Night Watch
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North Korea: Comment. Last week a marginally reputable Chinese news outlet reported that Kim Jong Un and senior communist Party members watched as 120 starved dogs ate alive his uncle Chang Sung-taek and four aides.

North Korean security services have a well-deserved reputation for brutality since before the Korean War. This story has been reported separately by no reputable sources and no North Korean defector outlets.

The premise that the government held 120 dogs for any reason other than food is a stretch. NightWatch does not credit this story.

Bangladesh: General elections occurred on 5 January, but the main opposition party boycotted them or staged violent protests. At least 16 people died in violent clashes. Turnout was low. Hundreds of seats were not contested because of an effective opposition boycott. As a result the ruling Awami League apparently won 232 of 300 seats up for election. The opposition called the vote a farce.

Comment and question for Readers: When the opposition boycotts the election; turnout is low and the outcome is fore-ordained has a valid exercise of democracy occurred? If the purpose of a vote is to ascertain the will of the people, then the aforementioned conditions provide no basis for making such a determination.

On the other hand, if the purpose is to stay in power, a low turnout by loyal voters suffices to return the incumbent party to office. As one American politician said recently, win the election. That is precisely what is taking place in Thailand as well.

Pakistan: The Special Court will resume the hearing into the treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf, on 6 January. However, a lawyer representing Musharraf said on Sunday the former army chief would not be able to make a scheduled appearance at his treason trial today because of his illness.

Comment: Musharraf is in intensive care for his heart condition. This appears to be his ticket out of Pakistan to an overseas hospital, where he will make a miraculous recovery. Aware of that prospect, the government has not yet lifted his travel ban.

Iraq: Sunni fighters associated with al Qaida seized most of Fallujah, just west of Bagdad, in Anbar Province. New services reported the capture of 75 soldiers from Iraq's 53rdBrigade. The army has responded with shelling and reportedly plans operations to retake the town, with the cooperation of some local Sunni tribesmen.

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