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Archive for June 19th, 2006

Tensions over North Korea's missile program escalated sharply Monday as Japan, Australia and New Zealand joined Washington in warning the communist state not to test an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts say could reach parts of the United States.
The 35-meter, or 115-foot, Taepodong- 2 missile stands ready to take off from Musudan-Ri, a remote village on the northeast coast of North Korea, after engineers completed loading liquid fuel into its rocket boosters, said The New York Times and other media in dispatches from Washington and Seoul.
A success would provide the strongest indication yet that North Korea was developing the capacity to deliver chemical, biological or perhaps nuclear warheads to targets as far away as the continental United States.
Such a development would drastically increase international concerns over the regime's arsenal and its potential for working with terrorist groups.
"Even now, we hope that they will not do this," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan said Monday. "But if they ignore our views and launch a missile, then the Japanese government, consulting with the United States, would have to respond harshly."
J. Thomas Schieffer, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said in Tokyo that Washington would seek action by the UN Security Council if there was a missile test.
"I think sanctions would have to be considered, but I wouldn't want to describe what actions we might take," Schieffer said. "I think we would regard it as a very, very serious matter, worthy of discussion and worthy of action by the Security Council."
Australia, one of the few Western counties with diplomatic relations with North Korea, said it had summoned the North Korean ambassador in Canberra and warned against a test.
"North Korea would be gravely mistaken if it thinks that a missile test would improve its bargaining position in the six-party talks," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said. New Zealand's new envoy to North Korea will state her country's opposition to a test when she presents her credentials later this week in Pyongyang, said Foreign Minister Winston Peters.
In Seoul, South Korea's governing Uri Party urged North Korea to "not put its friend in danger" by testing a missile. The missile test could also thwart a planned trip by the former president, Kim Dae Jung, who wants to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang this summer. In the past week, Washington and Tokyo have repeatedly urged Pyongyang to act rationally. But China and South Korea have so far appeared to employ quiet diplomacy.

– Asia – Pacific – International Herald Tribune

UPDATE: South Korea says the test is not a sure thing

:

"Under the current circumstances, it is hard to predict whether NorthKorea will fire the missile or not," said a ruling party spokesman.

Spokesman Woo Sang-Ho said senior government officials for security andforeign affairs had briefed leaders of the ruling party and weresceptical about media reports of an imminent launch.

"We are also concerned that groundless (media) speculation may causeanxieties that are out of proportion to reality," he said. "We hope themedia will avoid such overblown reports."

"But South Korea remains deeply concerned about preparations for any launch, which has triggered jitters in Asia and drawn sharp warnings from Washington and Tokyo.

Are they contradicting or is it just my Spanish brain the one who sees the contradiction? So they say there is no reason to suspect there is going to be a launch yet they are worried that a launch could actually happen. Then why they are NOW worried about A launch?

And why on earth the MSM cannot report on what it's happening? So they are worried about A POSSIBLE launch and the MSM cannot report over it? I am amazed…

You can see the Strata-Sphere, the Glittering Eye, the English Guy,Wizbang,Roger L. Simon ;), New England Republican,

UPDATE: Captain's Quarters (go and read it, very important as ever) reports the US has activated its missile defense systems while trying "to keep our moves from being unnecessarily provocative". He gives a descryption of the missile we are talking about:

The Taepodong-2 missile has Alaska in easy reach for a direct targeting profile. Depending on the configuration used, however, the Taepodong-2 can hit targets in the continental US using a ballistic polar route for its flight. The pending launch has the US and Japan on high alert. Without a doubt, if the rocket fires, the US will have no choice but to respond in some forceful manner — and if we're lucky, it will only be a successful demonstration of the missile defense system.

And also in US missile system, which "remains a work in progress". He also adds that America should prepare for war with North Korea.

Everything depends on the side China takes. But I doubt China wants a war so near its frontier and with so little to gain. I really think North Korea is nothing more than a puppet from China. And China will use it. Especially now that looks like the needs for only are going to rise by 50% by 2030, especially from India and China. I think he is going to manouvre it to gain more energy supplies, just as has done with Sudan.

UPDATE 2: Public Secrets has an hilarious post about the present situation:

I guess Kim Jong Il, the lunatic dictator Dear Leader of North Korea, must be feeling lonely these days, with all the world paying attention to Iraq, Iran, and al Qaeda plots to use poison gas in the New York City subways. Just like he's done before when he feels the world isn't taking him seriously, he rattles his sabers and causes some mini-crisis to get attention. This time, he may get his fingers burned.

ūüėČ Even if the problem is not to laugh (the situation in N.Korea is horrible for the people), we can laugh about Kim Il Jon.

