July 10, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 8:19 PM


How (Not) to Kill Kim Jong Un : The history of failed attempts on the lives of Pyongyang's leaders shows if you come for the Kims, you better not miss. (ADAM RAWNSLEY, JULY 6, 2017, Foreign Policy)

The Kim family's first brush with death came in the 1930s, when Kim Il Sung joined the Chinese 1st Route Army as an insurgent in the resistance against Japanese colonial rule in Manchuria and Korea. Once Kim had made a name for himself in the resistance against Japanese occupation, Japanese police set up a designated "special activities unit" to hunt him down, employing dozens of former guerrillas whom the Japanese lured from Kim's unit by promising amnesty. Together with a network of police informants, the men stalked their former comrade and leader -- a lesson in betrayal that Kim would remember for the rest of his life.

Kim was protected during his guerrilla days by a band of bodyguards, which reportedly included his first wife, Kim Jong Suk, the mother of Kim Jong Il. North Korean histories of the period recount a battle in which Kim Jong Suk saved the future North Korean leader's life in northeastern China, shielding Kim Il Sung from enemy soldiers taking aim at him from a nearby field of reeds and dropping the would-be assassins with her Mauser rifle. The tale has long been a propaganda parable about the need for absolute devotion to the Kims' security, though there's little independent evidence to back it up.

The first confirmed attempt on Kim Il Sung's life in the postwar era -- though not the last -- came during a ceremony at the Pyongyang railway station commemorating the Korean independence movement on March 1, 1946. Assassins reportedly sent by the South Korean government threw a homemade grenade at the podium as Kim spoke, and Yakov Novichenko, a Soviet Army lieutenant guarding the assembled dignitaries, sprang into action and grabbed the grenade, which exploded in his hand, blowing off his arm. The incident spawned a lifelong friendship between Kim and Novichenko, as well as a cheesy Soviet-North Korean biopic in the mid-1980s. (Leonid Vasin, an assistant section chief in the Soviet Army's special propaganda section who worked closely with Pyongyang later, would in time write a more skeptical account of the incident. Vasin claimed that the homemade grenade landed about 100 feet from Kim and to the right of the podium, posing little threat.)

The coterie of guards surrounding Kim in the mid-1940s would eventually evolve into one of the world's most repressive and pervasive police states, run for the personal benefit of the Kim family. Within that architecture of repression grew an elaborate praetorian guard for the North's supreme leaders, protecting them with multiple, overlapping rings of security.

At the innermost ring are five to six elite, handpicked bodyguards from the brigade-sized Office of Adjutants, also known as Office No. 6, who directly protect the Kims. (It's the loose equivalent of the U.S. Secret Service -- except with 20 times as many people, in a country a fraction of the size of America.) The Kims' personal guards are senior officers who have proved their reliability and loyalty through years of service in North Korea's Guard Command, a 100,000-member unit devoted to the security of the Kim family and the upper levels of North Korean officialdom. Other Guard Command soldiers, picked from families with no known ties to Pyongyang's communist elite, provide the next layers of protection around Kim Jong Un, surrounding him at events, official visits, and on personal travel, as well as protecting his various residences.

The capital itself is protected by the Pyongyang Defense Command and Pyongyang Air Defense Command, which would fight within the city and defend its airspace in the event of a major war or coup attempt. Outside of Pyongyang, the 3rd Corps of the Korean People's Army (KPA) comprises the final, most heavily armed ring, guarding the western approaches to Pyongyang from the port of Nampo north to the Chongchon River.

A handful of agencies also conduct surveillance within the North to act as an early tripwire for signs of disloyalty and coup plots in the making. The State Security Department runs an expansive network of eavesdropping and informants to spy on North Korean civilians while the more sensitive work of surveilling senior Workers' Party officials is carried out by the Organization and Guidance Department. Within the KPA, the Military Security Command acts as a kind of parallel secret police to keep tabs on those in uniform.

