If you are going to crack down on graft and abuse of public funds, what better way to illustrate that you are serious than by renting out an entire mansion… where deluxe suites cost US$905 per night. Via the CSM:
SHANGHAI, CHINA – With its rooftop turrets and fancy brickwork, the Moller Villa is a throwback to the Roaring ’20s, when the treaty port of Shanghai, China, was a byword for speculative excess. Built by an Englishman, the Norwegian-style hotel now rents luxury suites to foreign bankers lured by the promise of China’s new bull market.
But since August, when it abruptly closed its doors to the public for “refurbishment,” a different kind of drama has unfolded behind its high walls. Investigators from the Communist Party’s disciplinary committee have turned the hotel into their temporary headquarters as they probe a blossoming financial scandal that has already snared Shanghai’s political boss and some of his closest business allies.
Room rates are here.
We were tempted to link to Despair Inc’s Motivational Poster Generator in our daily links, but decided against it as it was not really Asian content.
We hope the below posters rectify that problem.
There is a debate on whether or not the Lonely Planet China and Taiwan editions of the popular travel guide are banned from the mainland. Bingfeng notes that he has several LP editions that were purchased in China.
AsiaPundit will note that the state-owned bookstore that is across from his office does sell the Lonely Planet Shanghai city guide, and several other editions of the guide for other Asian locations. However, there are no editions for Taiwan, China or Greater China.
Marc Van der Chij’s, in an item linked to here earlier, noted a conversation he had with a clerk at Shanghai’s best English-language bookstore.:
I could not find the China guide, so I assumed it was sold out. Then I looked for the Beijing guide, and did not find it either. The Tibet guide maybe, as as preparation for next year’s bike trip? No luck. I asked the shop assistant, and he explained to me that in China it is not allowed to sell the Lonely Planet guides for China, Beijing and Tibet.
Fons describes the ban as an “urban myth.” AsiaPundit does not believe that to be the case. Mainland authorities are very sensitive to maps that depict Taiwan as a separate state, and there is a general ban on maps that do so. This is old news.
If there is an urban myth, it is the myth that that the CPC Censorship Machine is efficient.
There are massive gaps in the Great Firewall of China through which ’sensitive’ information is available on the internet (even without the use of proxy servers). AsiaPundit has picked up locally published expat magazines that have addressed the ‘question of Tibet.’ We expect that more than 90 percent of satellite receivers are illegal. And, of course, none of those pirated DVDs that can be picked up at the neighborhood shops or street-stall vendors are state-approved (though some may be made by state-owned enterprises).
Most of this, it should be said, happens in the margins and in the black-market economy. But even in the heavily regulated world of state-run bookstores things will get through. The state-run SBT Bookstore near AsiaPundit global headquarters, and various other outlets throughout the city, are still selling copies of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans.
China does ban maps that display an independent Taiwan. And if the Lonely Planet does display such maps it would be included under such a ban. However, the CPC Censorship Machine is a rickety and incompetent beast and it misses more material than it catches.
We are incredibly thankful for this.
This was a day to truly be remembered, as I got to meet an interesting girl and very likely model for the site, if she agrees. This post will need to be full of some feedback, if you please.
If only because there aren’t any known competitors.
Photo and text from here.
AsiaPundit has been known to criticize the reform of China’s banking sector. For instance, many of the bad assets held by state banks have been shifted to state-held asset management companies (AMCs) and still remain liabilities for the central government. Still, even in our criticism, we have been guilty of paying too much attention to the major state lenders and AMCs.
Occasionally, we are reminded that problems are even worse for the rural banking sector.:
BEIJING: A village cashier in west China lost 12,500 US dollars of public money after it was eaten by goats.
The incident occurred last May, when the village cashier surnamed Zhang and his wife in Linjiawan village in West China’s Shaanxi province were stunned by the scene when they saw their ten goats chewing the money, the state media reported on Wednesday.
