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Friday, April 5, 2013

North Korea Says It Cannot Guarantee Foreigners’ Safety After April 10

North Korea has invited all foreign embassies in Pyongyang to evacuate their staff, saying it could not guarantee their safety after April 10. The UK Foreign Office said its embassy had received the warning on Friday morning, but had no immediate evacuation plans. “The DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] has responsibilities under the Vienna convention to protect diplomatic missions, and we believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them. We are considering next steps, including a change to our travel advice”, said an FCO spokeswoman. Meanwhile, South Korea deployed two warships with missile-defence systems, one to each of the country’s coasts, in response to North Korea’s deployment of a missile to its east coast on Thursday. The two warships were equipped with Aegis defence systems, which would monitor the north. “If the North fires off a missile, we will trace its trajectory”, said a South Korean official to the Yonhap news agency.

Pope Francis Urges Action Against Sex Abuse

Pope Francis has told the Holy See’s doctrinal chief, Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, that he wants the Catholic Church to “act decisively as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned, promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past (and) the necessary procedures against those who are guilty”. It is believed that it is the first time he took up the issue of sex scandals since being elevated to the Papacy on March 13. A victims’ group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said that the statement was not enough and that it was a simple continuation of the obfuscatory policies undertaken by Benedict XVI. “We can’t confuse words with actions. When we do, we hurt kids. We must insist on new tangible action that helps vulnerable children protect their bodies, not old vague pledges that help a widely-discredited institution protect its reputation”, said a statement released by the organisation.

No Progress at Nuclear Talks With Iran

A Western diplomat has told the BBC that Iran has not delivered “a clear and concrete response” to a proposal that could break a deadlock in the talks being hosted in Kazakhstan over its nuclear programme. Although Iran claimed to have offered “specific plans” in Almaty, the same Western diplomat said that the proposals were a simple restatement of another set of proposals already rejected a year ago during talks in Russia. The P5+1 group, composed of Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany was “somewhat puzzled” by the Iranian offer, said the diplomatic source, adding that “there were some interesting but not fully explained general comments on our ideas. It was mainly a reworking of what they said in Moscow”. Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili, on the other hand, said that the talks could only go forward with “the acceptance of the rights of Iran, particularly the right to enrichment”. He accused the group of denying “this right” to other countries.

Blair Says He Would Have Given Cameron ‘A Run for His Money’

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the Bloomberg Markets magazine that the 2010 elections in the UK “would have been tighter” if he had been the Labour candidate pitted against current Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. “Frankly, if I’d had a fourth election, I would have given Cameron a run for his money”, he said. “I’m not saying I would have won, but it would have been tighter than it was.” Blair had by that time stepped down in favour of his former chancellor, Gordon Brown, who had reportedly pressured the prime minister to step down as Labour leader. Blair’s 10 years in office were reportedly characterised by sometimes acrimonious disputes. Brown went on to take Labour to its lowest share of the vote since 1983, with 29 percent of the electorate and a net loss of 91 seats. Although the Conservatives’ gains were not enough to give them a clear majority, they took power after entering into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

Weekend Read: Medical Emergencies at 40,000 Feet

It is estimated that a medical event of some sort occurs once for every 10,000 to 40,000 passengers on intercontinental flights. Airline systems are woefully underprepared to deal with these situations and changes need to be made. In the Atlantic.

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