Marshall Islands: Truth, Knowledge And History Of This Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Marshall Islands

Introduction After almost four decades under US administration as the easternmost part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands attained independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association. Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.
History Although the Marshall Islands were settled by Micronesians in the 2nd millennium BC, little is known of their early history. Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar was the first European to see the islands in 1526, but they remained virtually unvisited by Europeans until the arrival of British Captain John Marshall in 1788; the islands are now named after him.

A German trading company settled on the islands in 1885, and they became part of the protectorate of German New Guinea some years later. Japan conquered the islands in World War I, and administered them as a League of Nations mandate.

In World War II, the United States invaded and occupied the islands (1944) destroying or isolating the Japanese garrisons, and they were added to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (including several more island groups in the South Sea). From 1946 to 1958 the US tested 66 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands,[1] including the largest nuclear test the US ever conducted, Castle Bravo. Nuclear claims between the US and the Marshall Islands are ongoing, and health effects from these tests linger.

In 1979, the Government of the Marshall Islands was officially established and the country became self-governing. In 1986 the Compact of Free Association with the United States entered into force, granting the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) its sovereignty. The Compact provided for aid and US defense of the islands in exchange for continued US military use of the missile testing range at Kwajalein Atoll. The independence was formally completed under international law in 1990, when the UN officially ended the Trusteeship status.

On March 21, 2007, the government of the Marshall Islands declared a state of emergency due to a prolonged drought.

Geography Location: Oceania, two archipelagic island chains of 29 atolls, each made up of many small islets, and five single islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and Australia
Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 168 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 181.3 sq km
land: 181.3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: the archipelago includes 11,673 sq km of lagoon waters and includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik
Area – comparative: about the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 370.4 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt
Terrain: low coral limestone and sand islands
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m
Natural resources: coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals
Land use: arable land: 11.11%
permanent crops: 44.44%
other: 44.45% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: infrequent typhoons
Environment – current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Marshall Islands Bikini and Enewetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein, the famous World War II battleground, is used as a US missile test range; island city of Ebeye is the second largest settlement in the Marshall Islands, after the capital of Majuro, and one of the most densely populated locations in the Pacific
Politics he government of the Marshall Islands operates under a mixed parliamentary-presidential system. Elections are held every four years in universal suffrage (for all citizens above 18 years of age) with each of the twenty-four constituencies (see below) electing one or more representatives (senators) to the lower house of RMI’s bicameral legislature, the Nitijela. (Majuro, the capital atoll, elects five senators.) The President, who is head of state as well as head of government, is elected by the 33 senators of the Nitijela.

Legislative power lies with the Nitijela. The upper house of Parliament, called the Council of Iroij, is an advisory body comprising twelve tribal chiefs.

The executive branch consists of the President and the Presidential Cabinet (ten ministers appointed by the President with the approval of the Nitijela.)

The twenty-four electoral districts into which the country is divided correspond to the inhabited islands and atolls: There are currently three political parties in the Marshall Islands: AKA, UPP & UDP. The ruling party is combined of both the AKA and UPP.

People Population: 63,174 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.5% (male 12,404/female 11,946)
15-64 years: 58.6% (male 18,937/female 18,095)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 869/female 923) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 21 years
male: 21 years
female: 20.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.142% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 31.52 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 4.57 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 26.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.9 years
male: 68.88 years
female: 73.03 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.68 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese
Ethnic groups: Micronesian
Religions: Protestant 54.8%, Assembly of God 25.8%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Bukot nan Jesus 2.8%, Mormon 2.1%, other Christian 3.6%, other 1%, none 1.5% (1999 census)
Languages: Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)
note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 93.6%
female: 93.7% (1999)

China marks Japan’s WWII surrender

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China marks Japan’s WWII surrender

Xinhua

A peace assembly was held in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, yesterday to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Representatives from countries, including China, Japan, the United States and Thailand, attended the event held at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, mourning the 300,000 people who were killed in one of the most barbaric episodes of World War II.

Japanese invaders slaughtered about 300,000 Chinese during a six-week rampage after they captured the city, which was then China’s capital, on December 13, 1937.

Members of an anti-war NGO based in Kobe, Japan, laid wreaths and paid tribute to the victims in silence. It was the 22nd time the group had attended the peace assembly in Nanjing.

“We choose to come to China to mark the event because Chinese people were the victims of the war and they deserve tribute and remembrance,” said Miyauchi Yoko, head of the group.

“Ordinary people suffer the most in times of war,” said a student from Thailand. “Everyone should make contributions to world peace.”

Ge Daorong, a survivor of the massacre, was only 10 years old when Nanjing fell to the Japanese. During the massacre, he and his close family took refuge in a safety zone and survived the onslaught, but his three uncles did not.

“We look back at sad episodes of history in order to cherish today’s peace,” Ge said at a forum held after the assembly.

In northeastern Heilongjiang Province, nearly 100 teenagers from China and Russia took part in a historical reenactment to mark the anniversary of Japan’s WWII surrender.

The activity was held at Shengshan Stronghold, a war relic that has now been turned into a base for patriotic education of young people from China and Russia.

“Both China and Russia suffered great losses during WWII,” said Yulia Ablova, an education official from the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk. “We need to remember the history and cherish the peace.”

In the southwestern city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, 1,207 hand prints of WWII Chinese veterans were donated to the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, the largest private museum complex in China, to commemorate the anniversary.

The hand prints were from surviving soldiers in Hunan Province who fought during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).

During the ceremony on Tuesday, Fan Jianchuan, curator of the museum, said the veteran hand-print installation was expanding. More than 4,800 red hand prints have been imprinted on tempered glass slabs arranged in a V-shape to symbolize victory.

“Seventy-three years ago, these hands held broadswords and spears, threw hand grenades and buried landmines to safeguard our country and rescue our people,” Fan said. “They should be remembered.”

