United Airlines Halts Flights to New Delhi on Poor Air Quality

United Airlines temporarily suspended Newark-New Delhi flights due to poor air quality in India’s capital, and said some extra charges will be waived for passengers forced to reschedule.

“We are monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and are coordinating with respective government agencies,” a United Airlines spokesperson said in response to a Bloomberg query. 

Other airlines were still flying to the national capital and it was not clear if they will follow United Airlines’ move to suspend flights.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of Delhi, called the capital a “gas chamber” as thick toxic smog continued to envelop the mega-city of around 20 million people on Sunday. The levels of the deadliest, tiny particulate matter — known as PM 2.5, which lodges deep in a person’s lungs — soared to 676 at 2 p.m. local time, according to a U.S. embassy monitor. World Health Organization guidelines suggest levels above 300 are “hazardous.”

Customers traveling over the next several days should visit the United Airlines website or download the company’s mobile application for updates, the spokesperson said.

The Coming Storm of Climate Change

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-12/united-airlines-halts-flights-to-new-delhi-on-poor-air-quality

    Americans Are Officially Freaking Out

    For those lying awake at night worried about health care, the economy, and an overall feeling of divide between you and your neighbors, there’s at least one source of comfort: Your neighbors might very well be lying awake, too.

    Almost two-thirds of Americans, or 63 percent, report being stressed about the future of the nation, according to the American Psychological Association’s Eleventh Stress in America survey, conducted in August and released on Wednesday.  This worry about the fate of the union tops longstanding stressors such as money (62 percent) and work (61 percent) and also cuts across political proclivities. However, a significantly larger proportion of Democrats (73 percent) reported feeling stress than independents (59 percent) and Republicans (56 percent).

    The “current social divisiveness” in America was reported by 59 percent of those surveyed as a cause of their own malaise. When the APA surveyed Americans a year ago, 52 percent said they were stressed by the presidential campaign. Since then, anxieties have only grown.

    A majority of the more than 3,400 Americans polled, 59 percent, said “they consider this to to be the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.” That sentiment spanned generations, including those that lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. (Some 30 percent of people polled cited terrorism as a source of concern, a number that’s likely to rise given the alleged terrorist attack in New York City on Tuesday.)

    “We have a picture that says people are concerned,” said Arthur Evans, APA’s chief executive officer. “Any one data point may not not be so important, but taken together, it starts to paint a picture.”

    The survey didn’t ask respondents specifically about the administration of President Donald Trump, Evans said. He points to the “acrimony in the public discourse” and “the general feeling that we are divided as a country” as being more important than any particular person or political party.

    Yet he and the study note that particular policy issues are a major source of anxiety. Some 43 percent of respondents said health care was a cause. The economy (35 percent) and trust in government (32 percent) also ranked highly, as did hate crimes (31 percent) and crime in general (31 percent). 

     

    “Policymakers need to understand that this is an issue that is important to people, that the uncertainty is having an impact on stress levels, and that stress has an impact on health status,” Evans said, pointing out that the relationship between stress and health is well-established

    • And keeping up with the latest developments is a source of worry all its own. Most Americans—56 percent—said they want to stay informed, but the news causes them stress. (Yet even more, 72 percent, said “the media blows things out of proportion.”)

    The APA survey did find, however, that not everyone is feeling the same degree of anxiety. Women normally report higher levels of stress than men, though worries among both genders tend to rise or fall in tandem. This year, however, they diverged: On a 10-point scale, women reported a slight increase in stress, rising from an average 5.0 in 2016 to 5.1 in 2017, while the level for men dropped, from an average 4.6 to 4.4. 

    Racial divides also exist in reported stress. While the levels among blacks and Hispanics were lower in 2016 than the year before, they rose for both groups in 2017, to 5.2 for Hispanic adults and 5.0 for black adults. Among whites, meanwhile, the average remained the same, at 4.7. 

    The report also notes that many Americans are finding at least one healthy way to feel better: 53 percent reported exercising or doing other physical activity to cope. Social support is also important,  Evans said. “Third,” he says, “I think it’s really important for people to disconnect from the constant barrage of information.” 

    1. The 2017 Stress in America survey was conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the APA. It was conducted online between Aug. 2 and Aug. 31, and had 3,440 participants, all ages 18 and up living in the U.S. It included 1,376 men, 2,047 women, 1,088 whites, 810 Hispanics, 808 blacks, 506 Asians and 206 Native Americans. Data were then weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education and household income to reflect America's demographics accurately. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-01/americans-are-officially-freaking-out

    Yaba addiction: The dark side of Bangladesh’s increasing affluence

    Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN)“I’m telling your dad,” said Angela and marched out with a fistful of foil and methamphetamine pills.

    Rafi was only 24, but his skin was gray and each ragged eye was Martian red. His head jerked an involuntary tick; he coughed and wondered what to do next.
    Angela had been rifling through his drawer looking for a cigarette when she found Rafi’s stash of pills that he had been smoking from foil — known among users as “chasing the dragon.”
      “I didn’t try and stop her because I realized getting caught was good,” said Rafi, while relaying the story.
      “I really wanted to stop because I was feeling horrible … My parents must have known something was wrong, but I think they were in denial,” he added.
      In 2006, Rafi was one of the rich kids who started using the colorful pills, known as yaba, when they first began circulating in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.
      Today, yaba is everywhere.
      Yaba is a combination of methamphetamine and caffeine. They are candy like tablets that come in different flavors, and bright colors. Users typically heat the tablet, which sits on aluminum foil, and then inhale the vapors from the melting tablets. Others crush the tablets into powder and snort them.
      The Bangladesh Border Guards are busting more and more smugglers. They seized more than 29 million pills last year, more than 35 times the amount confiscated in 2010, according to figures from the Department of Narcotic Control. In 2016, they confiscated more than 29 million pills in an array of attractive colors.
      “Myanmar is perceived to be the main country of origin for methamphetamine tablets seized throughout the Mekong sub-region andto some other parts of East and South-East Asia,” said a 2015 report by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The report added that, in 2013, 90% of the taba pills seized in China had originated as meth in Myanmar.
      Didarul Alam Rashed runs a drug treatment center for two dozen clients in Cox’s Bazar near the border with Myanmar as part of the Non-Governmental Organization for National Goals to be Obtained and Retained (NONGOR). He has been in prime position to witness the yaba increase.
      “We did an informal survey in 2002 and found 20,000 people were addicted to drugs in the district but none of them were using yaba,” he said, adding that their drugs of choice back then were weed and heroin.
      “In 2007 there was a flood of yaba and afterwards it was everywhere. When we repeated our survey in 2016 we found 80,000 people were addicted to drugs and about 80% were using yaba.”

      ‘Yaba is destroying our young people’

      In 2013, Oishee Rahman was a 17-year-old addicted to yaba.
      Her parents worried about their wayward daughter so they confiscated her phone and confined her to their Dhaka apartment. Angry, she mixed their coffee with sedatives.
      Rahman watched their heads nod into sleep. Then she took a kitchen knife and stabbed them both to death.
      She locked her younger brother in the bathroom and called a friend to pick her up. She later handed herself in to police, and allegedly confessed.
      Rahman was sentenced to death in November 2015. In its verdict, the court said Rahman had “planned the murder well ahead.” She was 19 years old at the time.
      In June of this year, a Dhaka High Court commuted Rahman’s death sentence to life in prison, having taken into account her age and her mental health.
      Her case was a lightning rod for the anxiety Bangladeshis feel about yaba use among young people, with many commentators blaming the drug for warping Rahman’s mind.
      In the Department of Narcotic Control’s (DNC) 2014 annual report, the most recent one available, they estimated 88% of drug users were aged below 40. A study in Sylhet city, released this year, found 55% of drug users were aged 22-29.
      Yaba pills typically contain methamphetamine, caffeine and non-active bulking agents. It creates a hyper-alert state of rushing energy.
      “It has a vanilla smell and the smoke tastes like I can’t explain,” said Rafi. “First there is a warm feeling in your chest and then you get this rush.”
      Rafi, who says he’s been clean for several years, first started taking the drug when he was a DJ in Dhaka, it helped him stay up all night. As his addiction progressed, he cared less about socializing and preferred to just get high with his friend.
      Rafi described a typical day when he was at the height of his addiction, consuming up to four powerful pills a day. “I used to wake up at 9 or 10 a.m. after forcing myself to sleep for a few hours, smoke yaba and head to work and arrive severely late.”
      “After work, I would call my friend and get to his house around 6 p.m.; the dealer would deliver the stuff and then we’d smoke it and play FIFA on the PlayStation — 20 or 30 games in a row,” Rafi continued. “This went on for two or three years, the same routine every damn day.”
      Kashem, who withheld his last name, is in treatment at NONGOR for his yaba addiction and is currently sober. The 37-year-old recounted how things have changed since he was young.
      “Back in the 1990s we only had heroin or weed,” he said. “Only 5-10% of the people I knew took drugs, but now half of all young people are using yaba.”
      “When the new drug came along everyone wanted it,” he continued. “It was better than heroin because that made you feel weak, but yaba fires up the blood and make the body strong as a lion.”
      Kashem is now worried about his own children. He is sending his eldest son, who has just finished school, to work in Saudi Arabia where drugs are much harder to get. “I don’t want him to end up like me,” he said.

      The Ultimate Merchandise

      Drugs, as US writer William Burroughs once said, are a consumer product and so market forces are a good place to look for explanations.
      In the late 1990s, the drug gangs in neighboring Myanmar began to switch from making heroin to making yaba. The synthetic yaba pill doesn’t depend on unreliable opium harvests; it is small, attractive and easy to smuggle.
      Manufacturers often stamp each pill with a symbol that acts like a brand. In Bangladesh “R7” is the most popular.
      According to the Dhaka Tribune, a single R7 pill costs up to 900 taka ($11). A cheaper version, called “Pink Champa,” goes for about 300 taka ($3.7). The strongest brand, known as “Controller,” costs up to 2,000 taka ($25).
      When the Chinese and Thai borders were tightened the gangs needed new routes to international markets and Bangladesh, with its busy sea ports and porous borders, seemed the obvious choice. Plus it was a proving a lucrative market itself.
      “Given that interdiction efforts have been strengthened along the joint border between Myanmar to China and Thailand, there are indications that drug traffickers have shifted routes,” the UNODC report said.
      Yaba first appeared among the Bangladeshi elites, people who the rest of the population aspired to be like.
      “Yaba became a symbol of smartness, fashion and aristocracy. Model girls, film heroines, singers, dancers and many of the celebrities became a subject of media reports for abusing yaba,” said the DNC report.
      Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the UNODC, said that the real scale of the problem is still unknown. “Bangladesh has characteristics that make it an attractive market for organized crime to develop,” he said.
      “We can’t estimate the yaba/meth trade in Bangladesh given such limited data (extremely limited). Based on frequent and increasingly large seizures we know traffickers are pushing product into the country, but it can’t be estimated purely on that basis,” Douglas added.
      Bangladesh shares a 4,000-kilometer (2,485 mile) border with India and a 250-kilometer (155 mile) border with Myanmar’s Rakhine state — the scene of the current Rohingya refugee crisis. The monumental task of policing these areas has been made more difficult by corruption.
      “Our government is serious about stopping yaba,” said Najnin Sarwar Kaberi, organizing secretary for the ruling Awami League party in Cox’s Bazar, a fishing town in Bangladesh.
      “But it’s difficult because some junior officials are involved in smuggling and some foolish border guards are taking payments and letting the drugs in. It’s very hard to find out who is involved,” she said.
      Soman Mondal, assistant director of the narcotics control office in Cox’s Bazar, disputed the allegation that border guards are corrupt. “I have never received any complaints about my staff being involved in drug distribution,” he said. He added that if drugs are getting through it is because his office is grossly understaffed.
      Border guards make a mere $25 a week, below the average income of $108 per month.
      Kaberi favors a zero-tolerance approach to stamp out the yaba problem. “I would support the death penalty for yaba smugglers,” she said. “And the government must increase the number of rehabs.”
      The Department of Narcotic Control currently lists only five government-run treatment centers and there are 68 private institutions according to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization.
      But rehabs are not the only answer. Rafi managed to quit yaba with the only support of his family.
      “My dad is a chilled guy,” Rafi said. “He didn’t get angry or force me to go to rehab. He wanted to talk and find out why I was doing it. It took Angela a while to trust me again, but she stood by me.”
      Maybe that was why he could let his habit go and become the successful businessman he is today. “I had friends who went to rehab and they all relapsed,” he said. “You have to want to give up. It all comes down to that.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/05/asia/methamphetamine-yaba-bangladesh/index.html

      Can Japan survive without immigrants?

      Tokyo (CNN)Demolition worker Yuichi Aoki’s face creases up when he thinks about Japan’s future.

      “Now I have to work into my sixties. I worry about how my children and their children will cope with an increasingly ageing population.”
      Considerably older than most of his co-workers, Aoki, a former IT worker is also one of only a handful of Japanese nationals employed by a Saitama-based demolition company owned by a Kurdish former asylum seeker.
      The company, the majority of whose workers hail from Turkey, Iran and various parts of Africa, is somewhat unique in Japan, where foreign nationals make up just 1.6% of the country’s overall population.
      Operated by Mehmet Yucel, 28, the company is part of a growing and largely unregulated grassroots economy, that is helping to ease Japan’s labor shortage in so-called undesirable sectors such as demolition and construction.
        Since founding the company in 2016, Yucel says he has received daily calls from immigrants in search of work — some with the right to work legally and others without.
        “Japan is turning a blind eye to these workers because it needs them, but it won’t come up with a proper long-term strategy for them,” says Yucel, whose company is located on the fringes of the Japanese capital.
        Yucel came to Japan 12 years ago to escape ethnic conflict. Now married to a Japanese woman, he has permanent residency status.
        Part of a increasing group of 2.23 million legal immigrants, Yucel considers himself one of the lucky ones. Though Japan is the fourth-largest donor to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in 2016, it accepted just 28 refugees from a total of 10,901 applicants.

        Graying population

        Japan is considered a “super-aged” nation, where more than 20% of the population is over 65 and the birth rate has reached record lows.
        By 2060, the country’s population is expected to plummet by more than 40 million from 2010, to 86.74 million people, according to a projection by the Japanese Health Ministry. With fewer workers paying taxes to support a growing silver population in need of pensions and healthcare services, Japan’s economy is facing an unprecedented challenge.
          This year, labor shortages were the highest they’d been in 40 years, and analysts predict rising shortages in the years ahead.

          Calling Japan’s shrinking population an “incentive” as opposed to a “burden,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has attempted to encourage more senior citizens and women to join the workforce. Yet outside observers argue that large-scale immigration would provide a more obvious fix to Japan’s labor crisis and demographic issues.
          But there appears little appetite among the country’s political class to increase levels of immigration, however important the need.
          In 2005, the then-director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau Hidenori Sakanaka, promoted a plan where Japan would accept 10 million immigrants over a 50-year period. Few people supported the idea and it was later dropped.
          “Japan doesn’t have an immigration policy — this is something that politicians stress,” Chris Burgess, a migration researcher and lecturer of Japan studies at Tsuda Juku University in Tokyo, tells CNN.
          “Many people in Japan believe that the country’s peace and harmony is based on it being a homogenous country where there are few foreigners,” says Burgess. “That kind of thinking pervades a lot of aspects of society and underlies the no immigration principle.”

            Door is closed

            Japan’s attitude to the outside world is nothing new, and the country has a history of being closed off from foreign influence.
            During a period of isolation between 1641 to 1853, Japan barred its nationals from leaving and foreigners from entering. Only traders from China and the Netherlands were allowed at the port of Nagasaki on Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu.
            Nor did Japan rely on foreign labor during its era of rapid economic growth between 1955 and 1973.
            Only in the late 1980s, with the threat of a growing labor shortage, did the country debate the possibility of accepting foreign workers, according to Atsushi Kondo, a law professor and immigration expert at Meiji University.
            Since 1988, the Ministry of Labor has welcomed a small number of foreigners with high skills and qualifications. In the 1990s, the country began to encourage the return of nikkeijin (people of Japanese descent) to the country, under a special visa program.
              But the doors remain closed to low-skilled workers.
              Though Abe has mentioned the need for “foreign technicians” to construct buildings for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he stressed that this should not be misunderstood as an implementation of an immigration policy at an economic meeting held with his cabinet in April 2014.
              The “technical trainee” program is a heavily criticized government program where foreign workers — predominantly from China and Southeast Asia — travel to Japan to work in the agriculture and manufacturing industries purportedly to acquire skills to bring back to their respective countries. Experts argue, however, that this program has led to the exploitation of some, and forced others to depend on loopholes in the system.

              ‘Smoke and mirrors’

              In a small office in northeast Tokyo, Ippei Torii, who has fought for migrant rights for the better part of two decades, is exasperated. He maintains that Japan’s labor shortages could be solved if there was an actual visa for manual laborers seeking to come Japan.
              Torii, the director of nonprofit organization, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SNMJ) tells CNN that instead of creating a long-term immigration strategy that would allow low-skilled workers to have access to the same rights as Japanese citizens, the government has continuously opted for “back door” measures that allow low-skilled foreign workers into Japan on a temporary basis.

              Torii slammed the technical trainee program, asserting that foreign workers ended up taking menial jobs as opposed to learning skills they could take back to their respective countries. He criticized another measure that allows foreign students in Japan to work up to 28 hours part time.
              “These programs are all just smoke and mirrors,” says Torii.
              A spokesman from Japan’s Ministry of Justice, however, refuted Torii’s claim.
              “It’s not true that we use backdoor policies and tolerate illegal immigration to help solve the labor shortage,” he tells CNN.
              “The asylum seeker’s application status is misused by illegal immigrants and we believe that most of the applicants aren’t really asylum seekers. That delays the process for real asylum seekers,” he says.
              In 2016, Japan saw a 44% increase in asylum applicants with Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines being the top three countries of origin.

              A 2010 legal revision has led to the rise of economic migrants posing as asylum seekers, according to Takizawa Saburo, an expert on refugee policy and a member of the Ministry of Justice Immigration Policy Discussion Panel.
              “As Japan doesn’t accept unskilled laborers, many people from countries in Southeast Asia have no way of coming to Japan to work, except through the asylum route,” Saburo tells CNN.
              The 2010 legal revision allows foreigners with valid visa statuses who apply for asylum to start working six months after their application is submitted. While it allows asylum seekers waiting for their cases’ outcome to regain a sense of normalcy and support themselves, it doesn’t allow those without a valid visas status who apply for asylum to work.
              “When this loophole in the law was discovered, it spread through word of mouth and is well-known nowadays,” says Saburo.

              Caught in the system

              In May of this year, around 20 asylum seekers detained at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau staged a rare two-week hunger strike.
              Frustrated by a bureaucratic system that is often slow to process cases, the protesters demanded an end to repeated detentions and a more viable path to working visas.
              Yuki Moriya, a UNHCR Japan spokeswoman, tells CNN the current issue was “really a chicken-and-egg problem.”
              “While the numbers of asylum seekers have increased, the numbers of immigration officials hasn’t, and that’s led to a real delay in processing all these cases. It’s hard for both parties,” she says.
              At Yucel’s demolition site, 25-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker Nurettin, knows what it’s like to be caught in the system.
              He arrived in Japan in 2012, fleeing conflict in southeast Turkey, and has spent two stints in an immigration detention center. He is waiting for his asylum case to be processed.
              Nurettin has no legal right to work, but he can depend on the grassroots support of men like Yucel, and on a larger Saitama-Tokyo based community of around 1,400 Kurdish migrants to get by. He’s had no difficulty working alongside his Japanese colleagues despite the language barriers.
              “We might have different beliefs and ideologies, but when we’re at work it doesn’t matter, we just get the job done,” Nurettin says.
              “I’d be happy to pay taxes to the state if I could receive more support in return, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
              To his side, Aoki nods in agreement.
              “Young people in Japan don’t want to do demolition work, so it’s helpful to (Japanese) society that foreign workers want to do this, and they should get support from the state in return,” Aoki says.
              “Japan really needs to get over its identity as a homogenous nation. If the country remains closed off, the future is uncertain.”

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/01/asia/japan-migrants-immigration/index.html

              Where the elderly take care of each other — because no one else will

              Tokyo, Japan (CNN)In a elementary school turned nursing home, Tasaka Keichi jokes with a group of cheerful old women.

              At 70, he could be mistakenfor a resident, but Tasaka isn’t thinking of retiring anytime soon. Instead, the former tofu-maker is forging a second career as a caregiver to the elderly in Tokyo’s Cross Hearts nursing home.
              “I always had an interest in care-giving and pensioners don’t receive much in Japan so I’m really thankful that this opportunity existed here for me,” Tasaka told CNN.
                “I’m old too so I can understand what these seniors are going through. I actually feel like I’m hanging out with the residents here as opposed to caring for them”

                Catering to a ‘super-aged’ nation

                With its fast-declining birthrate and growing cohort of old people, Japan is considered a “super-aged” nation, where more than 20% of the population is over 65. By 2020, there will be 13 such countries in the world.

                To cope with a growing labor shortage that’s set to hit the care-giving and industrial sectors the hardest, and in the hopes of reinvigorating a stalling economy, the Japanese government has encouraged more seniors and stay-at-home mothers to re-enter the workforce.
                In many ways, Tasaka is a trailblazer for this incentive. For the past five years, he’s ferried daycare residents to and from their homes, and helped feed and provided companionship to others.
                He lives in one of the facility’s neighboring apartment complexes and is just one of a couple of dozen employees over 65, who work alongside both younger Japanese and foreign staff. In many countries, these jobs would be filled by foreign workers but Japan lacks a concrete immigration policy has resulted in older citizens staying in employment for longer.
                The facility — which has a waiting list of several hundred — sets their official retirement age at 70, but lets people who want to work do so until 80. The common retirement age in Japan is between 60 and 65, but doctors recently proposed raisingitto 75.
                Despite efforts to encourage more senior citizens to work for longer, 80.5% of companies in Japan still set their official retirement age at 60, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
                In 2013, the government passed a law requiring companies to raise the mandatory retirement age to 65. But full compliance isn’t required until 2025.

                This has created a situation where many companies rehire senior workers at lower salaries once they pass retirement age, according to Atsushi Seike, an economist at Keio University in Japan.
                “There should be more pressure on companies to extend mandatory retirement to 65 as a decline in wages really discourages older workers to continue working,” he said.

                Developing second careers

                Cross Hearts executive director Seiko Adachi told CNN that many of her more senior charges are motivated through their interaction with younger workers and older residents.
                “Growing old is the first step in losing something, whether that be your sibling, your parent, or your role in society … the good thing about elderly carers, is that they really understand how our elderly residents are feeling,” she said.
                “It’s also good preventative care for them as if they feel like they have a place to go, that will keep them going.”
                According to Adachi, the key to engaging more senior employees is by helping them focus on their care-giving job, not as a part-time wage-filler, but as a second career that they can really develop.
                For some, the possibilities appear endless.
                “I want to study for another care-giving license and take on a managerial role later on,” Tasaka said with a grin. “I don’t feel limited by my age.”

                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/22/asia/japan-nursing-home-old-workers/index.html

                Kim Jong Il Fast Facts

                (CNN)Here is a look at the life of the late Kim Jong Il, former Leader of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Details of his life were mysterious and varied from source to source.

                Death date: December 17, 2011
                Birth place: Sources vary between Khabarovsk, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/Siberia and Mount Paektu, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
                  Father: Kim Il Sung, former president of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
                  Mother: Kim Jung Suk
                  Marriages: Kim Ok (July 2006-December 17, 2011, his death); Ko Yong Hui (1977-2004, her death); Kim Yong Suk (1974-December 17, 2011, his death); according to some sources – Hong Il Chon (1966-1969, divorced)
                  Children: with Ko Yong Hui: Kim Jong-chul, Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong Un; with Kim Yong Suk: Kim Sul-song, 1974; with Song Hye-rim: Kim Jong Nam (1971-February 13, 2017); according to some sources – with Hong Il Chon: Kim Hye-kyung
                  Education: Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang, degree in political economy, 1960s
                  Other Facts:
                  Was sometimes called the “Dear Leader.”
                  Scholars and historians believe he was born in Russia, but that his birth place has been altered in many sources to Mount Paektu because legend has it that this is where Korea was founded.
                  Timeline:
                  1973 –
                  Is elected to the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party and is appointed party secretary.
                  1980s-1990s – Holds important positions on the Central Committee, in the Politburo and in the Party Secretariat.
                  1991 – Is named commander in chief of North Korea’s military.
                  July 8, 1994-December 17, 2011 – Becomes the leader of North Korea when his father dies.
                  October 8, 1997 – Is named leader of the Worker’s Party of Korea.
                  September 1998 – Is re-elected as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the nation’s highest position. (The term “president” is reserved for his late father.)
                  May 2000 – Makes a secret visit to China.
                  June 2000 – Meets with South Korean leader Kim Dae Jung, the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
                  October 2000 – US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visits North Korea, the first US Secretary of State to do so.
                  June 17, 2005 – Personally meets with Chung Dong Young, South Korean Unification Minister, to discuss the possibility of renewed six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
                  October 2, 2007 – Roh Moo Hyun, President of South Korea, meets with Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.
                  December 5, 2007 – Receives a personal letter from US President George W. Bush requesting compliance with North Korea’s pledge to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs. The letter, written and hand-signed by Bush, is delivered by US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, and it provides additional encouragement for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program, a pledge North Korea made after the six-party talks held in Geneva earlier in the year.
                  September 9, 2008 – According to US and South Korean intelligence, Kim Jong Il has been suffering from severe health problems and may have had a stroke.
                  January 2009 – Reports from South Korea say Kim Jong Il plans on naming as successor Kim Jong Un, 25, his third and youngest son.
                  April 9, 2009 – Is re-elected for third term as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the nation’s highest position.
                  August 4, 2009 – Meets with former president Bill Clinton, pardons and releases captured American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling.
                  September 29, 2010 – Is re-elected as general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. He promotes both his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, and his sister, Kim Kyong Hui, to the rank of general. Kim Jong Un is also named as vice chairman of the party’s central military commission.
                  August 20, 2011 – Kim Jong Il travels to eastern Russia. He meets with President Dmitry Medvedev in Buryatia.
                  December 17, 2011 – Dies at the age of 69, reportedly of a heart attack.
                  December 28, 2011 – A three-hour state funeral takes place in Pyongyang for Kim, with a memorial service scheduled for the next day.

