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North Korea On The Verge Of Collapse? Don’t Count On It

North Korea Military Parade

Predicting the end of the DPRK is a fool’s errand.

Status of Afghan Elections

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Via the BBC:  Afghan poll: Abdullah slightly ahead as count continues Partial results from the Afghan presidential vote show former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah slightly ahead of Ashraf Ghani. With about 500,000 votes in 26 provinces counted, Dr Abdullah has 41.9% with Mr Ghani on 37.6%. [...] The partial results gave another main contender and […]

Afghans to the Polls

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Via the BBC:  Afghanistan election: Millions vote in presidential poll Eight candidates are seeking to succeed Hamid Karzai, who is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term as president. [...] Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) secretary Ziaul Haq Amarkhel said seven million people had voted by 17:00 local time, when the polls had […]

Only Nixon Could Go to China–Because Nobody Else Wanted To

nixon-kissinger

The opening to China was entirely Richard Nixon’s idea. Henry Kissinger opposed it vehemently.

Amusing Headline of the Day

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Via the BBC:  Synthetic lingerie ban in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. From the video clip: “Why are you afraid of panties?” she shouts.

Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Executed By Dogs?

Jang Song Removal 2

If a report out of a Singapore newspaper is to be believed, the execution of Jang Soong Thaek, uncle to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was particularly brutal: BEIJING — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful uncle was stripped naked, thrown into a cage, and eaten alive by a pack of ravenous dogs, […]

Shrinking Japan

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Via the BBC:  Japan’s population falls ‘by record 244,000′ in 2013 Japan’s population declined by a record 244,000 people in 2013, according to health ministry estimates. The ministry said an estimated 1,031,000 babies were born last year – down some 6,000 from the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of people that died last year was […]

Kim Jong Un Ordering Executions While Drunk?

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un seems to share his father’s taste for alcohol.

North Korea Threatens The South, Again

North and South Korea

The North Koreans are back to their old tricks.

China on the Moon

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Via the BBC:  China lands Jade Rabbit robot rover on Moon China says it has successfully landed a craft carrying a robotic rover on the surface of the Moon, the first soft landing there for 37 years. On Saturday afternoon (GMT), a landing module used thrusters to touch down, marking the latest step in China’s […]

Despicable Human Scum Jang Song Thaek, Traitor for All Ages, Worse Than Dog, Executed With Warmest Paternal Love

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Last evening, word broke that Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Un’s uncle, had been executed. The official statement of the Korean Central News Agency provides further insights: Upon hearing the report on the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the service personnel and people throughout the […]

North Korea Says Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Has Been Executed

Jang Song Removal 2

Well, that didn’t take long.

Indian Supreme Court Criminalizes Homosexual Acts

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Via the Times of India:  Supreme Court makes homosexuality a crime again The Supreme Court on Wednesday dealt a cruel blow to lakhs of homosexuals, many of whom had started living together after the Delhi high court decriminalized same-sex relationships four years ago, by making it a crime again, even if it is consensual and […]

Internal Events In North Korea May Be Making China Nervous

Jang Song Removal

The recent surprising removal of a top North Korean official from office, and the fact that it was done in such a public manner, may be unnerving North Korea’s benefactors in China: BEIJING — North Koreans had long known Jang Song-thaek as the No. 2 figure in their country, the revered uncle and mentor of […]

North Korea Confirms Removal Of Top Official

Jang Song Removal

In a rare move, the North Korean government is talking openly about the removal of a top regime official: SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea confirmed on Monday that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of Kim Jong-un, the country’s top leader, had been stripped of all titles of power and expelled from the ruling Workers’ Party […]

South Koreans Expand Air Defense Zone In Challenge To China

China Japan South Korea Flags

The ongoing client in the seas and skies in the Western Pacific took a new turn when South Korea announced an expansion of its own air defense zone: SEOUL, South Korea — Defying both China and Japan, South Korea announced on Sunday that it was expanding its air patrol zone for the first time in […]

U.S. War Veteran Freed By North Korea

merrill-newman-north-korea

Merrill Newman, the 85 year old U.S. Korean War veteran who was taken off a plane in Pyongyang in late October and held by North Korea for more than a month, has been freed and is back on his way to the United States: HONG KONG — An American veteran who had been held captive […]

Biden: U.S. Won’t Recognize China’s New Air Defense Zone

Chinese and U.S. flags fly along Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House in Washington

The U.S. position on China’s new air defense zone is exceedingly clear. The question is where it goes from here.

North Korea’s Gulags

North-Korea-Kwanliso-16-Amnesty-International

Amnesty International has just released a new report titled “NORTH KOREA: NEW SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW CONTINUED INVESTMENT IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF REPRESSION.” It’s available in both HTML and PDF formats at the link. Their press release provides a good synopsis. A former security official at kwanliso 16 – the largest political prison camp in North […]

Meanwhile, In North Korea, Kim Jong Un Consolidates Power

Kim Jung Un Uncle

Hey Uncle, you’re fired.

Four Dead In Political Violence In Thailand

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Protests in Thailand have taken a fairly violent turn: Four protesters have been killed and more than 100 people injured in Bangkok as pro- and antigovernment rivals face off in escalating street clashes, with police unleashing tear gas and water cannons on the riotous crowd on Sunday. Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was forced […]

US Orders Airliners to Comply with Chinese Notification Demands

B-52 Stratofortress

Even as it defies China’s illegal territorial claims with military flights, the Obama administration is urging US airlines to comply.

North Korea Accuses Detained 85 Year-Old American Of War Crimes

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The elderly American veteran who was pulled off a plane just before it left Pyongyan several weeks ago has been accused by the North Korean Government of committing “war crimes”: BEIJING — North Korea accused an elderly American veteran of war crimes, and released a video Saturday of him confessing to “hostile acts” during the […]

Former Pakistani President To Stand Trial For Treason

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Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will stand trial for treason: Pakistan’s government plans to put former President Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason for declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution while in power, the interior minister said Sunday. Musharraf, a former army chief, would be the first military ruler tried for treason in […]

China Relaxes One Child Policy

China Flag and Skyline

China’s Communist Party has announced a significant change to the nation’s infamous “One Child” policy.

No Sex Please, We’re Japanese

Japan-Manga-Sex

The good folks at The Guardian wonder, “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?”

Dennis Rodman Back In North Korea

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In other news of international diplomacy, the exceedingly strange Dennis Rodman is once again hanging out in North Korea: HONG KONG — The former basketball star Dennis Rodman returned Tuesday to North Korea, where he plans “to see my friend” Kim Jong-un, the dictator whose country until recently was threatening to annihilate the United States […]

Kim Jong-Un Has His Former Girlfriend Executed

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Well, this seems particularly harsh: A popular North Korean singer — and Kim Jong Un’s former flame — was among a dozen performers executed by a firing squad last week, reports said Wednesday. Hyon Song-wol, a well-known pop artist and longtime girlfriend of the dictator, was gunned down with the group of songsters on Aug. […]

Japan’s National Debt Hits A Quadrillion Yen

Japanese currency

Japan’s National Debt has reached a level that’s somewhat incomprehensible.

Japan Reassessing Its Military Policy

Japan navy

In response to North Korean saber rattling and the rise of China, Japan is reassessing it’s military posture

Indian Army Mistook Jupiter, Venus For Chinese Spy Drones

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The Indian Army apparently thought that they were being spied on by the Chinese, but it turned out they were looking at a more extraterrestrial observer: New Delhi, July 23: Phew! Science has saved a Roman god and a goddess from possible Armageddon launched from the Earth by the mighty Indian Army, egged on by […]

Further Signs Of Economic Contraction In China

China Flag and Skyline

A new report released this morning shows slowing in China’s manufacturing sector: HONG KONG — China’s manufacturing sector contracted in July at the quickest pace since last summer, according to the early reading of a survey released on Wednesday. The survey came in at an 11-month low of 47.7 points for July, down from the […]

The End of the Affair

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To maintain growth China needs to consider its priorities.

Japanese Governing Party Wins Control of Upper House

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Via the BBC:  Japan election: Abe ‘wins key upper house vote’ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won a majority in the upper house, exit polls suggest. His Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner New Komeito were set to get at least 71 of the 121 seats being contested, broadcaster NHK projected. This would […]

Panamanians Seize Missile Components Headed to North Korea from Cuba

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Via the NYT:  Panama Seizes North Korea-Flagged Ship for Weapons The Panamanian authorities impounded a rusting North Korean freighter on a voyage from Cuba toward the Panama Canal and back to its home country, and said the ship was carrying missile-system components cloaked in a cargo of sugar. The arms would appear to represent a […]

Growth Slowing in China

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China’s finance minister has hinted that economic growth may fall far below 7% in the second half of the year.

North Korea Nukes Here To Stay

North Korea Nukes

North Korea’s nuclear weapons aren’t going anywhere.

Chinese To Press Claim For Okinawa?

China Japan Flags

With China’s growing economic power, we’ve also seen a growth in Chinese interest in controlling the sea lanes around it while also pressing claims for lands that may or may not have been under Chinese control. For more than a year, for example, there’s been a standoff between China and Japan over a bunch of […]

China Pressuring North Korea To Return To Nuclear China

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China appears to be applying some pressure to North Korea on the nuclear issue: BEIJING — The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, bluntly told a North Korean envoy Friday that his country should return to diplomatic talks designed to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, according to a state-run Chinese news agency. “The denuclearization of […]

Ecuadorian Satellite Crashes with Space Debris

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Via the BBC:  Ecuador Pegasus satellite fears over space debris crash The nano-satellite, called Pegasus, was launched from the Jiuquan spaceport in China less than a month ago. It is Ecuador’s first and only satellite in orbit. Experts said Pegasus had collided with debris from a Soviet rocket but was still in orbit. It is […]

Multiple Car Bombings in Iraq

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Via the BBC:  Multiple car bomb attacks hit Iraqi cities At least 42 people have been killed and many others injured in a series of car bomb attacks in central and southern Iraq, officials say. Baghdad was worst hit, with eight explosions at bus stations and markets in the mainly Shia Muslim districts. Two bombs […]

North Korean Traffic Cop Wins Nation’s Highest Military Honor

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Today’s installment of “Weird Things About North Korea” is particularly strange: North Korea caused even more bafflement than usual when, on Wednesday, it announced that a lowly traffic cop would receive the state’s highest honor, a medal called “The Hero of the Republic.” The award is typically reserved for military derring-do or nuclear scientists. More confusing […]

North Korea Appears to Deescalate

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Via the BBC:  N Korea ‘removes’ missiles from east coast launch site North Korea has removed two medium-range missiles from a coastal launch site, indicating a lowering of tension on the peninsula, a US official said. Pyongyang was believed to be preparing for a launch last month, having threatened attacks in the region. [...] The […]

Ick

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Via the AP: Rat meat sold as lamb in latest China food scandal.

Death Toll in Bangladeshi Factory Collapse Exceeds 400

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Via the BBC:  Bangladesh building collapse: Death toll passes 400 The number of people killed in the collapse of a factory building on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, has passed 400, officials say. A senior army official also said that a list of 149 people still missing had been compiled from relatives. The […]

North Korea Calming Down?

North Korea Military Parade

In a chaotic week, one source of chaos was remarkably quiet.

Insights into Chinese Defense Policy?

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Via the BBC:  China ‘reveals army structure’ in defence white paper. China has revealed the structure of its military units, in what state-run media describe as a first. The army has a total of 850,000 soldiers, while the navy and air force have a strength of 235,000 and 398,000, China said in its defence white […]

The Kind of Thinking that Brought us the Iraq War

North Korea Military Parade

A preventative strike against North Korea is a bad idea.

There’s That Word Again

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Secretary of State John Kerry has characterized North Korea’s recent saber-rattling as “unacceptable”: (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry warned North Korea on Friday it would be a “huge mistake” to launch a medium-range missile and said the United States would never accept the reclusive country as a nuclear power. Addressing reporters after talks […]

The Most Anti-China Article You’ll Read Today

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At Foreign Affairs there’s an article, sub-captioned “The Superpower That Is Poisoning the World”, on China’s environmental problems. It recaps how China is poisoning its air, water, and soil and exporting its environmental problems to its neighbors and the world. Read it and weep. Back in 2005 I wrote a series of analysis pieces on […]

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