The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Passing Notes

Below is a photograph of a note from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to the President, confirming the handoff of sovreignty (via Yahoo!/Reuters):


Of course, prompting two hilarious pictures from Allah. I couldn't stop laughing, between those, and his response to the concerns expressed by Reps. Weldon and Abercrombie concerning the use of Israeli-made ammunition.


Posted 9:25 AM by Tony


So, What's One More Inaccurate Statement?

E! Online, June 25, 2004:

"It's a violation of my First Amendment rights that I cannot advertise my movie. It's a movie," said Moore. "I have not publicly endorsed John Kerry. I am an independent; I am not a member of the Democratic Party."

Merits (or not) of Moore's complaint aside, this bit from the Smoking Gun amused the heck out of me (via LGF):

New York City Board of Elections records show that Moore, 50, registered to vote in Gotham in 1992, checking off "Democratic" as his party affiliation (below you'll find a copy of his original registration form). He listed his address as the swanky Upper West Side building where he owns a multimillion dollar condominium (Moore's office is on West 57th Street). The filmmaker's New York registration remains active, though he has not voted since an October 2001 Democratic runoff election.

Now here's the good part: Moore is simultaneously registered to vote in Michigan, where registrants aren't even given the option of party affiliation (so he's not an Independent there either). According to Antrim County records, Moore registered last April from his lakefront spread in northern Michigan, where he reportedly splits his time, but has yet to vote in Michigan. He transferred his drivers license to Michigan from New York around the same time, though Moore has a Volkswagen Beetle registered from his Manhattan home.

This New York City voting history list, dated June 28, 2004, shows Moore's registration and voting history since 1992.

Oops.


Posted 8:33 AM by Tony

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Lessons Learned

Ralph Peters points out several lessons that we need to have learned from the Iraqi occupation (via New York Post). His main pointws are:

- Plan for the worst-case scenario, not just the one you hope for.

- In the wake of combat operations, always impose martial law.

- Fight terrorists and insurgents immediately, remorselessly and comprehensively.

- Kill terrorists, rather than taking them prisoner [i.e., they can surrender, but operations should be focused on elimination, not capture].

- Don't treat an occupation as a bonanza for American contractors — hire locals.

- Don't place blind trust in émigrés. [read: Ahmed Chalabi]

- Preventive War is a concept that's here to stay. ("In the post-9/11 strategic environment, club rules no longer apply. At the hint of a threat, America needs to strike first. And we will.")

- The globalized media demands new rules. ("But we must learn to distinguish between the authentic news media and propaganda organs, such as al-Jazeera, that actively support our enemies. Al-Jazeera's lies kill American soldiers. Its hatemongers don't deserve the protections accorded genuine journalists.")

- Ignore the Left. ("As far as the Left is concerned, America is always wrong. When making strategic decisions, ignore them entirely") [this concept is also known as Punitive Liberalism; Peters' dictum may also be translated as "Laugh At Nancy Pelosi"]

- Speak softly, and carry a big stick. ("Don't threaten your enemies. Shut up and kill them. Speak through deeds.")

- Trust the troops.

What I don't understand is why martial law wasn't imposed all the way through the occupation until the sovreignty handover. If memory serves, the last time martial government was imposed was after World War II, and that eventually turned out right.

I'd actually add one more:

- Don't expect victory overnight. Unconventional warfare isn't the kind of thing that lends itself to a "clash of armies" style battle. Gulf War I was an anomaly. Rooting out terrorists (or, "insurgents") is a long, drawn-out process that potentially could take years. See, for example, the British campaign in Malaya against Communist guerillas from 1948 to 1960, and the Marine Corps in Haiti from 1915 to 1934. More generally, The Savage Wars of Peace provides an overview of the American experience with "small wars." The public needs to know that wins do not come quickly in this style of war.


Posted 10:13 AM by Tony


Putting A Point On Things

I was going to mention the memorial relating to the Korean sailors killed in the West Sea in a 2002 naval clash with North Korea, but KimcheeGI beat me to it. This doesn't get as much attention as it deserves, I think, because, in the same period, two girls got accidentally run over by an American armored vehicle. Unlike with the girls, however, you don't really see candlelight vigils for those who died from enemy action.

Interestingly, the US has just sent 10 (out of 55) F-117As stealth aircraft to Kunsan Air Base for the next several months (via Chosun Ilbo; Korea Herald).

I find the timing interesting, given that six party talks relating to North Korea are underway. One commentator considers the recent US positions to be a "soften[ing] of its rhetoric". The talks and the deployment, taken together, may instead be an example of Teddy Roosevelt's philosophy in action.

Granted, this may all be just one big coincidence. But 10 stealth fighters (not to mention one infantry division and two fighter wings) make quite a "big stick" with which to "speak softly."


Posted 8:18 AM by Tony

Friday, June 25, 2004
Netizen Nanny

A while back I read that the Communist Chinese had blocked access to certain blog domains because blogs within those domains had criticized the government. At the time, I thought that one would never see much of that in the ROK or the US, given the extent of private citizens' Internet use. This is especially so in Korea, in which the term "netizen" has been coined.

Well, 1 out of 2 ain't bad, I suppose. Just found out via several expat bloggers in Korea that the Ministry of Information and Communications has decided to block off access to certain blog domains because those blogs had carried the Kim Sun-il beheading video (see Marmot here and here; Joel; Jeff; KimcheeGI; Oranckay; Kevin).

You remember how the "netizens" did their best to avoid the Nick Berg beheading video? Yeah, neither do others. (see here also)

What I'm wondering is whether access to any Korean sites have been cut off, or if the government has decided to turn one of the most wired nations in the world into an Electronic Hermit Kingdom. (Korea used to be known as the "Hermit Kingdom" for its isolationism.)

Update: Given that one of the blocked domains is blogspot.com, I've changed the blurb in the upper right hand corner. Yes, it's insolent, but that's me, I guess.


Posted 10:01 AM by Tony

Thursday, June 24, 2004
No Exemption, No Problem

So the US decided to drop its request for a year's exemption from prosecution in the International Criminal Court (via SF Chronicle):

The United States bowed to broad opposition on the Security Council on Wednesday and announced it was dropping its effort to gain immunity for its troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

"The United States has decided not to proceed further with consideration and action on the draft at this time in order to avoid a prolonged and divisive debate," James Cunningham, the deputy American ambassador, said on emerging from the council chamber.

A resolution granting a year's exemption had passed the council the past two years, but this year the attempt to renew it ran into difficulties because of the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq and strong opposition from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The outcome, while a political defeat for the United States, will have no effect on the vulnerability to prosecution of American soldiers in Iraq. Neither the United States nor Iraq is a participant in the tribunal, and its jurisdiction is limited to countries that do not themselves prosecute crimes by their military.

Of course, it's not like Kofi Annan doesn't have his own problems, what with the oil-for-food scandal, which has implicated his son Kojo.

I think this is really less than it seems. First, the Rome Statute, which established the ICC provides that the ICC only has jurisdiction where the country with jurisdiction is "unwilling or unable to carry out the investigation or prosecution." (Article 17) Admittedly, what this means is unclear to me. For example, what if the US has investigated a servicemember and decides not to prosecute, for lack of evidence. Can't an ICC prosecutor invoke jurisdiction by simply asserting that "the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute"?

