Picture of the Day: Fatman’s Laugh - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) tours an electronics factory in Pyongyang. North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported Kim’s inspectio...
22 minutes ago
Report on Jimmy Carter's Visit to DPRK"At the behest of President Kim Ilsung"?! That's right: the Great Leader and eternal president, despite being dead for over a decade and a half, is still dictating policy.
Pyongyang, August 27 (KCNA) -- Jimmy Carter, ex-president of the United States, and his party visited the DPRK from Aug. 25 to 27.
Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, met and had a talk with them.
He discussed with Carter the pending issues of mutual concern between the DPRK and the U.S.
Kim Yong Nam expressed the will of the DPRK government for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of the six-party talks.
In particular, he emphasized that it is the behest of President Kim Il Sung to denuclearize the peninsula.
Jimmy Carter made an apology to Kim Yong Nam for American Gomes' illegal entry into the DPRK and gave him the assurance that such case will never happen again on behalf of the government and the ex-president of the U.S. He asked Kim Yong Nam to convey to General Secretary Kim Jong Il a message courteously requesting him to grant special pardon to Gomes to leniently forgive him and let him go home.
After receiving a report on the request made by the U.S. government and Carter, Kim Jong Il issued an order of the chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission on granting amnesty to Gomes, an illegal entrant, pursuant to Article 103 of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK.
Carter expressed deep thanks for this.
Earlier, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of State for Consular Affairs and his party visited Pyongyang from August 9 to 11 in connection with the case of Gomes and met officials of the Foreign Ministry and a relevant legal body of the DPRK.
The DPRK side took measures as an exception to ensure that they met Gomes three times and confirmed his condition. The U.S. side offered gratitude for these humanitarian measures.
The measure taken by the DPRK to set free the illegal entrant is a manifestation of its humanitarianism and peace-loving policy.
During the visit Carter and his party met and had an open-hearted discussion with the DPRK's foreign minister and vice foreign minister for U.S. affairs on the DPRK-U.S. relations, the resumption of the six-party talks, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual concern.
They also enjoyed a performance given by the State Symphony Orchestra.
The Pyongyang visit paid by Jimmy Carter, ex-president of the U.S., provided a favorable occasion of deepening the understanding and building confidence between the two countries.
South Korea’s government, which for decades has controlled mail, phone and other communication with the North, extended its oversight to Uriminzokkiri’s new accounts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. That prompted the website to post a notice on Saturday criticizing Seoul for censorship, without mentioning that Pyongyang engages in much more far-reaching censorship.Poor North Korea. Now it's only Facebook friend will be its mom.
“It is clear that the Lee Myung-bak administration is a group of traitors against unification, and does not want to improve inter-Korean relations or even wish for dialogue and cooperation,” Uriminzokkiri said, citing the name of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
NEW YORK (AFP) — Fresh from her comments condemning the building of a mosque so close to the site of the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has chosen a new target in her bid to prevent sacrilege against the so-called "Ground Zero" site: Muslims who were killed in the terror attacks of 9/11.
"I think it was highly insensitive that dozens of followers of Mohammed chose to die in a place that is sacrosanctimonious to Christians and Judeos," she tweeted. "I recognize Islamics' right to die, but they should have chosen a less sensitive location. Emotions are just too raw."
She repeated her sentence about Muslims having a right to die, then turned to the camera and gave a two-second wink.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed her sentiments. "It's easy to speculate that Muslims stuck up in the towers were praying to Allah after the planes hit," he said in a speech to an Atlanta gathering of Daughters of the American War On Terror. "That's the same Allah that the bin Ladenites were chanting to when they crashed the planes. Really, why should we be concerned about their feelings when they would be so brazen as to worship the same false prophet as bin Laden and Imam Ralph. Christianity, and by that I mean evangelical Protestantism, is under attack."
Writing in the New York Post, pundit Adam Goldberg openly opined that the Muslim dead might actually have been in on the massive terror attack. "We already had nineteen Muslimites killing themselves on the planes, so it's not hard to imagine a few dozen more sacrificing themselves in order for Islamic fifth columnists to claim their co-religionists were also victims of 9/11. They're just that sneaky. And when it comes to getting a slew of virgins in the afterlife, people have died for far worse reasons."
