Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Welcome to Naija Gist: Israeli military: Syrian rockets hit Golan Heights...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Israeli military: Syrian rockets hit Golan Heights...: Israeli military: Syrian rockets hit Golan Heights Several rockets landed early Wednesday in the Hermon area of the northern Israeli-...

Welcome to Naija Gist: BlackBerry launches low-cost Q5 phone

Welcome to Naija Gist: BlackBerry launches low-cost Q5 phone: BlackBerry launches low-cost Q5 phone The new BlackBerry Q5 is aimed at countries where smartphone use hasn't yet reached a saturat...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Someone's about to win $10,000 in App Store cash

Welcome to Naija Gist: Someone's about to win $10,000 in App Store cash: Someone's about to win $10,000 in App Store cash Apple has a live countdown ticker on its iTunes Web page. Sometime very...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Gigabytes to go: Choosing the right mobile compute...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Gigabytes to go: Choosing the right mobile compute...: Gigabytes to go: Choosing the right mobile computer Pick the ultrabook or tablet that works, or plays, the way you do. (Money Mag...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Hong Kong calls on Bangladesh to fill domestic hel...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Hong Kong calls on Bangladesh to fill domestic hel...: Hong Kong calls on Bangladesh to fill domestic helper shortage Hong Kong is facing a shortage of foreign domestic helpers from the r...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Syrian rebel cuts out soldier's heart, eats it

Welcome to Naija Gist: Syrian rebel cuts out soldier's heart, eats it: Syrian rebel cuts out soldier's heart, eats it Shocking video alleges atrocity in Syria (CNN) -- The ghastly video ...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Anonymous bidder pays $610,000 for coffee with App...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Anonymous bidder pays $610,000 for coffee with App...: Anonymous bidder pays $610,000 for coffee with Apple's Tim Cook A cup of coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook cost one lucky (...

Anonymous bidder pays $610,000 for coffee with Apple's Tim Cook

Anonymous bidder pays $610,000 for coffee with Apple's Tim Cook



A cup of coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook cost one lucky (!) bidder $610,000. We hope it's worth it.
A cup of coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook cost one lucky (!) bidder $610,000. We hope it's worth it.
Somebody really, really wants to get an audience with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
An anonymous bidder paid $610,000 to chat over coffee with Apple's chief executive, according to online-auction site Charity Buzz, which began accepting bids about three weeks ago.
Tuesday's winning bid came only several minutes before the auction closed at 4 pm ET. The auction site had valued the meeting with Cook at $50,000.
Proceeds from the auction will go to The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, an international nonprofit founded as a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy by his family and friends.
The auction saw 86 bids, many of them from companies that do business (or want to do business) with Apple.
The coffee chat will happen at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters. The winner may bring along one guest. Travel and lodging for the visit, which will last between 30 minutes and an hour, are not covered.
Visitors will be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement and are subject to a security screening. Also, they can't liveblog or tweet during their meeting.
The move fits in with the more open public persona Cook has adopted since replacing late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. In the past 18 months Cook has met with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and toured factories in China that make Apple products.
By some measures, a $600,000 coffee meeting with the chief of the world's leading tech company might be a bargain. An anonymous bidder paid $3.4 million last year for lunch with star investor Warren Buffett.

Gigabytes to go: Choosing the right mobile computer

Gigabytes to go: Choosing the right mobile computer


mobile computing Pick the ultrabook or tablet that works, or plays, the way you do.
(Money Magazine)

You may own a laptop, but do you really want to lug it very far? To find a device you can actually tote every day, focus on what your new gadget should do best.

DESKTOP POWER THAT FITS IN YOUR BAG
HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4
Cost: $750; 4GB memory, 500GB hard drive
Size: 9.3 inches tall, 13.4 inches wide
How it excels: At 0.78-inch thick and less than four pounds, the Envy qualifies as an "ultrabook," the featherweight laptops that now make up 28% of the notebook market, says researcher IHS iSuppli.

The Envy has a seven-hour battery, one HDMI and three USB ports, and, for an extra $20, a backlit keyboard. Windows 8 fans will like its touchscreen, which lets you navigate with the swipe of a finger.
THE BASICS, FAST
Samsung Chromebook
Cost: $249; 2GB memory, 16GB hard drive
Size: 8.1 inches tall, 11.4 inches wide
How it excels: The 2.4-pound Chromebook runs only a web browser and apps, keeping it light and zippy, but unlike most Internet-centric devices, it has a full-size keyboard for comfortable typing.

Related: HTC One: An Android phone that works as good as it looks
The device requires a Google account and Wi-Fi for most tasks, though some programs, like word processing, can be used offline. You get 100GB of online storage free for two years, then for $5 a month.
BUSINESS-READY TABLET
Microsoft Surface Pro
Cost: $899 for 64GB
Size: 6.8 inches tall, 10.8 inches wide
How it excels: Road warriors like tablets for cramped planes and passing around in meetings, but most slates aren't designed for getting work done. This two-pounder, though, can handle PowerPoint and spreadsheets.