Second, and more importantly, Public Law 107-206 (PDF) is still in effect, as far as I know. Known as the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002, a couple of the more interesting provisions are:

- prohibition on US participation in UN peacekeeping operations, unless the President certifies, in this case, that the country involved has agreed to prevent the ICC from acting against American servicemembers in that country (the certification for Iraq is here)

- allows the President to use "all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of [any American servicemember] who is being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court."

So I'm not all that sure that dropping attempts to get the exemption will actually mean anything.


Posted 6:58 PM by Tony


Pumped Up On The Law

Found via Wizbang, this is something one normally doesn't see:

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked a state court Thursday to remove a Creek County judge from the bench for allegedly using a sexual device during court proceedings.

The petition for removal can be found at The Smoking Gun.

Page 2 of the petition reads:

Judge [] violated these Canons [1, 2, 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics] by his repeated use of a device known as a penis pump during non-jury and jury trials in his courtroom and in the presence of court employees while serving in his capacity as district judge. He also violated these Canons by placing himself in a position where his court reporter viewed his penis on an number of occasions while he was serving in his capacity as district judge.

Page 7 contains an assertion of moral turpitude, based on the judge "putting himself in the position where his court reporter could see his penis, both erect and non-erect, from fifteen to twenty times, including seeing him masturbate and lift his penis and shave underneath with a razor [.]"
I suppose protests of, "This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby!" may fall short of the mark.

Update: Conrad mentions the same story, and a commenter there points out that the same judge had prevented enforcement of a ban on cock fighting in January of this year. Feel free to insert your own jokes.


Posted 3:34 PM by Tony

Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Excuse Me While I Get A Knife

... with which to cut the irony (via SF Chronicle):

Democrat John Kerry criticized Republicans on Wednesday for denying him a chance to cast a Senate vote, blaming a partisan culture created by President Bush and calling his rival "the greatest divider as a president in the modern history of this country."

Notice, if you read the article, how he oh-so-carefully avoids mentioning any Democrats' contribution to this culture.* The only people he blams for this are Republicans.

So, we get to see Kerry decrying partisanship by making a partisan attack on the other party. Heh.
-----
* For the record, I think there's blame enough on both sides. Robert Bork, anyone?


Posted 2:51 PM by Tony


Gratuitous Picture Wednesday

Smaller version of original, which can be found here, via EPN Korea:


Hey, as an American (albeit of Korean descent), does that make me a "lustful predatory foreigner"?

Update: And another one:


And this one just amused me (see the banner):



Posted 10:44 AM by Tony

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
It's Official

Kim Seun-Il was beheaded (via SF Chronicle):

An Iraqi militant group has beheaded its South Korean hostage, Al-Jazeera television reported Tuesday. The South Korean foreign ministry issued a statement confirming the report.

Kim's body was found by the U.S. military between Baghdad and Fallujah, west of the capital, at 5:20 p.m. Iraq time, said South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil.

[ . . . ]

One of the masked men [in the videotape showing Kim] said the message was intended for the Korean people. "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America."

I guess it's time for the ROK to decide, one way or the other, which way it should go. I can only hope they make the correct choice.

Update: Okay, so someone explain this to me, taken from the same AP/SF Chronicle story:

The videotape of Kim, apparently made shortly before his death, showed him kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

[emphasis added]

How in the world is this relevant? Factually, the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo has no connection to what happened in Iraq. The only reason for putting that in there would be as some sort of exercise in moral equivalence. Feh.


Posted 10:41 AM by Tony


Takedown

Christopher Hitchens, who used to work for the leftist publication The Nation, really takes apart Michael Moore (found via Instapundit). There's so much smoothly-delivered daggers that it's hard to pick my favorite:

[ . . . ] With Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

And Hitchens then addresses Moore on Iraq:

But it won't because it encourages their half-baked fantasies in so many other ways. We are introduced to Iraq, "a sovereign nation." (In fact, Iraq's "sovereignty" was heavily qualified by international sanctions, however questionable, which reflected its noncompliance with important U.N. resolutions.) In this peaceable kingdom, according to Moore's flabbergasting choice of film shots, children are flying little kites, shoppers are smiling in the sunshine, and the gentle rhythms of life are undisturbed. Then—wham! From the night sky come the terror weapons of American imperialism. Watching the clips Moore uses, and recalling them well, I can recognize various Saddam palaces and military and police centers getting the treatment. But these sites are not identified as such. In fact, I don't think Al Jazeera would, on a bad day, have transmitted anything so utterly propagandistic. You would also be led to think that the term "civilian casualty" had not even been in the Iraqi vocabulary until March 2003. I remember asking Moore at Telluride if he was or was not a pacifist. He would not give a straight answer then, and he doesn't now, either. I'll just say that the "insurgent" side is presented in this film as justifiably outraged, whereas the 30-year record of Baathist war crimes and repression and aggression is not mentioned once. (Actually, that's not quite right. It is briefly mentioned but only, and smarmily, because of the bad period when Washington preferred Saddam to the likewise unmentioned Ayatollah Khomeini.)

That this—his pro-American moment—was the worst Moore could possibly say of Saddam's depravity is further suggested by some astonishing falsifications. Moore asserts that Iraq under Saddam had never attacked or killed or even threatened (his words) any American. I never quite know whether Moore is as ignorant as he looks, or even if that would be humanly possible. Baghdad was for years the official, undisguised home address of Abu Nidal, then the most-wanted gangster in the world, who had been sentenced to death even by the PLO and had blown up airports in Munich and Rome. Baghdad was the safe house for the man whose "operation" murdered Leon Klinghoffer. Saddam boasted publicly of his financial sponsorship of suicide bombers in Israel. (Quite a few Americans of all denominations walk the streets of Jerusalem.) In 1991, a large number of Western hostages were taken by the hideous Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and held in terrible conditions for a long time. After that same invasion was repelled—Saddam having killed quite a few Americans and Egyptians and Syrians and Brits in the meantime and having threatened to kill many more—the Iraqi secret police were caught trying to murder former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait. Never mind whether his son should take that personally. (Though why should he not?) Should you and I not resent any foreign dictatorship that attempts to kill one of our retired chief executives? (President Clinton certainly took it that way: He ordered the destruction by cruise missiles of the Baathist "security" headquarters.) Iraqi forces fired, every day, for 10 years, on the aircraft that patrolled the no-fly zones and staved off further genocide in the north and south of the country. In 1993, a certain Mr. Yasin helped mix the chemicals for the bomb at the World Trade Center and then skipped to Iraq, where he remained a guest of the state until the overthrow of Saddam. In 2001, Saddam's regime was the only one in the region that openly celebrated the attacks on New York and Washington and described them as just the beginning of a larger revenge. Its official media regularly spewed out a stream of anti-Semitic incitement. I think one might describe that as "threatening," even if one was narrow enough to think that anti-Semitism only menaces Jews. And it was after, and not before, the 9/11 attacks that Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi moved from Afghanistan to Baghdad and began to plan his now very open and lethal design for a holy and ethnic civil war. On Dec. 1, 2003, the New York Times reported—and the David Kay report had established—that Saddam had been secretly negotiating with the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il in a series of secret meetings in Syria, as late as the spring of 2003, to buy a North Korean missile system, and missile-production system, right off the shelf. (This attempt was not uncovered until after the fall of Baghdad, the coalition's presence having meanwhile put an end to the negotiations.) [emphasis in original]

I heartily recommend you read the rest. After all, it's not every day that one gets to see such skillful delivery of well-deserved scorn.


