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

Friday, July 30, 2004
Blast From The Past

I get easily amused by stuff. Here's a few:

1. Teresa Kerry, on Ted Kennedy (via ABC News):

In the Jan. 13, 1976, interview with the Boston Herald American (now the Boston Herald), Heinz Kerry said she didn't trust President Richard Nixon but added, "Ted Kennedy I don't trust either."

She went on to say that she knew "some couples who stay together only for politics. If Ted Kennedy holds on to that marriage just for the Catholic vote, as some people say he does, then I think he's a perfect bastard."

Kennedy's 22-year marriage to Joan Kennedy ended in 1981. He married Victoria Reggie in 1992.

2. Comparing there's Kerry's acceptance speech (via CNN):

Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities -- and I do -- because some issues just aren't all that simple.

To this article, commenting on two letters received on the same day by Walter Carter, in which John Kerry took contradictory positions on the first Gulf War (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):

At the time [of the Lincoln Day Dinner, March 20, 1991] the first George Bush was still flush with victory in the Persian Gulf, and dinnergoers chortled over a videotaped presentation of assorted senate Democrats backpedaling in the wake of a war they'd opposed. Ted Kennedy was shown. News clips were shown. But for Kerry, the speaker simply read the two letters, to everyone's amazement.

"It's like those before-and-after pictures they print in the papers," the speaker said. "If they didn't tell you so themselves, you'd think they were different people."

Kerry has to remember that one. The speaker was Sen. John Heinz.


3. From Kerry's speech yesterday, criticizing the intelligence and decisions on Iraq:

As president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence.

John Kerry, October 9, 2002, United States Senate, where he had the chance to ask hard questions and demand hard evidence (via Independents For Kerry:

According to the CIA's report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons. The more difficult question to answer is when Iraq could actually achieve this goal. That depends on is its ability to acquire weapons-grade fissile material. If Iraq could acquire this material from abroad, the CIA estimates that it could have a nuclear weapon within 1 year.

Absent a foreign supplier, it might be longer. There is no question that Saddam Hussein represents a threat. []


[ . . . ] Regime change has been an American policy under the Clinton administration, and it is the current policy. I support the policy. But regime change in and of itself is not sufficient justification for going to war--particularly unilaterally--unless regime change is the only way to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the United Nations resolution.

As bad as he is, Saddam Hussein, the dictator, is not the cause of war. Saddam Hussein sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a different matter. []

[ . . . ]

When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. []

Kerry voted in favor of the bill, which became Public Law 107-243 (PDF).

So where were the hard questions?

Perhaps John Edwards had the hard questions, speaking about the same bill at the Senate October 10, 2002 (via Edwards official Senate site):

We must achieve the central goal of disarming Iraq. Of course, the best outcome would be a peaceful resolution of this issue. No one here wants war. We all hope that Saddam Hussein meets his obligations to existing Security Council Resolutions and agrees to disarm, but after 11 years of watching Hussein play shell-games with his weapons programs, there is little reason to believe he has any intention to comply with an even tougher resolution. We cannot trust Saddam Hussein, and we would be irresponsible to do so.

That is why we must be prepared to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction once and for all.

Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts: that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a menace; that he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons; that he has supported terrorists; that he is a grave threat to the region, to vital allies like Israel, and to the United States; and that he is thwarting the will of the international community and undermining the United Nations' credibility.


Posted 2:06 PM by Tony


No Caption Necessary

From the Globe and Mail (and yes, my sense of humor is that low):



Posted 6:21 AM by Tony

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Quick Withdrawals

If this JoongAng article concerning the proposed reduction to the USFK organization, Korea is in for some very interesting times:

Of the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed on the peninsula, 12,500 will be pulled out by 2005, the United States has said. Up until now, no details had been made public about the make-up of the departing troops.

"The details of troop reduction presented by the United States included around 7,000 of the U.S. 2d Infantry Division, which amounts to half of the unit," a senior Roh administration official said. "The remaining 5,500 were non-combat troops from the U.S. 8th Army and air force." The plan was presented at the recent round of the Future of Alliance talks on July 22 in Washington, he said.

[emphasis added]

That's a huge reduction in a very short period of time. Look at the breakdown:

2nd Infantry Division (currently 15,000 in Korea)
- 3600 from 2nd Brigade Combat Team (deploying to Iraq)
- 3500 from 1 (6-37 or 1-38) MLRS battalion, 1 (1-15 or 2-17) 155 millimeter artillery battalion, reduction of the Apache battalion (1-2 Aviation)

8th US Army
- 2000 personnel from Yongsan Garrison
- 1000 from 19th Theater Support Command

7th US Air Force
- approx. 2500 non-combat personnel

Dang.


Posted 7:50 PM by Tony


Canadian Hordes

This was a bit of a head-scratcher from Al Sharpton's speech at the Democratic National Convention:
PR Newswire

The promise of America is one immigration policy for all who seek to enter our shores; whether they come from Mexico, Haiti, or Canada, there must be one set of rules for everybody.

Canada?

That aside, my reaction is pretty much like Conrad's.

In all fairness, though, I'm looking through the GOP Convention speaker list, and ... Rick Santorum? You have got to be kidding me. It's not David Duke, but still...


Posted 7:03 PM by Tony

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Robert Kim Roundup

I noted yesterday that Robert Kim is now free, though still under parole. See also prior posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

And, the Korean press have reverted to type, fawning all over his plea for Korea to "restore his honor." (via Korea Times; see also Chosun Ilbo; Dong-A Ilbo here and here; JoongAng Ilbo):

Robert Kim, a former U.S. naval officer [actually, he was a civilian employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence] set free after seven and a half years in prison for spying for his native country on Tuesday demanded the South Korean government acknowledge his contribution and restore his honor.

The South Korean government has never said whether they have received my help or not,’’ he told a news conference. "My reputation will be restored only if they say they received my assistance.

Actually, um, no. Robert Kim ruined his honor and his reputation all by himself, and nothing the South Korean government does is going to erase the fact that he passed over sensitive documents without authorization to an officer of a foreign country. In so doing he betrayed his oaths, freely entered, as an American citizen and as an employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence.

The article continues:

Kim will be on parole for three years following his release, during which time he will be kept under close surveillance by the U.S. authorities.

The supporters group said they will seek ways to get a permit from the U.S. government, a move they have tried previously. The group held petitions in Seoul and issued statements asking Washington to allow Kim to visit South Korea for the funerals of his parents.

The U.S. authorities, however, stuck to the policy that a prisoner is not allowed to move overseas.

To heck with that. From what I've seen of Robert Kim's supporters, they don't seem to grasp the idea that citizenship is more than a flag of convenience.

And finally:

A couple of events are being held in South Korea to celebrate Kim's release. His autobiography, titled "Coming Home," has been published and a public composition test is taking place on the Internet on the subject of "Motherland, Love and Hope."

The contest is better titled, "Minjok Above All." And that's not intended to be complimentary.

Sorry about the tone, but I'm just really disgusted at the way this guy is being elevated.


Posted 6:41 PM by Tony


Xbox Crystal

I already own an a standard black Xbox system, but this one, the Xbox Crystal (just released in Korea), looks so much cooler (via Chosun Ilbo; see also UK Xbox site):


It doesn't seem to be available in the US, though. Pity.


Posted 4:30 PM by Tony

Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Y'All Keep Her On Your Side Of The Border, Ya Hear? *

I've written about Heather Mallick before (at here, here, here, here, here, here). Her latest screed was triggered by the recent incident involving Linda Ronstadt.

Mallick takes umbrage with a letter written by Aladdin CEO Bill Timmins in response to Michael Moore's open letter (via The Globe and Mail):

So lowered are our expectations that the Rosa Luxemburg of our time is now Linda Ronstadt, 58, who was thoroughly booed at the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas for dedicating a second encore, the song Desperado, to Michael Moore, whom she called "a great patriot who's just trying to get the truth out."

The Aladdin says it won't have her back. When Michael Moore wrote to the theatre to defend freedom of speech and offered to sing America the Beautiful onstage with Ms. Ronstadt, casino president Bill Timmins responded with a misspelled, illiterate letter that twinned Jesus and George W. Bush and insulted his own famously fat customers by saying Las Vegas has thousands of all-you-can-eat buffets that Mr. Moore might like.

The stage is set. These two paragraphs are typical of Mallick - the sneering attitude towards all Americans (one of her 1999 columns was entitled "Americans: Hate 'em or hate 'em), the frothing hatred of the President. All engines are go.

Except for one thing - Timmins appears to have never written that letter.

A quick search on Google takes you to a discussion at Free Republic, with the "reply," posted by "Jayhawk5150":

July 21, 2004

Attention: Michael Moore,

In response to your letter dated July 20, 2004: You are correct that I had security remove Linda Ronstadt from Aladdin Casino and Hotel where the fun never ends and everybody wins. How very interesting to learn you are such a fan of Ms. Ronstadt.

You questioned where I live and surprisingly knew Las Vegas is in the United States. You should visit it sometime. There are thousands of wonderful 'All You Can Eat' buffets.

There are also a lot of casinos who's owners don't **** around. I am aware of the First Amendment and you have the right to talk about your hatred of America but once you are on my property and you are upsetting my guests, you will quickly learn about my rights.

I can't remember if it was Jesus or George W. Bush that said, "Freedom is a two-way street." Ms. Ronstadt learned this long before I had her thrown out of my casino. You question my actions? If you come onto my property and upset my guests, you will receive the same, if not worse, treatment than Ms. Ronstadt received. I am sure your mere presence would upset my guests.

You claim you film, "...is all about asking the questions that should have been asked before those brave soldiers were sent into harms way." I think you film does nothing but aid the enemy and hurt our troops. You have betrayed our troops, our leader and America. I have no respect for you or your vision of what America should be.

I paid Ms. Ronstadt to entertain my guests, not divide them. The half that did not leave probably thought the verse you mentioned, "Why don't you come to your senses" was addressed to you. Maybe she should have dedicated her song, 'You're No Good' to you. I would have asked her back, had she done that.

Regarding your request for me to apologize to her, have you and her on my stage singing anything about this Country and then playing your piece of **** film is ludicrous!

