Saturday, March 20, 2004

A thought: if your opponent has $100 million to portray you as an effete snob, don't go on vacation to a fancy ski resort in Idaho.
I think this especially the case when every word, gesture and act will be recorded by a feeding frenzy of media types (and bloggers). Does how Kerry treats his secret service protection matter in the larger scheme of things? Perhaps, but not nearly so much as the issues Kerry thinks are important. There are obviously some clear and singificant differences between Bush and Kerry but these often get lost in the 24/7 media coverage that would much rather emphasize the trivial and reinforce already existing tropes about the candidate (Gore a serial liar; Bush a congenial idiot; Kerry a haughty waffler etc. etc.)

NOW WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT? What do some in Japan call Phillips and Regular screwdrivers? "Plus" and "minus" of course. (thanks to Outside the Beltway for the link)

SPY, ADULTERER, WHATEVER. Check out Jacob Sullum's chilling account of the travails of Capt. James Yee.
Based on a list of anticipated charges that included mutiny, sedition, espionage, and aiding the enemy, Yee was held in solitary confinement at the naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, for 76 days. Military prosecutors intimated to his lawyers that he might face the death penalty.

But when Yee was officially charged a month after his arrest, the Army did not accuse him of betraying his country. Instead it said he had mishandled classified material by taking it home and transporting it "without the proper security containers or covers"—an offense usually punished with a slap on the wrist.

In late November the government released the man it had portrayed as a grave threat to national security and let him return to duty at Fort Benning, Georgia. In a desperate attempt to beef up their indictment, prosecutors tacked on charges of adultery, based on a two-month affair that Yee had with a female lieutenant at Guantanamo, and conduct unbecoming an officer, based on pornography investigators found on Yee's government-issued laptop computer.


According to recent news reports, the Army is close to an agreement with Yee's attorneys under which it would drop the charges of mishandling classified material, punish him administratively for the adultery and pornography, and grant him an honorable discharge.

It seems certain the deal won't include the one thing Yee clearly deserves: an apology.

One can't help but agree with Sullum's conclusion:
But the case can still have a positive impact by demonstrating the risk of rushing to judgment and the need to preserve an open, adversarial process for determining guilt.

Friday, March 19, 2004

WHERE ARE THE VILLAGE PEOPLE WHEN YOU NEED THEM? Check out this promo for the Japanese Navy. Note: I have no idea whether this is the real thing or not.

I MUST LEARN KIM JONG IL'S SECRET: According to the KCNA, the Dear Leader
studied at Kim Il Sung University from September Juche 49(1960) to March 1964, performing great ideological and theoretical exploits which ordinary people could hardly accomplish all their life.

During his university days, he authored more than 1,400 works such as treatises, talks, speeches, conclusions and letters.
And I struggle to get a couple of book reviews and lousy articles written!

The UNSC whose basic mission is to preserve international peace and security not only failed to check the U.S. aggression but allowed itself to be used in justifying the U.S.-pursued aim to completely disarm Iraq through inspection.

The UNSC is thus known to be incapable of doing anything against the arbitrary practice of the world's only superpower. The U.S. goal has become clear now when one year has passed since its start of the war of aggression against Iraq.

It seeks to seize with ease Iraq completely disarmed by the UNSC under the pretext of "eliminating WMD" and, furthermore, put under complete control the Mideast region which holds 65 percent of the world oil deposit.

What happened in Iraq teaches a serious lesson that if the UN and the international community allow the U.S. high-handed and arbitrary practices, the UN Charter, the foundation of international law, will become invalid and global peace and security are bound to be seriously disturbed and accepting unreasonable inspection aimed at disarmament will not help avert a war but lead to it.

It is necessary for the UN member states to seriously look back from an objective viewpoint on how the UNSC handled the Iraqi issue over the last 10-odd years.
Of course the Bush administration agrues that failure to invade Iraq would hurt the legitimacy of the UN Security Council because it would render so many previous resolutions not worth the paper they were written on. Subsequent events would seem to give more credence to P'yongyang's view on the matter than on Washington's. It is clear though, that North Korea is trying to pre-empt any sort of UN-led multiltaeral inspections regime. Clever!

ALL AJUMMAS ALL THE TIME. Check out posts on Korean "aunties" by Antti Leppanen and at Overboard (scroll down).

