In the Absence: South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster | Park Geun-hye

A disaster began to quietly unfold at 8:49am on April 16, 2014.

The Sewol ferry, bound for Jeju Island in South Korea, began to sink. On board were 476 passengers, including 325 students on a school trip. Mobile phone footage records students struggling to stay on their feet in their cabins, the atmosphere calm but uncertain.

Dashcam footage showed cars sliding across the car deck as the ship tipped.

A passenger had made an emergency call at 8:52am, and through radio communications the authorities were notified. The ferry continued to sink.

A single patrol boat arrived and the captain escaped the ship at 9:47am. No one had called for the passengers to evacuate.

Over the coming hours, the rescue operation never intensified – not when passengers wearing life jackets began to jump ship, not when the ferry tipped entirely on its side, and not when it sank so that only its prow remained above water.

More than 300 people, mostly school children, had lost their lives.

In the aftermath, a group of civilian divers came to assist the coastguard’s rescue efforts. For months they retrieved the bodies and belongings of victims. Public protests – and calls for justice from the victims’ families – would also help driving the removal of President Park Geun-hye in 2017.

Using phone and dashcam footage, recordings of radio communications, and the accounts of survivors, civilian rescuers, and families of the deceased, In the Absence follows the Sewol ferry disaster in meticulous detail, offering an unflinching look at one of South Korea’s great tragedies, and the layers of dysfunction and neglect that led to it.


By Seung-jun Yi

April 16, 2014. The day has become one of the most painful days in the modern history of Korea to most of the Korean people. They watched the sinking of MV Sewol ferry, live on TV, and 304 passengers and crew members including 250 high school students on their school trip were killed. It was painful and traumatic, not just because of the number of the victims, but because of the fact that they could have been saved.

Five years have already passed since the disaster, but I can still witness the pains of the victims’ families, civilian divers and many more people that had been affected by the tragedy.

After a long investigation, it has turned out that the tragedy was not just an unfortunate accident but was a systemic failure from the social-political frailty of Korean society.

Even though it was a clear failure of the rescue operation, no one has been punished except the captain of the coastguard boat.

History teaches us that tragedies repeat if we easily forget about them. The victims’ families ask us to “Remember ‪16 April”. It’s not only a call to support their demand for a proper investigation, but it is also from their wish not to witness such a tragedy again in any society.

Human beings are vulnerable to “time”. As time goes on, we forget many things. Time makes us dull. It is like a black hole that absorbs our thinking and feeling.

We need to be awakened about this world, the system and order which are controlling this world. I want people to remember the day, remember what happened on that day. And I hope people do not forget that if a system fails to operate correctly, it can result in terrible pain and trauma to innocent citizens in the end. The pain which might not be curable. This film is my plea for people to wake up and keep your eyes on the systems.

Source: Al Jazeera

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With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years

The authorities have declined to specify casualties and arrests and have denounced unofficial figures on the national death toll as speculative. But the nation’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, has cited widespread unrest around the country.

On state media, he said that protests had erupted in 29 out of 31 provinces and 50 military bases had been attacked, which if true suggested a level of coordination absent in the earlier protests. The property damage also included 731 banks, 140 public spaces, nine religious centers, 70 gasoline stations, 307 vehicles, 183 police cars, 1,076 motorcycles and 34 ambulances, the interior minister said.

The worst violence documented so far happened in the city of Mahshahr and its suburbs, with a population of 120,000 people in Iran’s southwest Khuzestan Province — a region with an ethnic Arab majority that has a long history of unrest and opposition to the central government. Mahshahr is adjacent to the nation’s largest industrial petrochemical complex and serves as a gateway to Bandar Imam, a major port.

The New York Times interviewed six residents of the city, including a protest leader who had witnessed the violence; a reporter based in the city who works for Iranian media, and had investigated the violence but was banned from reporting it; and a nurse at the hospital where casualties were treated.