Someone's about to win $10,000 in App Store cash

Someone's about to win $10,000 in App Store cash



Apple has a live countdown ticker on its iTunes Web page.
Apple has a live countdown ticker on its iTunes Web page.
Sometime very soon, probably Wednesday, somebody will download the 50 billionth app on iTunes.
Apple will give the lucky downloader a $10,000 App Store gift card. The next 50 people to download an app after that will each receive a $500 gift card.
If you're curious to see when this might happen so you can take a shot at winning, Apple has a live countdown ticker on its iTunes Web page. However, it's hard to say how accurate the counter is or how much the rate of downloads may accelerate as the goal gets near.
The promotion is yet another reminder of the massive success of Apple's App Store, which opened in 2008, added to the appeal of the iPhone and spawned many bad "there's an app for that" headlines. It also inspired online app stores by Google, BlackBerry and other companies.
The contest is open to entrants 13 or older in a country where the App Store is available. People also can enter without downloading an app by filling out an online form.
This will mark the second time in three months that Apple has celebrated an iTunes milestone. In February, Phillip Lupke of Germany received a 10,000 euro (about $13,528) iTunes gift card for downloading the 25 billionth song.
How massive a number is 50 billion? According to Apple, counting to 50 billion would take a person 1,600 years.

BlackBerry launches low-cost Q5 phone

BlackBerry launches low-cost Q5 phone

blackberry q5 The new BlackBerry Q5 is aimed at countries where smartphone use hasn't yet reached a saturation point.

BlackBerry on Tuesday unveiled the Q5, a lower-cost, brightly colored smartphone aimed at emerging markets.

"I know this is going be a big hit," said CEO Thorsten Heins, who showed off the device at the BlackBerry Live conference in Orlando.
Heins didn't talk much about the phone's hardware, but he did show off the Q5's BlackBerry-classic QWERTY keyboard and its 3.1-inch touchscreen. The phone's design is similar to that of the once-ubiquitous BlackBerry Curve and the recently released high-end Q10 device.
The Q5 will be available in multiple colors, including black, white, red, orange and pink. It will go on sale starting in July in "selected markets" in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Neither Heins nor BlackBerry's press release mentioned pricing for the Q5.
BlackBerry (BBRY) is struggling to regain share lost to Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) and Samsung in some Western markets -- namely, the United States -- but the company sees a major opportunity in countries where smartphone use hasn't yet reached saturation levels. The Q5 is aimed squarely at those regions.

Israeli military: Syrian rockets hit Golan Heights

Israeli military: Syrian rockets hit Golan Heights

Several rockets landed early Wednesday in the Hermon area of the northern Israeli-held Golan Heights, on Israel's border with Syria, the Israeli military said.
"Initial reports indicate that the rockets are a result of (the) domestic situation in Syria," a spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces said.
"As a result the Hermon side of the mountain will be temporarily closed for visitors."

Hong Kong calls on Bangladesh to fill domestic helper shortage

Hong Kong calls on Bangladesh to fill domestic helper shortage


Hong Kong is facing a shortage of foreign domestic helpers from the region
Hong Kong is facing a shortage of foreign domestic helpers from the region

(CNN) -- Hong Kong is facing an acute shortage of one the engines of its dynamic economy -- cheap domestic help.
More than 290,000 foreign domestic helpers -- mainly Indonesians, Filipinas and Thais - live and work in the special administrative region of Hong Kong, according to Hong Kong's Department of Immigration.
But fears that Indonesian plans to wind up the foreign export of its low-skilled workers by 2017 will lead to a shortage of cheap hired help has the city's employment agencies looking elsewhere in the region.
This week Hong Kong received its first batch of domestic helpers from Bangladesh, a country that agencies hope will provide a rich source of women willing to work in a foreign country for just $HK3,920 ($505) a month.
"There are not enough Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers these days," said Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, the managing director of the Technic Employment Service Centre. "We have a good training course for them in Bangladesh over three months where they learn Cantonese and Chinese cooking.
"We think that employers will be able to accept that," she told CNN.
 
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She said there was now a lot of competition from other countries -- mainly Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan -- for Indonesian maids, making it harder for Hong Kong to recruit them.
"Even though the salary offered in Hong Kong is higher, these countries are a lot closer to Indonesia so it's easier for domestic helpers to return home when they need to," Liu said.
She said Indonesian maids were in demand as carers for the elderly because, with limited English skills, their Cantonese has a tendency to improve quickly.
Filipinas, by contrast, who often have high levels of English before they come to Hong Kong, normally rely on English to communicate with their Hong Kong employers, she said.
Another 75 Bangladeshi workers will arrive in Hong Kong over the next three months, followed by 150 to 200 every month after that.
There are currently just 71 Bangladeshi domestic helpers in Hong Kong, compared with 152,557 Indonesian and 149,009 Filipino domestic helpers in the city, according to 2012 figures from the Department of Immigration.
The Bangladeshi helpers said they paid an agency in Bangladesh about $HK13,000 - more than three times their monthly salary - to apply for the job in Hong Kong.
One of the helpers, Khadiza Akter, 24, who is married with a son, told a press conference in Hong Kong that she planned to work in the city for five years.
"My husband is a driver and I want to buy another car for him so that we can start our own business," she said. "I also want to give my son a better education."
Indonesia's Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar last year announced the country planned to stop sending domestic workers abroad from 2017. While the government has no authority to prevent people from seeking work abroad, he said workers would have to have a clearly defined position and working status before taking up a foreign job.
"The recipient country would have to recognize them as formal workers with certain rights, such as working hours, the right to holidays and leave as well as to a set salary," Iskandar told the Jakarta Globe.
While Hong Kong has strong laws in place to protect the legal minimum wage of $HK3,920 (U.S.$505) a month, domestic helpers are sometimes subject to abuses such as long working hours, sub-standard living and sleeping arrangements and employers that attempt to cut deals to pay below the legal minimum.
Indonesia slapped moratorium on domestic workers to Malaysia in 2009 after multiple cases of abuse there. While the country has since lifted the ban, it only resumed sending migrant workers after more than a year of protracted negotiations on protecting the rights of domestic workers in Malaysia.
Indonesia's economy has shown stellar growth in recent years, expanding 6.02% in the first quarter of 2013, according to figures from Indonesia's Bureau of Statistics. With jobs available domestically, analysts say many Indonesians were are electing to stay at home.
An Indonesian Business Forum held in Hong Kong recently outlined the thrust of government policy, which aims to boost the skill sets of Indonesian foreign workers, particularly those working in building and construction.
"In five years it will be a very different situation," Indonesian government economic advisor Professor Hermanto Siregar told the forum. "These changes are already happening in the likes of South Korea and Japan. There are many semi-skilled workers employed there now on much better wages than they would earn as domestic helpers."

