Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cattle state governors defend "pink slime"

Failed presidential contender Rick Perry is trying to bolster beef processors in his state in the wake of the soylent pink "pink slime" scandal:
Gov. Rick Perry is defending so-called “pink slime” in a statement issued in conjunction with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and South Dakota Lt. Gov. Matt Michels (on behalf of South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who’s on a trade mission to China).

Their statement says that the “lean, finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science.”

Here’s how the AP describes the produce, nicknamed pink slime: “The lower-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.”

Here’s the statement from the coalition including Perry:

“Our states proudly produce food for the country and the world – and we do so with the highest commitment toward product safety. Lean, finely textured beef is a safe, nutritious product that is backed by sound science. It is unfortunate when inaccurate information causes an unnecessary panic among consumers.

“By taking this safe product out of the market, grocery retailers and consumers are allowing media inaccuracies to trump sound science. This is a disservice to the beef industry, hundreds of workers who make their livings producing this safe product and consumers as a whole.

“Ultimately, it will be the consumer who pays for taking this safe product out of the market. The price of ground beef will rise as ranchers work to raise as many as 1.5 million more head of cattle to replace safe beef no longer consumed because of the baseless media scare.
Leaving aside my qualms about the notion that food is better for us when it's heavily processed, I want to especially take issue with Governor Perry's claim that the consumer is hurt by not having cheap meat.

You see, cheap beef is, at heart, a deleterious entity, for our health, for our environment, for our own food security, etc.

I wouldn't want to go forever without beef (I love me the carne asada $2 tacos at BC Burrito's Taco Tuesdays), but as a society we consume way too much of it. We artificially subsidize it, so that its true cost is masked, and even those who consume little of it or not at all still have to pay those external costs down the road, in the form of higher health care costs, environmental depletion, etc.

(I note that in places like South Korea, beef is still a closer reflection of its true cost, and bargain-basement beef imports due to the recently enacted FTA may force local producers to "adapt" by taking on similar Frankenmeat solutions or "die.")

It's ridiculous that these politicians in the pocket of Big Beef and similar special interests come out and try to placate a public that's finally catching on to the dangers of mass-produced, factory-farmed beef. That is one of the many insidious ways in which our moneyed political campaigns adversely affect us.

Beef do not naturally eat corn, so they have to be given antibiotics so that their distressed digestive systems can handle that food that is designed to fatten them up quickly (one example of profit over health concerns). In the meantime, this overuse of antibiotics marches us ever forward toward super bug resistance, and that means more human lives lost. (Unnaturally crowded conditions also necessitate antibiotics.)

Cows eat grass. If a cow isn't 100% grass fed, you shouldn't eat it. Period. (Watch out for beef that is grass-fed until shipped off to a factory farm, where it is "finished" with corn and other stuff that cows don't naturally consume.)

If it's begin given antibiotics or growth hormones, you shouldn't eat it. Period.

If it's being "raised" in factory farm conditions where the amount of feces produced impacts other farms in the area (their run-off is how we end up getting feces-borne contaminants in our vegetable supply!), you shouldn't reward that operation with your money. Period. (Same goes for pork.)

That will make it more expensive, but beef should be a luxury good, considering how much of our resource actually go into producing it in a healthy and natural way.

Go spend money on beef the way your grandparents knew it, lest those producers disappear altogether.

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South Korean oil imports from Iran continues to rile US

What a difference half a decade makes. In the mid-2000s, the K-blogosphere frequently characterized Seoul as a bad ally of Washington. I believe it was One Free Korea that had a posting category entitled "the end of an alliance," which highlighted the eventual parting of ways between the ROK and the US.

(This despite Roh Moohyun's political capital-eroding decision to send what was the third largest contingent of troops to the highly unpopular Iraq War (even if they saw little fighting) and his efforts to push for a free-trade agreement that would bring South Korea closer to the United States economically, while also giving the green light for a naval base on Cheju-do that would make South Korea's military, particularly its navy, a more effective military partner with the United States.)

But Roh Moohyun and George W. Bush were, to some degree, ham-handed political figures without a sense of the big picture, who had stumbled into the Blue and White Houses almost by accident and happenstance. Where there was a great deal of common ground, Roh's efforts to also make nice with China and North Korea riled a Washington that had a philosophy that "you're either for us or you're against us" on all matters.

When both presidents, and their respective parties, were gone from their respective color houses, we got pragmatic heads-of-state who saw the need and opportunity to bring their countries back in line with each other. Both see China as a potential threat that is easier to mitigate by closing ranks, both see North Korea's brinkmanship as something that needs to be addressed head on, and both worked hard to do what their predecessors could not do with the aforementioned FTA.

The result of this and other actions and factors is that Seoul is now seen by Obama's Washington as the reliable ally that Tokyo once was (the Japanese leadership seems to be going through it's own Roh Moohyun phase). I think this will likely continue even if we see a Romney or Santorum administration, regardless of who is elected in South Korea at the end of this year (since both left and right have growing concerns about China and even North Korea).

That is a very long introduction to a short article on what's in the title up there. Despite three decades of its military and political patron having an extremely adversarial relationship with Iran, South Korea has continually engaged Iran economically, both as an exporter of electronic goods, cars, heavy machinery, and even construction, and as an importer of oil.

The irony is palpable if you take the short jaunt from the US military's Yongsan Garrison, across the river to Teheran-no Boulevard, long one of the major streets cutting across Seoul's affluent south bank of the Han River.

It has come to a head with the Obama administration's aggressive diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran over its assumed nuclear weapons development, which is itself meant to preclude a military attack by Israel or even the United States. In short, Washington needs Tehran to feel the pain if it doesn't abide by its international agreements and put an end to its nuclear brinkmanship (dang, used that word twice now).

But South Korea, like neighboring Japan, is a prosperous country that is energy-poor. The disaster at Fukushima has meant a reduction in nuclear output in Japan that may carry over to South Korea, while putting pressure on the two countries to import more energy resources. For them, the pain of cutting off Iranian oil supplies is perhaps too great.

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration seems to be getting South Korea's (and Japan's) predicament and may offer an exemption, but it hasn't so far:
South Korean officials said Saturday that they will continue working with the U.S. to reduce oil imports from Iran after President Barack Obama greenlighted potential sanctions against countries that continue to buy Iranian oil.

South Korea is one of several major importers of Iranian oil that have not received exemptions from the U.S. sanctions.

Obama announced Friday that he is plowing ahead with the potential sanctions, which could affect U.S. allies in Asia and Europe, as part of a deepening campaign to starve Iran of money for its disputed nuclear program.

The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran’s central bank, which processes nearly all of the Iran’s oil purchases, from the global economy. Obama’s move clears the way for the U.S. to penalize foreign financial institutions that do oil business with Iran by barring them from having a U.S.-based affiliate or doing business here.

