February 10th, 2012
Christopher Helman, Forbes Staff
In the past few hours, Twitter has exploded with unsubstantiated rumors that the new North Korean dictator died in Beijing today and that a coup is underway in North Korea. So far there is no indication at all that these rumors are true. The rumors originated on China’s twitter-like platform Weibo (fyi: here’s the fascinating Google translated page of original Weibo posts), and quickly got picked up by Gawker.com and retweeted in the U.S.
As the story goes, a couple assassins barged into Kim’s room in Beijing and shot him, before being shot and killed themselves by bodyguards. Twitter user @ChristianJMay posted that the rumor is “based on news that a host of blacked out cars have descended upon embassy in Beijing, where he was visiting.” Nevermind that as far as anyone can tell, Kim wasn’t even in Beijing.
What’s interesting is how in this era of social media, the rumors have taken on a life of their own. A post this afternoon on the fake twitter account @BBCLiveNews got retweeted broadly. It stated: “Confirmed breaking news. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un assassinated. Updates to follow.”
I think it has something to do with the flamboyant, self-caricaturizing craziness of Kim’s father Kim Jong-il (see “Team America: World Police,” by the makers of South Park), but the denizens of the Interwebs take glee in joking about the possible death of the new young dictator.
Twitter user @Rocco_Castoro is as good a source of information as anybody else out there with his tweet: “This just in: Kim Jong-un’s cause of death was being force-fed hotdogs and having a basketball bounced off his head repeatedly for 20 hours.”
Kim Jong-Un’s name is fertile fodder, as@AngryMnkyFight demonstrates: “Kim Jong Un dead or Kim Jong Undead. Remember kids, spacing is the difference between assassinations and zombies.” So’s the leader’s weight, as comedian Chris Jenkins shows us: “Due to mistranslation, there are rumors that Kim Jong Un was assassinated in China. What it actually said was that he assassinated a buffet.”
We’ll find out soon enough if Little Kim has followed his father Kim Jong-Il into the hereafter. If he is alive and well, this day of rumors will mark the real beginning of his rule. Kim was expected, after his father’s death on Dec. 17, to abide by a 100-day mourning period, like his father did upon the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994. Yet an article in the Korea JoongAng Daily this week (from before the rumors) notes that Kim has already come out of mourning, and has been seen traveling North Korea, visiting tourist traps like “the Seoul Ryu Kyong-su 105 Guards Tank Division of the Korean People’s Army in Pyongyang.”
The article includes this heart-melting passage:
Kim Jong-un is already showing a different public personality than that of his father. While Kim Jong-il maintained a distance from the public, wearing sunglasses and rarely having physical contact with the public, the young successor doesn’t hesitate to act friendly and intimately with the people. That is the kind of behavior associated with his grandfather, Kim Il Sung. In a documentary aired recently by the North’s Korean Central Television, Kim Jong-un’s broad smiles and bold gestures were shown. He whispered in the ears of other soldiers and held the hand of a wife of a military leader. During a visit to an Air Force unit on Jan. 20, he hugged soldiers. When he visited Mangyongdae Revolutionary School on Jan. 25, Kim touched the faces of students and tasted soy sauce.
Soy sauce! Who doesn’t like soy sauce? Still, I would have advised him to tuck into a big bowl of kim-chi, the spicy pickled cabbage that is Korea’s equivalent of apple pie with ice cream.
(Note in response to sensitive commenters below: my point is that soy sauce is … meh. Whereas kim-chi is awesome. If I’m the dictator of North Korea and I get to choose my photo-ops, I’m going to go to the kim-chi factory instead of the soy sauce factory. Furthermore, to anyone who takes issue with the comparison, if you really believe that “as Korean as kim-chi” is not a viable analog to “as American as apple pie” then please let me know what food is more central to Korean cuisine.)
He’s friendly; he hugs soldiers; maybe this Kim is not so bad after all. He’s even said to love the iPad 2 and is set to allow Egyptian mobile operator Orascom Telecom to set up internet connections in North Korea.
February 10th, 2012
By Steve Watson
A privacy advocacy group has swayed Congress to hold a hearing next week into the Department of Homeland Security’s practice of monitoring social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as media reports and organizations, including The Drudge Report.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently obtained close to 300 pages of documents, as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, detailing the federal agency’s “intelligence gathering” practices on the web.
Among the documents were guidelines from DHS instructing outside contractors to monitor the web for media reports and comments that “reflect adversely” on the agency or the federal government.
As Reuters reported last month, in early 2010 contractors were asked to spend 24 hours monitoring news media coverage on popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks, as well as news sites including the Huffington Post and The Drudge Report.
The contractors were required to provide the DHS with feedback on any potential “threats and hazards”, as well as “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) ability to prevent, protect and respond, to recovery efforts or activities related to any crisis or events which impact National Planning Scenarios.”
The documents also state that the program should highlight “both positive and negative reports on FEMA, C.I.A., C.B.P., ICE, etc., as well as organizations outside of D.H.S.”
The documents obtained by EPIC indicate that following the exercise, a procurement official awarded an $11.3 million contract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in order to carry out the monitoring on a “24/7/365 basis”.
