Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

It’s 5:53pm Pacific time here in San Diego.

http://www.flightradar24.com – click to enlarge

I just checked the flight radar site (amazing, check it out by clicking here) and saw not a single plane over North Korea. What a strange country!

Here is an image of North Korea from space:

click for image credit

Perhaps they are keeping the lights out so the Great Leader Kim Jong-un can get a good night’s rest.

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Dear Trump Voters:

Trump goaded North Korea with this message:

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.”

Now we have ourselves a wildly escalated international situation with one teenage banana republic baby face under an inherited dictatorship (Kim Jong Un) on one side, and a petulant dilettante with a mouth he can’t control (Donald Trump) in the White House on the other side, comparing the sizes of their dicks at the expense of the rest of the world.

When we had the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961, at least we had two professional politicians, Nikita Khrushchev on the Soviet side, and John Kennedy on the American side, who both were skilled diplomats aware of the awesome responsibility and the power they each had. In the end, egos were left aside and the world didn’t go up in flames.

This time around, I for one don’t have the same confidence. I’d hate to see a Korean nuke vaporize Seattle, or San Francisco, or San Diego, and have the fallout drift over the rest of the country. Yes, the Koreans would get one missile through, if that, and then their peninsula would be returned to the stone age, along with serious damage to northern China, Japan and South Korea – but why?

Because Trump is a fool who can’t contain his ego?

How exactly is this making America great again?

Thanks, Trump voters!

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In eight years under Obama, I never went to bed worrying about some unexpected military escalation. Now I worry every day. Why is that?

It isn’t because Kim Jong Un is all of a sudden crazier than he always was. Trump has just given him more fodder to look more important in the world than he is.

It isn’t because Iran has just gone off the rails. Iran went off the rails in 1979, and many previous presidents, since Reagan, have contained Iran. I believe the “Iran deal” was one of the more stabilizing events in the world and one of the more valuable contributions of Obama. But that’s my subjective opinion. Yet, Tillerson talks about Iran being a new danger.

North Korea is what it’s been since the 1950s. Iran is what it’s been since the 1970s. What changed? The U.S. changed in 2017.

Now Trump is telling us that the world is so dangerous, and we need to spend another $50 billion on weapons, while we cut everything else, including diplomacy. A society’s values are defined by what it spends its money on. Trump has hijacked our country, is telling us that suddenly the world is dangerous, and we need more guns.

I say that the biggest threat to the planet, our way of life, our society, and humanity in general, is the petulant, ignorant, self-absorbed dilettante we have elected into the White House.

We are the problem, not Korea or Iran or ISIS for that matter.


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Korean Concentration Camps

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that North Korea holds as many as 120,000 people in its system of concentration and detention camps, and that 400,000 people have died in these camps from torture, starvation, disease, and execution.

Some reports indicate that they also practice generational imprisonment:

Many prisoners of the camp were born there under North Korea’s “three generations of punishment”. This means anyone found guilty of committing a crime, which could be as simple as trying to escape North Korea, would be sent to the camp along with that person’s entire family. The subsequent two generations of family members would be born in the camp and must also live their entire lives and die there.

Source Wikipidia

See this Wikipedia article for more details and links.

If you are unlucky enough to be born the grandchild of a person who tried to escape the country, you will serve slave labor for your entire life. Imagine the world-view you would have under those circumstances?

And we, in 2014, allow this to go on, while the baby face dictator gets media coverage.

Bees are Dying

In North America alone, the National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that there were 2.44 million honey-producing hives in the United States in February 2008, down from 4.5 million in 1980, and 5.9 million in 1947. This is also happening in similar proportions in Europe and the rest of the world. We don’t exactly know what is causing it, but we suspect pesticides. Our agriculture depends on bees to a large degree, and entire crops are in peril without sufficient numbers of bees available.

Overfishing the Oceans

Faced with the collapse of large-fish populations, commercial fleets are going deeper in the ocean and father down the food chain for viable catches. This so-called “fishing down” is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system.

A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.

National Geographic

Anthropogenic Climate Change

97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing climate change.  We are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at rates that will result in global warming to a degree that the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will melt, causing a rise of sea levels and overall changed in weather, resulting in droughts and many other climate related disasters, all within the next 100 years.

