Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev met Kim Jong-il in Siberia in 2011 on one of the reclusive leader’s last foreign trips. Photograph: Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images
Story 1: Russia Writes off $11 Billion of North Korean Debt
Thanks to Virgina
Russia will ‘forgive’ 90% of debt and reinvest $1bn in debt-for-aid plan to develop energy, health care and educational projects
By Miriam Elder in Moscow, The Guardian – September 18, 2012
Russia has agreed to write off nearly all of the $11bn debt accrued by North Korea during Soviet times as the Kremlin seeks to boost ties with its reclusive neighbour’s new leader, Kim Jong-un.
Russia will “forgive” 90% of the debt and reinvest $1bn as part of a debt-for-aid plan to develop energy, health care and educational projects in North Korea, Sergei Storchak, Russia’s deputy finance minister, told state media on Tuesday. The debt deal was reached on Monday, he said.
The agreement came following years of hard wrangling over Pyongyang’s Soviet-era debt, a factor that hindered further investment in the strategically located state.
Negotiations were revived after Dmitry Medvedev, the former president, who is now prime minister, met North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il, father of Kim Jong-un, in Siberia last summer on one of the reclusive leader’s last foreign trips. The elder Kim died in December. His son is being closely watched for signs that will open up the impoverished nation.
“This is an important serious step that will ease and expand the possibilities for further economic and trade co-operation,” said Alexander Vorontsov, a North Korea expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, who served at Moscow’s embassy in Pyongyang at the turn of the century. Storchak visited the country in May.
Vorontsov said the debt deal was a sign the North Korean leadership was evolving. “This shows that the intelligentsia and leadership in North Korea are adapting to a market economy – with, by the way, Russia’s help,” he said. “It’s also a sign of political will from Russia.”
The deal comes as Moscow looks to boost its economic presence in Asia amid falling demand from the crisis-hit economies of the west. Analysts said infrastructure investments, including rail and electricity, would probably form the bulk of Russia’s re-investment in the country.
The deal announcement came on the heels of Moscow’s hosting of an Asia-Pacific economic summit in the far eastern city of Vladivostok that highlighted Russia’s turn eastward. The Kremlin has said it hopes to double the share of its total exports going to the Asia-Pacific region.
Vorontsov said: “The development of the Asia-Pacific region is in our economic interests. If before, we talked about our potential to direct our oil and gas there when we needed to strengthen our negotiating position with the Europeans, now there are practical deals.
“Russia’s turn to east Asia, especially in the spheres of infrastructure and energy, means the importance of the Korean peninsula will only grow.”
He said the debt deal would pave the way for Russian plans to build a gas pipeline to South Korea via the north, which Kim Jong-il preliminarily signed on to during his meeting with Medvedev last summer.
Few analysts see the deal as realistic, however, as the two Koreas technically remain in a state of war.
By Jerome Roos, roarmnag.org – September 18, 2012
Aiming to spark a “mass upsurge of debt resistance”, the Strike Debt campaign is one of the most promising initiatives to have emerged out of Occupy to date.
On Monday, Occupy Wall Street celebrated its first birthday. As thousands descended upon Lower Manhattan and poured back into Zuccotti Park, home to the protest camp of last year, an interesting buzz has been doing the rounds in the media and blogosphere on where the movement currently stands — and where it might be headed in the future.
Predictably, those on the right claim that Occupy is dead, while those on the left maintain that it’s only barely begun.
It’s all a familiar ideological gainsaying that will ultimately do very little to change the predicament in which we find ourselves.
Whether Occupy is dead or not, the goal should be neither the revival nor the survival of the movement in its old form — the point is to perpetually keep evolving, devising new forms of action to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Interestingly, this is precisely what appears to have happened over the summer.
In a fascinating article for a special “occupied” edition of The Nation, Astra Taylor writes how organizers in the Occupy movement have been actively laying the groundwork for the emergence of a nationwide debt resistance movement.
While the issue of debt has prominently featured in the background of the Occupy protests as one of the key grievances of the 99%, it has so far not been explicitly connected with the aims of the movement as such. That is changing.
This weekend, as protesters returned to Wall Street, a group of activists distributed over 5,000 copies of an enticing new 132-page manifesto: The Debt Resistor’s Operations Manual. According to its anonymous collective of authors, organized through the Strike Debt platform, the Manual “aims to provide specific tactics for understanding and fighting against the debt system so that we can all reclaim our lives and our communities.”
Continue reading this story here: http://roarmag.org/2012/09/occupy-strike-debt-resistance-operations-manual/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed:+roarmag+(Reflections+on+a+Revolution)
Thanks also to reader Jude for gathering these links to a variety of other stories – some from earlier this year – below: