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North Korea

Poisoning Relations, From Pyongyang To Moscow

News reports of Kim's death in Seoul
News reports of Kim's death in Seoul
Roy Greenburgh


When a hit has been ordered, the chosen method for assassination is ultimately of secondary importance. A "successful" car bomb, stabbing or long-distance rifle shot all have the same final result for the intended victim. Still, there's something about poisoning. The Shakespearean plotting and preparation required to secure and administer the fatal potion give an extra icy chill to premeditated murder at its most devious.

Details are still emerging of Monday's fatal poisoning of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. What we know is that Kim Jong-nam, a sometimes critic of the Pyongyang regime and the oldest sibling of its current leader, was attacked with some substance by at least two women at the Kuala Lumpur airport. The 45-year-old died shortly after, with an autopsy expected today in the Malaysian capital. There is also little doubt that the order came from the highest ranks of the North Korean leadership, meaning that this would be a case of both poisoning and fratricide. Shakespearean indeed, and another reminder of just how sinister and dangerous this nuclear-equipped regime can be.

Perhaps the most high-profile fatal poisoning in recent memory comes by way of another troubling regime in the news: Vladimir Putin's Russia. British investigators believe Putin himself gave the go-ahead to the polonium-210 attack at a London sushi bar of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Moscow spy who had been granted political asylum in the UK. The 2006 case is often cited by those worried about the Russian links of some of those in the new Trump administration, which has led to the abrupt resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn this week.

Donald Trump, who has never held public office before, has stepped into the middle of a very dangerous world. A clear example came this past weekend when that same North Korean regime conducted its latest nuclear missile test, timed with the U.S. visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Some have noted that the two leaders may have breached security by openly discussing the nuclear test at Trump's country club restaurant in Florida. Dine with care, gentlemen, dine with care.

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Iran's War On Abortion Rights, A Toxic Mix Of Theocracy And Demographic Panic

Ending a pregnancy has become a major complication, and a crime, for Iranian women who cannot or will not have children in a country wracked by socio-economic woes and a leadership.

photo of a young child surrounded by women in chadors

Iran's government wants to boost the birth rate at all costs

Office of Supreme Leader/ZUMA
Firoozeh Nordstrom

Keen to boost the population, Iran's Islamic regime has reversed its half-hearted family planning policies of earlier years and is curbing birth control with measures that include banning abortion.

Its (2021) Law to Support the Family and Rejuvenate the Population (Qanun-e hemayat az khanevadeh va javani-e jam'iyat) threatens to fine the women who want to abort, and fine, imprison, and dismiss the performing physician, if the pregnancy is not deemed to be life-threatening. The law also bans contraceptives.

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The measures are in line with the dictates of Iran's Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He was already denouncing birth control policies by 2018-19, though conservative elements among Iran's rulers have always dismissed birth control as a piece of Western corruption.

Today, measures to boost families include land and credit incentives for young couples, but it is difficult to say how far they will counter a marked reluctance among Iranians to marry and procreate. Kayhan-London had an online conversation with individuals affected by the new rules in Iran.

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