Monday, May 31, 2010

Friendly Fire?

Sunday, May 30th saw a big demonstration against the findings of the international investigation that blamed North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan.

South of the border, there is also a high degree of skepticism that North Korea were responsible for the Cheonan's sinking. According to Bloomberg:

Prime Minister Chung Un Chan ordered the government to find a way to stop groundless rumors spreading on the Cheonan’s sinking, the JoongAng Daily said yesterday. Prosecutors questioned a former member of the panel that probed the incident over his critical comments, the paper said. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sued a lawmaker for defamation after she said video footage of the ship splitting apart existed, a claim the military denies, Yonhap News reported.

Almost one in four South Koreans say they don’t trust the findings of the multinational panel, according to a poll commissioned by Hankook Ilbo on May 24. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency yesterday accused the South’s “puppet military of trying to cover up the truth about the sinking” by seeking to silence opposition lawmakers with the lawsuit.

Indeed, North Korea's Defence Commission held a press conference in which they brought up what they see as inconsistencies in the report...

The Press Conference is reported, in typically temperate North Korean rhetoric, here.

But while North Korea are furiously denouncing those who blame them for the sinking of the Cheonan and it is reported that many in South Korea don't believe the official report, B R Myers points out that anger towards North Korea is quite limited in South Korea. He points out that anti-American protests in the past have far surpassed the anger levelled at North Korea right now:

This urge to give the North Koreans the benefit of the doubt is in marked contrast to the public fury that erupted after the killings of two South Korean schoolgirls by an American military vehicle in 2002; it was widely claimed that the Yankees murdered them callously. During the street protests against American beef imports in the wake of a mad cow disease scare in 2008, posters of a child-poisoning Uncle Sam were all the rage. It is illuminating to compare those two anti-American frenzies with the small and geriatric protests against Pyongyang that have taken place in Seoul in recent weeks.

Now, this is something that could lead a conspiracy theorist to wondering whether or not the sinking of the Cheonan by the North Koreans is a cover for the possibility of a "friendly fire" incident by the United States. It is quite clear that should the United States have sank the Cheonan instead of the North Koreans then the outrage would indeed be spontaneous and stronger than that of the anti-North Korean protests right now.

One of the proponents of this view is Kim Myong Chol, who is an "unofficial" spokesperson for North Korea who lives in Japan.

Kim Myong-Chol has argued that it is impossible for the Cheonan to have been attacked unawares by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine given that the Cheonan was on naval maneouvres at the time and one of its main jobs was to detect submarines and other enemy vessels. This is a repeat of what he had asserted before, here.

Of course, what he has to say on the incident should be taken with a pinch of salt given that he then goes on to threaten:

The Korean People's Army has been put on combat readiness. Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il is one click away from turning Seoul, Tokyo and New York into a sea of fire with a fleet of nuclear-tipped North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But, I'd be interested to know what anyone has to say about his accusations...

Friday, May 28, 2010

No One To Blame But Themselves...

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has a history of rewriting history as the title of the book above suggests. Although not always going as far as DPRK propaganda, some Western academics have also been keen to exonerate the Hermit Kingdom for its behaviour, sometimes with embarrassing results.

Given the fact that the causes of the Korean War are still being disputed sixty years after the DPRK initiated it, it isn't too surprising to see that the latest round in that conflict also can't be agreed upon. Despite the findings of the international investigation , China is still publicly saying that it hasn't been convinced of North Korea's guilt. This probably won't surprise Andrei Lankov who believed after the report was issued, that China would still declare themselves unconvinced even if showed a video of a North Korean submarine attacking the Cheonan:

However, China has now said it will not protect those responsible which presumably includes - in fact, can only refer to - North Korea, if it can be persuaded the North was responsible. It may begin to look isolated if a Russian team who have gone to South Korea to investigate end up agreeing with the earlier investigation.

In the meantime, while tensions have always been high on the Western maritime border between North and South Korea - also known as the Northern Limit Line - they look set to become more dangerous as North Korea cuts its hotline to South Korea that was originally set up to prevent naval clashes such as those detailed in this Global Security report.

Perhaps it is likely this will all "fizzle out" soon enough as Lankov says in the video and as B.R Myers suggests is wanted in South Korea.

The Russians Are Coming!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

North Korean Puppets Assail South Korean Puppets!

When South Korea announced it was set to resume propaganda broadcasts into North Korea including the old Cold War tactic of literally blaring broadcasts from speakers from the border across the "demilitarized zone", North Korea similarly resumed its tough talk against the "puppet government" of South Korea:

Pyongyang, May 26 (KCNA) -- As already reported, the south Korean puppet military gangsters have carved slogans for anti-DPRK psychological warfare on walls of MP posts in the Demilitarized Zone along the Military Demarcation Line and are busy resuming the loudspeaker propaganda as part of the said warfare...

...If the south side sets up even loudspeakers in the frontline area to resume the broadcasting, in particular, the KPA will take military steps to blow up one by one the moment they appear by firing sighting shots because such action will be tantamount to a blatant abrogation of the north-south military agreement and a military provocation against the DPRK.
Moreover, measures will be taken to totally ban the passage of personnel and vehicles of the south side in the zone under the north-south control in the western coastal area.
The south Korean puppet war-like forces would be well advised to act with discretion, bearing deep in mind that such measures of the KPA will not end in an empty talk.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kim Hyun Hee: Tears of My Soul Part 1

The recent sinking of the Cheonan seems to have perplexed a few people who question why North Korea would commit such a brazenly provocative act, while some analysts suggest Kim Jong-il himself ordered the mission. But it isn’t by any means the first time North Korea has acted this way. So here is Part One of a review of a book that describes another fairly recent occasion.

I first heard about Kim Hyun-Hee from a student who told me two things about the North Korean spy that didn’t quite gel. First, that she had placed a deadly bomb aboard a South Korean airliner and second that she now lived in Seoul. “But why was she not in prison?” I asked incredulously. My student said he didn’t know but ventured it may have been because she was very beautiful.

The official story of how Kim Hyun-Hee became transformed from a mass murdering terrorist who stowed a liquid bomb aboard KAL858 killing 115 people to a victim evoking sympathy brainwashed by the evil North Korean state is partly told in her memoir The Tears of My Soul. The book is apparently intended as an act of contrition with the proceeds going to the families of the bombing victims.

Kim’s story is an insight into the rise of the daughter of a North Korean diplomat which tells of her early life first living in Cuba and then in Pyongyang – making her one of the privileged elite – also shedding light onto her school and university years and her induction into Foreign Intelligence. She explains that her and other school children would be told to redact the names of those who had become “unpeople” in purges from the textbooks and of certain chores such as having to collect maggots from the excrement of public outhouses and then the excrement itself which was to be used as fertilizer in the countryside (this practice still apparently continues in North Korea but due to food shortages, it has diminishing returns).

In the Youth Corps she is made a leader with the responsibility of reprimanding others who don’t show enough zeal:

“You claim to have not met your quotas because you didn’t have enough time. And yet yesterday I myself saw you playing with other children. I find it hard to believe that you had time to play but not to work. Such an excuse shows you have violated the lesson of Our Great Leader [Kim Il-sung], who teaches us to be faithful to a group life.”
She says that others would often eagerly make stronger denunciations:

“Comrade student, you don’t deserve to study in the bosom of Father President. You should be expelled from school at once.”
She does well at school and gets herself accepted to the Pyongyang Foreign Language Center in which she majors in Japanese. Her language abilities and dedication fatefully attract the eye of Party Agents and she is inducted in to a military college to be trained as a spy with the codename Kim Ok Hwa. Her Japanese teacher there is named Eun Hae.

Kim Hyun-Hee explains that Eun Hae was a Japanese citizen from Tokyo who was abducted by North Korean agents while playing with her children at the beach and forced to become a Japanese tutor for North Korea’s spies. Although Eun Hae’s life is miserable, in which she spends a lot of time drinking and pining for her children in Japan, Kim rationalizes Eun Hae’s abduction by saying that Japan’s crimes in World War Two were far worse. There’s a remarkable account of both of them sneaking out of the military college to arrive at a nearby village in which the people live in far worse poverty than is seen in Pyongyang.

Eun Hae insisted, on Sunday evening, that we visit the village, because she had never seen ordinary North Koreans before. We found a decrepit cluster of houses and filthy children running around the streets, some naked. I was ashamed at this and tried to pull Eun Hae away. But she stared at the children with tears in her eyes…
“So this is your brave new world, Ok Hwa,” she said with unmitigated scorn. “I pity you”.