Syrian rebel cuts out soldier's heart, eats it

Syrian rebel cuts out soldier's heart, eats it

Watch this video

Shocking video alleges atrocity in Syria

(CNN) -- The ghastly video shows how barbaric the Syrian civil war can be.
A man, said to be a well-known rebel fighter, carves into the body of a government soldier and cuts out his heart and liver.
"I swear to God we will eat your hearts out, you soldiers of Bashar. You dogs. God is greater!" the man says. "Heroes of Baba Amr ... we will take out their hearts to eat them."
He then puts the heart in his mouth and takes a bite.
A group loyal to President Bashar al-Assad posted the video online Monday. The group describes the mutilation as a "crime that crosses all lines."
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It's a sentiment shared by the main opposition alliance, which describes the act as "horrific and inhumane."
"The Syrian Coalition strongly condemns this act, if it is revealed to be true," the dissident group said in a statement.
"The coalition stresses that such an act contradicts the morals of the Syrian people, as well as the values and principles of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army."
Rebel spokesman: There's more to the story
Although CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video, CNN has interviewed a local rebel spokesman who confirmed the incident and said he has spoken to the man in the footage.
Tariq al Sayed, a spokesman from the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, said he is a friend of the rebel in the video. He said the incident took place more than two weeks ago, after several rebels and government troops were killed in a battle in western Homs.
Al Sayed said when he saw the video, he told his friend to take it off the Internet because the act was so perverse.
"This was an isolated incident. (His) actions do not represent the FSA. His actions only represent himself," al Sayed said. "This is not just a normal person who sits home. He has had two brothers killed. His mom and dad were detained, and the rest of his family displaced."
The Baba Amr district of Homs, once a bastion of anti-government sentiment, was subjected to a brutal counteroffensive by the Syrian army starting in February 2012, Human Rights Watch said.
Homs came under weeks of relentless attacks by government forces, including indiscriminate shelling on civilian areas.
But the government has repeatedly denied attacking civilians, saying Syrian forces were targeting armed gangs and foreign terrorists bent on destabilizing the government.
Regardless of the horrors suffered in Homs, the atrocious act in the video is inexcusable, Human Rights Watch said.
"It is not enough for Syria's opposition to condemn such behavior or blame it on violence by the government," said Nadim Houry, Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch. "The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuses."

Fowl play? Giant rubber duck drowns in Hong Kong

Fowl play? Giant rubber duck drowns in Hong Kong

Bad night: Rubber duck recreates a scene more familiar in Lan Kwai Fong or Wan Chai.
Bad night: Rubber duck recreates a scene more familiar in Lan Kwai Fong or Wan Chai.

(CNN) -- Hong Kong's favorite new resident, a giant inflatable duck, took a turn for the worse on Wednesday, looking less like an oversized lovable plaything and more like an unappetizing fried egg on the water.
The 16.5-meter (54 feet) inflatable sculpture mysteriously lost its mojo overnight, deflated and bobbed lifelessly in Victoria Harbour.
Organizers called an urgent duck crisis meeting early Wednesday and didn't respond to questions about the misfortunes of the duck or whether the deflation was part of regular maintenance, as reported in some local media. A tweet did appear however on the official Harbour City Twitter account, saying: "The Rubber Duck needs to freshen up. Stay tuned for its return."
Gallery: Floating into Hong Kong Gallery: Floating into Hong Kong
Quacking up over art display
The duck has captivated Hong Kong since its arrival earlier this month. News of the duck's deflation was splashed across Hong Kong media and social networks.
Called "Rubber Duck," it's the product of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. After going on show on May 2, it was to be on display until June 9.
Though it's unclear what happened to the duck, the artist told CNN earlier that the duck was built locally so it would be easier to fix.
Hong Kong is the latest port of call for the duck. It's previously taken up temporary residence in cities all over the world, including Osaka, Sydney, Sao Paolo and Amsterdam.
The duck hasn't always enjoyed plain sailing. In 2009 during a port call in Belgium, it was stabbed 42 times by a vandal.
"We don't know why the person did it," Hofman said. "But in the Middle Ages there was a moment when they ruined all the sculptures in Europe. We call it a "sculpture storm." The museum that bought the work spoke about 'Sculpture Stormers' that would hit the work - and kill it."
"But [the incident] brought the people of that town together. The community had a stake out at night and protected it and even the police looked after it. It shows that this piece of art means a lot to people in the vicinity of this work."
The duck team also closely monitor the weather after the duck copped some nasty treatment during a storm in Belgium.
"There is a crew that has wind speed meters and they follow what the weather does," Hofman said. "They monitor by computer and monitor the weather so they can react in advance because we don't want to cry if it gets ripped up."
For more details on the duck during cheerier times read our earlier report: Hong Kong crazy for giant duck

