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 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:46 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Mexico Announces Reward in Hunt for Missing Students

by Naharnet Newsdesk
21 October 2014, 10:21

Mexico's government announced Monday a $110,000 reward for information in the disappearance of 43 students in a case of alleged collusion between a drug gang and police.

The reward was announced in national newspapers and featured black and white photos of the 43 students, who went missing three weeks ago in the southern city of Iguala.

The reward applies to information on the whereabouts of the students or for the identification of those responsible for their disappearance.

Meanwhile, representatives of the students' families expressed wariness over the government's probe of the case. The disappearances have triggered an uproar in this country painfully used to drug-related violence.

The representatives raised their concerns after meeting with Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam.

"We do not believe in the results (of the investigation) so far because there is nothing that takes us close to the truth," said Felipe de la Cruz, a relative of one of the missing.

"Today we tried to trust the federal government but the results do not satisfy us," de la Cruz said.

Authorities say Iguala's police force shot at buses carrying the students on September 26 and handed them over to officers in the neighboring town of Cocula, who then delivered them to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang.

A total of 36 municipal officers in Iguala have been arrested in the case, along with 17 Guerreros Unidos members and their boss.

The attorney general has said investigators are still analyzing the contents of three mass graves found near Iguala after declaring last week that 28 bodies found in one pit did not belong to the students.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:45 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Sudan Ruling Party Names Bashir Possible Choice for Presidency

by Naharnet Newsdesk
21 October 2014, 07:14

Sudan's ruling party Monday named President Omar al-Bashir as a possible candidate for the country's April presidential elections, an adviser said, despite doubts he would stand again.

After taking power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, it had been unclear in recent years whether Bashir would run again in next year's polls.

But he was one of five candidates picked at the convention of his National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum, his chief assistant told reporters.

Ibrahim Ghandour said "there were 10 candidates and after a secret vote the leadership council chose five" to head the NCP, naming Bashir and four others.

Once selected, the head will stand as the party's presidential candidate.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

The president underwent two knee operations over the summer, raising concerns about his health ahead of the elections.

In a March interview, Ghandour said Bashir had "declared many times that he's not willing to" stand again, but the decision rested with the NCP.

Several opposition parties have said they are not committed to the April elections for president, national and state legislators and for governors.

They have said any elections must form part of a national political dialogue which Bashir announced in January to discuss multiple crises in impoverished, war-ravaged Sudan.

Ghandour named the other candidates as himself, senior NCP member Nafie Ali Nafie, ex-vice president Ali Osman Taha and First Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh.

On Tuesday, the NCP advisory council will pick three of the five candidates named by Ghandour for further consideration for the role.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:42 AM 
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More Jewish Settlers Move Into East Jerusalem Neighborhood

OCT. 20, 2014

JERUSALEM — Jewish settlers moved under armed guard into two buildings in the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan early Monday, weeks after the Obama administration denounced an earlier influx of settlers to the area as “provocative.”

The latest acquisitions were facilitated by Ateret Cohanim, a nongovernmental organization that establishes educational institutions and settles Jews in predominantly Arab areas in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. Its goal is to prevent any future political division of the territory, which Israel conquered from Jordan in 1967 then annexed in a move that was never internationally recognized.

Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority governor of the Jerusalem district, described the overnight entry of settlers as “shocking,” and said the deal to purchase the properties was being investigated.

Silwan, where several hundred Jews now live among about 50,000 Palestinians, has been a target for Jewish settler organizations since the late 1980s. Located on the slopes just south of the Old City walls, it sits in the shadow of the Al Aksa Mosque, revered by Muslims, and is also the site of the ruins of what is believed to be the City of David, an ancient Jewish landmark. Most of the world considers the area illegally occupied by Israel, and the Palestinians covet it as part of the capital of a future state.

Daniel Luria, the executive director of Ateret Cohanim, said a company registered overseas called Kudram purchased the two buildings with funds from “a group of Jewish investors from Israel and around the world,” while Ateret Cohanim provided guidance and help taking possession of the sites.

“They paid more than appropriate money,” Mr. Luria said.

Mr. Luria noted that the buildings were in an area of Silwan that was once home to a community of Yemenite Jews from the 1880s until the 1930s. For the time being, the two buildings are primarily occupied by guards, yeshiva students and workmen, but Mr. Luria said the plan was for nine families to move in.

