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Those in the West who insist on calling Kim Jong Il the Dear Leader (although this title has not been in use in North Korea for one and a half decades), who believe that he is the personification of evil and the only person with power in his country, will argue that only he could have given the order. But this assumption collides with a truism that my students learn in their first semester: the top priority of the DPRK leadership is regime survival. An open war against the South would be suicidal.The “cornered tiger” scenario is the only condition, beyond mental illness, under which Kim Jong Il would choose this option. –“An Act of Open Insubordination? Implications of the Cheonan Incident for Domestic Politics in North Korea,” Ruediger Frank, 38 North
I don’t want to go all Spenglerian on you (or even Kennedy-esque) — but I’m beginning to think this era is essentially over, and that we are on the cusp of a major shift in the landscape of world power. Asia’s share of world GDP already exceeds that of the United States or Europe, and a recent IMF study suggests it will be greater than the United States and Europe combined by 2030. Europe has already become a rather hollow military power, and the current economic crisis is going to force European states-and especially the United Kingdom — to cut those capabilities even more. Needless to say, hopes that the euro might one day supplant the dollar look rather hollow today. Politics within many European countries is likely to get nasty as austerity kicks in, and there will inevitably be less money and less support for Europe’s various philanthropic projects in Africa, Central Asia, or the Middle East. –“The end of the world as we know it?” Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy
It was so hot inside the big top that day, so sticky, but it really didn’t matter. It was wartime, and here was this magical tent, nearly two football fields long, that let everyone with a buck or two in his pocket walk inside and forget. The clowns came first, making everyone giggle. The parade of all the animals around the ring was next. Then came the lions and leopards, snarling and leaping through hoops. That’s when it happened. The big cats were being led through the two long caged chutes back to their wagons outside the tent, and everyone’s eyes had just lifted to the five sequined Wallendas poised on the platforms high above with their bicycles and balancing poles, when someone first noticed it, eight or nine feet off the ground, on the side of the tent behind where Mildred and her three children sat. It was a flame shaped like a horseshoe, no bigger than a basketball—a well-thrown bucket of water might have put it out. –“The Little Girl in Grave 1565,” Gary Smith, Gangrey
Please step away from the crazy: Liza Minelli does Beyonce;
Adam Ant takes a “well deserved rest” (unless someone imagined it);
double-bagging your crap will not help you keep your job
More from TedRoss:
Price of ten pencils made from “recycled twigs,” from the Nature Company:
A loggerhead turtle in a Kobe aquarium at last achieved swimming success with her twenty-seventh set of prosthetic fins. “When her children hatch,” said the aquarium’s director, “well, I just feel that would make all the trauma in her life worthwhile.”
In Colombia, U.N. delegates sent to serve as impartial observers of the peace process aimed at ending the half-century-long war between the FARC and the Colombian government were chastised after they were filmed dancing and getting drunk with FARC fighters at a New Year’s Eve party.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."