Mon

09

Dec

2013

Party: Ukraine Police Storm Opposition Headquarters

With purge of own uncle, NKorean leader sends chilling warning: No one is beyond party's reach

An opposition spokeswoman says troops entered the central headquarters of the Fatherland party Monday evening, breaking down doors and seizing computer equipment. The Kyiv police deny the claim. The allegations came as hundreds of police, in full riot gear, took up positions across the capital including the city's Independence Square, the focal point of the demonstrations. Riot police began dismantling barricades erected outside of some government buildings by demonstrators. Protesters were under a court-ordered deadline to disperse from the city offices or face ejection. No clashes were reported. Ukrainian dusty rose bridesmaid dresses opposition leader Vitaliy Klitschko called on police to restrain from using force, describing the situation as being "stretched like a string" and capable of switching toward either side. "We are calling upon the law enforcement to restrain from using force against peaceful demonstrators. The result of this can be upsetting, not just regarding the beating of protesters, but resulting disturbance within all of society," said Klitschko. Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he hoped police would allow food and emergency services to get through to protesters camped in Independence Square. "Right now the police major promised to open a corridor. If not, it will be bad," he said. The European Union has called for the Ukrainian government to show restraint, saying Europe has "the right and the duty" to support protesters. The deployment of riot police came as Yanukovych agreed to talks with three former Ukrainian presidents in an effort to defuse the crisis over his refusal to sign a long-anticipated EU trade deal in favor of closer ties to Russia. Russia has exerted strong economic pressure on cash-strapped Kyiv to discourage the EU deal. Russia is Ukraine's largest foreign investor, trading partner and chief natural gas supplier. Moscow is seeking to form a trade bloc of former Soviet republics and satellite countries. Earlier this year, it imposed restrictions on goods from Ukraine, cutting Ukrainian exports 25 percent and dragging the country into recession. Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters. Check out our latest Storify snapshots of protests in Ukraine:
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.voanews.com/content/ukraines-yanukovych-backs-talks-with-opposition/1806387.html

