 2013-2016, extracted from the CIA's high security network in Langley, Virginia.

According to Wikileaks, at the end of 2016, the CIA had some 5,000 experts working on cyber-intelligence, and produced more than a thousand hacking programs, cyber-weapons, and malware to gain access to computers, smart phones, and even Samsung televisions.

The agency lost control of a large part of this arsenal, which ended up in the hands of former government hackers and other private agents, in an “unauthorized” manner. It was one of these individuals who provided Wikileaks with the information recently published.

This is to be only the first installment of a series of more serious revelations from

what is known as “Vault 7,” which the website describes as the largest leak of confidential documents in history.

Assange, who has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, following the “Year Zero” revelations stated,"It is impossible to keep effective control of cyberweapons. If you build them, eventually you will lose them," and insisted that a debate on the political, legal, and forensic dimensions of the problem is in order.

MORE THAN TELEVISIONS

One of the most startling programs revealed included that to hack a Samsung smart TV - albeit a now discontinued model

The project named “One” used the microphone embedded in the screen as an electronic listening device, which could function even when the TV was turned off. The data recorded could be stored on the TV's hard drive and transmitted to CIA servers once the set was connected to the internet.


Older models of Samsung smart TVs are at the center of attention since the CIA has found ways to use them to record private conversations. Photo: Samsung
According to Wikileaks, the program was developed in collaboration with British intelligence services.

WEAPONS IN YOUR POCKET

The leaked documents confirm that cell phones are the intelligence agency's preferred targets. These devices have become part of the daily lives of millions and contain all sorts of sensitive information about their users.

The CIA's programs were directed for the most part toward taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the phones' operating systems, be they Google's Android or Apple's iOs.

When an operating system is hacked, any application can be controlled, regardless of the system used to protect data.

For the companies involved, who have repeatedly described their wares as the world's safest, the news about how their weaknesses had been exploited arrived like a bucket of cold water.

Apple insisted that the majority of the vulnerabilities involved had already been patched in the latest version of their operating system, used in the famed Iphone and Ipad. Samsung, their great South Korean rival and leader in Android telephones, simply stated, “Protecting consumers' privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority.”

ENCRYPTION

Another widely-used element of modern telecommunications, encrypted messaging services like Whatsapp, Signal and Telegram, also appear to be vulnerable.

The documents leaked show that the CIA has tools which can gain access to audio and text conversations conducted with these applications.

Experts have explained that the technique used does not involve breaking the codes used to encrypt messages, but rather takes advantage of the phone's vulnerabilities to access data before it is encrypted.

Open Whisper Systems, the company that developed the technology for the encrypted instant messaging app Signal, noted on Twitter that the documents published by Wikileaks show that hackers were able to introduce viruses into telephones, emphasizing,“The CIA / WikiLeaks story today is about getting malware into phones, none of the exploits are in Signal or break Signal Protocol encryption.”

OPERATING SYSTEMS TARGETED

The latest leaks showed that network computers, servers, and devices did not escape the attention of CIA hackers. Apple, Microsoft and Google were in trouble in 2013, when Snowden showed that the National Security Agency had access to their servers. It is now known that the CIA has ways to infect and control computers running on Windows operating systems. One such hacking tool with the codename “Hammer Drill” is designed to sabotage operating systems, and is spread via programs installed by CD or USB.

The Agency has also developed multi-platform weapons that are capable of exploiting vulnerabilities in computers running on MAC OS (Apple), Solaris and Linux.

SCIENCE FICTION

Although the latest news on electronic spying may appear to be nothing new, many believe that these Wikileaks revelations have opened a new era.

On the Teknautas website, Sergio de los Santos, Innovation and Labs Leader at ElevenPaths, commented, “What's interesting is that many of the things we thought were science fiction are really possible.”

It is now perfectly plausible that the control systems of new automatically driven vehicles could be accessed, in the opinion of De los Santos, and used as to commit crimes.

Another program, “Umbrage,” would be able to take control of and operate the aggressive technology of other countries or agencies, with the objective of camouflaging their own actions and confusing investigators.

Snowden himself, who is still being sought by the United States to be prosecuted for the 2013 leaks, criticized his country's intelligence methods on Twitter, commenting, “Imagine a world where the actual CIA spends its time figuring out how to spy on you through your TV. That's today.”
China Jan-Feb Industrial Profits Surge 32 Percent as Commodity Prices Rally
Reuters

Profits of Chinese industrial firms surged 31.5 percent in the first two months of 2017 from a year earlier as prices of commodities from coal to iron ore raced higher, while strong imports also pointed to a pick-up in activity.

Total profits over the first two months of the year were 1.01 trillion yuan ($147 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement on Monday.

The profit increase was mostly due to faster growth in prices of coal, steel and crude oil, He Ping, a statistics bureau official, said in a note accompanying the statement.

The pace of earnings growth picked up sharply from a 2.3 percent increase in December.

Industrial profits rose 8.5 percent in 2016, snapping back from a slight drop in 2015, largely due to a sharp increase in prices of coal as well as raw materials such as iron ore which were needed to help feed a construction boom.

China's economy got off to a strong start to 2017, supported by robust bank lending, a government infrastructure spree and a much-needed resurgence in private investment.

Industrial firms stand to benefit from fixed-asset investment that expanded more than expected in the first two months of the year, including a 27.3 percent increase in infrastructure spending.

Shares of infrastructure companies have shot to a near 15-month high in Shanghai.

