Monday, August 24, 2009

DPRK North Korea

At the end of last November, I traveled across the DMZ by bus into North Korea. Ours was the last public tour of Kaesong (Gaesong 개성); that evening the border closed, and hasn't since reopened to tourists.

I was interviewed by TV and print media both before & after my trip. One interview was with a student reporter, Park Boram, a pre-journalism intern for the Ministry of Unification. Here's the summary transcript:

1) What is purpose of your sightseeing to North Korea?
North Korea is a very uncommon travel destination. As a specialist in place marketing, I’m very interested in unique destinations that are fun, educational or confer conversational capital. A tour to Kaesong seemed challenging and a bit scary (not least because I went by myself on a Korean language tour, and my Korean language skills are still very limited). The trip was also an uncommon chance to learn and appreciate something special.

I visited East Germany in 1981, a day trip to East Berlin. It was highly eye-opening to be in a society so radically different than my own. I had a few memorable conversations, and spent most of the day in museums, but left recognizing that humans are much the same even though their political systems might be radically different. (Demonizing whole communities is nonsense).

I have had some experience training groups from North Korea: they came to Sweden and I taught them about market economics & Swedish ideology. My strongest impressions were not involving politics, but rather basic human interaction. For example, when out with a group at night in Stockholm, my wife & I asked an older male professor “Who does the cooking at your house?” ("And who does the shopping and cleanup?" "What favorite dishes can you cook?") These topics generated laughter and joking among the North Korean colleagues. Such discussions may be a basis for humor & gentle ribbing, but also for human communication.

2) What is the picture of there? I mean, is there same to report which is from broadcastings or books? Or is there seems to be hard to live there?

Hyundai Asan has made a truly amazing effort. The corporate effort has bridged an area where the South Korean government could do little. It is a great tribute to private initiative that such a thing has been possible. I would expect this to lead to improved rapprochement. Certainly any North Koreans seeing or working in the Kaesong Industrial Complex would be impressed with the modern infrastructure, which so strongly contrasts with nearby villages & hamlets (normal villages reminded me of visits to Nepal; tougher & more rustic than settlements south of the DMZ).

3) Where is the most impression place? Or what is special food in North Korea?

A tour is a great way to feel pushed to learn more history (I’m still learning the basics of Korean history). For example, I knew that Kaesong was a former capital (918-1392 Koryo Dynasty), but I was surprised to learn the name was formerly Songdo (sounding similar to the place name for South Korea's huge New Songdo City development near Incheon).

I had a strong sense that the government in Pyongyang is taking care of cultural treasures as the joint heritage of all Korean people. We enjoyed visiting Sonjuk Bridge, Pakyon Falls and the ancient Songkyunkwan University buildings. Considering North Korea's economic condition, seeing these treasures was a sadly ironic contrast to the poor stewardship of the Seoul government with the tragic destruction of Sungnyemun (1st national treasure of Korea; Feb. 2008 Namdaemun fire in Seoul).

My group had a delicious 13-course meal served in traditional polished brass bowls, with alcoholic drink starter (Kaesong Koryo Insam Liquor). The waitresses wore "Songdo Gisaeng" Hanbok. The kimchi used coriander, and had a special tangy taste. Also an arrowroot jelly was yummy, peppery samgyetang, unseasoned kim (nori / seaplant), sukchu namul with ginger, and yakbap (sticky "medicine rice" with ginnan, chestnut, etc.)... I guess very few others in that city ate as well as we did.

4) This question is so privacy and individual, but I expect to know your opinion. What do you think of unification between North and South Korea? And why do you think so?

Highly-partisan positions within South Korean politics (GDP / Democratic Party antagonism) have made progress difficult, as unification policies are treated as a political football. Differing parties and politicians repudiate each other at the cost of Inter-Korean reconciliation. Partisan politics have led to the Sunshine Policy being promoted or opposed in narrow partisan politics, instead of in terms of nation-building. The partition of Korea has huge costs. In my personal opinion, unification is a great, perhaps primary, national goal worthy of major, serious, sustained effort.

5) And last question, do you have some opinions to Korean government or Koreans relation to North Korea?