The news that Muslims had died at Ground Zero angered David Schmidt, organizer of a "No Mosque Here" demonstration. "Mohammed was a child-diddling pig!" he shouted before grabbing a baseball bat and running after a man wearing a kufi that turned out to be a Nike jogging cap.
Dalip Singh, a Manhattan resident who works three blocks from Ground Zero, was visibly annoyed when he learned that Muslims had died in the 9/11 attacks. "Why did they have to die there? Couldn't they have made it to Thomas Street to croak? Every time the Muslims make trouble with mainstream America, at least three of us Sikhs get killed. It really sucks."
The Anti-Defamation League, long a supporter of interfaith dialogue, sought to reach out to local imams about officially moving the location-of-death of the dozens of Muslims killed in the 9/11 attacks. "Perhaps we could say they were all on United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, far from the raw nerves of Ground Zero," Rabbi Simon Rheins suggested. "Think how much more peaceful it'd be for their families to imagine they met their maker in a grassy field than the asbestos-filled streets of New York."
The founder of the Institute for Islamic-American Justice, however, was angered by the outrage. "Look, this is nonsense," said Imam Mohammed Zargarpour in a cell phone interview. "If we Muslim Americans want to die in terror attacks, that's our right as citizens of the United..." he said before the call was apparently dropped. The FBI later issued a press release stating that Mr Zargarpour was being questioned over threats to air transportation.
Governor Palin made clear she would not relent on this divisive issue. "If I'm elected president in 2011, I will pass a Constitutional appendment forbidding Muslims from dying at Ground Zero, and I call on our possibly Kenya-born president to do the same." She then boarded a plane headed for Orange County, California, to investigate claims by columnist Michelle Malkin that Disneyland's "It's A Small World" ride contains several depictions of Arabs.
Internally, Kim's passing was definitely the end of an era. Foreign diplomats inside the country reported that children were breaking out spontaneously in tears and masses of stunned, flower-laden mourners were filing through the streets. Beyond that, though, the death also signaled a likely accession to power of the spectacularly mysterious Kim Jong Il, the Great Leader's son and anointed heir.
Would he venture peace, threats, war? Would he last for years, six months, six weeks? At a press conference in Naples, Clinton said he saw no reason to panic. Though South Korean President Kim Young Sam had ordered his forces on emergency alert just in case, Clinton said he agreed with Washington's top brass that events had revealed "no evident alarming change" and that nothing ) so far warranted beefing up the 35,000 U.S. forces now stationed in the South. Asked what he thought of Kim Jong Il's prospects, however, the President admitted, "I don't know how to answer that."
Very few do. Said Arnold Kanter, a Bush Administration Under Secretary of State who conducted previous talks with Pyongyang: "What we don't know about North Korea is so vast that it makes the Kremlin of the 1950s look like an open book." The communist northern tier of a peninsula once known as the Hermit Kingdom has lived up to that name with a vengeance, enveloping its 22 million people in a bell jar of propaganda, thought control and mythology glorifying the Kims, often in public pageants that would dwarf a Cecil B. DeMille production. What factions may exist in the leadership, who controls them and what they stand for -- all are practically pure guesswork on the part of the most diligent outside intelligence analysts. What is reputed about Jong Il -- known as the Dear Leader -- is itself a mass of contradictions: terrorist and warmonger, or would-be economic reformer and peacemaker? A pampered, pouting sorehead indifferent to responsibilities, or a relatively shrewd go-getter who has mastered much statecraft?