Obama’s goal is to tighten the pressure on Iran, not allies, and already the administration exempted 10 European Union countries and Japan from the threat of sanctions because they cut their oil purchases from Iran. Other nations have about three months to significantly reduce such imports before sanctions would kick in.

Foreign Ministry officials in South Korea said Saturday that they expect to reach an agreement with Washington by late June on reducing oil imports from Iran. The officials declined to be named because discussions were still under way.

South Korea has already restricted financial dealings with more than 200 groups and individuals with suspected links to Iran’s nuclear program. Seoul relies on Iran for up to 10 percent of its oil.
Like it or not, Washington tends to look at Europe and Asia separately, so with Japan having already received an exemption, it looks like South Korea can, too, but the cuts will be painful. I haven't had to fill up the Kia with gas lately, but I suspect this isn't helping keep energy prices down lately.

And over here, we're feeling the pinch with gas prices as well. Hawaii, as many of you may be aware, routinely has the highest gas prices in the country, so it is a collective pain we're all feeling. Will South Koreans feel the need to join the American effort to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions? Were enough people paying attention to the recent summit in Seoul about that very issue?

Hopefully the ROK leadership will stay focused on that issue no matter who is in power come next February, but I imagine the left is torn a bit: on the one hand, supporting American efforts to aggressively fight nuclear proliferation seems like gross hypocrisy given the 1000+ nuclear weapons the US has in its arsenal (even if Obama is trying to work out a deal with Russia to reduce this further), while on the other hand, nukes are to leftists one of the worst things imaginable. Since even the most ardent leftist leaders in South Korea still look to Washington as a protective military ally and an economic partner, I'm guessing they'll fall in line.

But it's that feeling of "falling in line" amidst so much pain (been there, done that many times) that has the power to agitate the populace and erode the Seoul-Washington alliance at least a little on the edges.

Aloha Gas in Waikiki at $4.469 yesterday. I had lent my car to a friend and decided to walk to my doctor's appointment in Waikiki, passing this station, which is typical. Costco may be about 20¢ cheaper, but for the most part, we're at four and a half bucks per gallon here in the islands. And that has me feeling not a lot of aloha, but it's still way cheaper than what I've routinely paid in Seoul (but there I had a full time job or two). 

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Trayvon Martin's killer is a Democrat

This is not Trayvon Martin.
But you might have been told it is.

When Obama went to bat for Trayvon Martin and his family, to many Republicans and conservatives that was not a cue that we should open a dialogue on racial tension, but rather a signal that they should do whatever possible to uphold shooter George Zimmerman and praise his actions, while simultaneously smearing the name and reputation of Trayvon Martin.

Now some partisans on the right are filled with glee because, according to the Washington Free Beacon, George Zimmerman has turned out to be a registered Democrat!

Democratic President Barack Obama has been trying for years to get the Republicans to see eye to eye with him on anything, but the right's defense of George Zimmerman proves one thing: The only way for a Democrat to get support from conservatives is to shoot a Black kid.

Yeah, yeah. I pulled this out of the "Probably too soon" files. Anyway, it is utterly irrelevant that he's a Democrat. Zimmerman had an itchy trigger finger and, apparently, a propensity for thinking Black kids in his neighborhood were "up to no good," even when that wasn't true. It doesn't matter whether he was a Dem or a Republican, whether he voted for Obama or McCain.

On the other hand, I do find it unlikely that he'd be a Democrat. The concealed weapon, the tendency to blame Blacks for crime, etc., all point to more conservative viewpoints. It's not impossible that he'd be a Democrat, but just terribly unlikely.

Consequently, I have to wonder whether the evidence at the Washington Free Beacon is genuine (since we've discovered that the Allen Goin/Coon photo was a hoax, as well as some of the Trayvon Martin pictures, like the one way up at top). I mean, something purely computer-generated like that would be extremely easy to doctor up, and the potential "gotcha" to Trayvon's supporters ("Ha ha! Zimmerman is one of you guys!") would be tempting even if it weren't true.

The real tragedy is that the opportunity for dialogue over the Trayvon Martin case, or even Allen Goin's case, is hopelessly lost in many circles now.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

An update to an iconic picture

I believe that at this point, every man, woman, child, cat, and dog on the planet has seen this satellite image of the Korean Peninsula, showing South Korea and a little bit of neighboring Japan all lit up, with North Korea in pitch black (in North Korea, every day is Earth Day).

According to The Marmot, a new picture has been making the rounds in South Korea showing the same thing. Again, we see that the cities of prosperous and free nations South Korea and Japan are, at dusk (or dawn), awash in light, whereas North Koreans had better get home or else they'll be stumbling in the dark.

The Marmot says he's not sure if it's real, but believes it could be. Prompted by that, I did a little investigation (I like investigating photos), and my conclusion is that it is probably legitimate.

Through this site, I've traced it to the International Space Station, which snapped the photo on October 11, 2011.

Moreover, it appears not to be doctored, as the same site cites similar photos of other parts of the world. Above is Egypt, Israel, and their Middle East surroundings. This photo is interesting for much of the same reason: it starkly depicts how much of Egypt's 90 million-strong population lives along the Nile. It also shows how prosperous Israel seems compared to its neighbors.

What I don't understand is how we can spend so much on an International Space Station that only turns out blurry pictures.

Meanwhile, I'm curious if North Korea's planned missile satellite launch will be visible from space.

UPDATE:
A Marmot's Hole reader says the photo of the Korean Peninsula can be found here, but I can't verify it since Google Chrome is not playing nice with Quicktime on my four-year-old iMac at the moment. The date in the URL seems to indicate January 2012, though, so I don't think it's from there. [mini-UPDATE: I did not see Korea in that China-to-Australia run once I got it going.]

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

E-Land fails in bid to buy Los Angeles Dodgers

Remember when there was the possibility that E-Land, Korea's largest retailer you've never heard of, was going to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Well, I remember (which is quite a feat since we're at 4109 posts and counting). And it turns out that E-Land's bid lost to the one proposed by Magic Johnson and his consortium.

They will pay $2 billion for the boys in blue, the largest amount ever paid for a sports franchise in North America.

It's not clear how this affects a proposal by South Korea's LG CNS and Dodger legend Orel Hershiser to renovate aging Dodger Stadium.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Flour power

In a battle pitting media whore Kim Kardashian against insufferably self-righteous and wholly impractical PETA activists, who would you want to win? Or rather, who would you want to lose least?

I pondered that question when I read at KoreAm that Christina Cho, one of the PETA activists who likes to strip down in order to get horny heterosexuals like myself to forever associate copulation with meat consumption (not sure if that's their intention, but it is the result). 

It seems Christina Cho (seen above) flour-bombed Kim Kardashian, who plans to file charges. 

I don't really care how this turns out, as long as they stay away from my sannakchi


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A few thoughts on Trayvon Martin

I've been reading a lot of conservative blogs lately, especially ones expressing outrage over the outrage over Trayvon Martin's murder attempted murder foiled by self-defense manslaughter. And maybe I'm being too squishy or something, but the conservatives have me doing a 180° on how I felt about the case.