                  Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/26/world/asia/kim-jong-il-fast-facts/index.html

                  India facing another summer of deadly heat

                  New Delhi (CNN)India is facing another record hot and potentially deadly summer.

                  Hundreds of people died last year as swaths of the country were struck by drought amid temperatures as high as 51 degrees Celsius (124 degrees Fahrenheit).
                  That followed a 2015 heat wave that left more than 2,300 people dead.
                    The Indian Meteorological Department predicts that this summer will see an average temperature increase of 1 degree in some of the hottest parts of the country such as Rajasthan and Maharashtra states, which as of April were already seeing highs of over 45 C (113 F).
                    New Delhi, India’s capital, hit 43.7 C on April 18 — the city’s hottest day that month since 2010.
                    An average increase of one degree over three months is “substantial,” said CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward. It will result in higher temperatures for longer periods of time and more potentially deadly heat waves.

                    Precautions

                    While India is scrambling to prepare for the hot weather, experts say the task is complicated by multiple overlapping levels of local and state government with responsibility for the issue.
                    Moves taken since 2015 have paid off, said K. J. Ramesh, director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), pointing to a sharp drop in heat deaths in 2016, compared with the year before.
                    “In 2015, the mortality was very high. But with just a little response from the states in 2016, the mortality was reduced by half,” said Ramesh. “This year we want to see that all states are working with us.”
                    Various states and municipalities have introduced early warning systems, public awareness campaigns and increased training for medical professionals, according to Dileep Mavalankar, an expert at the India Institute of Public Health (IIPH).
                    But he warned that the apparently lower figures for heat deaths in 2016 were likely a result of “gross under-reporting.”
                    “There’s no systematic way of reporting a heatstroke death,” Mavalankar said.
                    Anup Srivastava, a consultant with the Indian National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said that while 11 states have prepared plans for this year’s heat wave, many more have not, and the NDMA lacks the ability to compel local governments to act.

                    More to do

                    Despite all the challenges, public health researchers and policy experts are optimistic.
                    A meeting held by the NDMA and IMD in March in an attempt to drum up support from local officials was widely attended, said Nehmat Kaur, a development policy economist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in India.
                    “Where we are today is absolutely commendable as opposed to three years ago,” she said. Then, the IMD did not send any weather warnings to state governments about the heat.
                    But Lipika Nanda, a regional IIPH director, said that gaps remain, chief among which is a more finely-tuned prediction method that would allow states to better know when heat alerts are needed.
                    At present, the threshold temperature for an alert in the eastern state of Odissa is higher than that at which deaths have occurred in the past, creating a risk that people will not protect themselves in potentially fatal heat, she said.
                    Critical temperatures also vary by geography, Nanda said. In Odissa, her team found more deaths in coastal regions than inland, making a statewide, one-size-fits-all alert less useful.
                    With temperatures already reaching 45 C in parts of India, and on the rise, the pressure is on to avoid another deadly summer.

                    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/24/asia/india-heat-wave-deaths/index.html