Japanese politician calls wartime sex slaves 'necessary'

Japanese politician calls wartime sex slaves 'necessary'

Watch this video

Mayor: 'Comfort women' were necessary

(CNN) -- Japanese officials have distanced themselves from comments made by a prominent nationalist politician that suggested women forced to become prostitutes to entertain Japanese troops during World War II were "necessary."
Toru Hashimoto, who serves as the Mayor of Osaka, told reporters at his weekly press conference Monday that "anyone would understand" the role of "comfort women" when soldiers were risking their lives and you wanted to give them "a rest."
Though he acknowledged the issue was a "tragic result of war," Hashimoto, who is co-leader of the nationalist Japan Restoration Party, insisted the use of prostitutes by soldiers was not unique to Japan.
Bizarrely, Hashimoto also revealed that he told a U.S. military commander during a trip to a base on the island of Okinawa that the adult entertainment business in Japan should be "utilized more" by U.S. personnel.
 
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"I told him there are places that operate within the boundaries of the law which can be used for releasing sexual frustration, so they [the U.S. military] should fully utilize it or the marines won't be able to control their aggressive sexual desires."
He said the officer refused to discuss the suggestion.
Reaction at home
Hashimoto's comments also found little support among political colleagues at home.
"A series of remarks by Japanese politicians related to our interpretation of [wartime] history have been misunderstood," Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura told reporters at his weekly press conference Tuesday. "In that sense Mr. Hashimoto's remarks came at a bad time. [But] I wonder if there is any positive meaning to intentionally make such remarks at this particular moment? As for the remarks about adult entertainment, I could not believe that it came from a man representing a political party."
Fellow minister Tomomi Inada asked: "I wonder is this something the representative of a political party should say? I myself think the comfort women [issue] infringed the human rights of the women."
Chief Cabinet Spokesman Yoshihide Suga did not respond directly to Hashimoto's comments but instead told reporters "the stance of the Japanese government on the comfort women issue is, as it has been stated repeatedly in the past, that they suffered unspeakably painful experiences and we keenly feel the pain when we think about them."
Sex slaves
Many of the 200,000 women whom historians estimate were forced to become sex slaves for Japan's former Imperial Army were from the Philippines, China and the Korean peninsula -- all occupied territories at the time. While many have now died, a group of Korean survivors has spent years protesting outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul. They demand greater recognition of their suffering, as well as individual compensation.
They suffered unspeakably painful experiences and we keenly feel the pain when we think about them.
Chief Cabinet Spokesman Yoshihide Suga
Tokyo maintains its legal liability for wrongdoing was cleared by a bilateral treaty signed in 1965 with South Korea. For its part, the Seoul government expressed "deep disappointment" over Hashimoto's comments.
"There is worldwide recognition... that the issue of comfort women amounts to a wartime rape committed by Japan during its past imperial period in a serious breach of human rights," a foreign ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse Tuesday.
"Our government again urges Japan's prominent officials to show regret for atrocities committed during Japan's imperial period and to correct their anachronistic way of thinking and comments."
In 1993, the Japanese government released a statement acknowledging the "immeasurable pain and suffering" endured by thousands of women forced to have sex during World War II. It even vowed to include the comfort women issue in new junior high school textbooks for the first time.
But Japan's wartime past continues to loom over its relations with key Asian neighbors such as South Korea and China, which are currently strained by territorial disputes in the region.

Victims endure lives degraded by traffickers

Victims endure lives degraded by traffickers

Watch this video

Ride-along on a human trafficking raid

Editor's note: This article is part of The Fighters, a series of reports from a full-length film that premieres on CNN International TV on May 17 and 18 at 1900 HKT; 2200 CET; 2200 ET. The documentary is a result of two years of undercover work and filming in the Philippines.
Manila, Philippines (CNN) -- Birds chirp outside. A motorcycle groans up a nearby hill. And in a small, warm room filled with books and framed drawings, a young woman we're calling Maria tears at a tissue as she prepares to tell how sex traffickers corrupted her life.
"I was 15 when I was recruited," she said. "I had to find a job because my father had a lung problem and I needed to find money so we could send him to the hospital."
Maria met a person in her province who said he could find her a job in Manila.
"I thought I was going to work as a dishwasher in a restaurant," she said. "But when I arrived I realized it was a 'casa.'" 'Casa' is a code word for brothel in the Philippines.
Many young girls fall prey to human traffickers. They often leave their homes and villages in the provinces, seeking opportunities to support their families.
The traffickers are adept at convincing them to travel with them.
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"I traveled through the islands. It took me 24 hours to reach Manila. When I got there, I found 16 girls staying in the same small place. Some were as young as 13-years-old," she said.
Maria was trapped and forced to have sex with a number of foreign and Filipino men.
Although she was there for only a few weeks before the Filipino police raided the apartment and freed her and the others, the damage had been done.
Maria routinely saw up to 13 customers a day. Her captors forced her to go to extreme lengths to deceive them into thinking she was a virgin in order to command higher prices.
"We were forced to take a cotton ball and dip it in pigeon's blood, then put that in our sex organ," she says. As outrageous as that is, it is not unusual.
In some parts of Asia, anti-trafficking groups have found that men believe sex with a virgin can cure their HIV/AIDS.
Social workers say that's led to a disturbing trend with tragic consequences for the victims of human trafficking. UNICEF estimates as many as 100,000 children work in the illegal sex trade in the Philippines.

Orphaned and homeless: Surviving the streets of North Korea

Orphaned and homeless: Surviving the streets of North Korea

Watch this video

Orphaned and homeless in North Korea

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- The first time Yoon Hee was abandoned, she was an infant.
She was born in a village near North Korea's sacred Mount Baekdu, where the country's lore claims its founder, Kim Il Sung, led the fight for independence and his oldest son, Kim Jong Il, was born.
But the similarities between Yoon Hee and her homeland's rulers end there.
Six months after her birth, her parents divorced and left Yoon Hee in the care of a friend.
The second time she was abandoned, Yoon Hee was 8 and had gone back to live with her mother.
 
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One day, her mother told her she had somewhere to go. "She never came back," Yoon Hee said.
Yoon Hee had no choice but to live alone in North Korea. So she did what many abandoned North Korean children do -- living on the streets, nearly freezing to death in the winters, begging for mercy, plucking grass for food and crying so hard at night only the pain in her face could stifle her tears.
Yoon Hee stayed in the same neighborhood as her mother in the city of Hyesan, hoping they could live together again.
"I sometimes ran into her on the streets," Yoon Hee said, "but I couldn't ever get a warm feeling from her."
One time when they met, Yoon Hee said, "she told me she was already having a hard time living by herself, so she couldn't live with me."
But Yoon Hee was undeterred.
"I had a hope."
Death by electrocution
Amid tensions in the Korean peninsula, much of the focus has fallen on deciphering the next moves of Pyongyang's new leader, Kim Jong Un.
But all this belies a humanitarian crisis in North Korea, a country that boasts of its military strength and nuclear capabilities and yet has no place for homeless orphans.
"There are many children like me who die," said Hyuk Kim, who fled North Korea in 2011, nearly a decade after becoming an orphan.
In the punishing winters, Hyuk and other orphans would break into sheds containing electric transformers near factories and markets to find a warm place to sleep.
"Many children accidentally end up touching the transformers while sleeping and die," said Hyuk, who asked that his real name not be used for the safety of family members still in North Korea.
As Hyuk dozed off each night curled next to a transformer, he would try to stay as still as possible -- willing himself not to move in his sleep.
"I thought I would live forever this way," he said.
Glimpse into the underbelly
The plight of orphans who've escaped North Korea caught the attention of U.S. humanitarian groups, who've lobbied for years to pave the way for their adoption by Americans and others.
In January, President Obama signed the North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012, which instructs the U.S. State Department to "advocate for the best interests of these children" -- including helping to reunite families and facilitate adoptions.
The law is aimed primarily at those orphans hiding in China and other countries. Those who make it to South Korea are provided an education, a path to citizenship and even a chance at adoption.
Gwak Jong-Moon knows the pain orphans suffer. He's the principal of Hangyeore Middle-High School, a South Korean transitional facility open only to North Korean children and teenagers.
About 50 North Koreans under the age of 24 enter South Korea every year without family, according to the South's government. These children only make up about 2% of all North Korean defectors who enter the South.
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Some North Korean orphans who survive the treacherous escape from their homeland by way of China end up in South Korean boarding schools, dormitories or group homes.
Adoption in South Korea is not a common practice, but Gwak said "adopting is natural, and worthy."
"There are some South Koreans who adopt our school's children, although not many," he said. "Children here with South Korean adults who don't officially adopt, but act like their parents make unbelievable progress."
We recently traveled to Seoul to meet some of these orphans and the people caring for them. Originally we wanted to learn more about their lives in South Korea -- what it's like trying to integrate into an alien society after living in one of the most isolated countries in the world.
We visited Gwak's school earlier this year -- on a majestic campus more fitting for a temple, tucked away in snow-crusted hills about an hour from Seoul. We also visited the Seoul home of a pastor who is raising five North Korean orphans.
In both places, we met children and teenagers scarred by their experiences. Although we could not independently confirm the details of their individual histories, advocates who work with them say they have heard consistently similar testimonies.
We also heard stories of children struggling with South Korean culture, targeted by bullies, befuddled by K-pop and puzzled by mundane tasks like managing money and taking public transportation.
But we also got a glimpse into the underbelly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- from the perspective of those who occupied one of the lowest rungs of society, far removed from the idyllic vision portrayed in the nation's propaganda.
'I am going to die'
Not long after running into her mother in the streets, Yoon Hee fell ill. Alone and 10 years old, she lay in the snow as the icy winter descended in North Korea.
Eventually, Yoon Hee caught what she suspects was typhoid, leaving her in a hell of fire and ice. Although she lay in the snow about two weeks, no one offered help or food.
She tried to muster her energy to sit and wiggle her fingers and toes, but her hands and feet barely budged -- they were frozen in place. She could no longer move.
Surely, this was it, Yoon Hee thought. She prepared herself. "I am going to die."
Yoon Hee would become yet another corpse rotting in the street -- she had seen the frozen corpses on the roadside because no one bothered to bury bodies of strangers.
A voice interrupted her feverish daze.
A villager had appeared. Yoon Hee recognized her as a woman who was struggling to feed her own children.
The villager thrust money into Yoon Hee's hand. Her voice was firm: "You have to survive."
Helping defectors escape
In North Korea, homeless children like Yoon Hee are called "kotjebes," or flowering swallows. Like the bird, these children are free to roam, unconstrained by the country's societal norms.
Without parents, family or schooling, they don't have as much exposure to the state propaganda that is engrained from childhood, according to advocates. When they escape to neighboring China, it is not so much for political reasons, but to find food.
A U.N. assessment in March found that of the country's estimated 28 million people, 16 million are chronically deprived of food.
Peter Jung is among those working on behalf of North Korea's orphans. Based in Seoul, he leads Justice for North Korea, which describes itself as a "volunteer, non-partisan, grassroots organization" that opposes human rights violations in North Korea.
Jung first met North Korean orphans in 1998 in northern China, where he had gone to learn Mandarin.
Jung was stunned to see the stunted size and condition of North Korean orphans. "It was too shocking to believe," Jung said. "There were children who had skin diseases and with bloated stomachs, collapsing in the streets because of malnutrition."
Korean children have been found to be about 3 to 4 centimeters shorter than their South Korean counterparts, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Economics and Human Biology.
Nearly 28% of North Korean children suffer from stunting, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Fifteen years after meeting the first of these street orphans, Jung is still helping defectors escape, working from a small, cluttered basement office in the South Korean capital.
'Hugs and comforts'
For a decade in North Korea, Yoon Hee roamed the streets, slept in crevices and picked rice off the ground that people had dropped.
"I appreciated every single grain of rice," she said.
 
