GlobalPost - Home C. 2011 GlobalPost, only republish with permission. Subscribers must independently license photographs supplied by third-parties en Ukraine is pulling back from the abyss, for now <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> There are some signs of progress in Geneva, but will it last? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jean MacKenzie </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>A tentative plan for Ukraine emerged from Thursday&rsquo;s four-way talks in Geneva, where representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union met to try to find a way out of the deepening crisis.</p> <p>According to a joint statement issued by the participants, &ldquo;All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.&quot;</p> <p>The statement continued: &quot;All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Live blog updates on the Ukraine crisis</a></strong></p> <p>The agreement has defused, at least for now, a crisis that seemed to be spiraling out of control just 24 hours earlier.</p> <p>On Wednesday night into Thursday, <a href="" target="_blank">three pro-Russian demonstrators</a> were killed in the seaside town of Mariupol when an angry crowd tried to storm a Ukrainian military base there.</p> <p>This followed a fairly chaotic day in which residents of the eastern Ukraine towns of Kramatorsk, Slovyansk and Donetsk handily disarmed Ukrainian forces sent to quell their rebellion.</p> <p>Elderly women stared down government tanks and pro-Russian protesters commandeered military vehicles to do doughnuts.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>In Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry made clear that the agreement was just a first step toward regulating the situation.</p> <p>&ldquo;If we do not see progress, we will have no choice but to impose greater costs on Russia,&rdquo; Kerry said during a news conference following the talks.</p> <p>Additional provisions of the agreement include a monitoring mission by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a revision of Ukraine&rsquo;s Constitution, and greater autonomy for Ukraine&rsquo;s regions.</p> <p>The agreement was a welcome surprise. Few had anticipated a breakthrough in the intractable conflict, where neither Russia nor Ukraine seemed prepared to back down.</p> <p>&ldquo;My expectations [for Geneva] are fairly modest,&rdquo; Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former US ambassador to Kyiv, said in a phone interview with GlobalPost Thursday morning, before the agreement was announced. &ldquo;It will depend on whether [Russia&rsquo;s foreign minister] Mr. Lavrov brings anything new to the table, and whether Moscow is prepared to defuse the crisis. So far they have been pushing things to the edge.&rdquo;</p> <p>For the past two months, Russia and the West have been at loggerheads over Ukraine. In March, Moscow annexed Crimea, after what Washington and Europe deemed a clearly illegal referendum. Many feared that eastern Ukraine was next on the Kremlin&rsquo;s agenda.</p> <p>The European Union talked fitfully of increased economic sanctions against Russia while <a href="http://;" target="_blank">NATO promised</a> to ramp up its military presence in the region.</p> <p>The White House warned sternly of &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">consequences</a>&rdquo; if Moscow did not stop its support for &ldquo;non-state militias&rdquo; in eastern Ukraine, but the rhetoric seemed to be having little effect on Russia&rsquo;s behavior.</p> <p>Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed as &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">nonsense</a>&rdquo; reports that the Kremlin has operatives in Ukraine, but his denials rang hollow, given that he said the same thing last month about a rumored Russian presence in Crimea.</p> <p>&ldquo;During his call-in show yesterday Putin admitted that he had soldiers in Crimea,&rdquo; Pifer said of Wednesday&rsquo;s program. &ldquo;He even decorated some for their performance in the conflict.&rdquo;</p> <p>There is still potential for further clashes if the Geneva agreement is not implemented immediately, but the danger of a wider conflict appears to have abated.</p> <p>&ldquo;The US and NATO have been clear &mdash; some would say too clear &mdash; that they are not willing to go to war over Ukraine,&rdquo; Pifer said. &ldquo;Russia understands this. And Ukraine understands it. So we are not running the risk that they will miscalculate the degree of Western support.&rdquo;</p> <p>The West has been firm in its support for Ukraine, he insisted. An increased NATO presence in the Baltics will serve to reassure the now very nervous states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, while demonstrating to Russia that there&rsquo;s a clear difference between Ukraine on the one hand and NATO allies on the other.</p> <p>Washington has also shown its commitment with visits from high-level officials. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to go to Kyiv in the near future, as is Kerry.</p> <p>CIA Director John Brennan has been there, in a supposedly secret visit last weekend.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not certain what that was about,&rdquo; Pifer said.</p> <p>Others have not been so reticent. Many have <a href="" target="_blank">speculated Brennan was in Kyiv</a> to shore up the government&rsquo;s resolve to put down the rebellion in eastern Ukraine by force.</p> <p>Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said as much in an angry <a href="" target="_blank">post on his Facebook page</a>. Ukraine, he said, must decide its own future, &ldquo;Without impostors, nationalists, or bandits. Without tanks or armored vehicles. And without secret visits by the CIA director.&rdquo;</p> <p>Kyiv&rsquo;s decision to use force against the demonstrators was a gamble: Having come to power through mass demonstrations coupled with paramilitary tactics like occupying government buildings and throwing Molotov cocktails, the government now has to deal with similar tactics being used against it in eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>It could also have precipitated intervention from the 40,000 or so Russian troops massed along its border, as Putin warned on Wednesday.</p> <p>The Geneva agreement will put off for the present some very ticklish decisions that Washington and its allies will have to face if Russia and Ukraine are unable to find a way to live together.</p> <p>So far there has been limited direct assistance to Ukraine&rsquo;s military, other than <a href="" target="_blank">300,000 meals ready-to-eat</a> that were sent in March.</p> <p>But the Kyiv government will require a large economic bailout in order to survive, and the negotiators in Geneva reaffirmed their commitment.</p> <p>&ldquo;The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented,&rdquo; read the statement.</p> <p>If the agreement holds, it could be a sign that threats of increased sanctions against Russia have had some effect.</p> <p>Russia&rsquo;s economy was already showing some signs of strain, analysts say, in part because investors have been scared off by the prospect of an economic boycott of Russia.</p> <p>&ldquo;Neither Washington nor Brussels have declared a full-scale economic war,&rdquo; Pifer said. &ldquo;But the markets aren&rsquo;t waiting.&rdquo;</p> <p>This could explain Moscow&rsquo;s new pliability.</p> <p>&ldquo;Putin has made a bargain with his people,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They do not have a lot of political room to maneuver, but he has given them economic stability. If the sanctions start to tip the balance and he sees his approval ratings slipping, he may get nervous.&rdquo;</p> <p>The notoriously stoic Russian population is willing to endure a lot more than their Ukrainian counterparts, but even they might have a limit. Putin is allergic to the kind of unrest that toppled the regime in Kyiv last February.</p> <p>That is the one thing that might force Russia to rethink its foreign policy, Pifer said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Putin is worried about Maidan.&rdquo;</p> Crisis in Ukraine Need to Know World Leaders Diplomacy Military Russia United States Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:00:42 +0000 Jean MacKenzie 6124441 at The 4 songs you had no idea were inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> From Shakira to Silvio Rodriguez, music has immortalized the maestro known as Gabo. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ioan Grillo </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">MEXICO</a> CITY — Gabriel Garcia Marquez's monumental influence in <a href="">Latin America</a> and the world wasn't confined to literature. His words and the lives of his characters were also the driving forces behind several iconic songs about love and loss.</p> <p>Artists from <a href="">Colombian</a> diva Shakira, to <a href="">Cuban</a> crooner Silvio Rodriguez to <a href="">Spanish</a> rocker Joaquin Sabina all penned verses inspired by the Colombian writer known fondly as Gabo and his vast cast of characters from novels such as “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Garcia Marquez has died</a></strong></p> <p>Following his death from cancer at age 87 on Thursday, the songs are powerful testament to the life of one of Latin America’s most creative minds.</p> <p>Here's a look at some of the greatest Gabo-inspired hits.</p> <p> </p> <h2> Macondo: Oscar Chavez</h2> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Mexican singer Oscar Chavez, a proponent of “trova” music, social activist and actor, made a tropical hit out of Macondo, the fictional town in “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” The tune is heavily covered and is played on request by many mariachis.