UPDATE 3: For information about the activation of the missiles defense shield, read here and here, from Flap's Blog.

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Yesterday, the reform of Catalonian Statute passed the last of its obstacles qith a referendum in Catalonia. The results are 73% of the people who voted, voted in favor of it. 21%, against. Less than 50% went to vote. The media have treated it this way:

a) Spanish Media:

La Raz√≥n -right- : The majority of the Catalonian people do not back the Statute. Zapatero says he has all the democratic strength and an ample majority. PSOE accusses PP of delegitimising the referendum and of leaving the democratic way , regarding Rajoy’s declaration in which he asked Zapatero to stop the process, taking into account the low participation.

El Mundo includes a summary of the reactions about the Statute:

  • La Vanguardia -Catalan right-: Zapatero points out the great support and does not consider important the low turnout.
  • El Peri√≥dico de Catalu√Īa -Catalan left-: A hard Yes of half Catalonia and insists that no one can doubt about the legitimacy of the Statute.
  • El Mundo -center-: The great majority of the Catalans do not back the Statute’s change.
  • El Pa√≠s -left-: Catalonia gives a massive yes, with a participation near 50%.
  • ABC -in transition-: Only one out of three Catalans support Zapatero in this vote.

El Mundo also reports that PSOE and PP are accusing one another of the lack of success of this referendum. Rajoy has said that with the referendum of the Statute, Zapatero has had a serious failure.

El Semanal Digital -right; digital paper-: Catalans have made a vote of censorship to their politicians. Zapatero and Maragall fail the exam before the Catalans in the Statute’s vote.

Telecinco -left, Berlusoni TV in Spain-: Catalonia passes clearly the Statute despite the low turnout.

Antena 3 -right-: Yes to the Statute with low turnout.

Libertad Digital-right-: Only one out of three Catalans supported the Statute. A minority supports the referendum without consensus that conditions both Spain and Catalonia. Rajoy regrets Zapatero remains in a wrong position despite the bad result.

b) International Media:

BBC: Catalonia endorses autonomy plan. Only mentions the turnout inside the news. But says:

Catalonia will get more control over airports, ports and immigration.[…] But given the low turnout, it is uncertain how strong a mandate the new charter will have, the BBC’s Danny Wood in Barcelona reports.

CNN: Catalonians vote for more Autonomy.

(I have to add CNN is allied in Spain with PRISA, a holding which support PSOE, and which owns “El Pais”, among other Spanish and international media).

Le Figaro: Catalonia provides herself of new powers. The news also say: “Catalonia, the more attractive of all Spanish regions, will be able now to issue job licences or to impose Catalan to foreigners. (well, to foreigners and to people from other Spanish regions”.

Le Monde: The Catalan voters support largely the new statute of autonomy. (Le Monde is associated with El Pais).

c) Blogs:

Ajopringue: Nobody cares about the Statute. It is not boicott, is coherence (defending Spanish other nationals’ boycott to Catalonian products).

Batiburrillo: A referendum to feel shame.

Cartas y artículos: The Statute does not dazzle the Catalans.

David Millan: La Catalogne vote “oui”.

El PSOE utilizar√° tu “S√≠” contra Espa√Īa: Great victory of “Yes. Goodbye, Spain.

Es la libertad de expresión, idiotas: The failure of the Statute.

Etimologías: Results of the Catalonian Statute.

El rincón de la libertad: We have an Statute and a break between the Catalonian politicians.

Foro Liberal: The fools’ conspiration has succeeded.

La Druida Anti-ZP: A bad day for a country called Spain.

Labore Solis: Not caring about the Statute, not caring about ZP.

Movimiento Anti-ZP: Only a 37% supported the Statute.

Noches confusas en el siglo XXI: Zapatero won.

As a conclusion, I can only say that the low turnout is only one of the worrying things of this vote. More than half of the population is just bored of politicians who only want to carry on with their agendas without considering the real needs of the people of Spain, in general, and of Catalonia, in particular. Immigration, economy, unemployment, low competitivity, etc, can only be some of the problems that people sense now that exist but are not interesting to Spanish political ellite. Political parties must know that they exist -and are paid- because of the citizens and the needs of the citizens, not the other way round. And episodes like the fall of the Carmel’s quarter (Barcelona)-in which the machines to make the tunnels for the underground made the ground fall, because contractors had not invested the money they were given but simply paid politicians illegal quantities- are significant. Today a part of the people who lose their homes in that “terrible accident” are homeless and living in hotels. The Catalan Government offered them low compensations for the loss of their homes. Here is a video -there are more in youtube, but this is sums up the others- about the state of the Carmelo quarter today:

As you can see, the quarter’s state is miserable in 16th June 2006, 16 months after the catastrophe.

