There's a new evil that's been identified in North Korea and the powers of the state are eager to eliminate the threat. What could it be?
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
Yes. Apparently parents of the 60's understood the threat long ago. The North Korean government has identified long hair as the enemy of the people.
The series was entitled "Let us trim our hair in accordance with
Socialist lifestyle." The program claimed there were "negative effects"
of long hair on "human intelligence development," noting that long hair
"consumes a great deal of nutrition" and could thus rob the brain of
It recommended men should get haircuts every 15 days.
To which I can only respond......
I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!
Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short
Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself
Don't never have to cut it 'cause it stops by itself! Oops. Got carried away there.
Yes. It occurs to me that I often frame stories in relation to song lyrics. No. It's not a phenomena that I want to examine too closely.
Yes. My hair has always been long. Why do you ask?
The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, says its inventory of
stock produced in China is expected to hit US$18 billion this year, keeping the
annual growth rate of over 20 per cent consistent over two years.
Nevertheless, he said China is Wal-Mart's most important supplier in the
"If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China's
eighth-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada," Xu said.
By the end of September, 2004, the top seven trading partners to the Chinese
mainland are the European Union, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, ASEAN
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations), South Korea and China's Taiwan
Province, state statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.
Last year, the firm bought US$15 billion products from China, half from
direct purchasing, the other from the firm's suppliers in China.
More than 5,000 Chinese enterprises have established steady supply alliances
Good quality and low price are the major attractions of the retailing giant.
So far, more than 70 per cent of the commodities sold in Wal-Mart are made in
"Buying more products in China means more job opportunities, which helps the
firm win not only the government's hearts, but also the customers'
appreciations," said Wang Yao, director of information department under the
China General Chamber of Commerce.
In the United States, poor people find it possible to afford cheap "Made In
China" products for their daily necessities, Wang said.
Granted, there are a lot of stunning statitistics in this piece, but Drudge's spin, "Communist Christmas" misses the mark. Here's what you should really pay attention to:
Wal-Mart is a behemoth, the largest retailer and largest employer in the world. As a result, they wield a tremendous amount of power. They use this power to drive prices down which can have both positive and negative consequences for the consumer. (Lower prices can both reduce the quality of goods or spur innovation.) There was a time when there were more regional players in the U.S. retail market. Market consolidation limits choices for consumers and for manufacturers.
Notice who tops the list of trading partners with China. Did you expect it to be the U.S.? It's actually the EU. U.S. companies literally can't afford to not do business with China, because every other country is driving their prices down by drawing on the inexpensive labor.
Notice that more than 5,000 Chinese enterprises work with Wal-Mart in China. That's why Drudge misses the mark in his claim "Communist Christmas." Wal-Mart is not buying from state-owned enterprises. They're buying from private firms in China. The truth is that market reforms have changed China from a purely communist nation into one that may more properly be described as Fascist.
Want proof of that? What name brands do you see when you buy from Wal-Mart? Black and Decker? Conair? Do these sound like Chinese brands? They don't because they aren't. Many US companies manufacture products in China. Often, utilizing the things China is good at, like cheap labor , will allow a US owned company to continue to employ engineers, accountants, marketing, information systems managers, etc. in the US. However, we have to maintain our competitve edge in these areas or these disciplines will eventually be outsourced as the skills of global labor forces increase.
Another effect of this type of trade with China is the growth of a new middle class in China. This development will change the world in ways we have yet to comprehend.
For example you've been concerned about the price of gas at the pump recently? When you cursed the $2.00 a gallon price tag were your thoughts set on Iraq and the mideast or on China? In spite of common wisdom, China may be more of a driving force.
The connection, however, lies in an order issued last year by President
Hu Jintao to seek secure oil supplies abroad – preferably ones which
could not be stopped by America in case of conflict over Taiwan.
.......For the United States and Europe are far more
concerned with the even more sensitive issues of China's relations with
In September, China threatened to
veto any move to impose sanctions on Sudan over the atrocities in
Darfur. It has invested $3 billion in the African country's oil
industry, which supplies it with seven per cent of its needs.
this month, it said that it opposed moves to refer Iran's nuclear
stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency to the United
Nations Security Council.
A week before, China's
second biggest state oil firm had signed a $70 billion deal for
oilfield and natural gas development with Iran, which already supplies
13 per cent of China's needs.
Eurasia Group, a New York-based firm of political
analysts, said its oil experts worked out that China was paying such an
inflated price for its investment in Brazil that the cost for the oil
it ended up with was three times the market price.