Eun Hae is, in fact, Yaeko Taguchi who the North Korean government insist is now dead.
The chapters involving some of her ninja-style training are actually quite grippingly told. She has to infiltrate a mock-embassy, break a safe and memorize a message. In order to add to the realism of the exercise she is allowed to beat the guards unconscious. She is also trained in the three Korean martial arts, taekwondo, tangsoodo and hapkido, which she later puts to good effect when she is accosted by a madman in the lingerie section of a Belgrade department store (!)

Finally, she is summoned to meet the Director of Foreign Intelligence and learns of a top secret and important mission that she is to fulfill:

“Comrades,” he said “I will start with the conclusion first. Your mission will be to destroy a South Korean airplane.” He paused, allowing the words to sink in. I felt butterflies in my stomach and stared at him.
“The order, you may be interested to know, was written by Our Dear Leader himself, Kim Jung Il [sic]. Handwritten, that is…This whole mission is in fact Our Dear Leader’s own idea…Our entire national destiny will depend on it.”

The Director goes on to explain that the destruction of the plane would prevent South Korea from being able to hold the Olympic Games as other countries will stay away in fear and that the change in the constitution of South Korea from a dictatorship to a democracy will be sent into turmoil with the country eventually falling apart and having to unify with North Korea under the leadership of the Kim family.

Well, if that doesn’t sound quixotic enough of a plan Foreign Intelligence went even further in compromising the mission by partnering Kim - who would go by the Japanese name Mayumi Hachiro - with an almost infirm and aging chain-smoker Kim Seung-il who would pose as her father, Shinichi, and having them fly from Belgrade to Baghdad and then to Abu Dhabi (where they would alight) allowing them to escape as the plane continued on to Seoul with a bomb in the overhead luggage compartment. Fortunately, if anything went wrong they each had a packet of Marlboro cigarettes to console themselves with. Each contained one with a slight ink smudge on it indicating it was laced with cyanide.

Kim Seung-il has some reservations about this strangely incompetent plan which increases his anxiety and illness. Future Axis-of Evil North Korea's agents were to fly in to Saddam International Airport to pick up this bomb while the two other future Axis-of-Evil nations Iraq and Iran were locked in a war. Unsurprisingly security is very tight and yet the two men who deliver them the bomb arrive at the airport disguised as…well secret agents…dressed in identical suits with identical sunglasses and both named Choi!

To be continued...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Inconvenient!

This picture, which appears at the Foreign Policy blog purports to show a piece of the torpedo which sank the Cheonan diplaying the Hangul script. I'm dismissive of conspiracy theories that claim the evidence is fabricated or of those who react to the discovery of Korean script on the torpedo with, "How convenient!" simply because it is in no way convenient to South Korea or any of the other countries that sent its experts to be part of the international investigation such as the US, UK, Australia and Sweden.

The DPRK has offered to send its own investigators:

The Democratic People's Republic Korea (DPRK) on Saturday urged South Korea to receive an inspection group to be dispatched by the National Defense Commission (NDC) of the DPRK to verify evidence related to the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, the official KCNA news agency reported.

But they have been refused:

According to the KCNA, Seoul's rejection of the DPRK inspectors "can not be construed otherwise than a move to prevent the true nature of its conspiratorial farce and charade from being brought to light."

The South Korean side has already given its reasons for rejecting this delegation no doubt seeing the murder of 46 of its seamen to be humiliation enough:

But South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young on Friday rejected the North's demand as "outrageous", saying it would be "like a robber or a murderer insisting he must inspect the crime scene".

South Korea said Friday the North should instead attend military talks with the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) after the command wraps up its investigation to review the findings of the investigation and determine the scope of armistice violation that occurred in the sinking.

It seems that it could also be inconvenient for North Korea in this final straw will be the end of the "Sunshine policy" of engagement with North Korea.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial insists that Kim Jong-il's regime no longer be seen as legitimate:

The larger strategic insight is to recognize that North Korea won't change until Kim dies or his regime falls. The goal of the West should be to increase pressure on the North toward the latter goal, especially given signs of increasing discontent in the North...

...The [US] Administration could also announce that its "future vision" is for a united and democratic Korea, similar to the united and democratic Germany that Mr. Obama celebrated in his famous Berlin speech. Supporters of engagement will decry this as provocative, but it will put the North on notice that the U.S. no longer accepts its legitimacy as a given.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Peace-Loving DPRK Misunderstood Again

North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, reports that the kum-ba-yah-esque Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea has issued a "What? Me?" response to the South Korean investigation that concluded the Cheonan had been destroyed by a North Korean torpedo:

I will publish it in its entirety here:

Pyongyang, May 21 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) issued a statement on Friday assailing the south Korean puppet forces for releasing extremely provocative "results of the investigation" into the sinking of a warship of the south Korean puppet navy in a bid to hurl mud at the north.