But investors in China are being torn between data showing a resilient economy and fears that expected policy tightening, while gradual, will eventually lead to higher borrowing costs and stunt business activity.

Producer prices rose at the fastest pace since 2008 in February on the back of stronger demand and government-mandated cuts in excess capacity.

But most economists and even the statistics bureau believe producer price gains may soon start to slow.

Steel and iron ore futures prices in China posted their biggest weekly drop in three months last week as high inventories raised concerns that demand in China is not picking up as much as had been expected.

Liabilities of industrial firms rose 6.6 percent year-on-year as of end-February, according to the statistics bureau.

The statistics bureau gives combined figures for the first two months of each year to smooth out seasonal distortions caused by the long Lunar New Year holidays, when most companies are closed for the celebrations.

The profit figures cover large enterprises with annual revenues of more than 20 million yuan from their main operations.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)
ANC Statement on the Passing of Sinn Fein Leader Martin Mcguiness
22 March 2017

The African National Congress (ANC) extends its condolences to the leadership of the Sinn Fein on the passing of Comrade Martin McGuiness, a leading figure in the Northern Ireland Republican movement. Mr. McGuiness died in Derry, Northern Ireland on Tuesday following a short illness.

The ANC enjoys longstanding fraternal ties with Sinn Fein and is saddened at the news of the passing of a man who played a key role in the Irish Republican movement and the peace process.

Sinn Fein was a trusted ally of the African National Congress (ANC) during apartheid and its leaders stood steadfastly by our movement in support of our struggle for liberation.

The ANC has always been humbled by the example set by Sinn Fein in transitioning from the trenches of warfare to the assumption of political leadership.

As a former commander of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Sinn Fein political leader, Comrade McGuiness played an instrumental role in bringing Sinn Fein, Britain, Ireland and the political parties of Northern Ireland to the negotiating table- resulting in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The Good Friday agreement brought peace to the region 'following decades of sectarian violence.'

Mr. McGuiness was the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2007 through January 2017, previously serving as Minister of Education in the Northern Ireland Executive (1999-2002) and stood for the Presidency of Ireland in 2011.

Mr. McGuiness will forever be remembered as a man of moral courage, as a unifier, and as 'a force for change': it is testimony to this legacy that tributes have been paid to him from across the political spectrum.

The ANC has sent its formal condolences to Sinn Fein.

Issued by
Edna Molewa
Chairperson: ANC NEC SubCommittee on International Relations

Enquiries
Zizi Kodwa 082 330 4910
National Spokesperson
Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707
National Communications Manager
A Weakened Trump Presidency May Impact Sino-US Ties
By Wang Wenwen
Global Times
2017/3/26 23:23:39

It was a humiliating moment for US President Trump, many observers said, when the Republican healthcare reform bill he advocated as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or "Obamacare," was pulled from the House floor on Friday without even getting to a vote.

All major powers, including China, are watching Trump's governance in the early days of his presidency, as the US has much influence on future global order. When Trump announced his presidential run in 2015, he declared he would scale back the ACA, a promise he repeated throughout his campaign. On inauguration day, he optimistically signed an executive order directing federal agencies to "ease the burden of Obamacare," followed by the introduction of the replacement bill, the American Health Care Act.

However, the chastening defeat of the bill reveals the limitations of Trump's deal-making, whose presidential victory was built on pure promises. From his ambitious rhetoric during the election campaign to the bitter failure he tastes now, the problem is that he is not the strongman president he tries to project.

It is a tough task to be president of a divided America. Trump's travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries remains held up by federal courts. There are many other yet-to-be delivered promises waiting for the Trump administration. After the failure of the healthcare bill, Trump said he would start going "very very strong" for big tax cuts and tax reform. Nonetheless, many analysts have already cast doubt about his ability to negotiate his policies, as he still needs to bridge many of the same divergences that paralyzed the attempted overhaul of the ACA.

What's worse, less than 100 days since Trump entered the White House, people are already discussing how to end his presidency. It may not be that simple though. Now Trump's top priority is to learn the art of building consensus that he failed to do in the healthcare fiasco, and he has to make compromises with the current American political dynamics.

As for China, it needs to prepare to deal with a "weak" US president - tough in words but slow in deeds. The political setbacks Trump encounters within his country may exert a negative impact on his diplomacy.

It is time that China has more leverage to deal with challenges coming from the US and more responsibilities are placed on China to further advance this relationship.

Given the scope and sheer amount of problems between the two, it tests China's diplomatic wisdom to manage both their commonalities and differences. The US has a different political climate now from it used to have, and we need to be more patient with Trump.

Posted in: OBSERVER
Will There Be a China-Japan Détente?
By Feng Zhaokui
Global Times
2017/3/26 17:38:39

This year marks the 45th anniversary of China-Japan diplomatic normalization. After the China-Japan summit meeting in November 2014, the tension between the two nations, inflicted by Tokyo, relaxed and their relationship reached a turning point.

Two years later, however, the improving Sino-Japanese relations experienced a serious downturn. This, to a certain degree, signaled a likely relapse. And obviously, it is Japan that should be held responsible.

At China's annual two sessions earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "as far as China-Japan relations are concerned, the underlying problem is that some politicians in Japan have the wrong perception about China." Wang also questioned, "Do they view a growing China as a friend or foe, as a partner or an adversary?"