The weight of opinion holds that this candidate for the first dynastic succession in the dwindling communist world cannot hold a candle to his father. The North Korean myths exalting Jong Il are so elaborate as to be hilarious. As with Kim Il Sung, who was said to have nearly supernatural powers and be in several places at the same time, Kim Jong Il's life is swaddled in layers of official fable worthy of a demigod. His birth was foretold by a swallow. A double rainbow appeared over sacred Mount Paektu when he was born. The mythographers have not claimed that he was suckled by a she- wolf and tutored by centaurs, but their hyperbole in other matters is nearly that far a reach. Jong Il supposedly has mastered all knowledge, and his thoughts are studied at great world universities. In fact, his only travels outside his homeland -- a cause of real concern for other governments -- have been to communist countries, plus a stint of studies on Malta.
That lack of exposure to nations outside the world according to Marx might, in the most alarmist view, cause him to gamble disastrously on the nature of his adversaries and his chances of winning a war. At the very least, analysts believe, he seems sure to try to consolidate power by not antagonizing the military.
|Take Your Doter to Work Day, 1993.|
While working on a project in Korea, Price had the opportunity to visit the DMZ. She expected it to be a "Berlin Wall-type thing" and was surprised to find "it's actually more of a sidewalk curb" with North Korea on one side and South Korea on the other with "soldiers on either side just staring at each other."From what PBS reprints, it seems Ms Price is a boorish visitor who doesn't bother to read up on anything about the places she's going before she actually gets there, and she thinks that everyone else should be as amused by her resulting ignorant rants as she is. You can see the same professional malpractice at play when she does the Temple Stay in Kanghwa-do:
The tunnel is an organized tourist attraction — visitors are told to store their personal items in cubbies, don helmets and step onto a little train. Price says she was "lulled into complacency because it kind of seems like a Disneyland ride." But that didn't last long. "All of a sudden, with no explanation, they take you down into this narrow, claustrophobic tunnel blasted into solid rock."
Lest you mistakenly think the tunnel was designed with an invasion in mind ... think again! North Korea insists it's just a coalmine.
In theory, an overnight stay at a Korean temple sounds like the perfect activity for anyone struggling to escape the pressures of modern life. You'll meditate, you'll learn about Buddhism, you'll go vegetarian. Concerns and cares will slip away as you drift into a blissful state of conscious awareness.I mean, did she really not know there was a tunnel at the DMZ Invasion Tunnel... and then mocked the whole tour because of her own ineptitude as a travel journalist? And is she actually knocking Buddhist monks for not living up to the navel-gazing caricature she imagined them as?
Unfortunately, that's not what it's like.
I signed up for one of these sleepovers through a program called Templestay. Created in 2002 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism — the largest Buddhist order in Korea — the Templestay program aims to allow visitors to "sample ordained lifestyle and experience the mental training and cultural experience of Korea's ancient Buddhist tradition." In other words, it's a chance to test-drive life as a monk.
The meditation center I visited, about two hours from Seoul on Ganghwa Island, seemed like the sort of place that could inspire calm. The grounds are nestled between rice paddies and a leafy forest, and the center's brightly painted temple sits several stone steps up from a gentle brook and a small pond stocked with lotus flowers and koi.
When my friend and I arrived — several hours late, thanks to trouble reading the bus schedule — the Templestay coordinator introduced herself in fluent English and led us to the room where we'd be staying. It was empty except for sleeping pads, blankets, and small pillows stuffed with plastic beads. After we'd dropped off our bags, she handed us our clothes for the weekend: two identical extra-large sets of baggy gray pants and vests, along with sun hats and blue plastic slippers. We looked like we'd stepped out of a propaganda poster for Maoist China.
I'd assumed that most temple life involved sitting still and cultivating enlightenment, but instead our first activity was community work time. Clad in our Mao suits, we followed the coordinator to the garden, where eight other Templestay guests squatted between raised rows of dirt, piles of potatoes scattered around them. They gave us hostile glances as we approached — thanks to our late arrival, they'd been forced to harvest potatoes for three hours in eighty-degree heat. I couldn't blame them for their animosity; if I'd been digging in the dirt while some assholes took the slow route to Ganghwa Island, I'd be pretty pissed off too.