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Every night, she had the same concern: "Where am I going to sleep tonight? How can I survive?"
In Ryanggang province where she lived, the average monthly temperature can fall below freezing during the winter months, according to the World Food Programme.
Yoon Hee learned survival skills fitting of "The Hunger Games" -- where to scavenge for food, where to sleep, how to stay warm, how to keep safe. She curled into a fetal position in a nook under the windows of houses.
"Sometimes, I wrapped my feet with a plastic bag because it was too cold."
She slept alone, except for her thoughts of her mother.
"When I almost was starved or freezing to death, the only things I wanted from her were hugs and comforts. I thought that was happiness."
But she couldn't recall a single hug from her mother.
Surviving in a new home
Hyuk lost his mother when he was 6, then his father when he was 11.
After his father died, he lived with a group of six other orphan boys in North Hamgyong province, located at the northern most tip of the country.
"We started a fire together, but we still couldn't sleep because it was so cold," he said. "We just warmed ourselves with the fire at night and we mainly slept during the day when the sun was shining.
"During the night, we needed to find food to eat. We sometimes stole food from others and gathered food from here and there."
When something went missing in the neighborhood, the blame automatically fell on Hyuk and his friends, even when they had not been involved. The children would be taken to the police station and tied to chairs, he said.
"The police would then automatically accuse us of stealing because they assume we would have stolen since we don't have parents. They hit us, tie us up, and torture us. There was no one to defend us."
Hyuk, now 21, attends Hangyeore Middle-High School, where he sleeps in a bed inside a heated dormitory. The school serves three warm, buffet-style meals a day, and students can pile as much food as they'd like on their metal trays.
In the school's hallways, girls with sleek black hair and boys with long sweeping bangs are busy texting and taking pictures of themselves on their phablets -- a combination smartphone and tablet. Their crisply ironed school uniforms would not be out of place at an English or American boarding school.
It's a vastly different scene than the childhood Hyuk describes. The blur of hunger, cold and countless police beatings has been replaced by soccer and basketball.
The school, set up by the South Korean government, does not charge tuition.
The North Korean orphans who escape to South Korea often struggle to catch up in a competitive environment where their counterparts have had years of schooling and private tutoring.
While acknowledging hardships adjusting in South Korea, Hyuk said: "I am very comfortable, because I can openly say anything."
He's anxious about what he'll do after he graduates from the school -- maybe he'll go into operating forklifts, Hyuk said.
A mop of shaggy bangs falls over his round face as Hyuk sits atop a table, his legs swinging freely.
"I can eat, live, and survive here."
Scars from trauma
Most North Koreans escape by crossing the river on the northern border to China. Some street children who flee to China become easy prey to traffickers, according to human rights activists.
The girls are sold into the sex trade, or as wives for rural Chinese men. The young boys are sold as sons into Chinese families who have not been able to produce one, said Jung of Justice for North Korea.
China sends back those escapees they catch, so defectors live in hiding -- fearing they'll be imprisoned and tortured back home.
That fear can continue long after escapees have made it to South Korea.
In the home of pastor Daniel Park, we met a 13-year-old boy whose mother took him to China when he was a year old. The mother was caught and repatriated to North Korea, but the boy remained in China, where he was beaten and abused, Park said.
In Park's Seoul home, the trauma showed. The boy, sporting a buzz cut, was skittish and jumpy around strangers and followed Park closely around the house. During mealtimes, when his foster family would gather to eat, he would take his food and hide in his bedroom and eat alone.
But Park said his habits have since improved.
Escape through China
As Yoon Hee entered adolescence in North Korea, her hopes of reuniting with her mother began to fade.
A few strangers would give money, others would give her food, shoes or clothes after taking pity on her.
"I had hope thinking that there were people out there who were willing to help me," she said.
Yoon Hee also ran errands for neighbors to earn change.
But in 2009, the North Korean government exchanged its old currency for a new one worth just 1% of its original value. It immediately wiped out people's savings and triggered chaos as prices for food became unreachable.
"At that time, so many people were dying," Yoon Hee said. "If I opened my neighbor's door, people were dead, collapsed on the floor. So many people headed for China, I thought that at least I could survive there."
There was nothing left for her in North Korea. Her hopes of reuniting with her mother finally faded.
So she made her first escape into China. In the wintertime, the river at the border freezes, paving the way for a quick escape.
In China, she said she was caught three times by local police and each time, she was sent back to a North Korean prison. She was pummeled with fists, sticks and kicked, Yoon Hee said. But each time, she was released, she said.
In early 2010, she escaped North Korea for the fourth time and eventually met Daniel Park through underground networks of Christian activists and missionaries
Funded by donors and ministries, the networks employ brokers who help refugees cross into China, bribing and using their connections with officials and border officers.
The networks reach Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, countries near China where the authorities will not repatriate North Koreans. From there, North Koreans try to find their way to a South Korean embassy -- where they are sent to Seoul -- or they seek refuge in the embassy of other countries like Canada, Britain or the U.S.
Yoon Hee stayed with Park and his family in China's Zheijiang province, further away from the North Korean border.
"She was bright even though she suffered a lot," Park said, describing his first impressions of the orphan. "I was able to see her pains. She had gone through so many struggles even though she was very young and sometimes when we would pray for her, she wept."
By October 2010, Park had arranged for Yoon Hee to fly into South Korea.
'Part of the family'
In Seoul, Yoon Hee emerges from her bedroom in skinny jeans and a red, puffy vest, her nails painted bright pink. She slouches slightly, perked up by frequent texts on her yellow Samsung phone -- which is bigger than her hand.
With wide almond-shaped eyes, spotless porcelain skin and silky black hair, Yoon Hee has the kind of features highly coveted in South Korea, a country obsessed with beauty and youth.
At 19, she could easily be mistaken for a middle school student in Seoul. Yoon Hee stands less than 5 feet tall.
She lives with Park, his wife, their two sons, who are toddlers and four other North Korean children -- two boys and two girls.
Their permanent home in Seoul is humble. In the winter, bubble wrap is taped to the windows to keep the house warm.
The walls are scrawled with crayon doodles. Stuffed animals, toy ducks and books rest atop bookshelves and coffee tables. The children crawl over the taupe-colored sofa and scramble onto the living room table.
At times, Yoon Hee talks freely about her life. But there are some questions she'd rather not answer.
She seems more comfortable around the younger children.
And they flock to Yoon Hee as arbiter of all things toddler -- toy disputes and snack requests, cries for hugs and sibling rivalries. The other children squeal and scamper around the house, but Yoon Hee rarely raises her voice with them.
"When they make mistakes, I try to show ways to fix their thinking that they can be guided well," she said, "even though they don't have their moms."
Her kinship with the other orphans is forged out of hardship. Park's two toddler sons look up to her as "unni," or older sister.
"In this house, she's a part of us," Park said. "Part of the family."
When an older child steals a toy from his younger brother, Yoon Hee scolds him.