So let's get a few things straight here. We've been looking at things all wrong: Zimmerman is not only not a murderer; he's a hero for having taken out a thug who was capable of God only knows what. Just look at the facts.

First, Trayvon was 6'3", and everyone knows that once you're over six foot, bullets cannot hurt you; he was invincible and Zimmerman knew it.

Second, Zimmerman had everyone reason to fear for his life, because at any minute the invincible Trayvon Martin might pluck the gun right out of his hand and shoot him. If I were an armed George Zimmerman, I'd be afraid, too.

Third, we've all seen those movies where the wispy 140-pound guy can totally unexpectedly knock down someone 80% heavier than themselves; Trayvon no doubt had some mad skills and Zimmerman was reasonably fearful.

Fourth, Zimmerman knew all about Trayvon's suspension from school, which demonstrates he was a criminal and, therefore, deserved to die. We should emphasize this as much as possible: Trayvon Martin was a thug who took pictures of himself doing gang signals. Sure, White kids also do gang signals on their Facebook profile pics, but that's all for fun. Everyone knows that when Black kids do it, they are serious. In Trayvon's case, half serious.

He was a punk who did things that scare reasonable White people, and we should emphasize that as much as possible. Where there's nothing to go on, make stuff up, because we're probably right anyway.

Fifth, Blacks have known for years how things are, so why should they be all up in arms that Zimmerman suspected Tray was up to no good and tried to ask him where he was going, even though he had no authority to do so. That's just how it works and Trayvon was itching for a fight by not cooperating with it. His blood is on his own hands for getting too uppity.

Finally, Zimmerman did not say "fuckin' coons" when he was talking with the 911 operator. He didn't even say "fuckin' goons," which is a term of endearment. He actually said "macaroons." He was hungry and neighborhood patrol had given him the munchies.

But all Trayvon had was Skittles. Niggardly bastard.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

[UPDATED] Is the story of the "you get what you deserve, white boy" kid doused with gasoline and set on fire a hoax?

I don't usually add a prologue to my posts, but this one is unique. It deals with facts, questions, and doubts, and strong emotions about the case of Allen Goin, a Caucasian kid in a mostly Black high school in Kansas City who received burns in an incident in front of his home that has become a national issue, in part because the lack of media attention for this apparent hate crime is in sharp contrast with the media storm over the killing of Trayvon Martin. 

My goal is to get out the facts and deal with lingering questions so as to get to the bottom of what happened here. I've been driven by outrage, curiosity, and suspicion, but it's important to remain as objective as possible, while remaining respectful and courteous to commenters and those who are involved in this story. 

I feel that the best way to do that is to leave the story in a "chronological format" (i.e, leave it up as it was written instead of making changes as the story went on). That, to me, is more honest, and it also shows those late to the story how it has played out.

The upshot of this is that if your goal is to seek information, then you need to read all the way through, including the comments, where much of the information has been revealed. Reading half runs the risk of presenting only half the story. My apologies if that sounds like homework. 

ORIGINAL POST (updates follow):
I first started reading about this case on various conservative-leaning websites, where it has been offered up as an antidote to all the media coverage about the killing of Trayvon Martin, the teenager in Florida killed by an apparently trigger-happy Neighborhood Watch volunteer who had muttered to the 911 dispatcher something about "fuckin' coons" minutes before he shot young Mr Martin in supposed self-defense, after which the cops let him go.

The case of Allen Coon (yeah, go figure) in Kansas City, they complained, was just as bad but was getting very little press and there were still no arrests. I think the idea of two Black kids grabbing a White kid and "dousing" him with gasoline and then setting him on fire is outrageous and, if things happened the way we were told, clearly a hate crime. (Allen Coon's name sometimes appears in the media as Allen Goin.) [UPDATE: His actual name is Allen Goin, which is what the news media said, not Allen Coon, which is what many of the blogs were saying.]

But then when I started looking into the story, I noticed from television news reports that young Allen's skin was remarkably free of burn marks, for someone who had been "doused" with gasoline and then had his head set on fire. What I'd imagined was a horribly disfiguring incident had left him, according to reports, with little more than first-degree burns (i.e., redness) on his face. Wow, that's incredibly lucky, my skeptical self said to myself.

But then I saw this picture, taken from the Justice for Allen Coon Facebook page, and I thought I should reserve any snark and doubt for after the investigation. That kid looks pretty messed up.

In fact, I first saw the picture here, a site that explains how so many (supporters and detractors alike) are getting the story wrong. And while he didn't go so far as to say the story was a hoax, I noticed that in the news video of the story, Allen Coon's singed eyelashes at 0:49 don't quite look like the eyelashes in the Facebook picture. He also looks a bit older than someone who'd be Allen Coon's age.

And so I did a Google image search. It turns out, the picture of the messed-up burn victim is from stories of desperate Afghan women committing self-imolation, in 2010. See herehere, and here, for example, or here from 2011. This Afghanistan forum shows it in May 2009.

After further investigation, the earliest usage of the photo I found it was here, here, and here in September 2008.

So just what is the "Justice for Allen Coon" Facebook page doing pretending that an Afghan burn victim is Allen Coon? That smells very fishy. Is it that the actual burns suffered by Allen Coon are not that severe and, if so, that it undermines the claims he and his mother have made? (Go read the link in the fifth paragraph for why she would be motivated to do so; if it is a hoax, it may be that Allen Coon was genuinely the victim of racial harassment in his school, but this cockamamy plan was hatched in order to prove a point that would thus be hopelessly discredited.)

Oh, and to the people behind the "Justice for Allen Coon" Facebook page (I think it's his mother Melissa), I've saved a copy of the page, just in case you decide to change the photo to something else.

UPDATE (8 a.m., HST, Tuesday, March 27, 2012):
For starters, here is a link to the Kansas City, Missouri, police report. Odd that they didn't take the gas container in to test for fingerprints.

Meanwhile, the plot thickens. After I posted this, the opnat-eye updated their site to highlight the photo hoax. Shortly after that, the Justice for Allen Coon FB page removed the hoax photo and left the one with the scales (which had been there before, but not as a profile pic). Above "update" you can see the original and just below you can see what it now looks like. (I also saved an actual archive file of the original page; screen shots are easy to fake, but altering the code of an archived page is far above my pay grade.)

Their site had also been linked to on the Justice for Allen Coon Facebook page by one Annabeth Milosevic, though the link has since been taken down. What's interesting is that after I posted about the photo hoax and left a link at opnat-eye, someone claiming to be "melissa coon" came along and denied being the "Melissa" running the Justice for Allen Facebook page:
I am the mother of Allen Goin not Coon as the media portrays. i am not sure who has been setting up fake pics and pretending to be me. but it is unfair and sad the nation portrays us this way. please contact me 8168782582 if any questions or contact the local kcpd and they can forward the message
Having been the victim of attackers who posted messages while posing as me and even hacking into my blog and getting it shut down for a couple weeks, I am sympathetic to her claim. However, for several reasons, I don't think it holds water. [UPDATE: Despite the following three paragraphs, it appears I was wrong that Melissa of the Facebook page and Melissa the mother were the same person. That comes out in the comments section, but since not everyone reads that far, I wanted to make it clear here.]