The couple immediately slaughtered the goats and put together the cash debris taken out from the animal’s stomach, saving 297 pieces of notes worth 12.5 US dollars each, reported the Xi’an Daily on Tuesday.
“We are considering exchanging more damaged cash for Zhang and will treat it as a special case after reporting the incident to superiors, in view of reducing farmers’ economic burden,” director of the currency issuance section of the apex bank, People’s Bank of China, Hengshan County branch, Li Shengyang said.
Question: What was a “village cashier” doing hiding money by burying it in a goat pen? Does this strike anyone else as suspicious behavior? If I was thiking about secure places to store public money I don’t think “goat pen” would be the location that leaps to mind. I might consider “banks”, or “enormous steel safe” or even “locked trunk guarded by my shotgun-toting henchman, ah qiang and a brace of rottweilers”. But probably not “goat pen”.
Per “banks” as an option, that seems particularly useful to me. If Hengshan county has a branch of the People’s Bank of China, they probably have retail baking too. Could banks in Shaanxi be so hopelessly corrupt that they can’t even be trusted with deposits? If so, China’s banking system has further to go than I thought.
While this an incident of concern, we do note with relief that the PBoC does seem to have some deposit insurance in place. This should help prevent a full-blown systemic crisis should any individual animal pen be declared insolvent.
(Above image of 2003 goat coins stolen from here.)
AsiaPundit is pleased to report that government-blocked websites such as the BBC’s news portal and HRI China can be accessed on mobile devices in China with the installation of the Opera Mini browser.
While phones with WAP capabilities have built-in browsers, these have to go through the same firewalls that plague China’s conventional internet. The Opera Mini, however, “uses a remote server to pre-process Web pages before sending them to your phone.”
From the Opera Mini Wikipedia entry:
Unlike normal web browsers, Opera Mini fetches all content through a proxy that runs the layout engine of the Opera desktop browser. The engine on the proxy server reformats webpages into a width that is suitable for small screens using Opera’s Small Screen Rendering. The content is compressed, then delivered to the phone in a markup language called OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language). When the content reaches the phone it has been reduced in size by typically 70-90%.
This was designed to improve loading speed and rendering of content for the small screen. However, the end effect is the same as what can be achieved using proxy servers or web-based services such as Anonymouse and Virtual-Browser. Unlike the Anonymouse service, which is disabled by the Great Firewall’s keyword filtering, the Opera Mini was able to load one particular banned website without any time-out errors.
Viewing web pages through a WAP connection is a slow and expensive process, so this will not bring freedom of information to the masses. The government could also mandate a block on Opera’s server should use of the service become widespread enough to be considered a problem.
Still, AsiaPundit expects that in a few short years more Chinese will be accessing the internet through mobile devices than through PCs (the organic evolution of mobile technologies is a more important revolution than the $100 PC). With that, the discovery of a small chink in the armor should be welcome.
Last week was the anniversary of the US lunar landing. While nothing in the subsequent 37 years has come close to capturing our coollective imagination as much as Neil Armstrong’s immortal words, mankind continues to look to the stars.
And space no longer just the domain of the US and Russia.
China is planning to put a red flag on the red planet.:
China will start planning Mars probes in 5 years, state media reported. “China will, on the basis of its moon probes, plan deep-space exploration, focusing on lunar and Martian exploration,” said Sun Laiyan, chief of the China National Space Administration.
A senior scientist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering said Chinese rockets are capable of sending a satellite to orbit Mars, adding that if the government made up its mind to start planning now, a Martian probe could be sent in three to five years. The Chang’e 1 probe will be launched in 2007 with plans for it to orbit the moon for a year. Plans are also for China to send a vehicle to “soft land” on the moon and explore the surface around 2012.
(image stolen from NASA.)
BEIJING, July 22 (Xinhua) — A newly-developed space cookie made of silkworm pupa powder is set to add more taste to astronauts’ diet.
Masamichi Yamashita, a researcher with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), released a recipe for the pupa cookies during the 36th scientific assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).