Over the past two years, with the deep-seated rightist ideology and propaganda, the Abe administration hyped up the so-called "China threat" and the "value-based diplomacy," following Washington while containing China. Japan evidently disclaims China as a friend or a partner. Scholars in both China and Japan believe that there would be no improvement or breakthroughs in the Sino-Japanese relationship as long as Abe holds power.

Nonetheless, Japan's hostile attitude toward China isn't consistent with its own interests. Masahiro Kohara, an official of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued that to keep stability in East Asia and prevent its neighboring nations from becoming enemies are the top two priorities serving Japan's interests. That means Abe's aggressive policy toward China can only serve his personal interests and those of his party, whose objective is to amend the constitution and rebuild a strong Japan.

But as Japan's prime minister, Abe cannot disregard the country's interests, or the likely situation in which the Japan-China relations may relapse into what it was before November 2014. If it happens, Japan's economy, security and maritime transport will be jeopardized.

The China-Japan tensions are largely the result of US' divergent strategies toward China and Japan. The US has never been willing to see amelioration in China-Japan ties. Earlier in 1972, Washington buried a political mine by transferring the Diaoyu Islands back to Japan between Beijing and Tokyo. Japan then became the US' puppet in Asia to contain China's rise.

After US President Donald Trump took office, his first move was to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which disquiets Japan. Concerns raised by Tokyo include that Japan may lose its leverage as US' tool to contain China, Trump may blackmail Tokyo for the latter's cost for US military protection and the US may reach a consensus with China over developing a constructive relationship, making Japan an abandoned pawn of Washington.

If Japan alone fails to revive the TPP in the next two years, it may look to the promising 10+6 Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia and China-Japan-South Korea cooperation.

The French word "détente" normally refers to relaxed ties between the US and former Soviet Union in the 1970s. Back then, there was a détente in the relations because of a strategic need for both sides to relax the continuous tensions. There was no real improvement or amity between the two countries.

Compared with the relationship between the US and former Soviet Union back then, China and Japan share historical feuds like the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, but Japan is still China's second largest trading partner. There cannot be any real improvement and amity in their ties at the present under the Abe administration.

However, given the huge volume in trade between the two countries - approximately over $300 billion - and their common interests in environmental protection, economy and so forth, it is still possible for Abe to change his mind on his aggressive China policy and restore the détente.

The author is an honorary academician of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and consultant of China Society of Sino-Japanese Relations History. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn
Human Rights Situation in Western Countries and South Korea Disclosed 
The DPRK delegate disclosed the human rights situation in the US and other Western countries and south Korea at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on March 15.

The delegate said:
Humankind has long desired to lead a happy life while enjoying genuine human rights in a peaceful world free from aggression and war. However, this desire is faced with serious challenges.
Right at this moment, many and various forms of gross human rights violations are being committed in different countries and regions of the world.

The US is the worst-ever tundra of human rights in the world and the ringleader and the mastermind of human rights violations as well.

Cases in point are the extreme xenophobia and racial discrimination, gun-related crimes that claim many lives, an army of the homeless, the unemployed and street people and parental abuse that takes the life of children, and the record high number of prisoners, which makes up a quarter of the world.

These are no more than a tip of deplorable human rights violations in the US.

The US-led human rights violations abroad are in particular appalling the whole world. Wherever the US sets its bloody foot in, there follow endless streams of blood of humankind. Counted among them are the establishment of scores of overseas secret prisons, their brutal torture atrocities and massive civilian casualties and 65.3 million refugees resulting from the aggression against sovereign states committed by the US under the pretext of "war on terrorism".

The international community and the UN Human Rights Council should no longer tolerate such human rights violations of the US but work collectively to pressurize it into being accountable for its wrongdoings without delay.

Next comes the EU, a group of human rights abusers, which is little better than the US.

Recent years have witnessed within the member states of the EU such unprecedented, uncontrollable state-sponsored human rights violations as Islamophobia, xenophobia and minority abuse, revival of neo-Nazism, and the massive deportation, forced repatriation and forfeiture of property of tens of thousands of refugees.

It is in the EU countries that even basic human rights are not guaranteed. Thousands of refugees fell victims to human trafficking, sexual abuse and forced labor and many people are still living under the poverty line.

The EU would be well advised to get rid of its bad habit of backbiting others and fix its own deplorable human rights situation first.

Japan is a classic human rights violator and criminal state that evades the admission of its past heinous crimes against humanity, let alone making apology and compensation.

The invasion into Korea and many other Asian countries, the massacre of civilians in those countries and the forced sexual slavery of 200 000 Korean women for the imperial Japanese army are only part of the crimes against humanity committed by Japan in the last century. No statute of limitations is applicable to such crimes.

Japan claims that it has agreed with south Korea to settle the issue of sexual slavery with its deceptive apology and a trifle sum of money. This is a mockery of the international community and a contemporary form of deception. Japan should unconditionally admit its heinous crimes against humanity and make an apology and compensation for them without delay before it is too late.
South Korea is by far the worst tundra of human rights in the world.

It is a well-known fact that the notorious "security law" of south Korea is the one and only fascist law in the world that legalizes human rights violations.

It will take ages to enumerate the human rights violations in south Korea, including the forced disbandment of progressive opposition party, the brutal crackdown on pro-reunification forces, the ferry Sewol disaster that drowned 300 children and the connivance at such cruel atrocities committed by the US troops present in south Korea as sexual abuse and murder.

In April last year, in particular, the south Korean regime commanded gangsters of its Intelligence Service to abduct more than 10 women citizens of the DPRK in Ningbo of China and is still refusing to provide any information on their existence. This is the first-ever group abduction and heinous crime against humanity in the 21st century.

