Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The British Ambassador and His Loony Admirers

Anyone who thinks they don't make insanity like they used to ought to take a peek at the blog of former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray.

First, I want to point out that I think Murray has done some noble things by exposing the regime of Islam Karimov and the brutality of its dungeons. This is detailed, for those with a strong stomach, here. He's been a critic of the US and UK governments choice of allies in Karimov and also Uzbek-Afghan warlord General Dostum and many of his criticisms are completely valid. I've read and I recommend his book on his experiences in Uzbekistan, Murder in Samarkand, the contents of which should be more widely known. His detailing of the torture by the regime, sometimes as the behest of American and British intelligence, however, is sometimes offset by his heavy hints that the British government tried to have him assassinated or that evidence against him was fabricated.

In his latest blogpost, he seems to want to play down the seriousness of Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab's attempted bombing of a plane heading to Detroit with such breezy comments as "The non-explosive and non-dangerous (as it proved) substance he had might very well prove to be duty free alcohol - it is being described by the US authorities as "incendiary" rather than "explosive". But the BBC is still referring to an "Explosive mixture", even though it plainly was not "explosive" as it did not explode." So, there you go. Anything that doesn't explode cannot be explosive, hmmm.

This doesn't stop him also pointing out that despite there being no security threat, there is a security threat which is blowback for the foreign policy of the west. "I just saw an eyewitness on BBC TV News recount that the Nigerian man who set fire to his leg on a Delta flight was shouting "about Afghanistan". Which proves yet again that by occupying Afghanistan we are provoking, not preventing, attempted terrorism."

Well, the theory that Abdulmutallab set fire to his duty-free booze in protest at the war in Afghanistan seems to have been refuted but regular readers of Craig Murray's blog are on the case and after a few clues, "The security at Amsterdam airport is provided by ICTS ( Private Security firm – owned by Israeli Ezra Harel - see
- employing many Shin Bet personnel. ICST was in charge when Richard Reid boarded a plane for his trip to do the “shoe bomb” trick." (Courtenay Barnett) and a couple of questions, Jaded: "Why didn't he go in the toilet? Why didn't Richard Reid go in the toilet?", and a bit of background, MJ: "ICTS also provided security at all the airports from which the alleged 911 hijackers boarded the planes. Since none of them appeared on the passenger lists we must assume they managed to do this without tickets or boarding passes." it becomes quite clear what's going on...

Jaded: "This was almost certainly a government job. Why didn't he got to the toilet? There is no answer to that question!"

Which government?

"U.S. government, or rather security services, but it's all linked with the U.K. and Israel. You think they pulled off 9/11 and 7/7 and then nothing happens after that? It's bullshit!"

Resident Socrates, Tony, is a little more circumspect: "The principle of 'Cui Bono' (philosophical equivalent of Follow the Money) would point a finger at CIA, Mossad or MI6 - and I am sure they would have done a more professional job as well."

A little later, in a slightly less philosophical mood he declares: "Look - this is Total Fucking Bollocks To Try and Stop People From Trevelling in Aircaft. I Don't Know Who is Behind It But Strongly Suspect It Is The Global Warming Cult...."

This made me laugh so much I couldn't keep it to myself and so I quoted these words on the 9/11 debunking blog, Screw Loose Change who wrote their own post leading, presumably, to a number of readers making their way to Murray's blog.

While I had tried to engage Jaded and MJ's questions and assertions about 9/11 in the comments box and asking what evidence there was for suspecting 9/11 and 12/25 of being an inside job a new theory occurred to Jaded:

"Angrysoba you are either a moron or a shill."

Why? Because I didn't know why Abdulmutallab didn't go to the toilet to detonate his bomb. Could it be that he wanted to detonate it over an urban area and wouldn't be allowed in the toilet during landing?

"you have even made my little niece start laughing and ask me if you are a 'crazy man'! That is the most moronic internet response I have ever read in my life. Well done. I don't think you are capable of smelling bullshit or your job is actually to create it."

Commenter, Asalan Goldberg, mused, "Speaking as a Muslim, something sounds really fishy about the name Abdul Mutalib? It sounds like a name made up by someone who doesn't know Arabic or much about Islam to try and pass as a Muslim."

Well, aside from the spelling error, it was the name given to him by his parents while his father, chairman of the board of directors of the First Bank of Nigeria, was worried enough to go to the US embassy to express his fears about his son's radicalism. But let's not let that get in the way of a good conspiracy theory. It's getting better as the appearance of a few SLC readers gave the resident fantasy dissidents something to fantasize even more over.

Rhisiat Gwilyiam: "Craig, you seem to have some fairly obvious trolls/black-ops-shills multi-posting on this thread, specifically Angrysoba and Agent XYZ. Is it your policy to let such wreckers' posts stay up? Just clutters up, confuses and diverts actually-useful discussion into ridiculous flame-duels, after all, which is its purpose."

According to Glenn, who obviously knows these things while not offering any evidence, each time a "shill" posts on a blog the said shill will earn fifty cents. I think that's quite generous and if I wasn't a secret agent for Mossad I might try to get work like that. Even if it is in the service of the "dark side".

As proof, one of the posters links to an article by reputable news source, Prison Planet:

"Israel has announced that it is setting up a network of bloggers to combat websites deemed “problematic” by the Zionist state, presumably to propagandize about the necessity of killing babies and infants in the name of self-defense."

Watch for that word "Zionist". It's a popular one thereabouts.

Mark Golding offers his nuanced view of the world: "When we get down to the wire politics is now polarised between the grasping Zionist banking New World Order on the one side and conscience and Islam on the other."

Not to be outdone, Arsalan Goldberg adds that "The people who I hate are the right wing false Christians, and the Zionist false Jews and their false Muslim Friends...Look, I am a true Muslim so I am antiZionist. While the false Muslims such as Quliam and the Qadianis are all Zionists...Every Religion forbids usury, while usury is what America is based on. Usury is the cause of all of its wars and Usury is the god the rulers of America and their Zionist masters worship above God."

In fact, Arsalan Goldberg, while railing against "false Muslims", "false Jews" and "Zionists" decides he quite likes the sound of the word "usury" and is happy to deploy it at the drop of a tinfoil hat:

"Larry your not changing my topic. I'm here to talk about usury and how God hates it. You here to get us to fight amongst ourselves to stop us fighting your usurious masters."

"So it doesn't matter what religion someone believes in. God Hates Usury, and God hates your usurious Zionist masters, and the usury America is based on."

"God hates the fact that America starves most of the world with its usury. God hates what America is doing to this planet with all the CO2 it produces. In other words, God hates you and God hates your Zionist usurious bastards that you worship above God."