In late September, another settler organization, Elad, facilitated the acquisition of 25 apartments in six locations around the City of David archaeological site, which it also runs. It said those homes were purchased by another overseas company, Kendall Finance. Elad said in a statement that it had nothing to do with the acquisition of the latest two buildings. Kendall Finance and Kudram are represented by the same Jerusalem lawyer, Avi Segal.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, run by grass-roots Palestinian activists in Silwan, said the two Palestinian families who previously lived in the buildings had vacated them four months ago and appeared to have sold the properties to a Palestinian man who acted as a broker for the settler organization.

The entry of settlers in late September set off an open row between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who said he was “baffled” by the notion that Jews should be barred from living wherever they wanted in Jerusalem.

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:39 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Nigeria Is Free of Ebola, Health Agency Affirms

OCT. 20, 2014

GENEVA — The World Health Organization declared Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, officially free of Ebola infections on Monday, calling the outcome the triumphal result of “world-class epidemiological detective work.”

The announcement came 42 days after the last reported infection in Nigeria’s outbreak, twice the maximum incubation period for the Ebola virus.

The Nigerian response was upheld by the W.H.O. as an example of the measures other countries can take to halt the spread of the epidemic, which is concentrated in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained,” the W.H.O. said in a report on its website. But it also expressed caution that Nigeria cannot relax its defenses against the deadly virus.

More than 9,000 people have become infected in the epidemic, over 4,500 people have died, and the number of infections is still doubling every month, the W.H.O. has reported.

Although infection rates have slowed in some districts of the three worst affected countries, the organization has also reported the spread of the disease to new areas, including districts of Guinea bordering Ivory Coast.

Rui Gama Vaz, a World Health Organization representative in Nigeria, and the country’s health minister, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, discussed the news that the country was free of the Ebola virus.
Publish Date October 20, 2014. Photo by Reuters.

Nigeria’s outbreak started in July when Patrick Sawyer, an American of Liberian descent, traveled by air from Liberia to Lagos, the country’s biggest city, starting a chain of infection that spread the disease to 19 other people and resulted in eight deaths.

Mr. Sawyer died five days after arriving, but the disease spread to Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil industry hub, after a close contact of Mr. Sawyer’s flew there for treatment, adding to fears that Nigeria faced what could become West Africa’s worst epidemic.

Nigeria’s success in averting that outcome started with the action of Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, a doctor at First Consultant Hospital in Lagos who diagnosed the Ebola virus in Mr. Sawyer and later died of the disease. Together with Benjamin Ohiaeri, the hospital director, Dr. Adadevoh had insisted on keeping Mr. Sawyer isolated despite threats of legal action by Liberian officials demanding his release.   

Other important Nigerian actions cited by the W.H.O. included the quick response and close coordination of public health authorities and international organizations to isolate and treat patients, and the detective work of contact tracing teams.

The teams drew on the experience of Nigeria’s anti-polio program to identify and monitor on a daily basis nearly 900 people who had contact with those infected with the disease.

Still, Nigeria, like Senegal, which was declared free of Ebola on Friday, is susceptible to new cases by virtue of its proximity to the West African epicenter, health authorities warn.

Nigeria also is at risk of becoming a victim of its own success. The W.H.O.’s representative in Nigeria, Rui Gama Vaz, said Ebola patients in the epicenter may now seek entry to Nigeria in an effort to get lifesaving care.

“Many desperate people in heavily affected countries believe that Nigeria must have some especially good — maybe even ‘magical’ — treatments to offer,” a W.H.O. statement said.

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:36 AM 
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South Sudan sexual violence ‘rampant’, says UN envoy

UN representative accuses both sides of targeted rapes on basis of ethnicity, after two-year-old attacked

Reuters, Tuesday 21 October 2014 11.58 BST   

Rape and other forms of sexual violence by all sides in South Sudan’s civil war have become widespread and a two-year-old was among the victims, the UN special representative on sexual violence in armed conflict said on Monday.

“In my 30 years of experience, I’ve never witnessed anything like what I saw in Bentiu,” Zainab Hawa Bangura said after a recent trip to the northern town, one of the regions worst hit by the conflict. “The IDPs [internally displaced people] seeking refuge there face a combination of … insecurity, unimaginable living conditions, acute day-to-day protection concerns and rampant sexual violence,” she added.

Fighting began in December after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and political rival, Riek Machar. Peace talks brokered by the African regional bloc Igad have yet to bring an end to the bloodshed.

“Survivors and healthcare workers told me heartbreaking stories of rape, gang rape, abduction, sexual slavery and forced marriage,” Bangura said. “Those who try to fight back against their attackers are often raped with objects instead. Some victims have even been raped to death.”

She said the victims included women, men, girls and boys, with 74% of them under the age of 18, according to South Sudanese hospital officials. “The youngest victim they have treated is two years old,” Bangura said.

She said both sides in the conflict have committed sexual violence, adding that orders had been given within the military forces to perpetrate rapes on the basis of ethnicity. Bangura said a local radio station, Radio Bentiu FM, was used to broadcast appeals for men to rape women and girls based on their ethnic backgrounds and their perceived political loyalties.

At the end of Bangura’s trip to South Sudan, she and the government signed a communique outlining steps that would be taken to put an end to the rapes, adding that the message must be sent across the military’s chain of command, Bangura said. She was especially concerned about the lack of psychological and medical care for the victims.

“I am also concerned about the lack of reporting of this crime due to the closure of government offices, insecurity in the country, malfunctioning police services, [and] a lack of capacity by the police and medical service providers,” she said.

The conflict in South Sudan has killed more than 10,000 people, caused more than 1 million to flee, and driven the country of 11 million people closer to famine. By the end of this year a third of the people could face starvation, the UN said. South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

Last month the US warned Kiir and Machar to engage in serious peace talks to end nearly a year of violence in the world’s newest state or face UN security council sanctions.

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:34 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Australian teenager addresses Tony Abbott in Isis video

Speaker believed to be 17-year-old runaway Abdullah Elmir from Sydney appears in video posted to YouTube

Australian Associated Press, Tuesday 21 October 2014 10.13 BST

An Australian teenage runaway has appeared in an Islamic State video, telling the prime minister, Tony Abbott, jihadists will not stop until the notorious black flag of Isis is flying above every nation.

In a video posted on YouTube, the speaker believed to be 17-year-old Abdullah Elmir from Bankstown in Sydney’s south-west, warns western leaders of the terror group’s resolve.

Using the name Abu Khaled, holding a rifle and dressed in military garb, he is surrounded by dozens of other young jihadists as he addresses the camera.

“To Tony Abbott, I say this. These weapons that we have, these soldiers, we will not stop fighting.

“We will not put down our weapons until we reach your lands and until we take the head of every tyrant and until the black flag is flying high in every single land, until we put the black flag on top of Buckingham Palace, until we put the black flag on top of the White House.”

Abdullah went missing in June, saying he was going fishing but told his family shortly afterwards he was in Turkey about to “cross the border”.

A lawyer representing his family said in June his mother thought that meant her son was heading to Iraq.

“Bring every nation that you want to come and fight us. It means nothing to us,” he says in the video.

“Whether it’s 50 nations or 50,000 nations, it means nothing to us. Bring your planes.

“Bring everything you want to us. Because it will not harm us. Why? Because we have Allah. This is something you do not have.”

Comment is being sought from the Elmir family.


Most Australians believe the cost of living has soared over the past year

Poll finds 72% believe cost of living has worsened, while two in three say electricity costs have risen

Daniel Hurst, political correspondent, Tuesday 21 October 2014 09.18 BST   
Australians overwhelmingly believe that the cost of living, electricity bills and unemployment have increased in the past year, according to a new survey.

The Essential poll asked 1,801 people to consider a range of economic issues compared with the situation 12 months ago.

Demonstrating why cost of living remains a potent political issue, 72% of respondents said it had got worse in the past year, while only 6% said it was better.

About two in three, or 67%, of survey participants said electricity costs had worsened, with 7% saying they had improved – indicating that people are yet to notice any substantial savings from Tony Abbott’s scrapping of the carbon tax.

Job security and unemployment also looms as an enduring concern, with about 60% reporting a deterioration against these indicators.

Asked about the overall economy, 50% said it had worsened and 18% said it had improved. Just over half of respondents said national debt had increased.

Some 44% of participants said their personal financial situation had deteriorated in the past year, 35% reported no change, and 16% said it had improved.