Posted 9:29 AM by Tony

Monday, June 21, 2004
Korean News Roundup

Yes, I know, there's a Korean held hostage by terrorists in Iraq. Check out the Marmot, Budaechigae, and Oranckay. All I'm not going to say anything about the letter, other than to say that it reveals a breathtaking ignorance and naivete that, in some ways, is consistent with the way the Korean government approaches its foreign policy.

I wanted to point out a couple of other things.

First, elderly Koreans in New York City are apparently happier, more self-reliant, and get more nookie than their counterparts in Korea (via Korea Times):

The Institute for Aging Studies (IAS) of Korea and the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS) of the United States jointly conducted a survey to get a glimpse of the lives of elderly Koreans at home and abroad.

[ . . . ]

In the survey, 26 percent of gray-haired citizens [early 60s] here said that they often felt sad, while 15 percent of the respondents in New York said so. As for loneliness, 50 percent of the Korean group professed that they felt lonely, higher than 33 percent in the New York group.

[ . . . ]

Ironically, however, 21 percent of elderly Koreans were satisfied with their sexual life, twice as many as the figure in the Big Apple.

When they came down with a disease, a staggering 57 percent of the local Koreans expected their children to take care of them but only seven percent of the overseas Koreans relied on their offspring.

Second, Korea is apparently considering the introduction of American-style law schools (via Dong-A Ilbo)

Establishing a U.S.-style law schools instead of a judicial examination to train legal professionals is being seriously considered. Also, allowing the people to participate in trials through a U.S.-style jury system or German-style participation system is being considered.

[ . . . ]

Major universities including Seoul National University are greatly in favor of the introduction of law schools. Also, the Korean Bar Association is also in favor of it.


The Supreme Court said, “Most of the people agree that the present judicial system needs to be revised. Although aftermaths are predicted, introducing law schools sounds persuasive as the alternative to the judicial examination.”

My understanding is that Korean law schools are the equivalent of American undergraduate degrees (see here and here); in contrast, an American law degree takes three years, and require an undergraduate degree as a prerequisite.


Posted 4:11 PM by Tony


Quotes Of The Day

These three just amused the hell out of me.

1. 48 Nobel laureates endorse Kerry (via SF Chronicle):

"Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare," their letter stated.

And, of course, their lack of biases manifest themselves as a letter endorsing a specific presidential candidate.

2. The Bush campaign strikes back (via that same SF Chronicle story):

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said the president's budget raises federal research and development to $132 billion in 2005, a 44 percent increase since taking office.

"Only John Kerry would declare the country to be in scientific decline on a day when the country's first privately funded space trip is successfully completed," Schmidt said, referring to the flight of a privately financed rocket over California.

The X Prize is a private enterprise, so the reference hardly seems relevant in a story about the administration's science policy.

3. bunny mcintosh, on what clothes say about you.


Posted 3:36 PM by Tony

Friday, June 18, 2004
Mental Red Flags

The lead into YahoO!/AP article on the death of Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, the al-Qaeda leader who reputedly directed Paul Johnson's beheading:

An al-Qaida cell beheaded American engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr., and in a swift retaliation Saudi security forces tracked down and killed the leader of the terrorist group in a shoot-out Friday.


Johnson, who was kidnapped last weekend, was the latest victim of an escalating campaign of violence against Westerners that aims to drive foreign workers from the kingdom and undermine the ruling royal family, hated by al-Qaida.

The death hours later of Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, the reputed leader of al-Qaida in the kingdom, was a coup for the Saudi government, which has been under intense pressure to halt a wave of attacks against Westerners. In a video posted on the Internet Tuesday, a hooded al-Moqrin held an assault rifle and shouted demands for the release of al-Qaida prisoners as a blindfolded Johnson sat in a chair.

[ . . . ]

Shortly after discovering Johnson's body, Saudi police swooped down on the al-Malz neighborhood in central Riyadh and exchanged fire with al-Qaida suspects.

[emphasis added]

Contrast this to what happened the rather casual Saudi response three weeks ago (via CNN):

Three of four attackers who killed 22 people in the Saudi oil city of Khobar were allowed to escape [after three attacks over 25 hours] because they were threatening to kill 242 people being held as human shields, a senior Saudi Interior Ministry official says.

[ . . . ]

The official said Monday the attackers told Saudi commanders they were wearing explosive belts and would set off blasts killing the people they were holding.

At that point, the official said, the Saudi commanders decided to let them go.

The three men fled in a car belonging to a resident of a residential complex they had penetrated. They changed cars several times and eluded Saudi security forces, the official said.

Curiously, reading the CNN story, it appears Muqrin may have been involved.

The change in the response is rather startling. There's something here, but I'm not quite sure what it is.


Posted 6:10 PM by Tony


Carblogging

When it comes to automobiles, I suspect that that the sentiment of a teenager lurks in every man. Circumstances may require a guy to get a minivan, station wagon, or other automobile that is practical, utilitarian, and, let's face it, pedestrian. However, there's still (at least in me) a voice that says, "I want a cool car."

I let that voice have its way last weekend, and bought this.

Unlike the Instapundit (who, I would speculate was motivated by something similar), I haven't noticed any problems with the shifting. He test-drove the manual; I have an automatic transmission that also allows the option of shifting individual gears.

I'll put up pics later, but for now, I'm just going to enjoy the heck out of my vehicle.


Posted 8:52 AM by Tony

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Memorable Quotes

Margaret Thatcher, at the Atlantic Bridge, May 14, 2003:

For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism, and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction by dictators. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain – but enough about the French!

Heh.


Posted 5:56 PM by Tony


The Dumpling Suicide

I previously mentioned a scandal in Korea involving the use of rotten radishes in dumplings, or in Korean, "mandu."

The problem with an industry-wide scandal, is, of course, rebuilding consumer confidence (via Korea Herald):

On Tuesday, the KFDA announced that it cleared Dongil Frozen Foods and Geumheung Foods as possible suppliers of inedible dumplings, reportedly on the grounds of a flimsy investigation process.

The nation's whole dumpling industry, including frozen foods in general, has been marred since news of the so-called "garbage dumplings" began to surface last Monday. Those in the dumpling and frozen food business can only hope that the issue will wane and replenish consumers' trust in the food industry as soon as possible so business can return to normal.

This is what matters most even for the two companies now off the KFDA's blacklist, because they say the whole dumpling issue has ballooned into a case of deception and betrayal, while food companies have become "criminals."

"This is not an issue of profit loss or being off or on the KFDA's blacklist; it's much more serious," said Kim Cheong-sun, CEO of Geumheung Foods, in a telephone interview. "We worry about what's up ahead for the mandu business with the consumers' loss of trust in food companies," he added, emphasizing that the whole case has been over-exaggerated.