The fact that Park Geun Hye completely severed the inter-Korean relations and openly agitated "defection from the north", believing in the bluff of a shaman that the DPRK would "collapse within a couple of years," vividly tells us that the group abduction was also a joint work and conspiracy from start to finish of the shaman and Park.

The south Korean regime is the first-ever terrorist ring and den of demons that are keen on committing unscrupulous group abductions to produce many more separated families, while turning a blind eye to the immense sufferings from the national division and territorial split caused by outsiders upon the Korean nation for over half a century. Such terrorists and demons should be brought to justice as soon as possible.

The families of the victims of the group abduction submitted twice last year and again in January this year, letters to the UN secretary-general, the high commissioner for Human Rights and the president of the Human Rights Council, asking for help in the repatriation of victims to their families as early as possible. They are still anxiously looking forward to a positive reply.

The UN human rights mechanisms should bring the south Korean authorities to justice and call on south Korea to send back the victims to their families at once.

The DPRK is a people-centered socialist state where people are placed at the centre of all considerations and everything serves them.

All the people in the DPRK are now fully enjoying their independent and genuine rights while leading a happy and carefree life, with firm confidence and optimism about their future, which are ensured by the politics of affording priority, respect and love to the people of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

The DPRK will continue to crush the ever-more exacerbated moves by the hostile forces to isolate and stifle it and further consolidate and develop the Korean-style socialist system centered on the popular masses.
Workers Party of Korea Greetings to General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and Chairman of the State Affairs

Commission of the DPRK, sent a message of greeting to Bounnang Vorachith, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and president of Laos, on March 21.

The message extended warm congratulations to Bounnang Vorachith and, through him, to the Central Committee of the LPRP and all members of the party on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the foundation of the LPRP.

It went on:
The LPRP has achieved great successes in the struggle for opposing foreign aggressors, consolidating the people's democratic system and achieving the prosperity of the country for 62 years after its foundation.

The relations between our two parties and peoples of our two countries are traditional ones and genuine and solid comradely relationship based on the deep historical roots provided by their preceding leaders.

The message sincerely wished Bounnang Vorachith good health and the LPRP greater success in its activities to implement the decision made at the 10th Congress of the Party, expressing belief that the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the two parties and the peoples of the two countries would grow stronger in the future.
National Meeting Marks 100th Anniversary of KNA
A national meeting took place at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on March 22 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Korean National Association (KNA) formed by Kim Hyong Jik, an indomitable revolutionary fighter and outstanding leader of the anti-Japanese national liberation movement in Korea.

The KNA, formed at Hakdang-gol in Pyongyang on March 23, Juche 6 (1917), was a secret association aimed to achieve the independence of the country and build a highly civilized state by the concerted efforts of all Koreans.

Present at the meeting were Kim Yong Nam, Choe Ryong Hae and other senior Party, state and army officials, the chairman of a friendly party, officials of Party, armed forces organs, ministries and national agencies, those of merits, and officials of organs and industrial establishments in the city, labour innovators and bereaved families of martyrs.

Kim Ki Nam, member of the Political Bureau and vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee and member of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, made a report.

He said that the formation of KNA was an epochal event of great significance in putting the Korean people's anti-Japanese struggle to achieve the country's independence and save the destiny of the distress-torn nation on a new high stage under the banner of independence against imperialism and national unity.

Under the guidance of Kim Hyong Jik, the KNA dynamically spurred the independent and uniform development of the national liberation movement and explored a new path of proletarian revolution under the uplifted banner of independence by its own efforts and national unity, the reporter said, adding:
The great intention and desire for bright future cherished by Kim Hyong Jik were successfully realized under the leadership of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il.

The idea of "Jiwon" (aim high) is being successfully carried forward by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

The reporter called for glorifying the idea and intention of "Jiwon" as eternal spiritual treasure of the Korean revolution and waging a more dynamic struggle for the building of a powerful socialist country, the independent reunification of the country and the final victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche, rallied close around Kim Jong Un.

KCNA

DPRK Delegate Urges Japan and S. Korea to Apologize for Their Crimes
The DPRK delegate, who took part in the 61st Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held at the UN headquarters, made a speech in general discussion under agenda item 3: Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the 23rd Special Session of the UN General Assembly.

The delegate said that women in the DPRK are now taking an active part in state and social activities and making great contributions to the social development, adding: The DPRK government will continue cooperation with the international community to strengthen gender equality and women's empowerment in the future, too.

He called the attention to the sexual slavery for the imperial Japanese army and the abduction of 12 DPRK women citizens by the south Korean authorities, the recognized two international crimes against humanity and women which are being subjects of denunciation.

He went on:
The Japanese government, during its occupation of Korea, committed the unprecedented extra large-scale crime against humanity. It abducted, drafted and forced Korean women and girls to be sex slaves for the Japanese army, but it has never made official apology and compensation to date.

The DPRK once again strongly urges Japanese government not to try to deceive the world by speaking out "women's rights" and "peace", but honestly accept the legal responsibility for its past crimes of the Japanese military's sexual slavery of 200 000 Korean women and girls, forcible drafting of 8.4 million Koreans and the genocidal massacre of more than 1 million Korean people, and make official apology and compensation, as well.

The south Korean authorities, obsessed with confrontation with fellow countrymen, cruelly have violated dignity and human rights of women, while behaving differently in the UN.

