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NightWatch 20110914

NightWatch

For the Night of 14 September 2011

Japan: Update. Japanese authorities confirmed on Wednesday that nine people found adrift aboard a wooden boat off the Noto Peninsula a day earlier are North Korean defectors, based on documents they carried.

The nine, including three children, were in good health after spending the night on a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel at a port in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. Once their temporary landing is authorized, they are expected to be transferred to an immigration facility in Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

A man who presented himself as the leader of the nine has told coast guard officials that he is a member of the North's Korean People's Army and also that he had been a fisherman. He also said the group had left from a North Korean port last Thursday morning to head for South Korea.

On Wednesday morning, the nine applied for temporary refuge as they met with officials from the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau and the 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters aboard the patrol boat.

The immigration bureau is set to first authorize temporary landing so that the nine can be transferred to the facility in Nagasaki. There, immigration officials will interview the defectors to determine whether they meet criteria for landing permits for temporary refuge, such as having fled from the risk of physical harm or having their lives threatened.

After obtaining the landing permits, the group is likely to depart for South Korea. A South Korean government official has already said the country would welcome them if they are North Korean defectors who wish to come to the South.

Comment: The last North Korean refugee boat landing in Japan occurred in June 2007,

Pakistan-al Qaida: For the record. al-Qaida's new leader is likely hiding in either Yemen or Somalia, a Pakistani intelligence official told NBC News on Wednesday. Ayman al-Zawahri and key commanders are believed to have "migrated" from South Asia, the source said.

Comment: Zawahri was bin Laden's deputy and became head of al-Qaida in June after bin Laden's death in the 2 May raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

This report has not been confirmed by other agencies or news services. It is suspect because it is consistent with the history of self-serving Pakistani denials that al Qaida leaders ever received aid and comfort in Pakistan.

Afghanistan-Iran: Iranian border forces crossed into some areas of the southern Afghan province of Nimroz Province in southwestern Afghanistan late on 13 September and attempted to erect a border post on Afghan soil, security officials in Nimroz Province said on the 14th. The officials said fighting continues between Iranian and Afghan forces with Iranian border forces firing several rockets at the provincial capital of Zaranj. No casualties are reported.

Comment: The description of the clash between the forces suggests more was taking place than movement of border demarcation posts, such as infiltration of Iranian-backed insurgents or supply operations.

Greece: Greece needs to put its austerity package into effective and strict practice to ensure future payments, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a French presidential spokesman said in a 14 September statement after a conference call with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. During the call, they agreed to allow the European Financial Stability Facility to buy bonds on the secondary market to broaden its scope. A Greek government spokesman said Greece will meet all commitments to its partners to ensure full implementation of the program.

Comment: Even with the best of intentions, Greece cannot satisfy the demands of the Germans and the demands of its own population. The productivity of the Greek economy is too low to sustain the Greek lifestyle, unless the Germans work harder to subsidize the Greeks.

Italy: The Italian parliament passed a 54 billion euro emergency budget plan meant to balance public finances by 2013 and shield Italy from a potential debt crisis. The lower house approved the plan 314 to 300. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi placed a confidence vote on the plan to expedite its approval. The plan includes spending cuts, raised taxes, a new pension reform, reduced political costs and fewer local authorities.

Comment: Even with the best of intentions, Italy cannot satisfy the demands of the Germans and the demands of the Italian population, but it can probably muddle through longer than Greece.

The European financial institutions continue to finance debt with more debt. That practice is not sustainable;  the debt will never be repaid. The short-term bailouts are lost money and show that the European financial authorities have no plan for restoring financial stability.

End of NightWatch for 14 September.

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