The recipe comprises three to six grams of silkworm pupa powder,200 grams of rice powder, 50 grams of soy powder and 300 cubic centimeters of soymilk, with soy sauce and salt.
All these ingredients will be available in space as soybeans and wheat have been grown successfully in simulated space chambers and methods of raising silkworms in space are under development, said Yamashita.
Astronauts may blend these materials with water and divide the mixture into small pieces. “They will be flavor some cookies after being fried for 15 minutes in a 600-watt inductive heating machine,” Naomi Katayama, a renowned Japanese nutritionist and member of Yamashita’s group, told Xinhua.
(Silkworm image stolen from Ron Morris.)
The first three categories are open for public voting for Q1 Asia Blog Awards.
Polling for these three categories closes on 31 July. E-mail registration is required to vote and you may only vote once per category.
First-quarter finalists in the remaining categories will be anounced in the coming days. Thanks for your patience.
AsiaPundit carefully monitors China’s state news agencies. However, the China Daily and Xinhua only contain a partial view of the thoughts of the Communist Party.
For instance, those who are reliant on the official media will not have received the notice that the Communist Youth League considers USB-powered interactive sex toys as “one sided” devices that do “not consider the welfare of the majority”
You would have to read the not-worksafe Asian-Sirens to know that.:
Where was I when they held the Sexual Culture Fair here in Guangzhou, China last year and designated this cyber-toy as an AIDS prevention product?
The rage of the show, these are sets of latex organs that can be plugged into a USB port and controlled remotely by your partner at the other end of the firewall. Interactive gaming just got interesting. It was intended for couples separated geographically by work or circumstance. Right!
The National Sex Studies Institute loved this item, but the The Communist Youth League (who also has it in for Voodoo dolls) considers the gizmo “one-sided” (I am not sure they measured the impact of that phrase,) and says it “does not consider the welfare of the majority” (Imagine that!) and that it is a “betrayal of thousands of years of traditional Chinese morality.”
The Korea Liberator (TKL) offers a sympathetic interview with Gordon G Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World and The Coming Collapse of China. Naturally, TKL focuses on events relating to the peninsula, although Chang also briefly reaffirms his belief that the Chinese Communist Party is collapsing.:
Chang: Or all of the above [laughter].
I don’t believe that the communist party will be ruling China very much longer. I think it will fall from power by the end of this decade. But my crystal ball is not clear enough to provide a specific answer as to what happens next. Over the long term, China will develop representative institutions and a free economy, but perhaps not in the time frame you mention.
I don’t think China will fragment, but I do see Taiwan becoming recognized as the independent state that it actually is today. But apart from that, China won’t fragment. There will be a great period of uncertainty and turbulence in China, but 10 years are not enough to produce a democracy and the free market.
AsiaPundit has both of Chang’s books and would recommend them. While AP does not fully subscribe to to Chang’s view that the CCP will collapse — particularly in such a short timeframe — a deep economic correction would not be a surprise. Although there is hyperbole, even six years after publication Chang’s text still well illustrates the fragility of the modern Chinese state and, moreover, offers a welcome antidote to China hype.
There is only one decent English-language bookstore in Shanghai. It’s backed by Hong Kong money. There are numerous state-owned places but these have selections that are limited to language-training materials, photography books, travel guides and a handful of paperbacks. These are usually avoided by your correspondent.
Nevertheless, a lapsed subscription to the Economist prompted AsiaPundit to seek the newest issue from his local little-red bookshop. Upon entry to the small red-brick store on Hongqiao Lu, AP was shocked by what he discovered.
As shown in the bottom-left corner, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans was on prominent display at the bookstore. By prominent, we imply that it was face up and there were multiple copies (staff are not really trained at promotion, so that’s about as prominent as you will get for a state-owned bookstore).