EPIC director Ginger McCall notes that monitoring what people are saying about government policies goes too far and has a chilling effect on free speech.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of political dissent has no legal basis and is contrary to core First Amendment principles,” she said.
“The language in the documents makes it quite clear that they are looking for media reports that are critical of the agency and the U.S. government more broadly,” said McCall. “This is entirely outside of the bounds of the agency’s statutory duties.”
DHS officials have admitted that monitoring of social networks for negative opinion was undertaken by the agency, but claim that the operation was a one off test and was quickly dropped as it did not meet “operational requirements or privacy standards,” which “expressly prohibit reporting on individuals’ First Amendment activities.”
EPIC argues otherwise and has presented evidence that suggests the practice is being held up by the DHS an an example that should be emulated.
“They are completely out of bounds here,” McCall said. “The idea that the government is constantly peering over your shoulder and listening to what you are saying creates a very chilling effect to legitimate dissent.
The Congressional hearing, DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy, will be held Thursday February 16th.
However, it is already apparent where the House subcommittee for intelligence and counter-terrorism stands on the matter. As reported by Reuters, the top two members of the subcommittee, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), wrote to DHS Intelligence Chief Caryn Wagner last month, pressing her to more carefully monitor users’ posts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to help detect “current or emerging threats.”
As we have also previously reported, The DHS has openly announced that it is actively monitoring social media for signs of “social unrest”, in a bid to pre-empt any sign of social dislocation within the United States.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.
February 10th, 2012
Carl Boyd breaks down exactly what a brokered convention is and how we might see the 2012 GOP Primary unfold.
Carl Boyd Jr is a Radio Talk Show Host, Political Analyst, Political Activist, Christian
and Motivational Speaker, and Conservative Strategist.
Carl graduated from Tennessee State University in 2010.
You can visit his site at the following addresses:
February 10th, 2012
Marco Rubio's opening CPAC address hammered President Obama on class warfare and inspired conservatives with his vision of the American free enterprise system.
Marco Rubio’s “magical mystery tour” brought him to the Conservative Political Action Convention, or CPAC, where a rousing oration kicked off this annual conclave of right-leaning activists, politicos and students.
Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, hung the magical moniker on Rubio’s life during his introduction of Florida’s junior senator. Cardenas, whose group puts on CPAC every year here in Washington, D.C., noted that he’d followed the arc of Rubio's political career from the Florida statehouse to the US Senate, and concluded that Rubio is “someone I know I’m going to say hello to at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue some day.”
But what may have been most magical about Rubio’s address to a ballroom of several hundred attendees was that it wasn’t particularly novel or unique – and it was still a knockout hit at almost every turn.
In other words, Marco’s standard stemwinder – the themes, story, and delivery – is a winner.
While it drew deeply on a rhetorical playbook that the Sunshine State senator has laid out in other major addresses, his talk at CPAC showed Rubio to be a playful, forceful, and – judging by audience response – effective bearer of the conservative banner.
First, there was the adroit, funny Rubio. He quipped that when he arrived for the first time on Capitol Hill, and, looked around at his storied congressional colleagues, he wondered how he, at the age of 40, had made it to these hallowed halls. Within six months, however, Rubio says he was wondering: “How did they get here?”
At a time when congressional approval hovers at 10 percent, Rubio’s twist of phrase was a particularly elegant way to highlight his own success while distancing him from an institution many Americans associate with gridlock and dysfunction.
Then, there was the angry conservative provocateur, ripping President Obama for engaging in class warfare.
“Unlike any leader in modern American history, we are led today by a president that has decided to pit Americans against each other,” Rubio thundered. “The basic argument he is making to our nation is that the reason why some of us are worse off than we used to be is because other people are doing too well. That the only way for some of us to do better is for some people to do worse.”
From there, Rubio became the inspirational visionary. After ticking through topics such as simplifying the tax code, energy policy, Medicare, among others, he settled into his sweet spot: America as a light of the world.
“Do you know what the most powerful thing about our nation is?” Rubio said. “It’s the American example. The fact that anywhere you go in the world, people know that there is someone just like them, living here, who is doing things that they cannot.
“Do you know why people sacrifice their lives and struggle to access democracy and free enterprise around the world? Because they see what it has done here. They see in the American example what can happen when anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything they want. They see what it means. And they want that for themselves.”
Rubio, it is clear, has a powerful story.
His discussion of the American example ties up many different threads in American conservative politics: restoration of the free enterprise system; the need for stable domestic budgets in order to provide for a strong national defense; and recollections of the quality of the American character and the American family as the bedrock of the entire enterprise.
But will it be a schtick that takes him to the White House? Conservatives will have to wait until at least 2016 to find out.
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February 10th, 2012
Cr edit note: Good grief! Can we as the True Conservatives actually ever get a True Conservative to run? This guy sounds much like Obama with his dismissal of true fiscal Conservatism in the Tea Party.
The Tea Party is not a Libertarian movement, people. It is a common sense approach to the spending madness within our government.
I almost hate the fact that FB's Matt Moody found this snippet at Townhall.com, just as Santorum appears to breaking free.
No rest for the weary, it would seem.