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North Korea warns of food crisis before Kim-Trump summit | North Korea News

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North Korea has warned it is facing a food shortfall of some 1.4m tonnes this year and has been forced to almost halve rations, blaming high temperatures, drought, floods and United Nations sanctions, according to a memo by Pyongyang’s mission to the world body.

The release of the undated two-page memo, seen by Reuters news agency on Thursday, comes days before a second summit next week in Vietnam’s Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

Washington has been demanding that North Korea give up a nuclear weapons programme that threatens the United States, while North Korea has been seeking a lifting of punishing sanctions, a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War and security guarantees.

The 15-member UN Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

“The DPRK government calls on international organisations to urgently respond to addressing the food situation,” read the North Korean memo, which the country’s UN mission described as a follow-up to joint assessment with the World Food Programme (WFP) between November 26 and December 7, 2018. The official name for North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

There was no immediate comment by WFP.

The memo said North Korea’s food production last year was 4.951 million tonnes, 503,000 tonnes down on 2017. The UN confirmed these figures as official government data provided at the end of January and said North Korea’s food production included rice, wheat, potatoes and soy beans.

North Korea said it would import 200,000 tonnes of food and produce about 400,000 tonnes of early crops, but that it would still be left with a gap and from January would cut daily rations to 300 grams per person from 550 grams.

UN officials and aid groups in North Korea were consulting the government to “further understand the impact of the food security situation on the most vulnerable people in order to take early action to address their humanitarian needs”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday.

He said the UN and aid groups were only able to help one third of six million people estimated to be in need last year due to a lack of funding. A UN appeal for $111m in 2018 was only a quarter funded, Dujarric said.

The UN estimates a total of 10.3 million people – almost half the population – are in need and some 41 percent of North Koreans are undernourished, Dujarric said.

Along with extreme weather, the North Korean memo also blames UN sanctions for restricting the delivery of farming materials and hindering fuel supply for the agricultural sector.

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said earlier this month Washington had eased rules on humanitarian assistance to North Korea and was working to clear a backlog of UN approvals.

Benjamin Silberstein, co-editor of North Korean Economy Watch and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the harvest had been bad but there was no sign of an emergency.

“Of course it’s at least partially about the sanctions,” Silberstein said. “Just look at the way the letter is worded. They want to make it sound like sanctions equals starvation so the US should really be benevolent and give them up,” he said.

Humanitarian aid nearly ground to a halt in 2018 as the US stepped up enforcement of UN sanctions, even though the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee has said sanctions “are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population”.

“While Security Council sanctions clearly exempt humanitarian activities, there have been unintended consequences on humanitarian operations,” Dujarric said.

Margareta Wahlstrom, president of the Swedish Red Cross, told Reuters after a trip to North Korea in November that, as far as the areas in which they operated were concerned, the maze harvest was only 65 percent of what should be normal due to the combination of an influenza outbreak, a heat wave and a typhoon.

Russia is considering sending 50,000 tonnes of wheat in humanitarian aid to North Korea to help it cope with natural disasters, the Interfax news agency cited senior Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev as saying last week.

Kim Young-hee, a North Korean defector and an expert on the North Korean economy at Korea Development Bank in Seoul, did not think the memo was asking for food.

“The memo seems like a message saying ‘although UN sanctions do not affect people’s lives directly, they affect the whole economy and people’s livelihoods are getting worse. So wouldn’t it be good if sanctions were eased?’,” she said.

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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