During the time we visitors were at ancient Songkyunkwan University for sightseeing & nearby shopping, I had the chance to watch our guides. Though they were from North and South, and were dressed very differently, I could clearly see rapport: they nudged each other and joked and laughed together. From my perspective as an outsider, seeing them speaking Korean together as colleagues clarified the tragedy of a divided land. I wish more Koreans deeply recognized this tragedy. We might imagine a time when 72 million Korean people cherish their heritage; when buses and trains carry all Koreans throughout the Korean peninsula or perhaps onward to China, Russia or Europe. That scenario promises more dynamic culture, cheaper imports and the freeing-up of huge resources and vast areas of land now dedicated to military defense. This trip to Kaesong opened my imagination. It was a peak experience!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peace Month Fast Approaching

Peace Month begins tomorrow: No food or drink, dawn to dusk, for 30 days. Suddenly every bite of anything tastes special, and I'm more aware each time I open my mouth. I expect to survive the challenge, but it won't be easy... How will I contribute to peace in the midst of it?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Politics or Not ... Scouting

Should everything be politicized? Kids birthday parties? Medical care? Is celebrating Christmas anti-Semitic?

I was a member of the Boy Scouts of America. I can heartily recommend Scouting for skills & leadership development; we had great fun & learned a lot.

More than 100 million Americans have been part of the Scouting movement; the vast majority with excellent experiences. Each & every day, Scouting skills save lives. Thanks to Scouting, many people better understand nature and the wider world.

But some people now see Scouting as the Great Satan - for sexual intolerance.

Scouting sought to be an organization for young men, but otherwise asexual. Health, hygiene & first aid are taught, but sexual matters were deliberately avoided; family & health professionals were recommended for advice. Perhaps such a solution could not continue in an all-inclusive issue-based society. Why weren't girls welcome? And what if volunteer adult leaders abused their trust as chaperones?

The National Office, Boy Scouts of America was pressured to take unambiguous positions in the national struggle for tolerance & gender equality. Bigotry was certainly involved in the decision to refuse membership to avowed homosexuals. Parent worries about pedophilia became part of the debate. The majority of Scouts are pre-teens, sexuality not yet a major part of their lives. But sexual & gender battles developed around them, fought bitterly by others through to the Supreme Court of the USA. Hurray perhaps for legalism, politics & propriety. The boys are the losers...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blind Obama

Obama needs more help. Change is far too little, much too late. Huge funds were given to robber capitalists & overseas warfare.
Let's develop a clearly better path.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fox, Murdoch & Mordor

No not Muldar... the Dark Side.

The below firms & organizations reportedly advertise heavily on Fox News. Check details. In my opinion, Fox deliberately generates hate & hogwash; Fox is not mainstream. Has "the rabid Fox" earned your support? - support these firms. If Fox disgusts you, these sponsor / funder organizations should be told, then abandoned to rot in their own mess:
AARP Insurance
Accu Chek Aviva (Roche)
ADT Security
Ally Bank (
American Express
Avodart (GlaxoSmithKline)
Best Buy
Black & Decker
Brita Filter
Campbell Soup
Conservatives for Patients Rights
Ditech (
General Motors
Golden Corral restaurants
Healthy Choice (ConAgra Foods)
HSBC Life Insurance
Kraft Foods
Lending Tree
LensCrafters, Inc.
Liberty Mutual Insurance
L.L. Bean
Men's Warehouse
Metastock (Equis / Thomson Reuters)
Nexium (AstraZeneca)
Office Depot
Pep Boys Auto
Proctor & Gamble
Prudential Insurance
Radio Shack
Red Lobster
Sargento Foods
Splenda (Johnson & Johnson)
State Farm Insurance
Super8 Motels (
Superior Gold Group
Time Warner Cable Inc.
United Healthcare Insurance
United Parcel Service of America, Inc. – UPS
United States Postal Service
Wachovia Finance
Wall Street Journal
Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.
Yahoo! Inc.

Treasonous Shocks by Fox. Bad business.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Charity to Banks

I'm still sorely bothered by the U.S. Government's bailout of ailing banks. The federal government authorities should not have interfered with the market. Better the banks crashed, and rot diminished. Now the same shitbirds who caused banking difficulties are still siphoning-off huge pay & benefits.

Many bankers may have lost their jobs. Some would perhaps need to seek the charity of their communities, but most bankers have accumulated substantial personal reserves of wealth.