China's economy falters, which, in my view, appears increasingly
likely, then commodity prices will plummet, and with them, the value of
the assets that produce them," Jason Kindopp, Eurasia's lead China
"Beijing may end up in a early
1990s Japan situation, where it is forced to sell recently purchased
overseas assets for a fraction of what it paid for them."
China's wider aggression to secure oil and gas was the greatest threat to its international standing in the next decade.
"Sudan is the primary example," he said.
marks the first time in recent years that China has promised to wield
its veto power in the UN Security Council against a petition initiated
by the United States and backed by France and Great Britain."
We've become used to the, "It's all about oil!" meme from the left in the U.S. For their enlightenment, we may get to see what implementation of this actually looks like. The US hasn't been willing to overlook genocide in Dafur, or nuclear proliferation in Iran to protect its oil interests. China is signaling that they will overlook both for the sake of oil.
For more food for thought, also read Peter Brookes in the New York Post, Oil Obsession.
The bottom line is China is now awake and will continue to be a growing force in the world economy. It's a reality. It's good news for the west that a middle class is growing and that it's happening in a time when information is more available on a global level. The question is how to win the hearts and minds of the Chinese people?
A Canadian journalist in Pyongyang reports on visiting an experimental capitalistic market in North Korea:
A silent but significant change is taking place in the southern suburbs of Pyongyang. Throughout the day, a steady stream of shoppers comes to the Tong II market to buy scarce consumer goods. The scene is truly revolutionary for this closed communist state. Tong II is an organized, private market. Enclosed in a large structure, thousands of North Koreans search for goods ranging from televisions to food, from foreign cigarettes to shoes. They move from stall to stall. Merchants, registered with nametags, sell their goods. Unlike the state stores, there are no shortages here. Food is in abundance; so is clothing and electronic merchandise. The prices are also much higher than in state stores. Tong II -- "reunification" in Korean -- is North Korea's first formal experiment with limited capitalism.
It took five days of negotiations with officials just to get permission to see the market. Once allowed in, no photos or video of the commerce were allowed. "Maybe in September," officials said, an indication of their unease with this new reality.
And the source of this radical idea? Would you guess China?
Chinese citizens can enter North Korea without visas. Ironically, this is because they are fellow communist states. The Chinese, however, are bringing in vigorous capitalism. Apart from the goods sold in Tong II, Chinese and North Koreans are collaborating in less-formal business relationships. They are "illegally" selling mobile phone services near the frontier. When foreigners arrive in North Korea, they must deposit mobile phones with the authorities. All North Korean cell phones are monitored, but the Chinese cells give North Koreans an opportunity to speak to the outside world without being intercepted. Local officials admit this is a "major problem."
North Korea is without a doubt the most closed society in the world today, with leader Kim Jong Il elevated daily to its people to god-like status. If he takes a cue from the success of China in implementing captialistic reforms, how long can he maintain control over what his citizens learn about the outside world?
China has managed to retain its one party system so far, but with access to technology it becomes more of a challenge to limit outside information to the public. Could this be the first crack in the dam to freedom for the people of North Korea?
This is really a stunning story if this change takes hold. Read the whole thing and scroll up and down for more news from North Korea.
A vote to impeach the President of South Korea, in office slightly more than a year, had been scheduled for Thursday, but it had to be canceled because legislators who supported South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun blocked the podium:
Lawmakers loyal to South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun have put their bodies on the line, physically blocking the National Assembly from voting on an unprecedented impeachment motion against the embattled leader.
Thursday's session was later adjourned until Friday because Speaker Park Kwan-yong could not reach the podium to call a vote.
Determined to vote Friday, the Speaker Park Kwan Yong approached the podium around 11 AM surrounded by "some 60 assembly guards." The Uri Party members, loyal to President Roh, had formed a barrier around the Speakers' podium overnight.
The scuffle continued for 20 odd minutes before Park was able to regain his podium, the only place he can call a vote, at 11:26 a.m.
Soon after the screaming pro-government Uri Party lawmakers were dragged out of the chamber one after another by Assembly guards and opposition lawmakers, the voting session took place.
They needed 182 votes, a 2/3 majority for the impeachment to be successfull. Due to the removal of the Uri Party, the vote passed 194-2.
Consequently, Prime Minister Goh Kun will being acting president for up to six months until the the Constitutional Court makes a ruling on the case, while Roh will be temporarily relieved of all the duties of the presidency, from yesterday, after only a year and 17 days in office.
Why was President Roh impeached?
The move to impeach Roh ignited Thursday after a news conference during which he expressed no intention to apologize for his open support of the pro-government Uri Party. His public position was ruled illegal by the National Election Commission (NEC).
He enraged opposition party lawmakers again, saying he would link the outcome of the upcoming National Assembly elections with his decision to stay in office, which is also regarded as a violation of the election law.