Who could have predicted such a descent into rants about Zionism and usury. Are none of the posters aware of the less than healthy connotations these words have and the ways that people have suggested that the evil bony hands of the elders of Zion were controlling all events and all media to destroy the world and recreate it as a New World Order?

Well, yes. It appears that Jaded is all too familiar with the way that these words sound to non-conspiracists:

"An Israeli firm controls security at Amsterdam airport by the way. Same with all the 9/11 flights. I guess saying this must make me an 'anti-semite' or something, but what the hell!"

All this is among a familiar litany of conspiracy theories, Richard Reid the "shoe-bomber" was a "false flag" attack, as were the 9/11 attacks and the 7/7 underground bombings as well as the death of Dr David Kelly (it was murder!!1!) and JFK was killed in a conspiracy too. Sure, why not bung in the hackneyed old, "Jews run the world!" meme and the accusation that anyone who disagrees is certainly on the payroll of the "usurious Zionists". I wouldn't mind being a secret special agent if all I had to do was sit and type away on a computer keyboard. It sounds a bit cooler than being a high-school teacher on winter vacation, but I suppose I wouldn't be able to tell very many people about all the conspiracies I was party to.

Update: Arsalan Goldberg was not happy about being referred to as a Truther as he considers himself an "Islamic extremist" and would like "Islam will Dominate!" to be printed on his T-shirt when he stands beside Craig Murray at the latter's next run for parliament. Personally, I do sympathize with Arsalan as if I were someone like, say, Ayman al-Zawaihiri then I too would be pissed off that the Jews were getting all the credit for 9/11.

Also, Tony Opmoc points out that while he made the allegation against the Global Warming Cult for the 12/25 bombing, it was a different Tony who thought that the CIA, MI6 or Mossad were behind it. I must offer my most heartfelt apologies as mistaking anyone else for Tony Opmoc is really bad of me.

Anyway, Craig Murray thought this little banter was worth a thread of its own where it turns out to be me that was asking for posts to be deleted... See what you make of it yourselves, ladies and gentlemen.

Update: It seems that on the new thread devoted to l'il ol' me, MS and Jaded have reached the opinion that what this conversation needs is a little deviation from crazy territory into the realms of the ultra-loony.
 I had pointed out that such crank conspiracy sites that many of the commenters refer to as sources of their beliefs engage in all kinds of unsavoury activities as Holocaust denial (What Really Happened was my example but Glenn helpfully links to later just to drive the point home) but one commenter, MS, was upset about the use of the word, "denier":

"Whoever came up with the "denier" adjective,be it Holocaust or Climate Change,probably knew what they were doing.It seems to me that it is designed to stop debate dead on its tracks."

Does this mean that for MS whether the Holocaust really happened is a matter for debate?

MS clarifies: "yes the Holocaust did happen. but it's not my opinion,it's fact.but as a historical event it should be open to scrutiny."

But this doesn't leave me much the wiser. Why would MS be upset about the use of the term "denier"?

"I think 'holocaust denial' is an umbrella term,if you like,that ghettoizes anyone who questions any aspect of the 'official' discourse - so it doesn't just apply to nutters who deny it."

Okay, so you have said that the Holocaust is a fact but you don't like the way the word "denier" being thrown around. But what "aspects" of the official discourse do you think are squeezed out by this term. What questions about the Holocaust (or, perhaps as Jaded curiously has it, the 'Holocaust') do you think are legitimate that are suppressed by the word "denier"?

Also, I'd like to point out a couple of ironies I've just noticed.

1) While some commenters here are pouting about the use of the term "denier" limiting free inquiry it was David Irving who took Deborah Lipstadt to court in a libel case for calling him a Holocaust denier.

(And, as has been pointed out, whatever the laws are in Germany and in other countries where the actual Holocaust took place, Holocaust denial is not illegal in the UK, the US or here in Japan.)

2) While Craig Murray made a post suggesting I wanted comments to be removed and I was some kind of anti-freespeech ogre, it continues to be commenters who disapprove of MY comments calling for censorship.

Here is the indefatigably obtuse Jaded:

"And angrysoab and Larry the Lamb are shills and it would indeed be the best thing for decent humanity to delete their comments and ban them. It's so obvious it's funny... ;-0"

New World Order Arrests Charlie Sheen For JAQing Off to the President!

When Charlie Sheen, pictured, was arrested for domestic abuse, it seemed a bit too fishy for many Truthers who are sure that being arrested for being violent is just a little too convenient.

On the Prison Planet forums, one poster almost gets it right:

"What most people don't realize is that the media (and the police) can accuse a person of anything nowdays....without a shred of proof. With Charlie's rather colorful history - he's a target even without speaking about 911 Truth."

Sure. But that "colorful history" might not give the game away a little?

Of course, Truthers will say he wasn't arrested for any crime at all, but for JAQing off* to the president.

I think the 9/11 Truth Movement played him like a two-bit piccolo, myself.

*JAQing off = Just Asking Questions

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Bob Dylan gave an interview to the Big Issue about his Christmas album, a few weeks ago.

It's one of his most informative interviews of recent years, which isn't saying much.

Big Issue: Is recording a Christmas album something you’ve had on your mind for a while?
Bob Dylan: Yeah, every so often it has crossed my mind. The idea was first brought to me by Walter Yetnikoff, back when he was President of Columbia Records.

Did you take him seriously?
Well, sure I took him seriously.

Your family was Jewish – as a kid did you ever feel left out of the Christmas excitement?
No, not at all.

How do you like to spend the week between Christmas and New Years?
Doing nothing – maybe reflecting on things.

‘Christmas Blues’ is an old Dean Martin song. What attracted you to that?
It’s just a beautiful song.

‘Must Be Santa’ is a real jumping polka. Did you hear a lot of polka bands growing up?
Yeah, I heard a few.

Have you heard Christmas on Death Row, the rap Christmas record?
No, I don’t think so.

Do you listen to rap music?
I don’t listen to rap radio stations and I don’t play rap songs on the jukebox, and I don’t go to rap shows. So no, I guess I don’t listen to rap music all that much.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kim Hill Conducts a Controlled Demolition on Richard Gage

Kim Hill is a New Zealand radio broadcaster who takes no prisoners and utterly devastates Richard Gage here...

Thanks to Washu for uploading these.

New York State of Mind

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cranks Converge on Climate Conspiracy Crackpottery

It seems I am not the only one to have noticed a correlation between 9/11 conspiracy theorists and AGW-deniers. Alex Jones, Jeff Rense and Al Gore botherers, We Are Cranks Change are fully paid up believers in the idea that the NWO is trying to force through its globalist agenda by creating a spurious scientific consensus on the reality of AGW which will help them by forcing the masses to stop using oil and er...make the oil companies ... er... which is all part of the plot involving the 9/11 false flag operation to begin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, take all the oil and 9/11 was an inside job!!!1!

