LGRD ministry holds the key

LGRD ministry holds the key

It appears the mayoral by-polls to the DNCC have become uncertain following yesterday's High Court stay order. But the legal complexity can be removed and the LGRD ministry holds the key.

Newly added wards, the root cause for the polls process to grind to a halt, could be excluded from the Dhaka North City Corporation for the time being so that the elections could be held.

This will not be something new.

Sixteen years ago, the LGRD ministry swiftly removed all legal complexities over redrawn boundaries of three city corporations, including Dhaka, clearing the way for the polls.

The same ministry in 1998 increased the number of wards in Dhaka, Rajshahi and Khulna city corporations. In September 1998, the Election Commission redrew the boundaries of the wards issuing a gazette notification and moved for holding the polls.

But it faced legal hurdles. At least 10 writ petitions were filed challenging the new boundaries, five of the petitions were filed in Dhaka.

In response to those petitions, the HC stayed all work related to the elections and the stay order was extended several times. As a result, the polls to the three city corporations could not be held on time.

The first elections in the three corporations were held in January 1994 when the BNP was in power. Fresh elections were supposed to be held in 1999 when the Awami League was in power.

Assuming office on October 10, 2001, the BNP moved to hold the polls to the Dhaka City Corporation quickly, to unseat the then DCC mayor who was an AL leader.

It scrapped the LGRD ministry's circulars on redrawn boundaries of the wards to pave the way for the polls. Elections to Rajshahi and Khulna were also held along with the DCC on April 25, 2002.

After 16 years, the LGRD ministry and the EC are facing almost the same situation.

The ministry in July last year expanded boundaries of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation by forming 36 wards with 16 union councils adjacent to the two corporations.

In this process, the number of wards in the DNCC increased to 54 from 36.

There was no move to hold the polls in those new wards. But the sudden death of Mayor Annisul Huq changed the situation.

The EC last week announced the schedule of the polls to fill the vacant mayor post and simultaneously declared elections for councillors in the 36 wards newly added to the two corporations.

But the legality of the polls schedule was challenged by two chairmen of union parishads, which have been included in the DNCC area.

In response, a High Court bench yesterday stayed for three months the by-election to the DNCC. It was scheduled to be held on February 26.

This development led the EC to suspend all work related to the polls.

Local government expert, Tofail Ahmed blamed the LGRD ministry and the EC for the situation. He said the EC announced the polls schedule keeping many legal loopholes.

New wards were included in the city corporation in the middle of last year. But the voter list is yet to be finalised. There were problems with boundary demarcations," he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Tofail said union parishad chairmen were elected for five years and their tenure would expire on 2021. The LGRD ministry made no decision regarding them, he said, adding, "So, it was predicted that the election would be stayed.

EC acting secretary Helaluddin Ahmed seemed to be putting the blame on the LGRD ministry.

After being requested by the LGRD ministry, we made preparation for holding the polls. We found no legal complexities," he told reporters yesterday.

LGRD Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, however, held the EC responsible for the situation. He said his ministry's job was to declare the mayor post vacant after the death of Annisul. The EC is responsible for preparing the voter list and redrawing the boundaries of the wards, he said talking to reporters at his office at the secretariat.

He said he feels the necessity of electing a mayor as it is not possible to run a large city corporation without a mayor. He said the ministry would do whatever is necessary for holding the by-polls.

A major difference between the situation 16 years ago and now is that there is no mayor for the DNCC. Back then, the three mayors carried out the responsibilities until their successors were elected.

If the LGRD ministry considered the mayoral polls urgent, it might follow previous instances to clear the way for the election. For this, the circular, through which 18 new wards were added to the DNCC, has to be scrapped, making the writ petitions to lose effect.

Excluding the newly added wards would also get rid of another legal complexity the DNCC is facing. According to the law, at least 75 percent councillors (39, if the new wards are included) are need to form the corporation. The DNCC currently has 36 councillors.

Now, all depends on the LGRD ministry.

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They tried to kill me

They tried to kill me

Narayanganj city Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy yesterday alleged that an attempt was made to kill her from just “two yards away” during Tuesday's mayhem on Bangabandhu Road in Chashara.

I will take legal steps. 100 to 150 people were wounded. I suffered injuries in my leg. I was unarmed and so were my people," she told reporters at her Nagar Bhaban office.

The mayor was briefing journalists a day after supporters of local Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman allegedly attacked Ivy and her followers over eviction of street hawkers, leading to a fierce clash. Ivy and around 50 others were injured.

Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the party high command summoned Ivy and Osman for explanation over Tuesday's incident.

Giving an account of the incident, Ivy said she did not go there to fight, rather she wanted to tell hawkers to clear the street and sell goods at the hawkers' market built by the city corporation.

We walked down the footpath to the press club to hold a press conference there. But we came under attack before we could reach there. Brickbats started raining down on us. An attempt was made to kill me from two yards away," she said.

A three-member body, led by Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) Jashim Uddin Haider, has been formed to probe the incident. It will submit a report within a week.

No case was filed as of last night. However, a general diary was lodged with Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station over the brandishing of a firearm by Jubo League leader Niazul Islam, allegedly loyal to Osman.

Tension still ran high in the city yesterday with a large number of law enforcers deployed at various points. Hawkers were not spotted on the footpaths in Chashara.

At the press conference, Ivy said, "He [Osman] made an announcement the day before [Monday] and told police that 'this is my order, not a request, that hawkers will be on footpaths from 4:00pm'. And this man can do anything if he wants.

I am the mayor and he is my party lawmaker. He did this on his own and I don't know why he had done this.

Ivy further said she wanted to free Bangabandhu Road from hawkers as the city corporation built a hawkers' market that can accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 hawkers.

Footpaths and roads -- everything belongs to people. Don't I have the right to keep the footpaths clear for pedestrians? Why hawkers will sit there on the MP's order? Then why did I build the market for them? she added.

At a separate press conference at the Rifle Club yesterday, Osman claimed that shots had been fired from Ivy's procession on Tuesday.

It was not a fight between Ivy and I, rather it was a clash between the hawkers and Ivy. Some people were trying to distort the facts. No one is telling the truth. The shots were fired from Ivy's procession," he claimed.

The AL lawmaker said he stood by the hawkers because Ivy's decision to evict them would affect them and also the AL that gave her nomination for the 2016 mayoral elections.

I will work for the poor even if I have to leave my party," he said.

Defending Niazul who brandished a firearm during the clash, Osman said it was being reported that Niazul is his supporter.

But the truth is he [Niazul] is our party activist. He was beaten thrice while he was walking on the Bangabandhu Road. He had no choice but to pull out his pistol as he was being beaten for the fourth time. His pistol was lost during the incident.

The AL lawmaker, however, said that if Niazul had opened fire, there should be a probe into the matter.

Obaidul Quader yesterday warned of taking organisational action against the party men who were involved in Tuesday's incident.

I have talked to the prime minister [also the AL chief] in this regard. She said organisational steps will be taken against those involved in the incident,” Quader said at a press conference at the AL president's political office in Dhanmondi.

The AL general secretary said he requested the home minister to launch a probe into the incident and take legal action against the agitators if they had used firearms.

Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said jealousy and rivalry between Osman and Ivy led to Tuesday's clash, reports UNB.

Referring to the two Narayanganj leaders, the minister said, "Both of you are in power. What can we do if you fight each other?

About the eviction drive in Narayanganj, he said, "The person who launched the eviction drive is an elected mayor while the person who opposed it is also an elected public representative. But it is not right to do something using muscle power. Why will hawkers occupy footpaths?

The Narayanganj deputy commissioner issued a directive that the hawkers would be allowed to run business today on footpaths except for that on Bangabandhu Road.

Hawkers, however, refused to comply with the directive.

The hawkers will do business on the footpaths of Bangabandhu Road. Most of them sell goods there," said Asadul Islam Asad, convener of Narayanganj Zila Hawkers' Sangram Parishad.

Members of Narayanganj Press Club and Narayanganj District Journalists' Union yesterday formed a human chain and held a rally in front of Narayanganj Press Club in Chashara, protesting the attacks on journalists during Tuesday's mayhem.

At least 12 journalists, including Narayanganj Press Club General Secretary Sharifuddin Sabuj, were injured that day.

Yesterday, they demanded that Niazul and others responsible for this be arrested within 24 hours. Otherwise, they will boycott all programmes of the administration and politicians in Narayanganj city.

They will form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the capital today.

Abdul Jalil Bhuiyan, former secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), Halim Azad, former president of Narayanganj Press Club, and Abdus Salam, president of Narayanganj District Journalists Union, among others, spoke at the programmes.

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Why is K-Pop so popular?

Why is K-Pop so popular?

You might think you know a thing or two about K-pop if you've listened to Gangnam Style but K-Pop is so much more than this one song.

Ingenious approaches to music videos, genuine talent, and pure hard work set K-Pop apart from any other genre of music present nowadays. Here are some of the reasons why K-pop is so popular.

If you've seen any K-pop videos, the first things that catch your attention are the bright colors and the clothes the artists wear. K-pop stars bring a whole new meaning to fashion. They never shy away from making a statement, and they have a decidedly unique way of interpreting current trends. Since most K-pop music videos have a certain theme or story behind it, their costumes and sets reflect just that.

Which brings me to my next point, storytelling. Almost all Korean music lyrics and videos tell stories rather than just random dancing and meaningless choruses. A great example of this is the WINGS album by the boy group, BTS which contains themes of youth and adolescence. There are stories of each of the seven members of the group struggling with a different aspect of growing up and learning about life.

You don't have to worry about not understanding the words, because as soon as you hear one of the catchy beats, it's going to be stuck in your head and you won't be able to stop singing it despite the language barrier. Seventeen's “Clap”, Twice's “TT” and BTS's “Mic Drop” has been stuck in my head for weeks now, and there's no escaping it.

K-pop idols can not only sing and dance but, they can also perform dance numbers so complicated that it would usually require professional dancers. This takes an insane amount of hard work, practice, and skill, but they are well-known for performing these routines live. Just go watch Seventeen's “Don't Wanna Cry” or BTS's “Fire” if you don't believe me.

K-pop artists are usually groomed and mentored by managers or agents for years at a time before recording their first song. G. Soul a Korean R&B singer trained for 15 years before releasing his music. Intensive training, make these young artists seasoned performers by the time they debut.

K-pop artists almost always act as well as sing. While you can certainly find stars who don't act very well, usually a true K-pop idol is just as skilled as an actor as they are as a singer and dancer. Not only are K-pop artists super talented, incredibly hard workers, and star in perfectly executed music videos, they often mix other cultures into their songs. Singers frequently mix in English words with their lyrics. Some K-pop stars are even from different countries like Thailand, China, Japan, Canada and even America.

Other than making amazing music videos and performing live in countless concerts; most K-pop idols are always making videos about something or other. A lot of the famous groups have their own variety shows and they do live streams frequently. This way, fans can connect with their idols more.

K-pop is so much more than just “music in some unknown language”, it's an entire culture.

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Neymar hits four in Dijon rout

Neymar hits four in Dijon rout

Neymar netted four goals and Edinson Cavani became Paris St Germain's joint top scorer ever as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders demolished visitors Dijon 8-0 on Wednesday.

Brazilian forward Neymar, just back from injury, took his season's tally to 15 goals and the rout was completed by Angel Di Maria's double and goals by Cavani and substitute Kylian Mbappe.

Cavani bagged his 156th goal in all competitions for PSG, matching the club record of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played for the club from 2012-16.

PSG have 56 points from 21 games and lead second-placed Olympique Lyonnais, who won 2-0 at En Avant Guingamp earlier on Wednesday, by 11 points.

Di Maria put the hosts ahead on four minutes when he found the top corner from the edge of the box after collecting Giovani Lo Celso's pass.

The Argentine made it 2-0 11 minutes later from point-blank range with Dijon in disarray.

It got worse for the visitors, who fell 3-0 in the 21st as Cavani headed home from Di Maria's cross.

Three minutes before the break, Neymar curled a superb free kick past Baptiste Reynet as PSG continued to pile the pressure.

Neymar doubled his tally 12 minutes into the second half, beating Reynet from close range.

The Brazilian was at hit again in the 73rd, slaloming past six Dijon players before finding the back of the net with a powerful shot from just inside the box.

Four minutes later, Mbappe was set up by Neymar and the French international scored PSG's seventh goal with a left-foot shot and Neymar rubbed salt in the visitors' wounds when he converted an 83rd-minute penalty.

The former Barcelona player, who also set up two goals, was booed when he took the penalty as Cavani would have broken the club scoring record had he taken and converted it.

Earlier, Nabil Fekir and Houssem Aouar helped Lyon move above Olympique de Marseille and Monaco into second place.

They lead Marseille, who beat RC Strasbourg 2-0 on Tuesday, by one point and Monaco, who were held to a 2-2 draw with Nice, by two.

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The fabulous story of NKorea's fabric made of stone

The fabulous story of NKorea's fabric made of stone

For much of the world, it's a niche product. In North Korea, where winter temperatures are frigid and which cannot produce enough cotton or wool for clothing, the synthetic fibre developed after nylon was glorified as a revolutionary invention.

Known outside North Korea as vinylon, it was christened "vinalon" by founder Kim Il Sung. He ordered it be developed to put clothes on people's backs.

It's a story which reveals much about the history of North Korea.

The state says the fibre symbolises its self-reliance, but diplomatic records show the project was less successful than Kim hoped - Pyongyang was more dependent on others than it claimed.

The North Korean government does not provide foreign media with a point of contact in Pyongyang and the state's delegation to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.

The global vinylon fibre industry was worth $443 million in 2016 and is projected to reach $539 million by 2022, according to Orbis Research. Swedish outdoor clothing company Fjällräven uses a form of vinylon, Vinylon F from Japan, in products including the Kånken backpack.

Fjällräven does not source material from North Korea, a company spokesman said.

Companies in Japan and China make vinylon based on petroleum. But North Korea has no oil reserves. Instead it makes vinalon from two commodities it has in abundance: coal and limestone.

The process starts with workers mining anthracite and breaking limestones.

Vinalon dates back to 1939, two years after DuPont of the United States introduced nylon, and with it affordable stockings, American glamour and movie stars.

At the time, North Korea was part of Japan and nylon was undercutting Japanese silk and cotton exports. A Korean scientist was on the team that developed an alternative fibre. His name was Ri Sung Gi.

Ri's invention starts out as hard, white crystals that look like sea salt. But once drawn out and spun into a thread, it acquires a texture like cotton. It is stiff and hard to dye, but strong.

It was promising. But two wars interrupted Ri's efforts to develop his fabric.

In 1948, after World War Two, North Korea became a Communist state.

The North Koreans invaded the South and in the ensuing three years, the U. S. bombed Pyongyang. Around 2. 5 million soldiers and civilians died on both sides, according to South Korea's defence ministry.

In 1953, the Korean War paused with a truce.

Ri wanted to help rebuild. He offered to develop his fabric in South Korea. The South, which was allied with the United States, was not interested.

At this time, all Soviet states were driving for technological prowess. The North was courting foreign scientists, and it did what it could to keep hold of them.

Ri defected. North Korea likened him to Marie Curie, the French chemist who developed the theory of radioactivity.

To bore a hole into the heart of U. S. imperialism, I have been peering through microscopes and shaking my test tubes with determination," Ri Sung Gi wrote in his memoirs.

JUCHE!

The Soviet Union was forging ahead. On April 12, 1961 Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin beat America to be the first man in space. Josef Stalin sponsored Kim Il Sung as founder of North Korea.

Under Japanese rule, the North had received more investment in heavy industry than the South and it had ample energy.

But North Korea needed overcoats for its people, Kim told the Soviet ambassador, A. M. Puzanov. If we do not solve the clothing problem it will be hard to compete with the South," he said, according to Puzanov's journal. The Soviet Union could not help supply cotton.

Ri had proven in lab tests that vinalon could be made. Kim saw the fibre as a political tool.

He created an ideology of self reliance known as Juche. The word translates literally as "subject," but stands for the notion that man is the master of his own destiny.

Kim said vinalon was the "juche fibre.

The vinalon industry is the shining fruition that the Juche idea of our Party was reflected in the field of chemical industry," Kim said in 1967.

On May 6 1961, he held an opening ceremony for the February 8 Vinalon Plant in Hamhung, in South Hamgyong province. Kim was telling his allies North Korea could produce 10,000 tonnes of vinalon a year and would soon be producing more than 300 million metres of textiles a year, according to documents in the Wilson Center archive.

The factory, built by a division of the Korean People's Army working on three shifts of 3,000 people, went up so quickly that the triumphal phrase "vinalon speed" emerged in state propaganda.

Looking at the first vinalon strands, Ri said they were "white as snow and lighter than a dandelion puff.

Kim Sung-hee, a North Korean who defected to the South, said she attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Inside the factory I saw pink and red jackets. Even after 15 years, the vinalon jackets did not get frayed, although the colours could change a bit," she said.

Defectors born before the 1980s said they used to wear jackets, school uniforms and socks made of vinalon.

The fibre was part of an industrial drive like the one Mao Zedong launched in China. North Korea's effort was known as Chollima. Embodied by a Flying Horse, it galvanised workers into skipping breaks to boost productivity, helped by slogans such as "drink no soup.

In 1961 Kim Il Sung met his Chinese comrade Deng Xiaoping and told him North Korea had "already succeeded" in producing vinalon to ease the country's clothing problem. Deng said the process demanded electricity. But Kim was not worried.

We won't need to use electricity in future. We can use oxygen," Kim said.

In the early 1960s, as an anti-Communist coup in South Korea and the Cuban missile crisis sent North Korea down a path of military buildup, the economy was growing fast.

An economist at Cambridge University in England, Joan Robinson, visited in 1964 and wrote that "all the economic miracles of the postwar world are put into the shade" by what she saw, including vinalon. She recorded the formula for making it.

The North grew faster than the South - a trend which continued into the 1970s, according to U. N. and CIA economic data.

In 1972, the CIA recorded figures from 1956-1971 which showed the North had produced 7 million more metres of textiles than the South. In the early years the North's output of fish products, coal, iron ore, steel, cement, chemical fertilisers and tractors also exceeded that of the South.

The CIA figures show that until the mid 1960s, the North consistently exported more than the South in dollar terms.

North Koreans called vinalon "the King of Fibres" and featured it in cartoons to teach children how independent and successful the country was.

A TV show from 1976 shows Vinalon Man win a race against Mr Nylon.

But in reality, the fabric's limits were emerging. It was not good at keeping people warm. And power was becoming a problem. By now, oil was cheap in the West and the outside world was using it in abundance for energy, transportation and synthetic materials.

North Korea had no oil reserves for making vinalon or powering its factories and Pyongyang depended on oil imports from the Soviet Union. Even so, Kim Il Sung said North Korea must be independent.

It may be cheaper and faster to produce the synthetic fibre using petro-chemistry . But, constructing industries dependent on other countries' raw materials is the same as having others grab you by the collar," he said.

To help make its fabric of stone, the North wanted nuclear power. For years, it asked its Soviet allies to help with generation facilities. It only secured one nuclear power station. In 1967, vinalon inventor Ri was made head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute in Yongbyon. Today, this houses the North's light water nuclear reactor.

In 1973, Kim Dong Gyu, a high-ranking North Korean official, told Romania's leader Nicolai Ceaucescu that North Korea was producing "70-80 tons" of vinalon, and finding that hard to increase.

Presently we are struggling to increase production in vinalon factories up to 50,000 tons per year," he said.

The Hamhung facility was expanded so it could make more calcium carbide, the coal and limestone compound on which vinalon is based. Soviet economies were driven by targets laid down in plans rather than the laws of supply and demand.

Calcium carbide can be used to make many things. Defectors from Hamhung told Reuters that it was thought to make chemical weapons - a claim others have also made and which is technically possible, but which no one has proven.

Every factory in North Korea, whatever factory that would be . had divisions for the Second Economy," said Lee Min-bok, 60, who worked as a researcher at the Academy of Agricultural Science and visited the first vinalon factory.

People in North Korea call the war industry the Second Economy. The first economy is called the People's Economy.

More recently, Western arms experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies suggested the vinalon plant might be used to help produce rocket fuel for missile tests. Scientists say this too is technically possible, but unproven.

As North Korea built up its military, its debts increased. It eventually owed a total of $11 billion to Moscow, most of which Russia was to write off in 2012. The North also accumulated debts in the West. They went unpaid year after year, totalling around $770 million in the 1970s.

Soviet support was declining, and China's new leader Deng Xiaoping was introducing market principles. He signed agreements on trade with North Korea in 1982.

North Korea started building a second vinalon factory in Sunchon in 1983, to achieve "a target 1. 5 billion meters of cloth.

The factory was to be the biggest chemical industrial complex in the country and be controlled by the military. Kim's talk of running it on oxygen never materialised. Despite the reported $10 billion investment, the complex was never fully completed.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, North Korea lost all its Soviet funding. Chinese imports entered ordinary North Koreans' lives. China has exported hundreds of thousands of tons of textiles and clothing to North Korea, customs data show.

In the 1990s, North Koreans relied mostly on Chinese fabric for their clothes. Since then, enormous amounts of Chinese fabric have been imported into North Korea," said Choi Goog-jin, a South Korean entrepreneur who tried to import North Korean vinalon in 2011.

On July 8, 1994, Kim Il Sung died from a heart attack. His son Kim Jong Il took over, but within a year, Pyongyang was forced to ask international humanitarian agencies for aid.

Hamhung was hit by a flood and received no coal. It suspended fibre production.

There was no work. Residents from Hamhung said vinalon became the basis of an exchange scheme to survive. It was a similar story across the country.

Famine killed as many as 3 million North Koreans. North Koreans still call those years the "Arduous March," a term introduced by the official media to stir the starving.

Defectors say people took machine parts, as well as pure nickel and copper from wires and pipes, to informal markets.

People ripped machines into metal parts from the vinalon factory, smuggled and sold them . some of them were publicly executed. Production lines stopped rolling . workers starved to death," said Jeong Jin-hwa, 53, who defected to the South in 1999.

By 1996, when vinalon's inventor Ri Sung Gi died, even party cadres loyal to the socialist system had turned to trading - a form of capitalist "self-reliance.

In 2001, Choi Goog-jin, the South Korean entrepreneur, created a company, Korea Vinylon Co Ltd, to import North Korean vinalon. After one year of sample tests and negotiations, the business failed.

Vinalon doesn't have competitiveness in clothing," said Choi. If you look at vinalon suits in North Korea, they are rough and heavy.

In 2002, in Onsong County, North Korea, a high school student also called Choi said he bought a fake Adidas t-shirt and short pants from a market. The blue clothes were made of vinalon.

I wore that fake Adidas kit until I came here," said Choi, now 30, who defected to the South in 2006. The colour did not change. It was quite sturdy.

We have this expression - socialism during the day and capitalism at night," Choi said. That is, politically and what is seen on surface is socialism but beneath the surface, everything people do is capitalistic.

In 2010, Kim Jong Il reopened the February 8 Vinalon Complex.

This is an extra-big event, as important as launching a new type A-bomb, and represents a great victory of socialism," he said.

The next year, he died suddenly on his private train. His son, Kim Jong Un, took over and in 2012 introduced economic changes, including turning a blind eye to the informal markets.

There was demand for vinalon - in those private markets.

Jung Min-woo, 29, served as a military officer before leaving North Korea in 2013. He said some ranking military officers bought custom-made shiny vinalon uniforms from private markets to look cool.

Many ranking officers wear them. but they are not good for a war," he said.

If war breaks out lots of sparks and bullets go back and forth. Cotton tends to melt and vanish but vinalon burns you because it sticks to your skin," Jung said.

Entrepreneur Choi agreed. The uniforms made of vinalon are not suitable for combat," he said. When it rains, the uniforms soak up water and become very heavy, which inevitably makes it difficult for soldiers to move. After a while, the uniforms turn very stiff.

By now, instead of producing vinalon, many North Koreans made clothes for China. Kang Eung Chan, who defected in 2013, said he hired 40 local seamstresses and used imported fabrics - including nylon - to make jumpers for Chinese customers. He paid locals $40-50 a month.

Who wears vinalon now? Almost no one," said Kang.

Even so, North Korea says it still produces the fibre. In his 2017 New Year's speech, Kim Jong Un laid out a plan to revamp the vinalon complex.

This sector should revitalise production at the February 8 Vinalon Complex, expand the capacity of other major chemical factories and transform their technical processes in our own way," he said.

If the new leader manages to drive North Korea's vinalon output with as much vigour as its missile tests, the fabric made of stone may yet find a new lease of life.

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Apple plans to open new US campus

Apple plans to open new US campus

Apple Inc will open a new campus as part of a five-year, $30 billion US investment plan and will make about $38 billion in one-time tax payments on its overseas cash, one of the largest corporate spending plans announced since the passage of a tax cut signed by US President Donald Trump.

The company has been under increasing pressure to make US investments since the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump targeted the iPhone maker for making products in Asian factories.

While Apple has announced no plans to change that practice and experts say it would be economically impractical to make iPhones in the United States, the company has begun to emphasise its US economic impact, from developers who sell software on its App Store to the tens of billions of dollars per year it spends with US suppliers.

Between the spending plan, hiring 20,000 people, tax payments and business with US-based suppliers, Apple on Wednesday estimated it would spend $350 billion in the United States over the next five years.

It did not, however, say how much of the plan was new or how much of its $252. 3 billion in cash abroad - the largest of any US corporation - it would bring home. In addition to the $38 billion in taxes it must pay, Apple has run up $97 billion in US-issued debt to pay for previous share buybacks and dividends.

Some investors said the US investments would give the company room to make more stock buybacks or pay dividends without criticism. Apple shares on Wednesday closed up 1. 7 percent to $179. 10.

Walter Piecyk, managing director for TMT Research at BTIG Research, said he could not yet tell whether the US expansion was an increase from a previous plan or meant investment abroad was being refocused in the United States. Reuters Breakingviews estimated that Apple could have increased US headcount by 24,000 in the last five years.

Trump described the move by Apple as a victory for his efforts.

I promised that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States. Great to see Apple follow through as a result of TAX CUTS,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Asked in an interview with ABC News whether the job creation announcements were directly related to the Republican tax plan, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook gave a measured response.

Let me be clear: There are large parts of this that are a result of the tax reform, and there’s large parts of this we would have done in any situation,” Cook said in the interview.

About a third of Apple’s new spending will be on data centers to house its iCloud, App Store and Apple Music services, a sign of the rising importance of subscription services to a company known for its computers and gadgets. Apple has data centers in seven states.

The announced U. S spending would be a significant part of Apple’s overall capital expenditures. Globally, the company spent $14. 9 billion in 2017 and expects to spend $16 billion in 2018, figures that include both US-based investments in data centers and other projects and Asian investments in tooling for its contract manufacturers.

If Apple’s overall capital expenditures continue to expand at the same rate expected this year, the $30 billion investment in the United States could represent about a third of its capital expenditures over the next five years.

The announced tax payment was roughly in line with expectations, said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross. The tax bill requires companies to pay a one-time 15. 5 percent tax on foreign-held earnings whether they intend to bring them back to the United States or not.

Apple had set aside $36. 3 billion in anticipation of tax payments on its foreign cash, meaning the payment would not represent a major impact on its cash flow this quarter.

James Cordwell of Atlantic Equities said Apple’s US investment plan could make it easier for the company to give more cash to shareholders.

Being seen to just hand the cash back to shareholders could spark some political sensitivities,” and the spending announcement could be part of Apple’s efforts to manage this issue, Cordwell said.

Apple also said it would boost its advanced manufacturing fund, used to provide capital and support to suppliers such as Finisar Corp and Corning Inc, from $1 billion to $5 billion. Apple said it planned to spend $55 billion with US-based suppliers in 2018, up from $50 billion last year.

Apple joins Amazon. com Inc in scouting for a location for a new campus. Amazon finished taking applications from cities in October for its second headquarters.

Amazon set off a scramble between cities across the nation to host the headquarters, and Apple’s announcement stirred broad interest. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters on Wednesday, “We’re going to go compete and we’re going to put our best foot forward” to compete for an Apple campus. adelphia Department of Commerce spokeswoman said the city would submit a proposal if Apple opened the process for bids.

Apple has not said whether it had settled on a new campus location yet, and it did not make any commitments on the size of new spending or hiring specific to the campus. It did say it would initially house technical support for customers and would announce the location later this year.

The facility would be in addition to its “spaceship” Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California; a campus in Austin, Texas, that houses customer service agents and some manufacturing; and an Elk Grove, California, unit with several thousand customer service agents and iPhones refurbishing technicians.

Apple also has built its own data centers in North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and a recently announced project in Iowa, and leases data center space in other states.

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NKorea prepares grand military parade on eve of Olympics

NKorea prepares grand military parade on eve of Olympics

Pyongyang, which has rattled the international community with its nuclear and missile tests in recent months, has agreed to send athletes to the Games and march with the South under one flag at the opening ceremony.

But the North has also vowed to press ahead with commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military, with the South's Yonhap news agency reporting that it is planning a major parade on February 8 -- a day before the Olympic opening ceremony.

Some 12,000 soldiers, artillery and other weapons will feature at the spectacle in an airfield near Pyongyang, Yonhap said, quoting an unidentified South Korean government source.

We believe the North will hold a military parade on February 8th to mark the anniversary of the birth of its regular forces", the source was quoted as saying.

A South Korean defence ministry spokesman said the ministry does not comment on "any matters of military intelligence".

While North Korea often holds military parades to mark a variety of anniversaries, the country varies the dates it marks from year to year.

In 2017, leader Kim Jong-Un staged a giant spectacle showcasing a range of weaponry, including what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in an event on April 15 marking the 105th anniversary of the North's founder.

Kim, who launched a flurry of missiles and the North's sixth and largest nuclear test last year, mentioned plans for a large celebration of the army's 70th anniversary in his 2018 new year address, urging the military to "organise combat drills like real battles".

He also used the speech to offer to take part in the South's Pyeongchang Games, billed by Seoul as a "Peace Olympics", which will be held some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border.

The outlook for the sporting extravaganza has brightened since North Korea confirmed its participation, easing security concerns over nuclear-armed Pyongyang.

The neighbours, which opened long-dormant communications to organise the North's participation, have agreed to field a united team in the women's ice hockey.

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PAK SCAN: India Being Rewarded For Serving US Interests

PAK SCAN: India Being Rewarded For Serving US Interests

The continued violations of the ceasefire agreement 2003 by India, which last year claimed 54 civilian lives and inflicted injuries on 254 of them besides a number of casualties of the Pakistan army personnel, is a calculated attempt to achieve two objectives. One is in the context of Indo-Pak relations premised on the conflict in Kashmir and the

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Innovation Played A Key Role In Bringing India, Israel Closer: PM Modi

Innovation Played A Key Role In Bringing India, Israel Closer: PM Modi

Benjamin Netanyahu is in India for a six-day visit

Ahmedabad: Innovation has played a major role in bringing India and Israel closer, and sentiments of mutual development is crucial for a better future of both countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.

"Innovation has played a great role in bringing the people of India and Israel

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