Nauru: Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Tiny Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Nauru

Introduction The exact origins of the Nauruans are unclear, since their language does not resemble any other in the Pacific. The island was annexed by Germany in 1888 and its phosphate deposits began to be mined early in the 20th century by a German-British consortium. Nauru was occupied by Australian forces in World War I and subsequently became a League of Nations mandate. After the Second World War – and a brutal occupation by Japan – Nauru became a UN trust territory. It achieved its independence in 1968 and joined the UN in 1999 as the world’s smallest independent republic.
History Nauru was first inhabited by Micronesian and Polynesian people at least 3,000 years ago. There were traditionally 12 clans or tribes on Nauru, which are represented in the 12-pointed star in the nation’s flag. The Nauruan people called their island “Naoero”; the word “Nauru” was later created from “Naoero” so that English speakers could easily pronounce the name.[citation needed] Nauruans traced their descent on the female side. Naurans subsisted on coconut and pandanus fruit, and caught juvenile ibija fish, acclimated them to fresh water conditions and raised them in Buada Lagoon, providing an additional reliable source of food.

British Captain John Fearn, a whale hunter, became the first Westerner to visit the island in 1798, and named it Pleasant Island. From around the 1830s, Nauruans had contact with Europeans from whaling ships and traders who replenished their supplies at the island. Around this time, beachcombers and deserters began to live on the island. The islanders traded food for alcoholic toddy and firearms; the firearms were used during the 10-year war which began in 1878 and by 1888 had resulted in a reduction of the population from 1400 to 900 persons.

Nauru annexed in 1888 by Germany.

The island was annexed by Germany in 1888 and incorporated into Germany’s Marshall Islands Protectorate; they called the island Nawodo or Onawero. The arrival of the Germans ended the war; social changes brought about by the war established Kings as rulers of the island, the most widely known being King Auweyida. Christian missionaries from the Gilbert Islands also arrived at the island in 1888. The Germans ruled Nauru for almost 3 decades.

Phosphate was discovered on the island in 1900 by prospector Albert Ellis and the Pacific Phosphate Company started to exploit the reserves in 1906 by agreement with Germany; they exported their first shipment in 1907.[7] Following the outbreak of World War I, the island was captured by Australian forces in 1914. After the war, the League of Nations gave Australia a trustee mandate over Nauru; the UK and New Zealand were also co-trustees. [8][9] The three governments signed a Nauru Island Agreement in 1919, creating a board known as the British Phosphate Commission (BPC), which took over the rights to phosphate mining.

A Nauruan warrior in 1880

Nauru Island under attack by B-24 Liberator bombers of the US Seventh Air Force.

Japanese forces occupied the island on August 26, 1942.[10] The Japanese-built airfield on the island was bombed in March 1943, preventing food supplies from reaching the island. The Japanese deported 1,200 Nauruans to work as labourers in the Chuuk islands, where 463 died.[11] The island was liberated on September 13, 1945 when the Australian warship HMAS Diamantina approached the island and Japanese forces surrendered. Arrangements were made by the BPC to repatriate Nauruans from Chuuk, and they were returned to Nauru by the BPC ship Trienza in January 1946.[12] In 1947, a trusteeship was approved by the United Nations, and Australia, NZ and the UK again became trustees of the island. Nauru became self-governing in January 1966, and following a two-year constitutional convention, became independent in 1968, led by founding president Hammer DeRoburt. In 1967, the people of Nauru purchased the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners, and in June 1970, control passed to the locally owned Nauru Phosphate Corporation. Income from the exploitation of phosphate gave Nauruans one of the highest living standards in the Pacific and per capita, in the world.[13]

In 1989, the country took legal action against Australia in the International Court of Justice over Australia’s actions during its administration of Nauru, in particular, Australia’s failure to remedy the environmental damage caused by phosphate mining.[14] The action led to an out-of-court settlement to rehabilitate the mined-out areas of Nauru. Diminishing phosphate reserves has led to economic decline in Nauru, which has brought increasing political instability since the mid-1980s. Nauru had 17 changes of administration between 1989 and 2003.[15] Between 1999 and 2003, a series of no-confidence votes and elections resulted in two people, René Harris and Bernard Dowiyogo, leading the country for alternating periods. Dowiyogo died in office in March 2003 and Ludwig Scotty was elected President. Scotty was re-elected to serve a full term in October 2004.

In recent times, a significant proportion of the country’s income has been in the form of aid from Australia. In 2001, the MV Tampa, a Norwegian ship which had rescued 433 refugees (from various countries including Afghanistan) from a stranded 20-metre (65 ft) boat and was seeking to dock in Australia, was diverted to Nauru as part of the Pacific Solution. Nauru operated the detention centre in exchange for Australian aid. In November 2005, two refugees remained on Nauru from those first sent there in 2001, and the last of them finally achieved resettlement at the end of 2006. The Australian government sent further groups of asylum seekers to Nauru in late 2006 and early 2007.[18] In late January 2008, following Australia’s decision to close the processing centre, Nauru announced that they will request a new aid deal to ease the resulting blow to the economy.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands
Geographic coordinates: 0 32 S, 166 55 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 21 sq km
land: 21 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 30 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical with a monsoonal pattern; rainy season (November to February)
Terrain: sandy beach rises to fertile ring around raised coral reefs with phosphate plateau in center
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location along plateau rim 61 m
Natural resources: phosphates, fish
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: limited natural fresh water resources, roof storage tanks collect rainwater, but mostly dependent on a single, aging desalination plant; intensive phosphate mining during the past 90 years – mainly by a UK, Australia, and NZ consortium – has left the central 90% of Nauru a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: Nauru is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean – the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia; only 53 km south of Equator
Politics Nauru is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. The president is both the head of state and of government. An 18-member unicameral parliament is elected every three years. The parliament elects a president from its members, who appoints a cabinet of five to six members. Nauru does not have a formal structure for political parties; candidates typically stand as independents. 15 of the 18 members of the current parliament are independents, and alliances within the government are often formed on the basis of extended family ties. Three parties that have been active in Nauruan politics are the Democratic Party, Nauru First and the Centre Party. The fact that Nauru is a democracy makes Nauru a counterexample of the traditional theory of the rentier state, as the sale of Nauru’s natural resource has not led to authoritarianism.