Together, the domestic intelligence and security agencies are aided by the cultivation of a Kim personality cult, which emphasizes the worship of the Kim family as essentially supernatural beings. Attempting to kill a Kim, for many North Koreans, would be more than treason -- it would be blasphemy. Like Chinese emperors, the North Korean state, too, promises suffering not only to "traitors" but to their families, further deterring any attempt.

Posted by orrinj at 7:55 PM


Lawmakers Cite Evidence Russia 'Colluded' With US Green Groups to Block Fracking (Kevin Mooney, July 10, 2017, Daily Signal)

The Daily Signal obtained a copy of the June 29 letter to Mnuchin from Reps. Lamar Smith and Randy Weber, both Texas Republicans.

Smith and Weber quote sources saying the Russian government has been colluding with environmental groups to circulate "disinformation" and "propaganda" aimed at undermining hydraulic fracturing. Commonly called fracking, the process makes it possible to access natural gas deposits.

The sources include a former secretary-general of NATO, who is quoted by the GOP congressmen as saying:

Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations--environmental organizations working against shale gas--to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.

This anti-fracking campaign seizes upon environmental issues and health concerns that could be used to constrain U.S. drilling and fracking exercises, the letter explains.

Gazprom, a large Russian oil company, stands to benefit if Russian-funded environmental activism results in reduced levels of fracking and natural gas production in the United States, Smith and Weber tell Mnuchin. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 PM


Donald Jr.'s New Lawyer Represented Notorious Russian Hacker (Kevin Daley, 07/10/2017, Daily Caller)

Futerfas previously represented a Russian national named Nikita Kuzmin, who created a malware program called the Gozi virus, which infected nearly 40,000 U.S. computers, including computers at NASA. Over one million computers were compromised worldwide.

Ousted U.S. Prosecutor Bharara A Thorn In Russia's Side For Years (Carl Schreck, 4/05/17, Radio Liberty)

Preet Bharara's supporters may be criticizing his firing as a federal prosecutor, which the Trump White House characterizes as a routine renewal of ranks among U.S. attorneys under a new president. But it is unlikely that any tears are being shed in Moscow.

The former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, appointed in 2009, led numerous high-profile prosecutions that rippled through the corridors of power in the Russian capital -- and eventually he found himself blacklisted by Moscow. [...]

[B]harara was included in a 2013 Russian sanctions list issued in response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act blacklisting alleged Russian rights abusers. In its announcement of the blacklist, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Bharara of violating "the rights and freedoms off Russian citizens abroad."

Bharara's office prosecuted numerous cases against Russian hackers and other cybercriminals during his tenure, including several that outraged Moscow. The cases targeted Russians accused of large-scale theft involving compromised credit cards and bank accounts. One of these suspects successfully prosecuted by Bharara's office was Nikita Kuzmin, the son of Russian rock star Vladimir Kuzmin, whose website boasts that American Adult Contemporary icon Michael Bolton once praised him as a "super-talented musician."

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 PM

Bacon Explosion : Bacon, sausage, and barbecue sauce combine for a one-of-a-kind dish (Gerden & Gun, May 5, 2015)


24 slices thick-cut bacon

2 lb. spicy pork sausage, chilled

8 oz. cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1/3 cup barbecue sauce, plus more for serving

6 jalepeños, charred, peeled, sliced lengthwise, stems and seeds removed


Lay a 12 by 18-inch piece of aluminum foil on your work surface, with the 12-inch side toward you. Using 16 strips uncooked bacon, make an 8-inch square lattice weave in the center of the foil (think apple pie lattice).

Using scissors, cut the remaining 8 slices bacon into ¼-inch pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain.

In a bowl, combine the sausage with one-quarter of the grated cheese and 3 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce. Pat the sausage mixture onto the center of the lattice, leaving a 1-inch border around all sides. Fold the jalapeños out flat and spread across the center of the sausage, then sprinkle the diced bacon and the remaining grated cheese over the jalapeños.

Lift the edge of the foil closest to you up and over, folding the lattice-backed sausage up and over the jalapeños, bacon, and cheese, almost to the edge. Using your hands and working quickly, tuck the edges up and under the bottom and around the ends, nice and tidy, so that the loaf is fully encased in bacon. Wrap tightly in the foil and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours, until firm.

Heat a smoker to 225°F. Unwrap the chilled loaf and hot-smoke at 225°F to an internal temperature of 160°F, about 1½ hours.

Adjust the oven rack to the second highest setting and preheat the broiler to high.

Place the loaf on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and brush with the remaining barbecue sauce and broil until the bacon starts to brown and curl, about 4 minutes. Slice and serve as you would a meat loaf, with additional sauce on the side.

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM

Posted by orrinj at 4:14 PM


Behar Uses Homosexual Innuendo to Mock Trump-Putin Handshake on 'The View' (Paul Crookston, July 10, 2017, Free Beacon)

ABC's "The View" co-host Joy Behar described President Donald Trump's handshake with Russian President Vladimir Putin with a homosexual innuendo on Monday.

Behar said that Trump's position made him "a bottom" because Putin's hand was over his. That term is used to describe the submissive role among gay men, which Behar and the audience appeared to enjoy.

PC is such a thin veneer.

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 PM


Comey friend: No memos given to me were marked classified (Jake Tapper,  July 10, 2017, cnn)

"No memo was given to me that was marked 'classified,'" Daniel Richman told CNN. "No memo was passed on to the Times."

Posted by orrinj at 1:59 PM


PR specialist says set up meeting between Trump's son, Russian lawyer at a client's request (Reuters, 7/10/17)

The public relations specialist who arranged a meeting last year between President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian attorney said on Monday he did so at the request of singer-songwriter-businessman Emin Agalarov, a Moscow-based client of his.

Inside Trump's financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin (Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Michael Birnbaum June 17, 2016, Washington Post)

From left, Donald Trump, Aras Agalarov and Emin Agalarov walk the red carpet at the Miss Universe pageant competition in Moscow in November 2013. (Victor Boyko/Getty Images)

Donald Trump was in his element, mingling with beauty pageant contestants and business tycoons as he brought his Miss Universe pageant to Russia for a much-anticipated Moscow debut. Nonetheless, Trump was especially eager for the presence of another honored guest: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump tweeted Putin a personal invitation to attend the pageant, and a one-on-one meeting between the New York businessman and the Russian leader was scheduled for the day before the show.

Putin canceled at the last minute, but he sent a decorative lacquered box, a traditional Russian gift, and a warm note, according to Aras Agalarov, a Moscow billionaire who served as a liaison between Trump and the Russian leader.

Posted by orrinj at 11:27 AM


Blast from the past: 1960 'Home Run Derby' show set precedent for modern event (Arthur Weinstein, 7/10/17, Sporting News)

Filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles (the original home of the Angels, not to be confused with the Cubs' Wrigley), the syndicated series pitted two of the top sluggers from the era each week in head-to-head competition. Nine of the 19 participants would go on to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Mantle, Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson,  Al Kaline, Eddie Mathews and Duke Snider. 

As for that Mays-Mantle matchup ... well, we won't spoil the ending for you. That episode and others from this vintage series can be found on YouTube.

Posted by orrinj at 10:52 AM


Attack, Attack, Attack (Joshua Green, July 9, 2017, New York)

On his office wall hung an oil painting of Bannon dressed as Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries, done in the style of Jacques-Louis David's famous neoclassical painting -- a gift from Nigel Farage.

Appropriate to an enemy of the Anglosphere.

Posted by orrinj at 9:59 AM


Anti-Semitism Is Creeping Into Progressivism (Jonathan A. Greenblatt, Jun 30, 2017, TIME)

For an organization like the Anti-Defamation League, which was founded both to combat anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people but also to secure justice and fair treatment to all Americans, these manifestations are upsetting. Frustration with particular Israeli policies does not excuse an irrational hatred of Jewish people who support its existence. But this occurs all too frequently, which provides an opportunity to make clear certain moral and practical distinctions.

For starters, the agenda of the civil rights community is the agenda of ADL. We are committed to this work because it is core to our mission.