Here's a cartoon from Horatius at the JREF Forum which spells out the NWO's plan. No one ever said the NWO were smart, right?

Dissident Cleric, Montazeri, Dies

Ayatollah Montazeri was one of the most vocal critics of the Islamic Republic of Iran despite being one of its founders. He condemned the mass executions of political prisoners, and also criticized the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. He wanted a reappraisal of the Islamic Revolution and advocated spreading Islam through example rather than force. The example Montazeri saw Iran as showing the rest of the world was one in which they were merely in the business of behaving like a psychopathic murderers and so sacrificed his chance to be supreme leader of the country through principled dissent. More recently he also made an unprecedented call for the Bahais to be recognized as citizens of Iran instead of being subject to persecution.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

AQ Test

I took this test and my score was 12.

Monday, December 14, 2009


What do all of these controlled demolitions have in common?

Here's a video featuring Richard Gage giving more inconsistencies about the collapses of the World Trade Center buildings being "controlled demolitions", in this case in the type of explosives used and the effects of those explosives.

Note that his theory of how collapses of the twin towers should have been arrested is demonstrated by his model of cardboard boxes in the photograph. The carboard box that falls on another cardboard box has its fall arrested and the one that doesn't have its fall arrested falls at free-fall speed. It's that simple!

Video: The Skeptical Idealist

Richard Gage's Argument

Before you read my take on Richard Gage's presentation you may want to watch it.

Here is the entire 2008 edition of Blueprint for 9/11 Truth.

Sheeple Outvoted!

Like any self-respecting organized religion, the 9/11 Truth Movement has its schisms and its ex-communications and many of its bloodiest battles are internecine. Fortunately that also makes them effective debunkers of other sects. Jim Hoffman, for example, provides compelling photographic evidence for debunking the no-plane-hit-the-Pentagon theory (which is the majority group of the "no-planers" sect, a minority cult of which deny any planes hit any buildings on September 11th 2001) and he has, in turn, received abuse from No-planers. Still more exotic theories include the idea that the Twin Towers were destroyed with nuclear weapons or lasers from space.

However while there may be quibbles and theological disputes over doctrine there does remain one supreme tenet that is dogma across the spectrum: that 9/11 was an inside job! Here, again, there are disagreements over who, exactly conducted the attacks. Was it the Bush administration? Were the "mainstream media" involved? Perhaps the CIA? FBI? The New York Fire Department? The owners of the buildings? The Red Cross(!)? There are also suspicions about more shadowy groups about which we know nothing, the New World Order, the Illuminati or the Freemasons. Perhaps the blame can be laid, as so tiresomely often in the past, at the door of suspiciously rich Semites? Such a disparite movement with its various articles of faith is unfortunately bound to attract a few weird and nasty people. With such a schismatic and quarrelsome community of adherents a few newer groups have emerged to slough off their image of conspiracist cranks and to present a more sober and scholarly face with impeccable scientific credentials.

Richard Gage's AE9/11 Truth (Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth) is one such organization. In his slideshow presentation in Osaka - which was similar to his presentation at Ritsumeikan which I've covered here he plays the Anglican vicar to Alex Jones' fire-and-brimstone preacher. His presentation is ecumenical in that it contains sections of Loose Change and Jones' 9/11 Mysteries as well as physicist Steven Jones' controlled demolition using thermite theory. Gage was influenced by reading the dean of 9/11ology, David Ray Griffin, who was himself influenced by Thierry Meyssan and the sinister Eric Hufschmid.

The Reverand Richard Gage in the pulpit

In the beginning, Gage informed us that the 9/11 Truth Movement is not a religion, which is what gave me the idea of adding a religious motif to this blogpost. Gage then went on to say that since 9/11 American freedoms are being trampled, the American media is becoming more "complicit", there are "ongoing injustices in the Middle East" and the US is at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only the Truth about 9/11 can roll these issues back. This seems to me to be making a literally fantastic claim almost likening the 9/11 to a kind of spell which needs to be broken. It might be why a number of anti-war activists have been dismayed by the Truth Movement as it has drained their reservoir.

The meat of Gage's presentation was to show that the collapse of both the Twin Towers and the Salomon Brothers Building (WTC7) had all the characteristics of a controlled demolition. First he showed a flowchart listing what those characteristics are.

Richard Gage's Flowchart

By far the largest part of the presentation was on WTC7, which is what Gage calls "the smoking gun" evidence of an inside job. This is perhaps because it more closely resembles the video of an actual controlled demolition that he plays it against. However, in this video the audio is turned off making it impossible to compare the sound of a controlled demolition with that of WTC7's collapse. This is important as we'll get to later. But also, looking at the characteristics, it seems clear that the collapse of the Twin Towers also don't follow that criteria. They didn't go straight down into their footprint as can clearly seen on photographs.

The towers didn't fall at free-fall speed either as is evidenced by the fact that debris fell faster than the collapse front on the buildings moved.

But, let's get back to the WTC7. The actual controlled demolition that Gage compares the collapse of WTC7 to is in fact very loud. Yet to demonstrate that this was the case with WTC7 also, Gage uses the testimony of Kevin McPadden which I've addressed here.

I decided to ask Mr Gage about that here: there are videos - which he can play - of WTC7 collapsing with the sounds of explosions audible on them and yet he decided not to play them but to have an eyewitness account of explosions retold? And which of these videos have been manipulated? We didn't find out because the next thing on the agenda was Steven Jones' theory that the buildings were brought down with thermite - or thermate...or possibly superthermite or nanothermite, I am not up to date with the latest theory. That's okay because the programme we received featured one of Steven Jones' "peer-reviewed" articles on "thermitic materials" and we can buy Jones' DVD on nanothermite straight from AE9/11 Truth's website (and in Jesse Ventura's recent faux-documentary on 9/11 conspiracies Jones suggests "liquid thermite" could have been painted on to the steel in the WTC buildings - swivel-eyed Jesse remarks darkly that it could be in any building in every city painted straight on to the buildings and the painters wouldn't even know!)

