For the night of 9 October 2013
North Korea: Ski resort update. North Korea is scheduled to open its first multi-million dollar ski resort on Thursday, 10 October, complete with ski runs, ski lifts, resort chalets and sleigh rides.
Comment: Reports from the resort area indicate it is far from ready for an opening. News images from September show shells of buildings still under construction and describe poor roads and other infrastructure. The two ski lifts under construction were described as basic. And snowfall is still two months away.
In the North Korean communist way of doing things, however, every major project is completed ahead of schedule officially, even if it is never completed in fact.
China-North Korea: A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry fielded the following question about North Korea's activation of the Yongbyon reactor and provided the official response.
"Q: It is reported that the ROK has recently confirmed that the DPRK has restarted the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The United States, Japan, and the ROK are holding a joint naval exercise on 10 October. The DPRK claims that the tension on the peninsula is escalating again, and the KPA commander has issued an emergency order demanding that the units be in a state of awaiting orders. How does China comment on the present situation on the peninsula?
"A: China has all along persisted in achieving denuclearization of the peninsula, in preserving peace and stability there, and in resolving the DPRK nuclear issue through dialogue and consultation; this stance is clear-cut. Achieving denuclearization of the peninsula and preserving peace and stability there accord with the common interests of all parties, and joint efforts are required from all parties. In the previous period, under the joint efforts of all parties, some signs of easing and positive factors appeared in the peninsula situation, which all parties should cherish."
"We appeal to all parties concerned to focus on the overall picture, maintain coolness and restraint, do more things that help to ease the situation, maintain the momentum of dialogue and engagement, and create conditions for giving impetus to an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and bringing the DPRK nuclear issue into a trustworthy and sustainable dialogue process."
Comment: The answer repeated the standard Chinese position. The one departure is the reference to "the previous period," which seems to imply that the Chinese judge a new period has begun.
Pakistan: Security. Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud told the press in a recent interview that he is open to "serious talks" with the government, but says he has not yet been approached. Mehsud said: "We believe in serious talks but the government has taken no steps to approach us. The government needs to sit with us, then we will present our conditions. The proper way to do it is that if the government appoints a formal team, and they sit with us, and we discuss our respective positions."
Mehsud said he would guarantee the security of any government negotiators.
Comment: The interview with Mehsud apparently occurred before Prime Minister Sharif's recent formal overture to the Pakistani Taliban. He is the senior most Pakistani Taliban leader to comment on talks, but even he cannot ensure compliance by all the anti-government militant groups and tribal factions. Nevertheless, it is a positive statement and good news for Sharif.
Politics. The Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted a bail plea from former President Musharraf in connection with the murder of Akbar Bugti, which Musharraf is accused of ordering. The Court found there was insufficient evidence to hold Musharraf without bail.
Comment: Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was a nationalist leader of the Baluch tribe who advocated increased autonomy for Baluchistan and a fairer distribution of proceeds from extractive industries in Baluchistan. He was killed in an explosion in a cave, where he had taken refuge, on 26 August 2006 during a military crackdown ordered by Musharraf who was president and army chief at the time.
Musharraf is also involved in two other cases before the Supreme Court, namely the Benazir Bhutto murder case and the Judges Detention Case. He had been granted bail in both cases.
The Court denied a bail request in the Bugti case on 27 September, but a key witness against Musharraf failed to show up to show up to give testimony today.
This looks like a political fix that will let Musharraf leave his villa near Islamabad where he has been under supervised house arrest for more than six months. Facing charges for capital offenses, he is not likely to stay in Pakistan.
Egypt: The state-run news agency MENA reported today that the Cairo Appeals Court set 4 November as the first hearing in the trial of deposed president Mursi and 14 Muslim Brotherhood leaders for instigating violence, thuggery and killing in the precincts of Al-Ittihadiyah Palace on 5 December 2012.
Mursi faces charges of instigating his supporters to carry out premeditated murder crimes and to use force against peaceful protesters. The 23rd circuit of the North Cairo Criminal Court will have jurisdiction.
According to prosecution investigations, Mursi asked the commander of the republican guard and the then interior minister to break up protesters who gathered outside the palace to denounce his constitutional declaration assuming dictatorial powers on his own authority. .
In addition to Mursi, the list of defendants includes, the deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party Isam al-Iryan; the former deputy head of the presidential cabinet As'ad Shihah; the former head of the president's office Ahmad Abd-al-Ati; the former presidential adviser Ayman Abd-al-Ra'uf; the secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party Muhammad al-Biltaji and Muslim preacher Wajdi Ghunaym.
They are charged with instigating violence against Mursi opponents outside the presidential palace on 5 December. After two officials refused to use force to disperse the protesters, three of the former presidential advisers called MB supporters and ordered them to use violence against the protesters, remove their sit in tents and set fire to them
Investigations also showed that Al-Biltaji, Ghunaym and Al-Iryan have instigated violence against the protesters in the media. They are charged with possessing weapons, terrifying peaceful citizens and forcibly holding 54 protesters and torturing them.
Eight of the defendants are on the run, including Al-Iryan
Comment: Mursi and the Brotherhood overreached, partly through the excessive exuberance of his aides, subordinates and supporters. Mursi will be the second president of Egypt to be tried as tried as a criminal. The criminal charges against the individuals reinforce the judicial ban of the Muslim Brotherhood as a criminal organization.
End of NightWatch for 9 October.
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