But in a separate section of the same survey, only 7% said they did not have enough money for basic essentials such as housing, food and electricity. About 35% said they had enough money for essentials but not enough to save money, while 47% said they had enough money for essentials and could save a little money. About 8% could save a lot of money.

The Coalition government is seeking Senate support for a raft of budget measures, including deregulation of university fees, introduction of a Medicare co-payment, and changes to welfare payments. Labor is campaigning against the “rotten” and “unfair” measures by highlighting the impact on household budgets.

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:31 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Malaysian MPs urge Australia to do more to stamp out extremism

Opposition MP Rafizi Ramli warns Julie Bishop that Malaysia’s ruling UMNO party is ignoring radicalism in the country

Shalailah Medhora, Tuesday 21 October 2014 08.44 BST  

Malaysian opposition MPs have urged Australia to step up and do more to stamp out extremism in the region, as criticism of the Najib government mounts.

A group of Malaysian parliamentarians met the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, to discuss Canberra’s role in promoting democracy in the region. They had planned to appear before the foreign affairs Senate estimates committee, but all inquiries were suspended after the death of Gough Whitlam.

The Malaysian opposition treasury spokesman, Rafizi Ramli, who faces the threat of jail time under Malaysia’s Sedition Act for airing allegationsof government corruption, has warned that the ruling UMNO party is ignoring extremism in the country.

“We have a government that has relied heavily on race and religion narratives to campaign,” Ramli said. “In an environment where the state subtly and indirectly endorses criticism and intimidation of minorities, it is easier for the messages of radical groups like Isis [Islamic State] to take hold.

“The Malaysian government is seen as being complicit in endorsing the rise of radicalism for its political manoeuvring and expediency.”

In June this year, the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, urged UMNO members to be brave like Isis fighters.

He has since stepped back from the comments, last month saying in a joint press conference with Tony Abbott that Malaysia was committed to eradicating the threat posed by the militant group.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, who was barred from entering Malaysia on a fact-finding mission last year, has cast doubt on Najib’s words.

“I’m very disturbed at the pandering to extremists and the behaviour of the ruling UMNO coalition,” he said.

There are currently 150 known Malaysian fighters in Isis.

Ramli says possible extremism in Malaysia will affect Australia.

“If the majority Malay population veers to radicalism it will affect the whole region and this will travel all the way to Australia,” he said.

Dr Clinton Fernandes, an associate professor in international studiesat the University of New South Wales, said inequalities still exist in Malaysia between the Muslim Malay majority and minority groups.

“The UMNO ran a particularly ugly campaign in the rural Malay heartlands during the 2013 elections,” he said. “And there were vociferous anti-Chinese headlines in the Malay language press. It regularly warns Malay voters that they should fear dominance by other races.”

Xenophon said Australia must help usher Malaysia back to democracy in order to create stability in the region.

“Australia does have a role in respect to the Commonwealth of nations to speak out on these issues,” he said. “We’ve shown leadership on human rights issues and issues in the region, in fact, we’ve sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan over democracy. I’m suggesting the least we can do is to speak out in terms of the quite repressive nature of the Malaysian regime.”

After meeting with the Malaysian delegation, Bishop said Australia “is working closely with regional and international partners to respond to this threat [of foreign fighters].”

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:29 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Mixed Economic Signals From China

OCT. 20, 2014

HONG KONG — Markets around the world have been jolted by fears that slowing growth and deflationary pressures in Europe, Japan and other major economies could derail the United States. But the health of China, for decades an engine of growth, has emerged as one of the most significant wild cards in the global economy.

It is hard to be certain just exactly how the Chinese economy is faring, given mixed signals in the data.

Chinese inflation is at its weakest levels in nearly five years. Commodity prices are plunging. New home sales are declining. Foreign investment is contracting.

The overall economy, though, continues to chug along at a steady, albeit more modest, pace. China’s gross domestic product increased by 7.3 percent in the third quarter, compared with 7.5 percent in the previous quarter. While that was the lowest quarterly growth since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, the rate remains the envy of major economies. The economy also continues adding jobs at a good clip, and the currency is one of very few that are still rising against the dollar.

“The question or problem we are all facing at the moment is, ‘What is right picture for the economy as a whole?’ ” said Louis Kuijs, the chief China economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong. “It’s complicated by negative forces that show up very strongly in industry but not in the service sector.”

