Saturday, May 10, 2003

IRAQI MUSEUM LOOTNG? NOT. (or at least, not exactly)

In the last five years alone, the Wizards have traded away Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Richard Hamilton -- with a combined 23 playoff series appearances, and counting, since leaving the Wizards -- for players who have a combined zero playoff series appearances since arriving in DC, and all but one of whom is no longer with the team. (See details below.) In the same period the Wizards opened the window and threw out the first pick in the NBA draft. Every season, generally just after the season concludes, the Wizzies make an astonishing blunder. Summarily firing the most successful person in the history of their sport is just the latest astonishing blunder. This isn't out of character for the Wizards -- it's standard operating procedure

REFORM IN NORTH KOREA? "North Korea: 'Gigantic Change' and a Gigantic Chance" writes Ruediger Frank.
After detailed research on a truly outstanding ideological switch in the DPRK after 1998 and a quantitative analysis of the 2002 price reforms, I come to the conclusion that something remarkable is finally going on in terms of economic reforms in North Korea. This opens a narrow window of opportunity that shall not be missed.

And if the chance is missed?
A collapse of the DPRK attempts to reform could create yet another humanitarian catastrophe; it might result in increased and desperate attempts to make money by trading arms, drugs, falsified currency, and so forth. A failure of the proponents of an economic, i.e., civil attempt to ensure regime security and prosperity might result in effectively strengthening the role of the military in domestic politics and a greater likeliness of an armed conflict in the region. The latter would certainly mean the end of North Korea, but not one that anybody close to North East Asia favors since it contains too many incalculable risks.

The Associated Press ("NORTH KOREAN ASYLUM SEEKERS ARRIVE IN SEOUL," Seoul, 05/09/03) reported that twelve DPRK who sought asylum at the ROK Embassy in Beijing arrived in Seoul on Friday, flying through Manila. The DPRK, all women aged 16 to 46, traveled through Xiamen, just opposite Taiwan on the PRC's southeastern coast, and made a brief stop in Manila before boarding a flight to the ROK. The defectors landed in Incheon airport just outside Seoul, all wearing masks to guard against SARS. They did not speak to journalists and were taken to a government facility for a debriefing. About 270 DPRK defected to the ROK in the first three months of the year, a 26 percent increase from the same period last year, according to South Korea. Most said they fled their communist homeland because of food shortages or political persecution.
These have become so commonplace as to note rate much media attention.

LONG TIME, NO BLOG. It has been one of those very busy end of semesters. Final exams and papers to grade; Papers to present, talks to give; trips to make; and on and on. And the world moves on.

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