The second one, from my point of view, is that the attacks on politicians opposed to the Statute have been normal as I wrote here, here and here. I do not understand why if someone is just pacific and democratic has to insult and, in some cases, even slap and injure people who have another points of view.

Lastly, and in moral/ethical terms, the regulation of the abortion and euthanasia are, at least, disgusting:

“All persons have the right to live with dignity their process of death”

“The public powers must see that the free decision of the women is foremost in all cases which may affect her dignity, integrity, andphysical and mental welfare, especially regarding her own body and hersexual and reproductive health.”

In fact that is a call for both euthanasia and free abortion.

Also disgusting is the fact -as noted before- that Catalonia has some powers that Constitution says are from the State as immigration and ports and airports when they are f general interest.

UPDATE: Barcepundit has commented the Statute. I am going to underline two of the paragraphs of his post:

To begin with, it’s a statute that doesn’t fully respect thelinguistic rights by Spanish-speaking people (about 50% of thepopulation): the affirmative action in favor of Catalan, which madesense right after the Franco dictatorship (during which the languagewas removed from the official sphere, though not forbidden, as Kaleboelreminds apropos a lousy article in the Guardian), has been dramatically expanded(if shops and business were now fined for not using Catalan with theircustomers and internal paperwork, just wait when the new laws areenforced; and there’s not a single public school where non-Catalanspeaking parents -people coming in from the rest of Spain, or foreignimmigrant- can send their child to so that they’re taught in Spanish).One can argue that it doesn’t make that much sense after 27 years ofpolicies favoring it. In fact, this is probably why the statue won’t beeffective immediately, if opponents go through what they announced:that they’d appeal to the Constitutional Court, which can only be doneafter the referendum.

But besides what the defenders of Spain’sunity were saying, there were other arguments for opposition: first, bysecessionists who think that this new statute, and the new powers itgrants, are still not enough. They want the whole independence fromSpain. And there were also people -like yours truly- concerned not bythe fact that Spanish regions have more powers (I’ve always thoughtthat the closer they are to the governed, the better), but by the factthat this new statute is extremely interventionist, much more than thecurrent one. It was developed by a coalition of center-left and leftistparties who, in the immortal words of the Gipper, “believe every day isApril 15” (well, actually here it’s June 30, but you get the point);who are proponents of the nanny state and who want to regulate anythingthat moves.

I have to add there is a father, Carmelo Ortega, who has made a hunger strike to ask for Spanish-speaking classes for his daughter in Catalonia. During the firss night he did in the San Jaime Square some people intended to force him to leave. Others menaced him by mail.

UPDATE 2: Actually, there are shops who have been fined because the tickets were in Spanish.

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That is what the Spanish Islamic Community is asking the Government and actually says had agreed with them (Spanish newspaper, I will translate).

Interior Ministry will allow Muslim women to be taken photos with hijab to use them in the electronic National Identity Card, according to the President of Union of Islamic Communitis in Spain (UCIDE), Riay Tatary.
Electronic NIC began as project last March in Burgos and will previsibly be fully implemented by 2008.
After the new Ruling of the NIC expedition and the certificates for electronic signature, Interior Ministry have informed the Islamic Commission that he will maintain the possibility to wear hijab for the photos in the new context.
According to Tatry, to clarify the doubts that this Ruling has risen between thr civil servants which apply it, Interior Ministry will send to police stations a note offering this possibility “in cases in which certain practices, beliefs and religious orders oblige to the convering of the hair and the audtion pavillion -I really do not know how it’s called in English, so if someone knows, just leave a comment-“, as he did in 1998, year in which this possibility was recognised to Muslims.
So, for the photo the Interior Ministry will admit any photo in which the front, ears, eyes, nose, mouth and chin will be clearly viewed.
Islamic Communities consider convenient this note, because the recent rules, point as a requisite, a recent photo in which the the face of the interested, with a uniform back and plain, and shot with all the head totally unconvered, without glasses or dark glasses or any other wearing that can prevent or make more difficult the identification of the interested“.
Electronic NCI includes a chip with personal information, which will let people make operations like applying for a grant, present the personal tax in the Administration. Also the realisation of economial transactions or access to personal information in public databases.

So, so many years women fighting not to wear veil and now this.
Ehh, the reference to “religious orders” is just a pretext. I have not heard of any nun saying “I am not making this photo because of my veil”.
Lastly, if the recent rules are that the head should TOTALLY unconvered, I do not know the reason to grant the Muslim community this right [NOTE: I know, but it is not really reasonable].

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