GlobalPost - Home C. 2011 GlobalPost, only republish with permission. Subscribers must independently license photographs supplied by third-parties en You say paella, I say prostitution <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Although Spain’s well-known saffron rice dish may be eaten around the world, most people don’t know the real thing. A new website is trying to change that. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Koren Helbig </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BARCELONA, <a href="">Spain</a> — Paella has many devoted fans around the world.</p> <p>However, very few know that eating the saffron rice dish in most places is contributing to the global degradation of one of this country’s signature dishes.</p> <p>That’s according to three men from the region of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, where paella originates. They fear it’s being corrupted by tourism and celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver.</p> <p>Now they’re working to preserve the dish’s integrity by launching a website that fights the addition of taboo ingredients like chorizo, avocado and peas.</p> <p>Condemning such “infringements against authentic paella” worldwide, <a href="">Wikipaella</a> provides a crowd-sourced portal for those who want to know more about the real thing.</p> <p>That’s important for co-founder Guillermo Navarro, who says paella is a much-loved symbol of identity for people from Valencia.</p> <p>“Maybe other countries have a flag or an anthem or a dance, but for us it’s food, which is very important as a society,” he says.</p> <p>“When we live abroad — and in this time of economic crisis there are a lot of people living abroad — we want to enjoy our culture in its proper place.”</p> <p>Authentic paella, he says, is “very simple with very basic ingredients, even plain.” More than six or seven ingredients, he adds, is “prostitution.”</p> <p>Wikipaella’s list of sanctioned ingredients includes broad beans, tomato, saffron, paprika and, of course, Valencian rice. Meats like rabbit, chicken, even duck and snails are also common.</p> <p>“It’s about kilometer-zero gastronomy,” Navarro says, describing the use of ingredients found within a one-kilometer, or half-mile, radius.</p> <p>Wikipaella has analyzed more than 170 traditional recipes to determine what constitutes authentic paella.</p> <p>Chorizo, for instance, never appears.</p> <p>The Spanish sausage is a core ingredient of Jamie Oliver’s paella. The British celebrity chef says the dish is “incredibly flexible” and that you can take “the principal of it” and adjust it to whatever ingredients are available.</p> <p>Not so, says Navarro. At least not if you want to claim the title of “traditional.”</p> <p>“I don’t have a problem with Jamie Oliver or any innovation with paella,” he says. “But when Jamie or other chefs say the paella they’ve invented is traditional or authentic, it’s a fail. It’s wrong.”</p> <p>“That label evokes a kind of heritage, a concept, a meaning that can add to the price,” he adds, “which is cool when it’s true but when it’s false you are lying about price and quality.”</p> <p>Navarro believes many people in Spain and abroad who want to sample the best of traditional Valencian paella are being ripped off with pricey, poor-quality versions that are nothing like the real thing.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">The Battle for Berlin</a></strong></p> <p>So where can you find the best paella? Navarro says you’d have to pop over to his mother’s house.</p> <p>“The best paella in the world is always your mother’s,” he says.</p> <p>The dish is made on a special wide pan and often cooked on an open fire.</p> <p>Navarro says paella time — usually on a Sunday, when family members help prepare the ingredients as well as the fire — is “the peak of our culture.”</p> <p>“It’s a cultural event for us,” he says.</p> <p>On the off chance you’re not acquainted with his mom, however, you can head to Wikipaella for a list of restaurants offering certified authentic paella in Spain.</p> Paella Want to Know Food & Drink Spain Thu, 24 Apr 2014 05:19:28 +0000 Koren Helbig 6129052 at A Pakistani TV channel is under pressure from the military to shut down <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">Pakistan</a>'s Defense Ministry has demanded that a prominent news channel be suspended after it reported that the country's powerful spy agency was behind the shooting of one of Pakistan's most famous journalists, a media regulator said on Wednesday.</p> <p>Hamid Mir, a veteran talk-show presenter at privately owned Geo News, survived the attack after unidentified gunmen shot him multiple times in the port city of Karachi on Saturday.</p> <p>Geo has since repeatedly accused the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of being behind the shooting. The military has denied the accusation.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Pakistan's electronic media watchdog said it had received a complaint from the Defense Ministry demanding the channel's license be suspended.</p> <p>"Of course we are aware of the gravity of this issue and so the complaint is being dealt with at the highest level," said Fakhruddin Mughal, a spokesman for the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.</p> <p>"Rest assured, we are a neutral regulator and no matter who the complaint is from and who it is against, we will deal with the matter only as per the law and not under pressure from any organization or individual."</p> <p>The shooting of a journalist anchoring Pakistan's top political news talk show has sent a chill through the journalistic community weeks after television anchor Raza Rumi was attacked in the city of Lahore. Rumi survived but his driver was shot dead.</p> <p>Although Pakistani media have become increasingly vibrant in recent years, with stories exposing corruption or injustices appearing frequently on the pages of the country's many dailies, public criticism of the army or the ISI is largely a taboo.</p> <p>No one has claimed responsibility for the recent assaults, although the Taliban, holed up in mountains on the <a href="">Afghan</a> border, have made repeated threats against domestic and foreign reporters for portraying the insurgency in a negative light.</p> <p>Geo's Islamabad editor, Rana Jawad, told Reuters that the media sector would not be easily silenced.</p> <p>"Obviously they (the army and the ISI) are disturbed about why we repeated suspicions by the journalist who was shot and his family, and now that has led to this attempt to invoke the law and get us off air," Jawad said.</p> <p>"But this is not Musharraf's era, it won't be that easy to muzzle the media," he said, referring to Pakistan's former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf.</p> <p>"We don't believe that we did anything to bring disrepute to national security institutions or publicly mock them. That is not possible."</p> <p>(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robert Birsel)</p> Need to Know Pakistan Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:56:12 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6128996 at Train derailment in Democratic Republic of Congo kills 63 people <!--paging_filter--><p>At least 63 people were killed and 80 were seriously injured in Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga province when a train speeding too fast round a bend derailed, a provincial minister said on Wednesday.</p> <p>Fifty others were trapped inside the goods train after 12 of its carriages flipped off the track in the accident near Likasi, a mining town between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi in the copper and cobalt-rich southeast.</p> <p>"Evidently the train was going too fast, the driver came to a curve and had to break suddenly leading to the accident," said Dikanga Kazadi, Katanga's interior minister.</p> <p>He said the priority was rescuing those still trapped and a team had been sent to investigate the cause of the accident. A witness said he counted 37 bodies at the scene.</p> <p>"There were two train engines and two carriages overturned," he told Reuters, asking not to be named.</p> <p>Congo's infrastructure is in tatters after decades of neglect and conflict so people struggle to travel around the vast nation, which is roughly the size of Western <a href="">Europe</a>.</p> <p>More than 100 people were killed in a 2007 accident involving people travelling onboard a goods train in the province of Kasai Occidential.</p> <p>(Reporting by Pete Jones and Bienvenu Bakumanya; Writing by David Lewis and Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Angus MacSwan)</p> Africa Need to Know Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:27:27 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6128878 at Brazilian president signs groundbreaking law ensuring net neutrality and privacy <!--paging_filter--><p>At the opening of the NETmundial conference, <a href="">Brazil</a>'s President Dilma Rousseff signed into law legislation guaranteeing the privacy and neutrality of the Net in Brazil, which had been passed by Congress just a few hours earlier.</p> <p>Government officials, industry executives and academics from around the World participating in the two-day conference are expected to agree on a set of principles to enhance online privacy while preserving the network's self-regulated nature.</p> <p>They will also debate how to govern the internet after the US government hands off management of ICANN in September 2015, a decision that avoided US-bashing at the conference and opened the way for fruitful discussion, participants said.</p> <p>The meeting's resolutions are non-binding and will likely have little or no impact on the way several billion people around the world use the internet.</p> <p>But Brazil hopes the conference will lay the ground for a broader global discussion over how to achieve a more transparent and inclusive network.</p> <p>Rousseff praised the <a href="">United States</a> for its decision to ease control over the internet and called for a more democratic, transparent network following the US National Security Agency spying scandal.</p> <p>"The internet we want will only be possible in a scenario of respect for human rights, in particular the right to privacy and freedom of expression," she said.</p> <p>"I salute the US government's recently announced plan to replace its links to IANA and ICANN with a global management of those institutions," she added, referring to the US-based bodies in charge of assigning internet domains or addresses.</p> <p>Revelations last year by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden that the United States spied on internet users with secret programs prompted worldwide calls for reduced US control over the network now connecting one-third of the world's population.</p> <p>Rousseff, whose personal emails and phone calls were targeted by the NSA, according to documents leaked by Snowden, said massive surveillance of the internet was unacceptable.</p> <p>NETmundial faces the challenge of finding common ground among governments and companies with very different views.</p> <p>Internet companies like Google or Facebook feared that the conference would result in heavier regulation, which they see as a threat to expansion and innovation.