Early April 2016, shortly after the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held at the UN headquarters on March, they allured and stealthily abducted more than 10 DPRK women citizens in daylight in Zhejiang province of China and took them to south Korea. They also still detain Kim Ryon Hui, a DPRK woman citizen, who was deceived to be drafted to south Korea in 2011.

The DPRK government, the girls' parents and Kim Ryon Hui's family strongly and repeatedly have requested the south Korean authorities and UN human rights bodies and the United Nations to take prompt measures for their immediate and safe repatriation home, but no reply and steps been taken so far.

The DPRK calls on the UN Commission on the Status of Women and all UN member nations to condemn the allured abduction and forcible detainment of the woman and girls as outrageous human rights violation, crimes against humanity and breach of the UN Charter and to cooperate in its efforts for their return to homeland without further delay.
DPRK Letter Sent to UN Secretary General
The permanent representative of the DPRK at the United Nations sent a letter to the UN secretary general on March 22 as regards the fact that the situation on the Korean peninsula has reached the brink of war due to the largest-ever joint military drills being staged by the US and the south Korean regime.

Detailing the scale and purpose of the dangerous war rehearsal being staged by the US in league with the south Korean warlike forces, the letter referred to the fact that the DPRK on March 6 urged the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue of the US-south Korea joint military drills as an agenda item but has not yet received a response.

The letter went on:

The UNSC, while taking issue with the normal military exercises being held by our military in our own land, is persistently turning away from our call for an emergency meeting regarding the said aggressive joint military exercises. This is an extreme end of unfairness and double standards and a shabby prejudice.

The measures being undertaken to strengthen the national military power in our land, waters and air space are the regular self-defensive ones to safeguard the sovereignty of our country from the continuous nuclear threats and blackmails coming from the United States.

We and the neighbouring countries as well are deeply concerned about the aggressive nature and danger of the US-south Korea joint military exercises.

It is the unanimous conclusion of the fair international society that the on-going largest-ever nuclear war exercises is the root cause of pressing the DPRK to the toughest counteraction.

I request you to bring to the attention of the UN Security Council in line with Article 99 of the UN Charter regarding the on-going highly dangerous US-south Korea joint military exercises which are an obvious threat to international peace and security.

I believe that this is in conformity with not only the requirement of the UN Charter but also the mission of the UN Secretariat which has impartiality and independence as its lifeline.

I look forward to you, who took the oath to be committed to the UN Charter, to positively consider and respond to our sincere appeals.
US Deceptive Farce Denounced
A spokesman for the National Peace Committee of Korea on March 24 issued a statement titled "US should not run wild, pondering over the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its attempt at a pre-emptive strike".

The statement said that the new US administration is floating a rumour that it has excluded the plan for a pre-emptive attack on the DPRK despite its recent bluffing that it was examining all-inclusive policies toward the DPRK comprising the political, military, diplomatic, economic and all other fields.

This is a deception to calm down criticism of the public at home and abroad directed toward its extreme hostile policy toward the DPRK and its toughest countermeasure, and a revelation of a criminal design to put the pre-emptive attack plan into a practice, it noted.

It urged the new US administration to listen to voice of concern made inside its own country about the serious consequences to be entailed by the pre-emptive strike and to make a wise option to evade a miserable fate.

It also urged the US to immediately stop the racket for war exercises aimed at pre-emptive strike against the DPRK and take all means for a pre-emptive attack out of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.

If the US shows even the slightest sign of a pre-emptive attack on the DPRK, bereft of reason, the powerful nuclear strike means of the DPRK will blow up the bases of aggression and provocation with its-style offensive and pre-emptive nuclear attack, the statement said.

It warned that the US should not run wild, pondering over the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its attempt at a pre-emptive attack.
DPPK Will Not Take Part in UN Conference on Nuclear Weapons
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK gave the following answer to a question raised by KCNA on March 24 as regards the DPRK's decision not to take part in the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons:

There will take place the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons at the UN headquarters at the end of March and from mid-June to early in July this year.

The UN conference reflects the human desire and wish for total elimination of nuclear weapons.
But question is whether the conference can produce a result reflective of this desire and wish now that the US and other nuclear weapons states deny the participation in the conference.

As it presents itself as an immediate vital requirement for the DPRK to further bolster the capabilities for self-defence with a nuclear force as pivot given that the US is staging joint military exercises for aggression after introducing largest-ever strategic assets into the Korean peninsula, the DPRK can not but take into serious account its participation in the conference and, therefore, decided not to take part in the conference.

But the DPRK will continue to support the idea of the non-aligned movement for the total dismantlement of nuclear weapons and the worldwide efforts for it and will fulfil its responsibility as a nuclear weapons state until the denuclearization of the world is realized.
South Korean Body Demands Halt 
The Seoul Headquarters of the South Side Committee for Implementing June 15 Joint Declaration launched a campaign involving 10 000 people to stop the THAAD deployment and realize peaceful reunification, according to the south Korean online paper Thongil News.

A press conference took place at the Kwanghwamun Plaza on March 22. Speakers there accused the Lee Myung Bak and Park Geun Hye regimes of blocking the dialogue and breaking mutual trust between the south and the north.

Noting the top priority task for eliminating evils is to repeal the "Security Law" strangling the pro-reunification movement organizations, they can never allow the US to deploy THAAD in south Korea as it is being opposed by all the people, they said.

