American citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller have been freed from detention by the North Korean government and are returning to the United States, the U.S. government said on Saturday.
Bae is an Evangelical Christian who set up a tourism company that arranged missionary visits to free economic zones in North Korea. He was convicted on a number of charges including plotting to overthrow the North Korean government.
Well maybe that's so, especially if religious proselytizing includes a long range goal of undermining the regime. It's also possible that his intent was more limited.
Matthew Todd Miller tore up his tourist visa and requested political asylum immediately upon entry into North Korea. The North Koreans claimed that this was a ruse to gain entry with the intent to expose human rights violations. Sounds like a harebrained scheme, but it's possible.
Whether or not either man did what he's accused of doing, and regardless of how worthy the goals, it seems like a bad idea to do anything other than smile, follow the rules, and keep your mouth shut about the NK government before and during any tourist visit. And maybe it isn't a great idea for an American to visit at all.
I'm a bit irked by people who unnecessarily put themselves in positions that become complications for those charged with implementing US foreign policy, regardless of motives. Good motives can have terrible unintended consequences.
In a piece for the New Yorker, Eric Schlosser claims that two iconic Cold War era films got far more right than the US government would admit at the time.
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about nuclear weapons, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Released on January 29, 1964, the film caused a good deal of controversy. Its plot suggested that a mentally deranged American general could order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, without consulting the President. One reviewer described the film as “dangerous … an evil thing about an evil thing.” Another compared it to Soviet propaganda.
Matt Taibbi tells the story of Alayne Fleischmann, the witness behind the $9 billion fine negotiated with JPMorgan Chase. Taibbi suggests that Chase executives pulled off the biggest financial crime in history and, notwithstanding the fine, they've emerged without a scratch. He's especially hard on AG Holder, who was behind the settlement deal.
Last year, we decided to use the healthcare.gov site to see if we could get better deals. After attempting to sign up at the beginning of the enrollment period, it was evident that the site had serious problems. Within days, the problems were all over the news. I didn't sweat it because I figured they'd get it straightened out. We waited until mid-December and tried again. In December, enrollment came off without a hitch, and we did end up saving money.
So time to re-enroll. Healthcare.gov sent an email advising us to log in for an important message. I attempted to log in.
Response: invalid login information.
Checked and rechecked login info. The login info that worked repeatedly last December and a few times early in the 2014 no longer works.
The site also says that if you haven't signed in for a while, you might need to reset the password. Huh? Why?
Anyway, they say they can send an email with password reset information. So I asked for an email with password reset information. Twice. A couple of hours later, still no email. Checked spam folder. Not in spam folder. No email.
So then I asked them to send user name, even though I'm sure I'm using the correct user name. Email sent, supposedly, but email not received.
They've managed to successfully spam that email account with healthcare.gov messages throughout the year, but now nothing when I actually need assistance with login.
I'll try again in a couple of days, but I fear I'll have to contact them by phone. I really don't want to do that.
Just fix the goddamn site. A year after launch, there's no acceptable excuse for this.
In the Illinois governor's race, 538 shows a razor thin advantage for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn over his Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner. It's so close that it would be reasonable to call the race a coin toss. I'll make no prediction because I know of no reasonable way to predict an election outcome other than models that have been shown to be highly successful at predicting the outcomes of political races. Instincts and intuition can be very helpful in direct relations between individuals, but in predicting remote events on a large scale, instincts are bullshit. In remote events, instincts are almost always based on inadequate information processed in an extremely biased manner.
The NY Daily News is reporting that Alex Rodriguez paid his cousin $900k to shut his mouth about the Yankee star's use of performance enhancing drugs. Initially, the cousin's attorney demanded $5 million for the cousin and the cousin's wife, but they settled for the lower figure.
All is not rosy, however, for the cousin who now finds himself criminally charged in connection with the Biogenesis PED case.