China urges restraint amid war of words between Trump and N.Korea

Chinese and North Korean flags outside the closed Ryugyong Korean Restaurant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China on April 12, 2016. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 25 September 2017
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China urges restraint amid war of words between Trump and N.Korea

BEIJING/SEOUL: China on Monday called for all sides in the North Korea missile crisis to show restraint and not “add oil to the flames” amid an exchange of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the UN General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump said on Twitter late on Saturday.
North Korea, which has pursued its missile and nuclear programs in defiance of international condemnation, said it “bitterly condemned the reckless remarks” of the US president, saying they were an “intolerable insult to the Korean people” and a declaration of war, the North’s official news agency said on Monday.
In an unprecedented direct statement on Friday, Kim described Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard” whom he would tame with fire.
Kim said the North would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States and that Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear program was “the correct path.”
Trump threatened in his maiden UN address on Tuesday to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people if North Korea threatened the United States or its allies.
Asked how concerned China was the war of words between Trump and North Korea could get out of control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang described the situation as highly complex and sensitive.
It was vitally important everyone strictly, fully and correctly implemented all North Korea related UN resolutions, Lu said, resolutions which call for both tighter sanctions and efforts to resume dialogue.
All sides should “not further irritate each other and add oil to the flames of the tense situation on the peninsula at present,” Lu told a daily news briefing.
“We hope all sides do not continue doing things to irritate each other and should instead exercise restraint.”
Speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May by telephone, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the North Korean issue should be resolved peacefully via talks, state media said.
China hopes Britain can play a constructive role in easing the situation and pushing for a resumption in talks, Xi added. May, like some other US allies, has pushed for China to do more on North Korea.
Downing Street said the two leaders agreed there was a particular responsibility for China and Britain, as permanent Security Council members, to help find a diplomatic solution.
“They agreed the UK and China should continue working closely together to increase pressure on the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear program,” a spokesman said.
North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on Sept. 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions. Pyongyang said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
While China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, it has also called for the United States and its allies to help lessen tension by dialling back their military drills.
US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force the Pentagon said indicated the range of military options available to Trump.
“A continued rise in tensions on the peninsula, I believe, is not in the interests of any side,” Lu said, responding to a question about the US air force exercises.
For its part, China says it is committed to enforcing sanctions against North Korea.
Wang Jingdong, president of the world’s largest lender Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), told reporters during a briefing the bank will “strictly implement UN Security Council decisions related to North Korea and carefully fulfil relevant international responsibility.”
The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.
The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said his decision to call a snap election would not distract his government from responding to North Korean threats, pledging to increase pressure if Pyongyang failed to halt its missile and nuclear weapons development.


Pupils as young as 10 to be drug-tested in the Philippines

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Updated 38 min 28 sec ago
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Pupils as young as 10 to be drug-tested in the Philippines

  • Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said it would push for drug tests in schools, which will cover teachers and pupils from Grade 4 upward.
  • The PDEA chief came out with the proposal following the recent arrest of a 10-year-old Grade 4 pupil allegedly using drugs, and of three teachers for committing drug-related offenses. 

MANILA: Critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s methods in his war on drugs now include the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), which on Thursday rejected a proposal to subject pupils as young as 10 to mandatory drug testing.

“We should not permit this to happen. Schools are no playground for 'tokhang,' said Raymond Basilio, ACT Philippines Secretary-General. 

“Tokhang” means to knock and plead, and it has been associated with Duterte’s allegedly “bloody drug war,” where policemen knock at the homes of known drug personalities and persuade them to surrender and stop their illegal activities.

Basilio made the statement after Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said it would push for drug tests in schools. This will cover teachers and pupils from Grade 4 upward.

Aquino, however, said that the plan was still at “the study level,” adding that it also had to coordinate with the Department of Education (DepEd) and other government agencies.

The PDEA chief came out with the proposal following the recent arrest of a 10-year-old Grade 4 pupil allegedly using drugs, and of three teachers for committing drug-related offenses. 

PDEA’s proposal was met with criticisms from different groups.

In an email sent by ACT to Arab News, Basilio said that drug-testing would sow terror in schools, disturb the students and destroy the sanctity of schools as safe places for learning. Mandatory drug testing was also a violation of the rights of children and teachers, he said.

According to Basilio the government’s line of thinking is “very dangerous,” as apart from the drug test of nine- or ten-year-olds, a bill to decrease the age of criminal liability to the same level is pending in Congress.

“The state, which has the responsibility to protect our youth, apparently wants to make criminals out of them,” said Basilio. He said that the PDEA chief’s proposal was also an insult to teachers.

“This government should disabuse itself of its belief that we are a nation of drug addicts. What we are is a nation deep in economic crisis. It is where they should focus,” Basilio said.

Basilio said that the government will be wasting people’s money to test 20 million pupils and 700,000 teachers for drug use. “It should be dedicated instead to uplifting the quality of education and upgrading teachers’ salaries,” Basilio said.

Dr. Leticia Penano-Ho, a clinical psychologist and former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Education, also opposed the idea, saying it would be traumatic for children subjected to drug testing at a  young age.

Instead of suggesting drug tests for pupils, Penano-Ho told Arab News that the government should instead strengthen awareness and prevention in schools.

“They can do it in other ways instead of drug testing, which could be very traumatic for a child, aside from being unconstitutional. For employment purposes it’s OK but not for elementary pupils. Maybe for high school students, they can do it,” said Penano-Ho, former director of the ASEAN Training Center for Preventive Drug Education.

“There are ways by which teachers can identify (those using drugs). That’s why what PDEA should do with DDB really, is intensify drug awareness and drug prevention programs,” Penano-Ho said.

“They will be fearful, they will be suspicious. They don’t understand it, and they will not understand. How old is grade 4, 8 or 9? It’s going to be traumatic.”

She said that it could also affect children’s self-esteem because at an early age they were being suspected of committing a crime.

What the government could do, Penano-Ho said, is help teachers to develop more skills in being aware of what the indicators of drug use were. 

“So what we should do is do drug prevention in elementary schools instead of doing drug testing.”

“This government, they’re doing so much on the killing of the addicts. They’re not doing anything to prevent the young ones from becoming addicts. It’s what they should be doing,” Penano-Ho said.

Decoder

What is Tokhang?

“Tokhang” means to knock and plead, and it has been associated with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s allegedly “bloody drug war,” where policemen knock at the homes of known drug users and persuade them to surrender and stop their illegal activities.