Since 1992, local government has been the responsibility of the Nauru Island Council (NIC). The NIC has limited powers and functions as an advisor to the national government on local matters. The role of the NIC is to concentrate its efforts on local activities relevant to Nauruans. An elected member of the Nauru Island Council cannot simultaneously be a member of parliament.[21] Land tenure in Nauru is unusual: all Nauruans have certain rights to all land on the island, which is owned by individuals and family groups; government and corporate entities do not own land and must enter into a lease arrangement with the landowners to use land. Non-Nauruans cannot own lands.

Nauru has a complex legal system. The Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice, is paramount on constitutional issues. Other cases can be appealed to the two-judge Appellate Court. Parliament cannot overturn court decisions, but Appellate Court rulings can be appealed to the High Court of Australia; in practice, this rarely happens. Lower courts consist of the District Court and the Family Court, both of which are headed by a Resident Magistrate, who also is the Registrar of the Supreme Court. Finally, there also are two quasi-courts: the Public Service Appeal Board and the Police Appeal Board, both of which are presided over by the Chief Justice.

Nauru has no armed forces; under an informal agreement, defence is the responsibility of Australia. There is a small police force under civilian control.

People Population: 13,770 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 35.5% (male 2,492/female 2,393)
15-64 years: 62.5% (male 4,237/female 4,363)
65 years and over: 2.1% (male 148/female 137) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 21.3 years
male: 20.7 years
female: 21.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.772% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 24.26 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.54 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.08 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.43 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.84 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 63.81 years
male: 60.2 years
female: 67.6 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.94 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Northern Mariana Islands: The History Of This Island Nation And It’s People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Northern Mariana Islands

Introduction Under US administration as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence but instead to forge closer links with the US. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the US was approved in 1975, and came into force on 24 March 1976. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978.
History European Explorers

The first European exploration of the area was that led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. After being met offshore and accepting the refreshments offered to them by the native Chamorros, the latter then helped themselves to a small boat belonging to Magellan’s fleet. This led to a cultural clash because in the old Chamorro culture there was little if any private property and to take something that one needed, such as a boat for fishing, was not considered thievery.

Due to that cultural misunderstanding, around half a dozen locals were killed and a village of 40 homes burned before the boat was retrieved. The archipelago thus acquired the ignominious name Islas de los Ladrones (“Islands of the Thieves”).

Three days after he had arrived, Magellan fled the archipelago under attack–a portentous beginning to its relationship with the Spanish. The islands were then considered by Spain to be annexed, and therefore under their governance, from the Philippines, as part of the Spanish East Indies. The Spanish built a Royal Palace in Guam for the Governor of the Islands. Its remains could still be seen in 2006.

Guam was an important stop-over from Mexico for galleons carrying gold and other cargo between the Philippines and Spain. There are several lost sunken Spanish galleons off Guam.

In 1668 the islands were renamed by Padre Diego Luis de Sanvitores as Las Marianas after Mariana of Austria, widow of Spain’s Philip IV.

Most of the islands’ native population (90%-95%)[5] died out or intermarried with non-Chamorro settlers under Spanish rule, but new settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought in to repopulate the islands. Despite this, the Chamorro population did gradually resurge, and Chamorro, Filipino and Carolinian language and ethnic differences remain basically distinct in the Marianas.

To facilitate cultural and religious assimilation, Spanish colonists forced the Chamorros to be concentrated on Guam for a period of time. By the time Chamorros were allowed to return to the present-day Northern Marianas, Carolinians (from present-day eastern Yap State and western Chuuk State) had settled in the Marianas. Hence Carolinians and Chamorros are both considered as indigenous to the Northern Marianas and both languages are official in the commonwealth (but not on Guam).

German and Japanese possession

After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States and sold the rest of the Marianas (along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands) to Germany.

Japan declared war on Germany during World War I and invaded the Northern Marianas. In 1919, the League of Nations, pre-cursor of the United Nations, awarded the islands to Japan by mandate. During Japan’s occupation, sugar cane became the main industry of the islands, and labor was imported from Japan and associated colonies (especially Okinawa and Korea).

Hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese forces from the Marianas launched an invasion of Guam on December 8, 1941. Chamorros from the Northern Marianas, then under Japanese rule for more than two decades, were brought to Guam to assist the Japanese administration. This combined with the harsh treatment of Guamanian Chamorros during the brief 31-month occupation created a rift between the two populations that would become the main reason Guamanians rejected reunification referendum approved by the Northern Marianas in the 1960s.

American acquisition

Near the end of World War II, the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands on June 15, 1944, beginning with the Battle of Saipan, which ended on July 9 with the Japanese commander committing seppuku (a traditional Japanese form of ritual suicide). U.S. forces then recaptured Guam beginning July 21 and invaded Tinian (see Battle of Tinian) on July 24, which provided the take off point for the Enola Gay, the plane dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima a year later. Rota was left untouched (and isolated) until the Japanese surrender in August 1945, due to its military insignificance.

The war did not end for everyone with the signing of the armistice. The last group of Japanese soldiers surrendered on Saipan on December 1, 1945. On Guam, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi hid out in the village of Talofofo until 1972.

Between the end of the invasion and the Japanese surrender, the Saipan and Tinian populations were kept in concentration camps. Japanese nationals were eventually repatriated, and the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinians returned to the land.

The Commonwealth

After Japan’s defeat, the islands were administered by the United States as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; thus, defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the United States. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence, but instead to forge closer links with the United States. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. The islands are not represented in the U.S. Congress.