</p> <p>But these concerns were allayed by a draft conference document that proposes governing the internet through multiple stakeholders — from governments and businesses to academics, technicians and private users.</p> <p>(Editing by Anthony Boadle and Jonathan Oatis)</p> Need to Know Brazil Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:05:00 +0000 Esteban Israel, Thomson Reuters 6128871 at Did Japanese lawmakers intend to provoke Obama by honoring war criminals? <!--paging_filter--><p>Years after the Obama administration announced a &ldquo;deliberate and strategic decision&rdquo; to pivot to Asia, the US president is trying to revive the foreign policy initiative with a trip to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.</p> <p>As President Barack Obama headed to his first stop &mdash; Japan &mdash; reports emerged that <a href="" target="_blank">nearly 150 Japanese lawmakers</a> had visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine on Tuesday, a move that could potentially raise tensions with neighbors China and South Korea.&nbsp;</p> <p>The shrine honors those who gave their lives fighting for Japan. But more controversially, it also enshrines several war criminals executed found guilty of &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">crimes against peace</a>&rdquo; in the Tokyo trials following World War II.</p> <p>China and South Korea see Yasukuni as a sign of Japan&rsquo;s unwillingness to repent for its aggressive actions during the war.</p> <p>Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sparked outrage in South Korea and China when he visited the shrine last December, sent a <a href="" target="_blank">ritual offering</a> to the shrine on Monday.</p> <p>China criticized Abe&rsquo;s move and said offerings and visits &ldquo;reflect the erroneous attitude toward history adopted&rdquo; by Japan&rsquo;s cabinet.</p> <p>Japanese lawmakers also visited this week, prompting <a href="" target="_blank">South Korea&rsquo;s foreign ministry</a> to deplore visits to a &ldquo;place that enshrined war crimes that caused a war and destroyed peace.&rdquo;</p> <p>Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young said, &ldquo;I think it is such an empty gesture to talk about the future with neighboring countries while paying respects to such a place.&rdquo;</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="540" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=8ZuCLQpSzdrkZmtm3TuVYBe0QzGGwrLOTb2PIY1vvc8=" style="display:inline-block;" width="632"></iframe></p> <p>GlobalPost spoke to <a href="" target="_blank">Sung-Yoon Lee</a>, Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and <a href="" target="_blank">Thomas Berger</a>, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University, about the significance of the visits, Japan&rsquo;s handling of its wartime history, and the impact of the shrine visits on Obama&rsquo;s trip. the interview has been condensed and edited by GlobalPost.</p> <p><strong>Was Japan trying to send some sort of message to its neighbors ahead of Obama&#39;s visit? To the US?</strong></p> <p><strong>Lee:</strong> No, I think this is a coincidence, and it&rsquo;s an unfortunate coincidence. We know there are certain times of the year when this controversial shrine draws a lot of high profile politicians and government officials. This &mdash; the so-called spring festival &mdash; is one of those times. Another such time is August 15, which is known in the United States as <a href="" target="_blank">Victory over Japan Day</a> &mdash; the day in 1945 when Japan announced its surrender. Japanese officials are prone to visit on August 15. And there&rsquo;s the autumn festival.</p> <p>I really think it would have happened whether President Obama was to visit Japan or not. The fact that it happened on the eve of Obama&rsquo;s arrival in Japan is unfortunate because it sends the wrong message to primarily Japan&rsquo;s ally South Korea, which has deep historical issues with Japan. It also becomes fodder for China, South Korea and North Korea. It gives them material for trying to drive a wedge between Japan and the United States.</p> <p><strong>Berger:</strong>&nbsp;The main reason for these visits to the shrine was because of the timing of the annual spring festival. Conservative lawmakers often visit the shrine on this date, although this year&#39;s contingent is unusually large, reflecting the large number of conservative lawmakers in the current Diet and heightened awareness of the issue.</p> <p>When asked, prominent visitors such as Interior Minister <a href="" target="_blank">[Yoshitaka] Shindo</a> have said that this trip should be considered as an entirely separate matter from Obama&#39;s visit and is not meant as a message. However, this stance that historical issues are a domestic matter and separate from foreign policy is itself a political statement with foreign policy implications. In that sense, it is very much a signal. Much like the Japanese insistence that there is no dispute over <a href="" target="_blank">the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands</a>, it may seem plausible at first, but ultimately is a polite fiction at best.</p> <p><strong>Have Japanese lawmakers always visited the shrine? Or has Prime Minister Shinzo Abe&#39;s leadership set a new example?</strong></p> <p><strong>Lee:</strong> Abe&rsquo;s visit to the Yasukuni shrine was the first by an incumbent prime minister since 2006. Right before he left office, Abe&rsquo;s predecessor [Junichiro] Koizumi visited the shrine much to the chagrin of South Koreans and Chinese. Abe&rsquo;s visit in December 2013 was meaningful in that it drew severe criticism from South Korea and China, and as unusual as it was, from the United States.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s one thing for politicians, Diet members, and even prominent government officials to visit, but it&rsquo;s quite another for the head of state to visit. I don&rsquo;t see any correlation between Abe&rsquo;s visit and a drastic increase in the number of Japanese government officials visiting Yasukuni shrine. There have always been politicians who have visited in a personal capacity.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="520" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=e4BbvLaW4Uab3Lylmt3Cjxo-zbY2ftL5ZToUMo0xpZ0=" style="display:inline-block;" width="632"></iframe></p> <p>Abe drew a line this time. He knew that for him to go visit the shrine would really be a serious issue for the US, as well as South Korea and China. [Abe sent an offering to the shrine instead.] Fundamentally, the issue is not going to break the US-Japan alliance.</p> <p><strong>Berger:</strong>&nbsp;Japanese lawmakers have always visited the shrine, but shrine visits have become controversial inside Japan since 1978, when the shrine authorities inscribed the names of 14 Class A war criminals in the rolls of the honored war dead. Since that time, the Japanese emperor has never visited the shrine &mdash; a move that is widely interpreted as a tacit rebuke of the shrine&#39;s stance on the issue.</p> <p>Abe has long been one of the shrine&#39;s biggest supporters, and this year he sent a traditional offering in the form of a decorative tree. The prime minister&#39;s stance has undoubtedly encouraged many more lawmakers than usual to visit the shrine.</p> <p><strong>Earlier this month, Abe denied that Yasukuni <a href=";mod=WSJ_Japan_JapanRealTime" target="_blank">could be replaced</a> as the nation&#39;s primary war memorial. Does his comparison of Yasukuni to Arlington National Cemetery hold water?</strong></p> <p><strong>Lee:</strong> In my view no, and the reason is the following: I actually had a chance to visit [Yasukuni] last December, right before Abe&rsquo;s visit. I saw firsthand many aspects of the shrine and the entire complex that are very problematic. We know that Yasukuni has enshrined 14 so-called <a href="" target="_blank">Class A</a> war criminals, and that&rsquo;s deservedly what gets the most press coverage.</p> <p>But just sixty yards from the main alter is a war museum that is problematic. At the front of the entrance is a statue of a WWII Japanese soldier. Then, as soon as you walk in there&rsquo;s a captivating display of the Zero fighter [<a href="" target="_blank">Mitsubishi A6M Zero</a>] &mdash; a war plane that was iconic during WWII for its maneuverability and so forth, and was used during the attack on Pearl Harbor.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="479" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=EvGFQbOBHqE2IzBxSavj-tyxeH9GHZz4Hw_rzceci9U=" style="display:inline-block;" width="632"></iframe></p> <p>When you go through the rooms, there are illustrations and narration with respect to Pearl Harbor that explicitly say that Japan had to go to war because the US was about to strike Japan. The underlying message is that it was a war of justice, and the Allies were simply superior and Japan was served a victor&#39;s justice.</p> <p>And that message is quite overt, quite explicit all through the museum. There&rsquo;s a lot of propaganda that falls short of Japan&rsquo;s status as a major nation of the world. It&rsquo;s kind of embarrassing for Japan, I would say.</p> <p><strong>Berger:</strong> Every country has the right to honor its war dead, and that includes Japan. Unlike Arlington, which is run by the national government, Yasukuni is a private religious organization, albeit one with a history of close ties to the state. It is also one that espouses a view of history that is profoundly at odds with Japan&#39;s friends and neighbors, including not only China, but also South Korea and even the United States. As a result, visits to the shrine have political and diplomatic implications that a visit to Arlington does not.</p> <p>It raises issues of the separation of church and state, and it provokes powerful reactions in Japan&#39;s neighbors, who fear that it harbors a return to a more assertive and even aggressive Japanese foreign policy. The United States government and most US analysts think that such fears are overblown &mdash; but increasingly Washington has also expressed dismay over Japan&#39;s willingness to heighten tensions through its stance on the past.</p> <p><strong>South Korea and China both charge that the visits to the shrine show Japan&#39;s lack of remorse for its atrocities committed during WWII. Has Japan ever confronted and dealt its wartime past like Germany did?</strong></p> <p><strong>Lee:</strong> In no way comparable to the way Germany has. As you know in Germany, if you deny the Holocaust, you can go to jail. In Japan, very few educated Japanese really have detailed knowledge of Imperial Japan&rsquo;s cruelties, atrocities, massacring civilians and operating a military brothel &mdash; these salient parts of Japanese national history.</p> <p>In middle schools, in high schools, one often hears with great sincerity from Japanese people that we simply don&rsquo;t have time to cover the 20th century because Japan has such a long history. History education in middle and high school stops around the first decade or so of the 20th century, which is an absurd proposition frankly. The fact that Japanese people are not taught the fundamentals of Japan&#39;s&nbsp;actions&nbsp;in China, Korea and Southeast Asia in the 1930s and 40s speaks to the glaring hole in Japan&rsquo;s history education.