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Two Koreas hold rare high-level talks

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To ease sky-high military tensions on the divided peninsula,North and South Korea were set to hold rare, high-level talks today, with each side looking to wrestle concessions from the other on stalled cross-border programmes in which both their leaders have a political stake.
The vice minister-level dialogue, held in the Kaesong joint industrial zone on the North Korean side of the border, is the fruit of crisis talks in August.

The last such sit-down, with the mandate to discuss a range of inter-Korean issues, took place nearly two years ago.

“The outcome this time could have a significant impact on the path the overall inter-Korea relationship takes next year,” said Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think-tank in Seoul.

Although any talks between the two Koreas are welcomed as a positive step, precedent suggests any significant breakthrough is unlikely.

Previous efforts to establish a regular dialogue have tended to falter rapidly after an initial meeting – a reflection of the deep mistrust between two countries that have remained technically at war since the end of the 1950-53 Korean conflict.

One effort to resume the high-level talks in June 2013 collapsed before they even began, after the North took offence at the rank of the chief delegate nominated by Seoul.

Due to head the South’s side at today’s talks was Hwang Boo-Gi, deputy head of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles cross-border affairs. His counterpart was Jon Jong-Su, a vice director of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

There was no set agenda, but both sides have clear, if not necessarily complementary priorities.

The cash-strapped North wants the South to resume lucrative tours to its scenic Mount Kumgang resort, which Seoul suspended in 2008 after a female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard.

Restarting the tours would be a useful propaganda victory for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, as well as providing a source of much-needed hard revenue.

“Kim needs to shower party and political officials with gifts and boast (about) national wealth to his people,” said Nam Sung-Wook, professor of North Korean Studies at Korea University.

“He also needs cash to complete a batch of recent and on-going construction projects.”

South Korea, meanwhile, wants the North to agree to regular reunions for families separated by the Korean War.

Currently the reunions are being held less than once a year and with only a very limited number of participants – despite a huge waiting list of largely elderly South Koreans desperate to see their relatives in the North before they die

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Facebook, Twitter remove Trump clip over Covid misinformation

This is the first time Facebook removed a post by Trump for violating its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

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Trump travel ban

San Francisco, Aug 6 : Facebook and Twitter have removed a video clip from an interview in which US President Donald Trump claimed children were “almost immune” to coronavirus.

The social media platforms said the statement by the US President made during the interview to Fox News violated their rules related to Covid-19 misinformation.

While Facebook removed the clip posted by the President, Twitter briefly suspended a Trump campaign Twitter account, @TeamTrump, for tweeting the video clip which contained the same claim.

The Trump campaign Twitter account became active again after the tweet with the clip was apparently removed.

“This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by the BBC.

This is the first time Facebook removed a post by Trump for violating its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

A Twitter spokesperson said that the tweet by @TeamTrump was in “violation of the Twitter Rules on Covid-19 misinformation”.

However, the microblogging platform, which is facing allegations of being biased against conservative politicians, earlier determined that a post by billionaire Elon Musk which suggested that children were “essentially immune” to coronavirus did not violate its rules.

Studies have shown that while children can get the disease, their risk of suffering serious complications due to the disease is lower compared to adults.

This was not the first time Twitter took action on a Trump post.

In May, Twitter labelled two Trump tweets that made false claims about mail-in ballots in California.

Facebook also removed a Trump campaign ad featuring a symbol used by Nazis for political dissenters, saying the ad violated its policies.

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5 things to know as Hiroshima marks 75th A-bomb anniversary

The city of Hiroshima in western Japan is marking the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing

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The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

HIROSHIMA, Japan — The city of Hiroshima in western Japan marks the 75th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear attack on Thursday.

Three days after its Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II and, more broadly, its aggression toward Asian neighbors that had lasted nearly half a century.

Here’s a look at that day in Hiroshima 75 years ago.

