PROGRAM NOTES 01/18/13- This weeks show features stories from NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN, the VOICE OF RUSSIA, SPANISH NATIONAL RADIO, and RADIO HAVANA CUBA.

From JAPAN- An Insight on the row between Japan and China over disputed islands in the South China Sea, describing a change in Chinese citizens attitude about free speech in China. Two Japanese oil firms and a government bank are establishing a firm running mega solar energy plants. Two stories on how Japanese companies are busy setting up deals to sell nuclear power plants to SouthEast Asian countries, claiming that they have new safety features. Hundreds of thousands of French took to the streets to oppose government plans to legalize same-sex marriage.

From RUSSIA- On Thursday the US government recognized the Republic of Somalia, for the first time in over 20 years. US forces played a supporting role in France's unsuccessful attempt to release a hostage in Somalia- how does this and the intervention in Mali fit into US AFRICOM's plans to expand influence across the African continent? Members of the British House of Lords have approved a referendum in Scotland proposing to withdraw from the UK next year.

From SPAIN- Russia has offered Bangladesh a billion dollar loan for weapons purchases and another half billion dollars to build a nuclear power plant. In northern Iraq there have been a rash of suicide bombings and other attacks- the area has disputed oil fields and conflicts between the Maliki government and Kurds and Sunnis. British Prime Minister Cameron has been justifying British support of the French intervention in Mali, and describing the changes he wants to see in the relationship between the UK and the EU? He skirted the question as to whether there would be a referendum on the UK leaving the EU, as suggested by numerous Brits.

From CUBA- The US is backing the French in Mali in several ways. Clashes continue to escalate in the West Bank following the killing of an unarmed 17 year old Palestinian, one of 4 civilians killed by Israeli soldiers in 4 days. More on the attacks in Northern Iraq, mostly aimed at Kurdish government officials. North Korea has called for a peace treaty to replace the cease fire armistice that stopped the Korean War in 1953, and a dissolution of the UN command in South Korea.

"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."
--Edward R Murrow