2 power, saying corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and generally leading a "dissolute and depraved life" had caused Pyongyang's highest-profile fall from grace since Kim took power two years ago. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)The Associated Press People watch a TV news program at Seoul Railway Station, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 showing Jang Song Thaek, center, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, being grabbed during an emergency meeting of Workers Party's Central Committee in Pyongyang the day before. North Korea announced Monday it had sacked leader Jang, long considered the country's No. 2 power, saying corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and generally leading a "dissolute and depraved life" had caused Pyongyang's highest-profile fall from grace since Kim took power two years ago. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)The Associated Press People watch a TV news program at Seoul Railway Station, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 showing Jang Song Thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, being grabbed during an emergency meeting of Workers Party's Central Committee in Pyongyang the day before. North Korea announced Monday it had sacked leader Jang, long considered the country's No. 2 power, saying corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and generally leading a "dissolute and depraved life" had caused Pyongyang's highest-profile fall from grace since Kim took power two years ago. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)The Associated Press FILE - In this Dec. 28, 2011 file photo, North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, front center, is followed by his uncle Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, as he salutes beside the hearse carrying the body of his late father North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during the funeral procession in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, acknowledged the purge of leader Kim Jong Un's influential uncle for alleged corruption, drug use, gambling and a long list of other "anti-state" acts, apparently ending the career of the country's second most powerful official. The young North Korean leader will now rule without the relative long considered his mentor as he consolidated power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, File) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITThe Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2012 file photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Jang Song Thaek, North Korea's vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, attends the third meeting on developing the economic zones in North Korea, in Beijing. North Korea on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, acknowledged the purge of leader Kim Jong Un's influential uncle for alleged corruption, drug use, gambling and a long list of other "anti-state" acts, apparently ending the career of the country's second most powerful official. The young North Korean leader will now rule without the relative long considered his mentor as he consolidated power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Xin, File) NO SALESThe Associated Press Next Slide Previous Slide SEOUL, South Korea While the rest of North Korea's top brass leaped to their feet before Kim Jong Un, clapping wildly in a requisite show of respect at high-level meetings, his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, often seemed nonchalant, at times even bored. Once considered the force behind the young leader, he displayed a bold insouciance that seemed calculated to show he was beyond reach. So by purging his own uncle, Kim has delivered a more chilling message: No one is beyond the rule of law, not even family. Jang's fall from grace, accompanied by allegations from corruption to womanizing and capped by his dramatic arrest at a party meeting Sunday, has no doubt spooked Pyongyang's elite. It also suggests Kim is still trying to consolidate the power he inherited from his father two years ago. This is far from Kim's first purge. Several defense ministers and army chiefs have been replaced as the Workers' Party has asserted control over the military after 17 years of military-first rule under late leader Kim Jong Il. But it is the ouster of Jang, who had been considered North Korea's second-most-powerful figure, that sends the strongest signal to anyone seeking to challenge Kim Jong Un. Jang, 67, had occupied a privileged and yet precarious spot within the inner circle. He is the husband of Kim Kyong Hui, the only daughter of late President Kim Il Sung, younger sister to Kim Jong Il and aunt to Kim Jong Un. Jang was seen as a regent figure as Kim Jong Un was being groomed to succeed his father. He rose in party and military ranks alongside his baby-faced nephew, often dressed in a trim white general's uniform and standing within arm's length of Kim on field visits and at state events. In 2012, he led a business delegation to China to discuss the construction of special economic zones. He also served as chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, which oversees many of Kim Jong Un's pet projects. Last week, South Korea's spy agency gave the first public word that Jang may have been dismissed. It said he had not been seen publicly in weeks and his two closest confidants executed. North Korean state media has not confirmed the executions, but on Monday it made vividly clear that Jang is out. Images aired on state TV showed him being stripped of all his titles at Sunday's party meeting led by Kim. Premier Pak Pong Ju was in tears as he denounced his longtime friend. This time, there was no white general's uniform: Jang was dressed in civilian wear and sitting in the audience, not with the rest of the leadership. Party members watched impassively, barely flinching or raising an eyebrow, as two burly men grabbed Jang. State media laid out a laundry list of Jang's alleged transgressions, including instigating party dissent and squandering party funds on drugs, gambling and women. He was branded "depraved" for living a "capitalist" lifestyle. North Koreans sometimes "disappear" for re-education and re-emerge later, and Jang has been purged before. He dropped out of sight for a few years in the mid-2000s, reportedly for going too far with fledgling economic reforms under Kim Jong Il. But Monday's pillorying was unprecedented, and a startling show for a regime that typically keeps its internal politics secret. Privately, few among North Korea's elite would be shocked by Jang's alleged behavior in "back parlors of deluxe restaurants," as described in state media. Korea has a rich tradition of aristocratic misbehavior, and that culture of "wining and dining," preferably with a pretty woman who is not your wife pouring your drinks, persists in both South and North Korea even today. But Monday's announcement in state media also hinted that Jang was trying to challenge the party status quo. It said he committed anti-party, counterrevolutionary acts and "pretended to uphold the party and leader" while double-dealing behind the scenes. By publicly punishing Jang, Kim is warning Pyongyang's elites that loyalty to him is the only loyalty that matters: The dispatch said the purge would extend to supporters of Jang but did not provide details. Jang's expulsion raises the question of what will happen to his Jang's wife, Kim Kyong Hui. As the sole remaining offspring of North Korea's founder, she is a key figure in a leadership hierarchy that stresses the Kim family bloodlines in their claim to legitimacy. North Koreans and foreign observers will be keeping close watch for her appearance at memorials marking the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death Dec. 17. The purge of Jang also calls into question how aggressively North Korea will push forward on the ambitious economic projects that he championed. The excoriation of Jang's business dealings is a sign that the leadership is uncomfortable with the loss of state control that may come with economic growth. The incident also reveals the internal instability in North Korea despite the regime's efforts to display an image of unity. Since Kim took power, the party has portrayed him as a leader who cares about the people. He has ordered the construction of parks, swimming pools and skating rinks. The supply of heat and electricity has improved, at least in Pyongyang. Food is more plentiful. He also rails regularly against corruption and laziness, and has called national meetings of key agencies in a bid to restore order. Those efforts have strengthened the intricate web of laws governing how North Koreans live and the punishment for those who break them. Despite Jang's ouster, foreigners in Pyongyang said it appeared to be business as usual Monday.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/09/with-purge-own-uncle-nkorean-leader-sends-chilling-warning-no-one-is-beyond/

Party Celebrates Washington Pot Anniversary

Marijuana activist Ben Livingston said it took him three months to persuade city officials to grant him a permit for the party marking the anniversary of the day the legal pot law took effect. It began at 4:20 p.m., with a line of people streaming into a big tent that quickly filled with a marijuana haze. Partygoers wished each other a happy anniversary and chanted, "Thank you, Washington!" Jay Zozh, who moved to the state less than a month ago, marveled as the crowd passed around a footlong joint. "If we were all in Texas, we'd be arrested and charged with felonies," he said. The free event, capacity 999, was set up behind a double perimeter fence at Seattle Center, with the pot smoking blocked from public view. Hundreds were expected to attend throughout the event. "I want to make the point that cannabis consumers are good people, and we should be treated equally with other people when trying to utilize city facilities," Livingston said. The party was being held near Key Arena, where Pearl Jam was ending a North American tour, and Livingston extended an open invitation to the band's fans to swing by on their way to or from the show. The Winterfest holiday lighting celebration, a Pacific Northwest Ballet performance of the Nutcracker, and a Seattle Children's Theatre staging of "James and the Giant Peach" were also taking place Friday night at the Seattle Center campus. Those events didn't jibe so well with a big pot party, according to some drug abuse prevention groups. Nine people sent a letter to the Seattle Center, the City Council and the mayor, asking the event be canceled. Among the signatories were Dr. Leslie R. Walker, chief of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital, and Derek Franklin, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. "Seattle Center is a poor location for the party considering it takes place during Winterfest, a family-friendly event, and among popular venues that cater to children and their families," the letter said. Livingston responded by noting that the family-friendly Winterfest has a beer tent, which no one protested. Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust said the pot party was permitted by the city, and it's the center's role to help ensure it's a success. The party featured several informational vendors who helped to offset the party's estimated $11,000 cost, but Livingston hoped to recoup the rest of the balance through poster sales and donations.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/party-celebrates-washington-pot-anniversary-21130886

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