Friday, April 13, 2012

A Post For a Friday

All the stuff that demands a closer look...

The much-hyped North Korean rocket fell apart and crashed into the sea:

 A satellite launch North Korea had hailed as a moment of national pride ended in failure Friday when the rocket disintegrated over the Yellow Sea, earning Pyongyang embarrassment as well as condemnation from a host of nations that deemed it a covert test of missile technology.

The launch is a setback for new leader Kim Jong Un, whose government had projected the satellite as a show of strength amid North Korea's persistent economic hardship. Kim is solidifying power following the death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, four months ago.

The U.N. Security Council said it deplores the launch, saying it violated two council resolutions.

(Sidebar: well, that showed them!)

In a rare move, Pyongyang acknowledged that the rocket did not deliver a satellite, but it also pressed ahead with grandiose propaganda in praise of the ruling Kim family.

The United States and South Korea declared the early morning launch a failure minutes after the rocket shot out from the North's west coast. North Korea acknowledged that some four hours later in an announcement broadcast on state TV, saying the satellite that the rocket was carrying did not enter orbit.

This is the third failed rocket and with it, no doubt, the newest batch of North Korean scientists and workers to go into one of North Korea's many concentration camps.

The true but largely ignored cost of this rocket:

 By going ahead with the launch, Pyongyang has sacrificed 240,000 metric tons of food aid from the United States, which the Obama administration had signed off on Feb. 29 ahead of the announced launch. To put this in perspective, this is a country that's military recently had to lower the minimum required height for its soldiers to 4 feet, 9 inches because of chronic malnutrition, the Los Angeles Times reports. One-third of North Korean children are believed to be "permanently stunted" because of a lack of food. Additionally, Amnesty International has reported that crippling food shortages have forced malnourished North Koreans to eat grass and tree bark just to survive. Last year, diplomats reported that in some areas government rations of cereals had been cut in half, down to 150 grams a day per person in some areas, down from the good old days when the majority of the country was issued 700 grams per day. The photo above shows children between the ages of four and five suffering from malnutrition in a nursery in Kangwon province in North Korea. Even international affairs experts are baffled by country's decision. "What is perplexing is that they left benefits on the table," the Council on Foreign Relations' Scott Snyder told the Times. "Normally they would cash in on the agreement before reneging."



Since the North Korean professors arrived in September 2011, the KPP has largely been ignored by major Canadian media outlets. It received only a brief mention in the Vancouver Sun and Maclean’s. The Ubyssey ran an article about the program in September, but there were no quotes from Park, who generally prefers not to speak with reporters.

The one exception in media coverage has been in East Asia, where the UBC program was reported on aggressively. Besides The Ubyssey, the only interview Park has given was to a reporter from Japan’s second-largest newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun. The Asahi had run an article on the KPP based on a leak by an unnamed source, and Park wanted to clear up the article’s “misinformation.”

“I mainly stuck to the facts,” Park says about her Asahi interview. She clarified where the professors were from: five from Kim Il-Sung University, North Korea’s premier higher learning institute, and one from the Jong Jun Thaek University of Economics. Asahi had also reported the professors were taking Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees at UBC, which was not true; they were taking a mix of graduate and undegraduate courses.

There is good reason for Park to tread carefully with the media. The KPP is rife with political sensitivity. North Koreans see a “direct connection between economic and political change,” says Evans.

Park urged The Ubyssey to hold back from terms like “opening up,” “reform” and “capitalism,” words that have been preached to the North Koreans for centuries. Park is also careful not to lump the two Koreas together; that’s why the KPP is not run through UBC’s Centre for Korean Research, which she directs.

Not everyone thinks the KPP is a good idea. Right-wing blogs such as Blazing Cat Fur have attacked the program, accusing UBC of “hosting monsters from a prison nation that jails and murders entire families.” 

They also refer to CanKor, an online journal on North Korean affairs that Evans and other UBC professors contribute to, as a “propaganda site” for the North Korean regime.

This negative pushback is one reason why it is hard to get information on the KPP’s donors. Park says they donate on condition of anonymity, though she confirmed that neither the Canadian government nor UBC has funded it.

How many North Koreans get to travel outside of North Korea for holiday or educational purposes? Aside from the elite, none. One sees either defectors or slave labour ever exit the Stalinist state. The program at UBC is nothing more than a useful idiot propaganda campaign (possibly an espionage campaign) for a state that would do this to its people:

Only a small number of prisoners in the labor camps are even eligible for release. While there are a fair number of escape attempts — every former kwanli-so prisoner interviewed for this report witnessed multiple public executions of persons caught trying to escape — there are only two known successful escape attempts.


As to the funding of the Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP). I checked the UBC Institute for Asian Research (IAR) web site:

and as of this writing it is down (!!!) (Goes to show you the competence of university know-it-alls). We should check to see if it posts a financial annual report. One could also e-mail UNB financial services to see if it publishes an annual report for this Institute. 

I checked the federal Public Accounts:

and checked to see if the feds gave directly to the KPP or the IAR -- and they do not. The feds gave mucho dollars to UBC -- and there are about 10 citations in the above link. This stands to reason, since UB operates much like my university of UNB in New Brunswick. What happens is that all federal money gets channeled to the main university operating funds -- whereby the university takes a 10% cut off the top (for overhead services), then gives the remaining 90% to the grant recipient (and the recipient gets brownie points from the university for obtaining external funds).

The problem with this is that it becomes difficult to trace federal funding. For our purposes, in the 2010/11 year the feds gave the following, from CIDA, to UBC:

- $266.6k - "contribution for partnership programing"
- $116.5-k- "contributions for bilateral programming" 

I scanned other CIDA grants under the two budget envelopes, and the above aren't that much (CIDA gave a whopping $600-m under both programs combined), and not enough to sustain five or six PRK profs in Canada....

Finally, I did a check with the CRA charities division. The IAS is not listed as a charity, bot obviously UBC is. I checked their lates listing, for 2010/11:

and UBC received a total of $256.5-m from the feds, but a lot of this is scientific research of one kind or another. They received $17.7-m from overseas sources, and starting next year (we hope) UBC has to itemize its foreign contributions -- if federal legistlation proceeds on this front.

 Don't know where the funds come from, eh?

(with thanks all around and DMurrell)

Concrete evidence that the elitist fluff-bag Democrats have as much in common with the average American (and bear their compatriots such affection, too!) as a fly does with a spider:

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Thursday that Obamacare had made it possible for a 25-year-old law student to devote her career to working on social justice issues instead of working for a big law firm.

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, “Well, my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues.” And, “When I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.” Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing—in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do—why we worry about their future.

According to the Harvard Law School course catalog, professor Charles Ogletree will be teaching a reading group called “Understanding Obama” for one classroom credit during the 2013 spring term.

The arrogance and total idiocy these pantloads possess is galling. This is why they should be told to cram it at every opportunity.

Guess who said this and how right they are:

The problem is not the American people or our vast resources. The problem is a lack of political will. Our politicians don’t have comprehensive energy plans. They have a couple of talking points that they spout over and over. Obama is a perfect example of this. We need an administration that comprehensively looks at our energy infrastructure and resources and develops and implements a real energy plan for the future. We should bring everyone to the table for this – from the left and the right. Give everyone a stake in the discussion.

And now, something really awesome for a Friday.

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