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​‘Slanderous farce’: N. Korea goes ballistic over UK TV nuclear drama, threatens to cut diplomatic ties

RT -

A spokesman for the powerful National Defence Commission in Pyongyang described the upcoming Channel 4 TV series as a "slanderous farce" and a "conspiratorial charade.”

Opposite Number – a 10-part drama series commissioned by Channel 4 – features a British nuclear scientist captured in North Korea during a covert mission and forced to assist the country with its nuclear weapons program.

The series will take viewers inside the "closed worlds of North Korea" with "opposing CIA and MI6 agents secretly deployed on the ground in Pyongyang, as the clock ticks on a global-scale nuclear crisis," Channel 4 said.

The KCNA news agency quoted the Defence Commission’s spokesman as saying: “This mud-slinging is a premeditated politically-motivated provocation and deliberate hostile act to hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership and tarnish the sovereign authority of the DPRK and its international image.”

“Those who are talking about ‘illegal acquisition of nuclear technology’ are no more than blind fools and idiots bereft of even elementary ability to discern the truth,” the spokesman said.

North Korea warned that Britain should “throw reactionary movies now being planned or in the process of production into a dumping ground without delay and punish the chief culprits.” Only this would “preserve the hard-won diplomatic relations between the DPRK and Britain.” The UK has an embassy in Pyongyang.

The statement added that Pyongyang would not need to steal foreign nuclear technology, as the country’s atomic capability is already “so powerful and tremendous that no one can imagine.”

#KCNA: British Plan for Producing Anti-DPRK Movie under Fire http://t.co/AMWfrfz1eu #NorthKorea

— KCNA Watch (@KCNAWatch) August 31, 2014

The nuclear-armed state has staged three atomic tests, most recently in 2013, and has often threatened nuclear strikes against major foes Seoul and Washington.

North Korea said that “reckless anti-DPRK hysteria would only bring disgrace and self-destruction,” adding Britain would be “well-advised to judge itself what consequences would be entailed if it ignores the DPRK's warning.”

The British government, however, appeared unfazed by Pyongyang’s threats. A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, “It is for Channel 4 to decide upon its programming schedule. British media is editorially independent of the British government, and as such we would not be involved in the development or production of programs.”

North Korea always protests against foreign movies mocking its system or leadership, especially the Kim dynasty that has ruled the country for six decades with a ubiquitous personality cult.

In June, North Korea denounced an upcoming Hollywood film about two TV reporters who land an interview with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang and are then tasked with killing him. North Korea called the film, “The Interview,” a "wanton act of terror" and warned of a "merciless response" unless the US government banned the film.

The regime in Pyongyang even went as far as writing a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that he intervene.

In this case, Pyongyang accused Britain of having an “inborn disposition of blindly copying the American-style diplomacy,” saying that Hollywood’s decision to mock North Korea inspired the Brits’ new show.

Earlier this year, the publicly-funded BBC apologized to students at the London School of Economics on a tour group to North Korea after it used a student trip as cover to gain access to the secretive communist state to shoot a documentary last year.

Study: Antarctic Sea-Level Rising Faster Than Global Rate

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes with this bit of good news for everyone who is waiting for their homes to one day be on the beach. Melting ice is fuelling sea-level rise around the coast of Antarctica, a new report in Nature Geoscience finds. Near-shore waters went up by about 2mm per year more than the general trend for the Southern Ocean as a whole in the period between 1992 and 2011. Scientists say the melting of glaciers and the thinning of ice shelves are dumping 350 billion tonnes of additional water into the sea annually. This influx is warming and freshening the ocean, pushing up its surface. "Freshwater is less dense than salt water and so in regions where an excess of freshwater has accumulated we expect a localized rise in sea level," explained Dr Craig Rye from the University of Southampton, UK, and lead author on the new journal paper.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Watch Charles Bowden on DN! "Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields"

Democracy Now! Videos -

Author and investigative reporter Charles Bowden died Saturday at his home in Arizona at the age of 69. Watch one of our most recent interviews with him in April 2010, when he had just published "Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields."

See all of Bowden's interviews on Democracy Now!

Bowden reported extensively for newspapers and magazines, and authored 11 books, many about drug violence in Mexico after the passage of NAFTA. In 1998 he wrote "Juárez: The Laboratory of our Future," with a preface by Noam Chomsky, an afterword by Eduardo Galeano, and graphic images taken by Mexican photographers.