The statement noted that the publication of the above-said "results of the investigation" is another extremely ridiculous charade staged by the puppet group in a bid to hurt the dignity of the DPRK, steadily tighten the "sanctions" against it, harm and suffocate it in conspiracy with its U.S. and Japanese masters, much upset by the might of the Republic advancing by leaps and bounds toward a thriving nation.

The Lee Myung Bak group, while working with bloodshot eyes to escalate confrontation with fellow countrymen, drew the conclusion from the day the case occurred that the warship was "sunken by the north" and has since conducted intensive investigation on its basis to hatch a plot, the statement said, and went on:

In the course of nearly two month-long investigation the puppet group fabricated what it called "circumstantial evidence" with conjecture, supposition and random guess. It just produced fragments and pieces of aluminum whose origin remains unknown as "evidence," becoming the target of derision.

Greatly irony is that it deliberately linked the case with the north, talking about the results of the analysis of composition of the unidentified "evidence" without any marking and its size and type.

This is nothing but a shameful deed of those keen on escalating the confrontation with the north.

The Lee group's assertion that the above-said case is linked with the north is the last-ditch effort of those who face destruction as it is a premeditated and deliberate plot to tide over a serious crisis created due to the total failure of its domestic and foreign policies and smoothly stage the "elections to the local self-governing bodies" in a bid to maintain the fascist rule and bring the inter-Korean relations to a collapse.

The puppet forces are now kicking up such fuss as creating atmosphere reminiscent of a wartime situation in south Korea, blustering they would not "rule out a war" and crying out for "counter-measures", urgently evacuating the personnel, equipment and materials of the south side from the areas of the north side and issuing top secret order for taking steps for personal safety and making preparations for withdrawal.

This racket reminding one of an eve of a war goes to prove that the group's recent publication of the "results of investigation" was not a mere clarification of the sinking of the warship but a carefully calculated provocation to seek a pretext for igniting a war of aggression against the north together with outside forces.

The puppet group has created such grave situation on the Korean Peninsula that a war may break out right now.

Pursuant to the statement issued by a spokesman for the National Defence Commission, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea solemnly declares as follows, speaking for the DPRK government authorities:

Firstly, from now on the DPRK will regard the present situation as the phase of a war and decisively handle all matters arising in the inter-Korean relations to cope with it.

Secondly, in case the puppet group opts for "counter-action" and "retaliation" under the pretext of the sinking of the warship, the DPRK will strongly react to them with such merciless punishment as the total freeze of the inter-Korean relations, the complete abrogation of the north-south agreement on non-aggression and a total halt to the inter-Korean cooperation undertakings.

The DPRK will never pardon anyone hurting its supreme dignity and doing harm to it, warned the statement.

Source: KCNA

Thursday, May 20, 2010

North Korea Blamed For the Cheonan Sinking!

North Korea has officially been blamed for the sinking of South Korea's Cheonan naval vessel after an international investigation. I had said before that it sounded a little like the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898. However, this one now seems to be the reverse as the USS Maine was initially believed to have been deliberately sunk and later found to be an accident whereas the Cheonan was initially believed to have been an accident and later declared deliberate.

One of the pieces of evidence was the fact that a serial number from a torpedo was discovered on some of the shrapnel from the blast as the Korean Times says here:

Korea has found a serial number marked on fragments of torpedo propeller collected from the scene where the petrol ship Chonan of the navy sank in March, Yonhap News reported Wednesday.

The number was written in a font used in North Korea, and investigators have concluded that the 1,200-ton corvette came under a North Korean torpedo attack near the West Sea border on March 26 before breaking in half and sinking, Yonhap quoted officials in Seoul said.

Foreign experts from the United States, Britain and Australia working as part of an international team have also agreed to the assessment that a torpedo attack sank the Cheonan, officials said.

One blog that appears to have been correct from the start is One Free Korea which originally featured this post very shortly after the first part of the wreck was salvaged.

But also, while I was being tongue-in-cheek in a previous post on Kim Jong-il's trip to China about the meaning of "frank exchange of views" between China and North Korea, I can't help wondering whether or not Kim Jong-il actually was given a dressing down by Hu Jintao or at least made to explain whether North Korea were behind the sinking of the Cheonan.