First, the timing of "melissa coon's" appearance at opnat-eye and the removal of the hoax photo is in such a narrow window of time that it seems a very unlikely coincidence. Not impossible but not likely.

Secondly, the Facebook page owner also being named Melissa — and making no effort to explain on the Facebook page, until the photo hoax was revealed, that she was a different Melissa — is another odd coincidence that is not impossible but also not terribly likely. Moreover, Justice for Allen Coon Facebook page owner Melissa would have us believe she is merely an interested third party who just has a thirst for justice, but she had been referring to "we" as if she is directly associated with Allen Coon.

And that leads to the third thing. The motivation in putting up a site would be to see justice done (i.e., getting these would-be murderers arrested and punished), but the Melissa running the Facebook page also sets out to get someone fired who was not involved with the gasoline immolation attack.

And that sounds much more like the actions of an angry mother who feels her kid is being repeatedly harassed by students and teachers alike based on his race. In fact, we've seen the real-world Melissa single out Karla Dorsey just like the Justice for Allen Coon Facebook page owner Melissa did:
The boy raised his hand, eager to answer the question. "What would you know about it?" exclaimed the teacher dismissively. "You're not our race."

This was not dialogue from a Hollywood movie. According to a woman named Melissa Coon, it was what a teacher at East High School in Kansas City told her 13-year-old son, Allen, when he attempted to answer a question during Black History Month. Coon identifies that teacher as Mrs. Karla Dorsey, who is black; Allen is white.

As has already been reported, Allen was a victim of a vicious racial attack last week in which two older black teens doused him with gasoline and set him alight, saying, "This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy." Not surprisingly, Coon has pulled her son out of East High and, concerned about further racial violence, intends to leave the K.C. area.
Again, not impossible that there are two completely different Melissas and that the Facebook one is just doing what the real-world one would want done, but it's also terribly unlikely. (Fake posters typically do malicious things, not act as genies trying to grant your wishes for you.)

So, we have the real Melissa Goin (not Coon, though FB Melissa never uses a last name) claiming she's not Facebook Melissa, but Facebook Melissa put up an incendiary picture purported to be Allen Coon in an effort to gain sympathy for the cause, while also trying to get fired a teacher the real-world Melissa wants to see gone. She also wants, as she says repeatedly in news interviews, for a ticket to another school system.

And that's why all these improbably coincidences add up to this looking like a hoax. I believe Allen Coon really has been bullied or harassed by other kids, and that a lot of it has direct racial overtones. That is terrible and should not be tolerated, but it sounds like someone really tried to underscore that point by fabricating an incident whose nature had not occurred, even though it was feared.

If that is the case, I hope they come clean. Desperation makes people do some extreme things and this has — so far — not yet gotten to the point of no return, like where an innocent person is arrested. Though they would deserve some sanction, I would be very vocal in standing up for them, because of that desperation for which Allen Coon is almost certainly not the cause.

(I want to add a parenthetical comment about race-based abuse. Kushibo, as you may or may not know, is straight out of Compton, but not Black. In my nearly all-Black elementary school, I was harassed and occasionally hit, and it may have had a racial component to it. But Black kids also experienced bullying, and when we moved to mostly-White Orange County, harassment and physical assault still occasionally occurred — in fact the physical stuff was worse than before. See, kids like to ostracize and bully and crap like that, and racial or ethnic differences gives them an easy excuse for doing so. But in the absence of racial or ethnic differences, some other pretext is used, like nerdiness, shortness, haughtiness, etc. This is not to make light of race-based bullying, which needs to be gone from our schools, but nobody has a monopoly on this, either as victim or perpetrator.)

UPDATE 2 (4 p.m. HST, same day):
Basically, go read the comments section. The improbable is apparently the reality, and one Melissa Barber says she is the Melissa who set up the Justice for Allen Coon FB page and is responsible for posting the fake picture.

UPDATE 3 (6 p.m. HST, March 31, 2012):
Because there are those who insist that the hoax photo represents the extent of Allen Goin's actual burns, I've decided to print still shots from news video taken shortly after the attack. Note that his hands show no signs of burns, which would be nearly impossible if he pulled a gasoline-soaked shirt over his head while his head were completely on fire.

Note also that his eyebrows are singed but not completely gone. Lightly singed hair does not indicate one's head was on fire. His surrounding skin barely even shows signs of the first-degree burns (redness comparable to a sunburn) that he reportedly received.

In fact, that skin color is very close to that of his father, who did not suffer any kind of burn at all.

From this news site, a glimpse of his mother and his younger sibling (which belies apologists for the hoax photo who say maybe they couldn't depict a minor in the news story; he was shown staring right into the camera for some seconds, but I decided to obscure his appearance).

Note that the story also says he was home the next day, hardly characteristic of a severe burn victim who had "gasoline poured on his head" and set on fire (the reporter notes he's was in the burn unit "for a few hours" and was lucky to be home so early and even lucky to be alive).

Take all this for whatever it's worth.

UPDATE 4 (11 a.m. HST, April 3, 2012):
Because of a load of misinformation out on the Interwebs, I have decided to print out the actual police report of the incident. Notice that there is no mention whatsoever about the alleged attackers have said a racial epithet of any kind. Either that was added later or it was something the police were told but they deliberately left it out:
Upoon arrival I detected the odor of gasoline and made contact with V1 who stated he observed S1 & S2 follow him home from the stadium located at East High School. When he arrived at his residence he attempted to unlock the front door when S1 prevented him from entering by "bear hugging" V1. V1 stated S2 then grabbed a red gas can, filled with gasoline, and stated "This is what you get."

S2 then produced a lighter and as he tried to light the can on fire he dropped it on the ground spilling gasoline on the ground. S2 was then successful lighting the gasoline which produced a large fireball burning the face and hair of V1. S1 & S2 were last seen running north on Quincy Ave.

V1 stated S1 was a black male wearing a blue hat, blue jacket, and blue shoes with the number 23 on the side. S2 was a black male with a blue hat, black jacket, and glasses. V1 stated both males had facial hair.

I observed a red plastic one gallon container lying on the ground near the chairs leading to the front door of 2222 Quincy Ave. O1 stated he was the owner of the container and that it was left outside on the porch. I observed what appeared to be burns on V1's face along with singed hair. V1 complained of pain to his face and was transported by ambulance to Children's Mercy for medical treatment. While the injuries sustained by V1 were non-life threatening the paramedic and EMT believed he suffered from 1st degree burns.