But how exactly is thermite supposed to work? Fellow commenter on the JREF forum, Nag P - an associate professor of chemistry at Osaka University - asked Richard Gage:

The objections are that thermite itself isn't explosive and that any form of highly reactive thermite with explosive capacity wouldn't be able to melt columns and beams continuously for weeks after the collapses and create the pools of molten metal cited by Gage as evidence for a controlled demolition. This raises two more objections and an observation.
1. As Nag P points out, thermite isn't even used in controlled demolitions. It seems to have been introduced almost as a deus ex machina to support the CD theory. 2. Molten metal isn't a characteristic of controlled demolitions. It seems to have been introduced (and oddly bumped "squibs" from the list of characteristics and replaced it) simply to undermine the "government story". I've remarked on this before that he uses a number of eyewitnesses to show that molten metal had been found - some of them indeed say steel - but he doesn't show any actual evidence of such pools of molten steel as were mentioned. One of the clips from 9/11 Mysteries disingenuously shows a report of finding molten steel in the rubble and yet it doesn't mention pools of metal. The rest of Gage's evidence is the discovery of tiny microspheres which Steven Jones contends were caused during the thermitic controlled demolition and also red and gray chips that Jones believes to be unreacted nano-thermite. I'd be interested to know what they are but so far the explanations I've heard are that the microspheres come from the cutting devices used to sever the remaining columns and beams during clean-up (in other words tools using similar materials to those cited by Jones for cutting beams were used to cut beams for having them shipped out - and there goes another characteristic) while the red and gray flecks are simply paint.

However, convinced of the existence of "chemical evidence for cutter charges", Gage then goes on to argue that the other characteristics were observable. At the end of Nag P's question, Gage says, "Let's see if there is any evidence of foreknowledge..." What? Foreknowledge of the destruction of WTC7, of course there was foreknowledge. Again, this seems like a dubious tactic, and I spoke directly to Gage after the presentation explaining that there had been many, many fire fighters who had said both before and after that the building's structural integrity had gone and that its collapse was imminent. He flatly dismissed it as I've described here.

He then moved on to the Twin Towers saying that the collapse of those was also by controlled demolition - just a very different controlled demolition. There then followed another barrage of odd and dubious claims which and ended up concluding that the characteristics of a controlled demolition were there also.

A show of hands revealed that Doubting Thomases, Nag P and I, were the only two sheep remaining while 90% of the rest of the audience now had their eyes wide open to the Truth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Damage to WTC7

After Richard Gage's slideshow in Osaka in which he said the WTC buildings had been knocked down by controlled demolitions I asked him why he had only shown photographs of the fires and damage to WTC7 from the North side and the East side of the building.

This is one of the photographs he uses. He more than implies that there was quite little damage to the building and that the fires weren't particularly intense.

How Richard Gage chooses to present the damage to WTC7

He never showed any of the pictures of the destruction on the south side of the building, which is a little odd given that this diagram, which he even used in his slideshow, shows there was quite likely considerable damage. As can be seen, debris from the collapsing south tower smashed into the south of the WTC7 building:

Looking at that diagram above, another objection that seems to be raised to the controlled demolition theory is this: How did the New World Order/Illuminati/Deep State USA 9/11 planners know that burning debris from the north tower would hit WTC7 and ignite fires there? This seems like an incredibly harebrained scheme which got lucky. It's possible that no fires could have resulted from the destruction of the north tower in which case there would have been no excuse for its sudden destruction.

He did tell me that he would have shown more of the destruction from different angles had he had more time but said he would email me pictures of the fires on the East side if I wanted them. I said that I was talking about the south side and asked him if he had seen the documentary, "Day of Disaster" - parts of which I had seen for the first time that day. If not I could email him parts of the programme.

It seems to me that being in denial about how much destruction had been done to the south side of the building (as well as the massive potential damage done to the interior is one of the main columns supporting his controlled demilition theory. Either he doesn't believe or simply won't concede that point.

Gage may well be correct in saying that there is little photographic evidence for damage to the south face, but that certainly doesn't mean there wasn't any damage and it doesn't mean he should give the audience that impression.

Here's a picture of the smoke and fire coming from the south face:

And it appears to be an old bone of contention between Truthers and Debunkers as this page shows.

Update: I wasn't aware of some of the video footage that appears here. It corroborates the eyewitness testimony that Gage denies and leaves his theory looking even more threadbare than ever. These videos both come from The Skeptical Idealist and I recommend you look at his channel.

Osaka Buys Snake Oil

Oh well! Richard Gage definitely won over the audience again!

And yet, there were so many utterly blatant distortions going on in his presentation.

I asked him, again, where the sounds of explosions were in the videos of the collapse of WTC7 given that he had used the testimony of Kevin McPadden as evidence of one of the characteristics of a controlled demolition. He said, and this is verbatim, "There are several videos which have explosions and there are several videos that don't have explosions, I could play some for you that do. It's very interesting that the audio appears to have been manipulated in some cases but we have several witnesses who have indeed, in fact, in the case of the Twin Towers dozens and dozens of witnesses talking about explosions."

I forgot to ask him about a million questions which were all screaming for attention, such as whether or not he thought the Red Cross were part of the conspiracy. I did ask one of his cohorts this question, and I may have phrased it awkwardly, "Do you think the Red Cross exploded WTC7?" or words to that effect. He corrected me and said that it was a Red Cross guy listening to the countdown on his radio. I realize there's an important distinction, of a kind, but pointed out that someone in the Red Cross still seems to have been implicated in this conspiracy all the same (and that seems completely contrary to what the Red Cross are [I]supposed[/I] to do). He said, "Well, yeah, honestly I don't think it is a good clip to play because it isn't really verifiable and frankly I wouldn't include it in the presentation." Oh yeah? "Yeah, because we have far more testimony about that and so many witnesses that say they heard explosions..."

He asked me if I had ever heard of Willie Rodriguez... Sure! I asked him if he had ever heard of Arturo Griffith. He said, of course, but that I should remind him again who he was. So I did, and suddenly we were talking about another group of people. I was told about Mr X and Mrs Y who heard an explosion while both towers were still standing and also that it is documented fact that many, many firefighters had heard explosions. I opened my mouth to speak and was told, "No, that is a documented fact." (I see, and what was the rest of what you tell me?)

There's plenty more, as after the show I did get to ask the man himself a few questions.

It would seem impolite of me not to say that he gave me every chance to ask him questions and that he was open to letting me go to dinner with him and the rest of the group.

First I told him I thought it was quite dishonest of him to present to the audience pictures of the WTC7 from the (relatively undamaged) North side and the East side and then ask them if the building looks like it is in danger.

I told him that there were a number of firefighters who had said the building was about to fall down and a number of them who testified to the massive structural damage of the building. He disputed the idea that there was massive structural damage and said there was no photographic evidence. I told him that there was eyewitness testimony that the building was beyond saving, He seemed to lose his temper a little (this was the only time I thought I saw him lose his cool) and said it didn't matter what they said, there was no video or photographic evidence that this was the case. I pushed a little more and said that the smoke probably obscured it and we still have the witness testimony.

