Leftnews.org | News and Views from the Left

by Editors — last modified 2017-07-05T10:43:19-04:00
Contributors: Faiz Ahmed, JBB, Graham H. Cox, R. Dubois, JA Cox
The best of the political left-wing from around the web.

In the court of Kim Jong-un: a ruthless, bellicose despot, but not mad | The Guardian

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Sep 08, 2017 12:37 PM
"But an obsession with weapons of mass destruction is only part of the story. Having abandoned his predecessors’ ideological devotion to a state-planned economy, Kim has allowed markets to operate, ushering in a construction boom in Pyongyang. Cross-border trade with China has flourished and rules have been relaxed to allow North Koreans to earn much-needed hard currency overseas. He has pursued a policy known as byungjin – or parallel advance – that calls for the country’s nuclear programme to be developed in tandem with the economy. By developing a nuclear deterrent, the reasoning goes, the regime can spend money saved on expensive conventional weapons to improve living standards. There are signs the approach is working. North Korea’s economy grew 3.9% in 2016, the fastest pace in 17 years, according to South Korea’s central bank."

Election 2016's price tag: $6.8 billion | CBS

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Sep 06, 2017 09:32 PM
"Americans who are running for federal elective offices spent more than ever -- about $6.8 billion -- in that pursuit, including the nastiest presidential election in recent memory, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. That’s more than what consumers spend on cereal ($6 billion), pet grooming ($5.4 billion) and legal marijuana ($5.4 billion). The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics estimates spending on the Clinton-Trump contest at more than $2.65 billion, actually down a bit from $2.76 billion in 2012 when Democratic incumbent Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney."

Venezuelan opposition pins hopes on elections as protests falter | Reuters

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Sep 05, 2017 08:54 PM
"Most opposition leaders say October’s elections for governors in all the country’s 23 states now represent the best means to keep pressuring Maduro, providing a chance to win some of the governorships at stake and an opportunity for a protest vote to demonstrate the president’s unpopularity. The opposition, which boycotted the elections for the Constituent Assembly, accused electoral authorities of inflating turn-out figures for the July 30 vote. ... However, some who spent months on the streets with the encouragement of opposition leaders, especially young members of a self-styled “Resistance” movement, feel betrayed. They say turning attention so quickly to the election legitimizes what they view as Maduro’s authoritarianism and insults the memory of slain protesters. They also see a contradiction with the opposition’s decision to boycott July’s vote for the Constituent Assembly."

IS convoy stranded in Syria desert after US bombing | BBC

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Sep 02, 2017 10:20 AM
"The hundreds of fighters recently surrendered an enclave on Syria's border with Lebanon. They agreed with Hezbollah and the Syrian government that they would leave with their families and head eastwards. But the coalition says it and Iraq were not part of the deal and on Wednesday bombed the road ahead of the convoy. ... Lebanese, Syrian and Hezbollah forces agreed ceasefires with IS militants last week days after attacking the jihadists' final foothold in the Lebanon-Syria border area. More than 300 militants and their families were allowed to leave for Albu Kamal, a town in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zour that is 6km (4 miles) from the Iraqi border."

Hounding of the North Korean diaspora in Japan | The Guardian

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Sep 02, 2017 10:13 AM
"Of the estimated 600,000 Korean residents of Japan – many of them the descendants of the tens of thousands of people forcibly brought to Japan as labourers before and during the second world war – about 150,000 claim to be loyal to the North Korean regime. They send their children to schools affiliated with Chongryon – a residents’ association that serves as North Korea’s de facto embassy – where they follow the regime’s curriculum and study in classrooms adorned with portraits of the Kim dynasty. ... Resentment towards the North Korean community rose again after Pyongyang began testing nuclear weapons just over a decade ago, and intensified after Kim Jong-un accelerated the regime’s quest to build long-range ballistic missiles. Zaitokukai and other far-right groups held demonstrations in Korean neighbourhoods in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities, with activists describing Koreans as “cockroaches” and urging them to die or “go home”."
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