</p> <p>Japan&rsquo;s prime minister has apologized in the past for Japan&rsquo;s aggressive actions during the war, for the so-called &ldquo;comfort women&rdquo; &mdash; even that phrase is a gross euphemism for institutionalized sexual slavery. The problem as viewed in South Korea, China, and even the US, is that Japanese politicians like Mr. Abe &mdash; before he became prime minister again in 2012 &mdash; said things that seemed to negate previous apologies made by former heads of state.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="520" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=iUoyWVEOB-CifXm9-EevPP7mrHCoklagsaY_PcamVBg=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Berger:</strong> There is far less censorship of the unsavory sides of Japan&#39;s past than is commonly believed. Japan has been intensely debating issues such as <a href="" target="_blank">the rape of Nanjing</a> and the sexual exploitation of the Comfort women for decades. Over the past two decades, successive Japanese governments have repeatedly offered strong apologies for having waged a war of aggression in Asia and oppressing its neighbors. This is true of the Abe administration as well. Japan has not, however, changed its policies on commemorating the dead, and efforts to provide compensation to the victims of past abuses have been faltering at best. Moreover, many prominent Japanese politicians have criticized Japan for being too negative about its past &mdash; they call it a &quot;self-flagellating&quot; view of Japanese history, and in recent years these conservative voices have become more prominent.</p> <p>Critical in this development, however, has been the lack of support in neighboring countries for Japan&#39;s tentative efforts to pursue reconciliation over historical issues. Some of the fault for this lies with Tokyo, but some also lies with Seoul and Beijing. For instance, when Japan created a fund to compensate former comfort women, the Korean government provided no support at all, and ultimately turned critical of the project because of pressure from Korean NGOs. Likewise, China propagates a shockingly savage view of Japan through its school books, museums and media. As a result, many Japanese officials and the general public suffer from what is called &quot;apology fatigue&quot; &mdash; a sense that no matter how much it apologizes, Japan&#39;s neighbors will never forgive it.</p> <p><strong>Would you say the majority of the Japanese public agrees or disagrees with the visits?</strong></p> <p><strong>Lee:</strong> I would say the majority is apathetic and inclined to disapprove of it. That&rsquo;s my understanding of Japanese public opinion speaking with many Japanese over the years. They don&rsquo;t really understand the impact it has outside Japan. There&rsquo;s no great political capital to be won by making the visit. And yet Japanese politicians do. They might win the support of some on the far right, but that&rsquo;s a miniscule political dividend that comes at a great cost to Japan&rsquo;s national image and also to US strategic interests.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="497" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=28vTUw4PSiR2MHHIPT5trpX3N26OeDZAE1VJMf7B5Wk=" style="display:inline-block;" width="632"></iframe></p> <p>South Korea becomes enraged, and South Korean politicians also manipulate such visits for political gain. Fanning the flames of anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea usually boosts your ratings, no matter who you are, no matter who&rsquo;s in power. That leaves the US rather flustered, because it needs both Japan and South Korea as allies to meet the challenge of China&#39;s power and North Korea&#39;s provocations.</p> <p><strong>Berger:</strong> The Japanese public has a complex view on the issue. In surveys, if asked whether China and Korea have the right to protest such visits, or whether it is appropriate for the prime minister to pay his respects to the war dead there, majorities or clear pluralities will say yes. When asked if the prime minister should consider the feelings of neighboring countries when deciding to visit or not, however, similar numbers again say yes.</p> <p>In the end, the Japanese public would like the issue to go away, and if a prime minister found a way of solving the issue &mdash; for instance by getting the shrine to de-inscribe the 14 Class A war criminals, or finding an alternative national site for commemoration, it is likely that they would support it. Unfortunately, at this point in time there is no such solution on offer.</p> <p><strong>How do you think this would impact Obama&rsquo;s visit, if at all?</strong></p> <p><strong>Lee: </strong>I&rsquo;m sure it put a slight grimace on Obama&rsquo;s face. Obama is not going to make a public case out of this while he&rsquo;s on a state visit. Japan is one of the most important allies of the United States. The US-Japan alliance is second only to NATO, I would say. It&rsquo;s one of the most important, if not the most important, bilateral relationships in the world. The two leaders will smile a lot and will not make a public issue out of this. Obama knows that this is a thorny issue that will not bring any benefit for the United States.<br /> &nbsp;</p> Want to Know China Japan South Korea Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:16:39 +0000 Priyanka Boghani 6127863 at Separatists in Ukraine say detained Vice journalist is 'not a hostage but our guest' <!--paging_filter--><p>Pro-<a href="">Russian</a> separatists in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday confirmed they are detaining a US journalist working with Vice News.</p> <p>The self-declared separatist mayor of Slaviansk told reporters the journalist, Simon Ostrovsky, had been detained for reporting what he said was false information that was "destabilizing for us" but that he was being treated well.</p> <p>"There's nothing wrong with Ostrovsky. He is with us, he is feeling well and in a clean place," Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said. "He is not a hostage but our guest. We only gave him a place of residence."</p> <p>Gunmen detained Ostrovsky on Monday night along with other reporters who have since been released.</p> <p>Vice News has said on its website that it is in contact with the US State Department and other government authorities to work toward securing the safety of its journalist.</p> <p>(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Slaviansk; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Angus MacSwan)</p> Need to Know Europe Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:08:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6128746 at Activists to UK's development agency: you’re helping multinationals carve up Africa <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A satirical video earlier this month raises serious questions about how the G8 nations' global food security initiative is working </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Katia Savchuk </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><span style="letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;">A dozen corporate executives clad in suits descend on the headquarters of the UK&rsquo;s development agency, DfID. They bear name tags from the world&rsquo;s largest food and agriculture companies: Monsanto, Unilever, Diageo. They carry a cake in the shape of Africa and ask agency staff to help carve it up.</span></p> <p>&ldquo;With the help of the UK government, we are on course to expand our control of food production in Africa,&rdquo; boasts one executive, as others raise champagne glasses. &ldquo;And what better way to say thanks for giving us a slice of Africa than for the Department for International Development to have their piece of the cake as well.&rdquo;</p> <p>The celebration, captured in <a href=";">a video on YouTube</a> earlier this month, was, of course, a spoof. The UK-based World Development Movement, an anti-poverty advocacy group, staged the stunt to draw attention to its new campaign against the G8 nations&rsquo; global food security initiative.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Launched in 2012, the G8&rsquo;s <a href="">New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition</a> promises to fight hunger and lift 50 million Africans out of poverty by 2022. But the initiative will actually benefit multinational companies at the expense of small-scale farmers, campaigners argue in a <a href="">report</a> published this month.</p> <p>The New Alliance is a public-private partnership on a grand scale. It has drawn commitments of more than $3.8 billion from over 70 companies for initiatives in 10 African countries. DfID alone has committed &pound;600 million (more than $1 billion) in aid to the effort.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems,&rdquo; <a href="">said</a> Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement.</p> <p>The group says that the New Alliance will increase poverty and inequality by requiring countries to make it easier for corporations to secure land, which could displace farmers. They also argue that the initiative will hurt local populations by increasing the cost of seed and prioritizing crops for export instead of feeding local communities.</p> <p>The 10 countries that the initiative targets &mdash; Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, C&ocirc;te d&rsquo;Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal &mdash; don&rsquo;t have the highest levels of hunger or poverty, the World Development Movement notes. Rather, they have qualities that appeal to companies seeking to access new resources and markets: high levels of economic growth and access to export markets.</p> <p>Still, other activists do not see the New Alliance as inherently hurting local family farmers. The ONE Campaign, another anti-poverty advocacy group that <a href="">studied the G8 initiative last year</a>, concluded that the New Alliance&rsquo;s investments &ldquo;are predominantly <em>intended</em> to include smallholder farmers in sourcing and production. The onus is on the initiative itself and other key stakeholders to transform intentions into results.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href=" ">Why it&#39;s dangerous to trust corporations to lead the fight against world hunger&nbsp;</a></strong></p> <p class='u'></p> Hunger Health Global Pulse Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:00:40 +0000 Katia Savchuk 6127742 at Obama lands in Tokyo for the first US state visit in 18 years <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Here are four key changes driving the president's agenda. </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--><p>SEOUL, <a href="">South Korea</a> — Japan is without a doubt America’s most stable and prosperous ally in East Asia. Yet today, President Barack Obama became the first American president since Bill Clinton in April 1996 to visit the country as a state guest.</p> <p>Analysts say his visit is long overdue.</p> <p>He arrives at a time of rapidly escalating tensions in the region. China is asserting ever-more bold claims to territories hundreds and even thousands of miles from its coasts, in the South China Sea. A pugnacious North Korea appears prepared to move forward with a <a href="" target="_blank">fourth nuclear test</a>. Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan — two countries that are supposed to be friendly — have spent the past year bickering over historical grievances, hurting efforts for a unified Asian front against both of these security threats.</p> <p>So Obama’s to-do list is long, said Sean King, senior vice president at the consulting firm Park Strategies in New York. The president must reassure an increasingly nationalistic Japan of Washington’s commitments under the two nations’ long-standing mutual defense treaty. He must forge unity between Seoul and Tokyo over Pyongyang and Beijing. And to please powerful interests back home, he needs to work out thorny issues in a landmark regional trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).</p> <p>Obama’s diplomacy embraced controversy even before he landed in Tokyo. On Wednesday, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper ran an interview with the American president, who explained that under their mutual defense treaty, the US is obligated to defend Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands (known as Diaoyu to Beijing), which Japan controls. Although he didn’t specifically name China as the likely aggressor, Beijing reacted forcefully to the announcement.</p> <p>"The policy of the <a href="">United States</a> is clear — the Senkaku islands are administered by <a href="">Japan</a> and therefore fall within the scope of ... the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security," Obama told the newspaper.</p> <p>After Japan, the commander-in-chief will head to South Korea and the Philippines, two other historic allies, and to Malaysia, an outlier in the Asia pivot.</p> <p>Japan has endured tumultuous times since President Clinton’s 1996 visit. Back then, Japan was a nation in the middle of a lost decade (or more) of economic lethargy. It was attempting to recover from the dual blows of a massive earthquake in Kobe and a sarin gas attack perpetrated by a cult in the Tokyo subway. It was also contending with political gridlock and an aging population.</p> <p>Today, although Japan is still recovering from the devastating March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the country is showing signs of rebound at home. And with China’s rapid rise as a military and economic power, the country is increasingly important strategically to the US.</p> <p>Here are four key ways Japan has changed since President Clinton’s visit.</p> <p><strong>1. There are '</strong><strong>green shoots</strong><strong>'</strong><strong> of revival</strong></p> <p>Last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe embarked on a bold but controversial plan called Abenomics, a three-pronged strategy of cheap credit, government stimulus, and regulatory reforms. His pledge? To break through the gridlock of the past, reinvigorating lethargic markets and ending Japan’s two-decade torpor.</p> <p>Japan watchers still disagree over whether Abenomics is working; free-market advocates accused him of going soft on his politically difficult “third arrow” of regulatory reform, which could have included better incentives for women to join the workforce and a relaxation of the country’s notoriously complex immigration rules.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">The developed world's least helpful husbands</a></strong></p> <p>Regardless of the outcome, Japan’s national consciousness could be in the middle of a transformation, says one expert.</p> <p>“While the record of Abenomics policies is still up in the air, Abe's rhetoric has done something profound: it has given decision-makers, CEOs, and others the ‘space’ to have a new conversation in the workplace about increased opportunities for women and hope that change is possible,” said Devin Stewart, a senior fellow at New York's Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, who spent last month interviewing 40 CEOs, activists, and teachers. “Abe's speeches and rhetoric are creating a new conversation.”</p> <p>He called it “green shoots of change.”</p> <p><strong>2. China is an ever-growing threat</strong></p> <p>In 2009, President Obama opened his first term with a visit to China as part of an effort to rebuild American relations after President George W. Bush’s aggressive foreign policy and controversial military campaigns. But efforts to engage China have born little fruit. Instead, Obama’s “Asian pivot” — an effort to reassure Asians that they remain a top US priority — has felt to Beijing like just a Cold War-style containment strategy.</p> <p>In fact, despite erstwhile idealism that the US could accommodate China’s rise, hopes have been dashed by Beijing’s growing aggressiveness over the South China Sea and by and the perception that the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian tactics are here to stay, regardless of the country’s growing economic prosperity and freedom.</p> <p>Late last year, for example, China alarmed Japan, South Korea, and the US when it established an “air defense identification zone” covering the islands.</p> <p>Abe rose to power on promises of pumping up Japan’s military brawn. The country’s pacifist constitution allows it to raise a peacetime defense force, not a standing army, but the prime minister appears eager to change that.</p> <p>A rising China has invigorated Japan’s fringe right-wing nationalists, who are unapologetic over the nation’s history of war crimes against its neighbors.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Abe angered Beijing just before Obama’s visit by sending an offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where the nation’s war dead, including various war criminals, are buried. China’s Xinhua news service called the move a "slap in the face of the leader of Japan's closest ally.” Separately this week, a Shanghai court <a href="">ordered</a> the seizure of a Japanese ship over a failure to pay compensation stemming from a wartime contractual obligation. </p> <p><strong>3. The Fukushima disaster brought out the best in the Japanese</strong></p> <p>For all the tragedy and suffering, the 2011 Fukushima disaster brought out one of Japan’s greatest strengths: the passion and drive of its civil society to help its countrymen, according to a 2013 Brookings Institution report.</p> <p>Japan’s anti-nuclear movement flourished, demanding better government regulations and more accountability. Citizens who lost everything sprung up to help one another, even when resources were tight and times were perilous.</p> <p>The Fukushima disaster was so devastating that it altered attitudes in Japan. Many realized that the government was not a guarantor of stability and that the future is uncertain, explained Stewart, of the Carnegie Council.</p> <p><strong>4. The population is still aging, but a new generation of leaders is stepping up</strong></p> <p>Japan has its very own lost generation, commonly called its “Generation X” or “Junior Boomers” who were born after 1970 and fell through the cracks of stagnation in the 1990s and 2000s. Youth unemployment remains relatively high since then, with many young and productive job seekers squeezed out by a preponderance of aging salarymen.</p> <p>Generation X was — and continues to be — derided as lazy and lackluster by elders. Now, they’re pushing those stereotypes aside, stepping into high-profile leadership positions in Japanese business and government, explains Stewart.</p> <p>“Japan's own Generation X is coming into positions of power and are able to implement change in organizations,” he said. “This generational change can help usher in greater women's empowerment, more openness toward foreigners, and a stronger embrace of Japan's history as positive example as opposed to a source of change.”</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">A lesson in Abenomics</a></strong></p> Want to Know China Indonesia Japan North Korea Philippines South Korea Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:59:00 +0000 Geoffrey Cain 6128653 at Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization announce reconciliation agreement <!--paging_filter--><p>The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to implement a unity pact, both sides announced in a joint news conference.</p> <p>The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months after a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament.</p> <p>Palestinians have long hoped for a healing of the political rift between the PLO and militant Hamas, which won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Abbas in 2007.</p> <p>But Arab-brokered unity pacts reached between the two sides have yet to be implemented, leaving many Palestinians skeptical about their leaders' reconciliation pledges.</p> <p>"This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over," Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh told Palestinian reporters to loud applause.</p> <p>Hamas has repeatedly battled <a href="">Israel</a>, which it refuses to recognize. Before Wednesday's announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned Abbas over the unity efforts, saying he had to choose between peace with Israel or its Islamist enemy.</p> <p>Abbas's Fatah party has remained in control of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and pursued troubled peace talks with Israel, which are set to expire on April 29.</p> <p>(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Noah Browning, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)</p> Need to Know Middle East Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:25:48 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6128652 at US is delivering Apache attack helicopters to Egypt to help the 'government counter extremists' <!--paging_filter--><p>The <a href="">United States</a> said on Tuesday it will deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters to <a href="">Egypt</a>, relaxing a partial suspension of aid imposed after Egypt's military ousted President Mohamed Morsi last year and cracked down violently on protesters.</p> <p>US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed his Egyptian counterpart of the decision, which will help Egypt's counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula, the Pentagon said.</p> <p>"We believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten US, Egyptian, and Israeli security," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement, recounting Hagel's conversation with Egyptian Defense Minister Colonel Sedki Sobhi.</p> <p>Secretary of State John Kerry had paved the way by certifying to Congress that Egypt met key criteria for Washington to resume some aid.</p> <p>Those criteria included Egypt "upholding its obligations under the Egypt-<a href="">Israel</a> Peace Treaty," the State Department said.</p> <p>But Kerry noted in a call with his counterpart that he was not yet able to certify that Egypt was taking steps to support a democratic transition.</p> <p>One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no other military aid beyond the Apaches, built by Boeing Co., was being freed up at the moment. That meant that delivery of other hardware, like F-16 fighter jets produced by Lockheed Martin Corp, remained on hold.