Russia orders expulsion of U.S. diplomat

Russia orders expulsion of U.S. diplomat accused of being CIA agent


Russia's FSB counterintelligence agency released photos after it said it briefly detained a suspected member of the CIA who was trying to recruit a staff member of one of the Russian special services. Pictured, the man is handcuffed on the ground. Russia's FSB counterintelligence agency released photos after it said it briefly detained a suspected member of the CIA who was trying to recruit a staff member of one of the Russian special services. Pictured, the man is handcuffed on the ground.

Moscow (CNN) -- Wigs, dark glasses, a compass and a large bundle of foreign cash -- it's the stuff of any Cold War-era spy novel.
That's the "spy arsenal" Russia's counterintelligence agency says it found with a U.S. diplomat when he was caught allegedly trying to recruit a Russian special services staff member.
The diplomat in question, Ryan Fogle, third secretary of the Political Department of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was declared "persona non grata" Tuesday.
Russia's Foreign Ministry has demanded his "early expulsion."
Fogle was detained overnight Monday to Tuesday "during an attempt to recruit a representative of one of the Russian security services," the Foreign Ministry statement said.
Russia accuses U.S. diplomat of spying
He was briefly held before being handed over to the embassy, following formal protocol, Russia's counterintelligence agency, the FSB, said earlier.
"The 'spy arsenal' that was found with him -- as well as a big sum of money -- not only expose a foreign agent who was caught red-handed but also raise serious questions for the American side," the Foreign Ministry said.
"While the presidents of our countries reaffirmed their readiness to expand bilateral cooperation, including the cooperation of intelligence agencies in fighting international terrorism, such provocative actions in the spirit of the 'Cold War' does not contribute to building mutual trust."
The U.S. diplomat had "special technical devices, written instructions for the Russian citizen being recruited, a large sum of cash and means of changing his appearance," state news agency RIA-Novosti quoted the FSB as saying earlier Tuesday.
An image released by the FSB shows what it says are his belongings, including two wigs, a knife, two pairs of dark glasses, a map and a compass.
Another shows what appears to be a large quantity of high-denomination euro currency notes.
The man, with short brown hair and wearing a blue-and-white-checked shirt, is also pictured apparently being detained by security in the street and seated at a desk for questioning.
A photograph of the man's ID card released by the FSB identifies him as Ryan Fogle.
Nikolai Zakharov, a spokesman for the FSB, said the Russian approached by Fogle was free and that there were no charges or accusations against him.
The Russian report of what happened makes the case sound closed, but a former FBI counterintelligence officer cast doubt on that account.
"I very much doubt that a highly trained CIA operative is going to be walking the streets of Moscow wearing a really bad blond wig. It's poor trade craft, and it looks like a setup to me," said Eric O'Neill.
He suggested that the Russians likely planted the material on Fogle for dramatic effect, perhaps to stir up anti-American sentiment, achieve a political objective, or distract attention from some other matter.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul for an explanation.
The embassy did not comment Tuesday.
U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters in Washington that an officer at the Moscow embassy was briefly detained and released.
He declined to comment further.
It's not the first time in recent years that Russia and the United States have traded claims about alleged agents, in episodes reminiscent of the Cold War era.
In 2010, the two nations carried out a "spy swap" in Vienna.
The United States exchanged 10 Russian agents who had been expelled for intelligence gathering for four individuals who had been incarcerated in Russia.

Angelina Jolie undergoes double mastectomy

Angelina Jolie undergoes double mastectomy

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Empowered patient: Angelina Jolie

(CNN) -- Actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
"My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman," Jolie wrote. "Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."
Jolie's mother, actress and producer Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer in 2007 at the age of 56. Jolie is 37 years old.
In the Times op-ed, titled "My Medical Choice," Jolie said she finished three months of medical procedures at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in California on April 27 that included the mastectomies and reconstruction.

 
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A mastectomy is an operation that removes all or part of the breast.