One of my workers is currently throwing away every complaint letter from brainless followers of you, claiming they will never visit my Casino. I could not be more pleased to know my casino and hotel will always be void of the kind of people who support you. Meanwhile, my hotel has been quickly booked solid for the rest of the year with true Americans who love this Country and support our efforts overseas.

They will see a framed copy of your letter and my response in the lobby to ensure they begin their experience with a laugh.

Sincerely,

Bill Timmins President Aladdin Casino and Hotel Las Vegas, NV

Scrolling down, to numbered reply 23, "Jayhawk5150" admits that the whole thing was a joke. So, Ms. Mallick got suckered by a letter, the origin of which would have taken less than 5 minutes to determine. Or, if I may be exused the reference to our sad pathetic popular culture, Ms, Mallick, you've been punk'd!

Ms. Mallick may want to take a good, hard look in the mirror before she opines that Americans are "the most ineducable people on Earth," that Vietnam vets (including, I should note, John Kerry) are "stupid monster[s]," or that "[s]mart people have become a cult in the U.S." Coming from a person who can't be bothered with simple fact-checking, such criticisms ring hollow indeed.
-----
* Sure, it's pandering to Mallick's prejudice that we Americans are a bunch of stupid unwashed hicks, but what the heck.


Posted 7:47 PM by Tony


No More House Arrest

FYI, Robert Kim's house arrest is up today. I'm expecting more screwy articles from the Korean press soon.


Posted 3:49 PM by Tony


Was There Any Doubt?

Just in case there was any doubt about who France prefers as president (via The State (a South Carolina paper); see also Instapundit):

The fun of breakfast at the Democratic National Convention is to see who is going to show up. Breakfast is not just breakfast, but breakfast with big shots, and each state party vies for the most fun and illustrious.

South Carolina made out well this morning.

Here’s was the line-up: the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Greenville native and former presidential candidate; U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.; former Attorney General Janet Reno; the Ambassador to the United States from France Jean-David Levitte; U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.; former S.C. governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley; Peggy Kerry, sister of John Kerry; Jim Micali, chief executive of Michelin’s North American operations; and former chairman of the Democratic National Convention and current chairman of the Richland Democratic Party Don Fowler.

[ . . . ]

Ambassador Levitte spoke of the great friendship between the U.S. and France. French soldiers were as plentiful at the Battle of Yorktown as colonial ones, he said.

And the United States saved France twice in the 20th century. There was that difference over the war in Iraq, he said. But the delegation interrupted, and made clear with their applause that, at least in their view, France got it right.

[emphasis added]

I suppose it would be crass of me to bring up the less than amicable circumstances giving rise US Navy's first victories.


Posted 1:21 PM by Tony


A Thousand Words

Jimmy Carter illustrates how his Administration approached the issues (Reuters/Yahoo):


I read the transcript of Carter's speech. I found his mention of "North Korea's nuclear menace" rather fatuous, given his own contribution to that menace, i.e., the 1994 Agreed Framework, which the North Koreans began to violate as soon as the ink was dry.


Posted 11:33 AM by Tony


Counterpoint

Michael Moore says this about his film:

In closing, let me say that the most heartening response to the film has come from our soldiers and their families. Theaters in military towns across the country reported packed houses. Our troops know the truth. They have seen it first-hand. And many of them could not believe that here was a movie that was TRULY on their side -- the side of bringing them home alive and never sending them into harms way again unless it's the absolute last resort.

Sounds like he really loves the troops, right?

Maybe:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.

And there's the movie (via Opinion Journal):

Mr. Moore tries hard to identify himself with U.S. troops and their concerns. But he spends an awful lot of effort depicting them as dupes and brutes. At one point in "Fahrenheit 9/11," someone off-camera prods a U.S. soldier into singing a favorite hip-hop song with profane lyrics. Mr. Moore then runs the soldier's voice over combat footage, to make it seem as if the soldier were insensitively singing along with the destruction.

Then, there's Spc. Roche, 16th Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Divison, who saw the movie in Iraq, along with the rest of his unit:

Specialist Janecek, who is feeling depressed because a close family member is nearing the end of her life, just saw the film today. I saw him in the DFAC. He is devastated. "I feel shitty, ashamed, like this was all a lie." Not only is he looking at going straight to a funeral when he returns home, but now whatever pride he felt for serving here has been crushed by Moore's film. Specialist Everett earlier after seeing the film: "You'll be mad at shit for ever having come here."

[ . . . ]

Lt. Bischoff is so angry he could explode. He knows Moore's work is based on lies and distortions, but as he says, "the damage is done." Clearly, this is the type of thing we expect from angry leftists like Moore. What we didn't expect was the full impact this film is now having and how it has been embraced and supported by so many Hollywood elites. Lt. Bischoff says Moore's film is a work of deception, lies and distortions that when seen by those unfamiliar w/ the issues involved, has the effect of attacking the American peoples' resolve and focus in this war.

Then, there's the family of Major Stone (via Washington Times; see also KBCI):

The family of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone was shocked to learn that video footage of the major's Arlington National Cemetery burial was included by Michael Moore in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Maj. Stone was killed in March 2003 by a grenade that officials said was thrown into his tent by Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar, who is on trial for murder.

"It's been a big shock, and we are not very happy about it, to say the least," Kandi Gallagher, Maj. Stone's aunt and family spokeswoman, tells Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson.

"We are furious that Greg was in that casket and cannot defend himself, and my sister, Greg's mother, is just beside herself," Miss Gallagher said. "She is furious. She called him a 'maggot that eats off the dead.' "


Posted 9:26 AM by Tony


Mmm, Cappucino!

First bourbon, now this (via Ananova, found via Harvey):

Barmaid says cappuccinos made her breasts grow

A young woman claims her breasts have grown by three cup sizes after she started drinking cappuccino.

Lucy Puttick drank up to a dozen of the coffees a day to take her mind off food while she was on a diet.

The 19 year-old barmaid from South London has lost half a stone [7 pounds], and says her bra size has gone from a 34A to 34D.

She used to drink strong black espresso at her pub, the Frog And Forget-Me-Not, but changed to cappuccino for the sweeter taste.

"My shape has changed completely. People are joking that I must be drinking not Nescafé but Breastcafé," Ms Puttick says.

"It's as if the weight is being drawn to my boobs. I can't explain it - the only thing I've had more of is cappuccino," she added.

Whoa.


Posted 8:49 AM by Tony

Monday, July 26, 2004
I, Robot

From today's Washington Post:


Convention Center personnel rush to replace a circuit board in Al Gore before his speech tonight.

No, it's not really the caption, but wouldn't it be hilarious if it was?


Posted 2:36 PM by Tony


Divine Intervention

I find these statements to border on the blasphemous, even as a more-or-less-casual Catholic (via ABS-CBNNEWS.COM):

Philippine negotiators said their mission was the most difficult they have ever undertaken and believed their success they owed to God, but in a breath said an array of go-betweens had been tapped to help secure the liberty of Filipino driver Angelo de la Cruz.

[ . . . ]

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, on the other hand, denied ransom was paid. “We never paid any centavo or any amount of ransom. I can swear by the Koran that it was divine intervention. . .that saved the life of Angelo.”

Well, I suppose six million dollars can buy a lot of divine intervention.


Posted 2:18 PM by Tony

Friday, July 23, 2004
Robert Kim's New Book

There's a biography of Robert Kim, who I last mentioned here, called "Come Back Home." The thing should really be entitled, "Pissing On My Passport."

The book is described thusly (via Chosun Ilbo, see also Joongang Ilbo):

The biography of Robert Kim, who was imprisoned for seven and a half years on charges of espionage, was published on Friday. He finally returned home on July 1 with an electronic monitoring device on his ankle. That is why his biography’s title is “Come Back Home.” His hidden prison life, espionage case and trial process are lively described in the book through his voice. He is currently banned from writing activities. This biography was written by a biographer, who interviewed Kim for the past two months.

The biography describes the scene in which U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence employee Kim handed over classified defense information to Colonel Baek Dong-il, a military attache at the Korean embassy in the U.S.

[ . . . ]

His house arrest will be lifted on July 27. But he will be on probation for the next three years. Robert Kim said in the preface, “Many people call me a patriot. But I don’t deserve it. I am only an ordinary person who genuinely loves his fatherland. True patriots are you who are trying to help a fellow [ethnic] countryman like me.”

No kidding, you don't deserve to be called a patriot, when you hold a position of trust, pass over classified documents to a foreign power, and attempt to export sensitive technology while claiming you are engaging in ordinary technology sales.

To quote Robert Chestnut, the prosecutor at Kim's sentencing:

He was looking to cash in on what he had learned at the Office of Naval Intelligence.

And I guess he has cashed in, albeit several years later.


Posted 8:27 AM by Tony


Picture Day

Joanna Krupa, who used to be on the Man Show:


And Conrad and Moxie search for classified documents.

Finally, Shin Mina, "Miss World Cup":


Update: One more picture:



Posted 8:17 AM by Tony

Thursday, July 22, 2004
The Korea Blog Ban

Several expat bloggers in Korea have noted that their sites have been blocked by the Ministry of Information and Communication in Korea. This article in the Korea Herald explains the reasoning (or, perhaps more precisely, lack thereof) behind the ban:

Exactly a month ago, the Ministry of Information and Communication said it was blocking from viewers some 40 Web sites that could possibly contain footage of the beheading of hostage Kim Sun-il.

[ . . . ]

By casting this wide net [of blocking domains and not just individual sites], it shut off domains that offer pages to Internet users who want to maintain an online journal, also known as "blogs." Internationally popular sites like blogspot.com, blogger.com, typepad.com and several others have millions of registered authors. The ethics committee was told by the ministry to find and block sites that contain "yeopgi," a Korean word for perverted and gruesome content. The government ordered the ban believing the footage showing Kim's murder would further anger citizens already outraged by the slaying.

[ . . . ]

The ministry admits it did not target these or any other writers on the Internet. But it declined to say whether it made a mistake in its procedure to stop the video.