Due to V1's injuries I notified dispatch to initiative a cascade for the suspects.

O1 is V1's father and stated he wanted to prosecute for assault.

Sgt. Rothert R310A, Detective Nelson, and Detective Taylor from Assault Squad were notified and responded to the scene. Detective Majors from Crimes Against Children was notified from the scene.

Digital photos of V1 and the crime scene were captured using the department's issued digital camera and were placed in the Assault's Squad folder.

/s/ PO Hutchinson 5409
This report, if accurate, does not support the oft repeated description that Allen Goin was "doused with gasoline" or that his head was lit on fire. It specifically dismisses the idea that these were life-threatening injuries and it gives no indication that they were disfiguring (assuming singed hair grows back). In fact, the description that he suffered 2nd degree burns on his nose (the most serious injury I've seen reported in the news) is not supported here (but it is possible the EMTs and the paramedic were wrong that his burns were only first degree).

UPDATE 5 (11 p.m. HST, April 5, 2012):
This would be laughable were it not so serious. The Allen Coon Goin case is gaining some traction on conservatives sites where it is being used as a banner for those who believe the media that couldn't care less about White crime victims and only raises concerns about "hate crime" if a Black is the victim.

And in order to make Allen the equivalent of Trayvon, the exaggeration of his injuries must be maintained. Or, in this case, ratcheted up:
Allen Coon, a student in the predominately black East High School in Kansas City was recently doused with gasoline and set on fire by two older black teenage boys who followed him home from school, apparently to the taunt: “You get what you deserve, white boy!”

Although Coon survived, it is believed he may lose his eyesight. Meanwhile, despite the overt racial component to the crime, local police are investigating to determine IF the incident might correctly be labeled a hate crime, while failing to include Coon’s full statement, i.e. “white boy,” in their incident report.
In other words: "Oh, dear God! The kid may go blind! I came to that idea after reading over-hyped but under-factual accounts of his attack and I took it to the next logical step!"

Seriously, the only ones in danger of going blind from this masturbatory exercise in media distortion are those who willingly close their eyes to anything other than the incendiary narrative that suits their purposes.

As for the police who "failed" to include the "white boy" taunt in their incident report, commenter Steven Milledge cites a Kansas City radio program that interviewed Allen Goin's mother, Melissa Coon, in which she states that her son didn't mention the "white boy" comment to the police but that he told her later at the hospital (audio here).

If true, that is odd that he would not reveal that kind of information, particularly when the police at the time (?) said they would look into it as a hate crime.

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Add BS and you'll have Kushibo Day

Today (Monday) is Kūhiō Day in Hawaiʻi. There are even parades. Along with King Kamehameha Day, it is one of only two state holidays in the entire United States honoring royalty.

Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (1871 to 1922) was heir to the throne for the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Although he had served time in prison for rebelling against the American-led Republic of Hawaiʻi, he eventually was elected ten times as Hawaiʻi's non-voting delegate to the US House of Representatives during the territorial period.

In Washington, in 1919 he proposed a bill for Hawaiʻ's statehood (which eventually came in 1959). He also gained passage of the Hawaiian Homes Act in 1921, creating the Hawaiian Homes Commission that set aside 810 square kilometers of land for Hawaiian homesteaders. It's an imperfect bill whose flaws many hope to remedy with the long-standing Akaka Bill (named for our eighty-seven-year-old* US Senator who is not running for re-election in November).

On a much more serious note, today also marks the second anniversary of North Korea sinking the ROKS Ch'ŏnan, killing forty-six people. Requiescant in pace.

* Hawaiʻi fun fact: Both of the state's US Senators were born in 1924. Senator Daniel Akaka is just four days younger than Senator Daniel Inouye, a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II who has represented Hawaiʻi in the US Congress since it achieved statehood nearly fifty-three years ago.

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random mention of Korea in American entertainment media of the day

Not so much of a mention of Korea as an inclusion of Korean text. Hardly a rarity these days, but the thing is that the "monster" (that's what 괴물/koémul means) depicted in this Family Guy episode is supposed to be a Japanese competitive eating champion.

(The badge on his robe also says 꼬치/goch'i, the Korean word for shish kebab.)

Or am I missing some really subtle political statement about the lingering resentment (han, if you will) held by Koreans toward Japanese over numerous brutal transgressions in the first half of the twentieth century, personified by the presumably Korean woman, and then a Caucasian man, holding up signs declaring that the Japanese eating machine is indeed a monster?

Bravo, Family Guy. Bravo.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Picture of the day: Obama seeing red at the DMZ

US President Barack Obama is visiting South Korea for the nuclear summit, and he has decided to take a side trip to the demilitarized zone, aka the DMZ, his first trip to the de facto border between the two Koreas.

From the Los Angeles Times:
The visit was Obama's first to the demilitarized zone that has divided North and South Korea for nearly 60 years, and comes at yet another tense point in relations with the secretive nuclear power in the north.

Obama met with South Korean and U.S. troops, and like presidents before him, stood in a camouflaged bunker peering through binoculars to inspect the rough, wooded mountains of a nation that has frustrated the West for decades.

The president is in South Korea to attend a global summit on securing loose nuclear weapons. But as his Sunday schedule shows, the status of the rogue nuclear program in North Korea is likely to outshine the formal agenda. The DMZ visit was his first stop. ...

But first the president headed north about 25 miles from Seoul, beyond the roadblock, mine field and barbed wire fencing to a windswept watch station 25 meters from the demarcation line. Obama looked out from behind bulletproof glass at the two small villages on each side of the line -- Tae Sung Dong, the tiny South Korean town dubbed Freedom Village and Gi Jong Dong, known as Propaganda Village for its fake buildings and speakers that once blared messages trying to lure soldiers to the north.

The messages no longer play. And Sunday, Obama looked out in cold quiet as a North Korean flag flew over the village, lowered to mark the end of the 100-day mourning period for the late leader.

"There's something about this spot in particular," Obama said in his remarks to U.S. troops. "where there's such a clear line and there's such an obvious impact that you have for the good each and every day that should make all of you proud."

The DMZ has long made a dramatic backdrop for a presidential visit, as a rare reminder of Cold War anxiety and America's continued reach. The trip has been one that all of Obama's recent predecessors have made. (President George H.W. Bush visited as vice president.)

President George W. Bush visited the DMZ in February 2002, at another tense time in relations. Bush had just included North Korea in the "axis of evil," a remark that unnerved South Koreans worried about the increasingly bellicose rhetoric. Bush then delivered a toned-down speech and expressed sympathy for the plight of North Koreans.

Obama arrived on much better terms with South Korean leaders. During his three-day visit, he's expected to emphasize solidarity with Seoul and make his first comments on the status of the food aid pact.
I've been to the DMZ probably a half dozen times at least. It's a very sobering trip, and a must-see for any American visiting South Korea.