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 477 sq km
land: 477 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
Area – comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,482 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October
Terrain: southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Agrihan 965 m
Natural resources: arable land, fish
Land use: arable land: 13.04%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 82.61% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
Environment – current issues: contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
Geography – note: strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
Politics The Northern Mariana Islands have a presidential representative democratic system, in which the Governor is head of government, with a multi-party system. The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States. Federal funds to the Commonwealth are administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Repeating the separation of powers in other U.S. territories and state governments, executive power is exercised by the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. Senate President Joseph Mendiola is a founding member of the Outlying Areas Senate Presidents Caucus. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

However, politics in the Northern Mariana Islands is often “more a function of family relationships and personal loyalties” where the size of one’s extended family is more important than a candidate’s personal qualifications. Some critics, including the author of Saipan Sucks, charge that this is nepotism carried out within the trappings of democracy. [2] Archive copy at the Internet Archive

The Northern Mariana Islands have also come into the news recently due to their connection to the scandals involving Jack Abramoff and allegedly former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [3]. As a direct result of lobbying by Abramoff and associates, the Northern Mariana Islands received special federal subsidies. [4] As well, Congressman Bob Ney allegedly received free trips to the Northern Mariana Islands from Abramoff, in violation of federal law. [5]

The Northern Marianas Islands are also the site of another controversy, one involving Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Jack Abramoff, and Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and the alleged links to the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association and the Northern Mariana Islands role in stopping legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops on the islands in 2001.

The Northern Marianas Islands allegedly have the most abusive labor practices of anywhere in the United States. According to the progressive think tank American Progress Action Fund, “Human ‘brokers’ bring thousands there to work as sex slaves and in cramped sweatshop garment factories where clothes (complete with ‘Made in U.S.A.’ tag) have been produced for all the major brands.”

People Population: 86,616 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.4% (male 8,342/female 7,594)
15-64 years: 79.9% (male 27,996/female 41,245)
65 years and over: 1.7% (male 740/female 699) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.9 years
male: 32 years
female: 28.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.377% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 19.04 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.31 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 7.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.68 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female
total population: 0.75 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.5 years
male: 73.89 years
female: 79.26 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.18 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: NA (US citizens)
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups: Asian 56.3%, Pacific islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8% (2000 census)
Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
Languages: Philippine languages 24.4%, Chinese 23.4%, Chamorro 22.4%, English 10.8%, other Pacific island languages 9.5%, other 9.6% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 96% (1980 est.)

Palau: The Truth, Knowledge And History Of The People Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Palau

Introduction After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration, this westernmost cluster of the Caroline Islands opted for independence in 1978 rather than join the Federated States of Micronesia. A Compact of Free Association with the US was approved in 1986, but not ratified until 1993. It entered into force the following year, when the islands gained independence.
History Archaeology

Early Palauans may have come from Australia, Polynesia and Asia. Depending on the thread of the family, Palauans may indeed represent many parts of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. However, it is traditionally not considered to be Micronesian. According to geneticists, there are two distinctive strains of Melanesian bloodlines: one is associated with indigenous Australians/Papua New Guineans and the other is known to have originated in Asia. There has not been any link established between the two.

In the European and Australian world Belau/Pelew is better known by the name of “The Black Islands”. Vintage maps and village drawings can be found at the Australian library online, as well as photos of the tattooed and pierced Ibedul of Koror and Ludee.

Carbon dating and recent archaeological discoveries have brought new attention to the archipelago. Cemeteries uncovered in islands have shown Palau has the oldest burial ceremony known to Oceania. Prior to this there has been much dispute as to whether Palau was established during 2500 BC or 1000 BC. New studies seem to dispute both of these findings. Moreover, Palau’s ancient trading partner, Java, has also come under close scrutiny since Homo floresiensis was found. Like Flores, remains of small-bodied humans have been found in Palau.[1]

For thousands of years, Palauans have had a well established matrilineal society, believed to have descended from Javanese precedents. Traditionally, land, money, and titles passed through the female line. Clan lands continue to be passed through titled women and first daughters[2] but there is also a modern patrilineal sentiment introduced by imperial Japan. The Japanese government attempted to confiscate and redistribute tribal land into personal ownership during World War II, and there has been little attempt to restore the old order. Legal entanglements continue amongst the various clans

European contact

Historians take interest in the early navigational routes of European explorers in the Pacific. There is a certain controversy as to whether Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, who landed in several Caroline Islands, spotted the Palau archipelago in 1543. No conclusive evidence exists but there are some who think he could have seen the tip of a southernmost island in the group.

Palau had limited relations—mainly with Yap and Java. Had it not have been for ship-wrecked islanders who accidentally took refuge in the Philippines, Europeans likely would not have found a route to Palau until much later. English Captain Henry Wilson also shipwrecked off the island of Ulong in 1783.[4] Wilson dubbed Palau the “Pelew Islands”.

Spanish rule

Like the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Marshall Islands, Palau was part of the Spanish East Indies, and was administered from the Spanish Philippines until the Spanish-American War of 1898.

In 1885, after Germany occupied some of the islands, a dispute was brought to Pope Leo XIII, who made an attempt to legitimize the Spanish claim to the islands (but with economic concessions for Britain and Germany). Spain in 1899, after defeat during the Spanish-American War, sold the islands to Germany in the 1899 German-Spanish Treaty.

German era

After the Spanish sold the islands to Germany, the Germans began an economic transformation in Micronesia. The Germans began mining bauxite (an aluminum ore), Phosphate, and other resources. The islands were also administered by German New Guinea. Mining continued throughout Micronesia even after the Germans lost the islands to Japan under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, after World War I. The Japanese continued and expanded the mining operations.

