Friday, September 12, 2003

LET THE LAWSUITS BEGIN!My favorite basis for a 9/11 related lawsuit:
The airlines should have used non-flammable liquid as jet fuel.

CHARLES PRITCHARD: Don't read too much into my resignation from the State Department.
Simply stated, I did not resign in protest, nor did I time my departure to make a public statement. I withheld comment during the six-party talks in Beijing last month, believing it inappropriate to place an undue burden on our negotiating team.
The real reason?
I resigned as special envoy for negotiations with North Korea because I was in the job in name only. I was brought into this administration precisely because of my experience in dealing with North Koreans, but was now perceived as too soft on North Korea. I had tendered my resignation April 18 when I was not selected to lead the trilateral talks in Beijing. Secretary of State Colin Powell asked me to stay on for a while and, out of enormous respect for him, I did. I departed as soon as I had helped to set up the next round of talks.
Of course the Brookings Institution was eager to snap him up the moment he resigned. Still, he has some recommendations for the Bush team on North Korea.
The structure of the six-party talks is useful and will ultimately be a significant part of the solution, but we must be able to engage the North Koreans at length. Serious engagement with Pyongyang does not equate, as some have said, with rewarding North Korea. Others have said we don't want to negotiate with the North Koreans because they are too good at it. Nonsense. Negotiators do not commit their governments to any course of action during negotiations.

Having a series of bilateral meetings under the umbrella of six-party talks opens up all kinds of possibilities. Coordinating approaches, comparing notes and recalibrating as a result of Chinese, Japanese, South Korean and Russian bilateral meetings with North Korea can have a synergistic effect in moving more quickly toward a resolution.

It also has the added advantage of taking the initiative away from North Korea. Up to now, Pyongyang has determined the pace of developments, and those have all been negative. Getting the substance of our policy right is critical, but if the structure is wrong we won't get very far.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003


Later that year I saw an S.U.V. in Buckhead that had two bumper stickers. I wish I had thought to take a picture, because they were as cognitively dissonant a pair as I can imagine -- on the left side one read "Stop Theocracy." On the right, under the old flag of Tibet, one read "Free Tibet." I wanted to leave the driver a little note about God-Kings, but went into the grocery store instead.

Reuters ("JAPAN SOON TO HAVE 20,000 PEOPLE OVER AGE 100," Tokyo, 09/09/03) reported that in a fresh sign of the rapid aging of Japan's population, the number of people aged 100 or older is expected to reach a record high of 20,561 by the end of September, the Health Ministry said Tuesday. Women will account for 84 percent of the number of Japanese centenarians, which is expected to top the 20,000 mark for the first time since the government began compiling the data in 1963, the ministry said in a report. Japan is home to the world's oldest woman and man. Kamato Hongo, a woman from Japan's southern island of Kyushu and the world's oldest person, turns 116 next Tuesday. Yukichi Chuganji, 114, who is also from Kyushu, is the world's oldest man. Japan has the world's highest life expectancy, at 78.07 years for men and 84.93 for women. According to some estimates, Japan will have roughly one person over 65 for every two of working age by 2025, a higher dependency ratio than any other major industrialized nation. The rapid aging of society and a tumbling birthrate have raised concerns that pension obligations may become unmanageable.
Doesn't bode well for medium-term economic future of the land of the Rising Sun. I wonder why there hasn't been more made of the "Japanese miracle diet" or whatever it is that explains the longevity of many Japanese.

HARRY POTTER: CHRISTIAN IMPERIALIST. Apparently a publication of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic fundamentalist group based in Pakistan, has a beef with Harry Potter (see the cover here). According to Daniel Drezner, Lashkar-e-Taiba argues that "the Harry Potter series is really part of a missionary plot to spread Christianity to the Islamic parts of the world."

Having read all five books, I have to struggle and strain to think of anything in them that can be construed as Christian.

Drezner has several interesting observations including:

The irony is extremely rich, since a slice of Christian fundamentalists -- particularly some (but not all) individuals affiliated with Focus on the Family -- have been arguing for the past five years that Harry Potter must be the work of the devil because it promotes worship of the occult.
Is this a case of Occidentalism?

FIND THE COHERENT THOUGHT IN THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT BY JOHN KERRY (there has to be one in there somewhere, right?) When asked about his "yes" vote authorizing President Bush to go to war against Iraq, he said the following:
The vote is the vote. I voted to authorize. It was the right vote, and the reason I mentioned the threat is that we gave the--we had to give life to the threat. If there wasn't a legitimate threat, Saddam Hussein was not going to allow inspectors in. Now, let me make two points if I may. Ed [Gordon] questioned my answer. The reason I can't tell you to a certainty whether the president misled us is because I don't have any clue what he really knew about it, or whether he was just reading what was put in front of him. And I have no knowledge whether or not this president was in depth--I just don't know that. And that's an honest answer, and there are serious suspicions about the level to which this president really was involved in asking the questions that he should've.