"We urge Japan to comprehensively address the unfortunate history between South Korea and Japan within this year," said Yang Soon-im, a leader of the activists.While it's true that many older Koreans harbor such resentment against Japan, that does not necessarily mean they harbor it against Japanese individuals. In fact, in my experience, many older Koreans hold far more nuanced views of the occupation than younger people precisely because they had positive experiences with Japanese individuals at that time and therefore make a distinction between Japanese people such as their neighbors or teachers and the often cruel Japanese authorities and their policies.
Many older Koreans still harbour strong resentment against Japan over the colonization. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labour conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military.
Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan offered a renewed apology for the suffering caused by the colonization. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak later said that Seoul and Tokyo should never forget history but should also work together to develop a new future.
"If Washington and Seoul try to create a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, we will respond with a holy war on the basis of our nuclear deterrent forces," said [North Korean ambassador to Cuba Kwon Sung Chol] at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the DPRK.I don't know if it's bad journalism or just a bad speech, but none of those three paragraphs sounds like they are coming from the same person. Certainly, committing to the use of nukes in response to a conventional conflict (first paragraph) doesn't really go hand in hand with striving for denuclearization (second paragraph), while the third paragraph, no doubt meant as a local crowd-pleaser, just sounds delusional.
"Our government will strive for the denuclearization of the peninsula and the establishment of a lasting peace as the beginning of the reunification process of the two Koreas," the diplomat said.
Despite obstacles created by the United States and South Korea, reunification will be achieved with the support of peace-loving peoples, like Cubans, he said.
|In the only picture I could find of Ambassador Kwon, he is seen giving Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo a letter of credence. [source]|
Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, 43, then a senior adviser for intelligence on detail to the State Department's arms control compliance bureau, was charged with disclosing national defense information in June 2009 to a national news organization, believed to be Fox News, and lying to the FBI. Kim pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.Wow, if he compromised our resources inside the DPRK, what an asshole.
Although unnamed by the government, Fox News reporter James Rosen wrote a report posted June 11, 2009, saying that U.S. intelligence officials had warned that North Korea planned to respond to a new round of U.N. sanctions with another nuclear test. Rosen reported that the CIA warning was developed through sources inside North Korea.
Long-time friend of GIC is now feeling sick and need blood transfusions.And like I said at Brian's, please consider, regardless of your blood type, going to the local blood bank to give blood and/or put your data in the bone marrow registry. Roboseyo has some good links that will help you do this.
His blood type is Rh-B (Type: B, RH -) and he needs several transfusions.
If you can help out please call 011.9943.8066 or if you can speak Korean call 061-379-7963(Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital).
You can also go the Red Cross downtown near the police station and they can do tests if you don't already know what type you are.
Kindly pass along this message to your friends/ contacts in and around Gwangju.
Any kind of help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Gwangju International Center
|Despite what the truthers claim, this is not a scam run by vampires.|
Fresh doubt has been cast on the record of a Korean climber, who was hailed in April as the first woman to climb the world's 14 highest peaks.I had earlier written about Oh Eunsun and suggested that her bid was being heavily scrutinized perhaps as a kind of "Hwang effect," but now as a Korean entity calls her achievement into question (à la MBC and Dr Hwang) it is looking even more and more like Hwang 2.0.
Oh Eun-sun "probably failed" to reach the top of the world's third-highest peak, Kangchenjunga, the Korean Alpine Federation (KAF) judged on Thursday.
Top Himalayan record keeper Elizabeth Hawley is investigating the KAF ruling.
If she decides to list the 2009 ascent as "unrecognised", the record will pass to Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban.
Ms Oh climbed Annapurna, the last of her 14 mountains above 8,000m, on 27 April. Ms Pasaban completed the list by scaling Shisha Pangma just under three weeks later, on 17 May.
Ms Oh responded to the Korean Alpine Federation's verdict - issued at a meeting of seven local climbers who have scaled the 8,586m mountain - by describing it as "a unilateral opinion".
Carter Center spokeswoman Deanna Congileo said late Thursday that the former president will return to the U.S. with Aijalon Gomes. She says Gomes should be in Boston by Friday afternoon. North Korea news agency KCNA says Carter has left Pyongyang.More on this later (I'm in class now, learning about global health disasters). In the meantime, you can take a look at previous Gomes posts to get an idea what my thoughts are.