Why the shock? Here’s a passage from Jung Chang’s introduction to the book itself (pages xxiv-xxv):
…Wild Swans is not allowed to be published in Mainland China. The regime seems to regard the book as a threat to the Communist party’s power. Wild Swans is a personal story but it reflects the history of twentieth-century China from which the party does not come out well. To justify its rule, the party has dictated an official version of history, but Wild Swans does not toe that line. In particular, Wild Swans shows Mao to have criminally misruled the Chinese people, rather than being basically a good and great leader, as Peking decrees.
. . .
That is why publication of Wild Swans is banned in China. So is any mention of the book of me in the media. Although over the years many Chinese journalists have interviewed me or written about Wild Swans, all write-ups except a couple have bitten the dust as few editors dare to break the ban. The ban is particularly deterring because the toughly worded, top-secret injunction was co-signed by the Foreign Ministry, which, for a book, is most unusual, if not unique.
As noted, AsiaPundit would not have wandered into the Little Red Bookshop were it not for an expired Economist subscription. That’s mildly ironic, given that the two magazines subscribed to by AP both had issues banned in China simply because they contained reviews of Chang’s most-recent work.
Shao Xiaoshan, a Chinese woman who claims to have done nude scenes for Zhang Ziyi in the upcoming martial arts Hamlet adaption ‘the Banquet,’ has uncloaked herself.:
Shao Xiaoshan says that she was one of three Zhang Ziyi stand-ins and that her job was to do Zhang’s nude scenes. She’s miffed that she has received no credit in the movie and, further, that her work is going unnoticed. Speaking on her blog:
“I gave my body to the audience. I don’t care whether my name is on the credits but I just want to tell the public that I did the nude scenes.”
The Chongqing Evening News said that someone from the Huayi Brothers production company called Shao and threatened her after her statement went public and told her she had to tell people she wasn’t Zhang’s body double. But the chairman of the Huayi Brothers denies the phone call and says that Shao is promoting herself on the back of the movie and how could she know she’s not in the credits anyways since the movie hasn’t been shown to the public?
The reports do not state how well-matched the bodies of the three stand-ins are to Zhang, who has a very renowned figure on the mainland. The state-controlled Xinhua news agency has noted that the Oscar-nominated actress is well known for her flat bosom and fat bottom,
Although this item has been featured elsewhere, AsiaPundit is recommending that all readers take a look at this 1942 US Army Pocket Guide to China for its insightful lessons on “How To Spot a Jap.”:
After a review of the manual, you should have no excuse if you score poorly on AllLookSame.
With North Korea’s missile launch yesterday, debate has emerged as to whether China was either unwilling or unable to stop the launch. AsiaPundit believes there is some truth to both arguments, but the former is more probable.
Pyongyang cannot be prevented from doing anything — even something that goes against its own interest. As dependent as North Korea is on Beijing and Seoul, it is not a client state.
That said, if this Strategy Page report is to be believed, China’s influence over the rogue state is even less than AP had previously imagined.
…(Chinese) food and fuel supplies sent to North Korea have been halted, not to force North Korea to stop missile tests or participate in peace talks, but to return the Chinese trains the aid was carried in on. In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program. It’s no secret that North Korean railroad stock is falling apart, after decades of poor maintenance and not much new equipment. Stealing Chinese trains is a typical loony-tune North Korean solution to the problem.
If the North Koreans appear to make no sense, that’s because they don’t. Put simply, when their unworkable economic policies don’t work, the North Koreans just conjure up new, and equally unworkable, plans. The Chinese have tried to talk the North Koreans out of these pointless fantasies, and for their trouble they have their trains stolen. How do you negotiate under these conditions? No one knows. The South Koreans believe that if they just keep the North Korean leaders from doing anything too destructive (especially to South Korea), eventually the tragicomic house of cards up north will just collapse. Not much of a plan, but so far, no one’s come up with anything better.
(via the Marmot, who notes that he has not seen any news stories corroborating this.)
Start panicking now!
A U.S. State Department official in Washington told Reuters a long-range missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2, failed 40 seconds after it was launched.
Experts say the Taepodong-2 has a possible range of 3,500-4,300 km (2,190-2,690 miles).
