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I can’t remember all the times I’ve tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass — Counting Crows

Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category

North Korea: United Nations pulls head out of sand, finally

More than ten years after the BBC aired a devastating report about North Korean concentration camps, mass killings, torture, poison gas chambers and other horrific atrocities, the United Nations has finally come around to the view that yes, maybe, there were some crimes against humanity going on in the world’s least free nation:

“Testimony was given … in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried … It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” he said.

The world stood by and watched this all happen. We knew about it. We talked about it. We reported it. But in our broken moral compass of the 21st century, “Never Again” apparently means “Never Again.. except when China is on the Security Council and doesn’t want us looking too closely at its North Korean ally.”

This quote by an unnamed UN official has got to rank up there among the world’s most ironic quotes in all of history:

“We’ve collected all the testimony and can’t just stop and wait 10 years.”

Why not? Isn’t that what we’ve done already?

North Korean “Dear Leader” reported dead

News wires are reporting the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il at the age of 70.

The “Dear Leader” of the People’s Democratic Republic of Death Camps can count, among his accomplishments, mass starvation, imprisonment in horrific gulags, and systematic murder in gas chambers of his own people, bringing nuclear weapons to his country, and being ranked dead last in the freedom index year after year.

We do not rejoice at death. But for all of the nonsensical Godwin’s Law invocation out there, Kim Jong-Il is one of the few who can be aptly compared to Hitler or Stalin without it seeming the least bit like hyperbole. If anything, the horrors of his rule are under-reported, because of how sealed off North Korea is from the world.

And while Kim Jong-un,  his successor and son, appears to be cut from the same cloth, and North Korea’s dark days show no sign of ending anytime soon, I don’t think there’s anyone who could possibly argue that the world has suffered a loss with his passing.

The first person who writes a flowery obituary for this despot will make me want to puke. May he rot in hell.

Hillary’s priorities

So apparently, Hillary Clinton is not okay with a nuclear North Korea… but she doesn’t seem to have a problem with a nuclear Iran.

Better hope that umbrella is big enough to protect you from the ensuing shitstorm, Hillary.

All eyes turn to North Korea

The People’s Democratic Republic of Death Camps has expelled UN monitors and announced plans to resume its nuclear weapons program.

On a scariness scale of one to ten, this little tidbit of news ranks somewhere around a… zillion. Even though it’s not exactly news that North Korea has nuclear capabilities, the fact that it’s being openly defiant about it and making threats isn’t exactly what we refer to as “good news”.

Possibly the least reassuring quote in the subject comes from South Korean PM Han Seung-soo:

“Although we are at an impasse, I’m sure that China, together with the other partners, will be able to solve this problem eventually.”

Thanks. That’ll help everyone sleep more soundly, I’m sure.

Breaking news: Flying pigs spotted

The U.N. took a break from its usual Israel-bashing agenda today to call out some actual human rights violators:

A United Nations panel rebuked Myanmar, Iran and North Korea on Tuesday for human rights abuses, overcoming objections by developing nations that the move amounted to “demonization” of some states.

The resolution on North Korea expressing concern about systematic and widespread rights violations won the strongest support in the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee, passing by 97-23, with 60 abstentions.

Another resolution strongly condemning the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was passed by 88-24, with 66 abstentions, in what Britain said was “a declaration of support for the Burmese people’s desire for change.”

A third vote expressing deep concern at rights violations in Iran was passed by 72-50, with 55 abstentions.

The non-binding resolutions will be sent to the 192-member General Assembly, which generally votes in the same way as the committee.

The representative from Uganda was among several members of the Non-Aligned Movement, which groups 115 mostly developing nations, who argued against singling out some states.

He said such issues were best left to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council and should be addressed through dialogue rather than what he called the “demonization” of some countries.

Demonization, eh? You mean, what is usually done to Israel in a typical U.N.’s day’s work?

Attack of the killer rabbits

This is the seemingly-innocuous beginning to the plot of pretty much every B-grade horror movie:

A German pensioner who won a prize and worldwide fame for breeding his country’s largest rabbit — Robert, a 10.5kg (23lb) bruiser the size of a dog — has been offered an unusual opportunity to exploit his talents overseas.

Karl Szmolinsky has been given a contract by North Korea to supply giant rabbits to help to boost meat production in the reclusive Communist country, which is suffering severe food shortages. The only problem is that such huge rabbits consume vast quantities of food themselves as they grow.

Of course, if they ever get around that problem, we could be in for trouble. Today, it’s simply breeding large rabbits to feed starving people. Tomorrow, the supersized bunnies could be roaming the globe. They’re big… they’re furry… and they bite!