</p> <p> </p> <h2> Hay Amores: Shakira</h2> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>The queen of Colombian pop Shakira actually recorded three songs for the soundtrack of the film “Love in the Time of Cholera,” based on Garcia Marquez’s book, but the sad, romantic “Hay Amores” (There Are Loves) became the most emblematic.</p> <p> </p> <h2> Despues de los despueses: Sabina and Serrat</h2> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>A collaboration between Spanish artists Joaquin Sabina and Joan Manuel Serrat was dedicated to Gabo and included words about his immortal literature. “According to Gabo, the passion rusts and gets old,” the lyrics say. Sabina and Serrat also visited Garcia Marquez for his 85th birthday. The title “Despues de los despueses” means “After the afters.”</p> <p> </p> <h2> San Petersburgo: Silvio Rodriguez</h2> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>The Cuban king of the trova genre said that he once rode a plane in which he and Garcia Marquez were the only passengers. The Colombian writer told him a story of an abandoned bride, which Rodriguez retells in “San Petersburgo” (Saint Petersburg).</p> Gabriel Garcia Marquez Entertainment Want to Know Colombia Cuba Mexico Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:55:00 +0000 Ioan Grillo 6124516 at Gunmen pretending to be peaceful protesters attack UN base in South Sudan <!--paging_filter--><p>A mob of armed civilians pretending to be peaceful protesters delivering a petition to the United Nations in South Sudan forced their way into a UN base sheltering some 5,000 civilians on Thursday and opened fire, the world body said.</p> <p>A UN source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 20 people had been killed and 60 wounded in the attack on the base in Bor in northern Jonglei state, where there are <a href="">Indian</a> and <a href="">South Korean</a> UN peacekeepers. The source warned that the death toll was likely to rise.</p> <p>UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said dozens of civilians were wounded, but the exact number of people killed or wounded had not yet been confirmed. Two UN peacekeepers were wounded repelling the armed mob, he said.</p> <p>More than 1 million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted in the world's youngest country in December between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked vice president, Riek Machar.</p> <p>Thousands of people have been killed and tens of thousands have sought refuge at UN bases around the country.</p> <p>"This attack on a location where civilians are being protected by the United Nations is a serious escalation," Dujarric said. "The assailants — a mob of armed civilians — came to the base under the guise of peaceful demonstrators intending to present a petition to UNMISS (the UN peacekeeping mission)."</p> <p>"The armed mob forced entry on to the site and opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base," he said. "At the time of the attack there were some 5,000 displaced civilians ... inside the base."</p> <p>Dujarric said the wounded were being treated at the UN compound.</p> <p>On January 23, the warring parties agreed to a cessation of hostilities but fighting has continued in parts of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011 under an agreement to end decades of war.</p> <p>The current conflict has disrupted oil production, which provides a hefty portion of the government's revenue. South Sudanese rebels said on Tuesday they have seized the capital of oil-producing Unity state, Bentiu, and warned oil firms to pack up and leave within a week.</p> <p>(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andrew Hay)</p> Africa Need to Know Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:14:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6124420 at Turkish parliament approves wider powers for its spy agency <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">Turkey</a>'s parliament on Thursday approved a law boosting the powers of the secret service (MIT), a move seen by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's critics as a bid to tighten his grip on the apparatus of state as he wages a bitter power struggle.</p> <p>The changes ratified by parliament, which is dominated by Erdogan's AK Party, give the MIT more scope for eavesdropping and foreign operations, as well as greater immunity from prosecution for top agents.</p> <p>Control of the NATO member's security apparatus is at the heart of a feud between Erdogan and Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally based in the <a href="">United States</a> whose network of followers wields influence in the police and judiciary.</p> <p>Erdogan accuses Gulen's network of orchestrating a plot to unseat him, tapping thousands of phones, including his own, over years and using leaked recordings to unleash corruption allegations against his inner circle in the run-up to a series of elections. Gulen denies involvement.</p> <p>(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Robin Pomeroy)</p> Need to Know Turkey Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:41:27 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6124341 at Bad news for 420: Casual pot use causes brain abnormalities in young adults <!--paging_filter--><p>Young, casual marijuana smokers experience potentially harmful changes to their brains, with the drug altering regions of the mind related to motivation and emotion, researchers found.</p> <p>The study to be published on Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience differs from many other pot-related research projects that are focused on chronic, heavy users of cannabis.</p> <p>The collaborative effort between Northwestern University&#39;s medical school, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed a direct correlation between the number of times users smoked and abnormalities in the brain.</p> <p>&quot;What we&#39;re seeing is changes in people who are 18 to 25 in core brain regions that you never, ever want to fool around with,&quot; said co-senior study author Dr. Hans Beiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Drug war by the numbers (Infographic)</a></strong></p> <p>In particular, the study identified changes to the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation, in marijuana users who smoke between one and seven joints a week.</p> <p>The researchers found changes to the volume, shape and density of those brain regions. But more studies are needed to determine how those changes may have long-term consequences and whether they can be fixed with abstinence, Beiter said.</p> <p>&quot;Our hypothesis from this early work is that these changes may be an early sign of what later becomes amotivation, where people aren&#39;t focused on their goals,&quot; he said.</p> <p>The study, which was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, comes as access to pot is expanding following 2012 votes in Washington state and Colorado to legalize its recreational use. The drug remains illegal under federal law.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">The man who knows more about pot than anyone else on earth</a></strong></p> <p>Medical pot is allowed in 20 US states.</p> <p>Pot legalization advocates make the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol a central part of their campaigns.</p> <p>Other research has found drinking alcohol alters the brain, Beiter said. But while researchers do not know exactly how the mental rewiring seen in pot users affects their lives, the study shows it physically changes the brain in ways that differ from drinking, he said.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">World Wide Weed</a></strong></p> <p>This latest study fits with other research showing marijuana use has significant effects on young people because their brains are still developing, and Beiter said he has become convinced that marijuana should only be used by people under 30 if they need it to manage pain from a terminal illness.</p> <p>(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Ken Wills)</p> Need to Know Health Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:31:56 +0000 Alex Dobuzinskis, Thomson Reuters 6124305 at This Iranian mother did something extraordinary for her son's killer right before his execution <!--paging_filter--><p>An <a href="">Iranian</a> mother spared the life of her son's convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck, a newspaper reported Thursday.</p> <p>The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, in a street fight with a knife back in 2007.</p> <p>Shargh newspaper said police officers led Balal to a public execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr as a large crowd gathering on Tuesday morning.</p> <p>Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim who lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, asked the crowd whether they know "how difficult it is to live in an empty house."</p> <p>Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when Alinejad approached.</p> <p>She slapped him in the face and removed the rope from his neck assisted by her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer.</p> <p>"I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place... After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer," Alinejad told Shargh.</p> <p>"The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down," she said. "Now that I've forgiven him, I feel relieved."</p> <p>Balal said the "slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness."</p> <p>"I've asked my friends not to carry knives... I wish someone had slapped me in the face when I wanted to carry one," Balal said in a television interview.</p> <p>A high-profile campaign was launched by public figures including Adel Ferdosipour, a popular football commentator and TV show host, and former international footballer Ali Daei, appealed for the victim's family to forgive the killer.</p> <p>According to the United Nations, more than 170 people have been executed in the Islamic republic since the beginning of 2014.</p> <p>Under the country's interpretation of Islamic sharia laws in force since a 1979 revolution, murder and several other crimes are punishable by death.</p> <p>But the victim's family has the right to spare a convict's life in return for blood money, under Islamic laws.</p> <p>str-sgh/cyj/hc</p> Need to Know Iran Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:38:00 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6124150 at South Koreans blame themselves for ferry tragedy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> With nearly 300 missing, Koreans indulge a culture of shame. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Geoffrey Cain </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><div> <p align="left">SEOUL, <a href="">South Korea</a> ― Wednesday's ferry sinking off Korea’s west coast is being called one of the country’s worst peacetime disasters in modern times. Although 14 are confirmed dead, close to 300 are still missing in the frigid waters. Hopes are dwindling of finding more survivors.</p> <p align="left">South Korean authorities haven't yet determined the cause, but hints of human error and incompetence are surfacing. Survivors have said that they were repeatedly ordered through an intercom system to remain where they were, even as the 6,825-ton Sewol listed perilously and water filled the cabins. The ship<strong>, </strong>which authorities determined made a sharp right before turning on its side, could have struck a rock or been thrown off balance by many tons of poorly secured cargo, maritime experts speculate. Passengers report hearing a loud boom just before the ship began tilting.</p> <p align="left">The Korean coast guard is questioning the captain and other crew members.</p> <p align="left">Most of the passengers were high school students from Ansan, a city just south of Seoul, on a field trip to the popular tourist destination of Jeju Island off the southern coast. For them, the long-anticipated trip was a final break before cramming for exams. Their distraught loved ones spent the night in a gymnasium, <a href="">reportedly</a> under funereal silence.</p> <p align="left">The tragedy has cast a dark pall over this entire nation, which is at once grieving and gripped by anxiety over the fate of the missing passengers.</p> <p align="left">Understandably, accusations are being hurled at the ship’s officers; its captain was allegedly one of the first to abandon the doomed vessel. Likewise, the government is taking a bruising for a rescue effort widely seen as lackluster. Officials have been accused of initially underestimating the gravity of the disaster. In the gym, angry parents shouted at the president and threw a water bottle at the prime minister. </p> <p align="left">But unlike in other nations beset by tragedy, for many South Koreans the sunk ship is more than merely a disaster triggered by incompetence or gross negligence. For them, it reflects on what they claim are flaws in the national character ―shortcomings that Koreans say they have long struggled with but have yet to overcome.</p> <p align="left">"Even if the sinking was an accident caused by careless staff, Koreans will say that it's a shame for Korea," said Minjeong Gu, 33, an editor in Paju, northwest of Seoul. "'Shame' is one of the most commonly heard words in Korea," she said. </p> <p align="left">Indeed, shame ― along with sadness and mourning ― summed up the emotional reactions Thursday in Seoul. "I am ashamed to be Korean!" exclaimed an elderly convenience store owner in the capital, who would only give his family name, Park, before launching into a diatribe of expletives.</p> <p align="left">"How can we say we are a developed nation?" he asked. "Those sons of bitches in the government aren't doing enough to help the families. Sons of bitches in the businesses are corrupt, making this happen, probably ignoring the regulations because it is cheaper."</p> <p align="left">Editorial writers echoed this theme. The Kookmin Ilbo wrote that the disaster response was, "A typical underdeveloped-country style action … confusion, haste and a delayed rescue." The Chosun Ilbo wrote, “Above all, the people must have felt deeply that South Korea is a country that doesn’t value human lives.”</p> <p align="left">In the US or <a href="">Europe</a>, it is difficult to imagine a similar reaction, with feverish soul-searching connecting a disaster to national pride, shame and self worth. In the West, a tragedy typically elicits scowling at negligence, mourning of victims, and perhaps efforts to improve safety or response procedures.</p> <p align="left">Such was the case in January 2012, when the captain of the Costa Concordia, an <a href="">Italian</a> cruise liner, escaped his sinking vessel but left behind hundreds of passengers allegedly in violation of maritime law. He was soon arrested<strong>. </strong>Likewise, despite the rash of anger over Hurricane Katrina's devastation in the US ― triggered by a natural disaster, although inadequate preparation and response worsened the suffering ― people blamed government incompetence, not some defect in the American disposition.</p> <p align="left">But in South Korea, manmade disasters tend to mean more. Here ― despite pride over the nation's rapid rise from poverty in the 1960s to the ranks of wealthy, high tech nations ― a fear of blundering and inadequacy remains imprinted on the national psyche.</p> <p align="left">This may be partially a result of rapid economic development. Like in other emerging <a href="">Asian</a> nations, modern urban cities have sprouted up in a matter of years. Buildings and vehicles were constructed hastily, even if that meant sacrificing quality and safety measures. And lives were sacrificed in the process.</p> <p align="left">Some South Koreans say that rapid growth, which fostered a need to get things done faster and cheaper, made the country more prone to disasters decades ago, something of an embarrassment as it joined the ranks of developed nations in the 1990s. Yet the days of slipshod rags-to-riches growth are over.</p> <p align="left">That doesn't mean that the reactions have changed, in part due to a fragile sense of national pride. "South Korea is obsessed with … how the Korean people and nation are viewed by the outside world," explained Sung-yoon Lee, a Korea expert at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.</p> <p align="left">Lee cited other examples of how disasters afflicted the South Korean psyche. In 1995, the upscale Sampoong department store in Seoul collapsed, killing 500 people. "This incident triggered much soul-searching and collective shame," he said. "Was the South Korean nation guilty in its lunge toward industrialization and the accretion of wealth? Had it cheated, tolerated corruption, and rashly cut corners in its obsession with rapid growth?”</p> <p align="left">In 1994, a major bridge over the Han River also collapsed, killing more than 30 people. The response? South Korea's president at the time apologized to the people "out of Confucian norms of shame and the leader bearing responsibility for large-scale tragedies," Lee recalled.</p> <p align="left">More recently, many South Koreans took personally the crash-landing of an Asiana flight in San Francisco last year, which left three people dead. President Park Geun-hye personally wrote a letter to the <a href="">Chinese</a> government calling the crash "regrettable," offering sympathy for the deaths of Chinese girls in the incident.


</p> <p align="left">Perhaps one of the most tenuous causes for national flagellating arose when 23-year-old, South Korean-born Seung-hui Cho killed 32 people before taking his own life in the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre. South Koreans took to the streets with candlelight vigils and expressions of shame, feeling a sense of responsibility for their overseas brethren.</p> <p align="left">The killer, however, had lived in the US for fifteen years ― two-thirds of his life ― before the massacre.</p> <p align="left"><em>Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the Sampoong department store as Soompi.</em></p> </div> Want to Know Japan North Korea South Korea Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:02:00 +0000 Geoffrey Cain 6124114 at 3 things I learned in eastern Ukraine <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> No. 1: Locals aren’t just spitting mad. They feel completely disenfranchised. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dan Peleschuk </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><em>Editor's note: Dan Peleschuk is GlobalPost's senior correspondent based in Moscow.</em></p> <p>SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — With the pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine spiraling further out of the government’s control every day, it’s becoming clear there’s little the new authorities in Kyiv can do to reverse the wave of discontent and pro-Russian sentiment washing over the region.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU agree to de-escalate the crisis (LIVE BLOG)</a></strong></p> <p>After time spent in this eastern city, which has been almost completely seized by pro-Russian rebels who repelled Ukrainian soldiers on Wednesday, here’s a look at some of the issues.</p> <p><strong>1. Locals aren’t just spitting mad. They feel completely disenfranchised.</strong></p> <p>It would be a mistake to assume that everyone in Slovyansk and other defiant cities in the east desperately want to secede from Ukraine and join <a href="">Russia</a>.</p> <p>Many locals in the region who have spoken to GlobalPost in recent weeks say they’re actually in favor of remaining part of Ukraine as long as the authorities give them more power. The overriding mantra during the unrest — at least on the surface — has been a call for the country’s “federalization,” which would grant more autonomy to the regions.</p> <p>Most of the more active protesters, who oscillate between calls for federalization and full-blown separatism, are in the minority.