Daniel Pinkston, director of the East Asia non-proliferation programme for the California-based Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the rocket’s failure would be a blow to Pyongyang.
“If there was failure that early on in the flight, there is no way they could make any claims of test-launching a satellite as they did in 1998. They will not be able to exploit the propaganda value of that after that type of failure,” he said.
The first time North Korea test-fired a long-range missile — in 1998 over Japan — it triggered a sharp increase in tension in the region and sent shockwaves through Far East Asian financial markets.
Experts say that Pyongyang is developing long-range missiles to have the capability one day to deliver a nuclear bomb, but that it is years away from acquiring such a weapons system.
Had the Taepodong-2 not exploded shortly after launch, it would have altered the balance of power in Northeast Asia and had been a major global concern. Now, it should be of the greatest concern to the rocket scientists who designed the dud.*
The failure is also a setback for the writers at the Korean Central News Agency, who issued this this amusing threat on Monday:
North Korea would respond to a pre-emptive U.S. military attack with an “annihilating strike and a nuclear war,” the state-run media said Monday, heightening anti-U.S. rhetoric amid close scrutiny of its missile program.
The title of this post was stolen from Arms Control Wonk, who offers the following multiple-choice question.:
So who looks more foolish here?
A. Kim Jong-Il for staging a July 4th fireworks display that blew up in his face;
B. William Perry and Ash Carter for hyperventilating that we had to blow up this missile on the launch pad, instead of waiting for it to blow itself up 40 seconds after launch;
C. All those reporter who repeated the Pentagon palbum about how until the launch failure “we were ready to do what was necessary to defend the country,” as if the interceptors in Alaska had any chance of intercepting anything; or
D. All of the above.
*AsiaPundit does not have any detailed knowledge of the inner workings of North Korean bureaucracy, but he expects Kim Jong-il views failure in a similar light as do other evil overlords. If not, those North Korean guys are at the very least in for a serious razzing at the next rogue state propagandist convention.
Oh no! China i.:
BEIJING - China’s Internet regulators are stepping up controls on blogs and search engines to block material it considers unlawful or immoral, the government said Friday.“As more and more illegal and unhealthy information spreads through the blog and search engine, we will take effective measures to put the BBS, blog and search engine under control,” said Cai Wu, director of the Information Office of China’s Cabinet, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.
The government will step up research on monitoring technology and issue “admittance standards” for blogs, the report said, without providing any details.
China encourages Internet use for business and education but tries to block access to obscene or subversive material. It has the world’s second-biggest population of Internet users after the United States, with 111 million people online.
China launched a campaign in February to “purify the environment” of the Internet and mobile communications, Xinhua said.
China has 37 million Web logs, or blogs, Xinhua said, citing a study by Beijing’s Tsinghua University. It said that number was expected to nearly double this year to 60 million.
This is shocking news, if only because AsiaPundit didn’t realize that the previous crackdown had abated.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichro Koizumi is about to make another controversial shrine visit. But unlike his trips to the Yasukuni Shrine, Mutantfrog notes that he will not be able to brush this off simply as a visit by a private citizen.:
The “King” never came to Japan, but Japan’s prime minister is making a pilgrimage to Graceland.
Elvis fan Billy Morokawa says Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will likely feel the power of Presley’s enduring energy when he tours the rock-and-roll legend’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, Friday with President Bush.
Did you see that? “Pilgrimage” There’s no way this visit is going to pass the church/state test, and visiting it alongside President Bush the “I was only going in my capacity as a private citizen” defense is never going to fly, particularly when considering his personal history in this cult.
Koizumi, 64, is an Elvis devotee who not only shares a January 8 birthday with his idol, but picked out his songs for a 2001 charity album, “Junichiro Koizumi Presents My Favorite Elvis Songs.” The prime minister appears on the album’s cover standing next to Elvis outside Graceland in a composite picture.
Back in 1987 when Koizumi was a mere lawmaker, he and his brother Masaya, now a senior adviser to the Tokyo fan club, helped raise funds to erect a status of Elvis in the Japanese capital to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death.