North Korea: excuses, excuses

A Reuters article, perhaps accidentally, stumbles on the true crux of the matter when it comes to North Korea:

North Korea has committed “crimes against humanity” against its own people according to an independent report published on Monday that made a long-shot appeal for the U.N. Security Council to deal with the issue.

Released after North Korea’s October 9 nuclear test, the report describes Pyongyang’s brutal treatment of its citizens, from the beatings of pregnant women to force miscarriages to the abduction, torture and execution of political prisoners.

Commissioned by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, the paper seeks to spotlight rights abuses that have been previously reported but are often overshadowed by concern about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

(Emphasis mine).

And that, after all, is the point. North Korea has been committing horrific crimes against humanity that beg the question of why, more than sixty years after swearing “never again”, the world sits back and allows them to happen.

The answer to that question can presumably be found in two little words: nuclear weapons. The theory is that, while in the midst of dealing with the nuclear crisis, there’s little that the world can do about anything else North Korea is doing.

So what’s our excuse, then, when it comes to (nuclear-less) Sudan?

More North Korea horror stories

The Times reports frightening details of the Dear Leader of Death Camps’ drive towards “racial purity” (via Damian Penny).

As I’ve said before, I don’t take Nazi comparisons lightly, but in some cases they truly are warranted. This is one of those cases, without a doubt.

About the North Korean nukes

So much for recent promises… The “so ronery” Dear Leader of Death Camps now officially has nuclear weapons… and it’s about the scariest situation imaginable.

Except that we already pretty much all knew about them. And there wasn’t really anything anyone could do before, so what will really change here? The United Nations? Is anyone really delusional enough to think that this organization which is currently unable to do anything about the mass murder still ongoing in Sudan can do anything about North Korea? It’s not as though a UN threat of sanctions would be too scary to a country already suffering mass starvation. Or that anyone really believes anyone – US or otherwise – would use a military option. In short, a nuclear North Korea is pretty much a fait accompli, because the rest of the world has no options.

Damian thinks the only option for North Korea has to come from within:

Ultimately, the only ways Kim will be removed from power are a potentially catastrophic outside invasion, or an uprising from within. The former is a non-starter; the latter could work. From here on out, we should redouble our efforts to support those brave North Koreans who oppose their government, and to get news and information to the most hermetically sealed society on earth.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with Damian on this one, for a few reasons:

1) North Korea has no real viable, organized opposition of any form; it’s the world’s least free and most oppressive regime, where opposition is systematically stamped out in its infancy.

2) North Korea is also desperately poor, has no real economy, no rule of law, no independent institutions… in short, it’s much, much worse than even Iraq. We mustn’t assume that the removal of Kim Jong-Il would liberate a country just waiting for the opportunity to instill a flourishing democracy. There is no indication that the removal of the dictatorship would leave anything but total chaos and anarchy. And a situation where chaotic anarchy meets nuclear weapons might be the only thing scarier than the current situation. At least we KNOW which crazy guy has his finger on the button now. What will happen when it’s a free-for-all?

The question we should be asking is, why now? Granted, Kim Jong-Il is crazy, but by some accounts he’s also crazy like a fox. This test was an in-your-face to the West, an in-your-face to the United Nations, and an in-your-face to Bush. And its timing was no coincidence. Given the geopolitical factors in the rest of the world, namely the mess in Iraq and Iran’s ongoing game of nuclear chicken with the U.N., Kim Jong-Il probably decided the time was ripe to flex his muscle a little bit.

But does this mean we’re on the verge of nuclear disaster? That depends on your perspective. The worry about Iran going nuclear is that Ahmadinejad might be crazy enough to actually not care about the consequences of launching a nuclear strike, so deep is his hatred for Israel and the West. Is the same true of Kim Jong-Il? Or is North Korea just trying to prove a point?

These are questions that were always hard to answer about nuclear weapons, but if we think this is the worst of it, then we’re kidding ourselves. To date, nuclear weapons have only ever been in the hands of countries, ranging from democracies to despotic dictatorships with crazy leaders, but all countries nonetheless. It’s only a matter of time until a terrorist group or rogue organization gets ahold of nuclear weapons. What then? What happens when there are no diplomatic options to even attempt?

We’d better start thinking about it, and soon, because if you think that this week is scary, I fear we ain’t seen nothing yet.

My solution? Send in our ultimate weapons: Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

People’s Democratic Republic of Death Camps ups the stakes

North Korea wants to bolster its nuclear weapons program:

North Korea will upgrade its arsenal “in every way by employing all possible means and methods” and will greet any aggressors with “all-out do-or-die resistance and unprecedented devastating strikes,” Kim Il Chol said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The PDRDC isn’t even bothering to feed anyone stories about “power stations” anymore. Emboldened perhaps by the world’s staggering inability to do much of anything to stop his horrifying regime from going nuclear, Kim Jong-Il is taking this game of chicken to the next level.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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