It is the average taxpayer who was played for a sucker. And the game continues.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Talents and accomplishment may reside anywhere; multi-talented people employed in one field have hobbies, passions and a sense of curiosity that can develop into substantial accomplishment. But such talents are often veiled & out of sight. One pathway for discovery is "crowdsourcing" (an open call for problem solving), but other systems for detection, utilization & reward should be devised. Let's utilize these resources!

Because academic publishing is a long and often tedious procedure, it does not accurately reflect the sum of progress in a research field. Researchers often follow lines of inquiry which never result in publications. This may be simply due to findings being judged uninteresting to the community or to the individual researcher. Perhaps the researcher, adequately understanding a phenomenon, wishes to direct his or her attention elsewhere. Little or no overt achievement may accrue. How might such work / interests be charted?

It is common to think of specialists or experts as being highly-capable in one or perhaps two fields. But while vocational expertise uses focused marketing in support of a concentration, actual expertise may span a range of fields, and perhaps dozens of subfields. Acknowledgment of wide-ranging talents might damage specialist reputation where the public perceives a lack of concentration, or where multiple achievements engender envy or uncomfortable self-reflection in surrounding individuals.

Universities are often considered validators of achievement, but it's tough to gain university credit for non-formal education. Most universities require that a person register as a student, pay large sums of money, and sit in a classroom for dozens or hundreds of hours; non-traditional education undercuts their trade. So-called "higher education" often wastes great amounts of critical time and resources. But after investing heavily in the university system, many graduates are unwilling to offer public criticism. (I've four university degrees, from good institutions in four different nations. In each case I learned a lot. But each program also had substantial weak points, and a lot of time was wasted. Maybe the greatest weakness was pedagogical: most professors are untrained in educational method, and students suffer tremendously).

I hope the Localversity system can help reveal and validate accomplishment among the general public, and put wider energies to good use. Write to me with ideas. Or donate funding toward Localversity's alternative approaches to a better world.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blair rhymes with...

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is being discussed as a possible candidate for the first EU Council President. Assuming the Lisbon Treaty finally is properly ratified, it's unlikely he'll find much support - except perhaps among Brits who (to be rid of him) would like him sent-off to the continent.

Blair rhymes with guerre... We should never forget his slavish support for Bush-Cheney military adventurism & circumvention of international law. Better Tony Blair spend his days tramping around the British countryside, or trainspotting, or collecting classic back-issues of The Beano, rather than forcing himself on the rest of us. Thank you, but Tony Blair has done enough...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Black & White

U.S. President Barack Obama is a role model in many ways. It is great that many people are encouraged by his intelligence, his assorted skills, and his successes. Yet let's clarify that Obama is a multiracial person, as much Caucasian as Black. This interracial element highlights a key dynamic of sociology in America.

Via anti-miscegenation laws, many U.S. states outlawed marriage between people of different races, such as Obama's parents. When his parents married in 1961 in Hawaii, 22 of the 50 states outlawed such a marriage: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming. (Another 8 states repealed such laws between 1948-61, while a further 11 repealed their anti-miscegenation laws in the 19th century).

The U.S. Supreme Court declared all such prohibitions illegal in 1967. But more than 40 years later, which states are relatively intolerant? In the 2008 election among the 22 "anti-miscegenation states" mentioned above, multiracial Barack Obama won just 35% of the electoral vote (80 of 231), but 93% of electoral votes elsewhere. Mixed race families elicit a different "racist attitude" than other families. Barack is a living symbol of hope.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Won Flu, Too Cuckoo

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently signaled a global pandemic level 6 for novel influenza A (H1N1), a viral illness spread mainly by person-to-person contact. Health authorities around the world are seriously concerned about its potential deadly impact. The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed approx. 21 million people worldwide; we've much more mobility now - the virus might spread very quickly.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is liaising with state & local health officials to improve public safety & security. Because flu is transmitted through contact with infected people or their surroundings (animals can also harbor the virus), public education about hygiene can be critical. At this moment there is no available vaccine that offers immunity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in promoting public education efforts, is sponsoring a contest (deadline 17 august 2009). U.S. residents age 14 or over who create an effective 15, 30 or 60 second video Public Service Announcement can win US$2500!

Seems a great idea. Ten finalists will be selected by celebrity judges, one prize will be given, voted "by the YouTube community."

But wait.     This contest sucks in too many ways:
-- $2500 ain't much incentive for critical activity; when people start dying, the U.S. government will seem stupid cheapskates. In June the US Congress appropriated a special budget to combat this H1N1 flu: $7.7 billion ($7,700,000,000). So this contest is not a three-millionth of the special budget. Though public education & prevention is most cost-effective, most money seems to be aimed elsewhere - perhaps fancy P4 experimentation facilities or outbreak-response helicopters...
-- No message format is good for everybody; if ten or a hundred videos will save lives, sponsor many videos.
-- Money attracts people; a million dollar prize or $100,000 gets people excited and it's newsworthy, which spreads the message.
-- Open the contest more widely; why stupidly limit entries to residents of the USA & Puerto Rico?
-- It is unlikely a proper voting system by the YouTube community can be devised
-- On a scale of 1 to 10, this contest announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (see video on link above) has an impact factor below 3; dreadful! Do these bureaucrats really care to keep us alive?

Ultimately: wash your hands regularly & carefully. Don't touch your mouth or nose. Assume public facilities are germ-infested. And Enjoy Life while you can!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Haiku by Genki

Goal oriented?
Accomplishment is great, but...
Also cherish path!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Checks & Balances

When I was a schoolboy, we learned about three branches of American government, auditing & balancing each other: Executive, Legislative, Judiciary.

As I grew up, it became clear that the Legislature (U.S. Congress) is often blatantly undermined by the Executive branch, and that another key power, the Monetary branch (Federal Reserve) can do most anything.

We were not too young, not too foolish, to understand reality. What we were taught did not exist. We've been deceived.


The US economic stimulus package has been a failure. Both Bush & Obama's governments sought to prop-up a fundamentally rotted system. The "greed is good" philosophy is not good. Social Darwinism cannot create a comfortable system except for a small wealthy minority shielded from everyone else by security services.

That same banker & industrialist minority got taxpayer subsidy monies in the huge government stimulus package, though hundreds of millions of Americans (and 'guest' residents) cry "stimulate me!"

The USA must develop a new vision where people feel comfortable to invest in society. Too many Americans now feel estranged. Our communities are in tatters -- too many withdrawals, not enough deposits. Investments in community are a common wealth that's been violated by crooked politicians & business buddies, further drained by illegal immigrants. Society & community can be, and should be, more than an amalgam of accidentally overlapping greed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Madoff Smug

Bernie Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison. Much (some) stolen wealth has been recovered from his family. But Bernie took far more. He & his family enjoyed pillage and living large; now the wife reportedly is left with just $2.5 million cash... so unfair! In this darkest of cases, crooked financiers and their supporters are given leniency; typical folk get shafted. Many of Bernie's victims have been ruined. Bernie's family thrives as American gentry...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chiasso Bearer Bond Payoff?

Is speculation true of active news suppression over the Chiasso bearer bond case? I'd like to taste good fortune! This post evaporates for one 500 million-dollar bond... (No "termination with extreme prejudice" please...)

On 3 June 2009 two Japanese men at Chiasso train station on the Italian border to Switzerland were detained by Italian financial police (Sezione Operativa Territoriale di Chiasso, in collaboration with Guardia di Finanza del Gruppo di Ponte Chiasso). Undeclared bearer bonds valued at US$139.5 billion were found in a false sided case.

The first report was official (in Italian), at:

One blogger began providing followup:

Japan's Kyodo & the wikinews soon chimed in:

Bloomberg eventually picked-up the story: stirred the pot with innuendo:

What's happening? One reasoned analysis says it's foolhardy to imagine anyone would cash a US$500 million bond without sure authentication (they hold $10 checks until they're clear... they'll hold a half billion dollars till they're damn certain it's real). So what's going on? Who are the men? Why were their names not released? Where are they now? Can I feed at the honeypot?

Disease of the Dollar

Big capital has pushed and prodded the USA into a corner. The American people have been largely abandoned by our government (notwithstanding "of, for, and by The People..."). Huge resources drain to mismanaged banks & failed industries, supporting stupidity, as talent & promising resources waste away in a "credit crunch."

The US Congress decided this week to fund continuing overseas combat. The Yankee-led "Coalition of the Willing" & Operation Iraqi Freedom have dwindled. The US armaments industries & military bureaucracies scream that freedom has a price, and "support our troops" -- but their true concerns are money, jobs & power. Surviving millions of Iraqi & Afghan refugees suffer daily from the fallout of America's blood & guts adventurism.

In other news this week, the governments of Brazil, Russia, India & China (BRIC), and next the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, met in Yekaterinberg to discuss a new multilateralism. The US government sought to be included, but was rejected. Yekaterinberg (Ekaterinburg/Sverdlovsk) is iconic as the execution spot of the last Russian Tsar (Nicholas II) & his family; it's also the site of a highly-fatal Soviet bioweapon accident. Now there's a new breakout: the consensus that US unilateralism can't continue. The dollar has become diseased.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Washington Wars

The Obama administration today rudely twisted arms to pass a huge war funding bill. The Democratic leadership has forgotten promises to end overseas adventurism. With a new crowd now firmly in power, they dish up continuing military-industrial wastefulness, and promote the worst of the Bush/Cheney/Whitewater legacy.

These billions, the people's money, spent on America's warfare industries. Such riches could grow many better things. Instead, war machines & needless heroics stomp the world, made in the U.S.A.

America can't promote positive change through waging foreign wars. Bombing & maiming creates more enemies than friends. US money & energy should be spent at home, caring for our own people. Elected politicians who've abandoned their constituencies and damaged the nation will be voted out. Now they are parasites bathing in blood... We expected better!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Japan is a great place! It's world-leading in some ways. Could it be better?... certainly!

I've lived in Japan for 13+ years, and now visit regularly. There's much I like. (Perhaps I'll add more kudos later, but -- quickly -- some areas I admire are the hot springs, the people, culture, food, holidays, predictability, reliability, etc.).

This post, however, will list major weaknesses. Over time I'll add & revise the items. These are personal observations; suggestions welcome!

Prepare plenty of yen (cash) for Japan. Only a small percentage of ATM machines handle cashcards / creditcards issued outside Japan (this means 1% or less!) In early 2009 I was in Beppu, Oita Prefecture. There was no place in that city to withdraw cash using a foreign Visa or Master card... I asked at two Tourist Offices, the major local bank, at a high-end hotel, and at a foreign tourist assistance desk. It was recommended to go to the neighboring city of Oita. Terrible for a city that attracts international tourists and has an globally-oriented university.

Most hotels & many restaurants accept credit cards (foreign or domestic) but a great many places in Japan require cash. Foreign exchange at banks in many cities is a tedious & costly procedure. In this earlier cited trip, I visited Oita Bank and exchanged Korean won at 15% over the interbank rate, and Australian dollars at 21% above that day's interbank rate; it took about 25 minutes for the paperwork. (I'm interested in this as a structural weakness. I wasn't out of cash, and had more than 50,000 yen and also plenty of U.S. dollars). The lesson is that well-off foreign visitors to Japan can expect to be seriously inconvenienced. They'll also feel Japan as rigidly domestic and financially archaic. It's sad that Japanese financial institutions haven't fixed this...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Zagat Sucks

I formerly subscribed to Zagat Survey, an excellent review of restaurants, hotels, nightspots, etc., around the world. I also submitted many reviews, which were published online & in Zagat printed guides.

But now I don't subscribe; rather, I believe Zagat sucks.

What soured me? They've a scummy system that automatically renews subscriptions. They don't allow immediate opt-out. The system is skewed to their convenience: the user is automatically billed again next year, and again forever. They claim a call or letter later can end a subscription. But I don't wish to "subscribe for life until further notice" -- I'd be OK for a year, but this is bad practice. Zagat sucks.


Haiku by Genki

Distraction left me
knowing "Something Was Just Lost"
Then refreshing smell


Our world ain't fair, but
Children's chalk marks, blood, and grime
All purged by Spring rain


One quiet breath, then
Another. Without chatter.
Rustles mix with wind.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dangerous Korea?

Having spent some years in South Korea, with three trips to the DMZ and once across, I'm often asked by friends in Europe & the USA -- how dangerous is South Korea?

It's a tough question to answer. South Koreans don't feel much danger, but proximity to North Korea is certainly a problem. It's only 35 miles (55 kms) from the DPRK border to Seoul, 120 miles (190 kms) between Seoul & Pyongyang. It's costly to be bottled-up on the Korean peninsula by an unpredictable neighbor.

In terms of marketing, people around the world are both confused & frightened by the jointly-used name "Korea"...

There are smaller problems in living anywhere; sometimes irritation seems to accumulate. In Korea I've been bothered that incoming international mail is a few days slower to arrive than to Japan or Europe or the USA. It was also an irritant that an international service I use regularly will not ship to Korea (VistaPrint; they ship to 120 other countries...). An associated problem is finding Korea in international postage lists: is it under "K" for Korea, "S" for South Korea, "R" for Republic of Korea, or is it not listed...?

Some weaknesses leave locals unfazed, but I've been surprised: the university regularly issued us medicine to kill intestinal parasites. And don't drink the tap water!

But most people in South Korea prefer not to think about these wider problems, and don't spend time worrying about them. People busily focus on the everyday business of life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Obscured Imprisonment

(poetry by Genki)

I expend
My lonely energies
Building barriers
Against Others

Wrong race
Bad nation
Can't be trusted

What threat
Built my prison?
Unforgiving jailer
In every mirror

But sometime
solitude breaks
I'm outside, in

Fresh air
A few breaths
Banter with others

No whistle of "time's up"
I trudge back
To my cell
and lock my own door

I may wake one day
In a better world
I hope. I pray.
Simple things may set me free.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Poking at Pyongyang

Media reports about Lee Seung-Eun (리승은 Euna Lee) & Laura Ling have been unfairly inflammatory. These two 'journalists' were arrested while unreasonably probing the Chinese / DPRK (North Korea) border on 17 March 2009.

To illegally cross the border, or even to be close enough that North Korean guards could grab them, was dumb. They were in a controlled area, and are now convicted provocateurs. Certainly we want them back as soon as possible; they and their families must be suffering terribly.

Who are these women? They were clearly in a dangerous place, with producer-cameraman Mitchell 'Mitch' Koss and a North Korean-born naturalized Chinese guide (who both evaded North Korean capture, but were subsequently detained by the Chinese; Koss was quickly released and returned to the USA a few days after the incident). Koss before has traveled the full length of this North Korean border (see his LA Times report from 2003). For what reasons were inexperienced women sent into danger? (Some facts emerge in a 30 March 2009 article by Barbara Demick). Why no clear statements from Koss - the direct witness who abandoned them? Most press coverage shows bias, and facts have been woefully inadequate.

Within hours of this incident, a Japanese man with wire cutters was arrested by the South Korean military attempting to break through the North Korean border. (A video report in Japanese is here). Strange goings-on for a highly-dangerous area!

The best strategy available for these women is to beg for mercy & clemency.

Update: It is unhelpful that in 2006 the older sister of imprisoned Laura Ling, Lisa Ling, infiltrated North Korea with hidden cameras posing as part of a medical relief team; the resulting National Geographic production "Undercover in North Korea" was highly critical of the DPRK.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Foreign Devils Left My House

I've lived in assorted countries as a student & teacher; over 28 years as a foreigner! (About 14 years in Japan & Korea as a racial minority). This could be characterized as miserable or wonderful - mostly it's been good. There are many thousands of people such as myself: highly skilled global migrants who regularly learn to enjoy new tastes & experiences. Our numbers are increasing.

Mixed-race people are also increasing in number (I've Hawaiian, Chinese & European roots). In comparison with citizenship, racial ancestry is less likely to be public knowledge and is often misreported: U.S. President Barack Obama is regularly termed "Black" when he's as much Caucasian as otherwise. Racial groupings and definitions are imprecise and often used as a mechanism for exclusion...

I've lived in Sweden since 1995, and was a foreigner until a couple of months ago, when I joined my American-born wife as a naturalized Swede with multiple citizenship. Now I feel more interest as a local stakeholder, and more empowered. It's nice.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Tasting Torture: Gandhi at Gitmo

Torture continues at Gitmo. Kidnapped people held by the USA at Guantanamo Bay are still held in bad conditions. These so-called "detainees" are held indefinitely without charge. Some are tortured. Food is actually forced down their throats.

Active torture exists: where a detainee refuses to eat on command, they are bound & force fed. They're hogtied, a tube is painfully thrust up their nose & down their throat, a 'meal' is forced into them "for their own best interests."

This type of torture has been specifically forbidden by the World Medical Association (1975 Declaration of Tokyo; 1991 Declaration of Malta). The medical profession (the American Medical Association is a signatory) is specific (Malta, Art. 21): "Forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment."

Doctors from around the world have condemned US mistreatment through force-feeding; 263 doctors signed a 2006 letter to The Lancet urging the USA to abandon these procedures.

Visualize skinny Gandhi, bound in a Gitmo five-point restraint chair, half clad in USA Gitmo orange, his hunger strike and human dignity forced to nothing by torturous tube-feeding. Force-feeding must stop now!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Slaves: Pay for Your Chains

Bailing-out banks in the USA with public funds is a clear case of the average schmuck having to pay for his (her) own chains. What a racket! Some people foolishly expect politicians to speak up, but top politicians are rewarded by high finance - it ain't gonna happen. The public must protect itself.

The citizenry wonders why they fund the banks, who then charge them usurious fees. Paying twice? No - more than that: pay also for police who protect the wealthy. Pay further for politicians who make financier scams legal...

Those paying the costs are the American working people, chained to the job, working 50 weeks a year & liking it (or they're thrown out of work).

There's a word for this: it starts with nothing, and ends with "sucker"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pentagon Disinfo Exposed = Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting announced this week went to David Barstow of The New York Times for articles revealing Pentagon orchestration of retired military officers as media analysts, and how many top-level pundits (and the large media networks primping them as "independent authoritative voices") neglected to disclose personal financial interests in firms profiting from policies promoted on-air.

Barstow illuminated the US Military-Industrial-Media complex. The covert Pentagon program focused on 'message multipliers' -- surrogates who'd deliver administration themes & messages to millions of Americans 'in the form of their own opinions.' These Government efforts were reportedly illegal propaganda (the Defense Dept's Inspector General has now claimed no illegality; a GAO investigation is continuing). The program ushered the nation into war; within a few days of being disclosed in The New York Times, it was discontinued.

The sub-theme since Barstow's revelations has been a stubborn refusal of most big TV networks to acknowledge the story, or to apologize for misleading viewers. Glen Greenwald has written extensively about big media's silence and conflict-of-interest. Awarding David Barstow's work a Pulitzer Prize makes a stronger and more enduring public record of a citizenry systematically deceived.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheney's Torturous Logic

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney is today claiming that his government's tortures led to "success" -- he demands "what we gained" be made clear.

Cheney is a dangerous man; I believe he's a criminal. He swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, but he flaunted the law.

Torture 500 people to the point they believe they're dying - you may learn a few things. All were tortured illegally -- Cheney completely discounts the 450+ innocent people tortured wrongly / erroneously.

Further, international safeguards & the ICRC (Intl. Committee of the Red Cross) exist to help humankind, Americans as well as foreigners. Cheney's argument puts the lives and well-being of detained U.S. citizens in grave jeopardy.

Cheney was partly responsible for the intelligence & security failures under his government's direction that led to the 9/11 massacres. Thousands were killed during his watch (while he looked for ways to fleece us with his energy policy). Now he snipes from the sidelines.

Cheney should be in prison.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Innocent Don't Matter

The Bush government's effort to prosecute foreign detainees with secret military tribunals makes little sense in terms of vital operational details being communicated. These people had been jailed for years already, and "harsh interrogation" (torture) had supposedly extracted the useful information they might have had.

The secrecy was rather to protect the government from criticism for conducting torture. The tribunal for prisoner Majid Khan raised the claim (link here; page 13) that the 6 & 8 year old children of prisoner Khalid S. Mohammed were kept without food or water & tormented with insects for information about their father. Recent disclosures allowing insect-related torments make this hearsay story more believable...

Torturing or harming those known to be innocent, and collective punishment, are bad policy and cannot be excused.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

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"We who have a voice must speak for the voiceless"
- Óscar Romero, Roman Catholic Archbishop; later murdered by right-wing death squad in church (24 March 1980, El Salvador)