Frankly, the story almost reads like a PR piece for the dumpling industry, so I'm a little unsure how much credence to give to this. My own (albeit unsubstantiated) suspicion, is that if there are any irregularities in the KFDA investigation, it's probably due to a lack of resources. I never got the impression that food safety was a big concern in Korea.

In all fairness, this must be a problematic time for the industry (via Korea Times):

In a suicide note, [owner of dumpling manufacturer Vision Foods] Shin [Young-moon] indicated that he had been suffering from emotional distress and extreme financial pressure after the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) named Vision Foods as one of the firms which used the spoiled ingredients last week. A total of 18 firms were confirmed to have manufactured and circulated the low-quality dumplings, called mandu in Korean, from 1999 to February of this year.

While repeatedly apologizing to the nation for making substandard food, he pleaded with the public to sustain their anger so there would not be any innocent victims.

"Mandu companies and their families can only survive if the public continues to eat mandu products,’’ Shin said in his three-page suicide note.

Demands to pay off company debts along with the plummeting dumpling sales after the food scandal appear to have pushed Shin over the edge.

He had jumped off the Banpo Bridge, which spans the Han River, and is apparently a popular place to kill oneself (via Korea Herald):

The Banpo Bridge is emerging as a frequent suicide area. On June 13, Vision Food president Shin Young-moon jumped to his death from the bridge over a "garbage dumpling" scandal. Politicians have also jumped from the bridge, including South Jeolla Province Gov. Park Tae-young and Paju Mayor Lee Joon-won.

[ . . . ]

Yongsan Police Station's watch on the bridge is now on high alert, allocating four policemen to each bridge - Banpo, Hannam, Hangang - from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to midnight, the hours when most suicide attempts occur.

These preventive methods are viewed as last-resort plans to patrol and discourage jumpers. So far they have not helped Korea emerge from its fourth place ranking in suicide rates among OECD countries and the highest growth rate recently.

Not exactly a statistic that the KNTO will be trumpeting, I think.


Posted 9:54 AM by Tony

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The (Iraqi) New Model Army

(see History Learning Site for the allusion)

The rebuilding of the Iraqi army seems to be going all right, if this is any indication (via National Review Online, via Iraq the Model):

On the evening of May 30, 2004, [Private Imad Abid Zeid] Jassim and his fellow members of 4th Platoon, India Company, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) were jointly patrolling the streets of Al Karmah, near Fallujah, with leathernecks from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. All at once, the patrol was ambushed from the rear by enemy insurgents. A U.S. Marine was instantly struck down with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Reacting as they had been trained to do by their U.S. counterparts, the Iraqis swung into action.

Jassim, who was standing closest to the Marine when the latter was hit, immediately returned fire.

Sergeant Abdullah Sadoon Isa, Corporal Eiub Muhamad Hussane, and Private Ahmad Lazim Garib raced toward-and-beyond the downed American. Constantly under fire and simultaneously returning fire, Sgt. Isa quickly positioned other members of his platoon between the wounded man and the enemy.

Jassim and another private, Kather Nazar Abbas, stopped shooting long enough to begin dragging the American to a position of relative safety. Bullets and at least one rocket-propelled grenade zinged past their heads as they managed to pull the Marine behind a wall. A U.S. Navy medical corpsman rushed forward to render first aid. The Iraqis and the Americans continued battling the enemy force.

The response to the ambush was textbook. "The ICDC ultimately assaulted through the enemy's position and pushed them out," said 2nd Lt. Charles Anklin III, of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.

On Friday, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, and Col. John A. Toolan, commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 1; decorated the five aforementioned Iraqi soldiers for their "heroic achievement" during an awards ceremony at Camp India in Nassar Wa Salaam. The awards included two Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medals and three Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Each of the medals included combat "V"s for valor.

Omar is disgusted things like this don't get more coverage.

He's not the only one.



Posted 3:30 PM by Tony


Mixed Blessing, I Suppose

According to the 9-11 Commission (aka National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) the original plot was to have been much bigger (PDF of Staff Statement 16, pp 12-13):

As originally envisioned, the 9/11 plot involved even more extensive attacks than those carried out on September 11. KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] maintains that his initial proposal involved hijacking ten planes to attack targets on both the East and West coasts of the United States. He claims that, in addition to the targets actually hit on 9/11, these hijacked planes were to be crashed into CIA and FBI headquarters, unidentified nuclear power plants, and the tallest buildings in California and Washington State. The centerpiece of his original proposal was the tenth plane, which he would have piloted himself. Rather than crashing the plane into a target, he would have killed every adult male passenger, contacted the media from the air, and landed the aircraft at a U.S. airport. He says he then would have made a speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East before releasing all of the women and children passengers.

One can't help but wonder what might have happened had this succeeded. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Middle East would have been in for some interesting times, at least in the allegedly Chinese sense.

And, just in case anyone was wondering, the tallest building in California is the US Bank Tower (aka Library Tower) in LA, and the tallest in Washington State is the Columbia Seafirst Center in Seattle. Think about it.


Posted 1:53 PM by Tony

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Korean Primary Education

... is seriously starting to irritate me.

The Marmot has the goods on contemporary Korean education concerning reunification. In the same vein, there's this bit from the Dong-A Ilbo:

The textbooks of Korean elementary schools that used to emphasize adversity and dread against their enemy are now inserting photographs of the North Korean women who purchase goods in stores. Even in teaching materials used in a fourth-year class of an elementary school in Seoul, the story that describes Romeo and Juliet as lovers who cannot marry due to the interruption of an evil dragon over a river is mentioned. The river refers to the de-militarized zone, and the evil dragon refers to the United States.

This is a bit disappointing to me, since, unlike Robert Kim, my primary loyalty is to the United States.

And I imagine it's a bit of a blow to those Americans who feel like their sacrificing something by staying ready to deter aggression (via Korea Times, see also US 8th Army):

They are typical of the hundreds of soldiers who rotate in and out of the division each year. Up here, it makes no difference if you are in armor, artillery or infantry, or are a driver, medic or scout. Here the mission is simple: to be ready to fight tonight.

[ . . . ]

With mottos like "ready to fight tonight" and "second to none," serving in the 2ID carries a lot of responsibility and commitment _ not only to the division, but also to the mission. As such, soldiers in the division do not enjoy the same freedoms that soldiers in other units on the peninsula might enjoy, especially when it comes to the stringent military life.

"That’s the reasoning behind a lot of the restrictions that we have to live with here, like a stricter curfew than other units are," Howard said. "Wearing civilian clothes here when we’re off-duty is also more restrictive in terms of what we can and can’t wear. It’s a lot of these little things, which build up, to more of a difference when it comes to serving here.

[emphasis added]

Such as those who stand "In Front Of Them All."

Not to mention those 92 US personnel who have died in the service of Korea since 1955.

Now, I realize that I often sound down on Korea-US relations. In reality, I'm not (or try not to be). But there are just some things which are too egregious to ignore.


Posted 3:59 PM by Tony

Friday, June 11, 2004
Venality In The Guise of "Patriotism"

David Scofeld expresses what we're all thinking about Robert Kim, in the Asia Times (for my prior posts on this topic, see my prior posts here, here, here, here, here, and here).