</p> <p>Much of the rest of the population simply feels disenfranchised thanks to years of pervasive corruption, rampant unemployment, dismal standards of living and the general lack of any decent prospects for the future.</p> <p>Locals resent the months-long protests in Kyiv that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych — whose support base was in eastern Ukraine — but most often, the anger stems from the years of official neglect of the country’s regions, no matter the political affiliation.</p> <p>It’s written across the shattered landscape of Slovyansk and other depressed cities, where factories have been shuttered, roads are riddled with potholes and outlying streets littered with beer bottles and empty cigarette packs.</p> <p>The discontent was perhaps best framed by an elderly pensioner who stood helpless and angry outside the barricaded city council earlier this week, demanding to know what would happen to her pension amid the political turmoil.</p> <p>Fed up with both the Kyiv authorities and local officials in Slovyansk, she huffed about her already miserable economic state: Her pension is about 1,100 hryvnias per month ($85), she said, while her utilities fees add up to about 1,500 hryvnias.</p> <p>“Do the math,” she said. “How are we supposed to survive?”</p> <p><strong>2. Checkpoints are no fun — especially when they’re run by unidentified men with guns.</strong></p> <p>The militant anti-government rage that’s swept cities like Slovyansk has manifested itself in many ways, but most prominently in the control local protesters and “self-defense” forces wield over the buildings they’ve seized and roads leading in and out of the city.</p> <p>In the absence of any meaningful police force on the streets, young toughs wielding baseball bats whose faces are hidden behind surgical masks stop cars at checkpoints made of sandbags and tires whenever they want and inspect them however they want.</p> <p>Most of the rebels are crudely armed, most with clubs and other blunt objects. Some, however, carry automatic rifles, and GlobalPost spotted at least one guard carefully aiming a rusty sawed-off shotgun at approaching cars.</p> <p>It’s particularly menacing at night, when the city is ghastly empty. Drivers heading in or out of Slovyansk are likely to be stopped by gangs of “self-defense” guards roaming barricades in the dark outskirts, shining flashlights into cars.</p> <p>They sometimes pull travelers out of their vehicles, inspect trunks and glove compartments, then direct them on their way. But that’s only before instructing them to drive through the barricades with headlights off, presumably for fear of giving away their positions.</p> <p><strong>3. Eastern Ukraine isn’t the best place for Westerners to visit these days.</strong></p> <p>Ask any Ukrainian from the Ukrainian-speaking west or the Russian-speaking east and they’ll agree there’s an information war being waged.</p> <p>On one side, it’s the pro-Kyiv Ukrainian media, which has cast the unrest as a separatist movement engineered by the Kremlin. On the other, it’s the Russian state-owned media, which insists the armed uprising is a peaceful and righteous movement against a fascist junta propped up by Western intelligence services.</p> <p>That narrative dominates in eastern Ukraine, especially in provincial towns such as Slovyansk, where a largely working-class population relies on Russian television for most information.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Loathing and lawlessness in occupied eastern Ukraine</a></strong></p> <p>Almost any protester one speaks to is likely to slam the <a href="">United States</a> for its alleged role in orchestrating the Kyiv protests, enabling a regime they fear will crack down on Russian-speakers in Ukraine’s east, and guiding a propaganda campaign that casts locals here as terrorists.</p> <p>That widespread belief makes it potentially unfriendly territory for Westerners, especially American journalists. While many residents generally restrain themselves from open hostility, they nevertheless regularly issue the same angry plea: “Don’t lie about us.”</p> <p>But some are more hostile.</p> <p>That was the case on Tuesday, when after identifying himself as an American, this reporter was forcibly escorted away from Slovyansk’s seized city council building by a heavily armed rebel.</p> <p>The best way to learn about the local pro-Russian spirit, he suggested sarcastically and somewhat cryptically, was to “go see a priest.”</p> <p>In case that message wasn’t clear, he added: “You’re not welcome here.” </p> Crisis in Ukraine Need to Know Conflict Zones Europe Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:37:00 +0000 Dan Peleschuk 6124117 at Whistleblower Edward Snowden makes a surprise appearance on Putin's TV call-in <!--paging_filter--><p>Edward Snowden, the fugitive former US spy agency contractor who leaked details of US intelligence eavesdropping, made a surprise appearance on a TV phone-in hosted by Vladimir Putin on Thursday, asking the Russian president if his country also tapped the communications of millions.</p> <p>Snowden was not in the studio with Putin — he submitted his question in a video clip that a lawyer said had been pre-recorded.</p> <p>Snowden asked Putin: "Does <a href="">Russia</a> intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?"</p> <p>Putin, a spy during a 16-year career with the Soviet KGB, raised a laugh among the studio audience when he said: "You are an ex-agent. I used to have ties to intelligence. So we will speak to each other in the language of professionals."</p> <p>Turning to Snowden's question, Putin said Russia regulates communications as part of criminal investigations, but "on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it."</p> <p>He said the Russian authorities need consent from a court to conduct such surveillance on a specific individual "and for this reason there is no (surveillance) of a mass character here and cannot be in accordance with the law."</p> <p>The televised exchange allowed Putin to portray Russia as less intrusive in the lives of its citizens than the <a href="">United States</a>, which he frequently accuses of preaching abroad about rights and freedoms it violates at home.</p> <p><strong>Sanctions are 'violation of human rights'</strong></p> <p>Putin condemned Western sanctions imposed on a group of Russians and Ukrainians in his address, saying they were aimed at people close to him and in one case had prevented a leading businessman's wife from paying for an operation.</p> <p>"Of course this is simply a violation of human rights. It has nothing to do with common sense," he said.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Putin says Kyiv's leaders are leading Ukraine into an abyss (LIVE BLOG)</a></strong></p> <p>He said the sanctions were aimed at attacking people close to the president.</p> <p>"Probably it was an attempt to make me the main target of the sanctions. But as for these people — yes, these are my good acquaintances, my friends. They have earned their money, some of them even before we met," he said.</p> <p><strong>Russia essential for <a href="">Europe</a>'s energy needs</strong></p> <p>Putin also talked about Europe's reliance on Russia for its energy needs. He said it would not be possible for Europe, which is trying to cut its dependence on Russian energy, to completely stop buying Russian gas.</p> <p>He said that the transit via Ukraine is the most dangerous element in Europe's gas supply system, and that he was hopeful a deal could be reached with Ukraine on gas supplies.</p> <p>Russia meets around 30 percent of Europe's natural gas needs. Moscow's actions in Ukraine have spurred attempts by the continent to reduce its dependency on oil and gas supplies from the former Cold War foe.</p> <p>"Of course, everyone is taking care about supply diversification. There, in Europe, they talk about increasing independence from the Russian supplier," said Putin.</p> <p>Putin said that Russia would not seek to cut itself off from the outside world with a Soviet-style Iron Curtain.</p> <p>"The Iron Curtain is a Soviet invention," Putin said during a televised call-in with the nation. "We have no intention of closing off our country and our society from anyone."</p> <p>When asked whether he would be willing to remain president for life, Putin said: "No." </p> Need to Know Russia Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:21:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6124102 at The largest election on the planet is holding its largest day of polling today <!--paging_filter--><p>India held the biggest day of its mammoth general election on Thursday, with a quarter of its 815 million-strong electorate eligible to vote during a week of fresh blows for the ruling Congress party and gains for the Hindu nationalist opposition.</p> <p>Narendra Modi, the prime-ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been wooing voters with promises to rescue India from its slowest economic growth in a decade and create jobs for its booming young population.</p> <p>In the latest large opinion poll, the BJP and its allies were forecast to win a narrow majority in the 543-seat lower house of parliament, compared to previous surveys predicting that they would fall short.</p> <p>Yet a decision by the Election Commission to reprimand a senior Modi aide for making speeches deemed to stir tensions with minority Muslims underlined critics' assertions that the party is a divisive force.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=YfYPKspoT4f-eEIROXkoxbklEZ6rB0Z6rFi8lRxafvI=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Voting took place in 120 constituencies across 12 states, from the fractious Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir — where election materials had to be airlifted to some remote polling stations — to the lush southern state of Karnataka whose capital is the IT and outsourcing hub Bangalore.</p> <p>The world's biggest ever election is taking place in nine stages from April 7 to May 12, with results due on May 16.