Japanese rule

During World War I, under the terms of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the Empire of Japan declared war on the German Empire and invaded German overseas territories in the Pacific Ocean, including the Palau Islands. Following Germany’s defeat, the League of Nations formally awarded Palau to Japan as a Class C League of Nations Mandate. [7]

Under the terms of a “Class C Mandate” Japan incorporated the islands as an integral part of its empire, establishing the Nanyo-cho government. [8] Initially under Imperial Japanese Navy administration, civilian control was introduced from 1922, and Palau was one of six administrative districts within the Mandate. Japan mounted an aggressive economic development program and promoted immigration by Japanese, Okinawans and Koreans. During this period, the Japanese established bonito (skipjack tuna) production and copra processing plants in Palau.

World War II

Peleliu was the scene of intense fighting between American and Japanese forces beginning September 1944 resulting in an Allied victory, though the cost in human terms was high for both sides. After WWII, the United Nations played a role in deciding the U.S. would administer Palau as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Eventually, in 1979, Palauans voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia based on language and cultural differences. After a long period of transition, including the violent deaths of two presidents (Haruo Remeliik in 1985 and Lazarus Salii in 1988), Palau voted to freely associate with the United States in 1994 while opting to retain independence under the Compact of Free Association.

There are still roughly 100 American service members listed as Missing In Action (MIA) in Palau since WWII. Since 1993, a small group of American volunteers called The BentProp Project have searched the waters and jungles of Palau to attempt to locate information that can lead to the identification and recovery of remains of these American MIAs.

Geography Location: Oceania, group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 7 30 N, 134 30 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 458 sq km
land: 458 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,519 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November
Terrain: varying geologically from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Ngerchelchuus 242 m
Natural resources: forests, minerals (especially gold), marine products, deep-seabed minerals
Land use: arable land: 8.7%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 86.95% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: typhoons (June to December)
Environment – current issues: inadequate facilities for disposal of solid waste; threats to the marine ecosystem from sand and coral dredging, illegal fishing practices, and overfishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: westernmost archipelago in the Caroline chain, consists of six island groups totaling more than 300 islands; includes World War II battleground of Beliliou (Peleliu) and world-famous rock islands
Politics Palau’s politics takes place in a multi-party framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Palau is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the Palau National Congress. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Foreign relations

Palau gained its independence October 1, 1994, when the Compact of Free Association with the United States came into force. Palau was the last portion of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to gain its independence. Under the Compact, the U.S. remains responsible for Palau’s defense for 50 years, and Palauans are allowed to serve in the U.S. military without having to possess permanent residency in the U.S.

Palau is a sovereign nation and conducts its own foreign relations. Since independence, Palau has established diplomatic relations with a number of nations, including many of its Pacific neighbors. Palau was admitted to the United Nations on December 15, 1994, and has since joined several other international organizations. In September 2006, Palau hosted the first Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit, and its President has gone on several official visits to other Pacific countries, including the Republic of China (Taiwan).

The United States maintains the usual diplomatic delegation and an embassy in Palau, but most aspects of the two countries’ relationship have to do with Compact-funded projects, which are the responsibility of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. This has led to some ambiguity in the official status of Palau, though regarded as de jure independent.

Nuclear-free constitution

In 1981, Palau voted for the world’s first nuclear-free constitution. However, this delayed Palau’s independence as it also wanted a Compact of Free Association with the United States, which the U.S. would not agree to as long as the anti-nuclear clause was in place; thus the United Nations delayed terminating the U.S. trusteeship. Palauan independence was finally achieved after the anti-nuclear clause was repealed.

One of the notable aspects of the Palauan resistance to nuclear research is the leadership of women activists such as Cita Morei and Isabella Sumang.

People Population: 21,093 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.8% (male 2,797/female 2,637)
15-64 years: 69.4% (male 7,864/female 6,779)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 482/female 534) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.3 years
male: 33.3 years
female: 31.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.157% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.4 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.73 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.16 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.69 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 15.37 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71 years
male: 67.82 years
female: 74.36 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.45 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Palauan(s)
adjective: Palauan
Ethnic groups: Palauan (Micronesian with Malayan and Melanesian admixtures) 69.9%, Filipino 15.3%, Chinese 4.9%, other Asian 2.4%, white 1.9%, Carolinian 1.4%, other Micronesian 1.1%, other or unspecified 3.2% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 41.6%, Protestant 23.3%, Modekngei 8.8% (indigenous to Palau), Seventh-Day Adventist 5.3%, Jehovah’s Witness 0.9%, Latter-Day Saints 0.6%, other 3.1%, unspecified or none 16.4% (2000 census)
Languages: Palauan 64.7% official in all islands except Sonsoral (Sonsoralese and English are official), Tobi (Tobi and English are official), and Angaur (Angaur, Japanese, and English are official), Filipino 13.5%, English 9.4%, Chinese 5.7%, Carolinian 1.5%, Japanese 1.5%, other Asian 2.3%, other languages 1.5% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92%
male: 93%
female: 90% (1980 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2000)
Education expenditures: 10.3% of GDP (2002)

Paracel Islands: The Truth And History Of The Vietnamese Islands That China Stole