One thing, though, I wouldn't describe the surrounding hills of North Korea as "rough, wooded mountains." Rough, yes. Mountains, sure. But wooded? Not really. You can see from the southern side how denuded the terrain is on that side. I'm not sure if that's by design (don't give an invading military any cover) or if it's because things have been so tough up north for so long that they have burned away any potential fuel source, including the once numerous trees. We certainly saw something like that across Korea during the deprivation of the late Imperial Japanese colonial area.

Anyway, I like how Obama has his name on his badge, lest we not be able to figure out who he is.

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Obama in Seoul for nuclear summit

His major task will be reminding skeptical naysayers why it's okay for the United States to have nukes but not North Korea and Iran.

From CNN:
President Barack Obama arrived in South Korea on Sunday for a three-day trip centered on an international nuclear security summit in Seoul.

He flew into Seoul, where he is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak.

Top officials from 54 countries, including China and Russia, will attend the summit meeting on Monday and Tuesday.

But its message of international cooperation has been overshadowed by North Korea's announcement last week that it is planning to carry out a rocket-powered satellite launch in April.

South Korea has said it considers the satellite launch an attempt to develop a nuclear-armed missile, while the United States has warned the move would jeopardize a food-aid agreement reached with Pyongyang in early March.

President Lee has already said he will use the summit to drum up international support against the actions of his northern neighbor.

North Korea says it has a right to a peaceful space program and has invited international space experts and journalists to witness the launch.
Nuclear non-proliferation is a major reason (but by no means the sole reason) for continued US military support of South Korea and Japan, two countries which have foregone their building their own nuclear arsenal in exchange for a robust alliance with the United States.

Hemming in a virally expansionist China is another major reason, but even China doesn't want North Korea to get nukes because (a) it makes it more likely that historical adversary Japan will get them and (b) rogue nukes could end up in the hands of Muslim separatists along China's western frontier. Ditto with Russia on Pyongyang having nukes.

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Wildlife bookends

While we're getting news that scientists have decided to return Siberian tigers (the kind native to Korea as well) into the semi-wild of North Kyŏngsang Province in southern South Korea, there's also news that authorities are returning pure-bred bison into the sort of wild region along the US-Canada border in Montana.



Both moves are ideologically tied together: a return to nature as it once was, as even human society traditionally remembers it, a restoration of heritage (animal and human). We are bringing back something that was evolutionarily fit for its environment but couldn't do much when humans came with firearms and a twisted sense of sport.

Naturally, there are nearby people opposed to this because, well, tigers kill people (and so can wild bison, who also trample crops).

Frankly, I think they shouldn't stop there. I want Dr Hwang Woosuk, when he's done with the woolly mammoth, to get hold of some Ursus Californicus (California grizzly bear) DNA and set some of those cloned bad boys out in the wildlife.

We'll see how long NoCal's clandestine marijuana industry lasts then. (And frankly, it's an embarrassment that by 1922 we'd killed off the symbol of the state.)

Why does this remind me of the North Korean flag?

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hines Ward retiring

To honor his Korean heritage, Hines Ward decorated his face
and his uniform with the Han•gŭl characters ㄴ, ㄱ, and ㅇ.

We got word last month that the Pittsburgh Steelers were letting go of Korean-American (and Black American) football sensation Hines Ward. Now we're getting news that, rather than playing football on another team besides the Steelers, Mr Ward has decided to leave the NFL entirely.

From ESPN:
Hines Ward believes he can still play football. The longtime Pittsburgh wide receiver known for his high-wattage smile and his bone-crunching blocks just couldn't stomach the thought of doing it in some strange uniform on some strange field with nary a Terrible Towel in sight.

Hines Ward could have chased another ring or paycheck in another uniform but it wouldn't have been for the Steelers and that just wouldn't be right, Jamison Hensley writes. Blog

"I just wouldn't feel right," Ward said.

So rather than play for a 15th season -- and his first outside the Steel City -- a tearful Ward opted to retire on Tuesday and secure a legacy unmatched in the franchise's long history.

"I can say I'm a Steeler for life and that's the bottom line, that's all I've really ever wanted," Ward said.

Ward holds every significant franchise receiving record, including receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. His 1,000 career catches rank eighth all-time and he is one of two players with at least 1,000 receptions and two Super Bowl rings.
Good on him for such loyalty. Now I hope he can head to Korea and work on some of the inclusion projects with which he'd previously been involved. Here are some suggestions.

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Obama taps Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim to head World Bank

UPDATE:
Despite an unusual amount of opposition, Dr Kim was elected to the post in mid-April.

ORIGINAL POST:
Adding another brick in his wall of kyopos, the Korean education-obsessed President Obama has nominated Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim to be the president of the World Bank.

He brings to the job normally filled by economists a toolbox informed by his own medical background and experience with major health projects. From the Washington Post:
President Obama on Friday nominated Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to head the World Bank, turning to a physician and public health expert to run an organization traditionally led by heavyweights from the world of finance or politics.

The choice surprised those who followed the administration’s search for someone to replace President Robert B. Zoellick when he leaves office in June. Kim’s lack of finance experience was cited as a particular concern for an agency that aims to strengthen private markets and build infrastructure — alongside the public health and social programs it underwrites in the poorer parts of the world. ...

“It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency,” Obama said at the announcement as Kim, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, a Dartmouth graduate, stood beside him. “Ultimately, when a nation goes from poverty to prosperity, it makes the world stronger and more prosperous for everyone.”

“Jim has truly global experience. He has worked from Asia to Africa to the Americas, from capitals to small villages. His personal story exemplifies the great diversity to our country.”
As someone in the public health field, I'm happy about this choice. For starters, health issues themselves have a way of leading to development when they are resolved (think of the pent-up potential that is released when a community no longer has to worry about clean and safe drinking water or high infant mortality). Moreover, a public health specialist might imagine and try to mitigate the potential downside (medically or socially) of some of the big ticket projects that the World Bank and IMF have been fond of lately.

The good doctor, incidentally, also has other skills that could be assets in this important position (go to 2:00):



His parents, who immigrated to Iowa (closest climate to Korea's) when Dr Kim was just five, are ecstatic. His mother beams with pride as she says "President of the World" and his father says, "Bank."

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

If anyone asks if China is a nation of troglodytes...

... you can answer yes. (At least a few million.)

Actually, if one had a secure cave, I think it would be quite cool to live in one. Literally.

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Metropolitician recovering from stroke

Over at Zen Kimchi, you can read the details about the hospitalization and generally positive recovery of Michael Hurt, perhaps better known in the K-blogosphere as The Metropolitician (and founder of Yahae! Magzine), following a stroke.

Yeah, the guy's a bit young to be having one of those, often reserved for people of Kim Jong-il's age and terrible health habits.

When I have a chance, I might address some of the things Zen Kimchi mentions about needing to bring supplies for loved ones in the hospital and stuff like that — it's not always true, especially if you're willing to pay for upgraded rooms with more privacy, but it can be an eye-opener for those who are in the hospital on the cheap.

