Japan sets up defences ahead of North Korea rocket launch

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Japan has set up anti-missile defences on the Okinawa islands ahead of a planned rocket launch by North Korea.

A Japan naval vessel transported Patriot missiles and related radar equipment to the port of Ishigaki island on Wednesday.

The North Korean state news agency announced a week ago, the intended launch of a satellite into space, some time between the 10th and 22nd of   December.

Senior representatives from Japan the US and South Korea condemn the launch as a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions.

“We all agree that we will continue diplomatic efforts until the last minute. The international community will take firm action if North Korea goes ahead with the launch,” said Shinsuke Sugiyama, Head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

The J-alert emergency warning system has been tested across Japan, to swiftly let the public know if the missile falls into Japanese territory.

The flight path is similar to that of a failed launch in April.

The Japanese government has given orders to intercept the rocket if it appeared to be falling towards Japan.

Philippines typhoon kills more than 200

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The death toll from the Philippines’ strongest typhoon of 2012 has risen to at least 280.

Officials fear hundreds more bodies will be found as the army and rescuers reach the worst hit villages.

One of the areas most devastated by Typhoon Bopha was the Compostela Valley.

Up to 80 percent of the plantations here have been destroyed, at an estimated cost of 75 million euros.

Raging waters from the mountains swept through school buildings, courts, town halls and health centres where residents had taken shelter.

“My father is in the hospital,” said one survivor “My mother and older brother were swept away by flood waters. The last time I saw them, my Mama said ‘I love you.’”

Thousands of bloodied survivors, caked in mud, piled into temporary shelter areas, as local officials appealed for aid.

Schools remained closed on Wednesday and dozens of domestic flights were suspended.

Scenes like this are all too common in the Philippines, Typhoon Washi which hit in December last year killed around 1,500 people.

Croatia/Serbia: Gotovina ruling ‘opens old wounds’

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The acquittals of General Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac for war crimes by a UN appeals court were greeted with jubilation in the streets of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, on Friday.

The successful appeal marks the biggest reversal for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia during its two decades of hearing cases involving the bloody breakup of the country.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic welcomed the decision, but conceded that there had been wrongdoing on his side:

“Obviously these are two innocent men but that does not mean that the war was not difficult, bloody and just as far as Croatia is concerned.

There were mistakes in that war, mistakes that the Croatian state is ultimately responsible for, not Markac and Gotovina. And for those, and to those, who were wronged by the Croatian state, Croatia will fulfil its debt to justice,” he said.

Shameful

But, Savo Strbac, the director of Serbian NGO “Veritas”, echoed the feelings of many of his countrymen.

“We are shocked by the verdict. I can freely say that it is shameful because I am a judge myself and I know how things work. This verdict is the result of a majority vote,” he said.

The Serbian President was also vocal in his opposition to the courts decision.

In a written statement Tomislav Nikolic said: “It is now quite clear the tribunal made a political decision and not a legal ruling. Today’s ruling will not contribute to the stabilisation of the situation in the region and will open old wounds.

If we had reasons to believe that the tribunal is neutral, fair and more than a court only for Serbia and its people, these reasons are now annulled with the acquittal of war criminals.”

Egyptian PM seeks Israel-Palestine ceasefire

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The Egyptian Prime Minister has denounced Israel’s attacks on Gaza and says Cairo will try to secure a ceasefire.

Hisham Qandil paid a three-hour visit to the Palestinian territory on Friday, visiting the Council of Ministers building as well as a hospital treating those wounded by the attacks.

Cross-border fighting continued during the visit.

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, has brokered informal truces between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza strip before.

The government of Egypt, which is seen as ideologically close to Hamas, now has to balance solidarity with the fellow Islamists with the country’s dependence on US aid, worth around 1.6 billion euros per year.

Qandil says Egypt seeks the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

US Campaign: The cost of becoming President

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The US Presidential campaign is set to be the most expensive in history.

Both candidates are on their way to raising a billion dollars (over 773 million euros) by the November 6 election.

They have been spending massive amounts on advertising as well as get-out-and-vote efforts by campaigns and outside groups that have no fund-raising limits.

On Thursday Barack Obama voted early in his home state of Chicago, to encourage other democrats to do so.

Final push

After several months lagging behind Obama in fund raising Mitt Romney and his allies overtook their Democratic rivals for the month of October.

Romney’s campaign says it has 169 million dollars left in its campaign coffers while the Obama campaign says it has 123 million – hefty sums for the final push.

Advertising

In a record breaking spending spree both campaigns have devoted the bulk of their cash to blanketing the airwaves with advertising.

In the first three weeks of October the latest tally by the Wesleyan Media Project shows Romney and his Super Political Action Committees (Pacs) spending more on advertising, but Obama and his allies actually running more ads.

While Mitt Romney may hold the cash advantage in recent months, that has been down to fund raising by his party. Obama’s campaign on its own has dwarfed that of the Republican Candidate.

Peugeot-Citroen to open talks with French unions

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The head of French car maker, PSA Peugeot-Citroen, has agreed to open talks with unions following the announcement of cuts that will result in the loss of 8000 jobs.

In July, the ailing company announced the measures as well as the closure of its plant in Aulnay, north of Paris.

PSA Union leader Jean-Pierre Mercier said the workers were happy that talks are opening:

“We’re faced with a company that is tough, a management that doesn’t want to give anything up. But today through the unity of the workforce, we have managed to score a very important first point.”

On Wednesday the French government promised a 7 billion euro state guarantee for PSA’s finance division, but the its Chief Executive, Philippe Varin says savings still need to be made:

“The closure of the Aulnay plant will take place. A total of 8,000 jobs in total are concerned. But as we have said since the very start: we attach a great importance to the limitation of the social impact.”

Peugeot reported a 3.9% fall in sales during the July to September quarter and its shares fell sharply as it said it would not pay dividends while in receipt of government aid.