Making sense of China’s economic health is challenging because the slowdown is partly by design.

The Communist leadership has pledged to reduce China’s dependence on credit-fueled growth and investment, to instead emphasize domestic consumption. It is a risky proposal, and leaders have signaled a willingness to live with slower growth, provided employment holds up and systemic risks are contained.

One figure that Chinese leaders study closely is the number of new jobs. Li Keqiang, China’s prime minister, boasted in a speech at a World Economic Forum meeting last month that nearly 10 million urban jobs had been created in the first eight months of the year, up slightly from a year ago. As a result, he said, he would not mind if the growth of the gross domestic product fell short of this year’s official target of 7.5 percent.

“An important goal of maintaining stable growth is to ensure employment, and the floor of the proper range is to ensure relatively adequate employment,” he said at the meeting in Tianjin.

But even in the jobs figures, broad disparities exist across China. Employment has grown solidly in the services sector nearly every month in the last five years, according to the purchasing managers index compiled by HSBC and Markit. By contrast, manufacturing employment, which generally expanded from 2009 through 2011, has mostly contracted since.

At an employment fair for the medical appliance industry at a government-run career center near the Lama Temple in Beijing last week, more than a hundred job seekers bantered with recruiters and weighed their options. A 42-year-old man who gave only his surname, Mr. Lin, was applying for a job at Beijing Niubao Technology, a chemical equipment maker.

With 20 years of experience in a specialized industry, Mr. Lin expressed confidence about his prospects despite the overall outlook in the sector. “Manufacturing isn’t doing so great in the past few years, but I think chemical equipment is still doing relatively O.K.,” he said.

That somewhat positive outlook is a sharp contrast to most traditional industries. “We didn’t have any new recruits this year,” Huang Xinqun, 48, a manager at a large ocean-shipping company, said last week. “Usually when the manufacturing business is not doing so well, it would be directly reflected on us,” he said.

“We’re like a signal post on how the economy is doing,” Mr. Huang said. “If companies don’t have that many orders and products to transport, then we don’t have as much work.”

Despite the signs of malaise in China’s manufacturing and industrial sectors, the government is wary of repeating the significant stimulus measures it undertook after the financial crisis. Leaders are worried that would add to China’s ballooning debt, which rose to 250 percent of gross domestic product at the end of June, from 150 percent five years ago, according to estimates by Standard Chartered Bank.

Instead, policy makers in recent months have used targeted, behind-the-scenes stimulus measures, including extending limited amounts of short-term credit to large and medium-size banks. The government also has directed more financing to favored projects, like supporting agricultural efforts and redeveloping shantytowns.

“Things can be done to bolster activity for short periods of time, but I think the fundamental theme is a persistent ratcheting down in the measured rate of growth,” said George Magnus, a financial consultant and a former chief economist at UBS. “China is in for an extended period of volatility.”

Other major indicators offer similarly contradictory perspectives on the progress of China’s economic transition.

Retail sales are rising at their slowest pace in nearly a decade, seemingly casting doubt on the ability of Chinese consumers to drive economic growth. But with an increase of about 12 percent in value this year, sales are hardly anemic.

What is more, official sales figures fail to capture the explosive growth of online shopping in China. The statistics bureau only began including the sales of some unnamed, large Internet retailers in its data this year. But Mark Williams, the chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, estimates that official retail sales figures only capture about one-sixth of the online purchases in China.

Trade figures, too, are somewhat unclear. Reported Chinese exports rose 15.3 percent last month, their biggest increase since 2013. But that was partly because of a 34 percent increase in exports to Hong Kong.

The dynamic has prompted some economists to question whether trade figures are again being distorted by so-called over-

The most problematic economic indicator in China may be gross domestic product itself. Though economists say the data broadly are improving, the numbers do not always seem to add up. For example, the combined G.D.P. reported by each of China’s provinces still regularly exceeds the official total for the country.

Even Mr. Li, the prime minister, has at times expressed doubts over this benchmark measure of output. In 2007, when he was governor of Liaoning Province in northeastern China, Mr. Li privately acknowledged to a visiting American diplomat that China’s G.D.P. figures were unreliable and “for reference only” because they were “man-made,” according to a confidential diplomatic cable released in 2010 by WikiLeaks.