U.S. officials have billed Carter's trip as a private humanitarian visit to try to negotiate Gomes' release. Gomes was sentenced to eight years of hard labor in a North Korean prison for entering the country illegally from China.
Mr. Kim is grooming his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as successor, according to South Korean officials. North Korea is to convene a congress of its ruling Workers’ Party early next month, where Mr. Kim is expected to rally popular support for his succession plans.Despite earlier reports, it looks like JC didn't feel like waiting around for KJI to get home. While I'm happy he was not able to do too much damage in order to secure Mr Gomes's release, I'm disappointed I won't be able to post a picture of the Dear Leader with our Thirty-ninth president with the headline, "Welcome back, Carter."
If confirmed, this would be Mr. Kim’s sixth trip to China, his impoverished country’s largest trading partner and aid provider. His last trip was in May, when he met President Hu Jintao during a five-day visit. North Korea and China usually do not confirm a trip by Mr. Kim until it is over.
News of the possible trip by Mr. Kim led to rampant speculation in South Korea. Possible motives cited by analysts in Seoul included the North’s need for Chinese aid because of flooding and the possibility of a decline in Mr. Kim’s health, which might have forced aides to take him to China for treatment. Many intelligence officials believe Mr. Kim had a stroke in 2008. Around the time that Mr. Kim’s train crossed the border, North Korean news media reported that China would provide emergency flood relief.
With North Korea’s relations with the South and the United States at a low point, “China is the only one Kim Jong-il can go to to seek aid,” said Kim Keun-sik, an analyst at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “He badly needs aid before the party meeting to make it a national festival, as it is meant to be.”
Even so, leaving North Korea without meeting Mr. Carter would be a notable breach of diplomatic etiquette, the analyst said. “A possible political message of this is that North Korea gives its priority to China over the United States,” he said.
|That's not a high-five. She was trying to slap your forehead. |
Just be thankful rampant malnutrition has rendered
that eighteen-year-old waif too short to reach.
|Kim Yuna and Brian Orser in gayer times.|
A committee of the National People's Congress this week opened discussions on eliminating the death penalty as punishment for 13 crimes, including the smuggling of silver and gold, receipt fraud, tax cheating and the theft of fossils. Grave robbery and rare-animal smuggling are also among the crimes being considered for lighter sentences.harsh critic of capital punishment (and hope South Korea's moratorium is made permanent, though I don't hold out hope for that during the Lee administration), but what riles me so much about the death penalty in China is that it is so often applied to crimes in which no one was killed. Things like embezzlement and the aforementioned offenses.
Although Chinese law guards information about executions as state secrets, the country is widely believed to put to death thousands of people every year. Even at conservative estimates, the annual toll of Chinese executions is higher than that of the rest of the world's governments combined, Amnesty International reported this year.
“There is no iron law that real estate must appreciate,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the real estate site Zillow. “All those theories advanced during the boom about why housing is special — that more people are choosing to spend more on housing, that more people are moving to the coasts, that we were running out of usable land — didn’t hold up.”With many South Koreans having gotten rich through luck and/or skilled real estate investment — Beverly Hillbillie-esque cholbu was how the ROK's nouveau-riche were once derided — one wonders if this applies to South Korea as well.
Instead, Mr. Humphries and other economists say, housing values will only keep up with inflation. A home will return the money an owner puts in each month, but will not multiply the investment.
|I wonder if Mr Gomes |
will name his firstborn Earl.
Apple may be an American company, but it seems the company works exactly like the suppressive regimen of North Korea.I always thought a suppressive regimen would be something like "200 pushups, run twenty miles, and then 200 more pushups."
Things are moving from bad towards worse. According to reports Apple has applied for a patent called, 'Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device'.
According to TG Daily, "the patent application refers extensively to the protection of sensitive data. If Apple's informed that a phone has been stolen, for example, the techniques described in the application would allow the company to retrieve all sensitive data from the phone remotely, transmit it to a storage server for safe keeping, and erase it entirely from the phone."