Many journalists admired Bowden's prose and dedication to the craft. Cartoonist Max Cannon told The Tucson Sentinel: "He lived on his own terms to the extreme — he was a master wordsmith, a detective, a poet, a scholar, a gentleman rogue, and a fearless traveler into humanity's darkest places."

The Arizona Republic noted that Bowden's work as a reporter followed his first career as a history professor.

[Bowden] left a position teaching history at the University of Chicago, worked in manual labor for some time, and eventually became a reporter for the now-defunct Tucson Citizen. There he spent years reporting on gruesome crimes before he moved on to other investigative journalism, [writer Barry] Graham said.

"He would actually refer to a book or an article as a song," Graham said. "He taught me to go to some of the ugliest, darkest places in life but not to write a horror story about it. To go where most of us really don't want to go but, essentially, to sing a song about it. To capture the music of what happened."

Zero G sex space mission: All geckos on board Russian satellite found dead… but happy?

RT -

Unfortunately, all the five geckos have died. We can’t say yet at which stage of Foton’s space flight it happened,” a source at the Academy of Sciences told RIA Novosti on Monday. “At the same time, the fruit flies were in a perfect condition: they produced offspring.”

The satellite – containing the bio-capsule – landed Monday in Russia’s Orenburg region after being thrust into space on July 19.

The robotic spacecraft carried one male and four female geckos. The satellite was sent into space to test how space conditions impact the geckos’ fertility, as well as the structure and health of their eggs. A camera was set up to film the lizards’ mating rituals.

Other organisms on board included fruit flies, mushrooms, and microbes, which were to be used for experiments aimed at generating electricity.

The reptiles died at least a week ago as their bodies have already mummified, the Academy’s Medical-Biology Institute told Itar-Tass news agency.

The mission did not go smoothly from the beginning: it made headlines shortly after the launch when ground control lost contact with the satellite and could only reestablish it three days later.

Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

Slashdot -

Frosty P writes The LA County District Attorney's Office declined to press charges against a sheriff's deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck cyclist and former Napster COO Milton Olin Jr. in Calabasas last December. The deputy was responding to routine work email when he drifted into the bike lane and struck and killed Mr. Olin. An official with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it is launching its own probe into the deputy’s behavior.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

​Islamic State and the appeal of 72 Virgins-in-waiting: Video games, boredom and the lack of future prospects

RT -

Islamic State, the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS (or ISIL) has over the past weeks dominated much of the world's news coverage. Their brutal occupation of territories formally part of Syria and Iraq (thereby realizing the effective Balkanization of the Middle East) followed by their equally brutal persecution of, first, a Yazidi community forced to flee up a mountain near Sinjar and, now, the Shi'ite Turkmen town of Amerli (in fact, already under siege for the past 2 months), and particularly their recent internet-broadcast execution of American journalist James Foley have carved the group into the global audience's consciousness and beyond.

The new bogeyman

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who likes to call himself "Caliph Ibrahim", as leader of the IS with apparently unlimited ambitions, has taken over the position vacated by bin Laden in the wee hours of 2 May 2011, when he was killed by twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six in the Pakistani town carrying the unlikely name of Abbottabad. Personalizing the enemy makes it easier to explain goals and objectives to the wider public.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did not hesitate to do just that some days ago (21 August 2014). Hagel literally said that Caliph Ibrahim and the IS constitute "an imminent threat to every interest we [the United States] have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else", then adding "Oh, this is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything.”

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff , General Martin Dempsey , also present at the briefing, went on to describe the IS as "an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated." Dempsey explained that this defeat has to be realized on “both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border” of Syria and Iraq, referring to territories that are now, for all intents and purposes, the lands actually ruled by Caliph Ibrahim and subject to the idiosyncratic interpretation of Islam and the Shariah that make up the ideology of the Islamic State. And in this way, the West has now finally acquired its new bogeyman, able to attract and focus all kinds of intelligence and military attention.

In the face of this new threat, President Obama once again followed his predecessor's lead and started assembling his own "coalition of the willing,” starting a diplomatic campaign behind the scenes to enlist not just regional allies and neighbors, but a wider alliance comprising also Australia and Britain, in addition to such local players like Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking at the veterans' organization the American Legion in Charlotte, N.C. on Tuesday (26 August), the President assured his audience that "[r]ooting out a cancer like ISIL [, still using the now familiar acronymization instead of the arguably somewhat more intimidating phrase Islamic State or simply IS] won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick,” in spite of the US’s awesome military might. In a rhetorical turn reminiscent of Bush, Jr. in the aftermath of 9/11, Obama vowed to “take the fight to these barbaric terrorists,” to faraway shores and fields at a more than safe distance from American soil, adding that the caliphal forces would be "no match" for a united international community under the banner of Obama's very own "coalition of the willing.”