</p> <p>In a call with Egypt's foreign minister, Kerry "urged Egypt to follow through on its commitment to transition to democracy — including by conducting free, fair, and transparent elections," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.</p> <p>That could send a signal to Egypt ahead of next month's presidential election, which Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army general who deposed Morsi, is expected to win.</p> <p>Kerry also called on Egypt to ease restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and the media, she said.</p> <p>Still, the move to free up the delivery of the Apaches underscores the importance that Washington places on ties with Egypt, which for decades has been among the largest recipients of US military and economic aid because of its 1979 peace treaty with US ally Israel.</p> <p>US Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican who heads the House of Representatives subcommittee overseeing foreign aid, said she was encouraged by the decision.</p> <p>"I have continued to advocate for Egyptians to have the tools necessary to stabilize the economy and keep the country secure, including equipment that assists with counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai," Granger said in a statement.</p> <p>Still, the US move may stoke concern among rights advocates. Human Rights Watch earlier this month cautioned Washington against resuming military assistance until the Egyptian government ended alleged rights abuses and held violators accountable.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney and Simon Cameron-Moore)</p> Egypt Need to Know Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:53:00 +0000 Phil Stewart and Arshad Mohammed, Thomson Reuters 6128571 at Obama says engagement with China won't come at the expense of US's Asia allies <!--paging_filter--><p>US President Barack Obama has said Washington welcomes <a href="">China</a>'s rise but that engagement with Beijing would not come at the expense of its Asian allies — as Chinese state media greeted his arrival in the region with a broadside accusing the <a href="">United States</a> of wanting to "cage" the emerging superpower.</p> <p>The reassuring remarks aimed at <a href="">Japan</a> and other allies, set against a robust commentary from China's state news agency Xinhua that also called the United States "myopic," demonstrate the delicate balancing act Obama faces on a week-long Asia tour.</p> <p>Obama arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday at the start of a four-nation trip that comes at a time of rising tension in the region, and as the United States urges Japan's unpredictable neighbor North Korea not to conduct another nuclear test.</p> <p>Obama, who is making the first full state visit to Japan by a US President since 1996, must assuage worries by Tokyo and other allies that his commitment to their defense in the face of an increasingly assertive China is weak, without hurting vital US ties with Asia's biggest economy.</p> <p>Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are also keen to show progress on a two-way trade pact seen as critical to a broader regional deal that would be one of the world's biggest trade agreements and is central to Obama's "pivot" of military, diplomatic and trade resources towards Asia.</p> <p>Noting Beijing and Washington could work together on issues such as North Korea's nuclear program, Obama told Japan's Yomiuri newspaper, in written remarks: "In other words, we welcome the continuing rise of a China that is stable, prosperous and peaceful and plays a responsible role in global affairs."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>INFOGRAPHIC: Four Asian countries Barack Obama will visit starting on Wednesday <a href=""></a></p> <p> — Agence <a href="">France</a>-Presse (@AFP) <a href="">April 21, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>He added: "And our engagement with China does not and will not come at the expense of Japan or any other ally."</p> <p>Such assurances are likely to be high on the agenda when Obama meets Abe at a symbolic summit on Thursday.</p> <p>Japan, whose relations with rival China have chilled over the past two years, has been beset by anxiety over the degree to which reality matches rhetoric in Obama's promised "pivot."</p> <p>China, for its part, fears the US is pursuing a policy of containment through its network of Asian allies, several of whom have long-standing territorial disputes with Beijing in the East and South China Seas.</p> <p>Wednesday's Xinhua commentary criticized US policy in the region as "a carefully calculated scheme to cage the rapidly developing Asian giant."</p> <p>"The United States should reappraise its anachronistic hegemonic alliance system and stop pampering its chums like Japan and the Philippines that have been igniting regional tensions with provocative moves," it said.</p> <p><strong>Treaty obligations</strong></p> <p>Obama and Abe are expected to send a message of solidarity after strains following Abe's December visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.</p> <p>Obama also assured Japan that tiny isles in the East China Sea at the heart of a territorial row with China are covered by a bilateral security treaty that obligates America to come to Japan's defense. That is long-stated US policy, but the confirmation by the president is likely to be welcome in Japan.</p> <p>"The policy of the United States is clear — the Senkaku islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of ... the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security," Obama said, using the Japanese name for the islands that are known as the Diaoyu in China, which also claims them.</p> <p>China reiterated that it "resolutely opposed" the islands being part of the security treaty.</p> <p>"The so-called US-Japan alliance is a bilateral arrangement from the Cold War and ought not to harm China's territorial sovereignty and reasonable rights," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing in Beijing.</p> <p>Japanese and Chinese naval vessels and coastguard ships have played cat-and-mouse around the disputed islets since Japan's government bought the then-privately owned territory in 2012.</p> <p>A joint statement to be issued at the summit will state the two allies will not tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force — a phrase that implicitly targets China — but likely not mention the islands or China by name, Japanese media have reported.</p> <p><strong>Nuclear North Korea</strong></p> <p>Obama also reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the security of <a href="">South Korea</a>, and said it would stand firm in its insistence that a nuclear North Korea was unacceptable.</p> <p>Seoul is the second stop on Obama's four-nation swing, which also includes Malaysia and the Philippines.</p> <p>"The burden is on Pyongyang to take concrete steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, and the United States, Japan and South Korea are united in our goal — the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Obama said.</p> <p>North Korea, already subject to United Nations' sanctions over its previous atomic tests, the third and most recent of which took place in early 2013, threatened last month to conduct what it call "a new form of nuclear test."</p> <p>The United States said on Tuesday it was watching the Korean peninsula closely after news reports quoted the South Korean government as saying that heightened activity had been detected at North Korea's underground nuclear test site.</p> <p>"We continue to urge North Korea to refrain from actions that threaten regional peace and security and to comply with its international obligations and commitments," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular briefing.</p> <p>(Editing by Alex Richardson)</p> Need to Know Asia-Pacific Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:03:00 +0000 Linda Sieg and Elaine Lies, Thomson Reuters 6128367 at Chatter: And now, finally, the pivot to Asia <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> President Obama begins his four-nation tour in Asia starting with Japan, Moscow's game plan for eastern Ukraine, and New Zealand's plan for its rat problem. </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 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Priyanka Boghani 5942065 at The next hotbed for medical marijuana research <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Researching medicinal weed in the US is a real pain. Cue Uruguay. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Will Carless </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — It ain’t easy to study the positive effects of pot in the <a href="">United States</a>.</p> <p>First, there’s the legality issue. While medicinal marijuana is now legal in more than 20 states, the federal government still considers pot illegal, which means scientists can’t just give it to volunteers and measure whether it makes them feel better.</p> <p>There’s also the problem of supply: Right now, the only legal way to study pot is to apply for a batch of it from the <a href="" target="_blank">one official grower</a> of federally sanctioned cannabis, at the University of Mississippi. (Experts say the weed is dry, harsh and awful.) Then you have to get your study sanctioned by a host of federal agencies.</p> <p>Put simply, studying medical marijuana in the United States is a real pain.</p> <p>Cue Uruguay.</p> <p>Not only has this small <a href="">Latin American</a> country just become the first nation on Earth to legalize the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana, but its leaders recently declared that they’re ready to go a step further: They want Uruguay to become a hotbed for research into medicinal marijuana. And, far from making things difficult, the government is actively encouraging scientists.</p> <p>“The first step in convincing others is to be convinced yourself. You have to believe in something profoundly,” Diego Canepa, the president of Uruguay’s National Drugs Council, told a conference on medicinal marijuana here earlier this month. Canepa said the government wants to see the data on medicinal pot, and urged scientists here and abroad to bring Uruguay’s leaders results.</p> <p>That’s got the international community of pot scientists all giddy.</p> <p>Researchers from across the globe who attended the conference were buzzing about the possibility of studying weed in a country largely free of the regulatory boundaries that exist elsewhere, where supplies of weed for research will be abundant and cheap and where their results will be welcomed.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of researchers, myself included, and others from this conference, that our minds are just spinning with possibilities of the kind of research that can be done,” said Amanda Reiman, a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley and a policy manager for the pro-legalization organization the <a href="" target="_blank">Drug Policy Alliance</a>.</p> <blockquote class="pullquote"><p><span style="font-size:18px">“Research done in Uruguay that’s scientific and that ideally gets published in a scientific journal would have a big impact on the state level,” said Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.</span></p> </blockquote> <p>There are significant limits to what can be accomplished in Uruguay, however.