Of course, naval border skirmishes between the navies of the two Koreas are not rare, but if this is the modern version of the USS Maine then it doesn't bode well for the future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No More Heroes

Back in my university days, I bought and read Dmitri Volkogonov’s biography on Lenin to help me with an essay I was writing on the lovable old mass murderer. The question asked whether he was a revolutionary before he was a Marxist or the other way around. Taking the question literally I argued that he became a revolutionary because the Tsar had his brother executed and that he formed his own brand of Marxism later. This is no departure from standard texts on Lenin but my source, Volkogonov, had written three biographies on the three iconic figures of the Russian Revolution, Stalin, Lenin and later on Trotsky which certainly were departures from the way that they had been portrayed by the Soviet Union. Volkogonov had been known as a hard-line general in the Soviet Union when his book denouncing Stalin for his crimes was published leading to his dismissal from his job as head of the Institute of Military History at the Ministry of Defense by none other than Mikhail Gorbachev. Subsequently he wrote the biography on Lenin which dismissed its subject as a murderer and then, around the time I was writing my essay on Lenin, his biography on Trotsky was about to be published in English which was widely expected to consign him to the same league of blood-stained butchers as the other two.

But as that was the end of my formal education in history I never got round to reading Volkogonov’s biography on Trotsky and my interest in him diminished until Robert Service brought out his new tome on the man who many people had pinned their hopes on as the real hope for the Russian Revolution - Animal Farm’s Snowball and 1984’s Goldstein who could have made it all better if that dastardly Stalin (or Napoleon or Big Brother) hadn’t destroyed him. Robert Service mentions in his introduction, two biographers of Trotsky who were particular admirers of Trotsky, Pierre Broue and Isaac Deutscher, the latter of whom wrote a famous Trotsky trilogy of “literary dash” that Service himself doesn’t claim to rival.

A review of Service’s new biography has appeared in the London Review of Books by a writer called Sheila Kirkpatrick in which she says Service has written a book that is “less fun to read than Deutscher or Volkogonov” and which she takes issue with because it highlights his love affairs such as with Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo: Don't Mention the affairs!

Kirkpatrick gives an interesting description of Volkogonov’s biography of Trotsky and attitude towards the three big names:

“Volkogonov was well along in his political evolution from anti-Stalinist Leninist to anti-Leninist when he wrote the Trotsky biography. Thus, while his Trotsky was a Leninist revolutionary (major revisionism in Soviet terms), Volkogonov no longer approved of Leninist revolutionaries. Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky: they were all men of blood to him now, historically almost indistinguishable from each other.”

Summing up Service’s conclusion she says:

Would the Soviet Union have fared better under Trotsky’s leadership than Stalin’s? Service takes the position, increasingly common in recent scholarship, that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other. He’s surprised at ‘the number of people who had no sympathy for Communism and yet accepted the idea that the USSR would not have been a totalitarian despotism under Trotskyist rule’. For Service, Trotsky was ‘close to Stalin in intentions and practice. He was no more likely than Stalin to create a society of humanitarian socialism even though he claimed and assumed that he would.’ He ‘revelled in terror’ and was ‘a ruthless centraliser and a friend of army and police’. ‘As soon as he had power, he eagerly suppressed popular aspirations by violence.’

And then goes on to say that Service also attacks the wishful thinkers who also wanted to believe in Trotsky despite evidence pointing towards him being just as inclined to spill blood for the revolutionary cause as both Lenin and Stalin. She finds this to be ironic as it suggests a kind of Marxist faith in the inevitability of history and perhaps an indulgence in irresponsible “What if…?” counterfactual history. I don’t think that is a fair charge, however. It is fair to make plausible guesses about what kind of leader Trotsky would have been. Service’s aim doesn’t seem to be in writing an alternative history but rather to answer those who choose to do so in a way not based on facts but on, well… faith. However, in sensing that Service has allowed a certain amount of anger into his writing she says, I think sarcastically:

It’s almost a relief to find Service finally taking a political and emotional position, after all that above-the-battle detachment. Still, it strikes me as an intellectual cop-out. Granted ‘what if’ history has its pitfalls, but does it make sense to say that, with Trotsky in power from the end of the 1920s rather than Stalin, everything would have turned out the same?... is it remotely plausible that he would have become paranoid about Jews after the war and launched the ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ campaign?