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Paracel Islands

Introduction The Paracel Islands are surrounded by productive fishing grounds and by potential oil and gas reserves. In 1932, French Indochina annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island; maintenance was continued by its successor, Vietnam. China has occupied the Paracel Islands since 1974, when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison occupying the western islands. China built a military installation on Mischief Reef in 1999. The islands are claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
History From 1460 – 1497, under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong, Vietnamese began to organize the exploitation of both the Truong Sa and the Hoang Sa Archipelago farther to the north.This exploitation consisted of harvesting valuable sea-products and conducting salvaging operations to collect cargoes from vessels shipwrecked in the treacherous waters of the Truong Sa.
From 1680 – 1705, Do Ba Cong Dao issued Route Maps from the Capital to the Four Directions This is the first Vietnamese documentation of formal exercise of authority over the Hoang sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly)
In 1700s, State-sponsored occupation of the islands can also be traced to the reign of the Nguyen lords. Salvaging operations became formalized with the establishment of the Hoang Sa detachments or brigades, units of 70 men from the village of An Vinh, the recruitment and organization of which were regulated by the Vietnamese government.Portuguese and Dutch maps drawn by navigators in the early 17th century identify the islands as Vietnamese.
From 1802,During the reign of the Nguyen emperors, documentation was produced that distinguished the Truong Sa archipelago from the Hoang Sa Islands and identified both as Vietnamese possessions.
In 1816,the Vietnamese flag was planted in a formal ceremony on the Paracels
In 1836, emperor Minh Mang received a report from his Ministry of Public Works that recommended a comprehensive survey of all the East Sea islands because of their “great strategic importance to our maritime borders.”
In 1838,Phan Huy Chu published the “Detailed Map of the Dai Nam. The map “expressly mentioned the Paracel and Spratlys, under the name Hoang sa , Van Ly Truong Sa , as part of Vietnamese territory. Also in thí year, Bishop Jean-Louis Taberd published the ” Map of Great Annam” (Annam Dai Quoc Hoa Do) confirmed Paracel -Bai Cat Vang – Hoang sa as part of Vietnamese territory.
During 1800s,the Nguyen dynasty continued to exercise jurisdiction over the Truong Sa Islands without protest from any country until the French protectorate was established over Vietnam in 1884.
1932, Paracel Islands was placed on the map of Vietnam by the Nguyen Dynasty. The Paracel were controlled by Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam.[citation needed]
In 1932, French Indochina and Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island.
In 1939, Empire of Japan invaded and occupied from the French. Ironically, the official reason for the Japanese invasion was that the islands were Chinese territory.
After World War II, the Republic of China government reaffirmed the Chinese sovereignty over the islands like other islands in the South China Sea, and dispatched patrol force to the islands, but this was challenged by the French. However, the dispute was only political and diplomatic as both sides attempted to gain US backing.
In the latter half of 1940s, French reclaimed the Paracel Islands. The Republic of China has never accepted the French claims.
In 1951, at the San Francisco Conference on the Treaty of San Francisco with Japan, which formally nations are sovereign over these islands, Vietnam’s representative claimed that both the Paracel and Spratly Islands are territory of Vietnam, and was met with no challenge from the nations at the conference. However, neither the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China were invited. They were busy fighting a civil war, and both considered the claim was a violation of Chinese sovereignty and neither had accepted it. Both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China condemned the decision and reaffirmed their control over the islands politically and diplomatically.
After the fall of the nationalist regime in China, the Chinese controlled eastern half of the Paracel islands also fell into the communist hands. Several small clashes occurred between the French and the communist Chinese naval forces during this period but was eventually settled along the actual line of control with the Chinese occupying Woody Island and the Macclesfield Bank while the remainder were held by Franco-Vietnamese forces. Although,there had been no recognition of any country about China claim of the island.
After the French left in 1956, South Vietnam replaced the French in controlling the islands. Again, both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China politically and diplomatically condemned the decision and reaffirmed their control over the islands. Although the South Vietnamese inherited the same French claim over the entire Paracel Islands, the period was marked by the peace and both sides held on what was in their control without venturing into other’s domain. At the same time, the maps and other official documents of the North Vietnam government during this period had shown that the islands belong to China, mainly due to the fact that China was the largest backer of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
The political and diplomatic dispute became an armed conflict on January 20, 1974 in the Battle of Hoang Sa 1974 when the South Vietnamese Government unilaterally declared its intention to survey the island territory for petroleum extraction in early January 1974. During the same time, the South Vietnamese Navy sent a fleet of frigates to the area and positioned the fleet over the line of control. The South Vietnamese fleet fired at and killed several Chinese fishermans operating in the area at the time, as well as firing at patrolling Chinese ships and injuring Chinese Navy personnel. In response, Chinese Naval forces departed from China under order on January 20, 1974 for the Paracel Islands and swiftly overran the South Vietnamese positions on the islands in addition to the defending surface fleet. With the ensuing civil war embroiling South Vietnam’s attention, no military attempt was made to retake the islands from the People’s Republic of China following its defeat, and has been administered by the People’s Republic of China since.
Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, group of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, about one-third of the way from central Vietnam to the northern Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 16 30 N, 112 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: NA sq km
land: NA sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 518 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: tropical
Terrain: mostly low and flat
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Rocky Island 14 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: typhoons
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: composed of 130 small coral islands and reefs divided into the northeast Amphitrite Group and the western Crescent Group
People Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered Chinese garrisons
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Paracel Islands
Economy Economy – overview: China announced plans in 1997 to open the islands for tourism.
Transportation Airports: 1 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals: small Chinese port facilities on Woody Island and Duncan Island being expanded
Military Military – note: occupied by China
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: occupied by China, also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam

Japan executes seven cult leaders behind Tokyo Sarin attacks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Japan executes seven cult leaders behind Tokyo Sarin attacks

Shoko AsaharaImage copyrightAFP
Image caption Shoko Asahara headed the Aum Shimrikyo cult

Seven members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult which carried out a deadly chemical attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995 have been executed, including cult leader Shoko Asahara.

The Sarin attack, Japan’s worst terror incident, killed 13 people and injured thousands more.

The executions took place at a Tokyo detention house on Friday morning.

Japan does not give prior notice of executions, but they were later confirmed by the justice ministry.

Shoko Asahara and his followers were also accused of several other murders and an earlier Sarin gas attack in 1994 which killed eight and left 600 injured.

Their execution, by hanging, had been postponed until all those convicted had completed their final appeals. That happened in January.

Another six members of the cult are still on death row.

What was the Tokyo attack?

On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the subway in the Japanese capital. They left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on train lines going through Tokyo’s political district.