Q. Why was Hiroshima chosen as a target?

A. Hiroshima was a major Japanese military hub with factories, military bases and ammunition facilities. Historians say the United States picked it as a suitable target because of its size and landscape, and carefully avoided fire bombing the city ahead of time so American officials could accurately assess the impact of the atomic attack. The United States said the bombings hastened Japan’s surrender and prevented the need for a U.S. invasion of Japan. Some historians today say Japan was already close to surrendering, but there is still debate in the U.S.

Q. What happened in the attack?

A. At 8:15 a.m., the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a 4-ton “Little Boy” uranium bomb from a height of 9,600 meters (31,500 feet) on the city center, targeting the Aioi Bridge. The bomb exploded 43 seconds later, 600 meters (2,000 feet) above the ground. Seconds after the detonation, the estimated temperature was 3,000-4,000 degrees Celsius (5,400-7,200 degrees Fahrenheit) at ground zero. Almost everything within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of ground zero was destroyed by the blast and heat rays. Within one hour, a “black rain” of highly radioactive particles started falling on the city, causing additional radiation exposure.

Q. How many people were killed?

A. An estimated 140,000 people, including those with radiation-related injuries and illnesses, died through Dec. 31, 1945. That was 40% of Hiroshima’s population of 350,000 before the attack. Everyone within a radius of 500 meters (1,600 feet) from ground zero died that day. To date, the total death toll, including those who died from radiation-related cancers, is about 300,000. Hiroshima today has 1.2 million residents.

Q. What effect did radiation have?

A. Many people exposed to radiation developed symptoms such as vomiting and hair loss. Most of those with severe radiation symptoms died within three to six weeks. Others who lived beyond that developed health problems related to burns and radiation-induced cancers and other illnesses. Survivors have a higher risk of developing cataracts and cancer. About 136,700 people certified as “hibakusha,” as victims are called, under a government support program are still alive and entitled to regular free health checkups and treatment. Health monitoring of second-generation hibakusha began recently. Japan’s government provided no support for victims until a law was finally enacted in 1957 under pressure from them.

Q. What are those colorful folded paper cranes for?

A. “Origami” paper cranes can be seen throughout the city. They became a symbol of peace because of a 12-year-old bomb survivor, Sadako Sasaki, who, while battling leukemia, folded paper cranes using medicine wrappers after hearing an old Japanese story that those who fold a thousand cranes are granted one wish. Sadako developed leukemia 10 years after her exposure to radiation at age 2, and died three months after she started the project. Former U.S. President Barack Obama brought four paper cranes that he folded himself when he visited Hiroshima in May 2016, becoming the first serving American leader to visit. Obama’s cranes are now displayed at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

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Hiroshima marks 75th atomic bomb anniversary

Many fear interest in the bombings is fading as they recede beyond the horizon of lived experience and into history.

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75th anniversary of bombing in Hiroshima Nagasaki

Japan on Thursday marked 75 years since the world’s first atomic bomb attack, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a scaling back of ceremonies to remember the victims.

Survivors, relatives and a handful of foreign dignitaries attended this year’s main event in Hiroshima to pray for those killed or wounded in the bombing and call for world peace.

But the general public was kept away, with the ceremony instead broadcast online.

Participants, many of them dressed in black and wearing face masks, offered a silent prayer at exactly 8:15 am (2315 GMT Wednesday), the time the first nuclear weapon used in wartime was dropped over the city.

Speaking afterwards, Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui warned against the nationalism that led to World War II and urged the world to come together to face global threats, like the coronavirus pandemic.

“We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centred nationalism and unite against all threats,” he said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been criticised by some for his attempts to revise a key pacifist clause of the country’s constitution, pledged in his address to “do my best for the realisation of a world without nuclear weapons and peace for all time”.

And UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who addressed the gathering by video message because of the pandemic, warned that “the only way to totally eliminate nuclear risk is to totally eliminate nuclear weapons”.

The bomb attack on Hiroshima killed around 140,000 people, many of them instantly, with others perishing in the weeks and months that followed, suffering radiation sickness, devastating burns and other injuries.

Three days later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, where 74,000 people were killed.

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