(SEOUL, South Korea) — Making his first New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on his country Tuesday to focus on economic improvements with the same urgency that scientists put into the launch of a long-range rocket last month.
Kim, shown speaking on state TV, said raising the standard of living is the new year’s most important task. He also pushed for the development of more advanced weapons, a “revolution” in science and technology and reunification with “compatriots” in South Korea.
The speech was the first televised New Year’s Day message by a North Korean leader in 19 years. North Korea founder Kim Il Sung routinely addressed his people on New Year’s Day, but Kim Jong Il never gave a TV address during his 17-year rule. During his leadership, the New Year’s message was published as a joint editorial in the nation’s three major newspapers.
North Korea also had its first grand New Year’s Eve celebration, including the boom of cannons and fireworks at midnight in Pyongyang.
The speech was a clear acknowledgement that North Koreans want improvement in an economy that has long lagged behind the rest of Northeast Asia. North Korea has little arable land, is prone to natural disasters and struggles to grow enough food for its 24 million people.
The speech itself was also a signal that Kim will continue with a leadership style more in line with his gregarious grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung, than with his father, Kim Jong Il, who avoided making public speeches.
Kim Jong Un took power after his father’s Dec. 17, 2011, death. Early in his first year, Pyongyang negotiated a deal with Washington for food aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze, but it collapsed after North Korea attempted to shoot a rocket into space in April. The rocket failed shortly after liftoff, but a successful second attempt on Dec. 12 helped Kim gain crucial political and popular support in his country.
North Korea hailed the launch as a big step in peaceful space exploration. Washington and others called the launch a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
Governments are also worried by recent analysis of North Korea’s main nuclear test site that indicates readiness for a possible third atomic explosion. North Korea has tested two atomic devices since 2006, both times weeks after U.N. condemnation of a long-range launch.
The annual New Year’s Day message lays out North Korea’s policy goals for the year. The need for a better economy and improvements in science and technology were major elements.
Kim made no mention of North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the issue that most worries Washington, but he did seek to glorify — and link to the economy — the successful rocket launch.
North Korea’s slogan for the year, Kim said, should be: “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!”
In Pyongyang, residents danced in the snow at midnight Monday to celebrate the end of a big year for North Korea, including the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung and the first year of Kim Jong Un’s leadership. Fireworks lit up the cold sky, and people stood in fur-lined parkas, taking photos and laughing and dancing with each other in plazas.
Kim Jong Un tried in his speech to tap into North Koreans’ fond memories of Kim Il Sung, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in South Korea.
The rocket launch boosted morale, Koh said. “Now people are expecting him to improve the economy and help them live better economically,” Koh said. “Kim Jong Un knows that and feels the pressure of meeting that demand.”
Kim’s speech avoided harsh criticism of the United States, its wartime enemy. North Korea has used past New Year’s editorials to accuse the U.S. of plotting war.
This should be interesting…
Hahaha. Genocidal twat.
Benjamin Netanyahu explains his diagram of Iran’s nuclear weapon
In case anyone wasn’t sure what a clip art bomb looked like.
India’s economy grew at its weakest pace in more than two years in the quarter that ended in September, revealing the heavy toll that rising interest rates and the stumbling world economy are having on Asia’s third-biggest economy.
Economic growth slumped to 6.9 per cent in the second quarter, data showed on Wednesday, nearing the slump in the three months to June 2009 when the economy grew just six per cent.
The second-quarter growth was sharply below the the 7.7 per cent expansion logged from April to June, and 8.4 per cent growth posted a year ago."
About 82 tonnes of smuggled minerals seized by Rwandan police has been handed back to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a sign of improved relations between the two neighbours.
The minerals include cassiterite, or tin ore, as well as coltan, used in devices such as mobile phones.
The return of the materials follows new international regulations aimed at cleaning up the mineral sector.
DR Congo’s mineral wealth has been a major factor in years of conflict.
Armed groups - local and foreign - have seized control of many mines in the east, bordering Rwanda and few Congolese have benefited from their country’s vast mineral wealth.
Rwanda has twice invaded DR Congo saying it was fighting rebel groups based there but its army has been accused of looting minerals during the conflict in which an estimated five million people died.