Another outrageous feature of the patent is Apple's ability to control the device's camera to take a picture of the user and sending it to Apple, along with the user's location -- without user's knowledge. The patents also explains how Apple can force a phone to be remotely restored to factory settings.
None of this is what majority of users want. It's what Apple wants. It also mean Apple's direct access to sensitive data on your iPhone. How would governments around the globe take this technology? Is it possible that Apple may spy through its iPhone and iPad?
How can this kind of giveaway be justified at a time when politicians claim to care about budget deficits? Well, history is repeating itself. The original campaign for the Bush tax cuts relied on deception and dishonesty. In fact, my first suspicions that we were being misled into invading Iraq were based on the resemblance between the campaign for war and the campaign for tax cuts the previous year. And sure enough, that same trademark deception and dishonesty is being deployed on behalf of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.Man, I wish I made enough to pay $3 million in Federal taxes.
So, for example, we’re told that it’s all about helping small business; but only a tiny fraction of small-business owners would receive any tax break at all. And how many small-business owners do you know making several million a year?
Or we’re told that it’s about helping the economy recover. But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.
No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.
So far, the Obama administration is standing firm against this outrage. Let’s hope that it prevails in its fight. Otherwise, it will be hard not to lose all faith in America’s future.
In 1942, his mother was declared an "enemy alien," along with 600,000 other Italians and half a million Germans and Japanese who weren't U.S. citizens. More than once, men in suits searched the Maiorana house for guns, flashlights, cameras, shortwave radios — anything that could be used to signal the enemy.While the treatment of Japanese residents and Japanese-Americans was arguably far worse — all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast, regardless of citizenship, were forced to move inland, mostly to internment camps where they were treated like prisoners — the number of Italian and German immigrants who suffered mistreatment like that of the Maioranas may have been greater in number.
Like 10,000 others up and down the California coast, the family was suddenly forced to uproot. At their new place in Salinas, they had to be home by 8 p.m. or face arrest. And when the government seized fishing boats for the war effort, Maiorana's dad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, saw his livelihood go down the drain.
"He was on the skids for the rest of his life," said Maiorana, 75, who owns a boatyard and marina on the harbor where his father's boat — as well as those of his uncles and several dozen other Italian fishermen — were confiscated.
Families like the Maioranas last week received a formal acknowledgement from California. A measure that swiftly made its way through the Legislature expresses the state's "deepest regrets" over the mistreatment of Italians and Italian Americans during World War II. Not nearly as severe or long-lasting as the internment of Japanese Americans, the wartime restrictions are still little-known throughout California, where they were the most heavily enforced.
|The Maioranas' boat, in the foreground at left, was one of many |
Italian-owned boats seized by the government.
For what it’s worth, I think the Cordoba Initiative has the right to put a mosque/prayer room/madrassah/community center wherever it likes. If they feel like ignoring the majority of New Yorkers and majority of Americans who find it hurtful/in bad taste, hey, it’s a free country, so build away. No doubt East Coast liberal elites will celebrate it as proof — to themselves, anyway — of American tolerance and diversity. However, if the Cordoba Initiative wants to build bridges (“Improving Muslim—West Relations” is their motto), and I’ll take them at their word, then they should clearly see that putting an Islamic community center anywhere near Ground Zero — far from building bridges — is just pissing a lot of people off. For PR reasons alone, they should have reconsidered this project. Unfortunately, PR and sensitivity to host nation sensibilities haven’t proven to be a strong points of Islam in the West.I'm no mizar5 with a Bathroom Reader on logical fallacies, but this sounds like some form of argumentum ad populum to me (mizar5, I'm told, spends a lot of time in the bathroom, ahem, boning up on his, um, oratory skills). That is to say, the argument that it shouldn't go up there is basically that a lot of people don't want it to be there, ignoring whether such popular sentiment is valid in the first place.
|Is that a Nazi salute popping out of your raincoat |
or are you just unhappy to see me?