She wrote that her experience involved a three-step process. On February 2, the actress had a procedure that increases the chance that the nipple can be saved. Two weeks later, she had major surgery where the breast tissue was removed and temporary fillers were put in place. Nine weeks later, she described undergoing "reconstruction of the breasts with an implant."
"There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years," she said, "and the results can be beautiful."
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made," Jolie wrote. "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent."
BRCA stands for breast cancer susceptibility genes, a class of genes known as tumor suppressors, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. A blood test can determine if a woman is "highly susceptible" to the cancers.
Fellow actress Christina Applegate had a similar procedure in 2008. She also had a mutation of the BRCA1 gene.
Jolie may be best known for title role in the "Lara Croft" series of films, but she also won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in "Girl, Interrupted." She also received a Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same role.
Jolie serves as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has visited refugee camps around the world.
The actress has been in a relationship with actor Brad Pitt since the mid-2000s, and they are engaged. The couple has three biological and three adopted children.
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Photos: Life of Angelina Jolie Photos: Life of Angelina Jolie
In telling her story, Jolie acknowledged that surgery might not be the right choice for every woman.
"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options," Jolie wrote. "I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices."
But for Jolie, the decision ultimately came down to her kids.
"I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," she said.

Welcome to Naija Gist: Nigeria declares state of emergency

Welcome to Naija Gist: Nigeria declares state of emergency: Nigerian president declares emergency in 3 states during 'rebellion' Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state o...

Nigeria declares state of emergency

Nigerian president declares emergency in 3 states during 'rebellion'


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in northeastern Nigeria.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in northeastern Nigeria.

(CNN) -- Nigeria's president declared states of emergency Tuesday for three states, blaming "terrorists" aimed at "rebellion" who have caused "fear among our citizens and a near breakdown of law and order in parts of the country."
The order, issued by President Goodluck Jonathan, applies to Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in northeastern Nigeria. He also noted a rise of insurgent violence in eight other states as well, including Nasarawa, where scores of police officers were killed last week.
 
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"We have taken robust steps to unravel and address the root causes of these crises, but it would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve," Jonathan said in a televised speech.
Insisting they weren't simply criminals, the president said "terrorist groups" were staging a "rebellion and insurgency" that threatened Nigeria's "unity and territorial integrity." Some northern parts of Borno state have already been taken over by such groups, as Jonathan noted.
Such violence over the years has been blamed on Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege." According to Human Rights Watch, the group has killed more than 2,800 people in an escalating campaign to impose strict Islamic law on largely Muslim northern Nigeria.
Attempts at dialogue -- which will continue, the president said -- have failed to curb militants' efforts "to progressively overwhelm the ... country." He cited several recent examples of violence, including the killing of "innocent civilians and state officials," attacks on government buildings and facilities and the destruction of Nigeria's flag for "strange flags" instead.
"These actions amount to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten her territorial integrity," Jonathan said. "As a responsible government, we will not tolerate this."
The president said he'll send more troops to the three states, adding that they and other security forces there have orders to "take all necessary action." They have the authority to detain suspects and those who illegally possess weapons, take over any building "used for terrorist purposes" and conduct searches.
"Those insurgents and terrorists who take delight in killing our security operatives -- whoever they may be, wherever they may go -- we will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice," Jonathan said.
"No matter what it takes, we will win this war against terror."
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