Three years ago the prime minister, an eclectic music lover whose favorites also include German composer Richard Wagner, sang his favorite Elvis hit—“I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”—with actor Tom Cruise, then in Tokyo to promote his movie “The Last Samurai.”
Unfortunately Koizumi’s album of Elvis hits is not available on Amazon — nor can AsiaPundit find any samples using Limewire. A track listing is here.
For those who wish to further develop a sense of Koizumi’s musical taste, this compilation of his favorite Ennio Morricone compositions is still available.:
Exercise while learning to protect yourself from menacing bra-headed gaijin. Video at the 88s.:
In this allegedly North Korean propaganda flash animation game, defeat the evil warmonger Bush and the Japanese aggressors by covering them with giant rubies.:
North Korean website By the Korean Nation Itself launches online game “catch those thieves”, enjoy yourself. Instruction: move the red stones onto the you-know-who.
(via Letters from China)
In order to contribute to AIDS education and improved treatment for people living with AIDs, AsiaPundit offers the following as a public service announcement. You can not get AIDS through, talking, insects, holding hands, or eating Linquan-county watermelons.:
..the watermelon farmers of Linquan county … had earlier this year registered a trademark for their watermelons and established an association to promote them. The Linquan watermelons became “the top sellers, even though their price was much higher than watermelons from other regions.”
Sales of Linquan watermelons recently plunged amid rumors they had been injected with HIV tainted blood. The local government held a news conference to try to quash the rumor. According to the article, after a “thorough investigation, no HIV carriers were found in Fanji town…, Linquan County, which is well-known for its watermelons crops.” The police are investigating the source of the rumor, which is having a devastating impact on sales:
“Li Huadong, a Linquan farmer, also the vice director of the local watermelon association, said he planted more than 6.7 hectares of watermelon this year, which topped the farmers in Linquan. Before the rumor spread, the watermelons that he harvested earlier this year sold out. However, he only sold a very small fraction of the watermelons in recent days. A large amount of watermelons were left to rot in the fields, he said.
Image of the menacing Viking watermelon stolen from a photoset of Matthew Keller’s Caribbean vacation (full size here). While watermelons are safe to eat, AsiaPundit discourages readers from having unprotected sex with Vikings.
As regular readers know, AsiaPundit was recently redesigned.
AP would recommend that others seeking design work do consider approaching our designer Phin and Apothegm Designs. However, after reading the below Reuters report we now regret that no specific instructions were given for improving this site’s Feng Shui.:
A Web site where the colors hurt your eyes, the music offends your ears or has too much information is probably too cluttered and does not give a positive flow of ch’i,” says Vikram Narayan, a Mumbai-based feng shui practitioner.
The trick, Narayan said, is to remove things in your life or on your Web site that serve no purpose, and keep those things that serve you well.
But how does this apply to your Web site?
Experts say using a combination of astrology and numerology, the ancient sciences will help you choose the right colors, font, placement of graphics and navigation bar to make the perfect Web site.
Brijesh Agarwal of Indiamart, a company offering business solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises, says he has had mixed results on the five sites that his company has designed according to vaastu principles.
“We have found that on three sites the number of hits has increased by 60 percent but the other two sites have not been affected,” said Agarwal.
Until this site’s feng shui is improved, AsiaPundit recommends that readers take their own steps to address deficiencies. For instance, if you have not already done so please reposition your monitor so that all windows open facing either east or south (the directions of warmth and good fortune).
(Article via IndianRaj)
A possible North Korean missile test has produced what is being called a diplomatic crisis.
AsiaPundit is not worrying. Like other long-time amateur observers of the Stalinist dystopia, AP has become so inured to bellicose statements and provocative actions from Pyongyang that they are likely to produce mockery or boredom.
Still, remembering words of wisdom from our parents — ‘it’s all fun and games until someone loses a large Pacific Northwest city’ – AP will refrain from making jokes about the crisis. This is a serious matter and attempts at jocularity should be avoided.
AsiaPundit is outraged by the way the US administration is handling this crisis. There has been too much waffeling. This matter could have been quickly resolved if only today’s politicians had the resolve and unity of vision that was characteristic of those of days past. If yesterday’s leaders were currently in positions of power we would certainly be seeing more decisive action.
Former US Republican House leader Newt Gingrich has called for a first strike:
The American public is being reassured that we have a ballistic-missile defense that will work. No serious person believes this. None of the tests have been robust enough or realistic enough to assure us that we could intercept the North Korean ICBM no matter where it was aimed.
In the immediate and present danger, the United States should not wait to attempt to shoot the missile down after it is launched. There is no proven reliable technology and no evidence that we could succeed. Instead, we should destroy the missile on its site before it is launched. Our ability to preempt the launch is nearly certain.
We can’t afford failure.
Imagine the North Korean dictator in a moment of insanity has placed a nuclear weapon atop of the Taepodong-2. Imagine he believes that taking out Seattle is the best way to impress us with how serious he is. Imagine that we allow this missile to be fired because we want to be in State Department language “prudent, cautious, reasonable, and multilateral.” Imagine what the “6/21 Commission to Investigate the Loss of Seattle” would report about 13 years of diplomatic failure and the failure of the United States to implement President Bush’s pledge.
America’s actions must be decisive. We are faced with a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship about which we know little. It is acting in defiance of all of its own international commitments. The time for talk is over. Either they dismantle the missile or we the United States should dismantle it.
From an American viewpoint of saving American lives and American cities certain preemption is much less risky than uncertain defense. That is a simple but painful fact. It is one Washington should act upon.
Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of “preemption,” which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.
Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive — the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea’s nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry.
Oh how we wish we were back in the wonderfully bipartisan Clinton era.
UPDATE:Kim Jong-il must be trembling in fear. Walter Mondale has called for a first strike.
As AsiaPundit has a soft spot for underdogs, he was hoping for strong 2006 World Cup showings from ‘New World’ nations Australia and the US and Asian nations Japan and South Korea. While pleased that the Socceroos have advanced, he is a touch disappointed that the US and Japan have been eliminated.
Still soccer has never been a big sport for either Japan or the US, so the losses aren’t that big a deal. It would have been an embarrassment if the teams lost at events in which their nations are known to excel.
Iran the new robot super-power challenges Japan
RoboCup 2006 Results
I4U - June 18, 2006 Japan is only 3rd with 6 wins after China who won in 9 categories. Surprisingly Iran is fourth with 5 wins. Iran the new robot super-power
A Reader’s Digest survey conducted in 35 various cities across the globe analysed and tested the politeness and helpfulness of people in each urban centre. More than 2000 separate tests of behaviour were conducted to try and find the world’s most courteous place….
Researchers awarded the cities points for various tests such as holding doors open for other people, assisting in picking up dropped documents and whether shop assistants said “Thank you” to customers after they paid…
Asian cities featured highly on the survey’s least courteous list. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul were all ranked in the bottom ten. Other unhelpful cities included Sydney, Moscow, Milan and Amsterdam.
The bottom of the list is a who’s-who of great Asian cities including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. No mainland China or Japanese cities are mentioned in the list.
AsiaPundit is actually shocked by this, in no small part because New York captured the number one position as the most courteous. The Big Apple is a favorite city, but it does not have a reputation for politeness.
AP’s immediate reaction is to disregard the survey as a vacuous marketing gimmick, but he will briefly entertain the possibility that it is an accurate measure.
This article suggests there has been a change in NY since 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani’s politeness bylaws — noting a $50 fine for putting feet on subway seats. It the latter is the case, Singapore’s government should ask why its creation of a Fine City and it’s 37-year long courtesy campaign have been such a failure.
(Image of Singapore’s Courtesy Lion, ubiquitous in the City State, stolen from the Singapore Kindness Movement website.)
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