World View: China 'Annexes' North Korea and Claims 'Ownership'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • Israel in political crisis over ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab draftee exemptions
  • Russian backlash blocks military draftees from the North Caucasus
  • Anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam chant 'Paracels-Vietnam, Spratlys-Vietnam'
  • China 'annexes' North Korea and claims 'ownership'
  • Greece to announce privatizations and asset sales
  • Kofi Annan says his Syria peace plans have failed
  • World is not ending on December 21, 2012, despite Mayan calendar

Israel in political crisis over ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab draftee exemptions

Ultra-orthodox Jews demand demand continued exemption from the draft
Ultra-orthodox Jews demand demand continued exemption from the draft

At Israel's founding in 1948, about 400 exemplary seminary students were exempted from military service to pursue full-time, subsidized biblical studies. Today that number has grown to about 100,000 full-time Torah learners of draft age, making up about 10% of Israel's eligible draftees in what many people are calling a welfare program. Ultra-orthodox Jews defend their exemptions by claiming that their prayers are necessary for the survival of Israel. Arab Israelis have also been exempted, and they defend their exemptions by claiming that they are treated as second-class citizens in Israel. But now a political crisis has been triggered when Israel's High Court struck down the so-called Tal Law, which provides for national service exemptions for ultra-0rthodox Jews and Arab Israelis. The government has appointed a committee to draft a new law, but it will to deal with competing demands from secularists and nationalists who want everyone drafted, and ultra-Orthodox and Arab activists who want to keep their special exemptions. AP and AFP

Russian backlash blocks military draftees from the North Caucasus

Several attempts by Russian military officials to include military conscripts from Russia's mostly Muslim southern (North Caucasus) provinces have been prevented by mutual xenophobia between ethnic Russians and North Caucasians. Conscripts from Chechnya have been drafted for military units in Chechnya itself, but plans to draft Chechens into the main Russian military have been blocked by scandals and a backlash by ethnic Russians, including mothers concerned about the possible persecution of their children by Russian officers who had fought in Chechnya. Some indigenous North Caucasian groups are still being drafted, but that's expected to end as well. Russia is having serious problems keeping its army staffed because Russia’s demographic growth faces rapid decline. On the other hand, since indigenous Caucasians are not being drafted, the manpower pool for the insurgents is increasing. Jamestown

Anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam chant 'Paracels-Vietnam, Spratlys-Vietnam'

Relations between China and Vietnam continue to deteriorate quickly over competing claims to the South China Sea. China has been building up its military pursuant to its claim to have full sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including areas historically belonging to other countries. Vietnamese government officials permitted hundreds of protesters to march through the center of Hanoi on Sunday, waving banners and changing "Paracels-Vietnam, Spratlys-Vietnam," referring the two major island groups in the South China Sea, referred to as Xisha and Nansha, respectively, by the Chinese. Bangkok Post

China 'annexes' North Korea and claims 'ownership'

A report indicates that China has told South Korea that it will not allow the unification of North and South Korea under a democratic government. North Korea will remain under Chinese "influence." If necessary China will send in troops to set up a North Korean government that will faithfully follow orders from China. In an effort to dampen some of the anger in South Korea, the United States, and Japan, China would maintain North Korea as a separate entity, and not a new province of China. China wants no misunderstanding about who "owns" North Korea. Strategy Page

Greece to announce privatizations and asset sales

In an attempt to get eurozone agreement on postponing painful new austerity measures, Greece's new government, led by Antonis Samaras, will announce as many as 28 privatizations to a Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Monday. The expected proposed privatizations include the state natural gas, water and betting companies, as well as regional airports and ports, valued at tens of billions of euros. However, Alexis Tsipras, head of the left-wing opposition party Syriza, criticized the privatization agenda, saying, "The prime minister’s policy statement was nothing more than a ‘for sale sign’ put on Greece. The government will have to account for its actions, the looting of public goods." Kathimerini and Kathimerini

Kofi Annan says his Syria peace plans have failed

Kofi Annan has admitted something that's been obvious almost from day one -- that his six-point "peace plan" for Syria has failed. Indeed, as we've said repeatedly, the plan may actually have increased the violence, as it never did anything more than provide a fig leaf behind which Syria's president Bashar al-Assad could stand while continuing full-scale slaughter of innocent Sunni Arabs, with the enthusiastic support of Russia and Iran. Annan visited Damascus on Sunday to talk with Assad, for whatever reason. Day Press News (Syria)

World is not ending on December 21, 2012, despite Mayan calendar

There have been numerous stories that the world would end on December 21, 2012, based on predictions by the Maya civilization centuries ago. However, a recent analysis of the Mayan calendar shows that those who infer a prediction of the end of the world later this year have confused the calendars of two different civilizations -- the Aztecs and the Mayans. The conclusion is that the world will NOT end on December 21 of this year, after all. Scientific American

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