And I again learn something about the Kim case I had not known before:

According to US Federal Bureau of Investigation wiretaps, Robert Kim and his brother Kim Yung-gon [another brother, Kim Song-gon, is a member of the Korean National Assembly in the ruling Uri Party] devised a plan to "acquire", reverse engineer and sell a secret US military computer system to the South Korean government, a plan that if successful would likely have ensured the two brothers a huge windfall for their efforts. Robert Kim acquired export permits and licenses that would have allowed the Kim brothers to export stolen, sensitive technology to South Korea under the guise of normal technology trade. These licenses were ultimately revoked by the US Department of Commerce in June 2000. [emphasis added]

[ . . . ]

That Robert Kim is guilty of sedition is incontrovertible. He was not tried and found guilty, but rather pleaded guilty to "conspiring to gather national defense information" when confronted with the mountain of evidence investigators had compiled. He pleaded guilty and cut a deal on sentencing; a deal that in 1997 reflected the strong desire of the US government to maintain the perception of a strong US-South Korea alliance, vital to maintaining the deterrence component of the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea.

And casts a sharp eye on the way the Korean public has been looking at this incident:

The intentional exclusion of relevant facts related to his case by South Korea's media and government is an example of a national tendency to bifurcation, a bipolar approach to the world that portrays issues as starkly "good or bad", with any act committed in defense of Korea's "pride" being good. Reality and logic take a back seat to a system of institutionalized myth-making that makes a hero of someone like Robert Kim, a national myth that bears little resemblance to the truth, and casts the "alliance formed in blood" with the United States in doubt.

The government of South Korea does not seem at all embarrassed about the celebration of Kim's "espionage in the name of Korea". Indeed, sitting lawmakers, the press and various civic groups have been very vocal in demanding that Kim be allowed to return "home", regardless of his US nationality or the fact that he's spent the past 30 years living in the United States.

[ . . . ]

The chairman of President Roh Moo-hyun's Our Open Party pledged his party's support for Robert Kim and his family - Robert's brother Kim Song-gon is now a sitting member of the party. Robert Kim "Aid Associations" have been sponsoring "white envelope" meetings, hoping to collect more than $4 million for South Korea's spy - a retroactive salary of more than $500,000 a year for the seven-plus years Kim spent in prison. The National Assembly is hosting a public exhibition of his pictures, while newspaper editorials express hope that Kim will "come home" and tour South Korea's schools giving lessons on how to be a patriotic Korean - a guide to duplicity and advice on how to use a position of trust for personal gain, all while wrapping the whole vile exercise in the flag of patriotism. [emphasis added]

And to cap it all off, this is the best characterization of Robert Kim that I've seen, anywhere:

Robert Kim is not a patriot of any country. He is a deeply corrupted American of Korean ethnicity who used his position of trust within the United States government to further his own agenda. He made it known to his South Korean handlers that he would be more than happy to violate both laws and any remaining ethics or morals he may have had in order to build trust and buy him the credibility necessary to broker even larger, more lucrative illegal transactions in the future.

Preach it, brother!


Posted 2:40 PM by Tony

Thursday, June 10, 2004
A Hurrah For Brooke Shields

Honestly, I don't quite understand the protestors at the biotech convention in San Francisco. Now, I suppose I can understand the legal and ethical issues surrounding biotechnology (some of which, it might be argued, is the industry's fault). But a blanket condemnation?

Witness, for example, a proposed resolution by Supervisor Tom Ammiano (via SF Business Times):

Ammiano's resolution cites "widespread controversy and debate over the social, cultural, and environmental impacts of biotechnology" and "the potentially devastating repercussions of biotechnology on human health and the environment that remain unanswered." And it praises Reclaim the Commons for its "concern for the health, safety and well-being of the public and environment," as well as for its upholding of the city's resolution against genetically engineered foods in San Francisco's precautionary principal ordinance.

And this (via Picayune Item; see also SF Chronicle):

"Arrest them, shoot them," protesters shouted when police helped attendees cross the otherwise barricaded street in front of the center.

[ . . . ]

BIO officials have said they support the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate, but wondered how anyone could be against fighting disease, which they say is the main focus of most of the industry.

In light of that, let's hear it for Brooke Shields (via SF Chronicle):

Actress Brooke Shields told an audience Wednesday that she became a mother because of advances in biotechnology.

[ . . . ]

Shields said she was puzzled by the anti-biotechnology protesters who had targeted the convention, saying they must not realize how biotechnology can help people.

"Some of these people need to get a life," Shields said.


Posted 7:48 AM by Tony

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Just A Thought

You know, most of the discussion in Korea concerning the future of US forces in Korea has focused on anti-American sentiment among Koreans. Has anyone in the Korean government considered what Americans might think, when there's nothing but stories relating to the anti-American attitudes of people protected by American troops?

Personally, I have my doubts.


Posted 6:51 PM by Tony


N.D. Cal.* Factoid

The Northern District of California was esablished in 1850, with the sole judge authorized a salary of 3500 dollars, payable quarterly. (at 212 F.R.D. 611, 637)

The first commission for this position was issued September 28, 1850, to Judah P. Benjamin. He declined.

Benjamin, who, incidentally, was Jewish, later became Secretary of War, and then Secretary of State, for the Confederated States of America (see also here.

Interesting.

-----
* The trial courts for the federal judicial system are organized into judicial districts, set by law at sections 81 through 131 in Title 28 of the United States Code (you can do a lookup here). Here in the Bay Area, it's the Northern District of California.


Posted 6:11 PM by Tony


(A)Moral Authority

Normally, living in the Bay Area, I try not to pay attention to the varied political lunacies that manifest themselves here. If I got worked up every single time, I'd burst a blood vessel.

But this picture that Zombie took of the June 5 protests in San Francisco really ticked me off (found via LGF):


Who is Hasan Akbar?

He's the soldier who threw a grenade into the tactical operations tent of 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, just before the war started. This March 2003 CNN story further explains:

Hasan Akbar, 32, a combat engineer with the 326th Engineer Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division, was charged March 25 with two counts of premeditated murder, 17 counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated arson of an inhabited dwelling and one count of misbehavior as a sentinel, according to a statement from Fort Campbell, where the 101st Airborne is based.

The attack occurred at Camp Pennsylvania -- the Kuwaiti headquarters of the division's 1st Brigade -- on March 23, four days after the start of the war in Iraq.

Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, was killed in the attack. Air National Guard Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, died a few days later of wounds he received during the attack. Fourteen other soldiers were wounded.

(Akbar's attorney recently moved to have the trial delayed to next June.)

So what we have is a a man who killed his fellow soldiers, right before a war. Given what the tent was used for, his actions also had the potential of increasing American casualties, due to the disruption in the brigade's planning and operations.

And this woman demands his release?

Sometimes, there just aren't enough curse words.


Posted 1:36 PM by Tony


The Korean Jungle

At least, in the sense of Upton Sinclair's book, the depiction of meat packing in which helped spark modern food and drug safety regulation.

I wonder if the "dumpling scandal" in Korea will have a similar effect (via Korea Times):

On Sunday, several food subcontractors were found to have supplied 25 food companies with massive amounts of dumpling filling containing scraps of spoiled pickled radish, which were supposed to be thrown away.

Big-name companies such as Shany, Sam Lip General Foods, Chewyoungroo and Chunil Foods are reportedly included among the 25.