He did tell me that the fires weren't that bad and I did reach into my bag to try and retrieve my copy of "Debunking 9/11 Myths" in which I had scrawled the numbers of floors on which fires had been seen but before I retrieved it he said something along the lines of "Why are we even talking about fires anyway, what about the evidence for controlled demolition?" I was a little taken aback by this and realize now that I should have dismissed it and carried on. "What evidence?" I asked. To my shame, I let him get away with this one, "The molten steel!" I should have said either, "Nevermind that, let's get back to the fires which are NOT irrelevant." or "Who said molten steel was a characteristic of a controlled demolition?" But instead I picked a quibble, because I knew that his presentation had conflated molten steel and molten metal and we ended up having a weird conversation about whether bits of metal retreived from the site were molten.

(I asked whether the "meteorite" was actually molten metal. He said, "yes". He also said talked of "meteorites" in the plural which suggested to me that there were lots and lots of pools of molten steel or iron. We had a brief talk about how hot temperatures could get to in the pile of rubble if there was no thermite. Gage said no more than about 600 degrees if it was an office fire. I said that I don't think we're really talking about an "office fire" and whether or not he thinks things could get much hotter in the rubble pile...)

Finally, I asked him if he was thinking of defending Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as surely his trial would provide the perfect platform for the evidence he has. Mr Gage didn't seem very happy at the prospect and said that for all he knows Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could have been involved in the plot. I said that under the circumstances that he (Richard Gage) has uncovered some very important evidence for "reasonable doubt" (to say the least). Mr Gage then said that his organization don't really want to be branded by the media as "terrorist huggers" or some such. I countered that he shouldn't be too worried about it if the media already marginalize the Truthers and anyway if it was an inside job then those in Guantanamo Bay are INNOCENT (presumably). [I]I wish I had remembered the exhortation that Mr Gage himself had provided to the audience at the end of the night. Martin Luther King once said, "The time comes when silence is betrayal." [/I]He did then say that while AE9/11Truth won't be part of the defence team for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, they do have friends and associates who will be. I forgot to ask him if he meant Kevin Barrett.

In all honesty, Mr Gage bested me when it came to properties of certain materials (which I don't know enough about) and he also won over the audience very handily. A Truther friend of mine told me that any open-minded and unbiased person would be convinced by Richard Gage's presentation. He's absolutely correct if that person had not done any research into the events on 9/11. This is because most open-minded and unbiased people who listen to something like this will have a certain trust in the person talking to them. But the fact is that this wasn't being presented honestly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WTC7 Collapse (NOT a Controlled Demolition)

Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin like to assert that the collapse of WTC 7 is somehow the "key" to unlocking the "conspiracy" behind 9/11. Because it wasn't hit by a plane the collapse is apparently more suspicious than that of the Twin Towers and the explanation given by some Truthers is that it was brought down by a controlled demolition. They cite the fact that it looks quite like a controlled demolition (which it does, superficially) and also the fact that steel-framed high-rise buildings have never before collapsed due to fire alone.

This video wasn't made by me so please ignore the commentary but listen to the fireman explaining, before the building came down, that it's collapse was inevitable. Please also read the comments made by FDNY staff about what they saw and why they thought the building would collapse. It doesn't seem that they were persuaded by the idea that because a steel high-rise has never come down that it follows that one can't come down due to fire.

This video also explains how the WTC7 building came to be so damaged. While it was not hit by a plane, it was hit by debris from WTC1, or the North Tower. The fires were not small, unlike what Richard Gage alleges (but I believe that NIST has ruled out the deisel tanks as being the cause of collapse).

Richard Gage also cites "sounds of explosions" as a charcateristic of a controlled demolition. Here is Kevin McPadden suggesting that the WTC7 building was destroyed that way:

Apart from the strange implication that the Red Cross (!?) was involved in the conspiracy, the sounds that McPadden describes and the rumble through the ground don't seem to have appeared on this video. What does appear is the fact that the building was expected to fall. Again, no one seemed to have contradicted the idea that a steel-framed high-rise could fall due to fire.

More confirmation here.

See also here and here.

Just for the record, here is the beginning of the collapse of WTC2 as well. Notice that the steel frame does give way and its collapse is not initiated by any explosives:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

9/11 Truth is Fun and Profitable

One of the many things that I find nauseating about the 9/11 Truth Movement is their pretense that they are doing something noble when most of the time the main speakers are flogging books and their drones are in matching T-shirts and fancy dress.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Can't Handle The Truth

One may have thought that the 9/11 Truth Movement would be dying down given that the Bush Administration are now out of office and the planners of the operation, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, due to be tried in New York. But either out of Indomitable Belief or the realization that the movement's in its dying throes one of its main heroes, Richard Gage, has washed up on the shores of Japan to give a speaking tour and I went along to see his presentation at Ritsumeikan University.

Richard Gage is considered to be one of the more "respectable" members (as opposed to "rabid" members - Alex Jones and Kevin Barrett spring to mind here) as he is an architect and therefore seen as an authoritative counter to the hundreds of structural engineers and other scientists who worked on the NIST and FEMA reports into why the World Trade Center Buildings collapsed on 9/11.

He has famously demonstrated the difference between the behaviour of a box falling at free-fall compared to one that lands on another box.

When I arrived at the lecture theatre I was a little surprised to see how many people there were (between 100 - 150 by my estimates). There was a bit of an introductory ramble by Japanese Truther Yumi Kikuchi and a few preliminary questions which suggested the audience hadn't really heard the Truther arguments before (Thierry Meysan's Pentagon-wasn't-hit-by-a-plane theory and a short film of Japanese politician Yukihisa Fujita proclaiming his induction to Trutherdom at the Japanese Diet). Gage then asked the audience how many people believed the "official story" of the collapse of the WTC, how many believed it was taken down by explosives set by the US government and how many didn't know. The vote was split pretty evenly.

Then Gage went into his slide show which involved a huge number of distortions from the beginning. In particular a number of polls were shown as evidence that the number of believers in the "inside job" theory was between a third and a half of the population depending on the poll (Gage ommitted to mention the fact that one of these polls was commissioned by the 9/11 Truth Movement themselves and manipulated in such a way as to get those who don't believe in an inside job to suggest they do).

There seemed to be so much sleight-of-hand as Gage explained the "characteristics" of a controlled demolition and then provided "evidence" for them. He began with a list which included "squibs" as a characteristic - but didn't touch on that one, curiously altering it to "pools of metal". He switched between saying that steel melts at such-and-such a degree - a temperature which couldn't be reached by jet fuel - and then shows a researcher from NIST saying that there were no pools of steel. Then he switches back to a paper which showed that molten steel had been found in the ruins (though he doesn't point out that it doesn't refer to "pools" of the stuff) and also to eyewitnesses who say they saw pools of molten steel and those who say they saw molten metal. The trouble is that he has no expert witnesses saying they saw pools of molten steel and says that those who denied they were there were lying. He also doesn't make it clear how or even if molten steel is a characteristic of controlled demolition - it's a characteristic that seems to have been slipped in the back door replacing the "squibs" which disappeared on his slide show.