For example, we do not agree with every tenet in the Black Lives Matter platform. We were outraged by the baseless accusations made against Israel in the M4BL platform released last summer. However, we find common cause with many in the BLM movement around the quest to achieve educational equity, end the school-to-prison pipeline and stop the use of excessive force and the killing of unarmed African Americans by some in law enforcement.
In the case of the Muslim community, we work to combat discriminatory laws such as the Muslim Ban, to call out Islamophobia whenever it happens, such as the recent use of scare tactics to stoke fear that Sharia law is taking over this country and to promote greater understanding of their faith through intergroup work.

And regarding the LGBTQ community, we were proud to stand against discrimination of HIV/AIDS patients decades ago and, more recently, to champion marriage equality. We continue to fight housing and workplace discrimination targeting people based on who they love or how they self-identify their gender. And while great progress has been made in recent years, we continue to resist efforts to turn back the clock under the guise of religious freedom.

On the other hand, when hatred comes from individuals in those very communities or organizations for whom we advocate, we are duty bound to raise our voice. In recent times, anger over specific policies of the Israeli government has been used by some activists to excuse broad anti-Semitism directed at members of the Jewish community. In some cases, we have seen painful rhetoric unfold on college campuses or outright exclusion of self-identified Jews from progressive circles simply because of their faith. All of it is inexcusable.

Posted by orrinj at 9:55 AM


Iran Plans First Oil-And-Gas Tenders After Sanctions Easing (Radio Liberty, July 10, 2017)

The Iranian government is planning to announce tenders for the exploration of 14 oil-and-gas blocks over the next three months, a top executive at Iran's NIOC state oil company has said.

All against the Salafi.

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


Liberals Shouldn't Tolerate the Loony Left (Albert R. Hunt, 7/09/17, Bloomberg View)

The Trumpist right, with its conspiracy theories, racist demagoguery and blatant lies, should embarrass honest conservatives and responsible Republicans. There also is a loony left, which though less pervasive and powerful, needs to be condemned by liberals.

Its theories excuse efforts to suppress speech by conservatives, especially on college campuses. Its attacks on Trump go well beyond acceptable criticism -- think of comedian Kathy Griffin's video with a severed Trump head. Its activists, who include some elected officials, call for impeachment of the president before taking the trouble to build a constitutionally persuasive case.

Consider Tim Canova, a law professor at Nova University in Florida, who is waging a Democratic Party primary battle against Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He has suggested that a young Democratic staffer may have been murdered last year because the staffer, not Russian hackers, leaked the damaging information from the party's national committee that sabotaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He's downplayed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the presidential election, and questions whether he is being hacked by political opponents.

Canova was embraced last year by Senator Bernie Sanders out of resentment against Wasserman Schultz who, as Democratic chair in 2016, sought to tilt the party machinery in favor of Clinton. Canova ran a strong race, raising tons of money, but lost. Sanders seems to be staying away from the current challenge.

In the Atlantic last week, McKay Coppins reported on leftist conspiracy theorists like the Palmer Report, a blog that focuses on Russia. It reported in April that Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah was resigning because of Russian blackmail. The whole story was nonsense.

Sites like this, Coppins wrote, embrace a world "where it is acceptable to allege that hundreds of American politicians, journalists and government official are actually secret Russian agents."

The two extremes believe in conspiracies for exactly the same reason : reality refuses to conform to ideology, so someone must have the fix in!

Posted by orrinj at 7:07 AM


Comey's private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material (JOHN SOLOMON - 07/09/17, The Hill)

More than half of the memos former FBI chief James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency's rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton for in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.


Posted by orrinj at 4:37 AM


Data reveal: how automation is suppressing wages (Christopher Matthews, 7/09/17, Axios)

[A]s we saw in the latest jobs figures on Friday, average U.S. hourly earnings have barely exceeded inflation for three years running.

What's going on? The answer may lie in the Wage Growth Tracker (below), an alternative gauge produced by the Federal Reserve's Atlanta bank. It substantiates what a lot of people have suspected: that older, higher-paid workers are leaving the workforce and being replaced with cheaper, younger workers who hold little bargaining strength when they can be quickly replaced by automation.

It's a deflationary epoch.