"They took the easy way out." said Charlie Reeder, who writes a blog titled "Budaechigae." He explained that it is possible to block individual Web sites but would take longer to do this procedure.

[ . . . ]

Some bloggers expected better decision-making from a nation that has the highest Internet user rate in the world and proudly professes to be a leader in technology.

"By calling Korea an Internet power, the MIC is basically shooting itself in the foot with this ban. This is not going to make a good impression on the rest of the world," said Kevin Kim, who maintains a blog titled the "Big Hominid."

Many compare the measure to bans that communist China often uses to block out anti-state information.

Weeks before Kim's murder, a young American businessmen living in Iraq was also captured and beheaded. The video tape of Nicholas Berg's death was shown almost in its entirety on Korean TV networks, including MBC. Many feel that the government is being unfair by giving special treatment to a video of a Korean.

"It's different when Koreans see another Korean get killed. It's a different feeling than seeing a foreigner die," said a ministry official who did not want to be identified.

Kevin at IA gives this statement the response it deserves.


Posted 11:19 AM by Tony


The Grapes Of Irony

TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), sets minimums for intellectual property protection on members of the World Trade Organization. Specifically, Article 23(1) requires members to prevent the use of geographical indications for wines and spirits that are not from that area:

Each Member shall provide the legal means for interested parties to prevent use of a geographical indication identifying wines for wines not originating in the place indicated by the geographical indication in question or identifying spirits for spirits not originating in the place indicated by the geographical indication in question, even where the true origin of the goods is indicated or the geographical indication is used in translation or accompanied by expressions such as “kind”, “type”, “style”, “imitation” or the like.

This article was included primarily at the behest of the French (see also PDF of 2003 paper by Professor Hughes), who sought to prevent non-French wine makers from using locations (or, in this context, "appellations") such as "Burgundy," and "Bordeaux" in labelling their wines.* In response, American winemakers began labelling their wines according to the grape variety, such as "Cabernet Franc" or "Zinfandel."

Which is why I find this simply hilarious (via AFP/Yahoo):

France is to change centuries of tradition by labelling bottles of its Bordeaux and Burgundy wines according to grape variety as part of an urgent effort to claw back declining world market share from upstart vineyards in the United States, Australia and South Africa, officials said.

The decision, agreed in an emergency Paris meeting late Wednesday of wine-growers and Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard, is seen as radical in a country where up to now wine has been sold purely according to region, and is often labelled as coming from a particular village or chateau.

But it is also seen as necessary because consumers abroad are increasingly turning to so-called "New World" wines whose quality has been on the rise -- and whose selection is made much simpler by labels categorising the sort of grapes they come from: for instance "Cabernet" or "Merlot" (the types typically grown in Bordeaux), or "Pinot Noir" (the sort found in Burgundy).

The label reform "will help clarify and simplify the presentation of the French offer on international markets," Gaymard said.

In addition:

France is also considering categorising its wines as a "cultural product" in a move that would allow it to receive more state aid and possibly benefit from exceptions in international trade negotiations.

If that happens, maybe we can categorize automobiles as "cultural products"?
As an aside, consider also that in February, French winemakers sought to lift restrictions on advertising, in the face of lower sales (via International Herald Tribune):

Figures released Wednesday showed a small rise in overall exports of French wines and spirits. But the success of highly-priced vintages and champagnes masked the poor performance of mass-market "appellation" reds and whites.

Sales to the United States were badly hit by a weaker dollar and a U.S. consumer campaign to boycott French products because of France's opposition to the Iraq war. According to the French Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits, France's share of the U.S. market fell from 23 to 15 percent in 2003.

On a less of a schadenfreude note, I find this interesting as an example of the marketplace mooting, in a sense, an IP right.
-----
* As a quick note, the whole thing is tied into the concept of "terroir," that is, it's the soil and conditions of a particular place that make the wine.


Posted 9:27 AM by Tony

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Great Moments In Statesmanship

Michelle Malkin points out that the Glora Macapagal-Arroyo's government may have paid six million dollars in ransom to Angelo de la Cruz's kidnappers (Daily Tribune):

News of De la Cruz' release, the diplomat said, was personally conveyed by the Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar to President Arroyo in Malacañang also on the same day. He was reportedly accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Delia Albert.

Intelligence sources told the Tribune Sunday that a $1-million ransom was paid by the Philippine government taken from Landbank while Malaysian intermediaries, reportedly shelled out the balance of $5 million for the release of De la Cruz.

For the negotiations and the money shelled out by Malaysia, the intelligence officer, who had first leaked out the ransom agreement with the Iraqi kidnappers to the Tribune, also said the exchange deal meant an “open sky” policy for Malaysia, with more air flight frequencies as well as the speeding up of the Malaysian-Libya Palm Oil Plantation at the Liguasan Marsh, where the Buliok Complex in Mindanao is located.

Middle East Preparedness Team Vice Chairman Reynaldo Parungao also yesterday admitted having proposed that ransom be paid to the Iraqi kidnappers for the release of the Filipino truck driver “in case such need arises.”

Granted, I haven't seen this corroborated, but I find it odd that the Arroyo government reacted by citing a news blackout policy, even though the purported justification, to avoid endangering a captive de la Cruz, no longer applied. But let's assume, for the moment, that this is for real.

Let's ignore, for the moment, the long-standing alliance with the Phillipines.

Let's ignore, for the moment, the money we've sent to the Phillipines to assist them in dealing with Abu Sayyaf.

Let's ignore, for the moment, the personnel we send to assist the Phillipines in counterterrorist operations, some of whom haven't come back.

I just think it's pretty tacky to provide material assistance to people who are trying to kill Americans, while at the same time, asserting (via Manila Bulletin; Phillipine Star; se also Conrad the Gweilo):

"We will maintain our strong stand against terrorism in the face of this isolated event.
- presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye

Update: This article by Richard Halloran in the Korea Herald, on former president Corazon Aquino, seems relevant:

Corazon Aquino, the former president of the Philippines, once said: "One must be frank to be relevant."

Mrs. Aquino listened to her own advice in Hawaii the other day as she laced into the parlous state of Philippine politics, saying she had given up most of her political activities because "I realized that politics, as practiced at home, is one of the major causes of our national ills."


Posted 9:58 PM by Tony


Currently Watching

... the second season of The Man Show on DVD. Sure, it's stupid, but that's the whole point.

Well, that and the Juggy dancers, one of whom (Dani Lee) I think was Korean:


And the girls jumping on trampolines at the end of each episode never hurt.


Posted 9:15 PM by Tony

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Cheap Seats?

I wonder if it's possible to get a good deal on the Olympics this year (via the SF Chronicle):

More than half the tickets for the games remain unsold, tour operators are reporting sluggish bookings and up to 6,000 of Athens' 62,000 hotel rooms are still up for grabs despite earlier fears of a serious accommodation shortage.

Frankly, I wish them luck, but it seems a tad iffy (via BBC):

Operating costs of running the games have soared from 500m euros to 2bn - while reports claim the total cost of Olympic spending is near 10bn euros.

With the host nation responsible for infrastructure projects linked to the Games - such as the Olympic Village housing and new transport links - the Greek government's budget for the Games has ballooned from 2.5bn euros to 4.6bn euros [according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report].

And, of course, no mention of Olympic funding is complete without mentioning the Montreal Games (via same BBC article):

One country to suffer as a result of significant public spending on hosting the Olympics is Canada.

The Montreal Olympics were financed almost entirely out of the city's coffers - and as result its taxpayers are still paying a supplementary tax on tobacco that is not expected to pay off the Olympic deficit until 2005/06.

You'll recall that the Montreal Olympics were in 1976.


Posted 7:53 PM by Tony


2nd Infantry Division Update

One source I keep forgetting to look at is Stars and Stripes. There's a trio of articles that are worth looking at.

The first deals with the logistics of moving everything to Iraq:

By the time it’s over later this month, the operation will have involved some 40 separate train runs and 200 truck trips into Pusan, said Lt. Col. Brian Imiola, deputy commander of the Army’s 20th Area Support Group.

The trucks on average cover about 290 miles of road from the division’s northern areas to Pusan.

[ . . . ]

Trains are moving equipment from railheads at two division camps, Red Cloud and Edwards. Other brigade equipment, packed inside steel shipping containers, is being run by trucks to Pusan. Some is going to Pier 8 for later transport by ship. Other cargo is being held first at the Army’s Pusan Storage Facility, then put aboard ship from an adjacent commercial pier.

For the operation, the Army has brought together more than 350 troops from the 2nd ID and Army units in lower South Korea, including Camp Hialeah in Pusan, Imiola said. His unit, the 20th Area Support Group, is overseeing the operation but in close coordination with 2nd ID, he said.

The troops — including mechanics, medics, military police and others — are working in two 12-hour shifts to take delivery on the equipment, which arrives night and day, Imiola said.

The second deals with training relating to counterinsurgency warfare:

The [mockup] town, at Rodriguez Range [near the DMZ], includes small farmhouses, high-rise apartment complexes, a mosque, gas station, hospital, school, market, police station and businesses. It is home to more than 60 role players, mostly soldiers from 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, helping train their Iraq-bound comrades from 2nd Brigade.

The role players will live in the town 24 hours a day for the next two weeks. Their world bears a passing resemblance to a surreal Hollywood action movie set. Some are cast as Iraqi civilians, sporting Middle Eastern headgear and laser vests indicating they’ll “die” if accidentally “shot” by soldiers during training. Some are cast as insurgents but are dressed the same as other residents. Others wear blue shirts and carry M-16 rifles, marking them as Iraqi police. Soldiers playing hospital doctors and nurses wear white.

The last article deals with combat convoy training:

The monsoon rains pummeling 2nd ID soldiers at the range have little in common with the stifling heat they can expect in Iraq. But [Col. Gary S.] Patton [commanding 2nd Brigade Combat Team] — who recently returned from a fact-finding mission in the desert in preparation for the mission — said the terrain at Rodriguez Range used for the convoy training is similar to some of the areas in which his men will operate.

[ . . . ]

During the combat convoy live fire exercise, units are attacked with an improvised explosive device (IED) and snipers.

[ . . . ]

A motorized rifle platoon — 1st platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment — did the combat convoy training under Patton’s watchful eye.

Six Humvees carrying 43 soldiers moved slowly through the valley while their passengers, carrying loaded weapons, kept a lookout for trouble. Then the action started. A smoke canister exploded ahead of the convoy, signaling an attack by an IED. Large yellow targets appeared, representing enemy vehicles; man-sized targets popped up representing insurgents who were on foot.

When truck gunners had suppressed the enemy, the platoon dismounted and went to a rally point, where they learned that the potential trigger-man for the IED had escaped to the west. The platoon launched a hasty attack to pursue the insurgent, setting up a support-by-fire position that sent a hail of bullets into a cluster of man-sized targets down-range while an assault squad moved off to the west after the bad guy, who was holed up next to a small shed.

It's pretty interesting reading.


Posted 7:22 PM by Tony


Short, Sweet, And To The Point

Jonathan Adler at the National Review's Corner looks at the FTC complaint filed by MoveOn.org and Common Cause against Fox News (PDF at MoveOn.org; local copy).

The FTC's response, in its entirety:

I am not aware of any instance in which the Federal Trade Commission has investigated the slogan of a news organization. There is no way to evaluate this petition without evaluating the content of the news at issue. That is a task the First Amendment leaves to the American people, not a government agency.

Cute.


Posted 5:26 PM by Tony


Rebuilding

Lats year, John Koopman wrote a series of articles, detailing his experiences in the Iraq War with the Marines. I guess he's back in Iraq, as he's just written another article in the SF Chronicle on the rebuilding process. It makes for interesting reading:

This morning, Michael Cabrey, commanding officer of the Army's 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, out of Fort Riley, Kan., is going on a goodwill mission. It's an inspection tour of the various projects the alliance has funded.

As battalion commander, he's the money man. He meets with local leaders, figures out what they need and tries to get money for projects.

[ . . . ]

First stop, a school renovation.

The school serves both boys and girls, but at alternate times. The battalion has paid more than $45,000 to renovate the school. The walls and ceilings are freshly painted. The concrete floors are dirty and littered with junk. Bits of lumber, old desks. The school is supposed to be ready when school starts in September.

"We have to get three bids on each project," Cabrey says. "But it's important that the contractor be someone we know, or who the city leaders know and trust. It might be the most expensive bid if it's the right person."

I guess the Bay Area bondage beat wasn't working out.


Posted 8:26 AM by Tony

Monday, July 19, 2004
I Blame Halliburton

Linda Ronstadt is no longer allowed to play at the Aladdin in Las Vegas (via SF Chronicle; see also Las Vegas Review-Journal):

Before singing "Desperado" for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker called Michael Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is spreading the truth." She also encouraged everybody to see [Fahrenheit 9/11] the ["]documentary["] about President Bush.

Ronstadt's comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

"It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin President Bill Timmins told The Associated Press. "She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose."

Oops.


Posted 1:53 PM by Tony


Wondering How One Explains This To One's Child

I can understand the ambivalence many people have about abortion. But this NY Times piece, describing a woman who was pregnant with three, and selectively got rid of two, is just freaking ridiculous (via Allah; Michelle Malkin; Bill):

Now I'm 34. My boyfriend, Peter, and I have been together three years. I'm old enough to presume that I wasn't going to have an easy time becoming pregnant. I was tired of being on the pill, because it made me moody. Before I went off it, Peter and I talked about what would happen if I became pregnant, and we both agreed that we would have the child.

[ . . . ]

My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ''Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?'' The obstetrician wasn't an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.

Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt ill. I didn't want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, ''Shouldn't we consider having triplets?'' And I had this adverse reaction: ''This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn't be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It's not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.

[ . . . ]

When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one.

I'm just wondering what happens when the kid starts asking where he came from.


Posted 11:55 AM by Tony


Gratuitous Picture Monday

Because Jesus digs it, here's a pic of Korean singer Hyo-ri (or Hyo-lee) Lee:



Posted 10:16 AM by Tony


Timing
 
This bit in the Korea Herald caught my eye, as it relates to subsurface changes in Korean society:

Nowadays, a growing number of newlyweds in Korea prepare for divorce even as they plan marriage. They go through all the usual procedures: the meeting between both sets of parents, buying the house or apartment for the new couple, the furnishings, the wedding, everything traditionally connected with marriage here.

But, afraid of a possible break-up if, it is more than likely a couple will withhold reporting their marriage to the state immediately. So, while such a couple are effectively man and wife, they are not 'lawfully wedded' in the eyes of the state.

"My former son-in-law had been continuing to see his ex-girlfriend after marriage. I knew that my daughter had had enough," Kim said.

[ . . . ]

The Korean Statistical Information System said 167,096 couples got divorced last year, which means more than 450 divorced each day. About half the divorced couples had been married less than three years, and 13.1 percent for under a year, showing that a large proportion of marriages are not lasting.

What remains puzzling to me is the reason for the delay. It just seems to me that if one is unsure about being married, it's possible to figure that out before going through the ceremony. But, there may be aspects to this that I'm unaware of, such as property division upon divorce, which may affect the decision to register the marriage. I just find it an interesting manifestation of societal changes in Korea.


Posted 8:36 AM by Tony


Maybe The Continent Isn't Totally Screwed

Ralph Peters has an opinion piece in the NY Post on Mozambique, which is worth reading. A snippet:

When the Portuguese revolution of 1974 opened the door to independence, Mozambique was appallingly undeveloped and overwhelmingly illiterate. Then-fashionable socialist theories of regime organization and economics didn't help the new state.

But the country did have one advantage that Western observers misread: The leader of the liberation movement, Samora Machel, was more than a doctrinaire leftist.

He honestly believed in racial equality. And in social justice. He wanted to build a country, not a string of palaces.

At a time when African nationalists, from Idi Amin to Joseph Mobutu, were driving out the many hues of talent their countries desperately needed, Machel envisioned a multi-racial society that prefigured the achievement of Nelson Mandela.

[ . . . ]

Next month there'll be another presidential election. The incumbent, Joaquim Chissano, is stepping down voluntarily — another remarkable event by African standards. Whether the current ruling party, Frelimo, wins again or the opposition manages a surprise upset, a transition that isn't marred by sour-grapes violence may mark a turning point for the southern half of the continent — sending a message to the neighborhood's oppressive regimes that the people, not aging dictators, are destined to rule.

I recommend that you check out the rest of the article.


Posted 8:23 AM by Tony

Friday, July 16, 2004
What Liberal Media?

This SF Chronicle article fails to provide complete context to the recent NAACP issue:

Bush could hardly have expected to win many converts among the 8,000 African American delegates gathered in Philadelphia. He won less than 1 in 10 black votes in 2000; African Americans strongly oppose the war in Iraq; NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has characterized Bush's support as coming from the "Taliban wing" of American politics; and delegates were treated Tuesday to a free screening of "Fahrenheit 9/11,'' Michael Moore's anti-Bush polemic.

Yet four years ago, similar concerns did not stop then-candidate Bush from addressing the NAACP as he courted the political center as a "compassionate conservative.'' Strategists hoped that Bush might chip away at the Democrats' traditional advantage among African American voters while at the same time persuading moderate white voters that he was an advocate for civil liberty.

Let's examine what happend back since 2000:

July 10, 2000 - Then-candidate Bush speaks to the NAACP convention in Baltimore.

September 26, 2000 - The NAACP National Voter Fund runs a radio ad featuring James Byrd's daughter

October 25, 2000 - The NAACP National Voter Fund runs a TV ad, again featuring Byrd's daughter, in which she states: "So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate-crime legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again." Despite the linkage between Bush and the Byrd hate crime, Julian Bond claims the ad was a nonpartisan act of education, on an interview with Fox News's Hannity and Colmes.

July 8, 2001 - Julian Bond addresses the NAACP Convention in New Orleans: "He has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."
(One might state this isn't overly offensive, as it dates back to pre-9/11, but Bond used the term again last month: "They draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics.")

July 13, 2003 - Julian Bond speaks to the NAACP Convention in Miami (PDF, who drops such pearls as:
"It is of course a pleasure to be in Florida – the state whose motto is, 'It ain’t over until your brother counts the votes!'"
"They are apparently an elusive, dwarf variety because we in the NAACP have not seen these “bushes” last year or this. But we intend to uproot the bigger “bush” in 2004. And what better place to start than right here in Florida!"
"You know the Bush Administration likes to use Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as human shields against any criticism of its record on civil rights."
"The only color Connerly recognizes is the color of money."
and, my favorite:
"We are and always have been nonpartisan."

Kind of runs counter to what Mr. Mfume said July 8, 2002:

We reject the political pandering by parties. We want results. The real truth is that every Republican is not your enemy and every Democrat is not your friend. That's the real truth. And yes, 34 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, we still have a society where some in the Democratic party take our vote for granted and some in the Republican party too often refuse to campaign for it.



Posted 10:52 AM by Tony

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Guess The Activism Thing Isn't For Me
 
Well, nothing like an internet quiz (found at Parry Shen's blog):

Are You Down?
The Code for Being a Young AA/APA/APIA/AAPI Activist
By Minnie Yuen ’04, Margot Seeto ’04, and Lisa Wong Macabasco UC Berkeley ’03 (guest writer of UC Berkeley’s Hardboiled).

One point for each question answered in the affirmative.

1. You own a BlackLava t-shirt. (+1 if you have the V. Chin shirt, +2 if you wear it to Asian American events.)
- Nope. Hadn't even heard of it. Odds are I probably wouldn't buy this shirt. I'd probably get this one, though more for professional rather than personal reasons.

2. You own a spoken word CD.
- Nope.

3. You are or once were a spoken word artist. (+1 If you performed in a skinny scarf and spaghetti strap tank top.)
- Nope.

4. You hate Abercrombie & Fitch and dog on Asian Americans who wear it, even if they bought it pre-boycott.
- Nope. Then again, I don't think I'm in the target demographic.

5. You think Yuri Kochiyama is totally rad!
- Who? Oh. Don't really have an opinion, so the answer is probably no.

6. You own an autographed copy of “Better Luck Tomorrow.” (+1 If you were on the street team for BLT.) -
- Nope, though I keep meaning to see it.

