Friday, August 22, 2003

NORTH KOREAN "LOOTING SQUAD" MAKES WAVES IN TAEGU I don't know why the Bush team isn't all over this one: first, the North Koreans began looting:
When the North Korean squad, seated on upper stands, started looting with the so-called `clappers` in an orderly way, all spectators watched every move of the girls.
Then, there was "united looting"
Despite the united looting by North and South Koreans, the North defeated losing the final fifth match by 9-15 to mark set scores of 2-3.
And finally there is this:
"We can win a game and lose a game. Since North and South Koreans are all looting together, we will win next time. Let`s cheer up."
What's next?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

FROM THE PAPER TIGER DEPT.: North Korea's army is "fading away"
There are many signs that the mighty million man (and woman) North Korea army is fading away. North Korea is running into serious problems getting enough men for it's armed forces. North Korea relies on conscription to maintain its 1.1 million man (and woman) forces. This is difficult with a population of only about 23 million. In the last twenty years the number of 17 year old males available each year for service had been declining, from about a quarter million in the early 1980s to less than 200,000 now.

But it's worse than that, as the persistent famine over the last decade, along with the collapse of the economy, has reduced the number of 17 year old males actually fit for military service. There are more health problems because of the poor diet, and a lot of these kids, who should be there, have died from starvation and hunger related diseases.

EXPLAINING THE INEXPLICABLE. Scrappleface on why Iraqi terrorists bombed the building in Baghdad where UN officials were staying. This explanation is actually as good as any that I can come up with. If you really want the Americans out, just let them finish their job and they'll leave. Every attack sets back reconstruction and guarantees an occupation of a longer duration.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING. Fred Kaplan writes that Russian participation in joint naval exercises with the ROK and Japan sends a signal to North Korea that the times are changing.
In previous multilateral negotiations—for that matter, throughout its half-century history—North Korea has played other, larger powers off one another, often quite shrewdly. A "shrimp among whales," a nation founded on guerrilla tactics at the height of the Cold War, North Korea sees this sort of manipulation as essential to survival.

The importance of Russia's unprecedented involvement in this week's military exercises—the signal that it appears quite pointedly to be sending—is that Kim Jong-il will no longer, or at least not so easily, be able to play this game. At this negotiation, on this issue, Russia stands aligned with all the other foreign powers.

UPDATE: IA concludes that Kaplan has "gone overboard"

PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES . . . . Stefan Sharkansky has done some detective work on Robert Scheer's latest populist posturing. (link courtesy of Instapundit)
Since Robert Scheer brought this up, I think it's only fair to observe that although he plays a populist class warrior on television, Robert Scheer is actually one of those rich people who benefits as much from Prop. 13 as anybody else in the state. And if Robert Scheer believes that guys like himself should pay more taxes than they do, why doesn't Robert Scheer start by paying more taxes himself?

A peek into the public property records of Los Angeles and Alameda counties shows that Robert Scheer and his wife, Narda Zacchino, own the following properties:
a) A 3 bedroom, 3 bath 1902 sq. ft. condo on 15th St. in Santa Monica, purchased in 1992 for $555,000, with a current assessed value of $664,345.
b) A 3 bedroom, 3 bath 1722 sq ft. condo on W 1st ST. in downtown Los Angeles, purchased in 2000 for $380,000 with a current assessed value of $395,351.
c) A 10 bedroom, 4 bath 3754 sq ft. "single family dwelling converted into a boarding house" on Forest Ave. in Berkeley, purchased in 1979 with a current assessed value of $198,564

I'd say that Bob has done pretty well for himself. Especially since the fair market value of his properties is probably closer to $2 million than to their assessed value of $1.26 million. And even though he sounds vaguely envious of those who

"take out the untaxed increased equity in their homes through low-interest refinancing and second-mortgage loans"

the public records show that Mr. and Mrs. Robert Scheer have refinanced their various homes on numerous occasions.

FLAG BURNING IN KOREA: Incestuous Amplification doesn't mince words in his criticism of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's recent statements on burning the North Korean flag in South Korea.

AH, THE JOYS OF PARTISANSHIP. Kos can't think of one single good thing George W. Bush has done, let alone three. One of the comments on this post puts it nicely:
As a rule of thumb, if you're unable to think of a single good thing about your political opponents, you're well off the partisan deep end. I don't think that such extreme vilification is part of the best tradition of American politics.

The Americans lived a black day they will never forget. They lived a day of terror and fear… a state of chaos and confusion where looting and pillaging rampaged the cities, just like the capital of the caliphate Baghdad, and Afghanistan and Palestine were. Let the American people take a sip from the same glass.'
Of course the fact that there wasn't any widespread looting and pillaging doesn't seem to matter to these folks.

Monday, August 18, 2003

"Jang's picture of a dismembered child in a cooking pot says more than any of the numbing statistics," Ms Garapedian wrote.

But it is hard to confirm the practice independently because Hoeroung city is impossible to visit or contact in the secretive country.

"You eat it without knowing it is human flesh.

"You're so hungry you just eat it," Ms Garapedian quoted one orphan as
Attribution of cannibalism is a common rhetorical practice used when one wishes to depict just how bad things have become in country X. Is this the real deal? Hard to say. The link to the story doesn't seem to work and the 2001 date seems a bit fishy.

URGENT MESSAGE! Dear Sir, please do not miss the Third Annual Nigerian E-mail Conference.

I'M BACK FROM A BLISSFUL WEEK IN NORTH CAROLINA. We stayed at Mirlo Beach, a collection of beach houses in Rodanthe. Four families, twelve kids, a pool, a hot tub, and a house right on the beach. Couldn't ask for much more. Spent the days swimming, kayaking, boogie boarding, eating, and relaxing. I have to confess that I did not mind being entirely disconnected from the world of blogs, news, traffic, and nuclear weapons. But, sigh, I'm back.

HOW DO AMERICANS VIEW SOUTH KOREA AND THE EVER CLOSER TIES BETWEEN THE ROK AND THE PRC? Jae Ho Chung has a thoughtful piece on this subject here (Adobe Acrobat Reader required). (read the abstract here).

One of the more interesting things that Chung discusses is the fact that despite billions of dollars and thousands of troops stationed over the decades, few Americans see South Korea as an ally at all, let alone an important one (recently, the ROK has appeared as an enemy in polls of American public opinion). Is Korea's turn back to China merely a reverting to past patterns of "Serving the Great" (sadae)? Perhaps.

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