</p> <p>Raquel Peyraube, a Montevideo doctor who’s been researching marijuana for decades, cautioned that scientists here largely lack the resources to conduct the sorts of trials that would carry international weight.</p> <p>While there’s no shortage of enthusiasm, Peyraube said she hopes to see international research organizations and well-respected scientists in the field bring resources to Uruguay to help get big studies off the ground.</p> <p>And, as far as convincing the US federal government of the medicinal benefits of pot, any studies here would likely be a non-starter, said Rick Doblin, president and founder of the <a href="" target="_blank">Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies</a>, a research organization that has sponsored US-based research into weed.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Uruguay may treat drug-addicted prisoners with medical weed</a></strong></p> <p>Doblin said the federal government, like much of Europe, requires any “new” drug to run an arduous gauntlet of study and approval. Step one in convincing the feds is to conduct studies using cannabis that’s been certified as “medical grade” by the Food and Drug Administration, Doblin said. Besides that supplier in Mississippi, no other company or grower in the world has yet done that, and passing this first hurdle could take years and cost millions of dollars, he said.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="473" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=TjWJLxhsVALbR_1dRA_AAaPz4TleTJsZvdMDoolAoKw=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>In the coming years, Uruguay's growers could start competing for FDA approval with companies in other weed-friendly countries like Canada and <a href="" target="_blank">Israel</a>.</p> <p>Studies conducted in Uruguay would be more useful in influencing the debate at the state level in the US, Doblin said. While the federal government might shun drug research that hasn’t been channeled through its official pipeline, state lawmakers might well take into account studies done in this South American country when defining their policies on pot use.</p> <p>In Colorado, for example, lawmakers have recently been discussing whether to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that are legally treatable using medicinal marijuana, Doblin said. The move is being opposed by a group of psychologists who argue there’s no evidence that pot helps sufferers of PTSD.</p> <p>A well-regimented study out of Uruguay could greatly influence that discussion and others like it around the country, he said.</p> <p>“Research done in Uruguay that’s scientific and that ideally gets published in a scientific journal would have a big impact on the state level for states that were thinking of expanding the medical use of marijuana to conditions where they claim there’s no research,” Doblin said.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Latin America's push to legalize it</a></strong></p> <p>Peyraube, the Montevideo doctor and researcher, said offers are already coming in from scientists around the world.</p> <p>She’s currently planning two studies on medicinal pot, Peyraube said, one with US-based researchers and one with scientists from Spain.</p> <p>What’s changed in Uruguay goes further than an acceptance of these sorts of studies, Peyraube said. After decades of aversion to her research into pot, it seems the entire nation has begun to shift its attitude vis-à-vis the root cause of drug problems in society.</p> <p>“The politicians here need research to support the [new marijuana] law and we who agree with the change of policy want to contribute to that,” she said. “We want to be helpful. We want this law to work.”</p> World Wide Weed Americas Business Want to Know Health Wed, 23 Apr 2014 04:21:00 +0000 Will Carless 6127613 at What 'Berlin's favela' says about this uneasy and divided city <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> In the German capital, anti-gentrification activists are allying with immigrants and refugees. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BERLIN, <a href="">Germany</a> — In a thicket of shanties improvised from scrap lumber and plastic tarps, 27-year-old Lukas runs a bicycle's rubber inner tube through a bucket of water, searching for a puncture that eluded him on the first go.</p> <p>Next to him, a discarded lampshade — lightless, as there's no electricity or running water here — is speared on a post beside a stolen shopping cart that has been repurposed as a sieve for the camp's garbage. Farther on, a cracked aquarium now used as a planter for unidentifiable seedlings stands amid yet more detritus — a filthy sofa, a wheel-less office chair, rusted bedsprings.</p> <p>Welcome to the Cuvrybrache, newly christened “Berlin's favela.”</p> <p>The infamous squatters who once occupied vacant lots and abandoned buildings across Berlin have all but disappeared. But as the city's renaissance drives up rents and wealthy migrants from southern Germany displace leftists, artists and slackers, a new alliance of anti-gentrification activists, immigrants and refugees is emerging in pockets of resistance like this one. </p> <p>Home to 40-odd permanent residents and a constant flow of temporary campers, the Cuvrybrache or “Cuvry street fallow,” originated during a protest against a multimillion-dollar project to redevelop the banks of the Spree River, which flows through the city center.</p> <p>But as the presence of <a href="">African</a> refugees, a family of Roma and economic migrants from <a href="">Poland</a> suggests, it's now on the verge of becoming something more, says Lukas, a tall, thin hippie from Hamburg with blond dreadlocks and a sprinkling of sun freckles across his nose.</p> <p>“The big time of squatting in Berlin is over, but it's not done yet, as you can see,” he says.</p> <p>In many ways, the history of squatting reflects the city’s story.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="503" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=yN-dUewgy3WAHlP_KJIG6iaVAS-hcI_wX93a9-7qYYQ=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;">Home squat home: Squatters were evicted in February 2011 from this building after occupying it since the early '90s.</span><em> </em></p> <p>The squatting movement arose in what was then West Berlin from the anti-parliamentarian student movement in the 1970s and expanded as a housing crisis deepened throughout that decade, the result of post-World War II policies that discouraged low-income rental projects.</p> <p>When the Berlin Wall came down, a new burst of squatting erupted to occupy the sudden appearance of abandoned buildings in the former East, says University of Nottingham historian Alex Vasudevan.</p> <p>Over the past few years, however, construction has failed to keep pace with demand. The excess housing that long kept prices low — and allowing Berlin to remain a haven for artists and dropouts — has disappeared. Rents are rising faster than wages, turning immigrants and hipsters into allies.</p> <p>“Now squatters and other housing activists are collaborating with migrant communities and refugee groups in a wider activist politics, which hasn't happened in Germany since the early '70s,” Vasudevan says.</p> <p>Over the past five years, high-profile evictions have demonstrated Berlin's new commitment to protecting owners' property rights, while some of the oldest squatter communities have been forced to go legit — and turn capitalist — to survive.</p> <p>In 2010, police <a href="" target="_blank">faced down</a> hundreds of protesters to evict residents of a five-story central Berlin apartment house that was then called “the last rent-free squat in Berlin.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, residents of Rauchhaus, a squat first occupied in 1971, now offer classes in yoga, silkscreen painting and welding and operate a proletarian, albeit capitalist, bar to foot the tax bill since having gained legal title to the building.</p> <p>But the battle for the city's soul is hardly over.</p> <p>Less than a year after the supposedly last rent-free building was emptied, 2,500 police had to be deployed to evict residents from yet another squat in the neighborhood of Friedrichshain in the former East.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">When athletes go missing</a></strong></p> <p>Even as housing prices rise, threatening the laidback lifestyle that prompted Mayor Klaus Wowerheit to tag Berlin with the nickname “poor but sexy” a decade ago, a steady influx of asylum seekers and immigrants from poorer <a href="">European</a> Union countries is revitalizing the struggle, says 26-year-old housing activist Helena Mueller of the group “Wir Bleiben Alle” (We're All Staying).</p> <p>Using <a href="" target="_blank">flash mob-style squatting</a> as a public relations tool, Wir Bleiben Alle warned police in advance before occupying an abandoned building late last year, and helped Bulgarian immigrants squatting in an ice cream factory in the central part of city to resist eviction just before Christmas.</p> <p>“Their problem is our problem,” says Mueller, who used a pseudonym because of the illegal nature of her group's activities. “That's why we're working with them.” </p> Berlin Want to Know Germany Culture & Lifestyle Wed, 23 Apr 2014 04:21:00 +0000 Jason Overdorf 6125065 at US is sending about 600 troops to eastern Europe <!--paging_filter--><p>The <a href="">United States</a> will send about 600 US troops to <a href="">Poland</a> and the three Baltic states to take part in exercises in the coming days to reassure NATO allies following <a href="">Russia</a>'s seizure of the Crimean region from Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.</p> <p>Rear Admiral John Kirby, a top Defense Department spokesman, said the bilateral exercises planned for Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were in addition to the regular training schedule the US military has with those countries and were added due to the events in Ukraine.</p> <p>"The United States takes seriously our obligations under Article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren't NATO exercises," Kirby said. "It's a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in <a href="">Europe</a>."</p> <p>(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Sandra Maler)</p> <p>  </p> Need to Know United States Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:24:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6127800 at India's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi slams anti-Muslim remarks <!--paging_filter--><p>Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi sought to calm fears for religious minorities under his rule on Tuesday, saying he would represent all Indians if they voted for him or not in the current general election.</p> <p>Modi, prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and favorite to become <a href="">India</a>'s next leader, is running on a platform of reviving an economy going through its worst slowdown since the 1980s.</p> <p>But half-way through a five-week campaign to win over the country's 815 million voters, some members of the BJP and its hardline affiliates are facing accusations of trying to whip up a partisan Hindu-oriented agenda.