With respect to the question of, you know, the vote--let's remember where we were. If there hadn't been a vote, we would never have had inspectors. And if we hadn't voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a chance of going to the United Nations and stopping the president, in effect, who already had the votes, and who was obviously asking serious questions about whether or not the Congress was going to be there to enforce the effort to create a threat. So I think we did the right thing. I'm convinced we did.
James Taranto thinks he can make sense of this muddle:
There actually is a simple explanation for Kerry's behavior: In October he believed supporting Iraq's liberation would be politically expedient; by the spring, he realized that opposing America's effort was much more appealing to Democratic primary voters. He can't just say he was changing his position for political reasons, so he is making the logically untenable claim that he's been consistent all along.

It happened in Juche 49 (1960) when the construction of Okryu bridge was completed. The constructors asked the president to write the calligraphic sign board of the bridge. According to the repeated petitions of the constructors the president wrote "Okryugyo" with a writing brush in India ink at a breath. Looking it for a while, the president said to officials to bring it to professionals for correction. The officials concerned invited an old man who had a profound knowledge of calligraphy and requested him to correct it without saying who wrote it.

After studying it, he rose up from the seat and politely said: "I have never seen such a wonderful calligraphy. It was written by a great man. It is not proper for me to correct it." When the officials requested another calligrapher, he also said same words.

Many of the descriptions of North Korea--"totalitarian," "Stalinist," "dictatorship"--are valid to some extent but they often mask the fact that the regime of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il is also Korean and is regarded and defended as such even by the people who suffer under the rule of the Kims. And, I might add, a growing number of South Koreans feel the same.

It was the dear leader Comrade Kim Jong-il who regarded it as a serious question that these evils still had effect on the students of the university whose basic mission it was to equip the students firmly with the great leader's revolutionary thought, the Juche idea, and train them to be the revolutionaries of a Juche type.

One day he keenly felt the need to renovate their study attitude promptly.

That day his classmates were arguing about the origin of the Korean nation. They were arguing against one another, each parroting the classical proposition of Marxism-Leninism that nations were formed only in the age of capitalism. They went so far as to bring forth preposterous arguments.

One of them argued that a nation was the product of capitalist age according to the classics and that the Korean nation, therefore, should be considered to have been formed during the years of Japanese imperialist rule.

Another student refuted: "The socio-economic structure of our country under Japanese imperialist rule was not capitalistic in the true sense of the word. So the Korean nation should be viewed as having been formed after the liberation."

A third questioned sarcastically: "If so, does it mean that a capitalist system was established in our liberated country?"

The argument dragged on without any solution. The lengthy argument came to an end only when Kim Jong-il had explained the great leader's teaching that ours was a homogeneous nation who had lived in the same land, speaking the same language, from the ancient times.


Our target was terror. Our mission was clear - to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama Bin Laden, perhaps the pre-eminent organiser and financier of international terrorism in the world today.

The groups associated with him come from diverse places, but share a hatred for democracy, a fanatical glorification of violence, and a horrible distortion of their religion to justify the murder of innocents.

They have made the United States their adversary precisely because of what we stand for and what we stand against. . . . We've worked to build an international coalition against terror. But there have been and will be times when law enforcement and diplomatic tools are simply not enough. . . . countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe havens.
Glenn Instapundit Reynolds has the answer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Pollsters report rising anti-Americanism worldwide. The United States, they imply, squandered global sympathy after the September 11 terrorist attacks through its arrogant unilateralism. In truth, there was never any sympathy to squander. Anti-Americanism was already entrenched in the world's psyche—a backlash against a nation that comes bearing modernism to those who want it but who also fear and despise it.

STOP THE PRESSES: UNIVERSITIES FAVOR LIBERAL AND DEMOCRATIC COMMENCEMENT SPEAKERS OVER CONSERVATIVE AND REPUBLICAN ONES! Of course the much more germane question is: "who actually listens to (or remembers) commencement speeches anyway?"

WASHINGTON - A 12-year-old girl in New York who was among the first to be sued by the record industry for sharing music over the Internet is off the hook after her mother agreed Tuesday to pay $2,000 to settle the lawsuit, apologizing and admitting that her daughter's actions violated U.S. copyright laws.

The hurried settlement involving Brianna LaHara, an honors student, was the first announced one day after the Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) filed 261 such lawsuits across the country. Lawyers for the RIAA said Brianna's mother, Sylvia Torres, contacted them early Tuesday to negotiate.

"We understand now that file-sharing the music was illegal," Torres said in a statement distributed by the recording industry. "You can be sure Brianna won't be doing it anymore."

This could happen to you.

UPDATE: You can avoid any trouble with the RIAA by simply filling out the following form.

UPDATE: This is pretty good.

NORTH KOREA MARKS ITS 57TH ANNIVERSARY without testing any nuclear weapons or missiles. The fesitivities were marked with the usual parades and marching soldiers (who look a little on the skinny side to me). Does the lack of a nuclear test mean that the DPRK doesn't really have nuclear weapons? That it has them but really wants to be convinced (e.g. bribed) to abandon them? Something else altogether? As is always the case with North Korea, it is hard to say.

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