7. You have a poster of one or both of the following: 1. Che 2. Malcolm.
- Heh, no. And you'd think the APA types would actually have posters of Asian heroes, like Colonel Kim, Phillip Jaisohn, or Sammy Lee. Then again, I'm pretty old-school.

8. You HELLA think that San Francisco is the center of the universe and the APA Movement.
- When I moved from Orange County, SF struck me as windy, smelly, expensive, and past its prime. Still think that way. And I don't use the word "hella." So, no.

9. You dyed your hair bright red at one point.
- Nope.

10. You protest the Euro-centric, hegemonic, patriarchal, heterocentric, capitalist petty bourgeoisie of THE MAN.
- Nope. Then again, I'm not enmired in a perpetual victim mentality.

11. You are a "brother" or "sister" of the "The People’s Movement."
- Nope. See 10, above. The only "movements" I have are gastrointestinal.

12. Instead of saying "goodbye," you say "peace".
- Nope. Does "later!" count?

13. You have a Xanga, are on Friendster, and were a part of Asian Avenue.
- Nope.

14. You write your Friendster testimonials in Spoken Word verse.
- Nope. See 13, above.

15. You AIM name includes the words "Angry" or "Asian" or “"Yellow Brown Power."
-Nope.

16. If you wear glasses, they must be the thick, plastic, black rimmed glasses to show the world how intellectual you really are.
- Nope. Oval, not too think, metal-framed. But they are black rimmed. When I lived in Korea, a buddy of mine (who was an I Corps NCO) referred to the thick glasses as BCDs, or Birth Control Devices. (see also Stars and Stripes; picture here)

17. You are an APA conference whore.
- Nope.

18. You cried the first time you heard "I Was Born with Two Tongues". (+1 If you actually cried and not just claimed you cried.)
- Nope, and I guess I never will hear them.

19. You majored in, minored in, or helped start Asian American Studies at your school.
- Nope. Science major all the way.

20. You only listen to hip hop and only really enjoy Talib Kweli or Dead Prez.
- Nope. I can't stand most hip hop. I do listen to '80s rap music (think Run-DMC), alternative, metal, big band, rockabilly and country, though.

21. You have read one, part or all of the following: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Fast Food Nation, Stupid White Men, or anything by bell hooks.
- Nope. And I think Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man.

22. You’re so underground, you’re f****** magma.
- Nope. (Heh, I might be more than that - I'm so underground, I'm in China!)

23. As you chain smoke, you intellectualize how nicotine is the tool of THE MAN.
- Don't smoke, so nope.

24. Every time you watch TV or movies, your Asian-dar kicks in. (“Look! Asian woman’s arm in the back! WHAT WHAT!”)
- Not every time. Let's call that 1/2 point.

25. You mad dog Asian women with White boyfriends (minus 1 if you've ever had a White boyfriend; minus another 1 if you actually admit you had a White boyfriend, but you swear it was when you were really young and before you became down).
- Sorta; I'm a bit conflicted. Let's call that 1/2.

26. You hate on AZN Asians as much as White people, if not more.
- I get irritated at AZNs, so I guess that's yes.

27. You hate on Asian fraternities or sororities, but used to go those parties before you were down (minus one if you ever pledged an Asian sorority, minus two if you were a Little Sis).
- Nope; Asian-only social groups irritated the hell out of me.

If you scored 21 or more:
Congratulations, Poster Child de La Revolución. You’re so down, you’re abajo. After finishing your manifesto and reaping vegetables in your biosphere, we’ll see you at ECAASU 2005, fool. Paz.

11- 20:
Poseur. What’s up, poser? Put down that copy of Audrey and read Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment already. Practice raising your fist and looking hard in the mirror when no one's looking.

0 – 10:
You’re a tool of THE MAN. Proceed immediately to San Francisco and get a picket sign already.

I got 2. You know, I can live with that.



Posted 5:40 PM by Tony


Alternative Viewpoints

So the president will not be speaking with the NAACP (via Washington Post):

Some black conservatives said they understood why Bush did not want to address a hostile crowd, but others said he missed a chance to bravely tout his campaign platform. Liberal pundits said snubbing the NAACP indicates to southern white conservatives that Bush stands with them, not with black civil rights leaders.

Bush originally said he could not address the NAACP because of a scheduling conflict, but later acknowledged that his relationship with the group is "nonexistent," saying, "Have you heard some of the names they've called me?"

The animosity started during Bush's presidential campaign four years ago, when the NAACP financed a television ad in which the daughter of a black man who was lynched in Texas said Bush's failure to strengthen the state's human rights laws "was like my father was killed all over again." Bush, Texas governor for six years, was insulted, conservatives said.

Tony Pierce thinks the President missed a good opportunity. I'm inclined to agree. After all, this is a presidential election, which includes taking the fight to the other side. John Edwards is coming down to Orange County, a traditional GOP bastion, though, admittedly, Edwards is going to be in front of a friendly audience.

On the other hand, I can understand the reluctance to go talk at an event where the chairman, Kweisi Mfume states (via Reuters:

Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, condemned the groups as a "collection of black hustlers" who have adopted a conservative agenda in return for "a few bucks a head."

"When the ultraconservative right-wing attacker has run out of attack strategy, he goes and gets someone that looks like you and me to continue the attack," Mfume said in his opening address to the NAACP's annual convention.

"They've financed a conservative coalition of make-believe black organizations, all of them hollow shells with more names on the letterhead than there are people in their membership," he said.

As a public service, I pass this along to the VRWC: Michael and Baldilocks want to know where their money is.


Posted 4:04 PM by Tony


Just Great

Via Korea Times:

American filmmaker Michael Moore’s film "Fahrenheit 9/11" that attacks the wartime policies of the Bush administration will be screened next week at the National Assembly prior to the official national opening July 23.

The progressive Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) on Wednesday announced that the party planned to screen the anti-Bush documentary film in an attempt to promote the anti-troop dispatch drive in the country, which is currently gaining momentum.

So what we have here is basically an official imprimatur on a ghoulish whack job's conspiracy theory. For Korean citizens who might not understand the offensiveness of it all, let's just say it's similar, but greater than, the reaction Koreans would have to public screenings of these videos about Korean dog cuisine at the United States Congress.* For instance, check out what happened with Apolo Ohno.
-----
* Incidentally, I really don't care about the dog-eating thing. Different culture, different notion of food animals.


Posted 11:00 AM by Tony


Miss USA and The Second Infantry

A couple of Second Infantry Division ("2ID") things caught my eye. As you know, 2ID is the only US Army division deployed in Korea, and, until recently, the forces on the peninsula have never been deployed elsewhere.

First, the preparation to move Second BCT to Iraq continues (via Korea Times):


(This photo depicts trucks and what appears to be Bradleys, at the port in Pusan.)

Second, I just want to say that Miss USA kicks ass (PR Newswire, headsup via Warrior News; previously mentioned here, here, here, and here):

[dated June 28] Service members in Korea will celebrate Independence Day with Wayne Newton and a host of celebrity entertainers continuing a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) holiday tradition. This tour marks Newton's third annual trek to Korea for the July 4 holiday and his eighth trip in the past three years. Participating in this year's June 30-July 6 tour are Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA® 2004; comedian Lewis Dix, Jr.; vocalist Jenevi Bakch; and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Admittedly, this is post facto, but it's still worth mentioning.

Dave at Warrior News links to this gallery. A few (reduced-size) pics:



Incidentally, this was a lot better than my Fourth, which involved watching fireworks at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. And by "watching," I mean observing various multi-hued glows set to music, as the fireworks detonated in a low-level fog bank.


Posted 9:29 AM by Tony

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Happy Anniversary

According to KCNA, the North Korean news agency, yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Kim Sung Il's death.

I lost a family member to the Communists, so I think I can say, with all sincerity:

I hope you're roasting in hell, you bastard.


(Incidentally, it occurs to me that the column I critiqued yesterday, which asserted that the US poses the greatest threat to reunification, was coincided with the anniversary.)


Posted 3:35 PM by Tony


Current Reading

I'm currently finishing up Thunder Run, by David Zucchino. The book describes last year's armored incursions into Baghdad by 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (which has now adopted the Unit of Action concept). It's been a pretty good read, and condenses and adds context to a lot of what we saw on TV last year.

A couple things that stood out in my mind were:

1) The deaths of the reporters at the Palestine Hotel - the book has the best description of the incident I've seen to date.

2) The presence of Syrian and Jordanian mercenaries fighting against Americans on behalf of Saddam - I don't recall this being publicized in the media.


Posted 3:05 PM by Tony


Chong Wa Dae* Hiring Requirements

... are apparently a really, really low bar

This is simply juvenile (via Chosun Ilbo; see also Dong-A Ilbo):

Controversy is growing after it was learned that a parody photo showing the face of former Grand National Party head Park Geun-hye attached to the half naked body of an actress was posted on the homepage of Cheong Wa Dae for 15 hours.

[ . . . ]

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Jong-shik said, "Someone in the office mistakenly placed a post written by an Internet user onto the opening screen... Cheong Wa Dae Chief of Staff Kim Woo-sik strongly warned the relevant secretarial offices and staff."

The problematic picture was made by an Internet user and posted onto Cheong Wa Dae's Internet bulletin board. Afterward, a staff member at Cheong Wa Dae's public information office made the photo the first post of the front page of the bulletin board on Tuesday afternoon. After several newspapers reported this on Wednesday morning, the image was erased at 7 a.m.

[ . . . ]

During parliamentary interpellations, Prime Minister Lee Hai-chan said, "This is not a matter for which the president should apologize," and Justice Minister Kang Geum-sil said, "We are prepared to aggressively investigate the matter if its possible to start an investigation... But relevant legal articles should be examined to see if this is a matter for investigation.

A couple questions:

1) How can a post be "mistakenly placed"?
2) Why should the president not be required to apologize for the mistakes of someone on his staff, even assuming this was a mistake?

I'm not particularly outraged, what with me not being a Korean citizen, but I do find the prime minister's reaction rather classless.
-----
* Chong Wa Dae is the presidential residence, similar to the White House in Washington, D.C.


