Archive for October 3, 2013

SHAKO: Asian Ceremonial Uniforms

Hagel in Asia

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is winding up a week-long trip to Asia and meetings with leaders in Japan and South Korea. One of the duties of a high level visit like this is for the secretary of defense to review an honor guard of the host nation’s military.

We’ve run photos in the past when previous SecDefs Robert Gates and Leon Panetta have gone overseas. But so far we haven’t done so with Hagel. Since there are some snappy uniforms in both countries, we thought we’d share a few Defense Department photos with you.

Japan …

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Here we see Hagel escorted Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera for a pass and review during an honors arrival in Tokyo on Thursday, October 3. Hagel met with the his opposite number to discuss several topics but the main goal of the visit was to take part in so-called two-plus-two” consultations between U.S. and Japanese foreign and defense ministers. Secretary of State John Kerry joined Hagel in the talks.

South Korea …

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also visited South Korea this past week where they met with Korea’s minister of defense, and participated in a U.S. Forces Korea change of command ceremony. And in case you’re wondering, No, these are not typical Korean military uniforms.

The sailors and Marines in the photo below are more typical at least when it comes to dress uniforms. The sailors may look like their wearing skirts, but if you click on the photo below to enlarge it, you will see their actually wearing very baggy, short trousers — kind of like what pirates wore in the 18th century. Note the white gaiters or leggings (or leggins) the sailors are wearing over their boots. Like the French and several other militaries around the word, the Korean Marines sport white laces on their black boots. Kinda looks like they’re wearing old time hockey skates.

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo


October 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Nairobi Attack Probe, Africa’s Burgeoning Birthrate

After the Attack

Kenya (CIA World Factbook)

(CIA World Factbook)


Bodies are still being found in the wreckage of an upscale Nairobi shopping mall a week after it was attacked and scores of people killed by terrorists from neighboring Somalia. As in other terrorist attacks, questions are being raised about how such a thing could happen, why was the response of security forces slow and was there any intelligence that wasn’t acted upon?

But questions are also being asked about why it took four days to root out a small number of attackers and — perhaps more troubling — did Kenyan soldiers stop to loot some of the mall shops during and immediately after the fighting, according to NPR.

“We wish to affirm that government takes very seriously these allegations of looting,” Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said at a Nairobi press conference NPR reported. The public radio network also noted an intelligence report leaked to Kenyan newspapers indicates that security chiefs and government officials were warned that the Westgate Mall was a target of the Islamic militant group, al Shabaab — which has claimed responsibility for the attack. The violent group, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, said the attack was a reprisal for Kenyan’s incursion into Somalia in 2011 to stamp out the group which has launched several attacks in Kenya.

The attackers sprayed shoppers and store workers with automatic weapons fire and threw hand grenades. Fires broke out in the four story mall and part of the building collapsed, burying several bodies, which have to be identified.

The New York Times has a shocking series of photos showing just how violent the attack and ensuing siege was. The photos, which can be seen here, show burned out stores with melted bottles and packages, a collapsed parking garage littered with concrete, dust and overturned cars, bullet-riddled shop windows and broken glass everywhere. What the photos don’t show is the human toll: at least 67 civilians and security forces as well as five gunmen.

But 59 people were still listed as missing Wednesday (October 2) by the Kenyan Red Cross. And some law enforcement experts are speculating that the number of attackers may have been smaller than originally believed, according to The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, and other news outlets.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, is back in the Netherlands where he is facing charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly inciting ethnic violence that left more than 1,000 people dead following Kenya’s disputed 2007 election, according to the Voice of America’s Africa website.

Ruto was allowed to return to Kenya from his trial at International Criminal Court in The Hague to allow him to help Kenya in the wake of the Nairobi mall attack. The ICC refused to extend his leave and he returned to court Wednesday (Oct. 2).

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces similar charges is slated to go on trial in The Hague in November.

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Baby Ka-Boom

A 2010 traffic jam in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where population is projected to nearly double by 2050. (Photo: Skyscaper City)

A 2010 traffic jam in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where population is projected to more than double by 2050.
(Photo: Skyscaper City)

Africa’s population is predicted to more than double from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion people by 2050, according to a new study released Thursday (Oct. 3), the Christian Science Monitor reports.

The 10 countries with the world’s highest fertility rates are all in sub-Saharan Africa — where mothers have an average of 5.2 children — says the report  by the Washington DC-based Population Reference Bureau.

Seven of the 10 countries with the highest fertility rates are also among the bottom 10 on the United Nations’ Human Development Index and that could hamper efforts to limit poverty and its other ills in Africa. But experts point out that seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are also in Africa.

The report predicts that by 2050, many African states are likely have more than doubled their population. Kenya is expected to  rise from 44 million to 97 million people, and Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation — from 174 million to 440 million. The report finds that some nations will nearly triple their growth. For example, Somalia will have 27 million people in 2050, up from an estimated 10 million today; the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 71 million population is predicted to rise to 182 million.

October 3, 2013 at 12:03 am Leave a comment


October 2013


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