Since then, many economists have supplemented China’s official figures with their own versions of a “Li Keqiang Index,” alternative measures based on what Mr. Li said were his bellwethers of economic expansion. They include electricity consumption, rail cargo volumes and the value of loans disbursed.

“Certainly these data have the potential to be more reliable but there are complications there, too,” said Carsten Holz, a professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who has scrutinized China’s economic data.

“It’s a planned economy thing,” Mr. Holz said of the Li Keqiang indexes, likening them to tallying apples on a tree but making no attempt to calculate their value.

“It is a very rudimentary measure, because you don’t know how many of these apples are rotten, or measure how big they are,” he said. “You are just counting apples.”

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:26 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Hong Kong leader complains: Allowing democracy would let poor people dominate elections

Agence France-Presse
20 Oct 2014 at 22:14 ET     

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Leung Chun-ying told media that if the government met pro-democracy protesters’ demands it would result in the city’s poorer people dominating elections.

In an interview with foreign media, carried in the Wall Street Journal and International New York Times, the embattled chief executive reiterated his position that free elections were impossible.

Demonstrators have paralysed parts of Hong Kong with mass rallies and road blockades for more than three weeks, in one of the biggest challenges to Beijing’s authority since the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests of 1989.

Leung’s comments were published just hours before talks between senior government officials and student leaders to end the impasse are scheduled to take place later on Tuesday.

China has offered Hong Kongers the chance to vote for their next leader in 2017. But only those vetted by a committee expected to be loyal to Beijing will be allowed to stand — something protesters have labelled as “fake democracy”.

Leung said that if candidates were nominated by the public then the largest sector of society would likely dominate the electoral process.

“If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than US$1,800 a month,” Leung said in comments published by the WSJ and INYT.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has one of the biggest income divides in the world, with growing discontent at increased inequality and exorbitant property prices fuelling the protests which turned increasingly violent at the end of last week.

There are fears any further clashes between police and protesters could derail Tuesday’s discussions.

Leung’s latest comments are likely to further fuel the anger of protesters who see him as hapless, out of touch and pandering to the whims of a small number of tycoons who dominate the financial hub.

His quotes also echo that of Wang Zhenmin, a well-connected scholar and regular advisor to Beijing.

Wang said recently that greater democratic freedom in the semi-autonomous city must be balanced against the city’s powerful business elite who would have to share their “slice of the pie” with voters.

“The business community is in reality a very small group of elites in Hong Kong who control the destiny of the economy in Hong Kong. If we ignore their interests, Hong Kong capitalism will stop (working),” he said in August.

Leung played down expectations ahead of the long-delayed talks with student leaders that will be broadcast live.

“We are not quite sure what they will say… at the session,” he said.

 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:24 AM 
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N.Korea Warns of 'Unpredictable' Retaliation

by Naharnet Newsdesk
20 October 2014, 17:27

North Korea warned Monday of an "unpredictable" retaliatory strike against South Korea following a series of minor border skirmishes that have raised military tensions ahead of planned high-level talks.

Troops from the two sides exchanged small arms fire on Sunday after South Korean troops fired warning shots at a North Korean patrol moving towards the military demarcation line that marks the border on the peninsula.

The North's military warned in a message sent Monday through a border hotline that it would take "unpredictable measures" in retaliation for alleged provocations from South Korea, the South's defense ministry said.

It also vowed to continue its patrol along the demarcation line, a ministry spokesman said, adding the South responded with a message expressing regret and warning North Korea against further provocations.

"Our side clarified our position that we will sternly deal with further provocations by North Korea," he said.

On October 7 North and South Korean naval vessels traded warning fire near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

Three days later border guards exchanged heavy machine-gun fire after the North tried to shoot down balloons launched over the land frontier with bundles of anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

The North has repeatedly urged the South to ban the leaflet launches organised by activist groups, but Seoul insists it has no legal grounds for doing so.

Last week the two Koreas held military talks to address the tensions but these ended without agreement.

The border incidents have jeopardized a decision -- reached during a surprise visit to the South by a top-ranking North delegation earlier this month -- to resume high-level talks suspended since February.

The South has proposed October 30 as a date for restarting the dialogue, and unification ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-Cheol told reporters Friday he still believes the talks will go ahead.

Because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war.

Despite its name, the Demilitarized Zone straddling the border bristles with watchtowers and landmines.

Source: Agence France Presse

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