Another thing that is disingenuous is that almost his entire presentation was on World Trade Center Building 7 so the controlled demolition characteristics which fit that collapse are easier to demonstrate but which don't apply to the Twin Towers. In particular he shows a building collapsing in a controlled demolition alongside the video of WTC7 collapsing. But while the WTC7 seemed to come down as a block with the lower parts of the building giving way first the same is not true of the Twin Towers which collapsed from the top (at the impact points of the two planes). He does point out that the sound of explosions are clearly audible in a controlled demolition and uses the testimony of a couple of people on video who say they heard such explosions. What he doesn't explain, however, is why the vast numbers of video which captured the collapse of the building failed to pick up any sounds of explosions.

I wanted to ask him this question and the audience was given an opportunity to ask some questions. I was overlooked, however and instead had to wait until the end. A vote was taken on what the audience now believed and apparently Gage had convinced everyone but me that the "official story" wasn't true (with a few fence sitters). Interestingly no one seemed particularly concerned to learn that the US government had planted secret special explosives that hitherto weren't known to exist up and down the Trade Centre and weren't content with simply flying planes into them but needed that explosive and complicated coup de grace without which they would have escaped the perspicacious gaze of David Ray Griffin, Steven Jones and Richard Gage.

But nevermind that, they all had a meal to go to afterwards, so I thought I'd quickly find out the answer to my question from Mr Gage. He seemed amicable enough and shook my hand to introduce himself to the only person in the room who disagreed with him. "So, why is it that there were no sounds of explosions on the videos during the collapse of the buildings?" I asked. He thought about it and at first told me that he wasn't sure but that he had heard that the sounds of explosions had been scrubbed from the audio track. I was a bit confused about this, there were plenty of different videos which had the sounds of the buildings collapsing and the sounds of voices on them. I thought it would take quite a job to erase the sounds of just the explosions and to do that from all the videos of all the news channels from every country as well as all the fire and police cameras. Richard Gage smiled, a little nervously I thought, and said, "I know, it sounds like a conspiracy!"

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Robert Wright seems to have come up with an idea to have the religious and the atheists agree that either of their positions could be correct providing the religious concede that X is a product of natural selection and the atheists concede that Y could be explained by God.

To illuminate this he strangely gives an example, that seems to me to have originated with Kant, that there are true statements of morality that exist independently of both divine sanction and contingent evolutionary pathways. I fail to see how any atheist is going to accept this "grand bargain" as it will either simply postpone the day of reckoning or it may require accepting that the nature of morality is "cognitively closed".

As Mr. Pinker once put it in conversation with me: “There may be a sense in which some moral statements aren’t just ... artifacts of a particular brain wiring but are part of the reality of the universe, even if you can’t touch them and weigh them.” Comparing these moral truths to mathematical truths, he said that perhaps “they’re really true independent of our existence. I mean, they’re out there and in some sense — it’s very difficult to grasp — but we discover them, we don’t hallucinate them.”

Robert Wright is clearly trying to be diplomatic but what purpose does it serve to simply humour both sides?

The New York Times

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ambassador to a Pariah State

I know things are tough for the Palestinians but what do they expect to get out of having an ambassador to North Korea?

Pyongyang, April 6 (KCNA) -- Pak Ui Chun, minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, met and had a talk with Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan, new Palestinian ambassador to the DPRK who paid a courtesy call on him on Monday.

That said, there seem to be a large number of countries with Palestinian embassies, as this map from Wikipedia shows?

Is Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan a member of the PA or of Hamas?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ballad of a Thin Man

Last month it was reported that Kim Jong-il was looking thinner, as these photographs show:

Doesn't the picture on the left of him look a bit like Bob Dylan? Has anyone ever seen the two of them in the same room?

He's now taking his new wizened appearance on the road making an appearance at the North Korean Parliament.

Utterly disgusting...

I really can't believe that this story in the Guardian is true:

About 700,000 Americans were sacked in March. In the past month three men who recently lost their jobs went on gun rampages, killing a total of 26 people. What to do with such grim news? Turn it into a reality TV show, of course.

Bright sparks at Endemol USA, the American branch of the brand that brought you Big Brother, have come up with a new idea: to wallow in the misery of America's threatened workers.

Each week, the show, Someone's Gotta Go, sets itself up in a small business where times are hard and redundancies have to be made. The employees - usually 15 to 20 of them - will be allowed to see the firm's books, and will be told how much each of them earns.

Then they will reveal what they think of each other. They will be fighting for their livelihoods, for at the climax of the episode the employees will vote to decide which of them is added to the pile of unemployed. And you thought Alan Sugar's "You're fired!" was brutal.

More than 5 million Americans have been let go since the recession started in December 2007, and the unemployment rate now stands at 8.5%.

"We're always trying to find the next thing that is topical and timely in the zeitgeist," Endemol's North American director, David Goldberg, told Variety.

He went on to suggest the TV show would be doing hard-pressed employers a favour: "For a lot of people, it takes the pressure off them. As a boss myself, I don't want to have to make those decisions. It's safe to say it hasn't been difficult to find companies willing to participate."

I think any of the "hard-pressed" employers who find it a good idea to set their own employees against each other in such a morale-enhancing way would benefit from seeing the world from a more elevated perspective by swinging from a lamp-post.

Leading by example should be the head of Endemol USA.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Official Story

General Secretary Kim Jong Il visited the General Satellite Control and Command Centre to watch the process of launching the experimental communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 on Sunday.
He acquainted himself with the preparations made for the satellite launch.
After being briefed on the satellite launch, he observed the whole process of the satellite launch at the centre.
At 11:20 a.m. the satellite Kwangmyongsong-2, a shining product of self-reliance, soared into space by carrier rocket Unha-2. It was smoothly and accurately put into its orbit 9 minutes and 2 seconds after being completely separated from the carrier rocket.
Expressing great satisfaction over the fact that scientists and technicians of the DPRK successfully launched the satellite with their own wisdom and technology, he highly appreciated their feats and extended thanks to them.
It is a striking demonstration of the might of our Juche-oriented science and technology that our scientists and technicians developed both the multistage carrier rocket and the satellite with their own wisdom and technology 100 percent and accurately put the satellite into orbit at one go, he noted, repeatedly praising the patriotic devotion of the scientists and technicians who are playing a vanguard role in the drive to open the gate to a great prosperous and powerful nation.
Stressing the need to bring about a new turn in conquering outer space and making a peaceful use of it on the basis of the successful launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-2, he set forth the important tasks to be fulfilled to do so.
He met with the scientists and technicians who have contributed to the satellite launch by devoting all their wisdom and enthusiasm with ardent patriotism and warmly encouraged them before having a photograph taken with them.


