South Korea to spend $16 billion in border areas with North Korea for next decade

South Korea’s government said on Thursday (Feb 7) that it will spend 13.2 trillion won (S$15.9 billion) in border areas with North Korea for the next decade. The money, including 5.4 trillion won from the central government, 2.2 trillion won from local governments and 5.6 trillion won from the private sector each, will be spent on 225 projects in inter-Korea border areas by 2030. Source The Straits Times

Children are the political tool of choice in the hands of shameless propagandists

Policy-making has been with us since the dawn of humanity and generally its rules are timeless. Governments, heads of states, diplomats, religious leaders – whether they are part of the establishment or in opposition – have employed various instruments in a bid to tip the balance of the power play to their advantage. These included propaganda, finances, religions or ideologies and – the most powerful of all – emotions. It is, however, the twentieth century that made extensive use of… children. Not that the instrument was not known earlier: the reader will have remembered the Children’s Crusade of the Middle Ages, for instance.

With the advent of the visual mass media – photography, film footage, television, the internet – this present-day biblia pauperum, the lay and religious leaders alike have learnt to how make a highly emotional appeal to the public through children. The effectiveness of this instrument cannot be overrated. Why, we are – men and women – biologically hardwired to positively respond to a child’s facial expressions. If you want to gain support for aid directed toward a far-away country, you post pictures of children’s lovely faces, now sad, now smiling – whichever better suits the purpose at a given time and place – and the hearts and minds of the receivers of the message are sure to be won over. That’s the power of an innocent child’s face, as we are accustomed to saying.

Nowadays presidents, prime ministers, monarchs – some of them intentionally childless! – and popes like to be filmed with or photographed in the company of children. The message is clear: someone who likes children is good, intends no harm. The little ones are not only used to elevate a politician’s image but also to advance and advocate a policy.

Case in point: Engelsina Markizova. She ran up to Joseph Stalin during a state celebration, he picked her up and gave her a hug, and the images of this even showing in a simple manner the humaneness of the top communist leader were later popularized throughout the Soviet Union. Continue reading

The Netherlands circumvented rules for arms exports to Syria

The Dutch government has violated export restrictions in supplying Syrian rebels. And because rules were violated, the Lower House had no idea what was going to Syria.

Sending uniforms, AK-47 vests and pick-ups to a country at war: no company is allowed to do that. But the Dutch government did it, in secret. To Syria. In doing so, the government violated its own export rules. Source Eenvandaag

The revolution of the petty bourgeoisie

The 2008 financial disaster marked the beginning of a deep identity crisis in the West. After the collapse of American Lehman Brothers, governments around the globe began to support their financial institutions with unlimited amounts of tax money. Small and middle size companies would bankrupt and people in the United States continued to be evicted from their houses while the financial elite would receive a handsome amount of public support. In other words: socialism for Wall Street, capitalism for Main Street. It became painfully clear that the free market and capitalism did not work for the banks and financial institutions.

Then followed the euro crisis, with Greece’s debt at its centre. Particular European economies are suffering from the imbalance between income and a rising public debt. In 2015 it was apparent that the European leadership had no solution for Greece let alone for similar problems that will soon inevitably emerge in Spain, France and Italy.

Gefira Financial Bullletin #30 is available now

  • The portents are not good
  • Possessed by an ideology: The re-emergence of Marxism
  • The Green Party, Communists and Governing Corporations

During the 2008-2015 time frame there was a widespread opposition among the common against the financial establishment, European governments and the monetary system. The resentment was stoked by the perception that the whole system was unfair against the normal working man. In 2015 radical left-wing politician Alexis Tsipras took office in Greece and socialists like Yanis Varoufakis, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders became the protectors of the middle and working classes. The political climate seems perfect for the socialists and yet socialist parties are declining.

It is not merely inequality that matters. Most Western countries are implementing a redistribution of wealth from the middle to the lower classes. For example, in the Netherlands a family with one working adult and a yearly income of 20 thousand gets 7 thousand euros in subsidies, thus pocketing 27 thousand, whereas a person having a 31 thousand income must pay 3 thousand euros in tax, and since he receives no subsidies, he lands up with 28 thousand euros. For all practical purposes 10 thousand difference in income comes to naught.

In 2015 Europe was confronted with an invasion of immigrants of biblical proportions. Sweden had been replacing its own shrinking population with people from the Third World for a long time earlier, but it was in that year that suddenly the common people began to realize that this demographic process, slow though it may be, has become unstoppable.

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