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">India: A primer for the biggest elections in world history</a></strong></p> <p>Their statements have re-ignited concerns among religious minorities about a government led by the BJP, which rivals say has a deep-seated bias against India's 150 million Muslims.</p> <p>"This government belongs to those who have voted for it. This government belongs to those who have voted against it. This government belongs even to those who could not cast their ballot," Modi told the ABP News television channel.</p> <p>"And the mantra of my government is absence of fear."</p> <p>The comments came after Giriraj Singh, a leader of the Bihar state wing of the party, said those opposed to Modi would have to leave India and go to Muslim-majority <a href="">Pakistan</a> after the BJP won the election and formed a government.</p> <p>India's Election Commission on Tuesday barred Singh from addressing public meetings and asked local authorities to register a case against him for his "inflammatory" statements.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Hindu nationalists and rationalists make strange neighbors in Pune</a></strong></p> <p>Modi said nobody could agree with Singh's comments.</p> <p>In a Twitter post, he admonished his colleagues on the Hindu far-right for railing against India's Muslims and liberals in the election campaign, dubbing their statements "irresponsible."</p> <p>Television channels this week showed a video in which Praveen Togadia, a firebrand member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a sister organization of the BJP, was seen offering advice on how to prevent Muslims from buying property in Hindu-dominated areas.</p> <p>Togadia denied that, saying he only asked Hindus to seek the help of police to resolve property disputes involving Muslims.</p> <p>On Monday, a leader of the BJP's alliance partner in the Western state of Maharashtra said Modi would teach a lesson to Muslim rioters. Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam made the comments at a joint election rally with Modi in Mumbai.</p> <p><strong>'Crocodile tears'</strong></p> <p>Modi himself is tainted by accusations that he turned a blind eye to, or even encouraged Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 in Gujarat, the state he has governed for 13 years. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the violence.</p> <p>He has always denied the accusations and a Supreme Court inquiry did not find evidence to prosecute him.</p> <p>"These crocodile tears ... will not do," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a leader of the ruling Congress party, referring to Modi's Twitter posts criticizing colleagues' statements.</p> <p>"People know the truth," he said.</p> <p>While opinion polls predict Modi's BJP-led alliance will win the biggest chunk of the 543 parliamentary seats being contested in the multi-stage voting that ends on May 12, most of them show he will need new partners in order to secure a majority.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Low-caste Indians look to Modi and BJP in elections</a></strong></p> <p>An anti-Muslim pitch would not only make it tougher for him to find partners, but could also drive away some middle-class voters whose support Modi is banking on to unseat Congress.</p> <p>But some of Modi's colleagues remain defiant.</p> <p>BJP leader Singh, who is contesting the election in the northern state of Bihar, said he stood by his statement. "I have said what I felt. I will give my explanation."</p> <p>This month, the election commission banned one of Modi's top aides from election rallies on charges of making inflammatory speeches against Muslims.</p> <p>The ban was lifted last week after the aide, Amit Shah, vowed not to use abusive or derogatory language. The commission said that it would monitor his campaigning.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Mumbai; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel and Tom Heneghan)</p> Need to Know India Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:53:16 +0000 Rajesh Kumar Singh, Thomson Reuters 6127785 at The death toll of the sunken South Korean ferry climbs to 121 <!--paging_filter--><p>The confirmed death toll from <a href="">South Korea</a>'s worst ferry accident in more than 20 years surpassed 120 on Tuesday, with 181 people still missing despite accelerated search operations.</p> <p>The death toll from the sinking of the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol rose to 121 as of Tuesday night as divers retrieved a total of 30 bodies from the five-story vessel earlier in the day.</p> <p>"Underwater operations will focus on the third and fourth floors, while vessels will search waters to prevent bodies from drifting away," the government disaster management team said in a briefing.</p> <p>Divers have established five underwater routes guiding divers to the wreck, and plan to add more to speed up the operation, officials said. The team also dispatched two remotely operated vehicles into the sea for the second day to assist with the search operation.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">South Korea ferry disaster: How everything that could go wrong did go wrong</a></strong></p> <p>Tuesday's search was focused on gaining access to the ferry's main dining hall where several bodies are believed to be trapped inside, considering that the accident took place around breakfast time.</p> <p>The operations have transitioned from rescue to recovery and identification as hopes have all but vanished that any passengers will be found alive. No survivors have been found since the ship sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on Wednesday. Of the 476 people on board, only 174 passengers, including the ferry's captain and most of its crew, were rescued after the boat capsized due to what is believed to have been a faster than usual turn.</p> <p>While the search had been hampered by bad weather, murky water and strong currents, operations are expected to gather steam this week as the weather in the area finally turned favorable.</p> <p>The government task force handling the disaster said search workers will continue to work around-the-clock as weather conditions have improved. It said it is mobilizing a total of 212 boats, 34 aircraft and 550 search workers.</p> <p>Ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to South Korea later this week, the Pentagon on Monday said it is sending a salvage ship, USS Safeguard, toward the peninsula from <a href="">Thailand</a> in case it is needed.</p> <p>Rescue crews have positioned large cranes near the scene, but authorities said they will lift the capsized ship from the sea only with consent from families of the missing, some of whom may have a slight hope that there are still survivors.</p> <p>Family representatives of missing passengers and five government agencies agreed to establish temporary mortuaries at Paengmok Port on Jindo Island for funeral services.</p> <p>Coast Guard officials have conducted DNA testing to identify the retrieved bodies, comparing samples from victims and their relatives. Such testing has been conducted in a more stringent manner after one of the corpses was sent to the wrong place last week.</p> <p>But the move sparked angry responses from some families because they considered providing DNA samples as an acknowledgment that their loved ones are dead. Scuffles broke out in hospitals when authorities asked relatives to prove their family relation before handing over bodies.</p> <p>In response to the backlash, the government task force team said it will simplify the identification process to return the bodies to their families as soon as possible.</p> Need to Know South Korea Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:03:31 +0000 Yonhap News Agency 6127695 at Here's why the world's youngest nation is on the brink of collapse <!--paging_filter--><p>South Sudan's civil war is worsening, with battles spiraling into brutal ethnic massacres. Fighting broke out on December 15 in the capital Juba and later spread to the north and east of the country.</p> <p>Here is a summary of key issues in the conflict.</p> <p><strong>ORIGINS</strong></p> <p>The battles pitch troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against forces of sacked vice president Riek Machar, but also include many ethnic militias using child soldiers.</p> <p>Violence began amid political power struggles rooted in decades-old grievances between the former rebels, but has since escalated out of their control.</p> <p>Both Kiir and Machar were guerrilla commanders in the 1983-2005 civil war that preceded South Sudan's independence from Khartoum in 2011, fighting for many years against each other before joining forces.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=9VA5w6KFciHKGEjlrpZAD7l0urGCP6yr7dPTyIr4qUg=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup, while Machar said the president wanted to crush opposition.</p> <p><strong>SCALE</strong></p> <p>Tens of thousands are feared killed and more than a million people have been forced to flee their homes, many as refugees to neighboring Ethiopia, <a href="">Kenya</a>, Sudan and Uganda.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=FEVTTcV0W4DIcevKnBMXowOxw1iSgrvp6_EIMgTqUwg=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Machar has branded Kiir a "dictator" and says he wants to topple him.</p> <p>Militarily, he wants to seize the country's crucial oilfields, which accounted for some 95 percent of government income before the war.</p> <p>Stuck far out in the bush and disadvantaged by limited ammunition and fuel for vehicles, Machar is unlikely to be in a position to take the capital Juba as he claims, security experts say.</p> <p><strong>AID CRISIS</strong></p> <p>The United Nations has warned that more than a million people are at risk of famine, with some five million needing aid. Around 80,000 civilians are sheltering inside cramped UN peacekeeper bases fearing they will be attacked.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=LdKc7rZ-acgK0L55XtexCa49LTsLEyJy0J7W38ze6eA=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Both sides are accused of carrying out ethnic massacres.</p> <p><strong>FORCES</strong></p> <p>Kiir's army is backed by troops and fighter jets from neighboring Uganda.</p> <p>Machar's loosely allied mutinous soldiers fight alongside an ethnic militia called the White Army, named for the ash the warriors smear on themselves as warpaint and mosquito repellent.</p> <p>The White Army comes from Machar's Nuer tribe, the country's second largest group. It has long fought rivals over cattle and women, including from Kiir's Dinka tribe, the country's largest.</p> <p>Some 8,000 UN peacekeepers are scattered between the warring sides, over a country the size of <a href="">Spain</a> and Portugal combined, but with mud roads often impassable in the current wet season.</p> <p><strong>PEACE EFFORTS</strong></p> <p>A January ceasefire signed in Ethiopia is in tatters.</p> <p>The latest round in slow-moving talks is due in late April, but so far delegates have largely squabbled in luxury hotels about who can attend.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=aaUyOu999_OPhT3d8j0-u_kfrk6dBvtbdRbsESrEl4k=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>The US and <a href="">European</a> Union have threatened possible sanctions.