Jun 20 2010
May 27 2009
North Korea has once again pushed its self into the worlds headlines with the testing of a second nuclear device on Monday morning followed my the test launching of 5 short range missiles. As is common the guessing game is in full throttle as to what North Korea really wants if anything.
First the nuclear test: North Korea might be trying to achieve what India and Pakistan did when they first tested nuclear devices in 1998. Recognition by the worlds governments as independent nuclear powers. First India at that time and continuing to this today is a rising world economic power. Pakistan has since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has been at the forefront in the worlds fight against terrorism. So what can North Korea offer the world? No natural resources, a collapsed economy and little else.
Sanctions: There are sanctions in place voted on by the United Nations plus additional ones from Japan and South Korea that deal with remittances, travel, trade, humanitarian aid and fuel oil deliveries. China the North’s closer ally has worked around or ignored these sanctions out of fear. Fear that if economic aid was cut off North Korea would collapse leading to a mass influx of refugees across the boarder into China which the Chinese government believes would lead to instability which it would be unable to control. South Korea would also suffer from a sudden collapse.
North South relations: Over the previous ten years the governments of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun worked to engage the North under the Sunshine Policy. With the election of Lee Moon-bak a conservative politician who once worked as an executive for Hyundai all that changed. Believing that North Korea would never adhere to any agreements unless there were consequences for violations. Thus Lee’s government reduced humanitarian aid along with fuel oil shipments causing strained relations which led to the expulsion of South Korean workers from the Kaesong industrial zone after the government accused a worker of spying.
Finally there is the question of succession: Its believed that last August Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke adding to already existing medical problems. So the question of succession became a hot topic. Who would succeed Kim Jong-il is eldest son who once tried to enter Japan on a fake Jamaican passport for the sole purpose of going to Tokyo Disneyland. Perhaps his 26 year old son Kim Jong-un who was recently given a minor post on North Korea’s Defense Council.
So what is the reason behind North Korea’s testing of a nuclear device your guess is as good as anyone else’s as reading the tea leaves of reclusive North Korea are almost impossible. Many expect North Korea is looking for recognition from the United States giving them, in their minds equal status among the worlds nations.
Mar 07 2009
There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Compassion is the radicalism of our time.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
The purpose of our lives is to be happy.
Oct 13 2007
Here are the stories not reported by the mainstream press in America about Asia.
Monday October 8
Suicide issue heats up in Okinawa
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Incensed by the government’s decision to expunge descriptions in school textbooks of the army’s involvement in wartime mass civilian suicides in Okinawa, survivors are coming forward with tales of Japanese soldiers encouraging islanders to take their lives.
In the meantime, the Okinawa prefectural assembly plans to compile an updated version of the prefecture’s history comprising witnesses’ accounts that local governments have gathered in recent years.
Supporters Foil Raid on UNDP Frontrunner’s Office
Police attempted a raid on the campaign office of United New Democratic Party presidential contender Chung Dong-young on Sunday, part of their investigation of whether a district councilor loyal to Chung hired college students to register electoral college members for the party primary stealing identities including that of President Roh Moo-hyun. But violent resistance from 20 members of Chung’s camp, who denounced the raid as a politically motivated scheme by pro- Roh forces to “suffocate the presidential contender,” foiled the raid.
Oct 06 2007
Casting a larger net this week in looking at what’s been happing around the rest of Asia.
Monday October 1
Japan switches on earthquake warning system
The system, which has been tested for more than a year, went into operation at 9a.m. local time and is operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). It links together about 1,000 seismographs throughout Japan with a fast network and computing to calculate the location and strength of an earthquake within a few seconds of it occurring. The seismographs measure the weak but fast moving primary waves from an earthquake. These are followed by secondary waves, which move at about half the speed but which are much more destructive. The system attempts to beat the arrival of the secondary waves and provide a warning that strong shaking is about to occur.
How much warning people have will depend on how far they are from the earthquake.
Sep 30 2007
Earlier last week, I wrote a diary (What the west means and what roles NATO plays therein) that used a recent Financial Times editorial as a springboard for a discussion on what the “West” was, and what the use of NATO was – questions that left-of-center Europeans tend to see quite differently from most Americans, including left-of-center ones.
The editorial, by a well-respected British pundit, was insightful and interesting, and led me to conclude what many on the European Tribune have long suspected: that NATO is simply an instrument for Europe to support US strategic priorities, and that the “West” exists only when Europe (and in particular France) aligns itself unconditionally on US positions. The UK, as per that senior British commentator, has as its main role that of disrupting and dividing Europe when it is insufficiently respectful of US interests.
Since I’m French, you may be tempted to conclude that this is just sour grapes by a citizen of a supposedly declining country; however, what I found more interesting in that article was the dominant tone of fear – about the west being under siege, and needing security against various threats – in the form of coordinated military power and little else. It was a narrow, downcast, closed vision of the world, with little about values, progress or hope.
The comment thread is worth reading too, and one of the last comments, by Loefing, pointed me to another article on the same topic, this time by a graduate of the US Naval War College, Tony Corn. The article, (The Revolution in Transatlantic Affairs, has the same dominant tone of fear, but a much more detailed examination of the world. Given the credentials of its author, it is likely to have serious influence on the thinking of the strategists in the Pentagon, and it is thus worth deconstructing.