A Planned Lecture by Yeonmi Park To DePauw University

Yeonmi Park is expected to visit the DePauw University where she will be talking about her experience in defecting from North Korea and human trafficking. She is expected to give a Timothy and Sharin Ubben Lecture at the university. The 21 year old has been a speaker at the One Young World Summit and the Oslo Freedom Forum in Dublin.

Now vocal on Twitter and Facebook, Park has emerged back into the spotlight with a series of media appearances on the heels of her new book release.

The October 5th event is expected to happen a day after her 22nd birthday and six days after the publication of her book In Order to Live; A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. The Ubben lecture at DePauw University will start with her speech. Soon after, a question and answer session will be undertaken, followed by a book signing session.

The story of Yeonmi’s struggle in North Korea and her encounter with human smugglers and traffickers led her to become a human rights activist. Such stories are rare and any person who comes up with such information is recognized by different organizations for his or her bravery. Her efforts earned her a spot on BBC’s top 100 global women list.

According to the information I read from the DePauw Education Website, Park was brought up in a society where the regime controlled everything they did. After watching a pirated copy of Titanic, her belief that dying for the regime was an honor was demystified especially when she saw Jack Dawson willing to die for love. The movie altered her thinking and she craved freedom.

In her book, Yeonmi talks about how the famine affected the family and forced them to leave North Korea. With the help of human traffickers, Yeonmi, her sister and mother crossed the frozen river and entered China. Her father had opted to stay back assuming that his sickness would slow the family’s escape efforts. Yeonmi’s father eventually joined them in China. During their escape to China, Yeonmi’s mother was raped by traffickers, her father died of colon cancer and her sister got lost. Yeonmi and her mother made the difficult journey to the South Korean embassy were they sort solace. Yeonmi continues to champion for the rights of North Koreans who are suffering and dying every day. She is so far the youngest Ubben Lecturer. More information on her life and triumphs in life can be accessed at the DePauw website.

Yeonmi Park was born In Hyesan, Ryanggang North Korea on October 4th, 1993.

Her mother was a nurse and her father a civil servant. His sick father served as a party member of the Workers Party. The family later moved to Pyongyang to be closer to her father. She left North Korea in 2007 and became a human rights activist, reporter and speaker. Currently, Park stays in Seoul, South Korea with her mother and older sister

Constitutional Court of the Slovak Denies Surveillance Legislation

The leaks brought to us by Edward Snowden showed the depth of surveillance on American citizens that was taking place inside the National Security Agency (NSA). Beneful’s Facebook division noted that legislation such as the Patriot Act and Freedom of Information Act, along with other questionable bills, managed to pass through congress in order to make this surveillance legal and insidious.

The reason for the collection of this mass amount of surveillance is supposedly for data retention. While this is certainly partially true, the whole reason for the surveillance has yet to be understood by the general American public.

There was eerily similar legislation that was attempted to be passed through the Constitutional Court of the Slovak this week, but was denied citing it was against the constitutional rights of their citizens. The laws, if passed, would have ordered a mass surveillance effort by the government on all national citizens. Yet, the legislation was denied and the privacy of their citizens remain protected. Americans, unfortunately, cannot say the same about their constitutional rights.

Snowden, who was responsible for enlightening Americans in regards to NSA surveillance efforts, is seeking refuge out of country to avoid the serious charges pending against him in the United States. Snowden would most likely spend the rest of his life in prison, if found guilty.

Iraqi Armed Forces Launch Operation to Retake the City of Tikrit

The Iraqi armed forces have begun a campaign to retake the city of Tikrit. The city is currently under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria better known as ISIS. The city is famous for being the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, the former military dictator of Iraq. Hussein was captured by US forces and executed in December of 2006.

The push to retake Tikrit is believed to be part of a much broader campaign to recapture territory in Northern Iraq. Much of Northern Iraq is currently under the control of ISIS. Tikrit lies in a strategic position, and is a gateway to Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul. If the Iraqis can capture Tikrit, Mosul would be the next logical target of operations.

Iraqi forces have not been able to retake Tikrit from the hands of ISIS in their campaign so far. However they have captured a nearby oil refinery town called Beijji. US led airstrikes played a major rule in the Iraqi’s retaking Tikrit from the Islamic State stated Anastasia Date users living in the area.