Witnesses described noticing the leaking packages and soon afterwards feeling stinging fumes hitting their eyes.

The toxin struck victims down in a matter of seconds, leaving them choking and vomiting, some blinded and paralysed. Thirteen people died.

In the following months, members of the cult carried out several failed attempts at releasing hydrogen cyanide in various stations.

Media captionWitness: Tokyo attack

The attack shocked Japan, a country that prided itself on low crime rates and social cohesion.

Scores of Aum members have faced trial over the attack – 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara.

Another six are serving life sentences.

What is the Aum Shinrikyo cult?

The cult, whose name means “supreme truth”, began in the 1980s as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, later working in elements of apocalyptic Christian prophesies.

The group’s founder, Shoko Asahara, also known as Chizuo Matsumoto, declared himself to be both Christ and the first “enlightened one” since Buddha.

Aum cultist in Japan - 1999 file picImage copyrightAFP
Image captionAum Shinrikyo is believed to still have thousands of followers

Aum Shinrikyo gained official status as a religious organisation in Japan in 1989 and picked up a sizeable global following. At its peak, Asahara had tens of thousands of followers worldwide.

The group gradually became a paranoid doomsday cult, convinced the world was about to end in a global war and that only they would survive.

The cult went underground after the 1995 attack, but did not disappear, eventually renaming itself Aleph or Hikari no Wa.

Aum Shinrikyo is designated a terrorist organisation in the US and many other countries, but Aleph and Hikari no Wa are both legal in Japan, although designated as “dangerous religions” subject to surveillance.

It still has followers both in Japan and also worldwide, in particular in some countries of the former Soviet Union.

In 2016, police in Russia conducted a number of raids on suspected cult members in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Why has the execution been so delayed?

In Japan, death sentences are not carried out until the verdict against all accused and accomplices are final, with no pending appeals left against any of the group.

The trials against the cult members only wrapped up in January this year after the Supreme Court upheld the verdict against one member sentenced to life in prison.

There has been strong public support for the Aum convicts to be put to death.

Since an effective moratorium ended in 2010, Japan has executed as many as eight people a year.

The death penalty is only used for serious cases of murder and is carried out by hanging.

Officials do not give advance public notification – condemned prisoners themselves are usually only told they are to die a few hours before the sentence is carried out.

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Asia

Japan Lowers Readiness of North Korea Missile Alert System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(IF PRIME MINISTER ABE OR THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN ACTUALLY BELIEVE THE WORDS SPOKEN BY THE IGNORANT FOOL DONALD TRUMP OR BY THE MASS MURDERER KIM JONG UN, THEN MR. ABE AND THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN ARE NOT THE WISE PRACTICAL PEOPLE THAT I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED THEM TO BE.) (oped by: oldpoet56)

Japan Lowers Readiness of North Korea Missile Alert System

Sunday, 1 July, 2018 – 09:30
A passerby in Tokyo looks at a TV screen reporting news about a North Korean missile launch in September 2017. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Japan decided to ease the level of military readiness of its North Korea missile alert system, a report said Sunday, citing multiple unnamed sources close to the matter.

The report came as Japan finds itself under pressure to soften its hardline stance against Pyongyang following US President Donald Trump’s landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month.

Japan’s Self Defense Forces on Friday dropped their program to always deploy Aegis warships in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) that detect and intercept incoming missiles, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

But Japanese forces will remain ready to intercept missiles detected via spy satellite images, the newspaper said.

Japanese defense officials told the Asahi that Tokyo was following in the footsteps of the United States, which has already lowered its alert level in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan has also suspended public evacuation drills simulating a North Korean missile attack.

Japanese defense ministry officials were not available for immediate comment.

Japan has long maintained a tight-lipped stance about its exact defense posture against North Korea, including the locations of the high-tech Aegis vessels.

The outlook of the North’s denuclearization efforts remain unclear at best, with the Washington Post reporting Saturday that Pyongyang plans to keep some of its nuclear stockpile and production facilities while potentially concealing them from the US.

Trump has since the June 12 summit in Singapore buoyantly declared “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

Evidence collected since the historic meeting points to secret production facilities and the development of methods to conceal weapons creation — implying Pyongyang is aiming to hide plans to continue its nuclear program from the US, having made contrary, if ambiguous, commitments to Washington.

Over the weekend NBC News first reported that Pyongyang has in fact recently been increasing fuel production for nuclear weapons at several hidden sites.

The US network, citing intelligence officials, said North Korea’s regime was readying to “extract every concession” from the White House rather than giving up its atomic arsenal.

“There’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” NBC quoted one US official as saying.

“There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US,” the official said, despite Pyongyang’s recent curtailment of missile and nuclear tests.

The only uranium enrichment spot North Korea has acknowledged publicly exists is Yongbyon — though reports of secret facilities have surfaced.

Experts have voiced fear that Washington may accept a lukewarm deal centered exclusively on Yongbyon that disregards known underground sites.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he plans to meet with Kim to “flesh out” details of the nuclear disarmament promise, but has insisted the North Korean leader is serious.

“There’s a lot of work between here and there. My team is already doing it. I’ll likely travel back before too terribly long,” the top US diplomat said recently.

“We still need to flesh out all the things that underlay the commitments that were made that day in Singapore.”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis meanwhile has reassured key East Asian allies that the US commitment to Seoul is “ironclad” — despite Trump’s unilateral suspension of military exercises with South Korea and his lauding of Kim as a “talented guy.”

G7: Trump says Russia should be part of summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

G7: Trump says Russia should be part of summit

Media captionTrump to G7: ‘They should let Russia come back in

US President Donald Trump says he wants Russia to be part of the G7 group of key industrialised nations.

Russia was expelled in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea, but Mr Trump said he wanted the country readmitted.

The build-up to the meeting has seen major disagreements between the US president and other nations over his imposition of trade tariffs.