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Hindu nationalism takes driver's seat in Indian election</a></strong></p> <p>"We want Modi to win this time. That's why we are here early in the morning, doing our best for him," said Preetham Prabhu, a 32-year-old software engineer who was the first to cast his vote in a polling station in a residential suburb of Bangalore.</p> <p>Modi's image remains tarnished by Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat, the western state where he is chief minister, on his watch 12 years ago. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the violence.</p> <p>Modi denies accusations that he failed to stop the riots and a Supreme Court inquiry found he had no case to answer. In an interview with ANI television news on Wednesday, Modi accused reporters of smearing him over the riots.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=yuEWDQj8yhZ6FxUAHMdHxuq4t05ummyzSJlYe37uaUI=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>"People have forgotten what Modi did to people of this country. I think saving people's lives is more important than development," said Shafina Khan, a 21-year-old Muslim teacher in Kamshet, a village surrounded by sugarcane fields in the large western state of Maharashtra.</p> <p>Khan had just cast a vote for the Nationalist Congress Party, a Congress ally, in a polling station set up in a government school.</p> <p>Election authorities on Wednesday issued an order rebuking Amit Shah, who runs the BJP's campaign in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state and a key political battleground, over his speeches.</p> <p>"The Election Commission is the supreme body and I abide by its decision," Shah said on his Twitter account after the order.</p> <p>The commission last week banned Shah from election rallies and meetings. The latest order did not mention the ban, or what new restrictions might now be sought.</p> <p><strong>Tech billionaires and estranged cousins</strong></p> <p>The Congress party, led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, is forecast to suffer its worst-ever defeat after a decade in power due to public anger over the economic slowdown, high inflation and a string of graft scandals. The party has ruled India for more than 50 of its 67 years of independence.</p> <p>Congress has struggled in recent days with a former media adviser and a former coal secretary both releasing books that paint Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a well-intentioned but weak figure who answers only to party president Sonia Gandhi.</p> <p>"It's only a dynasty, like previously we had kings ruling," said P.V. Padmanabhan, a 79-year-old retired electricity board official who has voted in every Indian election, and was lining up to vote at the eastern Bangalore polling station.</p> <p>"They have to give it to somebody else. (Leaders) should not only come from Nehru's family."</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Low-caste Indians look to Modi and BJP in elections</a></strong></p> <p>Indian elections are notoriously hard to forecast due to the country's diverse electorate and parliamentary system in which local candidates hold great sway. Opinion polls wrongly predicted a victory for a BJP-led alliance in elections in 2004 and underestimated Congress's winning margin in 2009.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=SKV-aziFZBVIci_UYhxH5lMgvPoxLTopCDQ3yjSUZt8=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Thursday's parliamentary candidates range from IT billionaire and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, running for Congress in Bangalore, to Maneka Gandhi, an estranged member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty standing for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.</p> <p>Voter turnout has been 68 percent on average in the 111 constituencies that have voted so far, according to the Election Commission, a sharp rise on 60 percent in the same constituencies and 58 percent nationally in 2009.</p> <p>"It is because of the people's unrest against the establishment. It is the anti-incumbency," Nitin Gadkari, a BJP leader and the party's former president, told Reuters.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in KAMSHET, Jatindra Dash in BHUBANESHWAR, Sharat Pradhan in LUCKNOW, Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR, Rohit T.K. in BANGALORE and Aditya Kalra in <a href="">NEW DELHI</a>; Writing by Shyamantha Asokan; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Nick Macfie)</p> Need to Know India Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:56:00 +0000 Ashutosh Pandey and Swetha Gopinath, Thomson Reuters 6124061 at The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea faces criminal investigation <!--paging_filter--><p>Update:</p> <p>Yonhap News Agency — The number of confirmed deaths in the ferry sinking off <a href="">South Korea</a> jumped to 25 early Friday, as a growing number of bodies were found floating in the sea apparently due to current shifts.</p> <p>South Korea's Coast Guard said a total of 16 bodies were recovered since 6 p.m. Thursday.</p> <p>--------------------------------------</p> <p>The captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized off the southwest coast was facing a criminal investigation on Thursday, an official said, amid unconfirmed reports that he was one of the first people to jump to safety as the vessel began sinking.</p> <p>The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized on Wednesday. The government has said nine people were found dead and 179 had been rescued, leaving about 290 people, most of them teenaged school children, missing and possibly trapped in the vessel.</p> <p>The captain, identified as Lee Joon-Seok, 69, is being questioned by the coastguard and is the subject of a criminal investigation, a coastguard official said.</p> <p>Media reports said he was facing the possibility of charges of negligence leading to death and also for violating a law that stipulates the conduct of shipping crew. Coastguard officials could not be reached for further details.</p> <p>"It's still an early stage and we're questioning the circumstances," said one coastguard official in the town of Mokpo, which is the center of the investigation.</p> <p>Television showed the captain sitting hunched over, wearing a hooded jacket, at the coastguard centre in Mokpo on Thursday.</p> <p>"I apologize to the passengers and victims and families," he said, declining to answer questions about what happened and why he abandoned the ship when he did.</p> <p>Coastguard investigators have not given reporters access to the captain since then.</p> <p>Lee was filling in for the regular captain, who was on leave, but had been at sea for 40 years and had travelled on the route before, ferry operator Chonghaejin said.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=PQuXHrRuc7o069sLblYm41YoPYd1p8HAleUTEY5NbSM=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>No survivor has been able to specify exactly when the captain left the vessel although several said he left early. At the time, other witnesses said, the crew was asking passengers to remain calm and stay where they were.</p> <p><strong>'Mad as hell'</strong></p> <p>One survivor told a South Korean television station: "I was one of the first ones to jump on a coastguard boat and there were several others, and I heard from one of the rescuers that the captain was on the boat before me."</p> <p>Other survivors also said the captain was one of the first to be rescued. Coastguard officials declined to comment when asked for confirmation.</p> <p>The ferry operator declined to comment on the captain's action, saying it was under investigation by the coastguard.</p> <p>Families of the missing were outraged at the reports of the captain being one of the first to jump ship.</p> <p>"It's despicable and I'm mad as hell, but this is really not the time to talk blame, it's the rescue of these kids that comes first," said Lee Yong-ki, father of one of the missing children.</p> <p>About half of the 30 crew members have been rescued.</p> <p>It took the ferry about two hours to sink and most of the survivors were those who made it out on to the deck and then waited for help, holding on to the rails, or jumped into the sea to be picked up by rescue boats.</p> <p>The crew was appealing to the passengers to remain where they were when it started sinking.</p> <p>"It is outrageous that they didn't tell people to get out," said Choi Min-ji, one of the high school students who survived.</p> <p>"They kept saying 'stay put' even when the water was coming in. I almost got trapped too and barely came out alive. If they did it (told people to get out) there would have been fewer casualties."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=aWrYT02zQu0lgBmMtrkgKTrG-OFGjCOFQi_Glt09u2Y=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Another survivor, Lee Tae-ju, 68, said some people believed the order to stay put sounded reasonable at the time.</p> <p>"The ship was listing sharply, so I would have tried to tell people to stay put if I were them, just to keep calm. What can you do? In any case, the ship was listing so sharply it would have been almost impossible to get out."</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-Min Park in Seoul and Jungmin Jang in Mokpo; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Robert Birsel)</p> Need to Know South Korea Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:53:00 +0000 Narae Kim, Thomson Reuters 6123936 at Chatter: According to Putin, Ukraine is being led into an abyss <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Three separatists killed in worst bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, the irony of Passover in Israel, and possibly the world's biggest water fight. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Priyanka Boghani </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p></p> Home Need to Know Regions Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Priyanka Boghani 5942065 at Edinburgh’s very secret society <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A university’s relationship with an exclusive all-male club is renewing a debate about sexism. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Geoghegan </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>EDINBURGH, <a href="">UK</a> — Edinburgh University’s Old College is one of Scotland’s best-known buildings. Located in the city center, its imposing cupola and neo-classical quadrangle have provided the setting for numerous films, novels and plays.</p> <p>But the building also harbors a secret: For almost 200 years, a clandestine, all-male society with connections that run across the upper echelons of Scottish society has held regular meetings in its rooms.</p> <p>Founded in 1764, the Speculative Society — known to its select members as “the Spec” — holds private black tie soirees where wine is quaffed in candlelit rooms specially designed by the Scottish engineer William Playfair, after whom Old College’s famous library is named.</p> <p>The room in which they meet contains the death mask of Sir Walter Scott and the flag wrapped around Robert Louis Stevenson’s body after he died.</p> <p>Although the Spec has been meeting in Old College since 1819, there was scant public debate about the society until a recent investigation by The Student, Edinburgh University’s student newspaper, found the university was paying property tax on the society’s rooms in the same building as the law school.</p> <p>That despite the official claim the society has “absolutely no links” to the law school. “The rooms which are used by the Speculative Society do not belong to the law school nor do they belong to the university,” says the school’s head Lesley McAra.</p> <p>The Spec’s activities can appear arcane. Meeting “sessions” occur between the third Wednesdays of October and March and are traditionally advertised in an Edinburgh newspaper a week before their start.</p> <p>The society maintains its all-male membership even though no formal rule bans women from joining.</p> <p>Members are selected by invitation and required to sign an attendance roll using quill pens. Each “Speculator” is assigned a four-digit membership number.</p> <p>“Ordinary residing members” are restricted to 30 and must attend every meeting for three years in black tie to avoid being fined. Members are also required to pay an “annual quota” of 7 pounds in pre-decimal sterling, money that predates the currency’s standardization in the 1970s.</p> <p>During the meetings, members submit and critique essays on various topics, which between 1955 and 1972 included: “Has female emancipation gone too far?” and “Do the Wogs [sic] begin at Calais?” referring to the <a href="">French</a> port where most Britons crossing the channel arrive on mainland <a href="">Europe</a>.</p> <p>The society’s members include several prominent figures in Scottish — and British — public life including the queen’s husband (the Duke of Edinburgh), former Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home and businessman Sir Angus Grossart.</p> <p>Although Spec supporters insist it’s nothing more than a debating society, critics say claims that many leading members of the Scottish judiciary are Spec members raise serious questions about the society’s influence in public life.</p> <p>Whatever the case, the society’s relationship with Edinburgh University will come under increased scrutiny. The university has already said it will launch a review.</p> <p>“The university is strongly committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students and is intent on promoting a positive culture for all members of the institution,” a university spokesperson said. “Our policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and the university intends to initiate a review of its historic relationship with the Speculative Society.”</p> <p>The current controversy isn’t the first of its kind.</p> <p>In 1867, Spec members were locked out of their rooms allegedly for failing to pay for their use until they agreed to fully abide by the university’s rules.</p> <p>For many students, however, the university hasn’t done enough to address concerns raised by the presence of a secret all-male society on campus since the school signed a dignity and respect policy committing it to ending “discrimination” on university grounds in 2001.</p> <p>“The university just seems to want to sweep it under the carpet, to keep these doors shut, just to save them from embarrassment,” Alex Shaw, who conducted the investigation for The Student, told GlobalPost. “But it’s an issue of what’s right for society, whether a public institution should be either implicitly or explicitly funding an all-male society comprised of several high-ranking members of the great and the good of Edinburgh.”</p> <p>“If you are a university and you know that this group is meeting up, drinking wine in candlelit rooms, it should worry you,” he added.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">How Europe can kick its Russian gas habit</a></strong></p> <p>The debate about sexism has also risen elsewhere recently.</p> <p>Last year, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond prompted a furious debate when he said that one of the country’s most exclusive golf courses should not have been allowed to host the Open Golf Championship without overturning a ban on female members.</p> <p>He said the men-only membership of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which runs the Muirfield golf course, sent out the message that women are “second-class citizens.”</p> <p>Back at Edinburgh University, Chloe Oakshett, a graduate law student points out that 35 years have passed since the society debated “Has Female Emancipation Gone Too Far?”</p> <p>“They have not used the time wisely,” she said. </p> Scotland Want to Know Culture & Lifestyle United Kingdom Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:07:11 +0000 Peter Geoghegan 6121361 at Remember Obama's whole pivot to Asia thing? Well, he's trying to revive it <!--paging_filter--><p>When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South <a href="">China</a> Sea last month, a US Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.</p> <p>The flyover was a vivid illustration of the expanding significance of one of Asia's most strategic regions and underscored a message that senior US officials say President Barack Obama will make in Asia next week: The "pivot" of US military and diplomatic assets toward the Asia-Pacific region is real.</p> <p>Washington's Asian allies, however, appear unconvinced.</p> <p>During Obama's four-nation tour of Asia that begins on April 23, his toughest challenge will be to reassure skeptical leaders that the <a href="">United States</a> intends to be more than just a casual observer and instead is genuinely committed to countering an increasingly assertive China in the region.</p> <p>Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula — and perceptions of limited US options to get Moscow to back down — has heightened unease in <a href="">Japan</a>, the Philippines and elsewhere about whether Beijing might feel emboldened to use force to pursue its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.</p> <p>There is also suspicion among some Asian allies that if they come under threat from China, the United States — despite treaty obligations to come to their aid — might craft a response aimed more at controlling damage to its own vital relationship with China, the world's second-biggest economic power.</p> <p>For Obama, the tricky part of the trip, which will include stops in Japan, <a href="">South Korea</a>, Malaysia and the Philippines, will be deciding how to set limits on China in a way that soothes US allies in Asia but avoids stoking tensions with Beijing.</p> <p>"Obama's upcoming visit will be the most critical test of this administration's Asia policy," said Richard Jacobson, a Manila-based analyst with TD International, a business risk and strategic consulting firm.</p> <p><strong>A sign of anxiety</strong></p> <p>US officials say the Obama administration's long-promised "rebalancing" of America's economic, diplomatic and security policy toward Asia is on track, largely unaffected by the attention demanded by the crisis in Ukraine or persistent troubles in the <a href="">Middle East</a>.</p> <p>The Asia "pivot" — as the White House initially dubbed it — represented a strategy to refocus on the region's dynamic economies as the United States disentangled itself from costly wars in Iraq and <a href="">Afghanistan</a>.</p> <p>But doubts about Washington's commitment to Asia are simmering in some allied capitals.</p> <p>"It was a welcome policy change, but will they do it?" Yukio Okamoto, a former Japanese government adviser on foreign affairs said of the strategic shift toward Asia that Obama announced in 2011. "We do not see any actual sign" of its implementation.</p> <p>When Obama announced the eastward shift, the most dramatic symbol of the new policy was the planned deployment of 2,500 US Marines in northern Australia, where they would be primed to respond to regional conflicts. It took until this month to build up forces to 1,150 Marines based in Darwin, and the full contingent is not due to be in place until 2017.</p> <p>"The US pivot towards Asia has had very few tangible, concrete outcomes so far," said Adam Lockyer, a foreign policy and defense analyst at the University of New South <a href="">Wales</a>.</p> <p>The administration has promised that the United States will reposition naval forces so that 60 percent of its warships are based in Asia-Pacific by the end of the decade, up from about 50 percent now. But as the US military budget contracts, that likely would represent part of a shrinking US defense pie.</p> <p>Obama's aides brush aside complaints about the US follow-through on the pivot strategy, saying that no matter how much attention Washington devotes to friends and partners in the region, the allies will always want more from their superpower friend.