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    North Korea Tag

    World leaders have gathered in China for the G-20 summit, but that doesn't include Kim Jong-un from North Korea. So of course the little tyrannical leader has to show off for everyone that he is cool and a total threat by launching three missiles off North Korea's east coast:
    "This is Pyongyang's way of reminding everyone of their existence at a moment when all the parties are together, in a typically defiant, North Korean way," John Delury, assistant professor at Yonsei University in South Korea, told CNN.

    The Japanese government has placed its military on high alert after signs of a possible North Korea attack. The warning comes as Uganda, a strong African ally to North Korea, has grown closer to South Korea and cut ties to the north. ABC News reported:
    Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided interceptors in central Tokyo were readied as a response to Nakatani's order, and surveillance activities were also stepped up. A separate government source today told Kyodo News that the Japanese have received indications that Pyongyang is preparing to launch a ballistic missile, possibly an intermediate-range Musudan missile, in the eastern part of North Korea facing the Sea of Japan.

    About 2 weeks ago, I noted that the limp-wristed handshake with Cuba's acting dictator Raul Castro perfectly captured Obama's presidency. He nearly topped this historic effort with this week's Nuclear Policy Summit commemorative photograph. The Daily Mail reports:
    Surrounded by world leaders, President Barack Obama gave the peace sign as they gathered for a 'team photo' during a two-day nuclear summit. All eyes were on Obama as 54 other presidents and prime ministers joined him in Washington, DC, for crunch talks on Iran and terrorist threats involving nuclear weapons. There was one set of eyes, however, that was particularly focused on the President - those of Prime Minister David Cameron. Relations between Cameron and Obama have been strained since the President criticized the Prime Minister for getting 'distracted' during the crisis in Libya and turning it into a 's**t show'.

    A writer for the Huffington Post named La Sha has found an upside to the story of the American college student being imprisoned in North Korea. He's finally been stripped of his white male privilege. I wish I could say this is parody, but it isn't:
    North Korea Proves Your White Male Privilege Is Not Universal “That’s what the hell he gets. Good for him!” My mother had uttered those words in her typical matter-of-fact tone one morning as she watched the news. “He” was Michael Fay, an 18-year-old from Ohio who had confessed to vandalizing cars in Singapore, and was subsequently sentence to six lashes from a rattan cane. I was in sixth grade and all I could imagine was how horrible the pain would be. My mother was unmoved at the thought, remarking, “He earned that.”

    Communist North Korea is heavily involved in training and arming the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Islamist allies in the Middle East. According to recent revelations by former US intelligence officer Dr. Bruce Bechtol, North Korea has a more extensive military partnership with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and even Hamas -- than previously thought. In the past, North Korea has supplied Scud missiles to Iran and is currently playing a key role Iran’s domestic missile program. According to Bechtol, who is also president of the International Council on Korean Studies, Islamic Republic’s missile program would be “non-existent” without the help of the Communist Regime of North Korea. Nuclear proliferation and illegal arms trade makes up to 40 percent of North Korea’s economy. Iran has been paying impoverished North Korea in much needed hard cash and oil supplies. The Obama-Kerry Nuclear Deal that gives Iran $100 billion in previously frozen funds as well as greater access to international banking system, will inevitably boost this clandestine relationship.

    A 21-year-old University of Virginia student was busted for swiping a political slogan sign while visiting North Korea. He was arrested, run through a kangaroo court where he apologized for allowing the U.S. administration to, "lure him into" the heinous crime of stealing a sign to demoralize Korean workers, and then sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

    On Saturday, Madeleine Albright introduced Hillary Clinton at an event in New Hampshire, telling the crowd: “There is a special place in hell” for women who do not support Clinton. Madeleine Albright (78) served as Secretary of State under the Clinton Administration, the same administration that gave us the now-defunct nuclear deal with North Korea. Finalized in 1994, Clinton's deal was used by the Communist Regime as a cover to build a nuclear bomb. At the time, President Bill Clinton called it "a good deal for the United States", ensuring that "North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons." Fast forward to 2016; North Korea ushers in the New Year with blasting a 20-50 megaton Hydrogen Bomb and than last week tops it with launched a dual-use ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. soil. The test that North Korea wants to sell the world as a satellite launch, is just another leap for communist regime towards a inter-continental nuclear-weapon delivery system.

    The people of North Korea care very deeply about their civic duty to vote...if they know what's good for them. The dictator-ruled country had an election this weekend and 99.97% of the people voted; but choice had little to do with it. Not only did people have no choice in whether or not to vote, they didn't even get a choice on the ballot. CNN reports:
    Citizens forced to vote in North Korea's version of democracy It's called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But any real notions of democracy end with the name. North Koreans headed to the polls at the weekend to cast their ballots in elections for local representatives on provincial, city, and county People's Assemblies. Citizens were not asked to make a choice -- the results had already been decided by Kim Jong Un's central government. Voters were handed ballot papers but didn't mark them. They would have instead deposited them in a ballot box, signifying their support for the pre-approved candidates.