</p> <p><strong>OTHER NATIONS</strong></p> <p>As well as forces from Uganda, fighters from neighboring Sudan's war-torn Darfur region are also reported to be involved.</p> <p>Darfuri rebel fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are accused of backing the government.</p> <p>South Sudan's government accuses Janjaweed militia — the once pro-Khartoum government force accused of genocidal killings in Darfur — of backing Machar.</p> <p>Both sides deny the role of Sudanese forces.</p> <p><strong>IMPACT</strong></p> <p>Most of the fragile gains made by the billions of dollars of international development aid that poured in after independence have been lost.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="524" scrolling="no" src="//;SeoLinks=off&amp;sig=8kr9yu7YpJOc4lBM-JyBc3VZfpEgrFvaD2tfcDUeBmo=" style="display:inline-block;" width="670"></iframe></p> <p>Oil production has slumped, and in many areas, stopped altogether. Oil income is key for both South Sudan and Sudan, which exports the oil.</p> <p>Hardest hit by the violence are the north and northeastern oil regions of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states.</p> <p>The few major towns there have been razed to the ground.</p> <p>str-pjm/gd</p> Africa Need to Know Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:39:07 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6127544 at A Saudi prince is accused of killing 2,000 of these endangered birds while on safari in Pakistan <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Houbara bustards are globally protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sarah Wolfe </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Jeez. Happy Earth Day.</p> <p>A Saudi prince has been accused of killing 2,000 endangered birds during a safari in Pakistan earlier this year.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">These cities are among the greenest in the world</a></strong></p> <p>The birds, known as houbara bustards, are on the brink of extinction and <a href="" target="_blank">protected </a>globally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.</p> <p>Each winter, they migrate from central Asia to the warmer climate of Pakistan.</p> <p>Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, better known as Prince Fahd bin Sultan, is said to have gunned down 1,977 of the birds on reserved and protected areas over 21 days in January, the Karachi-based <a href="" target="_blank">Dawn newspaper </a>reported.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">97 percent, 49 billion and 3 other convincing climate change numbers</a></strong></p> <p>Other members of his party killed an additional 123 birds, bringing the total to 2,100.</p> <p>While the birds are officially protected, the Pakistani government<a href="" target="_blank"> issues </a>special permits each year to Arab royalty and other elites to kill up to 100 of them in alloted areas over a 10-day period.</p> <p>The bird&#39;s meat is highly valued and <a href="" target="_blank">considered</a> to be an aphrodisiac.</p> <p>Prince Fahd is said to have violated his permit by killing too many of the birds and hunting in non-alloted areas.</p> <p>It&#39;s not known whether he&#39;ll face any punishment.</p> <p>The prince and others like him are facing a growing backlash from Pakistanis and conservationists who warn the birds are on the brink of extinction.</p> <p>After this year&#39;s killing season ended in early February, a high court in Lahore <a href="" target="_blank">imposed</a> an interim ban on the practice.</p> <p>&quot;If it&#39;s illegal for Pakistanis to kill these birds why should the Arab sheikhs be allowed to do it?&quot;&nbsp;Tasneem Aslam, from Pakistan&#39;s ministry of foreign affairs, said in an <a href="" target="_blank">interview</a> with the Guardian in February.</p> <p>Watch video of the birds below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> Need to Know Green Asia-Pacific Wildlife News Middle East Saudi Arabia Science Pakistan Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:24:00 +0000 Sarah Wolfe 6127541 at South Korea ferry disaster: How everything that could go wrong did go wrong <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Four ways incompetence, bad luck, and bureaucratic bungling created a mess. </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--><p>SEOUL, <a href="">South Korea</a> — South Koreans were taken aback Monday when President Park Geun-hye decreed that the captain and crew of the Sewol, the 6825-ton sunken ferry, conducted themselves in a way “akin to an act of murder,” fleeing the listing ship without ensuring the safety of the 476 passengers on board.</p> <p>"Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was akin to an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated," she told aides.</p> <p>As of Tuesday afternoon in Seoul, 104 people had been confirmed dead and 198 were still missing, with more bodies being recovered from the vessel. Most of the dead and missing were second-year high school students on a field trip; hopes have been pretty much eliminated that any survivors will be found. On Saturday, the ship’s captain and two crew members were arrested, followed by four more arrests on Monday.</p> <p>For some South Koreans, President Park’s statement brought vindication following a round of mud-slinging over what they proclaim has been a sluggish rescue effort. Yet the president’s statement also angered critics who accused her of inappropriately commenting on the crew’s guilt before allowing them to stand trial.</p> <p>Here are four factors — some natural, some human — that turned this tragedy into a bungling mess.</p> <p><strong>1. The captain did not go down with his ship</strong></p> <p>Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio film Titanic, when Captain Smith orders women and children to leap onto lifeboats first, and hours later, valiantly goes down with his mega-cruiser after the string quartet performing its final piece, “Nearer My God to Thee”?</p> <p>Captain Smith, at least in his movie form, was venerating a centuries-old code of seafaring honor, one that’s also enshrined in law: The captain is ultimately responsible for the safety of the people aboard his ship, and in times of distress, he or she should be among the last to leave. (These days, however, nobody expects the captain to actually go down with his ship.)</p> <p>But South Koreans were enraged when a video emerged showing that 68-year-old South Korean captain, Lee Joon Seok, was among the first to escape on a life boat, leaving all those high school students trapped below deck.</p> <p>So what happened? During the voyage, Lee took a break, handing the helm over to his inexperienced third mate despite the tricky waters around Jindo. Once calamity struck, the passengers were ordered over the public announcement system to stay in their rooms, while the captain waited for 32 minutes to issue an evacuation order.</p> <p>An audio transcript later revealed chaos and confusion in those final moments. Lee has since defended himself by claiming that the strong currents could have swept away the passengers should they have abandoned ship. He’s now under arrest for negligence and accidental homicide, among other charges. It remains unclear why the crew simply didn’t order the passengers above deck so they wouldn’t get trapped.</p> <p><strong>2. Strong ocean currents and bad weather slowed down the rescue</strong></p> <p>For all his blundering, Captain Lee was correct that the ocean currents were ferocious, posing a risk for even the most elite of navy rescue divers. Rescuers had trouble safely reaching the wreckage for days, struggling to see through the muddy-colored water and feeling their way around the ship.</p> <p>When divers reached the hull, they tapped on it, hoping that any survivors would knock in response. There was, sadly, no such luck. With the weather clearing up this week, they’ve now gained access to the various rooms of the ship, discovering more bodies. The death toll is expected to rise significantly in the coming days.</p> <p><strong>3. Parents accused the government of a sluggish and confused response</strong></p> <p>The relatives of missing passengers, of course, had reason to be distraught since rescuers couldn’t retrieve their sons and daughters quickly. If any survivors were trapped in air pockets trapped inside the vessel, their time was limited due to the threat of hypothermia.</p> <p>Nobody expected the government to take the blame for unlucky conditions. In fact, many applauded President Park for unexpectedly showing up at Jindo on Thursday to calm the families.</p> <p>But as emotions were running high and the rescue efforts appeared lackluster to some, a few government officials made untimely and unfortunate statements, hurting the government’s image.</p> <p>On Thursday, the South Korean prime minister took on a barrage of water bottles as he departed the gymnasium in Jindo, where loved ones were camped out. South Koreans were also furious when a public servant inappropriately took a photo op; He was quickly sacked from his position. Early on, the emergency command center released incorrect numbers, suggesting that far more people had been rescued, only to quickly retract it and disappoint families.</p> <p>By the wee hours of Sunday morning, the families were so enraged that they decided to take their case to directly to South Korea’s presidential Blue House. The prime minister urged the families not to go, but about 300 people ignored his request, choosing to traverse the country by foot.</p> <p>A small army of police quickly showed up at the Jindo bridge, blocking the demonstrators on the grounds that the road was dangerous. The families took a detour to mountain hiking paths, only to be turned back again.</p> <p>An ensuing scuffle left at least one person injured, with embittered relatives complaining that the government had political reasons for keeping them from their march. After negotiations on the street, the group eventually agreed to head back to the gymnasium.</p> <p><strong>4. The shady ferry operator is under investigation</strong></p> <p>South Korean prosecutors have raided the offices of the ferry operator, the Cheonghaejin company, and six companies that gave it safety checks. It’s unclear at this point if there will be criminal charges against the corporate executives directly connected to the incident.</p> <p>Some experts say that the company staff weren’t properly trained to tie down the cargo, putting it at risk of shifting during the voyage — a factor that could have caused the ship to list on its side. South Korean authorities are likely to probe how the company built additional rooms for the ship, and how the cargo was loaded.</p> <p>South Korea’s financial regulator is also at the scene just in time, opening an investigation into Cheonghaejin for alleged illegal foreign exchange trading and tax evasion. About 30 people connected to the company have been banned from leaving the country.</p> <p>The company, too, doesn’t exactly have an unblemished history. The father of the two sons who now own Cheonghaejin previously owned another ferry operator. That company went bankrupt in 1997, encumbered by scandals that included the sinking of its cruise ship.</p> <p>Uh-oh.</p> Want to Know Indonesia Philippines South Korea Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:07:00 +0000 Geoffrey Cain 6127537 at