South Korea spy agency ‘overhaul’ amid forgery row

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in file image from 24 March 2014

Picture and story from BBC, for more detailed attribution visit @Graffiti


President Park Geun-hye said the case had exposed “wrong practices” within the National Intelligence Service.

NIS chief Nam Jae-joon promised a “bone-crushing overhaul” of the agency.

The NIS is accused of falsifying documents, including Chinese immigration records, to prosecute a North Korean defector.

On Monday one of the agency’s deputy heads, Suh Cheon-ho, resigned to take responsibility for the case. -Read more

A Point of View: Casting the vote in India and Afghanistan


It’s a surprisingly short flight from Delhi to Kabul. Within 90 minutes – far less than it takes to get to either Mumbai or Kolkata – you are a world away from the green tree-lined avenues of Lutyens’ Delhi, and you find yourself surrounded instead by the dusty concrete blast walls, the razor wire and the sandbagged checkpoints of the perennially tense and occasionally violent Afghan capital.

There might seem at first to be nothing to link these two disparate places. India, after all, is a poster-boy post-Colonial success story: the largest democracy in the world, widely perceived as a superpower-in-waiting, famous for its software genii, its Bollywood babes,-Read more

Ukraine says it launched ‘anti-terrorist operation’ in eastern city

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Gunmen seize police station in Ukraine

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Ukrainian security forces launched an operation on Sunday to clear pro-Russian separatists from a police headquarters in the eastern city of Slaviansk, an official said, with Kiev reporting one dead.

However a CNN crew in the city saw no sign of a large presence of Ukrainian security forces nor any confrontation with the occupiers.

Gunmen dressed in camouflage had stormed and seized the police building a day earlier in Slaviansk,-Read more

Dave’s donors and the Moscow connection

Cartoon and story from: Private Eye

NO WONDER David Cameron has been slow to follow President Obama’s call for economic sanctions “imposing a cost on Russia” over Ukraine: not only does he have to worry about the City’s enthusiasm for Russian money, but Putin-friendly businessmen are among his party’s biggest donors.-Read more

Health Secretary Resigns After Woes of

Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Credit Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Credit Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.

The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, persuade a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall.-Read more

See also the website that caused so much storm:

Real State Of Turkmen Medical Care A Far Cry From Official Images

In a dramatic U-turn, Niyazov’s successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov — who came to power in late 2006 and is himself a dentist by profession — has been investing tens of millions of dollars to improve and modernize the reclusive nation’s beleaguered health-care sector.
The revamp included an annual Month of Health and Sports, which is currently under way in Turkmenistan and has thousands of people throughout the country taking long walks in parks and participating in compulsory physical fitness classes at their workplaces.-Read more

A new foreign policy agenda


Unfortunately, in all the party manifestoes released so far, the weakest sections are on foreign policy. Most parties merely repeat the homilies and ideological positions of the past. The Congress manifesto, for instance, says: “We will continue to support the goodwill nurtured for decades amongst socialist countries”––a sentence that might have been crafted in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980, but which makes no sense today. The BJP seeks to blend, not very coherently, soft power: the task of “reviving” Brand India (on the strength of Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology) with the suggestion of a muscular foreign policy -Read more