[ . . . ]

Civic groups and experts pointed out that the relatively light punishments of violators of food safety regulations are the main problem.

[ . . . ]

But manufacturers [punished by the Korean Food and Drug Adminstration] were easily able to reopen their businesses after a few months, with some being able to continue operations by paying light fines instead.

Much as I complain about the excesses of the modern regulatory state, I've never thought that the existence of food safety regulations was ever something to be irritated about.

And for those of you in Korea, you might want to stay away from the dumplings for a while.


Posted 8:25 AM by Tony

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Maritime Piracy Roundup

I maintain an interest in maritime (as opposed to other forms of) piracy. I find it interesting that these thing still occur in this day and age. Recently, the problem was discussed at the Asia Security Conference.

The problem is not a trivial one(via Times of Malta/Reuters):

Attacks on ships by sea pirates in Southeast Asia are resembling military operations - growing bolder, more violent and fuelling fears of an attack that would cripple world trade, Singapore said.

As the United States considers plans for a Regional Maritime Security Initiative to tighten surveillance of Southeast Asia's busy Malacca Strait, through which a third of world trade passes, Singapore said the risk of a devastating attack was growing [and noting that recent pirate attacks were reminiscent of terrorist attacks in terms of methodology].

[ . . . ]

The International Maritime Bureau says one-third of the 445 cases of recorded pirate attacks last year happened in Indonesian waters, including the Malacca Strait linking trading and oil centres in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

More than 50,000 commercial vessels travel the 805-km channel between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malaysian peninsula to Singapore each year.

The United States floated the idea of a mulitnational Regional Maritime Security Initiative (via Financial Times; see also Guardian):

Malaysia, which rejected the proposal for the US policing of the Malacca Straits as an infringement of national sovereignty, said it would still hold talks with the US on intelligence sharing and continued joint military exercises.

You know I'd have thought Malaysia (and Indonesia) would be a little less nonchalant, given the economic importance of the Strait and its vulnerability (82 feet at its shallowest, less than one mile across at its narrowest). But< I guess if they can handle it, more power to them.


Posted 7:28 PM by Tony


The Hostage Marketplace

I saw this SF Chronicle article on the rescue of three Italian and one Polish hostage in Iraq (see also DefenseLink):

In Baghdad, the top U.S. general in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez -- said suspects "involved in the kidnapping" were detained in the operation.

Sanchez gave few details on the raid but said the three Italians and the Pole -- who were kidnapped in different locations more than a month apart -- were all found in the same location.

They "are in good health," he said, adding that there were no reports of any exchange of fire during the operation.

The commander of the Polish-led multinational force, Gen. Miecyzslaw Bienek, said U.S. special forces carried out the raid. The construction company that employed the Polish hostage, Jerzy Kos, said special forces -- including Polish troops -- had located the hide-out earlier.

But what really caught my eye was this:

About 20 foreigners are still being held hostage in Iraq, but winning their release is difficult because some may have been sold by their captors to Islamic militants, said Canon Andrew White, an Anglican cleric who has been trying to win hostages' release.

[ . . . ]

"Things are looking very bad for the hostages," White said. "The groups that kidnap them are selling them off to militant groups who sell them off again. It is very hard to track them down."

That can't be good.


Posted 12:41 PM by Tony


Once More...

Robert Kim is not a patriot. I've said this before, as have others. He betrayed his oaths as a naturalized United States citizen and as an employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence by the unauthorized transfer of classified documents to a foreign power. The more I read, the more I'm convinced that the United States government doesn't owe Robert Kim any sort of leniency, and made the right decision in denying Kim permission to leave the country for his mother's funeral (via Korea Times).

The story has finally appeared in the American media (via LA Times, registration required):

Bitter South Koreans Rally Behind Spy Convicted in U.S.


It was a case of a little friendly spying among allies.

In 1996, U.S. naval intelligence analyst Robert Kim was arrested for handing over classified documents to South Korea, the country of his birth. After serving seven years of a nine-year prison term for espionage, he was released last week to confinement in his home in Ashburn, Va. But considerable bitterness about the case remains for many South Koreans, who believe that the United States and their own government treated Kim unfairly.

[ . . . ]

"Many Koreans, myself included, believe that America is our closest ally, but there are times that the United States has shown arrogance and hurt Korean pride," said Lee Woong Jin, a 38-year-old businessman who heads a support group for Kim.

How tragically insensitive of the United States to hurt Korean pride by imprisoning a United States citizen who, it bears repeating, passed over classified information without authorization to a foreign power.

This fact, which I didn't know before, may explain some of the attention:

"Behind the scenes, I think they tried to help … but compared to the Israeli government, the Korean government was relatively passive," said Kim's younger brother, Kim Song Gon. The younger Kim is an assemblyman with South Korea's ruling party. Their late father also served in the National Assembly.

The Times, unlike the Korean media actually reminds us why Kim was arrested:

Robert Kim, a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to the United States in 1967 to attend graduate school, was working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy in 1996 when the FBI arrested him. It charged he had photocopied more than 30 classified military documents and given them to a military attache with the South Korean Embassy. Many of the documents dealt with the threat posed by communist North Korea.

Faced with overwhelming evidence of his guilt — the FBI had installed a hidden camera in his office three months before his arrest — Kim pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to gather national defense information. But he was apparently stunned by the severity of the sentence imposed by a federal judge.

And the Times shows Kim playing the race card while simultaneously showing why he's unworthy of American sympathy:

In a telephone interview from his home in Ashburn, Kim said he believed he had received an especially harsh sentence because he was foreign born.

"I knew that I violated the rules as a government worker, but no, I did not think it was espionage," Kim said. "I love my adopted country."

But in another interview, published last week in a South Korean newspaper, Kim said that he considered himself a Korean above all.

"When the FBI agent asked me why I did such a thing for Korea, I said I would definitely cheer for Korea when Korea goes against the United States in a soccer match…. I do not feel sorry for what I did," Kim was quoted as saying in Thursday's editions of Chosun Ilbo.

The full quote from the Chosun Ilbo interview is actually:

I do not feel sorry for what I did. When the FBI agent asked me why I did such a thing for Korea, I said I would definitely cheer for Korea when Korea goes against the United States in a soccer match. After all this, I truly became a Korean. Although I am an American according to documentation, I am Korean at heart.

How nice for him, having a clean conscience for admittedly violating his oath and treating American documentation as a flag of convenience.

The Times quotes Captain Baek, who received the documents as saying, "It never crossed our minds that exchanging information [about North Korea] was spying or espionage." Pick one: a) the South Korean embassy really needs to update their briefings for attaches; b) Baek is engaging in intentional misrepresentation, i.e., "lying,"; or c) the ROK picked a rather unintelligent individual to serve as a naval attache for its embassy in the country of its most important military ally.

Towards the end, the Times article states:

For many South Koreans, it is easy to identify with the personal history of somebody who immigrated to the U.S. but never shed loyalty to his homeland.

Well, for this Korean-American, it's very hard to identify with the personal history of somebody who immigrated to the U.S. but chose to abuse the trust placed in him by his fellow United States citizens.

You know, the more I read about Robert Kim, the less I like him.