</p> <p>"Questions by Asia-Pacific allies about the degree of American commitment has been a constant component of our relationship for 60-plus years. It's not new," said a senior US official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to comment publicly. "It doesn't mean the US won't do more to work with them."</p> Need to Know United States Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:54:00 +0000 Matt Spetalnick and Manuel Mogato, Thomson Reuters 6123245 at The Pakistani Taliban says it's ended a 40-day ceasefire with the government <!--paging_filter--><p>The Pakistani Taliban have formally ended a 40-day ceasefire but are still open to talks with the government, a spokesman said on Wednesday.</p> <p>Government negotiators were not immediately available to confirm if talks would continue.</p> <p>Shahidullah Shahid said the insurgents were not extending the ceasefire, which began on March 1, because the government had continued to arrest people and had killed more than 50 people associated with the insurgency.</p> <p>The government has also continued to carry our raids and had arrested more than 200 people, he said. Shahid also complained that unidentified Taliban prisoners had been tortured in prison.</p> <p>"However, the talks will continue with sincerity and seriousness and in case there is clear progress from the government side, (the Taliban) will not hesitate to take a serious step," Shahid said in a statement.</p> <p>Peace talks between the Taliban and the government began in February but the first round collapsed after less than a week because the Taliban bombed a bus full of police and executed 23 kidnapped men from a government paramilitary force.</p> <p>The government suspended talks and threatened to launch a military operation against Taliban bases. Talks only resumed after the Taliban declared a ceasefire on March 1.</p> <p>Since then, the government has released a few dozen low-level non-combatant prisoners, but the Taliban want hundreds of men released and the army to pull back from tribal areas bordering <a href="">Afghanistan</a>.</p> <p>The Taliban have been fighting for years to overthrow the democratically elected government of <a href="">Pakistan</a> and impose strict Islamic law on the nation of 180 million people.</p> <p>But in recent weeks fighting has broken out between rival Taliban commanders in the powerful Mehsud tribe. One commander wanted talks to continue but another is violently opposed. Around 50 people have been killed in the infighting so far.</p> <p>The ceasefire did not ensure peace. More than 100 were injured and 34 were killed in two attacks in the capital of Islamabad during the ceasefire. Militants attacked a court and bombed a vegetable market. It was not clear whether a faction of the Taliban carried out the bombing or another of Pakistan's many militant groups.</p> <p>The Pakistani Taliban are a loose alliance of militant groups separate from but allied to the Afghan Taliban.</p> <p>Pakistani police have warned that the Pakistani Taliban are preparing to carry out devastating suicide attacks in the capital if the army moves against Taliban bases near the Afghan border.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan in Islamabad; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams)</p> Need to Know Pakistan Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:17:47 +0000 Saud Mehsud, Thomson Reuters 6123230 at One Indonesian governor's solution for adultery: Attend mass prayers <!--paging_filter--><p>An Indonesian governor said Wednesday he has ordered all civil servants in a central province to attend mass prayer sessions and religious sermons in a bid to stop adultery.</p> <p>It was just the latest attempt by Rusli Habibie to encourage government employees in Gorontalo province — which is mainly Muslim like most parts of the vast archipelago — to stay faithful.</p> <p>He enacted a local law earlier this month requiring all government employees regularly to pray together and attend half-hour sermons each Friday in the hope it would discourage them from cheating on spouses.</p> <p>"I have heard so many reports of married civil servants cheating. They have one girlfriend or boyfriend one day, and another the next. They are not allowed to do this," Habibie told AFP.</p> <p>"Their behavior is destroying the image of the government. They cannot do this," he added, rejecting criticism that infidelity was a private matter.</p> <p>In March last year Habibie gave instructions that male civil servants' salaries be paid into their wives' bank accounts to stop them spending cash on their mistresses, saying men with money were "unable to control themselves."</p> <p>In July he banned male employees from having female secretaries. He said the secretaries often became the men's mistresses and were given gifts of "perfume and branded bags" while their wives were neglected.</p> <p>More than 90 percent of <a href="">Indonesia</a>'s 250 million people are Muslim, with most practicing a moderate form of Islam.</p> <p>ad/sr/sm</p> Need to Know Indonesia Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:41:40 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6123091 at Loathing and lawlessness in occupied eastern Ukraine <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukrainian forces are proving unable to reassert control over pro-Russia activists with serious grievances. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dan Peleschuk </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Even before Ukrainian troops rolled into this crumbling city on Wednesday and promptly surrendered or defected to the pro-Russian rebels who had seized it last weekend — as conflicting reports suggest — it already seemed a lost cause.</p> <p>Since Saturday, the central streets of this former industrial outpost of about 130,000 have been patrolled by heavily armed, masked men, some of whom bear a striking resemblance to the Russian troops who appeared in Crimea shortly before Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula last month.</p> <p>Most strategic points around town — the city council building, the local police station and the state security headquarters — remain surrounded by barricades of sandbags and tires, guarded by rag-tag, crudely armed teams of local “self-defense” forces in surgical masks.</p> <p>Amid real anger here, the Ukrainian government’s writ is disappearing.</p> <p>Local residents say they’re fed up with the new pro-Western government — backed by the months-long protests on Kyiv’s Independence Square, the “Maidan” — that’s shown little interest in extending a hand to the Russified, industrial east.</p> <p>“For three months, we watched this scene on the Maidan and were against it, but no one listened to us,” said 55-year-old local Olga Vladimirovna, standing near the blockaded police station on Tuesday.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>Such grievances have helped feed the wave of pro-Russian sentiments here in Ukraine’s east, where several other cities have fallen under at least some control by anti-government rebels seeking to break ties with the new Kyiv government.</p> <p>“We knew how this would all end,” Vladimirovna added. “We’re not stupid people here — we knew it would result in collapse.”</p> <p>In Slovyansk — a gray city of decrepit roads, shuttered factories and ramshackle, Soviet-era apartment blocks — that collapse appears to have at least somewhat materialized.</p> <p>There are virtually no police officers in sight and local officials have made few attempts to regulate the situation. The vast majority remains loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.</p> <p>Slovyansk Mayor Nelya Shtepa had earlier supported the protesters’ occupation of local buildings and suggested a referendum on the country’s federalization, a key demand voiced by disenfranchised protesters in eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>But by Tuesday, she had fled the city and changed tack, claiming well-trained Russians had spearheaded the siege on Slovyansk and were handing out arms to homegrown rebels.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>The Kyiv authorities, meanwhile, have clumsily scrambled to regain control in the east by launching an “anti-terrorist” operation that’s stalling by all accounts.</p> <p>While they appeared to have partially succeeded on Tuesday in recapturing an occupied airfield in the nearby city of Kramatorsk, scattered reports on Wednesday suggested the troops who arrived in Slovyansk were Ukrainians who had sided with the pro-Russian rebels.</p> <p>A senior Kyiv lawmaker denied those charges, claiming the Ukrainians had rolled into the city under the guise of pro-Russian support as a “guerilla tactic.”</p> <p>Later, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced that “Russian saboteurs” had captured the vehicles, the Kyiv Post reported, and that those in control were unrelated to Ukraine’s army.</p> <p>That followed shortly after Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused <a href="">Russia</a> of “exporting terrorism” by fueling the discontent and supporting the armed rebels.</p> <p>In Slovyansk, with no police on the streets, protesters have set up checkpoints on all the roads leading in and out of the city, where they roam in makeshift combat gear — some armed with automatic rifles — and inspect passing cars at will.</p> <p>In a dose of glaring symbolism, they’ve hoisted the Russian flag as well as their own self-styled rebel banner above the seized city council building, where several municipal workers were spotted Tuesday removing their belongings.</p> <p>Ukraine’s national coat of arms, the trident, has been torn down.</p> <p>But amid the outward defiance looms a sense of deep paranoia among the protesters who’ve sustained the anti-government movement here, stemming from fear the allegedly nationalist authorities — with help from their Western allies — are looking to persecute them.