Jay Koo, 31, a consultant at a foreign firm, said: "It looks like the two opposition parties, who have suffered falling popularity and support with general elections one month away, used the impeachment as one of their election strategies."
With 180 days to review the parliament-approved ouster motion, nine justices of the nation’s top court will have just two options; whether to uphold the impeachment vote or not.
Either way, the impeachment move will seemingly slow the head of state’s march to make the power grab in the opposition-dominated political landscape for the time being at least until the Constitutional Court decides his political future.
The suspension of Roh’s presidential powers will also temporarily deal a blow to the 47-strong pro-government Uri Party, the presumed front-runner in the elections.
However, in another more likely scenario, the opposition’s short-lived euphoria might be dashed if the unlooked-for political deadlock takes a new twist in the court, only to help Roh rise back again.
Despite uncertainties over how the court’s rule turn out, a flurry of media outlets cautiously predict Roh might be restored to his powers soon, which means the opposition-led ouster motion ends up boomeranging ahead of the April legislative elections.
Roh promised to improve relations with communist North Korea and push for a more equal relationship with the nation's closest ally, the United States.
Younger generations see North Korea as a spoiled cousin, not an enemy, and want to reduce South Korea's reliance on the United States, which fought on the South's side in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Anti-U.S. sentiment rose sharply in South Korea ahead of the 2002 presidential polls, fueled by the acquittals of two U.S. soldiers whose armored vehicle hit and killed two teenage girls in a road accident.
Roh, who once demanded an end to the U.S. military presence in South Korea, now says he supports it.
But he still wants to revise the legal code governing the 37,000 American soldiers in South Korea to give the host country more jurisdiction.
Roh believes that dialogue is the only way to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons development and is a supporter of his predecessor President Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine" policy of engaging the North.
Ahhh yes. The Sunshine policy, during which North Korea managed to make nuclear weapons. That was effective. Maybe the country will be better off without him.
Communist China is changing its constitution to embrace the most basic tenet of capitalism, protecting private property rights for the first time since the 1949 revolution.
China’s parliament is meeting in an annual session starting Friday to endorse the change, already approved by Communist Party leaders who tout privatization as a way to continue the country’s economic revolution and help tens of millions of poor Chinese.
With private ownership of businesses, and now recognition of private property rights, we really can't describe China as a communist nation any more. Of course, they're certainly not a democracy either. So what have they become?
This reminded me of a post last fall by Mean Mr. Nustard, (regrettably no longer blogging), in which he posits China has become a fascist state.
They interviewed Kwon Hyok, a N. Korean defector living in Seoul. He was persuaded to defect by South Korea when stationed in Beijing.
Six years before, in 1993, Kwon Hyok says he was Head of Security at prison camp 22 in Haengyong, an isolated area near the border with Russia.
Camp 22 is one of a network of prisons in North Korea modelled on the Soviet Gulag where hundreds of thousands of prisoners are held.
Considering his next revelations, it must have been chilling to interview him:
Torture, he says, was routine. "Prisoners were like pigs or dogs. You could kill them without caring whether they lived or died.."
"For the first three years" he explained " you enjoy torturing people but then it wears off and someone else takes over. But most of the time you do it because you enjoy it."
But Kwon Hyok had something else he wanted to tell.
He says he witnessed chemical experiments being carried out on political prisoners in specially constructed gas chambers.
"How did you feel when you saw the children die?", I asked.
His answer shocked me.
"I had no sympathy at all because I was taught to think that they were all enemies of our country and that all our country's problems were their fault. So I felt they deserved to die."
Reporter Olenak Frenkiel obtains corroborating documents from an independent source:
They are headed Letter Of Transfer, marked Top Secret and dated February 2002 . They each bear the name of a male victim, his date and place of birth. The text reads: "The above person is transferred from Camp 22 for the purpose of human experimentation with liquid gas for chemical weapons."
His testimony is backed up by Soon Ok-lee, who was imprisoned for seven years. "An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners," she said. "One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it but to give it to the 50 women. I gave them out and heard a scream from those who had eaten them. They were all screaming and vomiting blood. All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes they were quite dead."
There are no easy answers considering North Korea was allowed to go nuclear, (with help from Pakistan as reported today:)
The founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has admitted he transferred nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, a Pakistani government official said Monday.
If you happen to be in Seoul, there is a demonstration and press conference to promote N. Korean human rights scheduled Tues, Feb. 3 at 11:00 AM in front of the Koreana Hotel to coincide with the arrival of the N. Korean delegation for the next round of inner-Korean talks.
Can the world afford to stand by when we have evidence of gulags, gas chambers, and human experimentation? How can we take action without sacrificing the people of South Korea?