Posted 12:31 PM by Tony

Monday, June 07, 2004
Taxation Is Not A Binary Problem

I've always considered Heather Mallick to be a tad foolish. Her most recent column simply provides another datum point. An excerpt (via Globe and Mail):

Mr. [Stephen] Harper has many obsessions, but his main one is taxes. He says they should be cut to U.S. levels, even though we would pay cheese-paring corporations the same money to see a doctor.

To him, taxes are tapeworms -- "double, double, toil and taxes," as Shakespeare's witches didn't put it -- sneaking into your home to steal all that is good. If you didn't pay Canadian-style taxes, you could have Porthault sheets instead of Yves Delorme, is his message to the rich. The middle classes could have Cuddledown sheets instead of Martex. The working poor could have sheets. The poor could have a mattress on the floor and the homeless could have nicer cardboard.

This is absurd. I pay taxes. I love taxes. When you work, the government yanks them off your paycheque. When you write, as I do, you take your receipts to Joan, my accountant, and give her a blank cheque made out to the Receiver-General. The government uses it to do all the stuff I'd rather not think about.

Tax. A short word, but as punctuation queen Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, says of the apostrophe, it is an abused little shrimp-shaped thing, brutally misunderstood.

Yet truly, the word "tax" trails clouds of glory.

[ . . . ]

Taxes ease our daily lives in ways we take for granted. They pay for traffic lights, sewers, garbage pickup, nicely dressed diplomats so we don't show up at the G8 in golfing shorts, ferries, fish in general, nuclear power plant inspection, protecting the provincial flower ("Leave that wild rose alone, ma'am), libraries, white-coated people who spring into action when you contract flesh-eating disease, building codes, schools, dangerous-toy advisories, keeping cable companies in line, clean air, truck inspections for airborne wheels, loan forgiveness, autopsies, campgrounds, divorce, licence plates so you can track the guy on the cellphone in his Humvee who hit you, fluoridation, teacher training, privacy, universities, fair elections, fire trucks, child guardianship, hazardous-waste control, name changes, hostels, museums, protocol (see golfing shorts), trees, zoning, high-tech passports, standards in general, notaries public, noise control, organ donation, human rights, disability, drainage, bingo permits, boating safety, French-language services, neighbour encroachment, aboriginal business aid, art galleries, adoption, jury duty, cemeteries, soil quality, spills response, tattoo parlour inspection, bank deposit insurance, street lighting, commercial ship registry, victim assistance ("there, there"), social insurance numbers, joint rescue (water and land, nothing to do with knees), aerial mapping, pesticide disapproval and savings bonds.
[ . . . ]

Whenever you get upset by taxation, egged on by HelmetHead, think of an ill-considered purchase. Then figure out what that cash could have contributed to, had it been in government hands. A gleaming new hip for my mother? An extra season of Da Vinci's Inquest? An ice rink for kids on the reserve?

The problem with Mallick's "analysis" (and I use the term advisedly), is that she treats taxes as a binary proposition: taxes=good, no taxes=bad. Taxes aren't totally good. Nor are they totally bad. The issue is instead where one, as a matter of public policy, draws the line. What's too much? What's not enough? What government services are worth taxing for? No one I know, and I suspect, no one except the more hard-core libertarians, argues that all taxes are bad. Not even Stephen Harper argues for the elimination as taxes, as Mallick admits (and then proceeds to ignore).

Consider the examples of tax-funded government services Mallick lists. A colorable argument can be made that many of those services should not be government-funded, or not totally so: garbage pickup, ferries, universities, zoning, bingo permits, French-language services, art galleries, savings bonds, etc.

And I'm sure there are tax-funded services that Mallick would be loath to support: national defense, stringent abortion regulation, government approval prior to publication, i.e., prior restraint.

The fundamental flaw in Mallick's piece is her conclusion: the government is wiser than the individual. Sure, I might buy something foolish with my money, but it's my money to spend. My decisions as a consumer has no bearing on whether the government has a right to my money. And note the hip example she uses: your money should go to my welfare.

If Ms. Mallick enjoys paying taxes for much, I'm pretty certain that at least one other Canadian would be willing to have her take up his tax burden.


Posted 5:36 PM by Tony


This Weekend In Military History

A couple anniversaries over the last weekend that I thought bore mentioning:

1. June 6, 1944 - Opeation Overlord


Veteran John Long, of San Diego, with Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc
(via Yahoo!/AP)

See also Budaecihgae for an odd photo of a Korean fighting for the Germans.

2. June 5, 1967 - beginning of Six-Day War


(via Allah)

Yes, I know this picture is a bit impertinent, but there it is.


Posted 4:27 PM by Tony


Whoa

Now, this is a surprise (via Korea Times):

The United States told South Korea that it would withdraw 12,500 soldiers out of the 37,000-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) by the end of next year, officials said on Monday.

"The U.S. proposed pulling out 12,500 soldiers, including a brigade of 3,600 to be shifted to Iraq in August, by the end of 2005," Kim Sook, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North American affairs bureau, said in a press briefing. "This will bring down the number of U.S. troops here to 25,000."

My guess is that the drawdown will come from the removal of the rest of the 2nd Infantry Division, given that a) the number of personnel is about right, b) the 2nd brigade is already committed to a year-long rotation in Korea, and c) assignment to Korea probably wreaks havoc on family life:

The remainder [34,000 of 37,000 military positions] are unaccompanied tours, also known as "noncommand-sponsored, hardship, or remote" tours.

Because Korea is a potential combat zone, the number of family members in country has been restricted for security and evacuation purposes. To enforce this, the U.S. Congress has severely limited the military benefits normally available to families.

[ . . . ]

If you bring your family members to Korea at your own expense, you will face several hardships, including financial. Noncommand-sponsored families are not authorized government quarters or financial assistance in paying off-post rent. Depending on your job and where you are stationed, you may be required to live in the barracks, dormitory or BEQ/BOQ. This is especially true of soldiers assigned to 2nd Infantry Division or other units located north of Seoul. This area is considered a potential combat area and unsuitable for family members.


Posted 1:00 PM by Tony

Saturday, June 05, 2004
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004

Requiescat in pace:

Seven years before the Berlin Wall fell, Reagan told the House of Commons, "It may not be easy to see, but I believe we live now at a turning point." A crisis was building, he said, "but the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxism-Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty."

When Reagan "began to say those things in the early '80s, he was absolutely ridiculed -- ridiculed -- by the elites," [former budget chief Jim] Miller recalled. "This didn't faze him. It didn't bother him. And he won. He was the one who was proven correct."


Posted 10:40 PM by Tony

Thursday, June 03, 2004
Blawgs

I just got the June 2004 issue ofCalifornia Lawyer Magazine. The cover article is about "blawgs," i.e., blogs written by lawyers. The various blogs mentioned included the Volokh Conspiracy, Bag and Baggage, and How Appealing.

Blawging may now have officially jumped the shark. Time to hang it up, I guess. *grin*


Posted 6:34 PM by Tony


Quotes Of The Day

It's a tossup.

First, there's Ralph Peters on the importance of an aggressive attitude (in Parameters, via Vodkapundit):

Focus on killing the enemy. With fires. With maneuver. With sticks and stones and polyunsaturated fats.

Second, there's Moxie. She writes:

I felt like Hilary Clinton, except without a cock. And a daughter.


Posted 6:07 PM by Tony


Chronicles Of A Baeshinja

... is what Robert Kim should call his autobiography, should he write one.

Baeshinja is Korean for "traitor." I should make clear that I don't think he's a traitor in the legal sense of the term, but in the colloquial sense. (See my prior posts here, here, here, and here; the Marmot here, here, here and here; Cathartidae here, here, here, here, here, and here; IA here, here, and here.)

Let's recap: Kim, a United States citizen, was employed as a civilian intelligence analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence since 1978, turned over classified documents to Dong-Il Baek, a captain in the ROK Navy and the naval attache at the ROK Embassy in Washington. He was prosecuted, and plead guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage (see Title 18 of the US Code, section 798). It's important to remember - he admitted his guilt in the commission of a crime against the United States. He was recently released to serve the remainder of his term, two months, under home confinement. He is subject to surveillance by US authorities for the next three years, which will apparently involve wearing an electronic monitor to make sure he does not leave Virginia.

Brian, whose politics I ordinarily disagree with, is right on spot with his criticism of this fawning Joongang Ilbo editorial, as is this letter to the editor.

The Korea Herald has jumped onto the idiocy parade as well:

His wife and children underwent enormous psychological and financial strain while he was serving his time. The Korean government, which has been under heavy criticism by the public for its inactive role in helping Kim, may now assist his supporters planning to request the U.S. Justice Department to allow him to come to Korea to finish his parole doing social service here.

To hell with that. If Kim does community service, it should be in the nation injured by his acts, not the beneficiary.

Especially when Kim apparently sees himself as the victim (via Donga Ilbo:

Kim says he does not wish to think about the charges. "(I even) appealed to the court of law, but it was never heard. I feel like a victim, but there`s nothing I can do now."

Incidentally, Kim's assertion is provably wrong - he did have his say at the appellate level. It's United States v. Kim, Case 01-6590 (PDF); you can check yourself at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. That the appellate court found his arguments meritless doesn't mean he "was never heard."

Now, I can understand the Korean point of view on this, given that Korea was the beneficiary, but from my POV, this is a case concerning a fellow US citizen who broke the law and his citizenship oath and his oath as a government employee through the unauthorized transfer of classified information.

Let's repeat: "HE'S...AN...AMERICAN. HE...PLEAD...GUILTY."

Screw him.


Posted 8:58 AM by Tony

Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Last Miss Universe Post, I Promise

... more or less (prior posts here, here, here, and here).

Christopher at Californian Sojourn (not the Canadian Christopher) live-blogged the Miss Universe pageant. He was unimpressed by the winner, Jennifer Hawkins from Australia (SF Chronicle; TVNZ; Sydney Morning Herald).

Gotta disagree with that:


(via Yahoo!/AP)


(via Yahoo!/AP)

Though it's hard picking out from this field:


(via Yahoo!/Reuters)

Miss USA came in second:


(via Yahoo!/Reuters)

And a couple more contestant photos to round things off (via Miss Universe web site):


Yoon Young Choi, Miss Korea


Kathrine Soerland, Miss Norway

Well, I think I've got that out of my system for the rest of the year.


Posted 6:48 PM by Tony


Bowling Balls

Found at Express Photo News:


Yes, I am easily amused.


Posted 6:07 PM by Tony


The Kids From Brazil

As I have mentioned before, the Peterson murder trial is going on in San Mateo County, on the peninsula just south of San Francisoco. On the other side of the Bay, there's another murdier trial, which takes a turn for the bizarre (via SF Chronicle):

Glenn Taylor Helzer, the self-described prophet from Concord who masterminded five slayings in 2000, planned to go quite a bit further, turning Brazilian orphans into "private assassins" who would, as teenagers, kill 15 leaders of the Mormon Church in Utah, according to testimony.

The bizarre plan, dubbed "Brazil," was detailed in a Contra Costa County courtroom Tuesday by Helzer's former roommate and accomplice, Dawn Godman.

Godman said survivors of the Salt Lake City slaughter would blame the killings on the "government behind the government." They would then declare Helzer -- who was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints in 1998 -- the new prophet for the world's 12 million Mormons.

"He believed that by doing that, he was fulfilling a prophecy from the Book of Mormon," she said.

This is the latest turn in a trial previously involving testimony by a former Miss September, and an intended target who was saved by an accident of timing.

Is it just me, or does the Bay Area seem to get more than its fair share of crazy trials? And this isn't even counting the Knoller dog mauling thing.


Posted 6:55 AM by Tony

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Now I Feel Inspired

Bill's INDC Journal has a picture from the World War II Memorial dedication. As someone who took up swing dancing (but is not very good at it), I hope that I can show as much style as that gentleman at that age. Or, heck, that much style right now.

Check out Bill's photo essay of the dedication, as well.


Posted 5:20 PM by Tony


In Memoriam

This post probably should have been done yesterday. It appears that Donald Walters, who was caught in the same ambush with Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa, among others, was executed (via KATU TV, Portland):

After a long fight to get recognition for their son's actions in Iraq, the family of Sgt. Donald Walters has now learned some shocking news from the military - that their son was taken as a prisoner of war and later shot in the back.

Major Arnold Strong with the Oregon National Guard made the announcement this afternoon, saying a Defense Department representative visited with the Walters earlier this week to tell them the news.

Walters' wife was also notified this week.

Walters' status has now been changed from 'Killed in Action' to 'Captured,' and his death is now listed as a homicide.

According to Strong, Walters was killed by Fedayeen rebels who held him for a couple of hours before pulling him into a room separate from his fellow soldiers and shooting him twice in the back.

The Oregonian gets it.


Posted 1:35 PM by Tony


A Walk Through The Past

Different people have different reasons to blog. Myself, I post because there's stuff I feel like venting about, or stuff that amuses me. Sometimes, though, I post to keep track of important or noteworthy things that I want to remember. This interview with Marek Edelman, who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (translated by Chrenkoff, found via Instapundit falls in that latter category:

Interviewer: But there are people who say it's [Iraq] not our business.

Edelman: And whose business is it? Every war with fascism is our business. In 1939 there were also many people who said that the war in Poland was not their war, and what happened? Great nations fell because politicians listened to those who were saying that it's not worth dying for Gdansk [Danzig]. If only we'd intervened militarily after Hitler re-entered Rhineland we probably would not have had the war and the Holocaust.

Interviewer: Many people do understand that, but they don't understand why the Americans have to go to the other side of the world and fight over Iraq now.

Edelman: And why did they go to Europe then? Who defeated Hitler and saved Europe from fascism? The French? No, the Americans did. We thanked them then because they saved us. Today we criticise them because they're saving somebody else.




Posted 9:24 AM by Tony


Nice Dress

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend.

This caught my eye:


Fatos Segmen, Miss Turkey 2004
(via Yahoo!/Reuters)


And just to round things off:


Amelia Vega, Miss Universe 2003
(via Yahoo!/AFP)


And:


Gal Godot (Israel) and Shandi Finnessey (USA)
(via Yahoo!/Reuters)


Yeah, I know, it's frivolous, especially after the dedication of the National World War II Memorial and a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, but I felt like putting up something light-hearted.


Posted 8:58 AM by Tony


An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at orblog-at-yahoo.com.

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