</p> <p>That’s fed by the Russian state media on which most pro-Russian Ukrainians rely for their information, and which has cast the armed unrest in eastern Ukraine as a peaceful uprising.</p> <p>Locals here celebrate Russian media as a counterweight to what they see as a pro-Kyiv disinformation campaign aimed at painting them as separatist criminals.</p> <p>On Tuesday afternoon, an angry mob swarmed a local middle-aged woman, demanding to see her passport after she’d become embroiled in a political debate with another protester. The crowd loudly denounced her as a “provocateur” — ostensibly sent to sow chaos — before chasing her away with threats of physical violence.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>Meanwhile, rumors have swirled about mysterious looters who’ve been marauding shops around town. Locals insist the culprits are pro-Ukrainian forces bent on undermining the protest movement here.</p> <p>That’s among the many reasons people here look to Russia, which they claim would provide support and stability for a region that feels politically and socially slighted by Kyiv.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Putin warns of civil war as pro-Russian separatists capture Ukrainian armored vehicles (LIVE BLOG)</a></strong></p> <p>Slovyansk’s once powerful industry has been gutted since the collapse of the Soviet Union and now faces even worse prospects as Ukraine pivots westward. Residents see Kyiv as a black hole for the money they say the Donetsk Region — Ukraine’s industrial heartland — contributes to the federal budget and while getting little in return.</p> <p>Some, like Sergei Kharchynsky, a 53-year-old construction worker, says federalization would allow the region to conduct its own economic affairs with Russia, on which the surviving industry here relies.</p> <p>“Look at it this way: Donetsk should pay a fixed tax to Kyiv once a year, and then after that it’s off the hook — it’s free to do whatever it likes,” he said.</p> <p>“And when another Maidan breaks out and they ask us for more money to pay for all the damage, we’ll say ‘That’s your problem.’”</p> <p>Others are more worried about their wellbeing under Kyiv’s rule.</p> <p>“We’ll be plagued by hunger and outright poverty with this government,” said Vladimirovna, the protester standing by the barricades.</p> <p>“And if that’s not enough, they’ll start cutting us up,” she added, referring to the more aggressive nationalist supporters of Ukraine’s new government. “‘Hang the Muscovites’ is what they say, isn’t it?” </p> Crisis in Ukraine Need to Know Conflict Zones Diplomacy Military Europe Russia Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:14:00 +0000 Dan Peleschuk 6123088 at Mexican authorities arrest mayor for helping a drug gang extort city council members <!--paging_filter--><p>Mexican prosecutors have arrested the mayor of a town in the troubled western state of Michoacan on suspicion of collaborating with a violent drug gang.</p> <p>The state government of Michoacan said in a statement it had detained Uriel Chavez, the mayor of Apatzingan, a city that has been a major stronghold of the Knights Templar.</p> <p>Michoacan state prosecutors said Chavez had aided suspected members of the drug gang in extorting members of the city council to the tune of 20,000 pesos ($1,500) monthly to help the gang purchase weapons.</p> <p>Chavez could not immediately be reached for comment.</p> <p>Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto pledged to restore order when he took office in December 2012. But <a href="">Mexico</a> has been racked by drug-related violence in recent years. All told, more than 85,000 people have died in killings linked to drug gang violence since the end of 2006.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Will this deal solve Mexico&rsquo;s vigilante problem?</a></strong></p> <p>The Knights Templar has openly defied the government in Michoacan, and at the start of this year, federal forces began working with local vigilante groups in an effort to crush the cartel.</p> <p>Since then, the government has killed or captured most of the senior leadership of the Knights Templar, though the face of the gang, Servando Gomez, remains at large.</p> <p>The Knights emerged from a split in another cartel in Michoacan, known as La Familia, and have controlled large swaths of the restive mountainous state in recent years, extorting farmers and local businesses and even diversifying away from drug trafficking to industries such as mining.</p> <p>($1 = 13.0983 Mexican pesos)</p> <p>(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, editing by G Crosse)</p> Need to Know Mexico Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:23:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6123064 at A Belgian conservationist who protects mountain gorillas was shot in DR Congo <!--paging_filter--><p>Environmentalists around the world condemned on Wednesday the shooting of a <a href="">Belgian</a> conservationist who has struggled to protect <a href="">Africa</a>'s mountain gorillas in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.</p> <p>Emmanuel de Merode, director of the Virunga National Park in the DR Congo's war scarred North Kivu province, was attacked on Tuesday as he travelled alone by jeep from the regional capital Goma to a nearby nature conservation center.</p> <p>A colleague said he was attacked after filing a report into the actions of a British oil company, SOCO International, which had sought to prospect in an area overlapping the park.</p> <p>"This is the first time the director de Merode has been directly attacked. We don't yet know the motive for this attack," Norbert Mushenzi, the director's assistant, told AFP.</p> <p>"Mr. De Merode had just filed a report with the public prosecutor in Goma comprising the results of months — even years — of investigation into SOCO International.</p> <p>In 2010 SOCO International won a government contract to jointly prospect for oil on a concession overlapping the park's territory, but Kinshasa later suspended the permit under international pressure.</p> <p>De Merode, who is around 40, was reportedly rescued by an army patrol and rushed to the Heal Africa hospital in Goma where he underwent surgery to remove bullets.</p> <p>"He was shot in the stomach and the thorax. He had surgery and is still in intensive care, and according to the surgeon, so far there is hope," hospital spokesman Ferdinand Mugisho told AFP.</p> <p>North Kivu province has been ravaged by successive conflicts for more than 20 years.</p> <p><strong>'Dedicated conservationist' </strong></p> <p>The reserve, which covers 800,000 hectares (two million acres) of land on the border with Uganda and Rwanda, has attained worldwide renown for its rare and endangered mountain gorillas.</p> <p>The attackers did not steal anything from de Merode.</p> <p>A group of North Kivu environmentalists condemned the attack, which they said was aimed at "discouraging community development and conservation efforts."</p> <p>The provincial governor of North Kivu, where Goma is located, visited de Merode in hospital on Wednesday.</p> <p>"He is lucid, he is talking, and he thanked the army for rescuing him, as well as the doctors who saved him," Julien Paluku told AFP.</p> <p>Created in 1925 in the far east of what was then the Belgian Congo, the Virunga park has been declared an "endangered" part of the global heritage by UNESCO.</p> <p>Poachers and logging teams have damaged the reserve, as elsewhere in Africa, but the park is also criss-crossed by rival armed groups and soldiers, while local people have taken up illegal residence.</p> <p>The quest for oil is the latest threat to Africa's most venerable wildlife reserve.</p> <p>WWF head of conservation Lasse Gustavsson said de Merode was a "dedicated conservationist" who put his life on the line every day to protect the park and the people who depended on it for their livelihoods.</p> <p>"I know how much Emmanuel loves this park. He continues to be a source of inspiration to those around him and I wish him a swift recovery."</p> <p>hab/cc/er/txw</p> Africa Need to Know Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:45:33 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6123028 at An Egyptian court sentences 119 supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi to prison <!--paging_filter--><p>An Egyptian court sentenced 119 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood of former president Mohamed Morsi to three years each in prison on Wednesday in connection with protests last October against his overthrow, judicial sources said.</p> <p>More than 50 people were killed in the October 6 protests called by Morsi supporters, one of the bloodiest days since his overthrow by the military on July 3. Judge Hazem Hashad acquitted six people in the case. They faced charges including unlawful assembly and thuggery.</p> <p>The army-backed authorities have banned the Muslim Brotherhood and driven it underground, killing hundreds of its supporters in the weeks after Morsi was toppled and arresting thousands more.</p> <p>In another case, a court in southern <a href="">Egypt</a> sentenced 529 Morsi supporters to death last month. The ruling has drawn criticism from rights groups and Western governments.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Court bans Muslim Brotherhood members from running in Egypt's elections</a></strong></p> <p>The Brotherhood was Egypt's best organized political party until last year but the government has declared it a terrorist group and accused it of turning to violence since Morsi was overthrown following mass protests against his rule.</p> <p>The Brotherhood says the group remains committed to peacefully resisting what it views as a military coup.</p> <p>(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Janet Lawrence)</p> Egypt Need to Know Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:28:53 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6122959 at