Saturday, July 24, 2010

Billary At The DMZ

I liked this picture that I saw at One Free Korea and Mr Stanton's caption so much I thought I'd put them both here:

Clinton announced the sanctions as she visited the DMZ, while accompanied by SecDef Gates, and while displaying her supernatural frost-projection powers against a hapless North Korean border guard. I count at least three priceless expressions in this photo.

Anyone have any better captions?

Meanwhile, North Korea threatens a "sacred war" with the use of nuclear deterrent. *Yawn!*

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kim Hyun Hee in Japan

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Kim Hyon Hui, a former North Korean spy responsible for the 1987 fatal bombing of a South Korean passenger jet, arrived early Tuesday in Japan on a Japanese government-chartered flight from South Korea to meet with the families of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents.


My review of Kim Hyun Hee's Tears of My Soul

Update: 25th July

Kim treated like guest of state / Critics question special handling despite no new info on missing

Some have questioned the propriety of the treatment given to one of the people responsible for the 1987 bombing of a Korean Air jetliner, as well as her contribution--or lack thereof--toward uncovering the truth behind the abduction of Japanese by North Korea.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

We Didn't Sink The Cheonan! (Honestly...!)

Having been given the benefit of the doubt in the Cheonan sinking by the United Nations, North Korea's propaganda posters now appear to be bragging about sinking the vessel. According to the Joongang Daily, the poster of a soldier smashing a corvette (the same class of ship as the Cheonan) bearing the message "Ready to crush any attack with a single blow!" was photographed by a Chinese businessman.

According to Radio Free Asia:

The businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that high-ranking North Korean traders he dealt with “expressed self-esteem in relation to North Korea’s military strength” and told him, “regardless of U.N. sanctions, we [North Koreans have] never stopped reacting.”

“It’s hard to understand how high-ranking officials can adamantly deny North Korea’s responsibility for the sinking of the Cheonan while propaganda posters showing a ship being broken in half by a fist are in circulation,” he said.

Update: I am currently reading B R Myers' The Cleanest Race and this propaganda poster, if genuine, is a perfectly good illustration of one of his main points in the book. Up until now, North Korea's stance on the Cheonan issue has been to cry foul at the hostile Yankees and their South Korean puppets for conspiring to blame them for something they had nothing to do with. Korean Central News Agency even collated their own articles in a special section here. And when their Foreign Minister spoke about the incident following the United Nations' absolution of the North from any blame he said: The recent development in which the overall situation on the Korean Peninsula reached a point of explosion in a moment due to a conspiratorial farce once again reminds us of the danger of the present cease-fire and the urgency to establish a peace-keeping regime. The DPRK will make consistent efforts for the conclusion of a peace treaty and the denuclearization through the six-party talks conducted on equal footing.

However, B R Myers warns:

Too many observers wrongly assume that the (North) Korean Central News Agency's English-language releases reflect the same sort of propaganda that the home audience gets. In fact there are significant differences. For example, there the DPRK presents itself to the outside world as a misunderstood country seeking integration into the international community, it presents itself to its own citizens... as a rogue state that breaks agreements with impunity, dictates conditions to grovelling U.N. officials, and keeps its enemies in constant fear of ballistic retribution. Generally speaking the following rule of thumb applies: the less accessible a propaganda outlet is to the outside world, the blunter and more belligerent it will be in its expression of the racist orthodoxy.

In this case, the poster doesn't depict anything that could be called racist but the rest of Myers' analysis of North Korean propaganda seems to fit this episode to a tee.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arthur Goldwag's Cults, Conspiracies and Secret Societies

Kinokuniya are having a sale (20% off all imported books!) so I decided to break my pledge to not buy any more books and picked up an intriguing volume called "Cults, Conspiracies and Secret Societies" by a writer called Arthur Goldwag. Having never heard of the author before I had no idea what opinion he would have on conspiracism but I bought it anyway because I liked the cover! (Eyes right!) And also because it looked like an amusing and concise exposition of an eclectic run through of the various psychological stances people employ to make sense of the world.

As with most books I talk about I haven't read it yet but I flicked through it looking for references to Lyndon LaRouche and came to this brilliant passage that explains how conspiracy theorists like to engage in conspiracies themselves and organize on conspiratorial lines:

[T]he erstwhile science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) and the ex-Marxist Lyndon LaRouche each claimed to have been the victims of a cabal of international bankers. Both the House of Windsor and the Bush family have been the objects of intense suspicion in conspiracist thinking. 9/11 Truthers are as likely to be right-wing racists as left-wing anarchists, but they all loathe their government with equal intensity. Some of these people are mentally ill: their personalities and ideations are shaped (or distorted) by the same pathologies; they don't so much agree with each other as exhibit the same symptoms. Because they are narcissistic, they think of themselves as gods; because they are paranoid, they are secretive and defensive; because they are grandiose, they fancy themselves the victims of vast conspiracies - or they organize and even execute vast conspiracies themselves.

Whilst LaRouche has hardly been that successful in executing his vast conspiracy he is the founder of his grandly named Executive Intelligence Review which distributes press releases such as this : "LaRouche Announces the Role He Will Play in a Post-Obama Administration". And his followers have managed to infiltrate the Democratic Party such as Kesha Rogers who has won a Congressional candidate nomination whose own press releases are shaped (or distorted) by the same pathologies as Lyndon LaRouche - in particular his belief that the British Royal Family is still running the world:

June 3, 2010 -- Let the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico be a lesson to the American people: the British and those who run British Petroleum, still consider the United States as one of their colonies. The time has come to expropriate these British SOBs, kick them out and let them take their puppet Barack Obama with them back to Britain.

Anyway, enough of this digression, I'll try to get round to reading Goldwag's book and hopefully to reviewing it too. In the meantime, his blog is here.

Update: Arthur Goldwag has helpfully provided some links to information regarding Lyndon LaRouche's antipathy towards Obama. This cocktail of racist invective, lasciviousnes and conspiracism is taken from a speech LaRouche gave in 2008:

Obama is a racist. I mean, with an African father–he wasn’t much of an African father, but was an African father of Kenya. He was part of a British operation, which took over Kenya, through MI5′s operation. But this guy was away from Kenya, and he married a Margaret Mead type, a woman who had a number of successive husbands, like Margaret Mead did. Went out to the poor, brown people, in Asia, and had sex with them! It was called “Coming in Samoa.” [groans, laughter] And she wore through a number of successive husbands, and by them, had various children. And therefore, you’ll find Obama’s ancestry, if you chase his family tree, everybody’s climbing and swinging from the branches there–from all over the world! All parts of the world! This guy is the universal man. Every monkey in every tree, from every part of the world, has participated in the sexual act of producing him. And he works for organized crime–which is a branch of British intelligence.

Some more on LaRouche here and here.

More Art From The DPRK

Apparently, more like it is available at the Shinchon-Ri Museum in Pyongyang.

Cheonan Controversy

North Korea has hailed as a "victory" a UN Security Council statement that condemns the sinking of a South Korean warship but avoids blaming Pyongyang.


The Korean Central News Agency gives the DPRK's official response:

FM Spokesman on Presidential Statement of UNSC on "Cheonan" Case
Pyongyang, July 10 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry on Saturday gave the following answer to the question raised by KCNA as regards the issue of the presidential statement of the United Nations Security Council on the "Cheonan" case:

The south Korean authorities brought up the case for discussion at the UNSC, but it concluded the discussion on this issue by issuing its presidential statement devoid of any proper judgment and conclusion without adopting any resolution on it.

A particular mention should be made of the fact that the UNSC took heed of the reactions of the countries concerned including the DPRK which clarified that it had nothing to do with the case.

The discussion could not have ended up otherwise as the UNSC hastily tabled and handled the case before the truth of the case has been probed.

This clearly proves what a foolish calculation the U.S. and south Korea made when they were recklessly behaving in so great haste to do harm to the DPRK for no reason.

We take note of the presidential statement saying that "the Security Council encourages the settlement of outstanding issues on the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means to resume direct dialogue and negotiation through appropriate channels."

The "Cheonan" case should have been settled between the north and the south without referring it to the UN.

The DPRK remains unchanged in its stand to probe the truth about the case to the last.

The south Korean authorities should strictly preserve the scene of the incident including the state of seabed as they were till the inspection team of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK reaches there.

The recent development in which the overall situation on the Korean Peninsula reached a point of explosion in a moment due to a conspiratorial farce once again reminds us of the danger of the present cease-fire and the urgency to establish a peace-keeping regime.

The DPRK will make consistent efforts for the conclusion of a peace treaty and the denuclearization through the six-party talks conducted on equal footing.

If the hostile forces persist in such provocations as demonstration of forces and sanctions in contravention of the presidential statement which calls for "avoiding conflicts and averting escalation" on the Korean Peninsula, they will neither be able to escape the DPRK's strong physical retaliation nor will be able to evade the responsibility for the resultant escalation of the conflict.


And Nature magazine has an article in which it airs the conspiracy theories over the sinking of the Cheonan.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Russia, With My Backing, Will Soon Destroy Your Ass!

Interesting story in the Telegraph:

["Alleged" Russian spy Mikhail] Semenko - known as Misha - lived in a shabby flat in Arlington. The flat had been arranged for him by Mark Grueter, a former Peace Corps volunteer who had taught him English at Amur State University in Blagoveschensk in the Russian Far East in 2001 and 2002.

"Unlike many of the Russian students, he had a generally favourable attitude toward America," Mr Grueter recalled. "He didn't carry any of the xenophobia or anti-American baggage that many of them had. He wasn't really interested in politics.

"He was just interested in learning, in soaking up knowledge. When I saw him in America, he seemed happy and he seemed to really like it here. I was impressed by how much his English had improved."

Update: Mark's adventures in espionage are now told in full here.