Most of the educated world agrees with this assessment. In the United States, however, there is a strong movement of “climate deniers” particularly in the conservative population that is well-funded by the oil and coal industries, putting the general consensus in question. Since the U.S. is by far the largest polluter in the world, this strong anti-climate-change sentiment has global implications. One of the arguments of deniers is that since China and India are just starting to pump pollution into the air, whatever we do will not offset that, so we might as well not even try. A significant percentage of the U.S. population seems to have bought into this philosophy.

We didn’t want to face that smoking was dangerous to our health, until the first generations of smokers started dying early in the millions in the 1960s and 1970, so the inevitable evidence eventually came and changed our attitude. This will happen with climate change, but the nature of the problem is much more calamitous in the event that climate scientists are right. We could ruin the planet for centuries or millennia – before it can recover again.

We are playing a big-stakes game of dice. Our conservatives are not even willing to hedge their bets – they’re betting the planet in exchange of jobs and profits.

Mass Extinction

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue, one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species,
and climate change.

Source Link Here

Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Oil companies are making record profits, and did so during the hard years of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Right now, the United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer in the world. Oil companies are raking it in while they can, because they know the gravy train is coming to an end. The International Energy Agency announced in 2006 that the world had hit “Peak Oil” meaning that oil production worldwide had hit the maximum. Going forward from Peak Oil, it will be harder and more expensive to extract and deliver oil, and new supplies will lag behind new demand.

The evidence for is, of course, is the price we are now paying at the pump, which is more than twice what it was just five years ago. The free market speaks the ultimate truth here. Oil is in more demand than can be fulfilled.

There is a lot of controversy about the Peak Oil theory. People argue that the Peak Oil crowd does not know what they are talking about. So, for a moment, let’s put aside all studies and all science, and especially all American politics.

It took about 450 million years to make all the oil in the world. Oil is basically the end-result of millions of years of sunshine (solar energy) being trapped in organic material, mostly plants. The earth is not making any more of the stuff at an appreciable rate. About a hundred years ago we started using it up by burning it and as ingredients for manufacturing, and we have made a measurable dent in our supply. If you trust the doom-sayers, we have about 20 years of oil left at the current consumption. Some say 20 to 50 years. Wild and crazy optimists say 100 years. But it’s limited, very limited, and we will run out.

The question is not if Peak Oil is real. The only question we may ask is if it really happened in 2006, or if it’s still off in the future, perhaps in 2016 or 2026.

I once calculated [see formula here] that roughly every day we are using up as much fuel as it took nature 5,000 years to create.

We. Will. Run. Out. Of. Oil.

When the time finally comes, perhaps centuries hence, our descendants will have figured out how to make do without it. But there are legitimate uses of fossil fuels in reasonable amounts, and they will wish we had not squandered it to make plastic grocery bags or plastic forks for one time use; or for teenagers to drive to the mall. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and when they are all gone, we’ll have to wait another 450 million years to get more, and haul them here from another planet with life on it.

Our strategy is pretty weird, isn’t it?


There are more people in slavery today than any time in previous history. Slavery has many faces. Keeping people trapped in sweatshops in Bangladesh so we can buy cheap shirts at the mall in the United States is a form of slavery. Holding young girls as sex objects is a form of slavery. Bringing laborers from Pakistan to work in construction in Dubai and taking away their passports is a form of slavery.

We are making it possible and we let it happen by our willingness to consume the products of the various forms of slavery – at Wal-Mart and all the other retail stores in our neighborhoods. Go to the mall and try to find a shirt made in the United States, and you will recognize what I mean.

Wars over Religion

It’s 2014 and we are still bickering and shooting each other over whose god is right and whose is wrong. It’s been going on for thousands of years, and we’re still willing to die for stuff written in books in the bronze age or in medieval times. I know people in and from Israel, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. They are all good human beings, people who only want to make their lives and the lives of their children better. That’s what everybody wants. If we just stopped bringing gods into the picture, we’d all get along just fine.

The gods are propped up by those that get fat off of them. The religious leaders wearing Rolexes and driving Bentleys. The politicians who build palaces. The kings who tax the rest of their countrymen. And the whole religious food chain below them, all the way down to the basket that’s passed down the rows of pews on Sunday morning.

I say we just abolish religion and save humanity in the process. But I am naïve.



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Tuesday night I attended a meeting of the Felicita Humor Toastmasters Club, where Genero Crenshaw gave an excellent speech titled “Toastmasters, Wow, What an Experience!!!”

Genero referred to Viktor Frankl as one of his mentors, and recommended the book Man’s Search for Meaning. I went home and started reading it that night.