Previously, President Obama had authorized air strikes aimed at IS positions in aid of the KRG's Peshmerga forces defensive military operations. In this context, it seems no coincidence that the name Kurdistan pops up in regular news casts nowadays in reference to northern Iraq's KRG – a tacit acknowledgement of US approval of Iraq's division into three separate units.

These US missiles, supporting the Iraqi Kurds in their bid to remain a sovereign entity, ostensibly led to the much-publicized beheading of Foley, the photojournalist who had travelled to Syria from Libya, where he had been kept by soldiers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi during a 44-day captivity in "a bunch of prisons" (2011), only to be captured by unidentified kidnappers in Syria nearly two years ago.

The unexpected suspect

James Foley's video-taped execution was released under the title A Message to America on 19 August. In the video, Foley appears to relay a previously scripted monologue on the culpability of US foreign policy prior to being beheaded by a veiled figure using an apparently rather blunt knife. This ghastly internet sensation caused global outrage, leading to his sister Kelly Foley to tweet "Don’t watch the video. Don’t share it. That’s not how life should be.”

The killer or executioner immediately became notorious for his own oration in a decidedly British accent: "Any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people." His identity was soon discovered, as four days later, British Ambassador to the US, Sir Peter Westmacott, told CNN that he "can't say more than this but I know from my colleagues at home that we are close," intimating the use of "sophisticated technologies, voice identification and so on" for the purpose of identifying and naming James Foley's alleged murderer.

It now turns out that the key suspect is an individual called Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old British former rapper (known also as L Jinny), who up-and-left his parental home in Maida Vale, West London in 2013 to join the jihad in Syria. To his mind the young man appeared to have had a good reason to join the fight, as "a well-placed source [in US intelligence] told Fox News that Bary's Egyptian-born father was extradited from London to the United States in 2012 for his alleged connection to Osama bin Laden and the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Africa.” So, Bary allegedly beheading Foley could be a personal act of retribution for the young rapper-turned-beheader. Using his blunt knife Abdel Bary interacted directly with three US Presidents – with Obama for having been in office at the time of his father's extradition (2012); with Bush, Jr. for having taken the fight to Osama bin Laden, and thereby implicating his father who was known to have been one of the latter's top lieutenants (2002); and with Bill Clinton for having been in charge during the bombings of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and having subsequently identified Bin Laden as the main culprit (1998).

Media in the West have since been filled with numerous voices expressing utter consternation at the considerable number of European (as well as American) volunteers who have apparently joined the ranks of the IS – the BBC at the end of last year estimated their total troop numbers to consist of 3,000 to 5,000 fighters. Earlier this month, the lone man that is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that another 6,300 men-willing-to-fight had joined the Jihadi outfit in July.

While, just the other day, Colin Clarke, an associate political scientist at the Rand Corporation, came out claiming that that the total number of IS fighters is estimated to be about 10,000. Inside this main bulk of eager troops, the generally held consensus is that approximately 2,000 individuals hail from Europe, with a quarter of these young men.

Talking heads on television as well as the regular man and woman on the street seem perplexed and fail to understand why young men, born and bred in comfortable and arguably peaceful surroundings would abandon their easy lives to join a bloody fight in a remote location. Dr Joshua Landis, an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma, reasons that the appeal of the IS (which has a very tech-savvy social media propaganda apparatus at hand) is somewhat comparable to the allure the Spanish Civil War exerted on leftists of all stripe and color in the late thirties. While it does seem reasonable to assume that joining the Jihad in Syria and Iraq has considerable romantic appeal for disenfranchised Muslim youths living in Europe, it seems to me that the underlying reason for this current minor people's migration to the east should be looked for in the actual conditions faced by these apparently fervent individuals.

Nearly four years ago, I argued elsewhere that current generations of Muslim migrants' children and grandchildren daily face "prejudice and intolerance." Originally, these youngsters' parents and grandparents were met with blatant racism and xenophobia, facing discrimination "based upon their status as foreigners, foreigners from the backward East, speaking a different language and practicing a different religion.”

Nowadays in this post-9/11 world we live in, the vocabulary has changed yet the sentiments have remained the same. As, "commentators and politicians alike tend to forget national or ethnic identifiers, instead opting for religious markers, and thus speaking about the Muslims other present in ... Europe ... the Muslim other whose presence and actions are incompatible with Western civilization and alien to the Judeo-Christian tradition which provides the framework for much, if not all, of Europe’s culture and identity.”

