Friday, November 22, 2002

TEST YOUR GEOGRAPHY SMARTS. I have to confess that I missed one. Ouch!

THIS IS JUST TOO GOOD TO PASS UP. The green-tinted Cheney is my favorite.

STOP THE PRESSES: Paul Krugman reveals that very rich people pass down wealth and advantages to their children. (NYT; free registration required) Wow! This changes everything!

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Former ROK President Kim Young Sam declares his support for GNP Presidential Candidate Yi Hoi-chang. Kim went on to campaign for the pot-calling-the-kettle-black award with the following criticism of a potential merger between Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon:
Ex-President Kim frowned on the budding alliance between Roh and Chung Mong-joon to field one candidate between them. "Their alliance is aimed only at winning the presidency despite their different political and ideological backgrounds," he was quoted as saying.
This is, of course, the same Kim Young Sam who joined forces with conservatives Kim Jong Pil and Roh Tae Woo to form the Democratic Liberal Party in 1990!

The U.S. government has not made any final decision about the status of its Agreed Framework with North Korea following North Korea's admission that it has been working on a uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons, says a top U.S. official.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James A. Kelly told reporters at a briefing November 19 at the Foreign Press Center in Washington that "No final decisions have been made and no final statements have been made by the U.S. Government" on the agreement.

"The U.S. view on the Agreed Framework is that the North Koreans said it was nullified and we guess it's been nullified. But we are not in any rush to make decisions on all aspects of it," Kelly said.

So I guess that makes the Agreed Framework "mostly dead." Which of course brings to mind Vizzini's timeless advice from The Princess Bride, advice that American administrations ought to heed.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

THE JOYS OF EXTRA-TERRITORIALITY: A U.S. military court acquitted one of the two American soldiers who killed two Korean girls by accidentally crushing them under their 50-ton armored vehicle. How is the current SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) arrangement any different from the "unequal treaties" of the 19th century?

NORTH KOREA: U.N. PLEADS FOR FOOD AID The United Nations' food aid agency said it urgently needed help from donors to feed millions of North Koreans. James Morris, executive director of the World Food Program, said at a news conference in Tokyo that the agency's program in North Korea "is very much at risk" because of falling contributions from major donors. The agency says it has halted aid to three million people in the country's west and will be forced to cut off another 1.6 million by early next after a drop in support from big donors, notably Japan, where there is rising anger at North Korea over its acknowledged kidnapping of Japanese citizens and its nuclear weapons and missile programs. (Reuters)

SOUTH KOREA: SHOTS FIRED AT NORTHERN BOAT The South Korean Navy fired warning shots at a North Korean patrol boat that crossed a disputed sea border into southern waters, officials said. The North Korean boat retreated to North Korean waters without returning fire. A similar incident occurred on Saturday. In June, a naval battle in the Yellow Sea left six South Korean sailors and about a dozen North Koreans dead.
James Brooke (NYT)

Most would agree that if a nation is in dire need of food aid and is dealing with the problem of donor fatigue, it might be better served by not sending its ships into disputed waters (or not violating nuclear arms agreements for that matter). But of course the leaders of the DPRK are not "most." Sigh.

THE DPRK HAS CONFIRMED THE OBVIOUS: The 1994 Agreed Framework is dead.
Invoking a decision last week by countries including the United States to cut off fuel supplies, North Korea said today that a 1994 agreement intended to prevent it from producing nuclear weapons had collapsed, and accused Washington of destroying it.

The North Korean statement comes just weeks after the Bush administration confronted the impoverished communist country with intelligence evidence showing that Pyongyang had already secretly violated the so-called agreed framework by importing equipment needed to produce highly-enriched uranium. After an overnight delay, North Korean officials reportedly confirmed their secret program to visiting American diplomats, but said the weapons program was justified by continuing American threats. Pyongyang pursued that logic again today, blaming the outside world for the breakdown.

With Iraq still front and center, the Bush Administration doesn't want a war on the Korean peninsula. The DPRK is counting on this and hoping that they can extract at least a non-aggression treaty from the Americans. Will they get it? My guess is not without some significant concessions on the North Korean side.

Monday, November 18, 2002

WHAT ABOUT US? Given the great deal of media attention directed at Japanese who were kidnapped by North Korea, families of the nearly 500 missing South Koreans wonder why their pleas are not heard. Good question!

OOPS, OUR MISTAKE: A recently reported North Korean declaration concerning nuclear weapons is clarified.
North Korea clarified a statement today made in a weekend radio broadcast that appeared to claim publicly for the first time that the country possesses nuclear weapons.

The unusual rectification followed a flurry of statements of concern in the region over the radio commentary, which was widely interpreted as saying that North Korea "has come to have nuclear and other strong military weapons to deal with increased nuclear threats by the U.S. imperialists."

In a commentary broadcast today by the official Korean Central Broadcasting Station, however, instead of saying it had come to have the weapons, the government said it was "entitled" to have nuclear arms because of what it said were continuing threats from the United States.

"To safeguard our sovereignty and right to exist we are entitled to have powerful military countermeasures, including nuclear weapons," the passage read in its entirety.

The difference in the language between the Sunday and today's messages hung on as little as a single syllable in the Korean language, a nuance attributable by some to regional differences in pronunciation, which led to dramatically different readings of the initial commentary.

The fate of nations determined by a syllable! Scary!

METAMORPHOSIS: The making and unmaking of an American icon. Only in America!

FOR THE RECORD: I have serious misgivings about the Bush Administration's determination to go to war with Iraq. However, when confronted with stunts like this, I have to wonder whether I'm on the right side of this issue. If anyone can come up with a plausible explanation as to how stripping for peace will have any positive influence on anything, I'm all ears. .

Of course these gals can't even claim to be original. Besides, do I really want to be on the same side as this guy?. And what does this guy really think he will accomplish?

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