For what it's worth, I've agreed with the administration's stance so far to not make ANY deals without 100% verification and to require the Asian nations that support N. Korea through trade to be involved in negotiations.
It should be possible in theory to induce a total trade embargo. How long can Kim retain power if everything comes to a standstill? These reports of prisoners escaping and horrors like this are becoming more common, which could be a sign the regime is losing control.
We as bloggers can increase the pressure by continuing to expose this regimes horrors to the light of day.
Living in China is a group site which is showcasing some great stuff from local bloggers. Note it also has an aggregator listing posts on their individual blogs.
This post from Vivian at Shanghai Jiatong University on her work with nanotechnology caught my eye:
It has been the eighth day that I have been interrupted by difficulties in my experiment. Things are like that.
We did successfully synthesize gold nanoparticles with about 10 nanometres (nm) in diameter eight days ago in our lab. But nothing appeared when we planned to synthesize more gold nanoparticles under the same experimental conditions. Where is the gold? No one can tell me what happened. I even dreamed of being as tiny as those nanoparticles.
In the following days I worked as a detective to dig out where our gold was and which is the key factor that affected the results. I tried to change each experiment parameter but failed each time.
Read the whole thing to discover the source of the problem.
Probably the majority of Americans weren't affected by the outbreak of SARS last year. Yet, it would be foolish to ignore the implications. All it takes is ONE COUNTRY to not take an outbreak of a new virus seriously to result in a world wide outbreak.
Because of the secrecy of China's government, a doctor who practiced in the Guangdong province and had treated cases of this "atypical pneumonia" that everyone was denying was a problem, traveled to Hong Kong for a wedding. At his hotel, while waiting for an elevator, or in an elevator, he transmitted the virus to the other guests staying on his floor. From there, the virus went to Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Canada.
As you know, it was months after the disease first appeared before China dealt with the problem, which was traced back to exotic food sold in Guangdong markets.
During the SARS epidemic last year, the Chinese government had imposed a temporary ban on the civets' sale but lifted the restrictions once the outbreak subsided. The civet is the Himalayan, or masked, palm civet, which resembles a weasel and is related to the mongoose.
Now they've decided to kill all civet cats in captivity.
The Chinese government's decision on Monday to start killing all civet cats in captivity in Guangdong Province is belated and only partly counters the government's tolerance of the sale of the animals in markets, a SARS expert for the World Health Organization said.
So, they banned the sale of civets during the outbreak, let the sale resume, and now that we have a confirmed case they're going to kill all the civet cats. Should we feel better? Hardly.
First, the confirmed case says he hasn't had any contact with civets.
Many rats found in his apartment building are being tested for SARS.
Civets? Rats? We had this outbreak that killed thousands, devastated economies and airlines. Have we figured out what the problem is?
SARS is believed to have first jumped from an animal species to humans in Guangdong Province in November 2002. Dr. Stöhr and some other scientists have criticized China for not having conducted the comprehensive studies that are needed to determine the source of the SARS virus in nature and how the virus is transmitted from animals to other species, as well as to humans.
Such studies should have included putting infected civets found in Guangdong in cages with a variety of uninfected species of animals to determine how and with what frequency they transmit SARS, Dr. Stöhr said, adding, "All these studies are long overdue."
A few studies have been conducted, have been but not in a systematic way, Dr. Stöhr said. Chinese scientists, he said, took 5,000 samples last year from about 100 animal species and isolated viruses from some. The results have not been published.
In experiments, scientists at Hong Kong University are injecting the civet SARS virus into monkeys to help determine its virulence for other species, said Dr. David Ho, who directs the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in Manhattan. He also directed a joint AIDS-SARS laboratory at Hong Kong University.
Dr. Stöhr said culling the civet population "needs to be done with utmost care" to prevent infection among workers who kill the animals, "and combined with scientific investigations," to take samples of blood and other tissues "so health officials can be ready to answer questions if new cases occur after the animals are killed."
Last year, scientists found SARS virus in human feces. Scientists in Hong Kong have said they have found large virus amounts in civet feces, raising questions about how often SARS may be transmitted through feces to humans and among them.
The truth is, we don't know how many animals carry SARS, so how in the world do we expect to prevent it? If it's not just civet cats, it won't help to kill the cats, now will it?
It seems pretty pointless to me to point a finger at China, and say "They haven't done the research. It's long overdue."
I don't think we can depend on one country when it comes to new diseases. If there was research that needed to be done, even if it needed to be done within China, doesn't WHO have the authority to make sure something is being done about it? SARS may not be the worst disease we face, but the implications for a true global epidemic are frightening.