Rwanda’s Natural Resources Minister Stanislas Kamanzi handed the minerals - loaded in five lorries - to Congolese authorities at a ceremony in the border town of Gisenye.
BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says the handover is a sign of the greatly improved relations between two countries that have often been bitter enemies.
“I think it [reflects] the spirit of cooperation between the two countries,” DR Congo mining ministry adviser, Paul Mabolia Yenga, told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.
Rwanda’s deputy director of natural resources Michael Biryabarema said Kigali wanted to end perceptions that it benefited from illegal mining in DR Congo.
“It’s a lie that has gone for a long time,” he said.
He said Rwanda and DR Congo would work together to strengthen their mining sectors.
“We are more interested in… the development of our industry, bilateral relations and the establishment of proper trade relations,” Mr Biryabarema said.
Rwanda has for years been a major conduit for conflict minerals from DR Congo, correspondents say.
It long denied any involvement but now supports efforts to make the trade more transparent.
Any seized minerals without the sign would be returned, Mr Biryabarema said.
“A Church Of Dissent”
That’s Matt Stoller’s description of Occupy Wall Street
The moderate Islamist party An-Nahda is tipped for a historic victory inTunisia's first free elections, the first vote of the Arab spring. Nine months after a people’s revolution ousted the dictator Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab spring, Tunisians turned out in record numbers to vote for a caretaker assembly that has to rewrite the country’s constitution and govern until parliamentary elections in a year’s time.
The moderate Islamist party An-Nahda is tipped for a historic victory inTunisia's first free elections, the first vote of the Arab spring.
Nine months after a people’s revolution ousted the dictator Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab spring, Tunisians turned out in record numbers to vote for a caretaker assembly that has to rewrite the country’s constitution and govern until parliamentary elections in a year’s time.
The 217-seat assembly has a specific role: to rewrite the constitution and set the date for parliamentary elections in a year’s time. It will also form a caretaker government. Aproportional representation system meant regardless of the number of votes, no one party could take anan overall majority. An-Nahda is expected to form an alliance with the centrist secularist Ettakatol party, which is forecast to win 15-20% of the vote.
The rational mind of America is awakening.
Namibian tribal leaders have visited Berlin to collect the skulls of 20 compatriots who died under Germany’s colonial rule in the early 1900s.
German scientists took the heads to perform experiments seeking to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans over black Africans.
The skulls were uncovered three years ago in medical archive exhibits.
A ceremony was held in the German capital to return the remains as a gesture of reconciliation.
But chaotic scenes accompanied the speeches, particularly an address by German Deputy Foreign Minister Cornelia Pieper.
A handful of demonstrators shouted “reparations”, “apology” and “genocide”.
Germany has consistently refused to pay reparations to its former colony, arguing that it has given much development aid to Namibia. But Namibians at the ceremony said the aid had not reached them.
Earlier, Ueriuka Festus Tjikuua, a member of the Namibian delegation, told reporters: “We have come first and foremost to receive the mortal human remains of our forefathers and mothers and to return them to the land of their ancestors.”
The skulls belong to 20 people who died after an uprising against their German colonial rulers more than 100 years ago.
They were among hundreds who starved to death after being rounded up in camps.
Some of the dead had their heads removed and of these, about 300 were taken to Germany, arriving between 1909 and 1914.
The skulls gathered dust in German archives until three years ago when a German reporter uncovered them at the Medical History Museum of the Charite hospital in Berlin, and at Freiburg University in the south-west.
German researchers believe the skulls belong to 11 people from the Nama ethnic group and nine from the Herero.
They were four women, 15 men and a boy.
Mr Tjikuua said the mission intended to “extend a hand of friendship” to Germans.
Namibians, he said, wished to encourage a dialogue “with the full participation and involvement of the representatives of the descendants of those that suffered heavily under dreadful and atrocious German colonial rule”.
Charite spokeswoman Claudia Peter said the purported research on the skulls performed by German scientists had been rooted in perverse racial theories that later planted the seeds for the Nazis’ genocidal ideology.
“They thought that they could prove that certain peoples were worth less than they were,” she told AFP news agency.
“What these anthropologists did to these people was wrong and their descendants are still suffering for it.”
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