Posted 10:10 AM by Tony

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Exporting Idiocy To The ROK

Sometimes, I read things which just make me want to scream. This article by one Linda Wasson in the Korea Times is certainly one of them.* The opinion contains several assertions that are misleading, and quite frankly, just plain wrong.

Let's take a look:

One does not have to take a formal poll to know that most South Koreans want to reunite with North Korea. Reunification is not only possible but entirely feasible. Much like East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, families are desperately wanting to reunite, economies could benefit greatly from cooperation and the entire Asian realm could strengthen its position in world affairs if reunification occurred.

What "entire Asian realm"? To my knowledge, there is no "Asian realm" that speaks with a unified voice. Contrary to what this paragraph may suggest, all Asians are not alike. The rest of this is so vague and full of generalities that one can argue this is both true and false.

The next paragraph states:

What then, is the obstacle to reunification? It’s not without basis that a divisive peninsula best serves the U.S.’ interest as it continues to build itself as both the dominant economic and military force in Asia.

Actually, it pretty much is without basis. See below. As far as dominant economic force, I'd say that's split with China and Japan (though this is admittedly supposition). And, on the military side, the US is pretty much the dominant military force on the planet. This paragraph is basically a rheterical question with a questionable factual basis, as explored more fully below.

Moving on:

The Bush administration has consistently discouraged diplomatic solutions to reunification while simultaneously provoking North Korea. By actively campaigning against the 1994 Agreed Framework and deterring South Korea’s engagement policy, the United States has instead chosen to plan military scenarios that once more include the use of nuclear weapons in the Asian region. These military options have been outlined in preparation for a pre-emptive attack on North Korea. John Feffer states in his book, "North Korea South Korea," the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, facilitated the goal of regime change in Pyongyang as the Bush administration moved steadily "away from traditional containment, a preference for unilateralism over multilateralism and a scorning of diplomacy in favor of preventive war."

What Agreed Framework? Oh, right, the one the North Koreans recently admitted to reneging, starting in the late 1990s.

And, as far as the unilateral (am I the only one tired over the misuse of this word?) actions go, I hardly think that six party talks between North Korea, South Korea Japan, China, Russia, and the US, as well as other activities are "unilateral." I suspect the author is simply repeating an over-used buzzword used to vilify the US, without really thinking about it.

As far the preemptive attack planning goes, I'm not sure that's symptomatic of anything other than contingency planning. See, for example, War Plan Orange, War Plan Red, or, for that matter, REFORGER and various long-standing exercises held by US Forces, Korea (such as Team Spirit.

Basically, all the author has done is to point to two discrete phenomena without connecting the two. It's much like pointing to 9/11, and also to the fact that that the sky was cloudless that day, then asserting that the terrorists controlled the weather that day. Or for that matter, as Professor Volokh points out, claiming a correlation between ice cream production and the rate of forcible rape.

And as far as South Korea's "engagement policy" goes, suffice to say that this includes activities such as willfully turning a blind eye to human rights violations in North Korea, engaging to what amounts to government-approved money laundering, and bribes to entice the North to participate in a festival, which, then-Unification Minister Jeong admitted lying about. To no discernible effect, other than short-lived reunions by small numbers of Koreans. Call me unimpressed.

Next paragraph:

The U.S. spends $3 billion year building the South Korean military. It has become one of the U.S.’s closest allies and is the only one where the U.S. maintains operational control over the military. While South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun stated opposition to even the review of a military strike against North Korea, the Bush administration continues to lobby Seoul to change its tone. To wit, in 2003 when President Roh hardened his stance against the North, U.S. forces in the South were upgraded by $11 billion dollars.

As a general note, it's quite disingenuous and misleading to throw up numbers in the same paragraph (suggesting that the two are being used for the same purposes), where those numbers are for quite different purposes.

Second, the $3 billion per year figure is just plain wrong. A search of the FAS database for money spent on foreign military assistance shows a total of $3,268,000 for the 12 year period of 1990-2001. For 1997-2001, zero dollars were spent on military assistance for the ROK. Compare that to appropriations for Egypt, Israel. Considering that this military assistance is provided to a country with a provably hostile neighbor to the north, 3 billion dollars over 12 years is not that much, comparatively speaking.

As far as the command structure goes, the author implies that the current command structure is the fault of the Bush administration. However, the structure goes back to the years of the Carter administration. Something to note is the way assignments are split between ROK and US military personnel. More to the point, note that all forces assigned to the defense of the peninsula fall under the operational control Combined Forces Command. As far as I know, the Korean forces that will (or might) get sent to Iraq are not under CFC control.

With respect to Roh "hardening" his stance, I suspect the author refers to Roh's July 29, 2003 statement opposing any security guarantees to the North. Of course, it's America's fault; I'm sure incidents such as the repositioning of artillery close to the border, the North Korean claims of plutonium reprocessing, and the DMZ weapons fire incident, all in that month, had no bearing on the situation.

Finally, the $11 billion dollar claim. The author suggests that all of the money was allocated in one lump sum, in response to Roh allegedly changing his mind.

Let's take a look at that (ArmyLink via GlobalSecurity)

Moving those forces south wasn't the only thing discussed by the two governments. The U.S. government is also planning "a substantial" investment of $11 billion over the next four years on 150 projects to upgrade the combined defenses of South Korea, the statement said.

That money will go toward upgrading the Army's Patriot missile battalion on the peninsula to the newer PAC-3 capability, fielding of unmanned aerial vehicles and the upgrading of the 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Brigade to fly the Army's most advanced Apache helicopter, the AH-64D Apache Longbow, [8th Army PAO Lt. Col. Steve] Boylan said. [emphasis added]

Let's repeat that: 11 billion dollars over the next four years.

And this comes in the context of overall Army-wide upgrades. Let's take a look at, for example, the money being spent to upgrade Patriot missile batteries to the PAC-3 standard (PDF), and to purchase modification kits to convert existing Apache helicopters to the Longbow configuration (PDF).

There's more here, but I think you get the idea.
-----
* Now, I am certainly wary of imputing regional characteristics to people from that area, but I do note that the writer is from Madison. You'll recall that Madison is the city that maintained sister city ties with Managua during the Sandinista (now FSLN) reign, Camagey, in Cuba, and Rafah.

Update: A little Google work reveals the author to be involved in IMC-Madison. IMC is short for the "Independent Media Center," or "Indymedia," which is known as for hard-core leftism.


Posted 11:28 AM by Tony


Pullout

Well, this can't be good (via SF Chronicle):

Frantically trying to obtain the release of a captive Filipino truck driver with the clock ticking down, the Philippines said Tuesday it would withdraw its tiny peacekeeping force from Iraq as soon as it can.

However, the statement, which followed all-night Cabinet consultations, was unclear as to whether Manila was advancing the pullout as demanded by the Iraqi militant kidnappers, or was sticking by its commitment to bring its 51-strong force home Aug. 20 as planned.

The confusion may have been deliberate as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo seeks to maintain her staunch support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism while avoiding a possible domestic backlash if Angelo dela Cruz, a 46-year-old father of eight, is beheaded.


Posted 8:55 AM by Tony

Monday, July 12, 2004
Paying Attention To Junior

I haven't kept up with Ron Reagan, Jr. To me, he'll always be the guy who danced around in his underwear on Saturday Night Live. I never really thought of him as being influential on the conservative scene. (see also The Corner)

Which makes his invitation to address the Democratic National Convention a bit of a "whatever" moment:

The younger son of the late President Reagan will address the Democratic National Convention in Boston about stem cell research.

David Wade, a spokesman for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, said Monday that Reagan will have a "prime time" speaking slot during the July 26-29 convention. "Ron Reagan's courageous pleas for stem cell research add a powerful voice to the millions of Americans hoping for cures for their children, for their parents and for their grandparents," Wade said.

And this bit made me laugh:

"If they had asked me to say a few words about throwing George Bush out of office, I wouldn't do it," Reagan told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "This gives me a platform to educate people about stem cell research."

Particularly in light of this (via CNN):

[Larry] KING: Can I gather from that, that you will not support this president?

REAGAN: No, I won't.

KING: Will you support his opponent?

REAGAN: I will vote for whoever the viable candidate is who can defeat George W. Bush, yes.

KING: So, you might vote for Ralph Nader?

REAGAN: If he were a viable candidate I might.

Very amusing


Posted 2:13 PM by Tony


Chicken - The Other Green Meat

Okay, now this is just weird (via Korea Herald)

In a twist on Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham," Korean researchers have hatched chickens that glow fluorescent green.

The fowl were part of a project to create a two-legged cost-effective means of producing medicine.

Researchers at Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine spearheaded the work in collaboration with Konkuk University, National Livestock Research Institute and Research Center for Transgenic Cloned Pigs and Chungbuk National University.

Green fluorescent protein was injected into eggs that hatched into chickens that had a green hue to various body parts - the first time transgenic poultry has been produced. Transgenic involves alteration of genes.

For those of you interested, the research is described in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 320:442-48.

The possibilities are endless - I wonder how that will go over in a samgyetang recipe?


Posted 12:47 PM by Tony

Friday, July 09, 2004
A Quick Open Letter

Dear Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Barbara Lee (who voted against military action in Afghanistan after 9/11), Corrine Brown, Julia Carson, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Danny Davis, Raul Grijalva, Michael Honda, Carolyn Maloney, William Lacy Clay, Edolphus Towns and Jerrold Nadler:

I read with some dismay the text of your letter asking the United Nations to send election observers to the presidential election this year. This call for observers comes, despite the existence within the United States of effective judicial resolution of disputes. This mechanism, known as "litigation," allows for the redress of grievances within the legal system. The fact of your party's failure to win the White House in 2000 does not point to a defect in the electoral process, but is perhaps probative in the defects of your party's tactics.

As a result, I find it personally embarrassing and insulting that elected representatives of my nation feel the need to seek recourse to an ineffective, corruption-riddled multinational organization, rather than trusting in legal mechanisms that have ensured orderly succession of executive power within this country for over 200 years. After all, the United States is hardly East Timor.

In other words, to paraphrase the Vice-President, kindly go fuck yourselves.

Sincerely,
A Concerned Citizen


Posted 4:23 PM by Tony


The Family That Frags Together, Stays Together

The Korea Times has an interview with Kim Beom-soo, which I thought rather interesting:

Q. What was the first game you played?

When I first started playing, they were usually PC games made in Japan or the United States. The most notable ones were ``Diablo’’ and ``Final Fantasy 7’’ played on Playstation which I mastered every level of.

I also want to add that games give families a chance to bond. While playing Diablo II with my son one day, I realized that through watching each other’s backs, we had the opportunity to relate as father and son. My son, who did not even acknowledge the fact that I was in the house when I would come home from work, immediately started to welcome me after we began playing games together. From this example, we can even start to approach games from an educational side, and parents can take advantage of the potential these games have.

Neat stuff, though I do take issue with his assertion at the end of the interview:

Korea is being recognized as a global Internet powerhouse. Most companies overseas know of it. Anything related to IT, if it is developed overseas and it does well, then it is soon sold in Korea. Unlike the U.S., which can be limited as a market, the Korean market is more advanced with the way a fad catches up within the country. A novelty is introduced and as everyone in Korea uses it, a huge business is created. This kind of Korean know-how and technology are needed overseas. When reaching out globally, we want to partner up with other countries because we need financial help. Because we can’t reach every country around the world just yet, we have to focus on Asia and we need to learn the culture of these countries in order to do well. [emphasis added]

The quote suggests that the way Korean fads develop reflects a particularly Korean expertise. I'm not sure that the Korean market is more "advanced," and I think the quote ignores the differences between the US and Korean markets.

One issue may be the nature of the markets involved. Korea is a relatively homogeneous country, concentrated in a small area. Say what you will about the difference between provinces, but there just isn't that much in the way of cultural differences between regions, at least not relative to the United States. Given the small size of the region, cultural influences will tend to travel much faster.

This is not to say that Korean companies don't have valuable expertise; I just think it's erroneous to assume to conclude relative market development where peculiarly local factors come into play.


Posted 12:53 PM by Tony

Thursday, July 08, 2004
All About The Meta-Narrative

Instapundit notes that, unlike the LA Times the Washington Post has yet to correct its June 28 story about Paul Bremer's departure. In that story, the Post asserts that Bremer left stealthily, without speaking to the Iraqi people:

When he left Iraq on Monday after surrendering authority to an interim government, it was with a somber air of exhaustion. There was no farewell address to the Iraqi people, no celebratory airport sendoff. Instead of a festive handover ceremony on Wednesday, the date set for the transfer, an improvised event occupied five minutes on a Monday morning.

Which is quite at odds with the truth, as Omar points out. Heck, according to Ali, even al-Jazeera (which has allegedly paid for attacks on Coalition troops) covered the speech.

So why is it still left up there, uncorrected?

My guess: it's all about the byline.

The article was written by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Post's man in Baghdad. He's been proffered as the press's resident man on the scene, e.g., NPR (also here and here, PBS.

Recently, however, Eric Johnson, a Marine who participated in the war, has criticized Chandrasekaran's failure to report stories that fail to fit into his preconceived "meta-narrative." (via NY Post):

Reading his dispatches from April 2003, you can already see his meta-narrative take shape: Basically, that the Americans are clumsy fools who don't know what they're doing, and Iraqis hate them. This meta-narrative informs his coverage and the coverage of the reporters he supervises, who rotate in and out of Iraq.

How do I know this? Because my fellow Marines and I witnessed it with our own eyes. Chandrasekaran showed up in the city of Kut last April, talked to a few of our officers and toured the city for a few hours. He then got back into his air-conditioned car and drove back to Baghdad to write about the local unrest.

"The Untouchable 'Mayor' of Kut," his article's headline blared the next day. It described a local, Iranian-backed troublemaker named Abbas Fadhil, who was squatting in the provincial government headquarters. He had gathered a mob of people with nothing better to do, told them to camp out in the headquarters compound, and there they sat, defying the Marines of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

[ . . . ]

Readers must have concluded that Kut was on the verge of exploding, ready to throw out the despised American infidel invaders and install their new "mayor" as their beloved leader.

What utter rubbish. In our headquarters, we had a small red splotch on a large map of Kut, representing the neighborhood that supported Abbas Fadhil. When asked about him, most citizens of Kut rolled their eyes. His followers were mainly poor, semi-literate and not particularly well-liked. They were marginal in every sense of the word, and they mattered very little in the day-to-day life of a city that was struggling to get back on its feet.

We knew the local sentiment intimately, because as civil affairs Marines, our job was to help restore the province's water, electricity, medical care and other essentials of life. Our detachment had teams constantly coming and going throughout the city, and Chandrasekeran could have easily accompanied at least one of them.

Since he didn't, he couldn't see how the Iraqis outside of the red splotch reacted to us. People of every age waved and smiled as we rumbled past (except male youths, who, like their American counterparts, were too cool for that kind of thing.) Our major security problem was keeping friendly crowds of people away from us so we could spot bad guys.

None of those encouraging things made it into the article. Nor did anything about how we had been helping to fix the city's problems as soon as we arrived. Just a quick-and-dirty sensationalistic piece about a local Islamist thug bravely going toe-to-toe with the legendary U.S. Marines. The general reaction to Chandrasekeran's article was either laughter or dumb bewilderment.

But I find the chance of any correction being made rather slim, given the Post's characterization of Chandrasekaran's work, which apparently fits into the Post's own meta-narrative:

Atlanta, Ga.: What are the implications of this early transfer of power? Tell me something I need to know...

Robert G. Kaiser: Many questions like this today. In reply I urge everyone who hasn't read the brilliant series of three articles that Rajiv Chandrasekaran published in The Post last week. I hope we can link to them here. What you need to know, in my view, is that we have failed badly in Iraq so far, and the chances of a happy, democratic outcome now are slim. Rajiv explains why.

Today's long-anticipated handover of some sovereign power cannot compensate for the many things that have gone wrong up to now.

It's a pretty sad day when al-Jazeera shows itself to be more fair and balanced (as it were) than a major newspaper in the nation's capitol.


Posted 2:49 PM by Tony


Quote Of The Day

Swiss James, on the phenomenon of couples in Korea wearing matching outfits (which I've seen countless times in Korea, and which continues to puzzle me; found via Joel):

Summer's here and love is in the air- so what better way to express your love than buying head to toe matching outfits for you and your man? There's no need to wait until you go on that longed for honeymoon to JeJu island, let every passerby within a 500 metre radius know that he's yours, and no Ewha University Starbucks-sipping, princess-syndrome bitch is going to take him away from you.

I guess a bit of explanation is in order. Ewha* is a women's college, and reputedly the top among its kind in Korea. The students there have the repuation for the prettiest, most fashionable co-eds in Korea. The closest analogy I can come up with are the elite women's colleges on the East Coast, though I'm not sure that's entirely accurate.

-----
* It's actually pronounced as "ee-hwa," rather than "ee-wah," or "ew-ha." The reason for the manifestly screwed up spelling remains a mystery to me.


Posted 9:24 AM by Tony


Why Personal Life Is Offtopic

This illustrates why I don't blog about my personal life.

The badger and Kenya cartoons here are as addictive as hell, even though it's a continuous loop (via The Corner). Damn you, Jonah Goldberg!!!


Posted 8:47 AM by Tony

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Iraq - As Easy As ABC*

The Left said: "There aren't any WMDs in Iraq!"

Back in May, a sarin shell exploded in Baghdad.

The Left said: "There aren't many WMDs in Iraq!"

Polish troops ">found 17 chemical weapons warheads in Iraq, for sales to terrorists.

The Left will probably say: "There aren't many active WMDs in Iraq!"

The US removed two tons of uranium, as well as other radioactive material, including cesium-137, cobalt-60, and strontium, from Iraq last month.

And the Left will say: "They're not in a shell, so they aren't WMDs (at least, not now)!"

Ever feel like the goalposts are being moved?
-----
* ABC = Atomic, Biological and Chemical. Later changed to NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical), later changed to WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). So, WMD refers to the nature of the components, not to the numbers that can be killed.


Posted 3:13 PM by Tony

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Dereliction of Duty

Major Harry Schmidt has just been found guilty of dereliction of duty. Along with his wingman, William Umbach, Schmidt had been involved in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan, resulting in the death of several Canadian soldiers (via Air Force Link; see also KTBS News; comprehensive information at Barksdale AFB; transcript of incident at Canadian Forces):

Gen. Bruce Carlson, 8th Air Force commander, has found Maj. Harry Schmidt guilty of dereliction of duty [reduced from the original charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault] for his role in an April 17, 2002, bombing incident which resulted in the deaths of four Canadian soldiers and the serious injury of eight others. Major Schmidt’s punishment includes a written reprimand and forfeiture of $5,672 pay.

General Carlson determined that Major Schmidt, an Illinois Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, “flagrantly disregarded a direct order from the controlling agency, exercised a total lack of basic flight discipline over (his) aircraft, and blatantly ignored the applicable rules of engagement and special instructions.” This “willful misconduct directly caused the most egregious consequences imaginable, the deaths of four coalition soldiers and injury to eight others.”

In addition to the reprimand and fine, Schmidt will no longer be allowed to fly military aircraft, though he may remain in the Illinois Air National Guard. Schmidt had originally chosen to go for a court-martial, but ultimately decided to accept nonjudicial punishment.

It seems to me that Schmidt got off relatively light, compared to going ahead with court-martial. The Manual For Courts-Martial (PDF) provides that a negligent (as opposed to willful) dereliction of duty has a maximum sentence of "[f]orfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 3 months and confinement for 3 months." Willful dereliciton results in: "[b]ad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months."

There's going to be some pissed off Canadians sounding off in tomorrow's papers, I bet.


Posted 7:27 PM by Tony


Lawyers and Money

This seems like one for the textbooks (via SF Chronicle):

A lawyer has admitted embezzling nearly $824,000 from the Beverly Hills Bar Association, court records show.

[ . . . ]

"It has been devastating because he left us with a bare cupboard and, even worse, he left us with unpaid bills," said Marc R. Staenberg, president-elect and interim executive director of the bar association.

The organization has had to borrow money to remain open and has asked its 3,500 members to contribute money. So far, 200 have donated more than $160,000, association leaders said.

Almost sounds like the title to a Warren Zevon song.


Posted 5:24 PM by Tony


Can Saddam Get A Fair Trial

Professor Dershowitz writes on that topic in Opinion Journal:

The first question that must be asked of the Baghdad tribunal is whether, in light of the manner by which it was established, it will have the independence to rule against the interests of the U.S.--and the current Iraqi government--if the law requires it to do so. To take an extreme and unlikely scenario, could this court actually acquit Saddam if there were insufficient admissible evidence of his guilt? And if it were to do so, would the U.S. authorities actually permit Saddam's release from their de facto control? Surely the answer to the second question is "no," since we have designated Saddam a prisoner of war as well as a criminal. His POW status authorizes us to continue to detain him until hostilities are over.

As to the first question, the evidence against Saddam, at least as to some of the murder counts, seems so overwhelming and incontestable that outright acquittal on all charges is highly unlikely. But some of the accusations against Saddam, and certainly against other defendants, may well not survive judicial scrutiny. If the investigative judges ultimately decide to include the invasion of Kuwait in the indictment, Saddam's lawyers will have a rhetorical field day comparing his actions to those of President Bush in invading Iraq. The investigative judges would be far better advised to limit the charges to the gassing of the Kurds and other obviously illegal actions that are unique to Saddam and his regime.

The whole thing is worth a read.

The piece is an interesting counterpoint to assertions I've heard from acquaintances that the Iraqi court is nothing more than a "victor's court," and a "puppet of the United States." I brought up Nuremburg, as does Professor Dershowitz, since I figured that the Nuremburg trials were generally acknowledged as relatively fair. All I got was a shrug in return. Go figure.


Posted 10:27 AM by Tony

Friday, July 02, 2004
Critiquing One's Own

It's hard for me, as a Catholic, to state that a Catholic priest is being a jackass. But it occurs to me that the good fathers that founded my high school would kick the living crap out of Father Greeley for writing tripe like this (via Chicago Sun-Times, found via Opinion Journal):

[President Buish] is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism. They have in common a demagogic appeal to the worst side of a country's heritage in a crisis. Bush is doubtless sincere in his vision of what is best for America. So too was Hitler. The crew around the president -- Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, the ''neo-cons'' like Paul Wolfowitz -- are not as crazy perhaps as Himmler and Goering and Goebbels. Yet like them, they are practitioners of the Big Lie -- weapons of mass destruction, Iraq democracy, only a few ''bad apples.''

Hitler's war was quantitatively different from the Iraq war, but qualitatively both were foolish, self-destructive and criminally unjust. This is a time of great peril in American history because a phony patriotism and an America-worshipping religion threaten the authentic American genius of tolerance and respect for other people.

So, Father Greeley states that the president is not Hitler, but apart from that bare assertion, the rest of his piece is devoted to stating how Bush is like Hitler. As a result, his claim that "He is not another Hitler" amounts to nothing more than "The president's name is not Hitler, but in all other ways I think he is Hitler."

It's disingenous, and fatally undercuts his moral arguments.

Greeley also engages in "blame the neo-conservatives" conspiracy theory in this column:

Indeed, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the prince of darkness of the neo-conservatives, admitted that the weapons were a bureaucratic pretext for a war that was desirable for other reasons (like ''reshaping'' the Middle East).

Satan comparison aside, let's look at his assertion of "bureaucratic pretext for war." Presumably, Father Greeley is referring to the 2003 telephone interview with Sam Tannenhaus, published in Vanity Fair. Now, the nice thing about blogs is the fact checking aspect, and here's what Wolfowitz actually said (, via Instapundit):

Q: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden's rage about that, which he's built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there's a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into --

Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but -- hold on one second --

(Pause)

Kellems: Sam there may be some value in clarity on the point that it may take years to get post-Saddam Iraq right. It can be easily misconstrued, especially when it comes to --

Wolfowitz: -- there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. Sorry, hold on again. [emphasis added]

That's hardly a "bureaucratic pretext." And he never said that the war was "desirable."

Father Greeley should be pretty ashamed of himself for writing tripe like this.


Posted 3:55 PM by Tony


Racing Girl Friday

Found at PlayM:


On that note, enjoy the weekend!


Posted 2:21 PM by Tony


The Art Of The F-Bomb

Light-hearted discourses on language never fail to amuse me. As an example, see the "nose speech" in Act I, Scene IV of Cyrano de Bergerac. So this piece by Charles Krauthammer on the proper delivery of the F-bomb had me laughing (via LGF):

Flood-the-zone coverage by investigative reporters has not, however, quite resolved the issue of which of the two preferred forms passed Cheney's lips: the priceless two-worder -- "(verb) you'' -- or the more expansive three-worder, a directive which begins with "go.''

Though I myself am partial to the longer version, I admit that each formulation has its virtues. The deuce is the preferred usage when time is short and concision is of the essence. Enjoying the benefits of economy, it is especially useful in emergencies. This is why it is a favorite of major league managers going nose-to-nose with umpires. They have only a few seconds before getting tossed out of the game, and as a result television viewers have for years delighted in the moment when the two-worder is hurled, right on camera. No need for sound. The deuce was made for lip reading.

Which makes it excellent for drive-by information conveyance. When some jerk tailgater rides my bumper in heavy traffic, honking his horn before passing me and cutting me off, I do a turn-to-the-left, eyeball-to-eyeball, through-the-driver's-window two-worder -- mouthed slowly and with exaggerated lip movements. No interlocutor has yet missed my point.

Nonetheless, while the two-worder has the directness of the dagger, the three-worder has the elegance of the wide-arced saber slice. It is more musical and, being more clearly spelled out, more comprehensible to the non-English speaker (a boon in major urban areas). It consists of a straightforward directive containing both a subject and an object -- charmingly, the same person.

According to The Washington Post, the local authority on such matters, Vice President Cheney went for a variant of the short form, employing the more formal ``yourself.'' And given the location, the floor of the Senate, it seems a reasonable choice: Time was short, and he undoubtedly reserves the right to revise and extend his remarks.

Now, I suppose that it's more than a bit absurd that Krauthammer, who specializes in politics, is commenting on linguistics. That's exactly the point. It's not unlike Noam Chomsky, who specializes in linguistics, commenting on politics.


Posted 11:12 AM by Tony


Who Cares What The World Thinks

Texas Monthly has an article about Texas stereotypes.*

What caught my eye was the cover photo, which made me laugh. It features Kinky Friedman, in drag, outfitted as a queen, right down to tiara. He's smoking a cigar, with middle finger upraised.

Heh.
-----
* Found via another blog, but I can't remember which one, sorry.


Posted 10:51 AM by Tony


Maritime Messages

Conrad notes that seven US Navy aircraft carrior groups will be exercising within striking distance of China.

The exercise, Summer Pulse '04, is designed to test the Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP) (via Navy News):

The FRP is designed to allow the Navy to provide up to seven carrier strike groups (CSG) to support any contingency worldwide in 30 days. Per the plan, two more CSGs can be ready within three months to reinforce or rotate out the forces that initially deployed. This allows for a continuous presence and the ability to swiftly respond to different crisis situations.

Simultaneously deploying this number of CSGs this summer demonstrates the Navy's capability to execute the FRP, should a surge of this magnitude be required by real world circumstances. Conducting exercises like Northern Edge and RIMPAC also allow armed forces from the United States, and throughout the Pacific, to improve interoperability, cooperation and the ability to respond to crises.

And let's not forget that there's ten submarines going with the carriers, with substantial land attack capability of their own.

These seven carriers (of 12 total) are going to be operating as a group in multiple theaters around the world. That one of the locations is just off the coast of a large, potentially belligerent country is a coincidence, I'm sure.


Posted 8:39 AM by Tony

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Undermining Korean Confidence

Those North Koreans have hit upon a diabolical scheme to drain hard currency from the South (via Chosun Ilbo):

Fake viagra made in North Korea, what has been proven by the National Institute of Scientific Investigation to have an affect in treating impotency, is illegally being circulated.

Songpa Police station in Seoul issued a warrant for 52-year-old Mr. Bu, who is charged with illegally circulating 1,300 tablets of "fake Viagra."

Of course, it's not like the ROK government isn't doing its own to facilitate currency flow to the North, but that's another issue.

This sounds familiar, somehow.


Posted 5:04 PM by Tony


Quick Question

Am I the only one that keeps getting goosebumps whenever the radio plays Whiskey Lullaby? I've heard the song several times, and I never fail to get goosebumps. Weird.


Posted 4:29 PM by Tony


Korean Film In America

There's an article by Vera Chan in SF Gate on the importation of Korean movies into America.

I hadn't realized this, but apparently, many Korean movies are remade into American versions rather than releasing subtitled films:

Not only is it beating out Hollywood at home -- a rare accomplishment for any country -- but South Korean cinema has also doubled its take at the international box office in 56 countries within the last two years.

[ . . . ]

Citing the notorious fickleness of U.S. audiences, who object to reading and viewing movies at the same time, Hollywood plans to skip the subtitles for profitable remakes.

End result: Story line and plot, please, hold the South Koreans.

"Oldboy," for example, was presold to Universal Pictures months before its Cannes honor. The picture, about a family man who sets out to learn why he had been imprisoned by gangsters for 15 years, will be reshaped into an American copycat, with director Justin Lin ("Better Luck Tomorrow") set to take the helm.

At least six other South Korean box-office successes are getting the same makeover treatment: "Il Mare" and "Marrying the Mafia" (Warner Bros.), "A Tale of Two Sisters" and "My Sassy Girl" (Dreamworks) and "My Wife Is a Gangster" and "My Teacher Mr. Kim" (Miramax/Dimension Films).

Fortunately (at least from mine, and, probably, Christopher's perspective), Taegukgi is going to be released as-is. Hopefully, the increasing success of Korean movies will put some impetus into efforts to relax the Korean quota system. It just seems a bad idea, although Korean film types may literally sing its praises.


Posted 1:23 PM by Tony


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