Although there are some talented, insightful writers out there in K-land, and many who certainly know more about Korea than I do, the Korean Kluster is probably the most insular, self-regarding echo chamber I've ever seen in weblogging (other than perhaps the warblogger circlejerk that reached its zenith between 911 and the beginning of the Iraq Mistake, with whom some of the KK's netizens share their political leanings), and if you're careful you can get dizzy following the logrolling in ever-tightening circles.


This is one of the reasons I eased myself out of posting about Korea all the time, back a year or two ago -- I didn't want to be perceived as a one-note writer, and the fact that I live in Korea is merely an accident of geography and economics and matters of the heart, not the overriding central fact of my existence. And to be honest, the vast majority of waeguk-in (foreigners) I meet in Korea are damaged, ranting weirdos, with whom I'm happy to have minimal interaction.

Methinks perhaps he doth protest a bit too much.

P'YONGYANG WISHES IRELAND A HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY (thanks to the Marmot for the link). There is no word yet whether Kim Jong Il wore green clothing (though he often favors a sort of olive drab anyway) or had his crack team of scientists create a four-leafed Kimjongilia.

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and his vice president were wounded Friday after at least one bullet was fired at them while campaigning on the eve of an election that has deeply divided the island and angered authorities in mainland China.

Chen was shot across the abdomen and Vice President Annette Lu was struck in the right knee as they stood in an open-roof sport utility vehicle waving at crowds lining the streets of the southern city of Tainan, the president's hometown.

The injuries were not life-threatening and neither Chen nor Lu lost consciousness or required surgery, officials said. The Reuters news agency said they were released from the hospital several hours later
Authorities said there were no immediate arrests and declined to speculate on a possible motive for the attack. The apparent assassination attempt occurred as the crowds were setting off firecrackers in celebration, and officials said Chen and Lu did not immediately realize they had been shot.

"The vice president first felt pain in her knee, and she thought it was caused by firecrackers," said Chiou I-Jen, one of Chen's top advisers. "Then the president felt some wetness on his abdomen area, and then they realized something was wrong."
It is far too early to speculate about who is responsible and which way this will influence tomorrow's election. But can you imagine what would have happened had the shooter actual killed Chen?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

WHAT, PRAY TELL, WOULD CAUSE SOMEONE TO SPRAY ONE'S OWN CAR WITH RACIST GRAFFITI? Class Maledictorian has the goods (scroll down). (See Claremont College's press release here). This isn't the first time hate crime hoaxes have been perpetrated on college campuses: other examples here, here, and here. Don't these folks realize that every time they cry wolf they reduce the likelihood that people will take real hate crimes seriously?

UPDATE: Powerline labels this incident to a "Reichstag Gambit." I don't think I would go that far but the post includes a number of interesting links and commentaries on the incident.

Yonhap ("INDUSTRIAL ZONE PROJECT HITS SNAG AS N KOREA DEMANDS HIGHER RENTS," Seoul, 03/17/04) reported that the inter-Korean project to build an industrial complex in the DPRK city of Kaesong hit a snag after Pyongyang abruptly demanded higher rent for the site, officials at a state-run ROK firm engaged in the project said Wednesday. In the latest economic talks in Seoul, the Koreas agreed to start the construction of a model industrial facility on a 1-million-pyong (1 pyong equals 3.3 square meters) site in Kaesong, a town just north of the Demilitarized Zone that separates the countries, in March for completion by June. The two sides also agreed to allow ROK firms to move into the complex starting in September. "North Korea previously pledged to offer the land almost free of charge, but the North abruptly switched its position to demand a considerable amount of rent for land during last week's working-level talks on the project," one of negotiators at the Korea Land Corp. said on condition of anonymity. This was the second such working-level meeting, and also involved Hyundai Asan Co., the DPRK business arm of South Korea's Hyundai Group. He refused to tell how much the DPRK demanded, saying that the negotiations are under way. The companies planned to fix the rent for the land at 10,000 won (8.6 US dollars) per pyong through negotiations to sell a lot in the complex at about 150,000 won per pyong to ROK companies. Government officials were concerned that a higher rent will result in hiking opening prices for the facility and discouraging ROK companies from moving in. "It's unclear whether we can finish the negotiations this month, but we'll do our best to reach a compromise with the North in time," he said. To start construction, the land developer and the Hyundai subsidiary must get approval from the government after winding up the rent negotiations.
I think the DPRK had better tread lightly in the arena of attracting investment from South Korea. Right now there is virtually no chance that a foreign firm can expect to make money setting up operations in North Korea. Any comparative advantage that the DPRK might have can be found in much greater abundance in China. Thus, the only reason for investing in North Korea is political: to further the process of engagement, defuse tensions on the peninsula etc. But if the DPRK raises the price tag too high, even patriotic South Koreans are going to balk at investing in the North.