Frankl was born in 1905 in Vienna, Austria. He knew he wanted to be a physician when he was three years old. He ended up getting and M.D. and Ph.D, practicing as a renowned psychiatrist. There was only one problem. He was Jewish.

In 1942, he was arrested and hauled off to Auschwitz, a death camp of the Nazis where 1.5 million people died and from where pretty much nobody ever returned.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, we experience Auschwitz with Frankl through the observant, scientific eyes of the psychiatrist. He makes sense of the senseless, he analyzes his motives, the motives of his fellow prisoners and those of the guards and tormentors. It’s not a book about Frankl, it’s a book about humanity under the most extreme imaginable conditions of pure horror and utter de-humanization. We learn what happens to people under those conditions.

There is no way to feel sorry for oneself in modern America after reading Man’s Search for Meaning. The story of the holocaust needs to be told, over and over again, lest we forget and allow it to happen again.

Frankl died in 1997, at the ripe age of 92. He lost his parents, his brother, and his wife in the camps. After his eventual and unlikely liberation, he had nothing to live for. Taking a dose of his own medicine, he threw himself into this work and accomplished a renowned career, not only as a holocaust survivor, but also as an international psychoanalyst.

I said above “lest we forget and allow it to happen again” yet at the moment I am writing this, I know that there are concentration camps right now in North Korea where people are kept as slave laborers, for generations. If a man commits a crime of stealing a loaf of bread, he can be incarcerated for generations. His children, born in the camp, will be indentured slaves because of their father’s crimes. That’s going on today.

In Syria, right this moment, a rogue regime hell-bent on its own survival, is brutally slaying its own people by the tens of thousands – pretty much what Hitler did – yet we stand by and wait.

How can we reconcile this?

Man’s Search for Meaning, as you can see from my waxings, is thought-provoking at a very deep and challenging level.

Rating: ***

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Reading of Nazi crimes against humanity and their own people leaves me shocked  anew every day. It is some comfort that it all happened more than 65 years ago. However, just poking around right now I find this, going on today, right while we’re all watching:

Political Concentration Camps: Currently, over 200,000 “violators” are overworked, tortured, raped or publicly executed in political prison camps across the country. There are five major prison camps in North Korea, verified by corroborating testimonies of North Korean defectors and satellite images. Up to 3 generations of each family are imprisoned, including children, because a relative had committed a crime such as expressing disloyalty to the government. Conditions in the camps are extremely harsh and systematic and widespread human rights abuses occur. Most prisoners are not expected to survive due to such extreme conditions, and approximately 25% die in the first year. Some reports have estimated that more than 400,000 prisoners may have already died in this system.

While this guy is getting fat:

His people starve:

China, vaunted China, where we send all our money, does not help:

Estimates of up to 300,000 refugees have fled to neighboring China and are hiding in the underground. In violation of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, China repatriates all North Koreans who have illegally crossed the border; these refugees therefore risk torture and execution if captured. A fraction of North Korean refugees escape to third countries with the intention of seeking asylum.

Over 80% of North Korean refugees, the majority of whom are women and children, are victims of human trafficking in China. Within North Korea, children are routinely forced into child labor, and are subject to extremely abusive or dangerous situation; women, on the other hand, are trafficked for sex.

This has been going on for decades. The world community is watching.

Babyface doesn’t look like he has a clue. He knows he needs to ration his people, keep them ignorant, keep them brainwashed, and, above all, keep the Internet out.

As I am stating this, I humbly realize that I don’t have a solution to offer.

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We read about atrocities by the Germans during World War II, about the Balkans in the 1990s, about Saddam Hussein, but we forget that those same atrocities are happening today, right now, in North Korea.

Hundreds of thousands of people are imprisoned in hard labor camps; their only crime was disagreement with the regime. Imagine being one of these prisoners, taken away from your family in the dead of night, never to be seen again, working in quarries or mines, every day, every waking hour of the day, chronically malnourished, with no communication with the outside world. No help, no hope, no end.

The regime is kept up now by the boy president Kim Jong Un and the world is standing by and watching.

From an article in The Economist:

IN LABOUR camps across its remote northern reaches, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea detains an estimated 150,000-200,000 political prisoners. The regime claims to hold precisely none. Or rather, in the formulation of the late Kim Jong Il, punishing the enemies of the state protects the North Korean people’s human rights.

To read the full aricle, Click Here.

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