Monday, May 22, 2006
Chan Mi Shin, 20, spoke of foraging for grasses, the only food her family could find, to make broth and of being so hungry during the famine that killed millions that she started hallucinating that an accordion's keys were cookies and candies.--
Speaking through an interpreter, she and the three other women — Na Omi, Young Nah "Deborah" Choi and Ha Nah — explained how each had been sold as brides or prostitutes to already married Chinese men who paid the equivalent of a few hundred dollars for them. Shin was sold into marriage three times within a year of turning 16.
Choi, 24, who stands about 5 feet 7, is taller than the others, perhaps because her father, a Communist Party official, had a higher standard of living than most North Koreans. But after Choi's father was sent to prison for five years, the family was ostracized and Choi was banished from school.
...Rice is a luxury in North Korea...eaten only on one's birthday and New Year's.
In Norh Korea, women can't even ride bicycles and must wear skirts. The refugees laughed...recalling how girls wore pants under their skirts, hiking up the pant legs so they wouldn't show as they walked by police.
***Other issues affecting women in NK:
-Trafficking between NK and China - Refugees International
-Women citizens of North and South Korea meet in March 2006 to discuss reunification
-forced abortions for NK prisoners - NY Times
-Commentary on shopping in SKorea from a NK defector - Radio Free Asia
***note the above child's depiction of cannibalism in North Korea from a TimesAsia article
...Hypocrisy? Wide gulf between classes in a supposedly Marxist country - Voice of America
***video "Children of the Secret State"
LA Times (cont)
The size of the houses where [the freed North Korean citizen-prisoners] stayed in a suburb of Washington, D.C. — a neighborhood much like Los Angeles' Hancock Park — astonished them too, a huge contrast to the single rooms of most North Korean families. The homes are "like a palace or a castle," said his sister, Chan Mi.Right on! If only more Americans saw this with his fresh eyes that conspicuous consumption is not a smart way to revel in the access to freedom, we could be helping the third world. Boisterous consumption culture will only serve to associate capitalism with greed instead of with ultimate free choice and the precious ability to help fellow men acquire the freedom, prosperity, and basics human rights that they cannot now acquire for themselves.
Refugee Johan Shin (who is unrelated to the other Shins) described it differently.
"Wasteful," he said.
Guardian 2004 article about NK's gulag at Haengyong (near Chinese border):
...harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.Official websites of:
Witnesses have described watching entire families being put in glass chambers and gassed. They are left to an agonising death while scientists take notes.
'I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,' [the former chief of management at Camp 22] said. 'The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.'
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.'
**Lodestar, the newsletter of the Korean Friendship Association
NPR interview with the President of the KFA. Aw, how cute. Americans who empathize with the poor, misunderstood regime!
Stupid girl at right, soaking up the propaganda posters. Although I suppose I would have to go have a look too, if I lived near the sorry excuse for an art gallery that agreed to host such a function.
Video entitled "F**kin' USA." Produced by North Koreans. I don't understand the statement: "If the US is so great, why can't we say what we want?" I think it means "...what we want [about our hatred of the US without international backlash]" As if NK's system is only failing b/c of the Bush administration. or as if the US's threats are the prime cause of their suffering, or the reason they can't say what they want without retribution.
BBC article: Kim Jong-il's kidnapping of a South Korean director and his wife for forced propaganda production.
An anonymous BBC collection of travel pictures. The photographer cutsey-fies the fact that the ice skating kids made their own skates for lack of money, but does not mention that these children appear to be healthy, even chubby, so they are better off than a large portion of their peers. Photo person also downplays the oppression that brings the orderly appearance and communitarian feel that they praise.
One might gather from the last picture of a captured US ship (1968) and the caption that the United States is more at fault for the economic situation of North Korea than are the instrinsic evils of socialism/collectivism and the Leader piece of poo's obsession with himself.