They called for stopping the deployment of THAAD immediately, ifying the agreement on sexual slavery for the Japanese army, restoring the relations with the north, paving the way for NGO exchange, concluding a peace treaty, repealing the SL and retaking OPECON.
North Korea Threatens ‘Strike Without Warning’ Against South Korea & US Troops Conducting Joint Drill
26 Mar, 2017 16:49
Rt.com

Pyongyang said it may attack US and South Korean troops participating in an annual joint military exercise, which North Korea believes could be a cover for military aggression against it.

“They should be mindful that the [North Korean Army] will deal deadly blows without prior warning any time as long as the... troops of the US and South Korean puppet forces involved in the ‘special operation’ and ‘preemptive attack’ targeting the DPRK remain deployed in and around South Korea,” North Korean news agency KCNA said on Sunday, citing a statement from the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

“The KPA will not remain a passive onlooker to hordes of robbers trying to hurt our people with daggers,” it added.

The statement claimed that the presence of American commando troops, which can be used to target North Korean leadership and key infrastructure, would justify such an attack.

The US and South Korea are currently holding a series of joint military exercises called Foal Eagle and Key Resolve.

This week, the Americans participated in a drill for a potential raid against Pyongyang’s stockpile of chemical weapons, US Forces Korea (USFK) said in a statement on Sunday, as cited by South Korean media.

The exercise conducted as part of the annual war games at a shooting range in Paju, Gyeonggi Province involved CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters dropping a team of commando troops at a simulated North Korean chemical weapons plant.

Pyongyang considers joint war games staged by its southern neighbor and its American allies, which often involve scenarios of fighting against North Korean troops, provocative and threatening. It says its opponents are rehearsing for war and regularly threatens them with retaliation.

It also cites the presence of tens of thousands of enemy troops in the region to justify its development of nuclear weapons and rocket technologies.

The situation in the region remains tense amid the North Korean military build-up, South Korea’s regular drills, and heated rhetoric from both sides.
Malaysian Police Reportedly Enter North Korean Embassy Amid Rumors of Kim Corpse Handover to Pyongyang
KYODO
MAR 27, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian police on Sunday entered the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in connection with last month’s murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, according to a Malaysian Chinese-language newspaper.

Four police officers, including the investigating officer of the murder, the Selangor state police chief and Selangor prosecution team officer, entered the embassy in the morning and were there for two and a half hours, China Press said, adding they were granted permission by the embassy to enter.

The entry indicates that a preliminary agreement may have been reached on processing the body of Kim Jong Nam, and on the recording of statements of three suspected accomplices in the murder believed to be hiding in the embassy, according to the report.

One of the three is Hyon Kwang Song, 44, the second secretary of the embassy.

Federal police chief Khalid Abu Bakar hinted that he would provide details of what transpired at the embassy at his next press conference.

China Press separately reported Sunday that the body may have been moved Sunday from the morgue of Kuala Lumpur Hospital, where it has been held.

It noted the “unusual scene” of an increased presence of plainclothes police at the morgue in conjunction with the arrival and departure of a hearse in the afternoon.

When contacted, a representative of the company that sent the hearse said it was engaged by a government official to transport a body. The representative said only driver knows the whereabouts of the body, and that they have been told not to divulge anything. Government officials are tight-lipped on the matter.

Earlier in the day, Malaysian officials indicated that talks with North Korea on thorny affairs plaguing bilateral relations following murder could wrap up “very soon.”

“Tomorrow, there will be an official statement to be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about our negotiations with DPRK,” Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamid told reporters, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the country.

In a separate event, Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said negotiations are currently underway involving the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Department on the Malaysian side and the North Korean government.

“I have been told they have made some decision but am confident that an announcement will be made very soon. The announcement can come as early as even today,” he was quoted as saying by the official news agency Bernama.

The remarks follow reports Saturday that former North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Ri Tong Il has returned to the Malaysian capital.

He first came to Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 28, some two weeks after Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, with the aim of repairing frayed ties after the North’s then ambassador, Kang Chol, sparked an uproar by accusing Malaysia of colluding with “hostile forces” like South Korea to tarnish Pyongyang’s image over the murder.

Two female suspects, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, have been charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam using the highly toxic nerve agent VX, a banned chemical weapon. Authorities, however, believe that four North Koreans who fled the country on Feb. 13, the same day of the attack at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, are the masterminds.

In addition to the three suspected accomplices in the North Korean Embassy, the federal police chief said last week that the authorities believe that more North Koreans, including “an important person,” are involved.

Ri’s first mission to Kuala Lumpur ended miserably, with Malaysia expelling Kang Chol after the latter refused to retract his remarks and apologize. Pyongyang has even refused to even acknowledge the deceased was Kim Jong Nam, insisting on referring to him as Kim Chol, the name in the diplomatic passport found on the body.

Malaysia said the body of Kim Jong Nam was conclusively identified via DNA samples from his son.

During his previous trip, Ri had also sought to have the body sent to North Korea.

On March 5, both Kang Chol and Ri left Kuala Lumpur. Two days later, Pyongyang imposed an exit ban on the nine Malaysian citizens living there who are mostly embassy staff and their families. Malaysia reacted swiftly, banning the hundreds of North Koreans working here from leaving the country.

Just when it looked like Malaysia would cut off ties established over 40 years ago with Pyongyang, the government announced that it would hold talks instead with North Korea to resolve the issues.

A flurry of activity has been noted in the past two days as Ri was spotted back in Kuala Lumpur.