They each provided similar accounts of how the Revolutionary Guards deployed a large force to Mahshahr on Monday, Nov. 18, to crush the protests. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by the Guards.

For three days, according to these residents, protesters had successfully gained control of most of Mahshahr and its suburbs, blocking the main road to the city and the adjacent industrial petrochemical complex. Iran’s interior minister confirmed that the protesters had gotten control over Mahshahr and its roads in a televised interview last week, but the Iranian government did not respond to specific questions in recent days about the mass killings in the city.

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Daphne Caruana Galizia: Malta prime minister Joseph Muscat to resign in new year

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a press conference after an urgent Cabinet meeting at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta November 29, 2019Image copyright

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Joseph Muscat has been in office six years

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced on national TV that he will step down in the new year, amid a crisis over a murdered journalist.

He said he would ask the ruling Labour Party to begin the process to choose his successor on 12 January.

Demonstrators have demanded his immediate resignation over the inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

She was killed by a car bomb in 2017 as she investigated corruption among Malta’s business and political elite.

A businessman with alleged links to government officials was charged with complicity in the murder on Saturday.

Mr Muscat has been in power for six years, winning two elections by a landslide and presiding over a period of prosperity and social reform in the EU’s smallest member state.

“Malta needs to start a new chapter and only I can give that signal,” Mr Muscat said on Sunday.

He took the decision after a four-hour meeting with Labour’s parliamentary group, at which MPs gave “unanimous support to all decisions which the Prime Minister will be taking”.

Why do they want Muscat to go?

A large crowd of protesters earlier rallied in the capital Valletta to demand Mr Muscat’s immediate resignation.

Copies of a photo showing Mr Muscat’s former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, alongside Melvin Theuma, an alleged middleman in Caruana Galizia’s murder, were pinned to the gates of the building.

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Demonstrators filled Valletta’s streets

Fury over Mr Muscat’s handling of the crisis grew this weekend when businessman Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity in the murder, an allegation he denies.

Mr Fenech was identified last year as being the owner of a mysterious Dubai-registered company, 17 Black, listed in the Panama Papers – a massive leak of documents from an offshore law firm in 2016.

There were allegations that 17 Black planned to make secret payments to companies set up by Mr Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

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Media captionPaul Caruana Galizia says his mother’s critics investigated her murder

Both men resigned this week but deny any wrongdoing, and Mr Mizzi has denied any business links to Mr Fenech.

Three other men are in custody charged with Caruana Galizia’s actual murder, which involved a car bomb.

The murdered journalist’s family said the prime minister had been left deeply compromised and should resign because he had failed, for the past two years, to take action to clean up politics in Malta.

They argued that as long as he remained in place, a full investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death was not possible.

In another development, Mr Muscat’s Economy Minister, Chris Cardona, was reinstated on Sunday after suspending himself on Tuesday after he was questioned by police. He denies any wrongdoing.

What do we know about the murder inquiry?

Three men – brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio and their friend Vincent Muscat, all in their 50s – have been charged with triggering the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia near her home in October 2017.

They were arrested in December 2017 and pleaded not guilty in pre-trial proceedings.

Image copyright
Getty Images for the Daphne Project

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Caruana Galizia (pictured in 1989) was survived by her husband and children

Vincent Muscat later told police the bomb had been placed in Caruana Galizia’s car while it was parked outside the walled compound where she lived. The killings earned the trio 150,000 euros (£132,000), Reuters news agency reports.

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How the diaspora behaves in the ballot box – VoxEurop (English)

At the latest Romanian presidential elections, almost one million Romanians voted from abroad, largely by casting their ballots in more than 800 polling stations open from Friday through Sunday. A visual exploration of the data.

At the Romanian presidential elections in 2019, Romanian citizens living abroad could vote for three days for each of the two turns of elections in more than 800 polling stations around the world. This is on top of the possibility to vote by correspondence. Both longer opening times for polling stations and voting by correspondence have been introduced in 2019 after waiting times of many hours  – effectively corresponding to voter suppression – marred recent elections.

Romanians living abroad took advantage of the possibility to vote without standing for hours in a queue: an unprecedented 940.000 people voted at the second round of the presidential election on 24 November 2019, corresponding to more than 10 per cent of the total votes cast.

This is more than double the number who took part to the previous presidential elections in 2014 (close to 400.000 voters) and multiple times the less than 150.000 who took part to the 2009 presidential vote. Given that the diaspora overwhelmingly supports one of the sides (an astonishing 94 per cent of votes cast abroad were in favour of incumbent Klaus Iohannis) this is clearly of significance, even if due to the current electoral legislation this impacts mostly presidential elections and referenda, while it has noticeably less impact on parliamentary elections where the diaspora only determines four MPs and two senators .

How many voted, and who are they?

Italy tops the list of countries by number of Romanian voters. However, more than 100.000 people cast their ballot also in the UK, Germany and Spain.


The age distribution of voters is quite telling of Romania’s migration patterns, with Romanian citizens voting in the UK and Germany being much younger than those who vote in Italy and Spain.


Besides these broad trends, careful readers will have noticed anomalies in the above age distributions (in particular, the sharp drop in the number of voters older than 52). They are, however, not related to migration patterns and instead mostly reflect the unusually sudden demographic changes brought about by the demographic policies promoted by the Ceaușescu regime .

It is worth noticing that Italy is the only country where there are have been more female than male voters.



Romanian polling stations easy to reach across Europe

One of the factors that made it possible for so many Romanian citizens to cast their ballot from abroad was the impressive number of polling stations that were open from Friday to Sunday for both turns of the presidential election. The fact that polling stations are open across a large number of countries is not, by itself astonishing: many countries open polling stations at their embassies or consulates. What is staggering, is the density of polling stations opened around Europe.



There is an exceptional density of polling stations not only in the Republic of Moldova, where many local residents have obtained Romanian citizenship, but also in the most densely populated parts of England, in Belgium, in some parts of Spain, and across Italy, which has long been a major destination for Romanians leaving their native


Most Italians live half an hour or less from a Romanian polling station

Locating Romanian polling stations on a population density map of Italy, it soon appears that polling stations have not been opened only in major cities, but also in relatively sparsely populated areas.


In order to gauge how close the average resident of Italy lives from a Romanian polling stations, we have calculated the distance between each polling station and each inhabited location of Italy, weighting the result according to the number of residents of each location (Eurostat publishes a dataset with figures on how many people live in each square kilometer of the continent: there are about 172.000 cells in Italy’s population grid).

After a computing-intensive process (the details are outlined here ), it emerged that Italians live on average about 18 km – as the crow flies  – from a Romanian polling station; more than 50 per cent of Italians live less than 13 km from one. Even considering the actual estimated driving distance and time, the result is quite impressive: on average, Italians would need to drive about 40 minutes to reach a Romanian polling stations.

Half of Italians could reach one in less than 35 minutes, and an overwhelming majority in less than one hour. Considering that migrants are more likely to live in urban centres rather than in remote locations, the actual figures for the average Romanian citizen living in Italy are likely significantly lower. It is true that some Romanian citizens likely live in locations that are more than two hours by car from a polling station, but, after all, this time voting by correspondence was also available to Romanian citizens living abroad.


Overall, the high number of polling stations is certainly one of the factors that made it possible for about 190.000 Romanians to cast a ballot in a polling stations in Italy, and for almost one million of them to do the

same from all around the world.

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Blades of Glory: Denmark to repower Middelgrunden offshore windfarm

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The blades of the 20 turbines of the Middelgrunden offshore windfarm, off the coast of Copenhagen, rotated slowly as the boat ‘Langø’ circled around the long line of massive shafts with the Copenhagen harbour and the bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden outlined in the far distance.

While the Middelgrunden windfarm is no longer considered big compared to the new windfarms in Denmark and around the world, it is one of the first offshore windfarms and the world’s largest when it was first inaugurated in 2000-2001. It has a capacity of 40 MW and the park consists of 20 Bonus turbines each with a power of 2 MW.

The Middelgrunden windfarm provides 3% of the electricity consumption of Copenhagen. Ten of the wind turbines are owned by the energy company Hofor and the remaining ten belong to a co-operative that offers Copenhagen citizens a share of the turbines.

“We’re looking to repower the farm. We’re also looking at new developments,” Gordon Pedersen, technical project director offshore wind at Hofor, told New Europe on the boat on November 27 with the blades rotating in the background under the cloudy Danish sky. “It was built in 2000 and it has now been operating for nearly 20 years,” he said, adding that the Hofor, which is the windfarm’s new owner, plans to repower the windfarm to generate more electricity.

“In Denmark we have something like 42% of our energy production is covered by offshore wind. But this wind farm is providing something like 9 KW a year so it’s not a huge production. It’s nothing compared to the bigger wind farms,” Pedersen said. “This one is the only one we have in operation right now but we’re developing wind farms,” he added.

“Our company, we want to produce as much green energy that is produced in Copenhagen and greater Copenhagen. Because Copenhagen wants to be carbon dioxide (CO2) neutral so Copenhagen wants to establish as much green generation as consumed in the greater Copenhagen area,” the Hofor technical director said on in the cold Danish morning.

Hofor’s plans to increase its production of green energy in Denmark, which is a forerunner in offshore wind energy, come as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whose College of Commissioners was officially endorsed by the Parliament on November 27, is about to unveil her first landmark climate policy package.

The plans are also in line with a new report from WindEurope, which was released in Copenhagen on November 26, showing that the European Commission’s big goals for offshore wind – between 230 and 450 GW by 2050 – are achievable provided the right investments in electricity grids and governments take the right approach to maritime spatial planning.

According to WindEurope, the report is a remit from the Energy Ministers of the 10 ‘North Seas’ countries who coordinate their work on offshore wind with each other and the Commission. The report examines where 450 GW of offshore wind could be deployed most cost-effectively around Europe, bearing in mind there is only 20 GW today. 450 GW of offshore wind is part of a European Commission scenario to deliver climate neutrality by 2050.

The report concludes that 212 GW should be deployed in the North Sea, 85 GW in the Atlantic, including the Irish Sea, 83 GW in the Baltic, and 70 GW in the Mediterranean and other Southern European waters. This reflects the relative wind resources, proximity to energy demand and the location of the supply chain.

Meanwhile, a new report from the European Technology & Innovation Platform on Wind Energy (ETIPWind), released on 27 November in Copenhagen, said targeted Research & Innovation is needed to accelerate the large-scale deployment of cost-competitive wind energy and support the existing European supply chains.

According to the ETIPWind report, Europe needs a rapid scale up of wind energy to help keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and deliver on its Paris Climate Agreement commitments. To deliver on its Climate and Energy objectives, Europe needs strong industrial policies and research programmes to further improve wind energy technology and continue to drive down costs.

Targeted support in Research & Innovation will also strengthen supply chains, create local jobs and boost the global leadership of the European wind industry, the report said, adding that by 2050, wind could supply 50% of Europe’s electricity and be the engine of the incoming EU Commission’s Green Deal.

Back on the Langø’ boat off the coast of Copenhagen, Pedersen stressed that the future looks green, saying: “We will have to build nearshore and build farshore.”

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Commission marks ten years of judicial and police co-operation between member states

With the Treaty of Lisbon, member states created an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, one in which people can move around freely and yet remain safe from crime, as well as have their interests protected by the courts. The Treaty of Lisbon has enabled:

The Treaty of Lisbon was signed on 13 December 2007 and entered into force on 1 December 2009.

The-then new Treaty enabled the full transition from an inter-governmental approach to judicial and police cooperation (the so-called 3rd Pillar of the Maastricht Treaty) to a Union-based approach. It also provided for a 5-year transition period, after which the European Commission’s enforcement powers under Article 258 TFEU consolidated to cover both pre and post-Lisbon EU law. Under the Treaties, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom enjoy a special status in the Area of Freedom Security and Justice.

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding. Since then, individuals enjoy and can enforce the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enshrined in it.

More information

Treaty of Lisbon: Title V – An area of Freedom, Security and Justice

Protocol 19: Integrating the Schengen acquis into European Union Law

Protocol 21: On the position of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

Protocol 22: On the position of the Kingdom of Denmark in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

Protocol 36: Providing transitional measures in the field of police co-operation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

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‘War against nature must stop,’ U.N. chief says before climate talks

The world must stop a “war against nature” and find more political will to combat climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday, the eve of a two-week global climate summit in Madrid, Trend reports citing Reuters.

Around the world, extreme weather ranging from wildfires to floods is being linked to manmade global warming, putting pressure on the summit to strengthen the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting the rise in temperature.

“Our war against nature must stop, and we know that it is possible,” Guterres said ahead of the Dec. 2-13 summit.

“We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions.”

Cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases – mostly from burning carbon-based fossil fuels – that have been agreed so far under the Paris deal are not enough to limit temperature rises to a goal of between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius (2.7-3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Many countries are not even meeting those commitments, and political will is lacking, Guterres said.

President Donald Trump for his part has started withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, while the deforestation of the Amazon basin – a crucial carbon reservoir – is accelerating and China has tilted back toward building more coal-fired power plants.

Seventy countries have committed to a goal of ‘carbon neutrality’ or ‘climate neutrality’ by 2050.

This means they would balance out greenhouse emissions, for instance through carbon capture technology or by planting trees.

But Guterres said these pledges were not enough.

“We also see clearly that the world’s largest emitters are not pulling their weight,” he said, “and without them, our goal is unreachable.”

Last year’s U.N. climate summit in Poland yielded a framework for reporting and monitoring emissions pledges and updating plans for further cuts. But sticking points remain, not least over an article on how to put a price on emissions, and so allow them to be traded.

“I don’t even want to entertain the possibility that we do not agree on article 6,” Guterres said. “We are here to approve guidelines to implement article 6, not to find excuses not to do it.”

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has accepted an invitation to become U.N. special envoy on climate action and climate finance from Jan. 1, Guterres said.

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Irish man wins 170km mountain race through Oman

An Irish man has won a two-day, 170km race through the Al Hajar mountain range in Oman.

Eoin Keith (51) from Dublin crossed the finished line of the OMAN by UTMB race after 36 hours, 4 minutes and 29 seconds.

The Dublin man was one of 2,000 participants from 69 countries ranging from six- to-87- years- old.

The trail included two steep ascents including Jebel Akhdar, known as the Green Mountain, and 3,000m high Jebel Shams, one of the highest points on the Arabian peninsula.

After his win, Mr Keith said: “It was so technical, possibly the most technical race I’ve ever done.

There was a long 1,000m descent which you normally would expect to make tons of time on but we were so slow.

“It makes it easier to keep going mentally because it’s so technical that you need to concentrate pretty much the entire time.

“ There’s no real let up mentally and it was intense racing all the way. But very enjoyable, Oman is a gorgeous country and the mountains are truly spectacular.”

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Norwich vs Arsenal lineups: Confirmed team news and starting XIs at Carrow Road

Norwich: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Byram, Amadou, Trybull, Cantwell, McLean, Hernandez, Pukki. 

Subs: Roberts,Vrancic, Lewis, Emi, Stiepermann, Fahrmann, Srbeny.

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang. 

Subs: Tierney,Papastathopoulos, Torreira, Pepe, Martinez, Martinelli, Saka.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

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