Korea Herald (Choi Soung-ah, "N.K. DESPERATELY NEEDS CLEAN WATER," 03/18/04) reported that for residents of most rural towns in the DPRK, water is only available two to four hours a day, and the quality of that water supply is visibly terrible, the executive director of UNICEF said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference in downtown Seoul, Bellamy stressed the urgency of water purification, as it is directly related to any issue being dealt with by the world's children-and-women's aid organization, including basic health care and education. "The needs in terms of water and sanitation are presently covered in a proportion of 20 to 25 percent," Bellamy said. "And a majority of the hospitals do not have clean water."

"POT, MAY I INTRODUCE YOU TO KETTLE?" The DPRK weighs in on the Roh Moo-hyun impeachment with this idictment:
Korea Central News Agency ("N KOREAN NEWS AGENCY SLAMS PARLIAMENTARY COUP IN SOUTH KOREA," Pyongyang, 03/17/04) reported that the railroading of "the motion on impeachment against the president" through the "National Assembly" (NA) of the ROK on March 12 is censured by the fellow countrymen and the international community for its illegality and impudence. Conservative forces of the ROK including the Grand National Party (GNP) perpetrated such unprecedented political gangsterism as railroading the "motion" through the NA in just 20 minutes, reminding one of a military operation carried out against the people's will.
Many might regard "a military operation carried out against the people's will" as a pretty apt description of the Kim Jong Il regime.

UPDATE: In a rare breach of the usual "Koreans are one nation" rhetoric the ROK lashes back:
JoongAng Ilbo ("SEOUL TELLS NORTH OFF OVER IMPEACHMENT," 03/17/04) reported that the ROK government directed a rare complaint yesterday at the DPRK, calling the DPRK's reaction to the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun an "intervention in the domestic affairs of another country."

LATEST VICTIM OF URBAN RENEWAL: The "dokkaebi sijang" in Seoul.
Last June, some 73,000 street vendors were forced to leave their strip of pavement where many of them have done business for over four decades as the city set about demolishing the elevated highway to resurrect a historic stream, the Cheonggyechon.

The adjoining flea market downtown was a scruffy but a lovable cultural icon known as the "dokkaebi sijang" or "Devil's Market."


Now located in Dongdaemun Stadium, eastern Seoul, a handful of the Cheonggyecheon merchants are back trying to revive the atmosphere of the old market.

Densely scrunched together, one can still find the antiques, the counterfeit goods, the second-hand clothes, the bizarre odds and ends and the bargains that made the original market successful. A 10-year-old Samsung video camera sells for around 30,000 won. Two Oxford shirts are only 10,000 won.

The market's old motto was: "You can find everything here except a tank," and with FBI jackets and chainsaws scattered about, that spirit lives on.
Reading this piece brought back memories of wandering the labyrinthine alleyways in search of a cheap stereo, an umbrella, or, in one case, most of my apartment's furnishings--table, chairs, clothes washer etc. etc. (which were delivered in one trip by motorcycle). Around the corner was a row of used bookstores carrying an assortment of dictionaries, dusty foreign magazines, and beat-up textbooks that varied little from store to store but included the occasional rare treasure. Shopping for the same goods inside the Dongdaemun Stadium just wouldn't be the same.

DIVERTING FROM THE WAR ON TERROR? Not Iraq, but Cuba (link from the Center for American Progress)
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is charged with tracking and freezing terrorist assets, enforcing the Cuba embargo, and enforcing embargoes on other “rogue” nations. Increasingly, however, OFAC has been spending its limited time and resources on cracking down on people who travel to Cuba. In a written response to the questioning of a Senate committee, OFAC’s director, Richard Newcomb, reported recently that his agency has committed close to 17 percent of its workforce to enforcing the embargo on Cuba.
I've never fully understood why the travel ban and sanctions on Cuba have lasted as long as they have. Given that European and other nations are alreatravelinging to and doibusinessess in and with Cuba in large numbers, it doesn't seem to make any sense to cling to an outmoded American policy.

JOHN KERRY: NOT LIBERAL ENOUGH? Or at least, according to Katrina vanden Heuvel, not willing to own up to it.
So, next time you're asked, Senator, why not stand firm (you're already tall) and tell Americans, crisply, sharply and with conviction, how liberal values have shaped the greatness of this country. It won't lose you the election. It might just help you win it.