An inclusive rhetoric toward Islam is sometimes dismissed as mere political correctness. Having spent some time crafting such rhetoric for a president, I can attest that it is actually a matter of national interest. It is appropriate -- in my view, required -- for a president to draw a clear line between "us" and "them" in the global conflict with Muslim militants. I wish Obama would do it with more vigor. But it matters greatly where that line is drawn. The militants hope, above all else, to provoke conflict between the West and Islam -- to graft their totalitarian political manias onto a broader movement of Muslim solidarity. America hopes to draw a line that isolates the politically violent and those who tolerate political violence -- creating solidarity with Muslim opponents and victims of radicalism.And The Western Confucian alerts his readers to the writings of Republican renegade Ron Paul (a favorite of The Marmot), who makes some of the same points as I:
How precisely is our cause served by treating the construction of a non-radical mosque in Lower Manhattan as the functional equivalent of defiling a grave? It assumes a civilizational conflict instead of defusing it. Symbolism is indeed important in the war against terrorism. But a mosque that rejects radicalism is not a symbol of the enemy's victory; it is a prerequisite for our own.
The federal government has a response to American mosques taken over by advocates of violence. It investigates them, freezes their assets and charges their leaders. It does not urge zoning decisions that express a general discomfort with Islam itself.
The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.Amen. (Can I say that?) Maybe this is America.
Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.
Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.
"Wave the flag," the speaker exhorted the audience. "This is an opportunity to stimulate the U.S. economy at no cost to U.S. taxpayers."Perhaps the enthusiastic crowd thought they were there to see a showing of the Marx Brothers' classic, Duck Soup. At any rate, it's not just Ambassador Han who's pushing the deal. President Obama's trade representative is also trying to proselytize on the new covenant:
But the man on the podium wasn't the typical business booster. He was South Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo, who has assumed the unusual role of a foreign official promoting U.S. jobs. With the Obama administration pledging a major new push to ratify the agreement, Han has gone on the stump in cities such as Montgomery, Ala., Peoria, Ill., and Detroit to build American support for free trade and allay concerns that his country is trying to snatch U.S. manufacturing jobs.
"I'd like to see more Ford and General Motors cars in Seoul," said Han, a Harvard-educated economist and veteran Korean minister who can mix quips about the Cubs and White Sox with the arcana of tariff schedules.
Obama criticized the trade agreement as a presidential candidate but has won a commitment from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for more concessions. Obama wants to have revisions or amendments to discuss with the Korean leader when they meet in November -- after the midterm congressional elections.Frankly, I think some of the negotiations are the result of whining by American companies that would rather grouse about past wrongs than innovate for the future, and I think it's an utter embarrassment that Washington is playing the "we signed an agreement but now we want to renegotiate" role that Seoul has apparently outgrown. But if that's what it takes to get this passed, then so be it. In the end, I believe this is a win-win for both sides.
U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, whose job more typically involves overseas negotiations, has mounted a domestic lobbying effort, visiting cities and districts hit hard by the recession to argue that "when you do trade right, America can win."
"In some cases they think I am a three-headed monster" for raising an issue some feel has undercut the U.S. middle class, Kirk said at a recent briefing.
"The Chinese have a great track record in demanding to be treated as a great power and a mixed record in acting like one," says David Finkelstein, a former defense attache in Beijing.Of course, China's recent attempts at maritime land grabs are setting up the region for more tension:
The new Pentagon report, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China," suggests China wants to establish itself as a dominant regional power before claiming a larger global role. The Chinese military, according to the Pentagon, is pursuing "anti access and area denial strategies" in its corner of the world with respect to potential rivals like Japan, South Korea and the United States. In part, this means being prepared to keep U.S. and other foreign military forces as far from Chinese waters as possible.
"One of the missions that have been given to the Chinese Navy and the Chinese air force has been to extend China's defensive perimeter out to sea, eastward," says Finkelstein, now at the Center for Naval Analyses. "So they're developing operational capabilities that can make it difficult for forces outside the region to operate with impunity inside China's coastal strategic areas."
