30 September, 2011

Constructing a God

How does one turn a nobody into a God?

It is a telling sign of who is the rising star in North Korea: state-run television showing octogenarian party secretaries bowing to a man their grandchildren’s age before accepting the smiling young man’s handshake or kowtowing to his instructions.
When Kim Jong-un, thought to be in his late 20s, emerged from obscurity a year ago this past week as a four-star general and vice chairman of the Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, the first thing the outside world noticed was the obesity he appeared to have inherited from his father and his grandfather, the late North Korean founder Kim Il-sung. (Some South Korean news media outlets speculate that he may have undergone plastic surgery to more closely resemble his grandfather, a godlike figure among North Koreans.)
A year on, it appears increasingly clear that the regime is helping Kim Jong-un inherit a personality cult of his own. On state TV, he is packaged to look like his grandfather: Mao suit, swept-back hair and the gravitas North Koreans associate with the “Great Leader,” who died in 1994. Less clear is whether the ruthless cunning that has intimidated generals and party elders is his or his father’s. Key to the political dynamics surrounding the succession in Pyongyang, analysts say, is whether Kim Jong-il can live long enough to provide his son with whatever assistance he may need to settle into power.
I suppose it's a little easier when you are taking over the family business.

A Year On, North Korea’s ‘Dear Young General’ Has Made His Mark - NYTimes.com:

Creeping towards statehood?

Eight down, one to go, in the Security Council.

With eight apparently committed yeses (Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Lebanon, Nigeria and Gabon), the focus is now on convincing Bosnia to provide that last vote, with a somewhat less hopeful path ofconvincing either Colombia or Portugal.
Malki is expected to visit Bosnia soon, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit both Colombia and Portugal in October. Bosnia, which itself only gained independence in 1992, is seen as most likely to be supportive.
This might be doubly so after the European Parliament today adopted a unanimous resolution supporting the right of the Palestinians to have an independent nation. Bosnia, though not yet an EU member, is currently pushing for membership.
Of course, the US pledges to veto.

EU, Eight UNSC Members Back Palestine Statehood -- News from Antiwar.com:

27 September, 2011

Telling it like it is

As usual, the traders (whose livelihood depends on having clear perceptions) are a lot more accurate than the politicians (whose livelihood depend on distorting the perceptions of others) and more likely to tell it as it is.*

*Unless they are on CNBC, or course, where their primary job is to sell bad stock tips to gullible investors.

UPDATE (Sept. 30th):  It appears this guy's a real clown.  Not a professional trader, runs a failing professional speaker's business.  On the other hand, he's not one of the "Yes Men" and he's saying what many are saying elsewhere--just not on BBC.


Sometimes, I just have to love these guys.

Syria: Official Websites Under Anonymous Attack · Global Voices:

For the undergraduate IR student

Freshmen with an interest in international relations ask me where they should start. What should they read? Fortunately, Steven Walt has put together a very good list.

My "top ten" books every student of International Relations should read | Stephen M. Walt:

They're not necessarily "the best," nor are they a complete list, but they are classics, relatively easy to read, and give you a feed for how people who analyze this stuff for a living think.