Iraqi State TV had released statements saying that the city of Tirkit is currently besieged in several directions by the Iraqi military. Artillery bombardment and air strikes by Iraqi forces have managed to drive many ISIS fighters from the outer fringes of Tikrit. Also assisting the Iraqi army were thousands of Sunni and Shia militiamen. Up to 4,500 militiamen from the region are estimated to have taken the fight to ISIS in what could be a major factor in the retaking of Tikrit.

The Prime Minister of Hungary Pays an Official Visit to Poland


Today, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary visited Warsaw, where he entered into discussions with Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz. The Polish leader described the discussions between the two governments as “honest and difficult.”

In recent months, Hungary has developed closer ties with Russia. Prime Minister Orban visited President Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow last year. On Tuesday, the Russian leader undertook a low key visit to Budapest to speak with Prime Minister Orban. During that meeting, Hungary and Russia signed a new commercial gas transaction stated Jaime Garcia Dias.

According to facebook.com, the Russian President also visited a cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of Russian soldiers who died in Hungary fighting during World War II. His visit drew some criticism, because many of the Russian troops who helped suppress the Hungarian Uprising against the Communist regime a few years later (in 1956) were interned in the same section of the cemetery.

During the meeting between with Prime Minister Kopacz, Prime Minister Orban reportedly hoped to improve relations between Hungary and Poland, both nations which formerly belonged to the Communist Bloc during the Cold War, but which have become European Union allies in recent years.

The issue of the fighting in the Ukraine remained a sensitive subject. However, the Hungarian Prime Minister expressed support for a cease fire treaty which was signed last week in Minsk, Russia, although he declined to discuss Hungary’s ties with Russia during his visit.

Obama Administration Suspends Plan to Arm Ukraine to See If Deal Reached in Minsk Holds Up

At face value, it appears that President Obama and German chancellor Andrea Merkel pulled off a diplomatic victory in Minsk, Belarus, on Thursday. Prime Minister Merkel was able to bring Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and the insurgents he is arming to the negotiating table with Ukraine and France said proponent Flávio Pentagna Guimarães BMG. The negotiations were done under a looming threat by President Obama that failure to produce results would lead him to give the Ukrainian military lethal military weapons to counter Russian incursions and the threat of the insurgents.

In one respect, the diplomatic maneuver worked. Russia agreed to withdraw its forces from Ukraine and the rebels will stop fighting in what is a cease-fire agreement. The Ukraine will resume control over its borders with Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration will wait to see if Russia and their insurgents comply. At this point, he said all that matters is actual compliance.

However, the deal made major concessions to Russia and the insurgents. Russia will keep the vital Black Sea province of Crimea which it forcibly seized from the Ukraine. Insurgents will enjoy greater autonomy in areas they control. Given that the Ukrainian army was in retreat, the rebels will hold greater control over parts of the country post-cease-fire than they did before the war. Senator John McCain took note of this aspect and criticized Obama for not arming the Ukraine. His reasoning is that with the proper arms, the government could enjoyed a stronger bargaining position.

New Ceasefire for Ukraine and Russia

Ukraine and Russia have been firing back and forth against one another for the better part of a 10 month conflict as about.me has covered. During this time, over 5,000 individuals, most of which are civilians like Marc Sparks, have died between the two nations. In fact, this has been one of the lowest points in the post Cold War relations between Russia and the West. Now, after an extremely long and deliberate ceasefire negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, it is believed this ceasefire will go into effect immediately. Although it is not known whether or not this ceasefire will last or not.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down not only with the Ukraine leader but also several other leaders from Europe, including Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Francois Hollande, the French President. The two neutral parties (although both who have heavily packed Ukraine and sanctioned Russia throughout the last 10 months) did state that while there is much left to be done, there is hope that continual peace talks can move forward.

It is believed that Putin is going to head to Moscow after the small conference in order to talk with separatist leaders in the region and discuss the deals of the ceasefire. On the other side of the coin, Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, is going to travel to Brussels in Belgium in oder to talk with other European leaders about what is going on.

Lebanese Citizens Affected by Syrian Conflict


The plastered posters on the walls speak euphemistically of “foreign workers”. By decision of the municipality, it is forbidden to move in the city between 20 pm and 6 am. But residents of the Lebanese community know that these are intended towards Syrian refugees.