    There are some narratives that not even MSNBC should be expected to screw up---and yet, here we are. Today, Tamron Hall hosted former New Mexico Governor and UN Ambassador Bill Richardson to talk about Kim Jong Un's barely-precedented call for a summit between between the leadership of North Korea and South Korea. Throughout the interview, Richardson did a good job of pointing out how erratic the actions of North Korean regime has been, and was quick to put a damper on hopeful expectations that this proposed summit could mean a change in how the divided countries interact with one another. Then, of course, whatever is in the water over at MSNBC's studios seeped in to Richardson's consciousness and took the wheel. When asked about the possibility of Kim Jung Un wanting to define himself as a leader, Richardson went off the rails and blamed the media for North Korea's problems: Politico has the money quote:
    “He has been the victim, Kim Jong Un, of a lot of bad press, a lot of bad international attention, with the Sony hacking, with [being] taken to the International Criminal Court by some U.N. countries, a number of other very destabilizing moves that he has made, shooting the missiles, nuclear testing,” Richardson said on Friday on MSNBC’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall.”
    Watch it here:

    Despite widespread media and social media claims that the North Koreans were not behind the Sony hack, the U.S. government stands by the assertion that North Korea is the culprit. Obama signed an executive Order today imposing sanctions, as The Washington Post reports:
    President Obama, while vacationing in Hawaii, signed an executive order authorizing the sanctions, saying the repressive government was trying to stifle freedom of speech by American artists and businesses. The Treasury Department imposed financial measures on 10 North Korean officials and three government agencies. They include the country’s main intelligence agency, believed to have orchestrated major cyber operations, as well as agencies responsible for weapons deals and military research and development. The newly sanctioned officials include those operating out of Namibia, Iran, Syria and China....

    And the penny drops: Of course. From Bloomberg:
    “We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’ and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” Michael Lynton, chief executive officer of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement today. “We are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.” The studio scrapped the Dec. 25 debut after the four biggest U.S. theater chains took the movie off their schedule, a response to threats from hackers linked to North Korea. President Barack Obama said last week the studio’s capitulation to terrorists would hinder freedom of expression. “As the President made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said today in a statement. “The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome.”
    Of course, everything Sony is saying here is complete garbage. I don't believe for a second that it was Sony's intention to get creative with its release strategy; I give credit for this not to the execs involved but to the owners and operators of independent theatres like the Alamo Drafthouse, who took matters into their own hands, offered to screen the film, and when that didn't work out, attempted to screen something just as subversive and rude as "The Interview."

    Remember the time when North Korea threw a cyberterror party---and EVERYBODY showed up with bottles of wine and things in hopes that they would stop? Well, not everybody, but everybody actually involved bent the knee to the World's Worst Country and brought shame upon the heads of freedom-lovers everywhere. Fortunately for the future of the Western world, the rest of us got together and took a stand against psychological cyberwarfare and for the principles of free speech, free expression, and the freedom to watch Seth Rogen bumble around on screen. Oh, and the freedom to troll the hell out of North Korea.

    Could it be that the United States has finally hit back against North Korea's cyberaggression? All 1,024 of North Korea's Internet protocol addresses have gone dark, and internet monitors are calling the outage one of the worst network failures in years. From the Washington Post:
    The connectivity problems are coming just days after President Obama warned of a "proportional response" to North Korea, which is suspected of breaking into Sony's network in a major cyber hack. It's not yet known whether the United States is responsible for the downtime. But according to Dyn Research — which earlier this year bought the respected network analysis firm Renesys — North Korea's Internet is currently showing unusual amounts of instability. ... Is this an attack? The chances aren't zero, considering that the few North Koreans who can actually get online tend to be government and military officials. Even if the outages are the result of somebody's deliberate act, proving that the United States did it would be difficult.
    According to the New York Times, if this was us (and it had better be us, even if we'll never admit it) it would mean that US intelligence is trying something completely different. Normally, American cyberwarfare (that we know about) goes the "espionage" route and focuses on data grabs.

    Hijacking someone's Twitter account and putting up stupid pictures or political statements might reasonably be called cyber-vandalism, and a criminal one at that. Like this: rothschild-hacked-old But the Sony hack allegedly by North Korea which led to terrorist threats against movie theaters and a national self-censorhip? Is that really all it was, "cyber-vandalism"? According to Obama, yes, Obama: North Korea hack ‘cyber-vandalism,’ not ‘act of war’:
    President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he does not think a recent North Korean cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment was "an act of war." "No, I don't think it was an act of war," Obama said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately."

    Yesterday the FBI announced that the North Koreans were behind the Sony hack. Now the North Koreans are denying it, via BBC:
    North Korea has offered to hold a joint inquiry with the United States into a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, strongly denying US claims that it is behind it. Its foreign ministry accused the US of "spreading groundless allegations", which the joint probe would refute. Without addressing Pyongyang's idea, a US spokesman insisted that North Korea must admit "culpability" ... On Saturday, the North Korean foreign ministry said: "As the United States is spreading groundless allegations and slandering us, we propose a joint investigation with it into this incident." "Without resorting to such tortures as were used by the US CIA, we have means to prove that this incident has nothing to do with us." The statement said there would be "grave consequences" if the Americans rejected their inquiry proposal.
    If not North Korea, then who? Here are four possibilities via NY Mag: