Secret talks between U.S. and North Korea

American military planes carried Americans officials and equipment to the Asian country. Officials spoke about the country’s affairs post Kim Jong Il’s death.

By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO | ASAHI SHIMBUN | FEBRUARY 20, 2013

Senior U.S. administration officials held secret talks in North Korea on at least three occasions in 2011 and 2012, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.

Although the visits had potential implications for Japan, Washington did not inform its security partner at the time and only informally confirmed one of them when the Japanese side pressed, government and other sources in Japan, South Korea and the United States said.

The U.S. State Department even warned the Foreign Ministry against making further inquiries, saying they would harm bilateral relations, the sources said.

U.S. military planes flew from an air base in Guam to Pyongyang and back on April 7, 2012, and again on a longer visit lasting from Aug. 18-20, the sources said.

It is believed that those aboard included Sydney Seiler, director for Korea at the U.S. National Security Council, and Joseph DeTrani, who headed the North Korea desk at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. DeTrani left the post in May.

They met with North Korean officials and discussed policies following the death of leader Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

The North Korean delegation included Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and husband of Kim Jong Il’s sister. Jang is widely considered to serve as a mentor for Kim Jong Un, who succeeded his father as his nation’s leader.

The Japanese government only learned about the flights after receiving reports from hobbyists monitoring activity at military bases and also analyzing air traffic flight plans.

When the Japanese side submitted an official inquiry, U.S. officials expressed frustration that the request had been made, citing the subject’s confidential nature. The State Department warned Japan against inquiring further, saying Washington-Tokyo ties could be damaged.

The third visit that The Asahi Shimbun has confirmed is one that took place in November 2011. Sources said at least one military aircraft from the Guam air base loaded heavy equipment, including bulldozers, at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and flew to Pyongyang.

It is believed that the delegation included officials from the U.S. Pacific Command. They met with North Korean officials and discussed efforts to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, the sources said.

When Japan inquired about this visit, U.S. officials unofficially confirmed that it had taken place, the sources said.

Please check a related article at (http://ajw.asahi.com/article/asia/korean_peninsula/AJ201302150084).

First Smart Prison City to be Built in South Korea

By GRANT J. KIDNEY | AWWE | JULY 29, 2012

The world’s first ‘smart city’ is being built in Asia- and it promises to serve as an experiment for the high-tech tyranny that is surely to come about as a response to the collapse of this present era of human industrial civilization.

Dubbed ‘Songdo’, the city will rest upon a wholly man made island in the Yellow sea and will incorporate just about every aspect of an Orwellian ‘super state’ imaginable.

Millions of wireless sensors and microchips will be embedded throughout the sprawling city-scape. ‘Smart appliances’ such as refrigerators that let you know when you’re running low on certain foods and bathroom mirrors that inform you of your physical health will be evident in every home.

Songdo will also prominently feature ‘telepresence’ technology which translates to giant video screens everywhere. Telepresence is a ‘Skype’ like innovation developed by Cisco that allows folks to make convenient video calls to any one else with the same set up in their home or office.

Boasting other such innovations like street lights that automatically adjust to the number of people out on the street as well as an advanced ‘central hub’ that monitors almost every aspect of the city in real-time, Songdo is surely the first city of its kind with others like it such as the PlanIT Valley in Portugal just over the horizon.

The technology is neutral, the current value system is not: why Songdo will fail

The problem with Songdo is not so much with its innovation and high tech systems approach to properly maintaining a city of the twenty first century- but rather, it provides for those who are at present in control of the Earth and its resources an effective way to contain- and dare I say, ‘enslave’- the whole of the human population.

Grass roots, sustainability organizations such as the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project propose similar designs for advanced city systems as a means to ‘update’ our current inefficient model of the urban environment. What separates the aims of these two organizations in particular from the rise of Songdo-like city systems however is the fact that both groups advocate an adjustment of our human value systems first before migrating into an efficient new living-scape. Without having made these critical changes to the global, human social order, any new ‘smart city’ will only morph into a high-tech prison-grid controlled by extreme sociopaths.

Science fiction warns of high tech control grids

Orwellian cities of the future are certainly not a new concept in the realm of science fiction. In every example of a functional (or is it ‘non-functional’) dystopic model, citizens are treated like cattle as their every move is both tracked and recorded. In a world wherein our value systems have been radically adjusted to the extents proposed by the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project, there is no real merit in any one person or group controlling others with high technology. However, in places such as Songdo, it is mathematically certain- given the make up of our present warped psychology as a species- that a gross form of corruption will overtake the city and subject its millions of inhabitants beneath what will ultimately prove but a more advanced form of what was once Hitler’s Third Reich.

Songdo is scheduled to be completed by 2015. If proven a successful model for control, there is little doubt that the elites of many different cities will push to integrate the same technologies into their command-grid so as to gain a much firmer grip on their ‘unruly’ populaces.

Sources for this article:
The Machine and the Ghost
The Zeitgeist Movement
The Venus Project 

Australia Officially Under Carbon Tax Tyranny

According to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard – who came into office swearing there would not be a tax on carbon emissions – expected consequences include higher prices for consumers and a price tab for industries of more than $380 million annually.

AFP
November 8, 2011

Australia’s parliament approved a controversial pollution tax on Tuesday, after years of bitter debate over the reform which is aimed at lowering carbon emissions blamed for climate change.

Cheers and applause broke out as the upper house Senate passed the Clean Energy Act, requiring Australia’s coal-fired power stations and other major emitters to “pay to pollute” from July 1 next year.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was the culmination of a “quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary inquiries and years of bitter debate and division.”

“Today Australia has a price on carbon as the law of our land,” she said as the tax, which scraped through the lower house last month, was approved by the Senate in a 36-32 vote.

“Today we have made history — after all of these days of debate and division, our nation has got the job done.”

Gillard said the scheme — which will levy a price of Aus$23 (US$23.80) per tonne on carbon pollution before moving to an emissions trading scheme in 2015 — would begin to address “the devastating impacts of climate change”.

She said the reforms, which include investments in renewable energy sources, would result in Australia cutting its carbon emissions by 160 million tonnes in 2020 — equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road.

The government hopes the levy will create economic incentives for the biggest polluters to reduce their emissions but acknowledges that businesses will factor the carbon price into the cost of their goods and services.

To offset this, much of the revenue raised from the tax in the first three years will provide for higher family payments, pension boosts and income tax cuts to help pay for the higher cost of living.

Only New Zealand and the European Union have taken comparable economy-wide action by introducing cap-and-trade schemes, and the tax will put mining-driven Australia at the forefront of efforts in the Asia-Pacific.

“This is a big achievement, coming at an opportune time,” said Professor John Quiggin, an economics and tax specialist from the University of Queensland.

“With South Korea planning to follow suit, momentum towards carbon emission reductions in the Asia Pacific is starting to build.”

Tuesday’s senate vote caps a tumultuous period in Australian politics, largely centred on how the vast nation, which is among the world’s worst per capita polluters, should tackle carbon emissions linked to global warming.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd harnessed an unprecedented wave of popular support for climate change action in 2007, winning elections in a landslide after campaigning to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and take other green measures.

But his plans were frustrated by entrenched conservative opposition which led to him shelving a proposed emissions trading scheme, damaging his credibility. He was ousted by Gillard in a Labor party-room coup in 2010.

Gillard went to the subsequent election promising there would be no carbon tax, but later backflipped, saying it was a necessary first step towards a flexible carbon pricing scheme.

Australia is heavily reliant on its coal exports, and thousands have rallied against the levy which they argue will raise living costs, cut jobs and ultimately prove ineffective.

Industry associations says Australia’s scheme is punitive and priced far higher than the European Union system.

Earlier media projections indicated that mining giants BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata would be liable for a combined $380 million annually at an earlier price of $20 a tonne.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is pursuing a “cap without trade” scheme involving some 450 companies from next year in preparation for a full emissions trading scheme (ETS) from January 2015, but Japan shelved national ETS plans late last year.

China is considering a pilot ETS programme in some provinces and while there are sub-national schemes in some parts of North America no broad-scale action has been taken in the United States.