"They do intend to become very dominant in the region," says Cornell's Prasad, formerly the top China specialist at the International Monetary Fund. "They see economic, political and military issues as all intertwined in terms of trying to obtain their longer-term objectives."All the more reason to expect (or at least not be surprised) all hell to eventually break loose if the Pax Americana were to end.
International law normally recognizes a country's territorial domain only over seawaters within 12 miles of its shores, but China is claiming dominion out to 300 miles. Other Asian countries, with U.S. support, are now pushing back, as was evidenced at a meeting last month of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Hanoi. But China has not retreated, with Chinese leaders even asserting their domination of the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean Peninsula.
"Beijing's statements about their sovereignty in the Yellow Sea as well as their sovereignty in the southern part of the China Sea reflect a new, even more expanded view [of their sovereignty claims]," says James Mulvenon of the Defense Group consultancy. He notes that the United States has repeatedly challenged China's claims, most recently in the speech given by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the ASEAN meeting in Hanoi.
|In a spectacular fireworks display east of Shanghai, |
China's elite show what it will look like
when they finally blow up Japan and the United States.
The former North Korean premier was reinstated as first deputy director of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, according to an announcement on state-run Central Broadcasting Station, Yonhap News reported Aug. 21.Problems like this, I would imagine.
Pak, 71, fell afoul of North Korea’s military and party hardliners three years ago over his efforts to push market- oriented reforms, according to the Yonhap report. His return may indicate the leadership is willing to test economic changes again, said Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.
“The North may be thinking that they don’t have a choice but to use more flexible policies to fix the economy,” Kim said. “Pak may have been emphasized within the North’s party as the hands-on person to fix its problems.”
I applaud the tax — better to get people used to the idea of unification happening and not dreading how it will be paid for, among other reasons — but I share the concern of some at The Marmot’s Hole that the revenues for this tax might end up spent as Social Security is in the US or that there would be a temptation to apply it to cross-DMZ “enhancements” before reunification actually occurs.There's that "cautiously optimistic" phrase again. Anyway, secondly, I think the availability of a cheap and fairly well disciplined (and not necessarily poorly educated) workforce up in northern Korea will lead many southern chaebol and smaller companies to look to the former DPRK as a source of labor. As I wrote at Ask A Korean:
Still, I’m cautiously optimistic when it comes to ROK economics and long-view projects. President Park did a lot with the money he was supposed to give to the victims of Japanese colonial aggression. What would have been a paltry per-capita sum for each victim or their family turned out to be a boon for the entire country.
... though some southern factories may be relocated to the north, what's more likely is that South Korean factories already in China or elsewhere in East Asia will be moved to the former DPRK, or factories once planned for those countries will instead be built in what had been North Korea.When "question" echoed my point, I decided to seek some hard numbers for a response. A cursory search reveals that forty thousand South Korean companies have an "accumulated investment" of about $100 billion. Those aren't trade numbers (which are also significant); rather, that's investment, and South Korea is one of China's largest foreign investors (occasionally clocking in at #1, I believe).
Though I expect the road to be rocky, I think reunification presents great opportunities for both sides of the DMZ.
As to the exact details of how the new zone will be established, Li says, "I am not clear." And in this case, the devil is definitely in the detail. The government plans to deport Li, his factory, and the 500,000 residents of Sinuiju to other parts of the communist country to make way for a capitalist paradise as ambitious as it is bizarre. Li and his neighbors will be replaced by 200,000 model workers, hand-picked for their technical skills, who will populate a city encircled by a yet-to-be-built wall erected to keep illegal migrants out.quickly arresting Yang Bin, the Dutch-Chinese businessman (second richest in China back then) who'd been handpicked by Pyongyang to run the bizarre project. According to Wikipedia, he hass been sentenced to eighteen years in jail and is serving that time (unlike South Korea or the US, time in jail means time in jail).
Within the city limits, a kind of anti-North Korea with its own laws and elected officials will be created from scratch. Private enterprise, not state socialism, will guide the economy. A legal code enforced by imported European judges, not Kim's fiats, will regulate the community. Most of the drab, dilapidated buildings that line Sinuiju's quiet streets will be flattened, modern offices and factories built in their place.