There were rumors that both sides have reached a decision on the remains of Kim Jong Nam, paving the way for the 45-year-old’s body to be given to Pyongyang. When asked about the rumors, Subramaniam merely said, “I don’t know as I was told a decision will be made soon. Most likely, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will make the announcement.”

He added that plenty of opportunities had been given to the next-of-kin to claim the body, and that if they do not turn up, the government will have to make a decision.

The police chief told reporters on March 16 that the family had given their consent to allow the Malaysian government to handle issues surrounding Kim Jong Nam’s remains.
Pakistani al-Qaeda Leader Killed In U.S. Strike In Afghanistan
March 26, 201711:17 AM ET
LAUREL WAMSLEY
NPR

Pakistani security officials gather outside the devastated Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 21, 2008, following an overnight suicide bomb attack. The Pentagon announced yesterday that a recent airstrike had killed Qari Yasin, who was linked to the bombing.
Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon announced yesterday that it had killed a Pakistani terrorist leader with ties to al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.

In a statement, the Pentagon said that Qari Yasin was killed in a U.S. airstrike on March 19 in Afghanistan's Paktika Province. It said he was a "senior terrorist figure" and that he had plotted the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.

The 2008 suicide truck bombing in Islamabad killed more than 50 people. As NPR's Philip Reeves reported then:

"There have been many suicide bombs in Pakistan in the last year and a half, but few more devastating than this. Hours after the blast, the Marriott Hotel continued to burn with such ferocity that it was in danger of collapse. Tired, dazed-looking rescue workers was still searching for trapped people and coming out with charred corpses.

The Marriott is one of only two five-star hotels in Pakistan's capital. It's a favorite with Western journalists, diplomats, and wealthy Pakistanis. It's usually well-guarded. The explosion happened just after Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims end the day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Hotel owner Sadaruddin Hashwani says a truck laden with explosives pulled up at the security barrier at the front of the hotel."

The 2008 attack killed two American service members, Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician 3rd Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O'Bryant.

In the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, gunmen ambushed the team's bus, firing on it with grenades, assault rifles, and missiles. That attack led to Pakistan's being excluded from hosting major international cricket matches, and the nation now plays most of its "home" games in the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters reports that Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Department had offered a 2 million rupee ($19,000) bounty for Yasin.

"The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice," said Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in the statement.

Paktika Province, where Yasin was killed, is an area where Pakistani Taliban operatives have been since 2014, according to The New York Times:

"The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are part of a loose and increasingly divided umbrella organization that once represented roughly 30 groups of militants. The organization was officially founded in 2007 by a prominent jihadist commander, Baitullah Mehsud, and for years it and allied groups like Al Qaeda have been based in the Pashtun tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan, particularly in North and South Waziristan.

The movement shares a close relationship with the Haqqani network, the most hard-core affiliate of the Afghan Taliban, which have been behind repeated suicide attacks in and around Kabul and eastern Afghanistan. The groups also cooperate and provide haven for Qaeda operatives, including Al Qaeda's leader, Ayman al-Zawahri."

The Pakistani Taliban was also responsible for shooting Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was attacked by Taliban militants for promoting education for girls. Yousafzai went on share the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, becoming its youngest-ever recipient.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Yemen War Runs Into Stalemate As Goal of Military Intervention Unclear
Xinhua
2017/3/25 7:16:23

As war has been continuing in Yemen for two years since a Saudi-led military intervention, observers started to argue that the goal of the military intervention became unclear, resulting in no military victory yet.

According to media reports quoting spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, Ahmed Al-Asiri, the coalition has carried out 90,000 airstrikes since March 26, 2015.

The consequences of the civil war and the airstrikes are catastrophic as the UN said that Yemen has the world's largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, besides the fact that the war has taken a huge toll on civilians.

The goal of the Saudi-led military intervention was said to be restoring the legitimacy of the Yemeni internationally recognized government ousted by the Houthi militia with support from forces loyal to the former president, which won't take long.

But now as the war has been continuing for two years, no sign shows it will come to an end soon, and the government still can't resume its activities inside the country.

Adil Al-Shuja'a, a politics professor at Sanaa University, said that "the Saudi-led coalition does not have a strategic and clear goal from the war in Yemen. It seems Saudi Arabia has been focused on an ideological war with the Zaidi sect which is controlling north Yemen, not on a war for the legitimacy of Yemen."

"Such a confusion makes Saudi Arabia sometimes think of a victory through tough demands for the Houthi-Saleh alliance including that this alliance hands over the capital Sanaa and takes a strict stance toward Iran," he added.

Al-Shuja'a saw the alliance between the General People's Congress and the Houthi group really complicated, which means Saudi demands can't be met at least by one of the two parties of the alliance, if not both.

The Saudi-led coalition of five Gulf Coorperation Council states has been receiving logistical and intelligence support from the US, Britain and other western and Islamic countries.

Yaseen Al-Tamimi, a political writer and analyst, said that "conflicting goals of member countries within the Saudi-led coalition represent a challenge to bringing an end to the war. While the coalition should focus on retaking the capital Sanaa, some of its members have placed a bet on the coup forces and then shifted their war on factions fighting them."

The US and Britain have been playing key roles in the war on Yemen either through logistical and intelligence support or arms sales to coalition members.

Yemeni observers argued that the US has been engaged in war strategies as well as it is backing the coalition to target and weaken factions backing the government on allegations of their links to Al-Qaida. "The US role is one of the key reasons for failure or slowness to achieve a military victory," Al-Tamimi said.