The professor of sociology, scholar and expert in Islamic matters, Stefano Allievi rightly remarks that the “immigrant ... has progressively become ‘Muslim,’ both in his/her perception by the host societies and in his/her self-perception.” And as a result, Europeans nowadays express their dislike of the “other” in religious and/or cultural terms, leading to the "creation of a new term that is oftentimes not even associated with racist sentiments and/or reflexes: Islamophobia. But we should be clear about this: Islamophobia is nothing but a new name given to the age-old reflex of racism.”

Children of Muslim parentage living in Western Europe as thus faced with Islamophobia or xenophobic racism on a daily basis; a circumstance which arguably leads to less than successful educational careers (oftentimes steered towards vocational or technical training), in turn followed by bleak job prospects and a culture of dependency (on either family or state-provided assistance).

Coupled to this less than rosy outlook is the fact that these young men more often than not succumb to sheer and utter boredom, arguably relieving their tedium with bouts of playing violent video games offering a temporary escape while boosting crumbled egos. Societal pressure thus pushes these youngsters in the direction of Islam and, given parental and family background, these young men frequently embark on a journey of self-discovery leading them to recognizing Jihad as their true cause making their empty lives full and meaningful. But, the dead weight of the boredom faced by these young men does not always lead to a journey of religious self-discovery, as attested by the recent revelation that the originally Birmingham-based and now terror-convicted Jihadi fighters Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar actually purchased such books as Islam For Dummies, The Koran For Dummies and Arabic For Dummies from Amazon prior to flying to the Middle East.

In the end, the US and its allies have now found their new bogeyman, sticking close to the recommendations made by then-NATO Secretary General Willy Claes, who, in 1995, envisaged that "Islamic militancy has [now] emerged as perhaps the single gravest threat to the NATO alliance and to Western security.” And this threat has taken the shape of two individuals between 1998 and 2014 – from Osama bin Laden to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka the Caliph Ibrahim, now even aided by numerous bored youths fleeing Islamophobia and a bleak life in Europe, possibly but not necessarily chasing 72 virgins in the afterlife.

Deals of the Day (9-01-2014)

Liliputing -

LG may have a new smartwatch on the way, but the company’s old model isn’t all that old. The original LG G Watch launched just a few months ago and still sells for $229… normally. Best Buy is currently offering the LG G Watch for just $180. Sure, it has a square watch face instead of […]

Deals of the Day (9-01-2014) is a post from: Liliputing

German economy ‘losing momentum’, GDP drops 0.2%

RT -

The seasonally-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) from April to June was confirmed Monday by Germany's Federal Statistics Office to have dropped twice as much as forecast, which it said shows the economy is “losing momentum.” Annual growth predictions have been slashed from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.

The initial second quarter figures were released August 14. If growth contracts again in the third quarter, Germany will enter a technical recession. In the first quarter Germany saw 0.7 percent growth.

Germany has spearheaded the continent’s austerity program, with severe spending cuts that may be further stunting the EU’s sputtering economy.

Germany is facing pressure from its European neighbors to spend more to help kick start the euro economy, namely using investment programs. Chancellor Merkel has said Germany will only agree to spend part of its €16.1 billion surplus if growth at home is healthy enough.

At $1.5 trillion, Germany accounts for nearly 30 percent of the gross domestic product of the entire 18-member eurozone. In general the eurozone’s economy has been on the rocks- with the largest economies like France and Italy failing to post growth, and mass unemployment in the “south”- namely Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

READ MORE: Nobel prize winners: Eurozone recovery is 'dismal failure'

Much of the economic shortfall in the second quarter is attributed to the ongoing Ukraine crisis and sectoral sanctions against Russia. Six thousand two hundred German companies do business with Russia.

Germany’s export-driven economy has slowed down as a result of soured relations with Russia. In 2013 German’s total exports reached €1.1 trillion, and it risks losing up to 25 percent in 2014.

In 2013, Germany was the biggest capital exporter globally, with a trade surplus of $270 billion.

The factory PMI for Germany, Russia's biggest trade partner in the European Union, fell to an 11-month low, and in the eurozone, it fell to a 13-month low.

Economic data for Germany has, as of late, been a mixed bag, with both business and consumers wary of the financial climate. However, compared to the same time period last year, 0.8 percent more people are employed.


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