Anyway, maybe a bunch of K-bloggers can each contribute a Yahae!-worthy article to keep things running while he recuperates. In the meantime, thoughts and prayers go out to Mike for a speedy and full recovery. I hope your health insurance is treating you well.

And lay off the fried chicken! Sometimes you only get one warning.

UPDATE (July 2012):
Metropolitician is back, sort of. He's gotten much healthier and now he's working on his dissertation. I used to joke I'd finish mine before he finishes his, but I'd be pleased as punch if I'm wrong on that score. Go to his Facebook page and wish him well.

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Boom, boom, boom... not going back to my room!

This sounds like one of those things in the prologue to a mega-disaster film. Clintonville, a small town in Wisconsin, has been experiencing odd booming sounds over the past three days, variably described as sounding like distant thunder, a door slamming, or and things like that.

Experts have been looking into the possibility of methane leaks in the town dump, unauthorized mining activities, and explosives usage, and I guess even fracking. But they haven't figured it out.

I hope it turns out to be nothing (or something to which it can be clearly attributed and then stopped), but for now the possibilities are — if media have taught us anything — as ominous as they are endless.

Mmm.... Bacon. 

Off the top of my head, I'm imagining the scenarios to 2012, Tremors (great film, by the way), or Gasland (the fracking* documentary), or a South Park episode on lactose intolerance.

* Autocorrect is apparently in the pocket of Big Gas, because it keeps changing fracking to tracking

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Romney wins in Puerto Rico... Could this be a harbinger of a Romney-Fortuño ticket?

Congratulations to former Massachusetts governor and Obamacare inspiration Mitt Romney for winning the delegates from a territory that doesn't actually have an electoral voice in the November election! (Actually, despite that little bit of snark, I think it's great that the two major parties include Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam in the primaries.)

This got me wondering out loud again about the prospect, which I touted last summer (here and here), of Romney (if he wins the nomination) having Puerto Rico's GOP governor Luis Fortuño as a running mate. He's an intelligent leader, he meets all the criteria, and having a Hispanic on the ticket might tip the race in a lot of swing states and maybe even give the Democrats a run for their money in New York, where hundreds of thousands (millions?) of ethnic Puerto Ricans reside.

(I would suggest that Rick Santorum do the same, but he said he's not willing to have any Puerto Ricans on his ticket until they learn English. I kid! I kid! I kid because I love... to kid!)

Tapping Governor Fortuño might be a better move, strategically, than what the Ron Paul camp may have up their sleeves. Having not come in first in any race so far, the libertarian darling is angling to have himself or his son (US senator from Kentucky Rand Paul) in the VP slot of the Romney ticket.

This would bolster the conservative credentials of Mitt Romney in the eyes of Tea Partiers (or rather, counter the liberal credentials they perceive him to have) and prevent a lot of them from sitting out in November 2012 because they are loath to vote for a RINO (Republican in name only).

Ron Paul serves a useful purpose as the conservative conscience of a country that has been spending too much since the Reagan era (minus a few years of Clinton), but he is too naïvely simple and obstinate to handle complex issues, be they domestic or foreign. The idea of him a heartbeat away from the presidency is downright frightening (we probably wouldn't start any wars, but he'd be leaving a geopolitical mess for whomever comes after him). I'm not sure how many of his father's ideas Rand Paul shares, but if he's got more than half of them, no thank you.

I never really got the whole idea of the Ron Paul Revolution signs. I mean, the guy doesn't stand for love; he stands for standing on your own. I guess some might see that as tough love. As in, "You got problems? Tough!" Also, the whole LOVE spelling backward thing to fit in with the revolution wording is kinda creepy and a tad scary. I mean, in addition to advocating revolution (nothing like killing people so we can have the freedom to not buy health insurance! Woo hoo!), I remember learning that love spelled backwards sounds like evil. Really, did these people not run this by anyone other than fellow Paulbaggers? 

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A blast from the past: South Korea a major source of methamphetamine in the late 1980s

... And presumably for part of the 1990s as well. Back in 1990-something, I remember citing this October 1989 article and looking up the source material for a paper or news article I wrote (probably when I was an undergrad in the 1990s but possibly a grad student in the 2000s).

I ran across it again last week while doing a short paper for a public health biology course on concerns over the rise of methamphetamine in East Asia:
South Korea Seen as Major Source of 'Ice' Narcotic:
Rising use of the potent drug is causing alarm in Hawaii, and Japanese gangs are reported active in the trade

SEOUL — Investigators believe South Korea is a major source of the highly pure crystal methamphetamine that is raising alarm in Hawaii as "ice," a potent, smokable form of the drug that authorities say is already catching on in the U.S. mainland and may rival crack cocaine in popularity.

Indeed, crystal methamphetamine is already the drug of choice in East Asia, where marijuana and cocaine are scarce and heroin is all but unheard of on the street. In Japan, the most lucrative market for methamphetamine, police say they annually arrest more than 20,000 people for using and trafficking in the drug, nearly all of which is smuggled in from Taiwan and South Korea.

Methamphetamine abuse is booming in South Korea, too. The Seoul government has vowed to crack down on the epidemic before it gets out of control, but the illicit trade in the drug has evaded Asian authorities for decades.

Crystal methamphetamine has been widely used in the United States for many years in its conventional, powdered form, popularly known as "speed" or "meth" and usually taken by injection, snorted or ingested. Notorious as a favorite drug of motorcycle gangs, experts say its abuse has been rising among the general population in Southern California in recent years, supplied by hundreds of local laboratories.

Ordinary methamphetamine is simple enough to prepare that there is little reason to import it from abroad. Signs are now emerging, however, that a pure grade of methamphetamine cooked in clandestine laboratories in South Korea and other parts of Asia is finding its way at least as far as Hawaii. There, a Filipino youth gang called the "Hawaii Brothers" initially popularized the drug in its "ice," or rock form, and sparked a boom in abuse, according to investigators.

Late last month, South Korean authorities announced the uncovering of a major drug ring that had produced more than a quarter ton of methamphetamine since 1987 and in July allegedly delivered 22 pounds, with a street value estimated as high as $750,000, to a former U.S. serviceman and his wife in Honolulu.

Although Vietnamese couriers were intercepted earlier this year bringing into Hawaii small quantities of methamphetamine believed to have originated in Hong Kong and Taiwan, law enforcement authorities have yet to catch anyone in the act of smuggling the drug from South Korea.

Capt. Henry Lau of the Honolulu Police Department's narcotics division said informants have told investigators that a good deal of the "ice" is coming from South Korea, however. The fact that no major laboratories have been discovered on the islands also points to imports, he said.

"We believe our crystal meth, or the knowledge of how to make it, is coming from Korea," Lau said in a telephone interview.

Yoo Chang Jong, chief of the narcotics division of the Public Prosecutor's Office, which enforces South Korea's drug laws, said a recent surge in overseas tourism by South Koreans is believed to have provided a screen for drug couriers. The Seoul government lifted passport restrictions in January, and foreign travel was up 72% in the first eight months of this year.

Yoo speaks of a "white triangle" for Asian methamphetamine trade: After police cracked down on production in Japan in the 1960s, Japanese criminal gangs relocated their illegal laboratories to South Korea and later to Taiwan, where it is cooked and smuggled back to Japan to feed the habits of tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of addicts.

Lately, however, the pattern has been changing, Yoo said. Tighter border controls have resulted in the diversion of much of the South Korean methamphetamine to the domestic market, resulting in a rapidly growing drug abuse problem. Methamphetamine arrests ballooned from 417 cases in 1984 to 3,208 last year, Yoo said.

"The government feels there is a crisis situation in Korea," said Yoo, whose staff will increase from 59 to 256 investigators by December.

The methamphetamine trade also has spread to Southeast Asia, where Japanese gangsters, known as yakuza , whose ranks include many ethnic Koreans, are increasingly active, as well as to the United States, Yoo said.

"Now it includes Hawaii and perhaps California too," Yoo said. "Only quite recently have investigators recognized the change of flow."

A woman identified as Lee Jin Suk, 54, confessed to delivering 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of methamphetamine to a "Mr. and Mrs. Alexander" in Honolulu in July, Yoo said. Lee, said by prosecutors to be the wife of a former National Assembly member, was among 23 people arrested last month in the largest drug operation ever prosecuted in South Korea.
Think how far the meth epidemic has become in the US since then, and how its primary source seems to be local production instead of imports.

Nowadays, interestingly, it is North Korea that is a rising threat for methamphetamine trafficking. There is a connection, no doubt, with Japan being one of the nexuses.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

"L.A.'s first modern Korean restaurant?"

Or is the Los Angeles Times story, despite its inquisitive headline, merely bastardization fusion of Korean food?

I'll have more on this later, but right now I'm at the Kahala Mall Apple Store admiring the new iPads which I'm not going to get. (More on that later as well.)

Sent from my iPad

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day, again! [prolly NSFW]

Another March, another St. Patrick's Day. As usual, I shall recycle earlier St. Paddy's posts. The best onethe pale imitation, and the one where I phoned it in.

(The last link includes a picture of Irish-Korean American Moon Bloodgood... Erin Goryeo Bragh!)

In the first link, I listed ways in which Koreans are the Irish of Asia, but after discussions with my friend and dorm neighbor "U" from Milano, I'm more convinced than ever that Koreans are the Italians of Asia. To wit:
  1. Italy and Korea are both peninsulas. 
  2. Both have a diet rich in seafood and garlic. 
  3. Both are industrial heavy-hitters despite having a large portion of people who seem to take all-day siestas. 
  4. They each picked the wrong horse during World War II (I kid! I kid!).
  5. Parliaments that can't seem to get their shit together. 
  6. Dark-haired, light-skinned beauty is the national aesthetic ideal. 
  7. Most of the touristy stuff is really, really old. 
  8. Loads of Catholics and a history of martyrs. 
  9. Hot-headedness seems to be, if not a virtue, at least an accepted trait.
  10. Abysmally low fertility rates. 
  11. Have you seen people drive in Italy?
  12. Bookends on the Silk Road.
  13. Island volcanoes.
  14. Thanks to cinema, both are heavily associated with gangsters. 
  15. Pretty danged corrupt, considering how economically advanced they are. 
  16. Marco Polo came back from East Asia and told the Europeans that a bunch of Korean stuff was actually Chinese (not a similarity, but I did need to get that off my chest). 
  17. Despite years of learning English, Italians can't speak English worth a damn either (I kid! I kid!). 
  18. In English, Korea ends with an a but Italy does not; in the native tongue, Italy's name ends with an a but Korea's does not.
  19. Booth ran from a theatre to a warehouse; Oswald ran from a warehouse to a theatre.
I'll finish this post with a wildly inappropriate holiday-themed picture that is decidedly NSFW, but since it's Saturday, you shouldn't be at work anyway.

Her yellow necklace means she's open to hugging and kissing.
Her green necklace means she's "willing to do '69.'"

Erin go braless...

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Friday, March 16, 2012

This is what's wrong with America


Well, one of several things.

(Alternatively, I was going to title this post, "This is why you're fat you've got diabetes." I thought it might be too soon, but then I realized that if I waited, for others it might be too late.)

Anyway, this is something I spotted in the K-Mart down in Iwilei while looking for a bread knife.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

From the "No, I've actually never seen Jurassic Park, why do you ask?" files

ORIGINAL iPHONE POST:
I'll write more on this (I'm currently in line to get $4.25/gallon gas at Costco in Iwilei), but for now, here's the headline:
Russian and Korean Researchers Will Inject Mammoth DNA Into Elephant Eggs, Resurrecting 10,000-Year-Old Beast
This succinct email was sent from my iPhone.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

9.0 + 1

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 9.0-magnitude Tōhoku Earthquake, the ensuing tsunami that killed many thousands, and the still ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

The tragedy has had major repercussions within Japan and elsewhere. The people of Japan — and I know this intimately from having talked with many Japanese since then — are in a funk over the future of their country as they see how many physical structures and political institutions have failed them.

There is a portion of northern Honshū where, within a twelve-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, no humans will be allowed to live for perhaps the next half century, if then. Yet the belongings of the former residents are still there, visited occasionally by owners who try to retrieve what they can. The land has become home on the range to feral cows no longer tended by the ranchers who'd been raising them.

Many Japanese live in fear that another massive quake will soon hit Tōkyō and bring even worse disaster — and suspect that the government that apparently hid so much embarrassing bad news about Fukushima is withholding the truth about that, too.

Meanwhile, the loss of Fukushima and Japan's apparent decision to gradually shut down its nuclear facilities elsewhere, means greater pressure on the world's energy supplies, a pinch being felt from Korea to Kentucky. On the US West Coast, some claim to have spotted the first wave of toxic garbage that the tsunami ripped from Japanese coastal towns and tossed into the sea.

Officially, there have been 15,850 deaths but there are still 3287 people missing. Some six thousand more were injured. In a country of 128 million, the 1 in 6000 who likely lost their lives were concentrated in a narrow band of communities that are physically, economically, and psychologically devastated. Whole neighborhoods wiped out, families with maybe a single survivor who is now wracked with guilt and despair, family members and friends still wondering about the fate of those who have not yet been accounted for (and probably never will be). Requiescant in pace.

I can't even begin to imagine what this might feel like. The people of northern Honshū, all the people of Japan, still need our help. My link to helping them through the Korean Red Cross is still at right (the one toward the top with the heart). It is still a time to reach out to a neighbor in need.

Seventy-three-year-old Teruko Sato prays at the site where the body of her son Shoichi was found. He died while helping evacuate elderly residents of his village of Kesencho. [source]

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