The timing of the vote is significant, representing a firm commitment ahead of high-level UN climate talks in South Africa later this month that are being called a “make or break” meeting for legally binding carbon emission reduction targets.

Fidel Castro: Obama may attack Iran to win second term

Digital Journal

Former Cuban President (Dictator) Fidel Castro believes if United States President Barack Obama orders a nuclear strike of Iran, he will win a second term. He also believes the U.S. could attack North Korea soon.

On Wednesday, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has not been in the media since 2006, published a column in a Cuban state media publication titled “The Empire and War.”

In the article, Castro speculated that President Barack Obama could order a nuclear strike against Iran to help him win a second term in the White House, according to the Associated Press. The former President further added that Obama could attack North Korea because of the recent incident where North Korea was accused of attacking a South Korean ship.

Castro went on to state that the U.S. Commander-in-Chief lives in a world of fantasy because many of his advisers are planting such things in his head. “Could Obama enjoy the emotions of a second presidential election without having the Pentagon or the State of Israel, whose conduct does not in the least obey the decisions of the United States, use nuclear weapons against Iran?” Castro asked.

“How would life on our planet be after that?” Castro then condemned Israel for its attack against a Gaza-bound international aid flotilla, reports CRI English. He called Israel’s actions “truly fascist Nazi fury” toward the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Internet Police: The ACTA Copyright Treaty

GIGAOM

After years of secrecy, the eighth round of talks aimed at drafting an international treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Tradeinternet policeAgreement (ACTA) recently concluded in New Zealand — and in the face of public pressure, a version of the text was subsequently made available to the public. The ACTA is neither a trade agreement nor one focused primarily on counterfeiting, but a copyright deal featuring provisions on Internet service provider and Internet company liability, DMCA-style notice and takedown requirements, legal protection for digital locks, and requirements for statutory damages that could result in millions in liability for non-commercial infringement — even heightened searches at border crossings.

Ever since the ACTA partners — among them the U.S., E.U., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Morocco and Singapore — announced negotiations plans in October 2007, ACTA has been dogged by controversy over a near-total lack of transparency. Early talks were held in secret locations with each participating country offering virtually identical, cryptic press releases that did little more than fuel public concern. Now that the ACTA text is public, some might wonder whether there’s still cause for concern. Indeed, given widespread support for measures that target genuine commercial counterfeiting, some might believe it’s time to actively support ACTA.

It’s not — at least not this version.

Still secret

From a transparency perspective, the text release still feels like the exception to the general secrecy rule. The ACTA governments have revealed that the next round of negotiations will take place in Switzerland in June, but currently refuse to provide a specific location or dates. Moreover, the official release scrubbed all references to country positions (such information was available in a previously leaked version), so as to U.S. government claims that ACTA is fully consistent with current U.S. law, at this point we have to take their word for it.

Different region, different rules

Of even greater concern are the provisions themselves. Because of the large number of substantive rules and the differences in domestic law among the ACTA countries, fears about specific provisions vary from region to region. In the U.S., ACTA might means the rules for obtaining injunctions would have to be changed, removing some of the balancing safeguards that currently exist. In Europe, ACTA’s privacy implications have generated concern from data protection authorities and the prospect of mandatory statutory damages, which has led to the multimillion-dollar file-sharing lawsuits in the U.S., would represent a major change in the law there.

Virtually every member country would have to amend its own rules and regulations: Japan would have to change its laws to require ISP policies on allegations of subscriber infringement, Australia would need anti-camcording rules, New Zealand would have to change its anti-circumvention rules and Canada would be forced to adopt a notice-and-takedown system similar to the one found in the U.S. Of course, the many countries excluded from the ACTA talks — including China, Brazil and India — would likely face pressure to conform to ACTA standards and if they complied, even more dramatic changes.

Behind closed doors

Beyond the fundamental reshaping of intellectual property law on a global scale, ACTA is also reframing how those laws are made. The alphabet soup of international organizations typically responsible for such issues — WTO, WIPO, WHO, UNCITRAL, UNIDROIT, UNCTAD, OECD –- are all far more open, transparent and inclusive than ACTA.

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