The Polifix: 16th – 22nd July

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Rogues States dominate this week’s polifix with Kim III fighting a coup, Assad potentially on his last legs and Iran and Israel having a little war of their own. A naked man and some ice cream also get in with part of the action.

Kim Junior Junior Flexes His Muscles

So not only does Kim Jong-un have a new girlfriend; it seems he has a new title and army to boot in what has been a busy old week for the Supreme Leader.

On Tuesday, news emerged that Kim had stripped General Ri Yong Ho, head of the North Korean military, of all his duties (despite over 53 years of service in the regime). In a brief statement released, the causation for this dismissal was cited as an undefined ‘illness’.

Of course, such a story seemed pretty unlikely – and many experts were unsurprisingly doubtful over the reasoning – with most viewing it as Kim Jong III attempting to assert and consolidate control in what has been the highest-profile leadership change in his 8 months of power. Illness probably wasn’t the best excuse, considering that many people have seen the general looking “healthy” in recent weeks.

The possible purge was then made even more obvious when North Korean state media announced that General Hyon Yong Chio would be promoted to Vice Marshal. Who then would become Marshal? You guessed it, Kim himself has been given the title, giving himself command of the 1.2 million strong North Korean army (a whooping 5% of the entire population and on the receiving end of 25% of the country’s GDP)

Reports have now emerged that a fire-fight broke out between North Korean soldiers and a cluster of guards loyal to Ri Young Ho when they attempted to detain the General. In fact, it is possible the general died in the event, though there has been no official confirmation of this.

An attempted coup? Maybe, but it is North Korea..so well, who really knows?

Bulgarian Bus Bombing

The town of Burgas, Bulgaria, was in shock this week after a suicide attack against a coach carrying Israeli tourists. The bombing – which killed 5 tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and injured another 30 people – comes only 5 months after similar attacks on Israeli embassies in India and Georgia.

It is worrying sign as it continues the tit for tat relationship between the opposing Middle Eastern powers

Israel were quick to blame Iran and the Lebanese Shia militia group Hezbollah (which it sponsors) for the blast (as they did so in February as well); neither party have claimed responsibility, but it is looking increasingly likely that both are to blame.

It is worrying sign as it continues the tit-for-tat relationship between the opposing Middle Eastern powers, with many looking at the bombing as a retaliation for the assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists earlier this year.

The only silver lining is that the two nations are clearly taking out their distrust (and hatred?) out on each other through covert means, rather than all out (possibly nuclear) war.

 Syria Hysteria

I’ve lost track of how many times Syria has been in the polifix, but once again it has to feature considering the continuous magnitude of the conflict.

Indeed, last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross officially declared that Syria is in full-blown civil war; a title that now allows “appropriate force” by parties to achieve their goals (diplomatic mumbo jumbo) as well as create a potential benchmark for future war crime prosecutions.

Other mundane diplomacy stagnated continued with the UN agreeing to extend the observer mission (as it has clearly proved to be so vital); whilst China and Russian vetoed an agreement that would have imposed harsher sanctions on the regime.

On the ground, however, progress has been made as fighting has reached the Syrian capital of Damacus with rebel leaders claiming that the real battle for the capital lies ahead. This comes only days after a opposition bomb killed Assad’s defense minister, his brother-in-law as well as the national security chief; a significant blow to the regime, due to these individual’s essential role in stopping the uprising.

There have been significant gains outside of the city as well, with rebel forces taking over key border crossing with Turkey, as well as much of the Iraqi border; this allows a far easier importation of arms for the rebels. Aleppo looks set to be the latest conquest.

News has also broke that defections are not only continuing, but accelerating as the Syrian government continues to sink. The end of Assad may be only weeks away.

The Unaccountable Police

It might seem a while ago now, but three years ago it was not riots that were taking over the summer headlines, but the G20 protests as thousands marched through London with police and protestors clashing.

One of those caught up in the action was newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, who was struck and pushed to the ground – and who later died – which became a national story after footage emerged of the incident.

Pc Simon Harwood, the policemen who pushed Tomlinson, was found not guilty of manslaughter this week. This was despite an inquest last year declaring the killing as “unlawful”.

It has now further emerged that Harwood has a history of disproportionate violence, with many (unproven) allegations of unlawful arrests, as well as that he punched, throttled, threatened and kneed people in the line of duty.

Nonetheless, it continues a trend where those police officers’ whose actions, in the line of duty, has contributed to a death has never been convicted of either manslaughter or murder. Justice?

A Racist Ice Cream

Who knew that the 50p rectangular vanilla (with chocolate coating) ice cream could be so controversial? Well, clearly not Rio Ferdinand who this week tweeted a response to a twitter user who referred to Ashely Cole as a ‘Choc Ice’

Firstly, lets be clear; the term ‘choc ice’ is not political correctness gone mad. The term is, in fact, extremely dangerous.

‘Choc Ice’ is essentially the idea that a person can be black, but on the inside they have a white mentality. It is extremely derogatory as it creates the idea that ‘being black’ is somewhere distinct from being white; the idea that if you don’t wear certain clothes or like certain music or culture, you are not truly black.

In fact, John Amaechi, former MBA basketballer-come-psychologist, believes that many black student don’t do well at school as they believe that by doing so, they are acting white. The fact it has come from Rio Ferdinand, a black football player, makes it even more damaging; though he has since claimed he meant it as ‘sell-out’ rather than anything racial.

The irony is, of course, that the whole thing is over a race trial itself. Rio is hoping the whole story just melts away like a choc ice on a sunny day.

*Warning* Nudity Below

But probably not the kind you are looking for. This is the news that the so-called ‘naked rambler’ (full name: Stephen Gough) has been allowed to leave prison in the nude.

After 6 years of solitary confinement, Gough walked free after 17 convictions of breach of the peace in the last 10 years. Previous attempts to leave have been thwarted, as he stripped as soon as he stepped out of the prison gates and thus  was re-arrested.

Police have taken a different approach this time, allowing Gough – originally from Eastleigh – to walk out nude. He now plans to head south to visit his children; though he could be rearrested at any moment. A starkers story.

In Other News…

The African Union (that’s basically the African version of the EU, but without the flawed shared currency idea) elected Nkosazana Diamini-Zuma; the first female leader of the institution.

In what has been heralded as a significant step forward for gender equality; Marissa Mayer has become CEO for Yahoo. Despite an impressive resume – which includes developing the iconic white Google search page – it is her stomach (note: not quite scientifically correct) which has been getting all the headlines as she enters the job whilst 6-months pregnant.

A recent poll by CBS News & the New York Times shows Obama may have a bigger fight on his hands than first thought with the results showing that its even stevens in the US presidential race.

And lastly, Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday on the 18th. The date has been designated International Nelson Mandela Day where people around the world are asked to dedicate 67 minutes to helping others. (Maybe try for a bit longer than that if possible?)

The Polifix will be taking an Olympic summer break, moving to a fortnightly format over the next few weeks. So Tune in next next Monday for your weekly political round-up; the polifix!

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