Of course there are always crackpot conspiracy theorists, deniers and naysayers who are ready to pounce on the achievements of others and even cast doubt on the credibility of a government.

North Korean rocket launch "fails"

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Experts say there are several possible reasons why North Korea is launching a rocket. Jack Garrity, the executive director of the Asia Society, in Washington, says the government in Pyongyang wants to send a message overseas. "The prime objective is to show their independence to the outside world, and to make a point of undermining both the spirit and agreements of the six-party talks," he said.

Nicholas Eberstadt, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, believes there is also a domestic political reason for the launch. "[launching the rocket] stands to indicate the success of the regime's military-first politics program, and to strengthen the position of certain groups within the government," he said.
And there is likely a military incentive for the North to conduct this test, according to Gordon Flake, executive director of the Washington-based Mansfield Foundation. "It would introduce a lot more complexity into the security calculations for countries like the United States or China or others dealing with North Korea, because it extends the reach of their delivery capacity. That delivery capacity is far more important today than it was a couple of years ago, because of North Korea's successful nuclear test," he said. The rocket North Korea is expected to launch in the coming days is theoretically capable of reaching the western United States.

Two previous Taepodong missile launches were unsuccessful, and Eberstadt and Garrity agree that a failed attempt would be a large setback for Pyongyang's nuclear program. The United States has warned North Korea that it would face consequences if it launches a missile. But the Obama administration also says a path to return to international negotiations on an aid-for disarmament deal remains open.

Digital ChosunIlbo

My own two won's worth says North Korea aren't going to abandon their rocket/missile program given that they've already refused aid from the US.

Just an Urban Myth

In support of...

Look at the bile and the sniggering aimed at two women who were trying to do their jobs as real journalists. Why is it that these two are considered "idiots" or "fools" when the same people who deride these brave women would be slobbering about the disgrace of keeping US spies deployed in aircraft or navy vessels captive for real spying?

Nutbag Alert: M*****

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Brigandish Yankees give DPRK Benefit of the Doubt

A long-range rocket North Korea is expected to launch within days appears to have a bulb-shaped nose cone consistent with a satellite payload, rather than a warhead, U.S. defence officials said on Tuesday.

North Korea insists it is putting a communications satellite into orbit, but it is still expected to be accused of testing a ballistic missile in violation of U.N. sanctions.


Monday, March 30, 2009

King of the Fruitcakes

At the Arab summit meeting in Qatar, Libya's Moammar Gaddafi announced, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Actually, he didn't say that. Instead he said, "I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam (leader) of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level," Gadhafi said. He then got up and walked out of the summit hall.

Maybe he should have said the former instead as that way he could later claim he was just joking.

Eating Problem

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ichiro's Big Fan

One fan offers his reflections on Japan's victory in the World Baseball Classic here. He shows tremendous respect for Ichiro Suzuki who he says is "no doubt, the best batter in the world" and has some words of encouragement for the nation hosting it: "The U.S. team was brilliant in its absence. The multinationals which exploit the sport lost nothing and gained much. The American people are grumbling."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fighting Fire with Fire

Japan's Defence Minister, Yasukazu Hamada, has given permission for SDF to shoot down North Korea's Taepodong. Among the weapons that are being deployed is the PAC-3 or Patriot missile, which will hopefully be more effective than the Patriot missiles used by Israel to defend against Saddam Hussein's Scuds in 1991. There is doubt that they managed to shoot down even one Scud!

This blog shows the missile's likely flight path given the air routes that North Korea is closing between April 4th and April 8th.


Monday, March 23, 2009

I Know Her!

I met two of the women in this video. This young lady was in the Fatherland Liberation War Museum.
The second woman in the video met us at the Juche Tower. Her English happens to be quite good.


Potemkin Ballot Boxes?

Having looked at some You Tube videos of the 2007 elections in the DPRK I notice that the same voting station appears again and again. My own photograph was taken and appears in the English language newspaper, The Pyongyang Times, for that week. This is interesting because I wonder if it is the only place where a pantomime of democracy was staged? Given the fact that the official news organs broadcast 100 percent turnouts this would seem to be very counterproductive propaganda. I would think that even the most brutal totalitarian states (of which the DPRK is surely one) it would make no sense for the state to tell everyone they had voted when they would know that they had not.
So, does the whole country go through the motions of rubber-stamping the only candidate they are allowed to or does only a fraction of the population get to do even that?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Let them eat pasta!

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's instruction orders up an Italian restaurant
A pro-Pyongyang newspaper says North Korea has opened an Italian restaurant at the instruction of its leader Kim Jong Il.

Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo newspaper said Saturday it's the first time a restaurant specializing in Italian dishes has opened in the capital Pyongyang.


Choson Sinbo is the newspaper affiliated with Chongryon, the association for Korean residents in Japan who are aligned with North Korea. They'll have more chance of getting to eat at the restaurant than most North Koreans if they get a chance to visit on a school trip.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ex-Spy Meets Abductee's Family