Well,now I think she is deliberately missing the point. Obviously Service isn’t saying that everything would have been exactly the same, only with Trotsky at the helm. For a start, Trotsky wouldn’t have engineered the death of Trotsky in Mexico with the aid of a delightful looking assassin. Ms. Kirkpatrick surely knows this and is being deliberately mocking.

I'm sure that Service is actually saying is that there would still have been a bloody tyranny under Trotsky although I am only about two-fifths of the way through reading his book myself. When I have finished I may well return to the subject and if Ms. Kirkpatrick is correct and I am wrong I shall be back to eat humble pie.
But first let me offer my own devastating critique of the book:

On page 15 there is a sentence: “Nearly all Jewish settlers went on bringing up their children up speaking Yiddish.”

I would suggest the first “up” is superfluous.

On pages 24-25: “but if Leiba’s difficulties with the vocabulary a couple of year later are anything to go by…”

“Year” is a countable noun and the plural is “years”! Sheesh!

On page 31, a childhood friend of Trotsky is named “Karlson” and then later on in the same paragraph as “Carlson”!

On page 48, a hectograph is described in parentheses as “[a small, rudimentary, gelatin duplicator)”

Spot the typo!

Here’s one that I don’t know if it is a mistake or not. In the chapter, “Love and Prison” Trotsky is described as incarcerated, along with his first wife, from 1898 onwards. But on pages 55-56 it reads, “It was in fact another year before they learned of their fate. In November 1898 the Nikolaev group heard that they were to serve a term of administrative exile.”

Shouldn’t that be “November 1899”?

Still, I do like the picture of Trotsky's assassin, Ramon Mercader, which appears in the book. He seems to be diguised as a hitman or secret agent.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Peering Into the Devil's Piggy Bank

The U.S Federal Reserve has been so imbued with secrecy and conspiratorial occult rumours that when it is finally opened for a partial audit, for the first time in its history, I fear that this may happen:

"Marion, don't look at it. Shut your eyes, Marion. Don't look at it, no matter what happens!"

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Kim Jong-il Goes to China Disguised as Kim Jong-il in Shades

According to the Economist:

Mr Kim likes to travel furtively and China grudgingly humours him.

But Mr Kim’s train, say South Korea’s media, did chug over the border into the Chinese city of Dandong on May 3rd and from there headed to the nearby port of Dalian. He then proceeded to the northern city of Tianjin and thence to Beijing for meetings with Chinese leaders.


North Korea's news agency, KCNA have a thrilling blow-by-blow account of the trip.

Some highlights:

Noting that the five visits paid by Kim Jong Il to China in the new century clearly prove how much he values the DPRK-China friendship provided and fostered by the leaders of the elder generation of the two countries, Li Keqiang highly praised him for having made a great contribution to steadily boosting the China-DPRK friendship.

Thanks to the leadership of Kim Jong Il the Korean people have achieved spectacular successes in the efforts to build a great prosperous and powerful nation and achieve the reunification of the country and in foreign affairs and other fields, Li said, adding that the Chinese people are rejoiced over these achievements as over their own and sincerely hail them.

The collective leadership of China including Hu Jintao is attaching utmost importance to the China-DPRK friendship, he said, re-clarifying the steadfast stand of the Chinese party and government to steadily boost the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Kim Jong Il said that he was very pleased to see for himself while visiting China the progress made by Dalian City making a new history of modernization in the land of China through its hard struggle. He expressed thanks to the leading officials and people of Liaoning Province and Dalian City for warmly welcoming him.

Gripping stuff!

And more here, Kim Jong Il Makes Unofficial Visit to China:

The top leaders of the two parties and two countries informed each other of the situation in their countries and had a frank exchange of views on the issue of boosting the relations between the two parties and two countries and important international and regional matters of mutual concern and reached a consensus of views.

A "frank exchange of views"? Hmmm... isn't that a euphemism for a heated disagreement? Oh well, at least they ended up reaching a "consensus of views".

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Oil picture

According to this Huffington Post article:

The catastrophic explosion that caused an oil spill from a BP offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the shoreline early Friday morning. The leak is currently releasing 5,000 barrels of oil per day, and efforts to manage the spill with controlled burning, dispersal and plugging the leak were unsuccessful Thursday. This oil spill is on track to become the worst oil spill in history, surpassing the damage done by the Exxon Valdez tanker that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound in 1989. Unlike the Exxon Valdez tragedy, in which a tanker held a finite capacity of oil, BP's rig is tapped into an underwater oil well and could pump more oil into the ocean indefinitely until the leak is plugged.