Ahmed Noman, an expert at the Red Sea and East Africa Research Center, said confluence of local, regional and international factors and confusion is to blame for the prolonged war in Yemen.

Locally, observers said the factions have been taking advantage of the chaos as well as regional and international interventions to exhaust each other.

Noman said that the most important problem lies in the many slogans and disagreements among popular pro-government resistance factions.

"There is not good war planning and coordination among them. There is treason by some pro-government factions which have been putting their own interests and interests of their political parties ahead of winning a war for the country," Noman added.

Noman also said that "the coalition will not give up this war until all goals are met topped by retaking the capital Sanaa and defeating Iran."

Internationally, observers believe that key countries engaged in Yemen war are now afraid of Islamists and Jihadists who have been strengthened by the chaos.

The US and Britain, are seeking to exhaust all factions, said Noman, adding that they want the war to continue "because they will never accept that Islamists take the lead in the future."

"They will continue to fuel the war until they find a better alternative to the defeated factions," he said.
Black Lives Matter Advocates ‘Self-Defense’ After White Supremacist Kills Black Man in Manhattan
By Madina Toure
Observer
03/25/17 10:00am

Members of Black Lives Matter New York at a rally to honor Timothy Caughman, a black man who was murdered by a white supremacist. Madina Toure/Observer

The president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York called upon the African-American community to sign up for the organization’s self-defense classes after a white supremacist traveled from Maryland to New York City to murder a 66-year-old black man in Midtown Manhattan.

Army veteran James Harris Jackson was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime after he stabbed Queens native Timothy Caughman to death with a sword on 36th Street and 9th Avenue on Monday, according to the New York Times. Jackson, who turned himself in Wednesday, said he traveled to the city to kill a black man because he felt the act would receive significant media coverage there.

At a protest last night, Hawk Newsome, president of the New York BLM chapter, said his organization will host free self-defense classes this summer and distribute literature in all five boroughs to inform people of “exactly what’s going on.”

“If you love black people, help spread that word. I don’t care about [President Donald] Trump, I care about my community, OK,” Newsome said, linking Caughman’s killing to the disappearances of minority girls in the nation’s capital. “I can’t fix Washington, D.C. but I can try my hardest to fix what’s happening here in New York. Now let’s talk about why we’re here. We’re talking about hate that’s winning right now. Hate is winning, and what I’m telling you is you have to defend yourself against this hate.”

He said that he is tired of people promoting “all the negativity in this world” being promoted as “good” and “comical.”

“We must take a stand now and say, ‘That’s wrong,'” Newsome continued. “We must have courage to say, ‘That’s wrong’ because I don’t who was out here, right, but let me tell you something—we start loving each other and protecting each other and you see Timothy Caughman being murdered right there, you jump in and you help that man.”

Indeed, he argued that blacks needed to prepare to respond to increasing proliferation and prominence of hate groups—”racial terrorists”—following the election.

“When Donald Trump won, there was a KKK rally to celebrate,” Newsome added. “These folks are coming together and if you don’t take anything away from this tonight, you have to put down your differences and come together to fight back. The oppressor is organized, okay, and he has his henchmen that go around and carrying out these heinous attacks. We have to come together and protect one another.”

Newsome also called on attendees to show up to Jackson’s court appearance on Monday morning, saying that there was a “complete and total lack of community” at Jackson’s first court appearance.

Newsome and other BLM New York members marched to the spot where Caughman was murdered after the rally and march organized by Justice League NYC and Resist Here concluded at Herald Square. BLM members yelled, “Fuck the police!” as NYPD members escorting them looked on uncomfortably.

The rally, which started in Union Square, included speeches from Nelini Stamp, an organizer with the Working Families Party; Carmen Perez, Justice League NYC’s founder, and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, co-chairwoman of the Women’s March on Washington and Jason Walker, an HIV/AIDS organizer for VOCAL-NY.

Speakers complained of a lack of accountability in the NYPD and said that Trump further fostered an environment of hate. But they maintained that white supremacy has always been a part of the nation’s fabric—and that they have to come together and fight back against it.

Walker also said Caughman was “murdered again by the media,” referring to coverage of Caughman’s criminal history, which the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus also blasted.

“We have to address the systemic institutionalized racism that permeates through society from everyone to this man that got on the bus up here to the NYPD to the Daily News to this presidential administration,” Walker said. “They all are to blame for setting this tone. They killed not only a brother but a potential leader in my movement to end homelessness. I organize homeless folks living with not only with HIV but homeless folks who have been ignored by this society.”

The protesters refused to utter Jackson’s name. Stamp, who was teary-eyed and emotional, asked all the black attendees to utter the phrase, “I am somebody and I deserve full equality right here, right now!” in unison.

When the march kicked off, protesters sang, “Mama, mama, can’t you see? What they did to Timothy.” Protesters chanted, “If we don’t get it, shut it down!,” “We must love and protect each other!” and “It is our duty to fight for our freedom! It is our duty to win!”

At one point, a white man told them to “go back to your country” and organizers instructed marchers to ignore him. When stuck up his middle finger at the marchers, police officers escorting the marchers took him away and marchers shouted, “Black lives matter!” at him.

Earlier today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the Anti-Defamation League led an emergency community response from men of color and allies. Bronx Councilman Andy King suggested that Jackson receive the death penalty.

Brooklyn Councilman Robert Cornegy, co-chair of the BLAC, held a press conference at City Hall demanding a targeted response from the NYPD to the murder.