Read my review of Kim Hyun Hee's Tears of My Soul here

PUSAN--Former North Korean spy Kim Hyon Hui said Wednesday she believes Japanese abductee Yaeko Taguchi is still alive, bringing hope to the missing woman's son and family members of others taken to North Korea.
Taguchi's son, Koichiro Iizuka, 32, after meeting Kim here, said her words gave "new hope for our efforts" to rescue those forcibly taken by the reclusive state.
Taguchi was abducted by North Korean agents in 1978 and was forced to teach Japanese to Kim in Pyongyang for 12/3 years from 1981. In 2002, Pyongyang reported that Taguchi had died in July 1986.
Kim, 47, who was convicted of blowing up a Korean Air jet in 1987, killing 115 people on board, met Koichiro and his adopted father, Shigeo Iizuka, 70, who is Taguchi's brother.
The 11/2-hour meeting, held at a convention hall under heavy security, was the first between Kim and an abductee's family.
Kim, who was sentenced to death for the Korean Air bombing but later pardoned, had not made a public appearance since 1997, when she got married.
When Kim met the two around 11 a.m., she greeted Shigeo and then embraced Koichiro, telling him in Japanese: "You have grown big. You look like your mother. I wanted to see you sooner."
Kim, with tears in her eyes, told Koichiro that one day he would meet his mother.
Koichiro was just 1 year old when Taguchi disappeared. She was 22.
In a news conference after the meeting, Shigeo Iizuka thanked Kim for "clearly testifying to the existence of Yaeko Taguchi."
He went on to say, "I hope this meeting will be a good opportunity to advance Japan and South Korea's efforts to resolve the abduction issue."
At a Japan-North Korea summit in 2002, Pyongyang admitted its agents had abducted Japanese; it said five abductees were alive but eight others, including Taguchi, were dead.
But Kim said she heard between January and October 1987 in North Korea that Taguchi had been moved to another location, leading her to believe the abductee was still alive.
Taguchi was also reportedly sighted in October 1986, three months after Pyongyang said she died. There has also been a report she married a South Korean abductee.
But Kim told the news conference she had never heard whom Taguchi had married. She also said she thinks another abductee, Megumi Yokota, is alive. However, she did not give any specific supporting evidence of either woman's survival.
Pyongyang has denied Taguchi was Kim's Japanese teacher, who taught under the Korean name Lee Un Hae. The North also denies any involvement in the Korean Air bombing.
The meeting was arranged after Kim expressed her hope to see the Iizukas in January, and the family asked the Japanese and South Korean governments for mediation.
The Iizukas, who learned of Taguchi's fate only after Kim's arrest, have for years sought a chance to talk to her to find out about Taguchi's life in North Korea.
"Kim said Yaeko-san, my mother, is alive. She also said she would become my Korean mother. I am very pleased," Koichiro said.
Kim told the news conference Koichiro reminded her of his mother.
"How I wish Taguchi were here with us," she said.
Kim, who has not met any of the Korean Air bombing's bereaved families, said "a miracle can happen" if efforts are made to regain abductees, while respecting the North's "pride."

Asahi Shimbun

This seems to be being reported as a happy ending , but it is a little bizarre given that Kim Hyong-Hee can have no real basis for saying that Yaeko Taguchi is still alive given that it was more than twenty years ago since she last saw her. The North Korean government shouldn't be trusted on anything it says, without corroboration, however. For years they denied that they had abducted anyone and still now their explanation of the abductions aren't trustworthy.

Abduction Discrepencies

Monday, March 09, 2009

North Korea's Satellites of Love

One of the more bizarre "attractions" that I visited in Pyongyang was the planetarium at the Electronics Industry Hall of the Three-Revolution Exhibition. The official guide pamphlet revels in some apparently impressive statistics:

The "globe-shaped object" representing Saturn is 48 metres in diameter! The Three-Revolution Exhibition has a floor space of 80,000 square metres! The halls are arranged symmetrically on both sides of a main road that is over 100 metres wide! The exhibition features 230,000 items of over 23,000 kinds of products and materials!

The planetarium's show itself was a disorienting experience. Perhaps due to something I had eaten for breakfast I was already feeling a little lightheaded before the lights went out and some hypnotic faux-futuristic moog music began to play. The show wasn't much different to those in planetariums elsewhere (as far as I remember there were also "Courtesy of NASA" labels below each of the planets) except the woman narrating the show had unusually flat intonation which combined with the music, the darkness and almost empty cavern we were sitting in made the experience slightly eerie. Remembering the fact that we were also at the mercy of the world's most isolated country didn't help the anxiety very much either. At one point I was disconcerted to hear what sounded like escaping gas which made me think of the way in which Goldfinger had killed his criminal accomplices (what more fitting way for the Kim Jong-il regime to dispense with some foreign visitors just for the hell of it?). The finale even looked like that of a James Bond film in which an illuminated outline of a Taepodong missile took off and flew across the interior wall until out popped a little blob of light which spun round the room at increasingly dizzying speeds and pinging a message in Morse code.

The little blob of light was the Kwangmyongsong No.1 satellite that supposedly circles the Earth to this day playing the "Song of General Kim Il-sung". The 1998 launch is a point of pride in North Korea and features heavily in propaganda, on stamps and at the Mass Games but in Japan, and internationally, it is remembered as a sabre-rattling act of provocation with the Taepodong flying across Japan landing in the Pacific Ocean (the planetarium showed a different trajectory with the rocket completely missing the Japanese archipelago). If the satellite ever had existed it seems likely that it either never made it into space and/or probably plopped into the sea.

With the expected launch of another North Korean missile (and, indeed, the Kwangmyongsong No.2!) Japan has warned North Korea that a missile flying into Japanese airspace will be shot down.

North Korea's Central News Agency has been particularly bellicose in its response:

We will retaliate any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counter strikes by the most powerful military means.

If the enemies recklessly opt for intercepting our satellite, our revolutionary armed forces will launch without hesitation a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds of the U.S. and Japanese aggressors and the south Korean puppets who hatched plots to intercept it.

Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war.

Kim Hyun-Hee

Read my review of Kim Hyun-Hee's book, Tears of My Soul

The surviving bomber of Korean Air flight 858 in 1987 has described her feelings before meeting the family of Yaeko Taguchi, a Japanese abduction victim she claims was her teacher in North Korea. Kim Hyun-hee (47) sent a letter to Japan's Sankei Shimbun daily.
Kim, now rehabilitated and married in South Korea, claimed her life under the previous administration was that of a "refugee," but said she was now "full of happiness as the day is approaching" when she meets Taguchi's family. "I believe the upcoming meeting will not merely make me happy but providing an opportunity for South Korea and Japan to further understand and cooperate with each other," she said.

Kim pointed out that there has been no progress since former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi visited North Korea in 2002 in the matter of Japanese citizens abducted during North Korea's bizarre campaign of the 1970s and 80s to acquire trainers for its spies.

But she added, "Sincerity moves heaven, as the old saying goes. Just as the day is approaching when I meet Taguchi's family, so I wish that the Japanese government will open the door to North Korea's heart to make it possible for the press to report, 'Finally, Taguchi meets her family.'"

Earlier, the Asahi Shimbun reported that Kim and Taguchi's family would likely meet in Busan on March 11. If they do, Kim is expected to show up at a press conference that would be her first public appearance since her arrest after the bombing of the KAL flight that killed all 115 people on board.

Kim has in recent months fired an emotional salvo of letters at the press insisting she really was the bomber and not part of a cover-up orchestrated by South Korean intelligence, as one conspiracy theory has it.

Chosun Ilbo

North Korean Passports

Who has the most freedom to travel?

DANES faced the fewest restrictions on travel in 2008: they were able to visit 157 countries or territories without a visa according to an annual report by Henley & Partners, a consultancy. The Irish, Finns and Portuguese were only marginally less welcome abroad, with visa-free travel available to 156 countries. Those with the least freedom were citizens of countries suffering from war, terrorism or repression. South Koreans could visit 144 countries, whereas North Koreans could visit just 29 countries—if only their government would let them out.