However, some people say that as bad as that sounds the reality is far worse. According to Glenn, in a comment on a blogpost about an election that's going on in some Western European backwater:

This is gusher - a traditional, straight up gusher - of unprecedented force and it's sitting on the sea bed, three miles down. It cannot be stopped, it will deliver 60,000 barrels (nearly 1/4 million gallons) of crude into the ocean each day soon.

The force of this, after we'd drilled 13,000 feet into the Earth's mantle, was something we could not stop - it blew every valve from the bottom all the way to the top of the rig.

If we do not stop it, all the world's oceans will be destroyed, they will stop producing oxygen, and we will die gasping very soon afterwards.

Expecting some sort of knee-jerk, pseudo-skeptic response from myself, ("Towel-whipping and high-fiving between AngryLarry aside, isn't anyone else seriously concerned about this unfolding environmental catastrophe, possibly the worst ever") he offers two links, one of which makes the case for an Apocalyptic scenario.

The first describes a situation worse than that reported to the public:

"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."

Asked Friday to comment on the document, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said that the additional leaks described were reported to the public late Wednesday night. Regarding the possibility of the spill becoming an order of magnitude larger, Smullen said, "I'm letting the document you have speak for itself."

But the second suggests that all life on Earth is finished!

Here are some extracts with my own snarky comments:

Glenn, I honestly don't know what to say. The guy who wrote the email seems to suggest there is nothing that can be done and that we're all doomed!

"We're humped. Unless God steps in and fixes this. No human can. You can be sure of that."

He gives one piece of advice:

"The only piece of human technology that might address this is a nuclear bomb. I'm not kidding. If they put a nuke down there in the right spot it might seal up the hole. Nothing short of that will work."

But that sounds counter-intuitive to me.

There is something I do agree with here, though:

"We're so used to our politicians creating false crises to forward their criminal agendas that we aren't recognizing that we're staring straight into possibly the greatest disaster mankind will ever see."

Yes, our politicians do create false panics about this, that and the other but they're not the only ones.

I think the amount of alarmism that conspiracy sites such as Infowars, Poison Prison Planet etc... like to churn out also adds to the boy-who-cried wolf knee-jerkism that many people feel when they hear stories like the one above.

Buried at the bottom of the first report is this:

Smullen described the NOAA document as a regular daily briefing. "Your report makes it sound pretty dire. It's a scenario," he said, "It's a regular daily briefing sheet that considered different scenarios much like any first responder would."

Unfortunately, the conspiracy theorizing gets worse...

Reading the link that Glenn posted there was a spoof article by the very same Huffington Post titled "Goldman Sachs Reveals it Shorted Gulf of Mexico":

The new revelations came to light after government investigators turned up new emails from Goldman employee Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre in which he bragged to a girlfriend that the firm was taking a "big short" position on the Gulf.

"One oil rig goes down and we're going to be rolling in dough," Mr. Tourre wrote in one email. "Suck it, fishies and birdies!"

While "Pure Energy Systems" agreed that the writer Andy Borowitz was a comedian and that the article was a joke, they also point out that Goldman Sachs had made investments into the company responsible for drilling into the oil field. The writer says "just because his piece was satire, doesn't mean there isn't something to it" and points to a source called "A. True Ott Ph.D" (I no longer can tell what is satire) who says:

I have confirmed that there were indeed numerous "shorts" placed on TransOcean stock just days before the "problem"...

Who would dare to quote the actual e-mails from "Fabulous Fab", unless the writer would post them as a "satire" - especially after what happened to the Wall Street Journal writers who dared expose the 9-11 short sales involving Goldman Sachs. (They were assigned to Afghanistan, and had fatal "accidents" there.)

So, Dr Ott is a Truther? Quelle surprise! He's clearly very brave for speaking out given that he knows what happened to those who exposed Goldman Sachs' hand in 9/11. Or not.

Here's his website. Please buy his goods.

I'm going to give the last word to the PES guy:

Do we have a shred of clean justice left in our corrupt government system which has been bought out, blackmailed, threatened, or otherwise brought under the control of these New World Order manipulators?

It's a dark day in which we live. But I am confident that brighter days are ahead. This time of transition is going to be a wild ride.