A KoreaTimes article by Tim Judah, who travelled to NK recently and did not sidestep the fact that the children he visited seemed at least four years younger than the reality. He seems to be much more interested in improving the harsh reality faced daily by the North Korean people than in the glorification of a system that could produce order (via repression) or in criticizing the US without once mentioning the DPRK's policies.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
"UN Gives Sudan a Week to Admit Planners for Darfur Peace Force" - Bloomberg
"CPC pledges to promote China-Sudan party relations" - Xinhua
Polls show that 30 to 40 percent of Russians now regard Stalin's role in history as mostly "positive," crediting him with turning the Soviet Union into a superpower and defeating Hitler.
Funny that I ran into this cartoon about government inefficiency a couple of days after finding out that Moonshine Still will be here next Friday.
Last time I saw the band in CA, I used Amtrak to see them in Mount Shasta, and then missed the Santa Barbara show because there were over twelve hours total of various delays travelling North to South.
Caught the Costa Mesa show. So glad I can link to that day. Al Howard & the K23 Orchestra and Grampa's Grass were also great
the show I didn't miss
Monday, May 15, 2006
"10 Things you Can do for Democracy in Venezuela today"
Chavez and Qaddafi meet tomorrow.
"This is an indication that the United States has never been serious about calls for reforms and respect of human rights in the region," said Bahy El-Deen Hassan, head of the pan-Arab Cairo Center for Human Rights.
Mahmoud Shamam, a leading Libyan activist [and editor of Newsweek in Arabic], voiced similar concerns in a telephone interview from Washington. "This was the final and fatal bullet fired by the administration into its initiative to spread democracy and reforms in the Middle East," he said.
"Libya welcomes US move..." from Xinhua.
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Shalgham said "the U.S. move was 'a result of contacts and negotiations'...and [that the US] is motivated by its own interests."
“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”
“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know - and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance.”
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
“Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition”
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
“I am the beneficiary of a lucky break in the genetic sweepstakes.”
Sirens of Titan
“Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic.”Other
“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.”
“The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.”
“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.”
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.”
“Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.”
“The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”
“and I'm whistling as beautifully as I can.”
“If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.”
“The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal.”
“Bush used that line recently. I should sue him for plagiarism.”
Stanford: Enchanted Broccoli Forest, 10pm-2am, 5/31 (Wed)
click album to hear samples
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Mr. Bush spent most of his time, guests said, grilling the center's director, John Raisian, about the pros and cons of having an organization like Hoover within the confines of an institution like Stanford....via Political Wire
...[The directors and fellows of Hoover] also urged him to make a decision soon and get moving on fund-raising. The library is expected to cost more than $200 million (Mr. Clinton's cost $165 million, the most expensive to date), and presidents have had a far easier time raising money while still in the White House.
Of course Bush has to improve his image first! He wants to close Guantanamo. Despite the complete inability of Bush to structure a sentence, I agree with this quote (CBSNews):
Mr. Bush said in the interview with ARD [German television] on Thursday that either way the court rules [to allow detainees to go before a military tribunal or civilian court], "they will get a trial which they, themselves, were unwilling to give to the people that they're willing to kill."Such a necessary reminder of the random, ruthless targetting of the innocent would ring truer if the moral superiority of America's ideals translated to just behavior in all parts of the world at all times.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
"The giant planet is having a close encounter with Earth all month long. On May 6th, the date of closest approach, Jupiter will be 410 million miles away, which is almost 200 million miles closer than it was just six months ago in October. This makes Jupiter unusually big and bright.
Look for it rising in the east at sunset. Jupiter is unmistakable, shining ten times brighter than any star around it. The view through a backyard telescope is dynamite. You can see Jupiter's cloud belts, the Great Red Spot and four large moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) circling the planet."
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
-63% can't locate Iraq, 90% can't locate Afghanistan, 70% can't find Iran or Israel, 47% can't find India
-54% don't know Sudan is a country in Africa
-less than 30% believe it's necessary to know the location of countries in the news
-1/3 can't show NW on a map????
-74% think English is most widely spoken language