I'm sure you don't need this, but here's a short list of some of the great triumphs of 20th century liberalism--all vigorously opposed by conservatives at the time: Women's suffrage; Social Security; unemployment compensation; the minimum wage; child labor laws; Head Start, food stamps; Medicare; federal housing laws barring discrimination; the Voting Rights Act; the Civil Rights Act; anti-pollution statutes, guaranteed student loan programs and the forty-hour work week.

Senator, these victories made America a more just and open society. These programs embody the civilizing and mainstream values of the past decades and they show how liberals have repeatedly fought for ordinary Americans. A fighting liberal would take on rightwing extremists who are determined to rollback the hard-earned rights and liberties of the 20th century. Why not stand on liberalism's proud heritage? It sure beats running away from a winning legacy.
I agree with this sentiment. If Kerry's voting record and proclivities are what most would call "liberal" (acknowledging that such labels are ambiguous at best), why not revel in it rather than try to straddle the fence? This would give the American people a clear choice between the major candidates. And vanden Heuvel is correct: much of the liberal legacy of the 20th century is very admirable.

EXTRA, EXTRA, EXTRA! It is only hours until you can get your March Madness picks in before the first game. If you haven't made your picks yet, you should be aware of this important fact (courtesy of the Dead Parrot Society).

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

DOES YOUR SENATOR HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR? As the results of this "survey" indicate, some tell surprisingly good jokes; others are rather bizarre.

"Of course, it is still eight months to election day, but the campaign is starting to fall into its own natural rhythm: falsely macho Kerry comment, falsely indignant Bush response." -Jon Stewart


"John Kerry made a remark, he said a lot of world leaders want him to be president. Then the Bush administration said, 'Yeah, well, like who?' And then John Kerry said, 'Well, I really can't say.' So now they're really hammering John Kerry. The only name he could come up with? Queen Latifah."-David Letterman

TELL ME THIS ISN'T TRUE. "We locked you up in jail for 25 years and you were innocent all along? That’ll be £80,000 please."(thanks to Julian Sanchez for the link)
What do you give someone who’s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit?

An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if you’re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in British prisons.

On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn’t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.
I'm speechless.

UPDATE: Some of the comments over at Crooked Timber are illuminating:
That is awful but I believe that in some ways the US is even worse—it looks as though the UK actually compensates the wrongly imprisoned, but in the US:

“Under federal law, someone falsely detained is entitled to only $5,000, regardless of how long the imprisonment. In most states, the only way for the exonerated to be compensated is through civil suits filed against local police departments and the district attorney’s office. Yet civil litigation places the burden of proof solely on the exonerated, who need undeniable proof of a police frame-up or malicious prosecution by the DA’s office.” Here’s more; as you’d expect, it varies from state to state.

So it would seem that, even with the L3000 taken out, prisoners in the UK might get more compensation than those in the US who can’t win a suit if they don’t live in a state with a decent law. I’m not sure how the numbers work out.

hate to say anything that might be construed as defending Blunkett, but the picture isn’t very clear from the two articles I’ve managed to find. Presumably, when assessing the amount of compensation due, the independent assessor takes account of things like income foregone whilst in prison. Obviously, the right figure to look at there has to be net of taxes and I guess the HO are arguing that there should be some further deduction to take some account of expenses that anyone would have had over the period concerned. So my guess is that this is an argument about how one element in the total compensation formula should be calculated. If so, then to represent it as having people “facing a bill” for £N000 is somewhat misleading (though if I were in their position I might do the same).

Having said that I hope they (people like the Birmingham 6) get as much as possible, since no amount of money would compensate for what they endured. But that doesn’t mean that Blunkett and co are necessarily applying the existing rules for determining compensation otherwise than they should.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

KOREA-RELATED BLOGS MAKE THE BIG TIME. OK its only the Hankyoreh Sinmun and the story includes a cartoon that indulges in some rather un-PC stereotypes but still... The Marmot has the goods (and the translations).

THE CENTER FOR INFORMATION ON KOREAN CULTURE is, apparently, a new website created by the Academy of Korean Studies. I received four identical e-mail messages yesterday trumpeting the opening of the site. It appears to be, among other things, a clearinghouse for arguing the Korean line in the latest historical controversies. Note the happy news that a geography textbook in Indonesia now lists both "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea" as potential names for that body of water between Japan and Korea. There's plenty more where that comes from.

UNREST IN SYRIA AND IRAN. Michelle notes that you'd only know this if you read blogs.

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