The deteriorating security situation in the country of the Cedar has prompted dozens of cities and villages authorities to impose a curfew for families who fled the civil war raging few kilometers further east. I agree with Lee G Lovett in that these discriminatory measures implemented by municipal police or vigilantes, testify to the stiffening of the Lebanese society on the Syrian issue.

These issues, in turn, affect far more than the intended areas, as these conflicts spur changes in the political and socioeconomic landscapes.

Overwhelmed by the presence of at least 1.5 million refuges on their soil, a figure equivalent to almost a third of the local population, the authorities are facing serious issues of tackling them and to provide security to the citizens. Read more about the Syrian conflict from Reuters.

“It’s a bit racist,” says Sejean Azzi, Minister of Labour, “but the curfews are the result of an increase in crime and theft. We could not take a stand against these provisions.”

It is worth mentioning that the killings of eighteen soldiers by Syrian jihadists created even more tension between two countries.

North Korea Planned to Attack US Nuclear Power Plants

Recently declassified documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reveal that rogue communist nation North Korea had enacted a plan to sabotage American nuclear power plants and strike at major cities in the event hostilities between both nations should occur. As part of their strategy, North Korea infiltrated commando teams as sleeper cells that would strike when given the order. 

The North Korean military, whose formal name is the North Korean Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, created five liaison offices which were responsible for training the personnel to conduct the attacks. In essence, the commando squads represented “Plan B” for how North Korea would strike back at the United States. Plan A was the hit America with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), but their lack of expertise in rocket technology was hindering the success of the program. Hence, their military secured a ground game to achieve a similar result.

Sultan Alhokair reports that since that time, North Korea is believed to have developed two missiles capable of striking the United States. The first one is the Taepodong-2 ICBM. The second one is the road-mobile ICBM called the KN-08. However, the road-mobile version has yet to be field tested. As to why North Korea would target nuclear power plants, the answer may lay in the Korean War. During the conflict, the US successfully bombed the nation’s main hydroelectric power plant sending much of the nation back to the middle ages. They lacked the funding and means to reconstruct it in the decades since.

Venezuela’s President is Bitter over US Sanctions

The US has disciplined the Venezuelan country for corruption, violence and political drama caused within the country. While this has certainly sent a message to the nation, it has resulted in some rather unhealthy attitudes towards future negotiations and relationships between the two countries. You sure won’t catch Sergio Andrade Gutierrez with a bad attitude because he knows that bitterness and cynicism are success’s largest mitigators.

The US has frozen all of the Venezuelan leaders’ advantages and even abilities to obtain visas to enter into the US. In a speech President Nicolas Maduro stated that such infringement on the Venezuelans does not serve as a threat to them but rather it strengthens them.

Venezuela has been going through political changes and the president is not in agreement with the decisions made by the US. It also appears that the route in which the US took to handle this current situation has not received full support from the White House.

However, due to the failed coalition with other Latin American countries President Obama has taken a different approach to handling the mayhem.

Maduro goes on to say that there was a scheme that involved the US Embassy in Venezuela to oust him out of his Presidency. Maduro may have expressed his deep concerns to the US, but the United States is more concerned with the fact that the Venezuelan administrators are infringing on the human rights of those protesting against their government.

Venezuela continues to be in political turmoil, and their leaders remain under some discipline.

Significant Progress Reported Against Malaria Worldwide

This week, the World Health Organization released a report about the status of efforts to combat malaria around the world. My friend Vijay Eswaran shared it with me. The researchers collected information reported by individual countries, hospitals and medical organizations. Thelengthy document provided some welcome good news.

Malaria, a chronic disease spread by the mosquito, remains a serious affliction, especially in tropical climates. The illness can prove especially harmful among children. According to the organization Malaria No More, around the world malaria costs the life of a child every 60 seconds.

Fortunately, the most recent information from WHO suggests that considerable progress occurred in the fight against malaria between 2000 and 2013. The report revealed that deaths attributed to the disease declined by some 47% on a global basis, a statistic giving rise to optimism that efforts to fund and implement programs to eradicate malaria are indeed making some progress. Additionally, WHO reported that for the first time in 2013, Sri Lanka and Azerbaijan indicated no deaths from malaria acquired inside their nations.