There are also likely to be disagreements with Mr Trump over Iran and climate change.

The G7 summit, which groups Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy, Japan and Germany, is being held in the town of La Malbaie in Quebec, Canada.

The leaders of the nations, which represent more than 60% of global net worth, meet annually. Economics tops the agenda, although the meetings now always branch off to cover major global issues.

What did Mr Trump say about Russia?

Mr Trump said he regretted the meeting had shrunk in size, putting him at odds with most other G7 members on yet another issue.

“You know, whether you like it or – and it may not be politically correct – but we have a world to run and in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in,” he said.

He found support in the shape of the newly installed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who tweeted that it was “in the interests of everyone” for Russia to be readmitted.

Canada, France and the UK though immediately signalled they remain opposed to Russian re-entry. A Kremlin spokesperson said they were interested in “other formats”, apart from the G7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently in Beijing, where he was presented with a friendship medal by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Fellow members of what was then the G8 suspended Russia after it took control of Crimea, saying it would remain until Russia “changes course”.

Presentational grey line

Trump arrives with a bang

By the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, James Robbins

Relations between Donald Trump and America’s leading allies were already at a new low over trade tariffs before the president casually dropped his Russia hand-grenade.

Most G7 leaders think the decision to expel Russia in 2014 was right then, and remains right today. Even Russia itself seems lukewarm about rejoining.

In many ways, this seems to be a deliberate Donald Trump tactic, to distract attention from his war of words with the rest of the G7 over trade and protectionism.

President Trump dislikes the whole idea of the G7: a club of nations which traditionally comes together around shared values rooted in a world order based on agreed rules. Last to arrive, he’ll also be first to leave.

Presentational grey line

What were the exchanges on the eve of the summit?

It was mainly France and Canada v Donald Trump, sparked by Mr Trump’s imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs.

Appearing alongside host leader Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “A trade war doesn’t spare anyone. It will start first of all to hurt US workers.”

For his part Mr Trudeau described Mr Trump’s citing of national security to defend his steel and aluminium tariffs as “laughable”.

Never one to back down, Mr Trump fired off a series of tweets, keeping up the tirade on Friday.

Speaking to reporters before the summit he again criticised other nations for their treatment of the US but predicted tensions would ease and “we’ll all be in love again”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to take a more conciliatory approach, saying she wanted the EU to act with restraint and proportion in retaliating to the US tariffs.

Unlike Mr Macron and Mr Trudeau, she won’t be having a bilateral meeting with Mr Trump, but insisted on Friday it was not a snub.

The EU has called Mr Trump’s tariffs “protectionism, pure and simple” and are among others in announcing retaliatory measures.

Media captionDairy wars: Why is Trump threatening Canada over milk?

What else can we expect in Quebec?

Mr Trump is leaving early to head to Singapore for his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meaning he will miss some of the topics advanced by Mr Trudeau.

The five themes for this year’s summit are:

  • Inclusive economic growth
  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • World peace and security
  • Jobs of the future
  • Climate change and oceans

According to the leaders’ programme, Mr Trump will be around for the economic and security issues being discussed on Friday but will miss climate change, the environment and probably gender equality on Saturday.

The US president was very much the odd man out on climate change during the G7 in Italy last year, later announcing his intention to withdraw from the landmark Paris agreement.

Media captionG7 summit: Trapped in the world’s most secure house

Iran is also a big sticking point. Mr Trump recently ditched the 2015 agreement with Tehran that aimed to curb its nuclear programme. This angered the other signatories who have since sought to shore it up.

Previous G7 meetings have seen huge protests, and about 8,000 soldiers and police officers are expected to be on hand during the Quebec event.

Protester in QuebecImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA protester with a flare at a protest march in Quebec City, ahead of the summit

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    1 June 2018
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    3 June 2018

California Now Has a Bigger Economy Than the United Kingdom

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By JONATHAN J. COOPER / AP

May 5, 2018

(SACRAMENTO) — California’s economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth largest, according to new federal data made public Friday.

California’s gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion, the data said. Meanwhile, the UK’s economic output slightly shrunk over that time when measured in U.S. dollars, due in part to exchange rate fluctuations.

The data demonstrate the sheer immensity of California’s economy, home to nearly 40 million people, a thriving technology sector in Silicon Valley, the world’s entertainment capital in Hollywood and the nation’s salad bowl in the Central Valley agricultural heartland. It also reflects a substantial turnaround since the Great Recession.

“We have the entrepreneurial spirit in the state, and that attracts a lot of talent and money,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands. “And that’s why, despite high taxes and cumbersome government regulations, more people are coming into the state to join the parade.”

All economic sectors except agriculture contributed to California’s higher GDP, said Irena Asmundson, chief economist at the California Department of Finance. Financial services and real estate led the pack at $26 billion in growth, followed by the information sector, which includes many technology companies, at $20 billion. Manufacturing was up $10 billion.

California last had the world’s fifth largest economy in 2002 but fell as low as 10th in 2012 following the Great Recession. Since then, the largest U.S. state has added 2 million jobs and grown its GDP by $700 billion.

California’s economic output is now surpassed only by the total GDP of the United States, China, Japan and Germany. The state has 12 percent of the U.S. population but contributed 16 percent of the country’s job growth between 2012 and 2017. Its share of the national economy also grew from 12.8 percent to 14.2 percent over that five-year period, according to state economists.

California’s strong economic performance relative to other industrialized economies is driven by worker productivity, said Lee Ohanian, an economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles and director of UCLA’s Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research. The United Kingdom has 25 million more people than California but now has a smaller GDP, he said.

California’s economic juggernaut is concentrated in coastal metropolises around San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“The non-coastal areas of CA have not generated nearly as much economic growth as the coastal areas,” Ohanian said in an email.

The state calculates California’s economic ranking as if it were a country by comparing state-level GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce with global data from the International Monetary Fund.