Take a look at this. North Korea fades in and out of public consciousness? And WHY?


North Korea ‘prepares submarine attack’ on South Korea as crisis talks enter third day: live

Seoul refuses to back down and demands apology from Kim Jong-un for landmine blast it claims maimed two soldiers – follow the latest updates

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• South Korea says anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts will continue
• Seoul demands apology from North Korea over claims its land mines “maimed two soldiers”
• North Korea has accused South Korea of being “war maniacs”
• Kim Jong-un accused of amassing 70 submarines for sneak attack on South Korea
North Korean troops ordered onto war footing by Kim Jong-un: as it happened
• The bizarre photoshoots of Kim Jong-un


North Korea’s state media – Korean Central News Agency – has just issued another Shakespearean tirade against the South, accusing it of “false propaganda.”

QuoteThey [South Korea] claimed the DPRK “promulgated a decree on establishing a donation system” and “the society in the north has turned into the one where loyalty can be bought and sold.” They asserted this was a “reliable source” from North Hamgyong Province.

They even took issue with the newly built Pyongyang Home for the Aged, saying this or that about “old people selected to live there.”

This is a hideous act of tarnishing the image of the dignified DPRK where everything serves its people and an unpardonable insult to their intense loyalty to their leaders.

These are the worst invectives which can be concocted only by hack writers of the reptile media in south Korea where money is everything.

The “decree” touted by them has never been promulgated in the DPRK. It is something unthinkable under its popular policy which sets store by the pure mind and conscience of its people and takes warm care of them.

As far as their loyalty is concerned, it is their spiritual world of conscience and obligation as pure as white gem and as strong as bamboo because they consider their peerlessly great leaders as protectors of their destiny.


North Korea v South Korea: How do the forces compare?

This week The Telegraph’s David Blair investigated how the two Koreas’ armies would stack up against each other:

David BlairNorth Korea’s bloated armed forces outnumber those of its southern neighbour by a large margin. When it comes to soldiers and artillery pieces, North Korea enjoys a two-to-one advantage over its old enemy.

Yet an abundance of soldiers carrying light arms does not translate into military dominance. North Korea’s armed forces might be immense, but their weapons and equipment are largely obsolete.

South Korea’s much smaller armed forces, by contrast, benefit from some of the best American-supplied weapons and equipment, including more than 2,000 tanks and hundreds of F5, F15 and F16 fighter jets and fighter bombers.

More importantly, it nestles under the US security umbrella, and there are 28,500 American troops permanently based in the South.

Its army moreover is better-fed – a factor which while reminiscent of a previous era to European armies remains significant in North Korea, where defectors often talk of the debilitating experience of hunger during their own military service.


Today’s crisis talks “most significant since 2007″

Given the seniority of the negotiators and the back-breaking duration of their negotiations, these talks are the most significant inter-Korean talks to be held since the meeting between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2007, Andrew Salmon in Seoul writes.

QuoteBellicosity and dire threats are nothing new from Pyongyang, and most South Koreans, having lived with North Korea for 70 years, have grown blasé. But the gravity of the current situation is underlined by the fact that North Korea offered these last-minute talks on Saturday afternoon – just two hours before Kim Jong-un’s own deadline for military action expired – and by the seniority of the North Korean delegation. General Hwang Pyong-so, the director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean army, and so the de facto head of the North ‘s Korean People’s Army is seen as one of Kim Jong-un’s most trusted lieutenants. The second negotiator is Kim Yang-gon, Pyongyang’s point man on inter-Korean affairs. The negotiations also seem to be taking place in good faith. The marathon duration of the talks – which have extended into the early hours on two successive nights – are encouraging, as neither side has stormed out of the negotiating room.

Kim Kwan-jin, South Korea’s chief negotiator, is currently President Park Geun-hye’s National Security Advisor, hence chief aide on military affairs. Kim, a former general, was bought into government as defence minister after the sinking of a South Korean ship and a North Korean artillery strike in 2010. Seen as a principled hardliner, he vowed not to let any further North Korean provocations go by without retaliation.


South Korea’s military has expressed concern at intelligence reports that indicate that more than 50 North Korean submarines have sortied from their bases, Julian Ryall in Tokyo writes.

The sheer number of vessels that have put to sea means it is impossible to track all of the submarines, officials said, even though the boats are largely outdated and technically obsolescent versions produced in the 1960s for the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, by swamping the South’s maritime defences, the North’s submarines may be able to land infiltration parties on the coast to carry out attacks behind the front line. Alternatively, they may target warships of the South Korean or US navies.

Earlier this year, North Korea released images purportedly showing a ballistic missile being fired from a submerged submarine. Although the images were dismissed at the time as being computer enhanced, there have been concerns that the North’s navy is attempting to fit at least one of its submarines with a missile.


A video has emerged of South Korean protesters tearing up a North Korean flag.

The protestors were calling for retaliation against North Korean landmines which the South Koreans say injured two of their soldiers, Olivia Rudgard reports.

After chanting and holding up images of the North Korean flag with a cross through it, the group tore down the flag and ripped it into pieces.

The protest ended in a minor confrontation with police, and some protestors were knocked to the floor.


You may recall from Friday’s liveblog that the hashtag #PrayForKorea took the internet by storm over the weekend.

It has emerged that the Koreans are responding with a hashtag of their own – #WeAreFineThankYou.


The President of South Korea is talking tough today, vowing there will be “no retreat” from North Korea.

“There will be no retreat in the face of North Korean threats,” Park Geun-Hye said this morning, promising “stern retaliation” for any further provocation, AFP reports.

Park has maintained a strong line on not appeasing North Korea since she came to office, and will push back hard against any compromise that might be seen as rewarding its behaviour.

The talks that began Saturday in Panmunjom between top aides to both countries’ leaders have so far failed to thrash out a mutually acceptable way to calm the situation, despite two all-night sessions.

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.South Korea’s Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is deployed just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Yeoncheon  Photo: REUTERS/Shin Wong-su/ News1


North Korea deploys ‘hovercraft invasion force’ targeting South Korean beaches

North Korea has deployed 10 large hovercraft designed to put special invasion forces ashore on South Korean beaches, Julian Ryall in Tokyo writes.

Military sources in Seoul told Yonhap news agency that the crafts were seen leaving their home port at Cholsan and moving to an advanced base some 40 miles north of the Northern Limit Line, the disputed border off the west coast of the peninsula.

The North is able to deploy two types of assault hovercraft, a 35-ton Gongbang II, which has a top speed of 60 mph, and the smaller but faster Gongbang III.

The Korea Observer reported that around 20 crafts were moved to the sea border.


North Korean youngsters are signing up to the army in their hundreds of thousands (according to state media) because they are “brainwashed,” an expert has told an Australian newspaper.

Dr Leonid Petrov from ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific told

QuoteThe young generation don’t know much about life outside. They’re curious about what’s going on but constantly brainwashed that the world is hostile. Life in North Korea is pretty artificial. There’s access to fashionable clothes in Pyongyang, where people can see, but in rural areas, even if you have a mobile phone there’s no electricity, or access to the web. People eat a little better now but life is pretty difficult.


China steps up military presence on North Korean border

Concerned at the growing North/South tensions, China has reinforced its military units on the border with North Korea, Julian Ryall in Tokyo reports.

Beijing’s concern would be a possible flood of refugees attempting to cross the border into China should hostilities break out, while a massive military presence on Pyongyang’s northern border may serve to concentrate the minds of the North Korean military and the inner-circle of Kim Jong-un.

And despite the ongoing talks at Panmunjom designed to ease tensions on the border, North Korea is keeping up is own propaganda assaults against the South.

An editorial on Monday in The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party, accused South Korea of driving the situation to the brink of war as part of a deliberate plan concocted with the United States to invade the North.

The newspaper also insisted that South Korea had made up the story about a land mine maiming two of its troops as a pretext for going to war.

In a report on the newspaper’s coverage, state-run Korea Central News Agency reported, “The editorial said the puppets’ confrontational mental illness has reached the later stages”.

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.North Koreans who signed up to join the army take part in target practice exercises  Photo: REUTERS/KCNA


The growing tensions between North and South have seen the former’s rhetoric reach new heights of extremity.

“A rat who should be struck by lightning,” a “crafty prostitute” and “Obama’s pimp” are just a few examples picked by the Telegraph’s video team here.


The US are not just planning to send a warplane, it has emerged.

It is also poised to send a nuclear submarine presently based at the naval base at Yokosuka, in Japan, to waters off the Korean peninsula, Julian Ryall in Tokyo writes.

The US Seventh Fleet is the largest in the US navy’s arsenal, with up to 100 surface vessels and submarines and 200 aircraft forward deployed to Japan and the Pacific island of Guam.

The Seventh Fleet conducts regular military exercises in conjunction with South Korean forces and has been put on standby in South Korean waters at times of inter-Korean tensions in the past.

Meanwhile, state media in North Korea have yet more pictures of the “million” young people who are said to have signed up to the army to help fight South Korea.

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.North Koreans sign up to join the army   Photo: REUTERS/KCNA


The US is planning to send a “bunker-buster” warplane to the Korean peninsula act as a deterrent to the North, Julian Ryall in Tokyo writes.

In response to Kim Jong-un announcing that North Korea’s military were in a state of readiness for war, South Korea and the United States are discussing the transfer of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber to an air base in South Korea.

“Keeping close tabs on the crisis situation on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea and the US are flexibly reviewing the timing of the deployment of strategic US military assets”, Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for the defence ministry in Seoul, said.

Yonhap news reported that the Stratofortress, which is equipped with deep-penetration “bunker-buster” ordinance, will arrive from the mainland US and is designed as a show of force to the North.

“Our initial concept against North Korea’s provocations is deterrence”, Mr Kim said. “The South Korean and US militaries are in principle combining to deter North Korea from making provocations.”

Mr Kim reiterated the South Korean government’s position that any North Korean attacks will be met with powerful counter-attacks.

“We stand in a powerful position of readiness for war to deter North Korean provocations and, if provoked, we will react harshly and to an extent that the North would regret their actions”.

A B-52 bomber A B-52 bomber   Photo: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS


North Korea will never apologise for the land mine blast which allegedly maimed two South Korean soldiers – and Seoul is fully aware of that, experts have said.

Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told Reuters:

QuotePresident Park knows that of course…Both sides are really just trying to ramp up pressure on the other, looking for an upper hand in what are clearly very tough negotiations.

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.South Korean marines patrol Yeonpyeong island just south of Northern Limit Line (NLL), South Korea  Photo: REUTERS/Min Gyeong-seok/ News1


North and South Korea seem stuck in a deadlock in their crisis talks at a remote village on the border, Julian Ryall in Tokyo writes.

Discussions between senior officials of the governments of North and South Korea continue at the border village of Pannmunjom, but neither side appears to be willing to make the concessions that could ease tensions on the frontier.

South Korea insists that the North must acknowledge that its forces planted land mines in the South’s sector of the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two nations. Two members of a South Korean patrol were seriously injured on August 9 when they trod on a mine.

Park Guen-hye, the South Korean president, said Monday that Pyongyang must also apologise for the incident or loudspeakers will continue to broadcast propaganda over the border into the North.

Pyongyang’s negotiators continue to deny that it had anything to do with the land mine incident. They also refuse to accept that North Korea fired first in an exchange of artillery fire across the DMZ that further raised tensions on Thursday.

The North is demanding that the South halt the propaganda broadcasts or it will use military means to silence the loudspeakers.


A million young North Koreans have joined army to “annihilate” South Korea – state media

It emerged yesterday that Pyongyang’s state broadcaster claimed a million people had signed up in North Korea to fight the “war maniacs” in the South.

The Korean Central News Agency said:

QuoteYoung people across the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are turning out in the sacred war for defending the country with their faith and will to annihilate the enemies.

The regime has now released these images, which it says show North Koreans signing up to the army en masse.

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.North Koreans sign up to join the army in Pyongyang  Photo: REUTERS/KCNA

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.North Koreans who signed up to join the army march in Pyongyang  Photo: REUTERS/KCNA


NBC News has been speaking to South Korean officials this morning who accuse North Korea of using “war and peace” tactics.

Tensions are said to be at boiling point after South Korean defence officials said they were “detecting unusual movement from North Korean submarines, in that they have left their bases, and also North Korea has doubled artillery power along the border.”

A South Korean official told NBC News the submarine movement suggested the North was using a “dual tactic” of “war and peace strategies” as envoys met in the Panmunjom truce village inside the Demilitarized Zone.


The negotiations have now dragged on for more than thirty hours – ten hours during the first session on Saturday and another 21 hours on Sunday.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has told her most senior aides that Seoul would not “stand down even if North Korea ratchets up provocation to its highest level and threatens our national security,” AFP reports.

Top-level North and South Korean negotiators talked through the night with no sign of an agreement on August 24 for ending a military standoff that has threatened to boil over into armed conflict.South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks during a meeting with her top aides at the presidential Blue House in Seoul   Photo: YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images


Good morning and welcome to the Telegraph’s live coverage of the crisis talks between North and South Korea as they enter their third day. Here is what we know so far:

  1. North and South Korea are locked in negotiations after Kim Jong-un declared a “quasi state of war” last week
  2. Row erupted after South Korea resumed anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts
  3. Both sides exchanged artillery fire amid escalating tensions and threats of ‘nuclear’ warfare
  4. On Sunday Kim Jong-un amassed an army of 70 submarines for a strike on South Korea, Seoul intelligence sources claim
  5. South Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, is refusing to back down and has demanded an apology from North Korea




What to do about Saudi Arabia?. Well maybe nothing, but this is a country that has been a simmering ally for quite a while. The pot may boil over as oil prices continue down and the government’s policies of both rough justice and the king’s outreach to buy loyalty from constituents clash. Note that the US has its own execution /death penalty issues (Russia and China being the principle “big powers” that also indulge in this). But then, 4 and counting wrongs do not make a right.

from the EIN new service 8/5/2015:

Saudi Arabia has beheaded its 110th prisoner this year

The Islamic Kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death, according to Amnesty International
Wednesday 05 August 2015

When Saudi Arabia beheaded Mugrib al-Thanyan on Monday it brought the number of people decapitated in the kingdom this year to 110.

Al-Thanyan was executed in Eastern Province after being found guilty of shooting a fellow Saudi dead following a dispute, according to a statement from the country’s ministry of interior.

The Islamic Kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death, according to rights group Amnesty International who ranked number three in 2014 after China and Iran.

However, the number of executions this year is alarming groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW), who estimated that there were only 88 executions in 2014. The current figure beheading figure was worked out by the Agence France Presse agency.

When the country passed 100 executions two months ago, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director, Sarah Leah Whitson accused the country of waging a “campaign of death.”

But there has been no let-up in the number of beheadings and there are fears the nation will surpass its modern-day execution record of 192, set back in 1995.

Saudi Arabia advertised eight new executioners in May to carry out and increasing number of death sentences.

No special qualifications were needed for the jobs whose main role is “executing a judgement of death” but also involve performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences, the advert, posted on the civil service jobs portal, said.

While many countries have establish minimum and maximum sentences for different crimes, or a penal code, in Saudi Arabia only a handful of crimes carry specific punishments.

These include murder, adultery and “consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex, all of which carry a death sentence, according to Death Penalty Worldwide.

Sorcery and witchcraft is also on that list.

Therefore, “for many crimes what constitutes a crime, the proof required to prove it, and the sentence it carries are entirely up to a judge to decide,” according to HRW.

“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia executes so many people, but to execute people convicted in nonviolent drug offenses shows just how wanton these executions are,” said Whitson in her July interview.



from THE NEW YORKER ONLINE July 16, 2015

our brief analysis will follow at the end of this article

July 16, 2015 Twenty-Five Years After Another Gulf War

By Jeffrey Frank

In the run-up to Desert Storm, Secretary of State James A. Baker III, along with President George H. W. Bush, played a considerably more consequential role than did the Ambassador to Iraq, April C. Glaspie. Credit PHOTOGRAPH BY TERRY ASHE / THE LIFE IMAGES COLLECTION / GETTY When Jeb Bush, not long ago, kept mangling his answers after being asked whether, knowing what we know now, he would do what his brother George did when he launched the ruinous Second Gulf War, in March, 2003, he eventually said that he would not, but also that he didn’t want to “get back into hypotheticals.” Hypothetical questions can be useful, though, and the answers often depend not only upon what you’re asked but when you’re asked. For instance, knowing what we know now, should Jeb’s father, the first President Bush, have launched his Gulf War, in 1991? Operation Desert Storm succeeded in its limited goal—to drive the Iraqis out of neighboring Kuwait, which they had invaded, on August 2, 1990—a quarter century ago. But it also embroiled the United States and participating allies in a conflict that might someday be seen as the start of a baffling, destructive regional war that still continues—and that might have been avoided with better communication. You do not have to agree with Senator Rand Paul’s assertion that Republican hawks “created” the Islamic State to see a link between American interventions in the Middle East and the chaos that followed. For that matter, you do not have to agree that the culpable hawks belong only to the Republican Party. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler revisited the run-up to the First Gulf War a few years ago, and followed a trail of mixed signals that could be traced, in reverse sequence, from April C. Glaspie, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, to James A. Baker III, the Secretary of State, to George H. W. Bush. Glaspie, a career Foreign Service officer, was in Baghdad when Iraqi forces entered Kuwait. A week earlier, when it looked as if an incursion was imminent, she spent two hours with Saddam Hussein, at the Presidential Palace, where she urged restraint but never quite said that the United States would use military force to stop him. Before the fighting began, the Iraqi government released what they claimed was a transcript of their conversation, and which Glaspie has always maintained was doctored: Glaspie: I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. As you know, I lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your threats against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship—not confrontation—regarding your intentions: Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait’s borders? Hussein: As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days; I am prepared to give negotiations only this one more brief chance. When we meet and we see there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death. According to the Iraqi account of the conversation, when Glaspie asked, “What solutions would be acceptable?” Saddam talked about the suicidal 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, during which an estimated half-million people died, and insisted that Iraq, its economy wrecked by the war, had legitimate territorial claims on Kuwait and its oil. When Saddam asked, “What is the United States’ opinion on this?,” Glaspie replied, “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.” In 1991, in conversations with members of Senate and House foreign-affairs committees, Glaspie said that what she’d actually told Hussein was to “keep your hands off this country,” and that the Iraqi transcript included only “one part of my sentence. The other part of my sentence was, ‘but we insist that you settle your disputes with Kuwait nonviolently.’ And he told me he would do so.” But Representative Lee Hamilton asked a key question: “Did you ever tell Saddam Hussein, ‘Mr. President, if you go across that line into Kuwait, we’re going to fight’?” Glaspie replied, “No, I did not.” Still, the suggestion that the United States may have even unintentionally green-lighted Saddam’s war became an embarrassment for Glaspie, and pretty much ended any chance for another diplomatic posting. (She retired from the Foreign Service a few years later.) Kessler’s story in the Post was prompted by a rare interview that Glaspie gave, in 2008, to Randa Takieddine of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. In it, she maintained that parts of the transcript of her meeting with Saddam were “invented by Tarek Aziz,” Iraq’s former Minister of Information, who died this past June. As Kessler noted, though, a cable sent by Glaspie to the State Department after seeing Saddam suggested that she’d been more conciliatory than she recalled. Her dispatch, declassified after efforts by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (and later published by Wikileaks), described Saddam’s manner as “cordial, reasonable, and even warm,” and said she had told Saddam that President Bush had “instructed her to broaden and deepen our relations with Iraq.” Saddam, she wrote, knew that America could use “planes and rockets and hurt Iraq deeply,” and had asked that the United States “not force Iraq to the point of humiliation”; his “emphasis that he wants peaceful settlement is surely sincere (Iraqis are sick of war), but the terms sound difficult to achieve.” In the 2008 interview, Glaspie sounded eager to put it all behind her. “It is over,” she said. “Nobody wants to take the blame. I am quite happy to take the blame. Perhaps I was not able to make Saddam believe that we would do what we said we would do, but in all honesty, I don’t think anybody in the world could have persuaded him.” Actually, no one ought to blame Glaspie for what followed. Transcripts and cables tell part of the story, but far from all of it. The roles played by Secretary of State Baker and the President were of considerably more consequence than that of their Ambassador, though neither Baker nor Bush suffered the scrutiny and scorn that was directed toward Glaspie. (When she was asked if “all this blame from Baker and Washington” was unfair, she replied that “President Bush was superb…. He was extremely thoughtful, extremely knowledgeable, extremely worried as he should have been.” The lack of a similar comment about Baker seems notable.) Glaspie didn’t ask if, knowing what we know now, the nation’s leaders should have given more thought to the idea that the task in the father-and-son Gulf Wars was greater than a massive military operation against a third-rate power. She said as much when she told Al-Hayat that “There has to be from the West [a] really deeper understanding than I have seen of the profundity of the animosities in Iraq.” She added, “Past is past; either we learn from it or we don’t.” The nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers, for all the questions it’s bound to face, might be viewed in that light: that something was learned from America’s quarter century in the Middle East and that, as President Obama said, it’s “an opportunity to move in a new direction.” Perhaps, a quarter century from now, someone will ask whether another long, corrosive Mideast war was avoided by all the bickering, posturing, and, in the end, essential faith among the negotiators in Vienna that diplomacy is something other than the exchange of empty phrases. With luck, the answer will be that it was.

Comments- Arthur Lerman, writing against NORPAC, an “anti-Iran deal” Jewish Group– one of many well funded groups, many non-Jewish, that do not want to see this agreement come to fruition. This blog needs the downside of the Kerry-Iran accord re-explained frequently, because it is simply hard to follow. The upsides are easy.

So Dr. Lerman:

But the alternatives are no controls on Iran at all.

All other nations will eliminate their sanctions.

We may be the only ones continuing them.

This way we’ll be able to keep tabs on them.

And so many in Iran are pressuring their government to open to us and to the rest of the world. The agreement will greatly strengthen their efforts—a reason the right-wing in Iran also opposes the agreement. (Interesting that the right wing in both Iran and the U.S. oppose it—not at all strange bedfellows?)
Why does NORPAC have to be so negative on any attempts to reach out to the other side?

Please be a little imaginative.

Yes, the policy of the Israeli Netanyahu government is to oppose the agreement. But, given the negative record of Netanyahu’s policies overall, what kind of a recommendation is that? His settlement policies, for a most egregious example, have been a disaster for Israel and for world Jewry, turning so many in the world against Israel, and, by extension, against Jews.

His policies provide examples that are used in arguments by anti-Semites. If Israel would be more clearly for peace, and show more concern for those on the other side who also want peace (Palestinian moderates and Iranian youth, for example), it would build their credibility, providing much more security for Israel and the Jews of the world.

And if the Iranians cheat on the deal, then we can return to the sanctions–even increase them–with the support of the rest of the world.

Fear that we won’t discover their cheating? Have you no faith in the Israeli and U.S. intelligence forces?

And so many in the Israeli defense/intelligence community support the agreement.

If it doesn’t work, we can go back to where we are.

But if it works, the whole world will benefit. What do we have to lose? Now and then you just have to try something.

You have to admit, it was amazing that Russia, China, the U.S., Britain, France, the European Union, and Germany were able to sit on the same side of the table in this negotiation. That in itself is incredible.

Reject the agreement and restart negotiations? It was so hard to get them all to where they are now. Do you think you can even get them into the same room again for a do-over–especially when so many forces in all these countries were so against the negotiations in the first place?

Why can’t NORPAC support Israel’s security instead of Netanyahu’s policies that are putting Israel in more and more danger?

Oh! Concerning your statement that you decided to oppose the agreement “after careful review,” it seems that most of those who are opposed decided way before the agreement’s terms were made public.

How many oppose it just because they oppose anything Obama does–no matter how beneficial? Is NORPAC just one of the “usual suspects” in this regard?

Art Lerman

Art is quick to recommend postings from The Forward, J Street and Tikkun Magazine—Jewish organizations that strongly support the Iran deal.

Concerning Jewish public opinion:

“J Street wants Congress to know that, despite some loud opposition to the deal coming from Jewish organizational leaders, our polling suggests that a clear majority of Jewish Americans agrees with us and backs the deal,” the group said in a statement.

Here are some other relevant postings:

5 Reasons AIPAC Is Dead Wrong about the Iran Deal


confederate flad         QUESTION MARK

This piece by an EIN news (similar to Reuter’s) correspondent takes (Republican)  Gov. Nicky Haley’s call for a removal of the Confederate flag from the state flag a step further and presents a no holds barred endorsement of the policy. I don’t think, personally, that you can hit “delete” on historical symbols, but if they are displayed in public places and on state flags they have come to be increasingly associated with disrespect for groups who did Not benefit from the Confederacy and its aftermath.

Given the passion with which the Tea Party and Southern hard-liners have attacked “liberals, Washington, Obama” etc., they need to realize that a tough position opposed to theirs can be articulated and you will find one such articulation here. This is not a trampling of the South, which has seen impressive reforms, especially in the past 30 years, shifts in attitudes etc. This might just be the next logical step.


June 22, 2015 By Joe Rothstein

Is the confederate flag a symbol of racism? That debate has gone on for decades. It won’t end because nine people were shot and killed in a South Carolina church. But what’s not debatable is that the confederate flag is a symbol of treason. 

The U.S. Constitution defines treason as levying war against the government and aiding and abetting its enemies. Under the banner of the confederate flag, the deadliest war in U.S. history was waged against the U.S. government. More than 600,000 died, half of all those killed in all wars we’ve ever fought as a nation. Jefferson Davis was charged with treason. Lincoln circulated a list of top Confederate generals he said deserved to be imprisoned for treason. That list even included Robert E. Lee.

There’s a popular sick joke that goes this way: A visitor from a northern state stops in a southern town, sees the confederate flag prominently displayed and engages a local in a discussion about it. “What do you think happened at Appomattox Court House?” he asks. The local’s reply: “The longest ceasefire in history.” For many, the Civil War never ended. And it won’t end while the flag the South marched under continues to be a respectable symbol.

As South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said, in defense of the confederate flag after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church murders, “It’s who we are. It’s our heritage.”

Eleven southern states tried to secede from the U.S. because they refused to abide by the laws of the land, laws created by democratically elected representatives. Leaders in those states had many alternatives to war. They could have worked to change majority opinion. They could have tried to change the composition of Congress at a future election. They could have banded together to try to elect a president sympathetic to their views. The U.S. Constitution provides multiple road maps for change and public expression. If anything, the founding fathers purposely over-weighted our system of government toward minority view expression and protection.

If their efforts for peaceful change failed the leaders of those 11 states could have done what state leaders before and since have done: accept the will of the majority and adjust to it. But they chose to wage war against the U.S. A century and a half later, many still are waging that war. To listen to the political narratives in many southern states and communities is not much different than listening to the rantings about the U.S. government we hear from Iran, North Korea and other enemies of the U.S. Washington is the enemy. The South will rise again.

In our global society, we often compare the U.S. with other countries. But the U.S. isn’t like any other country. No other country so willing has accepted and integrated immigrants into its society. Few countries permit the range of free speech, religion, and other rights of individual liberty as the U.S. permits. And those that do share our democratic form of government adopted those rights from the U.S. model. Even in Great Britain, home of the Magna Carta, reporters can be jailed for printing articles that routinely show up in U.S. newspapers. That’s why WikiLeaks first appeared in the N.Y. Times rather than the Times of London.

That freedom and diversity expresses itself in many ways. Vast numbers of citizens in the U.S. West are unhappy about the way federal lands are managed. Many who live in states where coal mining is a major industry are aggressively opposed to attempts to control its use. Urban areas struggle to uplift neighborhoods where populations are dense and jobs scarce. To be an American is to be part of a cauldron of interests, often conflicting, where passions and differences create on-going tension.

That’s the price we pay to avoid having a master or master group telling us what to do and what’s best. We win. We lose. We accept, but reserve the right to continue trying to steer matters in our preferred direction.

What we don’t do is take up arms against the government. Millions of Americans opposed the Vietnam and Iraqi wars. They marched in the streets. Many sought arrest to highlight their protest. Likewise the anti-nuclear arms movement of the Cold War. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s and 70s. What violence occurred during those uprisings was limited, condemned and punished. Hopefully, there always will be high levels of dissent in the U.S. Hopefully, we will continue to be free enough and caring enough to express our concerns with public action. There’s hardly a stronger agent for positive change than demonstrations by active citizens.

All of this happens under one flag. The American flag. The proper symbol for a free people who use that freedom to try to make lawful change. 

The confederate flag is the antithesis of that. It symbolizes armed revolution by those not willing to abide by the law and defend the Constitution. It’s treason. And the more we coddle those who fly that flag and wear it on tee shirts and belt buckles the longer we contribute to the notion that Appomattox was a cease fire rather than an ignominious defeat. 

It’s time to put an end to the romance of the confederacy. It was a horrible war that took an incredible toll in human life and resulted in a legacy of another hundred years of virtual servitude for African Americans. As long as we tolerate it we will have dreadful incidents such as the murder of people during Bible study. 

Lindsey Graham says it’s “our heritage.” He’s right. And an ugly, treasonous one. It’s time to call it what it is.

(Joe Rothstein can be contacted at




Sen. Warren zeroes in on my Bank President Jamie Dimon’s patronizing remarks. Need we say more?



warren_dimonElizabeth Warren just dropped the mic on JPMorgan Chase CEO
byWalter Einenkel

You can’t buy class.
A couple of days ago, JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon thought it would be funny to take a pot shot at Senator Elizabeth Warren. He was trying to undermine her and other Washington lawmakers’ investigations and proposed regulations of the financial district.
“I don’t know if she fully understands the global banking system,” Dimon, speaking Wednesday at an event in Chicago, said of the Massachusetts Democrat. Still, he said he agrees with some of her concerns about risks.
Warren, a Senate Banking Committee member, has won popular support and gained influence in her party by openly challenging the size of large lenders and their political power. She has said it was a mistake for the U.S. government to refrain from breaking up big banks, such as Citigroup Inc., after the 2008 financial crisis. Last month, as firms including JPMorgan pleaded guilty to resolve probes into market-rigging, she criticized regulators for granting waivers that let the companies continue operating certain businesses.

Elizabeth Warren addressed Dimon’s comments on “So, That Happened” Podcast:
“The problem is not that I don’t understand the global banking system. The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system and I understand how they make their money. And that’s what they don’t like about me.”




Georgia flood: Tbilisi residents warned over zoo animals after devastating flood

    • 14 minutes ago


Media captionRayhan Demytrie reports from Tbilisi Zoo on the devastation caused by the flood

Heavy flooding in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has killed at least 12 people, with officials warning people to stay indoors to avoid animals that have escaped from a zoo.

The missing animals include tigers, lions, bears and wolves. Three of the dead people were found within the zoo.

A hippopotamus was cornered in one of the city’s main squares and subdued with a tranquiliser gun.

Rescue workers are searching submerged homes to check for trapped residents.

Dozens of people have been left homeless.

‘Hellish whirlpool’

Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze told InterPressNews agency that three bodies had been found in the zoo, including those of two employees.

A handout picture provided by the Georgian Prime Minister's press office shows a runaway bear sitting on the window of the second floor of a building on the flooded street in Tbilisi, Georgia on 14 June 2015
People have been told to stay indoors until the animals have been found
A man shoots a tranquilizer dart to put a hippopotamus to sleep at a flooded street in Tbilisi, Georgia, 14 June 2015
The hippopotamus was tranquilised, but some animals have been killed
A municipal worker sits near the body of a lion at a flooded zoo area in Tbilisi (14 June 2015)
A lion was among the animals who died
Deer in Tbilisi zoo (June 2015)
It is still not clear exactly how many animals remain on the loose

She said the grounds had been turned into “a hellish whirlpool”.

Ms Sharashidze said wolves, lions, tigers, jackals and jaguars had been shot dead by special forces or were missing.

The bodies of a lion and a pony lay near the zoo.

The flooding began when heavy rains caused the River Vere – normally little more than a stream – to burst its banks.

Thousands of people have been left without water and electricity while others have had to be airlifted to safety.

Mayor Davit Narmania said the situation was “very grave”.

Several main roads have been destroyed while small houses and cars were swept away.

Coffins in a city cemetery have reportedly been washed out of the ground and left lying on the mud.

Flood damage at Tbilisi zoo
A large part of the zoo in Tbilisi remains under water
A damaged area near a flooded zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia (14 June 2015)
The flooding has also caused major damage to roads and property

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has called on residents to stay indoors until the animals have been found.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili has visited affected area and extended his condolences to relatives of the victims.

It remains unclear how many are animals missing. Helicopters are circling the city as part of a search and rescue operation.

Vice-mayor Irakly Lekvinadze estimated the preliminary damage at $10m (£6.43m).

In May 2012, five people were killed in Tbilisi after another river flooded.

Princeton Trained Political Scientist Savors Thomas Piketty




Our own Prof. Arthur Lerman! I would add as a preface to his concise book notes, that Piketty translated into English is remarkable in 2 ways: 1. he is very light on economic jargon, 2. is is thick with references to literature and history–as Art says– and not exactly the trend in economic writing these days on this side of the Atlantic.~~ f.l.s.

I just finished Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014). This is what I understand to be (some of) his basic argument:
The free market system automatically moves towards economic inequality.
The more wealth one has, from inheritance or other income, the better the advice on how to invest it one can afford. So  the wealthier fortunes almost always grow more rapidly–and more securely– than their lesser counterparts.
Concerning salaries and other compensation for work, income inequality is encouraged by CEOs who–in conjunction with docile boards of directors–have the power to set their own incomes. (One way to counter the setting of obscenely high salaries is a progressive tax–which becomes confiscatory as incomes become too high. In such cases the CEO finds that all his/her extra salary will go to the government, so there will be no incentive for sky high compensation.)
Only something like progressive taxes (on wealth better than income) can make for a fair distribution of economic resources in society.
And the tax system has to be international–regionally, or better,globally–so that wealth cannot be transferred to other countries to avoid the taxes.
And Piketty backs this up with voluminous statistical date–enhanced by all sorts of other sources, even fascinating references to the economic circumstances of the characters in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

JFK and Don Draper


From My Political Science 367 class, answer to comment 1st, then comment:

Well Kennedy was human for sure, but so was Kaiser Wilhelm. Not comparing, but… I’d like to revisit the Context of these quotes. Remember that this was the period of “MADMEN” and adult males were not as housebroken as today.

Author: Valerie Lovo Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:10:17 AM EDT Subject: RE: DISCUSSION 2 COLD WAR 1961-69

“I would rather take my television black and white and have the largest rockets in the world.”

A nice provocative quote from JFK. I personally like John F. Kennedy and think that he was a wonderful president, especially during the time of the cold war. He possessed traits that were unseen in any presidency before. Among the quite I chose, there’s too many from JFK that were provocative and quite controversial. I think the statement above that he made was clever and a bit witty as well. At this point in time we have people such as Richard Nixon stating that “we were ahead in color television” and people like JFK ridiculing him. JFK believed that the United States was losing the cold war at that they had gone soft in physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. I like how even in a tense time with the Soviet Union, the president was able to express himself in a free way that was unlike any other. JFK couldn’t have been a better spokesperson for this considering his exuberant charisma and good nature. I believe that the United States had good chances in recovering from their “softness” because they had a leader who was driven. 

This is probably unrelated to the Cold War itself, but it is another clever and provocative quote from JFK during the times of the cold war. He states “who gives a sh*t about minimum wage”. Even in foreign affairs president Kennedy proved his toughness. I think this post would be good in describing the people who stated these quotes and their tenure during the cold war. Without a doubt, the cold war was controversial in itself, but the leaders of the world within that time also had their fair shares of controversy.

Here are some highlights of the GOP budget: from Campaign for America’s future



Campaign for America's Future
Republicans aren’t ashamed or embarrassed. They have big ideas to remake America and they are gearing up for a fight.Here are some highlights of the GOP budget:

  • 11 million families, seniors and children lose food stamps.
  • 35,000 children cut from Head Start.
  • 133,000 poor families denied housing assistance.
  • $1.2 billion cuts from education. That’s 4,500 schools 17,000 teachers!

The House GOP plan replaces Medicare with a system of coupons. They slash services.  That’s 500,000 fewer rides to doctors and grocery stores.  These are our parents and grandparents.

Campaign for America’s Future has heard these terrible ideas before. We’ve exposed them and helped defeat them. We’ve done this for almost 20 years.

Can you help us fight the GOP’s dangerous and dishonest plan for America?

This is a fight we undertake together.  We don’t have major corporations or billiionaires paying for these campaigns.  We have peopel like you.  If you are struggling, use your voice and tell your friends and neighbors what is going on.  If you can afford to make a donation of any amount, know that it truly does make a difference and that we never, ever take you for granted.

Thank you for your commitment.