Allegations of human rights violations in North Korea, while always common, have been given quite a bit of media attention this year. And with all of the media attention, the UN is finally doing something about it. Kind of.
A General Assembly committee of the United Nations is supposed to have met on 11/18/14 to discuss a draft resolution about the allegations of human rights violations in North Korea. This sounds like a long overdue vote to send the county’s leaders to the International Criminal Court, but it’s more of a show for the citizens of the world than anything substantial. The General assembly doesn’t have the power to send anyone to stand before the International Criminal Court, only the 15-memeber Security Council has that power. In all reality this draft resolution is nothing more than the General Assembly saying that they feel North Korea should stand trial and asking the Security Council to make it happen.
The problem with this is that China, one of the 5 permenant memebers of the Security council, is a longtime ally to North Korea and has the power to Veto the action.
So will anything really come of this action? It seems unlikely as the world has known of the human rights violations in North Korea for quite a while, and have done nothing much about it.
Today, October 30th 2014, Sweden has officially recognized the state of Palestine. Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said that her country was fulfilling a promise it made when the new government took office earlier this year. Sweden is now the 135th country in the world to recognize a Palestinian State.
Israeli ambassador to Sweden left the country in protest after Sweden made the announcement. Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described Sweden’s action as “a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.”
The question that I want to know is, why are the larger powers in Europe, such as the UK, not offically recognizing the Palestinian State. Granted the Parliament of the UK has voted in favor of recognizing the Palestinian State, that is nothing more than a cowards move to stay neutral.
But at least that is better than the United States, who have been hosting peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis but have not vocalized support to either side.
College Tuition is the nightmare of most college students in the United States. Student loans cast a shadow on the average college student, or their parents, that they might feel they could never escape from.
This is quite different from Germany, which now has no tuition for higher education in any region of the country. Tuition-free college might seem like something revolutionary, but Germany didn’t introduce tuition for higher-level education until 2006. And then, even during that short time where students did have to pay, they were paying the United States equivalent of somewhere around $1,300 per year. Students in the United States were paying roughly $30,000 per year during the same time period.
So, if you are looking for a world-class education and are afraid of the debt of student loans, Germany may be the place for you. On average, students pay around 670 euros a month, inclusive of all expenses, which equates to around $830. So if you have saved money for college, you should be golden. But if not, you could survive with a part time job as the minimum wage is 8.50 euros in Germany. This means you need to work only 79 hours a month to survive.
For the last three years, the people of the Catalan region of Spain have taken to the streets in an effort to have a vote for independence from Spain be held on September 11th, which is Catalan National Day. The government of Spain is steadfastly against a vote for Catalan independence, as the Constitution of Spain doesn’t allow for these types of referendums. Spain would also be against such a vote in this region as it generates approximately 1/5th of the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
The Catalan region already is mainly independent from Spain, as it has it’s own Parliament, police force, and control over it’s education and health departments. With such autonomy from the main government of Spain it doesn’t seem like a vote for independence would be something unlikely to happen.
The central government of Spain is doing everything in it’s power to derail the vote, declaring it illegal being it’s most recent attempt. With it’s legality being brought into question by the Prime Minister, the supreme court of Spain would have to take the case and decide if it is truly illegal.
With the government of Spain is doing everything in it’s power to quell a peaceful request for secession from Spain, why is this taking a back seat to Scotland’s attempt to secede from Britain taking the main stage in the news? Why is a government that is refusing to allow it’s people freedom and independence taking the backseat in the international media?
In an emergency session of Parliament, the British have decided to join the United States in airstrikes against ISIS. The vote was overwhelmingly in support of the airstrikes, 524-43. This vote is in response to Iraq’s leaders requesting help, but also in part due to the execution of a British citizen by ISIS. In addition to the executed man, the terrorist organization has threatened the lives of other British hostages. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom did warn that joining this international campaign would not be over quickly. He also expressed to the British people that this military action could last years.
In joining the United States in airstrikes against the ISIS, Britain seems to be showing it’s support to combat international terrorism. With the statement that these military actions could take years, Britain is telling the world it’s in for the long hual. Britain was initially hesitant to join the current campaigns in the Middle East, with it’s intent to stop ISIS gaining control and power in the Middle East, until one of their own citizens were executed by the terrorist organization. This means the world should ask, Is Britain really looking out for it’s allies, or only reacting to direct threats?
We are familiar with the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, as it has been reported upon heavily within the international news cycle. And while the invasion and current ceasefire is big news on the international front, other less than wholesome actions of the Russian government that are a bit more subversive are not being reported in the forefront.
Take the case of the Anti-Putin activist Nikolai Koblyakov, described by The Moscow times as “A prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin”. Koblyakov participated in many anti-regime protests and had moved to France when his business was forced to close because of encroachment by government-backed competitors.
In the midst of traveling to many European countries, he was detained in Bulgaria on an Interpol Red Notice (that was issued for the Russian government for crimes supposedly committed in France, which the French courts rejected). All of the countries that Koblyakov traveled to, except Bulgaria, ignored the Red Notice, seeing it as the attempt to imprison a political dissident by a government.
Why would the Bulgarian government, which has had it’s fair share of protests by the Bulgarian people in the last few years, detain Koblyakov? Bulgaria is the poorest nation in the European Union and the energy infrastructure in Bulgaria relives heavily, if not entirely, on energy supplied by Russia. This gives Russia an overwhelming amount of power and influence with the Bulgarian government, and allows Russia to exert it’s will upon the Bulgarian people.
These tactics are not unfamiliar in Eastern Europe, as they were used in the satellite countries of the USSR to aid in the creation of the Eastern Bloc.