Around the World in Three Minutes "TIME TO FREAK OUT!" Edition
Our special correspondent Kim Myong Chol, the unofficial spokeslunatic of North Korea, brings us the latest:
To mark the the 100th anniversary of founding father Kim Il-sung's birth, the Kim Jong-eun administration has scheduled the spectacular launch of an earth observation satellite that will present the world with a spatial chorus of The Song of Marshal Kim Il-sung and Happy Birthday to You. ...
The hostile response from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo to the launch comes across to the North Koreans as a vicious bid to spoil their the most important and sacred festival of the proud Korean nation and to weaken their monolithic cohesion and unity around the new administration of Kim Jong-eun.
The North Korean reaction will be prompt, involving additional nuclear tests and steps to consider a full-blast detonation of a thermonuclear device possibly in international waters near the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans or in outer space far above the metropolitan US. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials will not be allowed into North Korea any longer. Uranium enrichment will be resumed and expanded. ...
Any hard-line attempt to confront the North Korean administration is lost labor. To expect that North Korea will fall apart under heavy international pressure is like an attempt to lasso twinkling stars.
There will be little doubt left in the eye of the South Korean people that Kim Jong-eun has what it takes be another super-Kim Il Sung, as the world's youngest national leader is about to complete a challenge of Sisyphean proportions in a creditable way, taming for once and for all the American military presence.
Kim Jong-eun, Kim Jong-il and Kim il-Sung resoundingly outwitted the three US administrations of Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama. This gave the North a much-needed pretext to cross into a zone of immunity. Through diplomatic outmaneuvering, North Korea gained a total of 20 years, more than enough to wade through an economic shambles, build affluence and develop and test thermonuclear weapons and their intercontinental means of delivery
Japan has ordered anti-missile defense.
Meanwhile, no one is quite sure what to make of those Chinese coup rumors, except to say that a) they're groundless; but b) China's leadership sure is tight-lipped and inscrutable. Here's a report in the Taipei Times, which is at least mercifully free--for obvious reasons--of admiring paeans to the sleek, streamlined efficiency of the Politburo:
Groundless rumors of a coup that have swept Beijing in recent days are a sign of nervousness after the sacking of political star Bo Xilai (薄熙來) exposed rifts in the Chinese Communist Party, analysts said.
Bo had been tipped to join an elite group of leaders who effectively run China later this year, and his downfall — announced last week in a brief official dispatch — is the biggest drama to hit the party in years.
However, the news has been only lightly covered by China’s tightly controlled state media, opening the way for lurid online speculation involving a crashed Ferrari, gunshots and even tanks rolling into Beijing.
“People are nervous, there’s not much information available,” Bo Zhiyue (薄智躍), an expert on Chinese elite politics at the National University of Singapore, said yesterday.
“They are hungry for new information, and if there’s nothing new, they will make up new information,” he said.
Bo Xilai, a flamboyant member of the Politburo, was removed as party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing on Thursday last week.
His sacking came weeks after his former right-hand man and police chief, Wang Lijun (王立軍,) reportedly tried to defect to the US in a dramatic event that remains shrouded in mystery.
I repeat: He reportedly tried to defect to the US. See that reported anywhere on the front page, or even the back page, of America's newspaper of record?
Since "Around the World in Three Minutes" has no sources in the Chinese Politburo--we are not ashamed to admit this, since apparently no one does--we have turned to the Relevant Organs for further analysis:
Seriously. For the last time. If there WAS a coup, or anything like a coup, we'd absolutely call you from the airport and let you know.
Relevant Organs deny rumors that we've got Bo Guagua in custody and he won't stop beatboxing.
@kemc Looked into it. General Presley living here since his secret defection in 1977. But his military commitments keep him busy.
Relevant Organs deny rumors that Wang Yang and Shakira have a secret love child living in Colombia. Are we done now?
Relevant Organs deny that Elvis is being considered for a spot on the next Standing Committee.
Relevant Organs deny that Hu Jintao met a delegation of space aliens in Zhongnanhai on Sunday for a discussion of cultural matters.
OK, foreign media want denials? Fine. Here are some denials:
@maoxian We were wondering about the company we were listed in. Some of us feel it's a coded attack. Either way, we're drinking.
Also, we're still not taking your journalists' phone calls. You can fax the monkey like everybody else.
Condemn imperialist gazette "Time" for naming us a top humor Twitter feed. Nothing funny about permanent revolution.
Lawyers ordered to pledge allegiance to the Party. Debated shooting them, but that just seemed too American.
@AdamMinter We have your number on speed-dial. Love your work. Need as many allies as we can get in smashing the biased Western media.
If there were a coup, how would you foreigners have a clue? "Hey we staged a coup! Let's go call Bloomberg!" Riiiiight
There has been no coup. Nothing to see here. Remain calm. [What key do I press to "tweet" this?]
ITEM: The coup in Mali is a disaster. Here's a good report from Simon Allison:
It’s tempting to dismiss the coup in Mali as just another banana republic doing what banana republics do best. That would be a mistake. Until Thursday morning, Mali was one of Africa’s most promising democracies, tantalisingly close to holding another strong election, and in a bitter irony its president ultimately fell because he was doing everything right. ...
All this is bad news for the region as a whole. The government of Niger, especially, will be terrified that the success of a Tuareg rebellion in Mali will embolden the Tuaregs in Niger to do the same thing. The Americans will be worried that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, already active in the region, will feed off the instability and emerge stronger than ever before. But most serious is the already dire humanitarian situation – the violence in the area, coupled with terrible crops, is creating conditions which could lead to famine if not urgently addressed. Already, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, but if the problems do spread to neighbouring countries then they will have nowhere else to go.
The coup in Mali – presuming it succeeds – will be a defining moment for the country and for the region as a whole, and not in a good way. It’s a massive step backwards which the people of the Sahel – already some of the poorest in the world – are in no position to afford.
Sadly, I knew, before I even started looking, that Al Jazeera's coverage of this would be vastly better than that of any US major media channel.
ITEM: Spengler channels James Q. Wilson, advises Mexico to--well, it's not clear exactly what he's suggesting, but it sounds just horrible:
In the past I compared the war on drugs to the American Civil War, which was won by killing off such a large proportion of military-age Southern men (nearly 30%) that the Confederate Army lacked soldiers to put into the ranks. That was the most heroic thing America ever did.
That is the United States, where the number of young people sufficiently poor to risk life and limb in criminal activity is comparatively small. What happens in a poor country with a much larger proportion of unemployment youth? Mexico's incarceration rate is just 200 per 100,000 population, roughly a quarter of America's. To attack criminality from the bottom up rather than the top down would imply a social dislocation of catastrophic proportions. It is questionable whether any Latin American government can deliberately reduce the criminal element in its own population. Peru's former President Alberto Fujimori will remain in prison for decades after his 2008 conviction stemming from the use of death squads against the "Shining Path" guerrillas. And Fujimori had a relatively free hand during the 1990s because the guerrillas' main support came from indigenous people in rural areas, where street justice is hard to document.
Nonetheless, if it is to break the hold of criminal gangs on many of its cities, Mexico has no choice but to take a page from James Q Wilson's book. To undertake the Herculean labor of suppressing criminality from the bottom will have terrible consequences, as in Enrique Krauze's chilling analogy to the 1910 Revolution. The only thing worse is the alternative. It is not enough to arrest the drug lords; it is also necessary to attrite the ranks of their gunmen. How much will it cost? If you have to ask what it costs, you can't afford to be a country.
And that's it for today, folks. Three minutes of freaking out, then I advise you to put this all well out of your heads, because it will only disturb your wa.