Refugees from North Korea report that the air force there has ceased, or greatly
reduced, training flights of the 300 An-2 aircraft it maintains
for delivering commandos into South Korea. The reason is
apparently lack of fuel, and spare parts to keep the fleet of 30-40 year old
aircraft, in working order. The AN-2 is a strange bird. It's a single engine
bi-plane made mostly of wood and canvas. This makes it difficult to pick up on
radar, especially if it's coming in low.
It can carry up to a dozen passengers. The An-2 can fly as slow as 60 kilometers
an hour, making it excellent for crop dusting, or parachuting commandos to a
precise location. Its range of 800 kilometers is sufficient to reach most of
Proof that North Korea is a hard case can be found in the fact that the Democrats and Republicans have switched sides. Ordinarily multilateralist Democrats are now unalloyed champions of unilateralism, in the form of face-to-face negotiations with North Korea, while President Bush — that infamous go-it-alone “cowboy” — has embraced international teamwork. Both approaches are flawed for a simple reason: North Korea wants a nuclear weapon because it wants a nuclear weapon.
The Jimmy Carter vision holds that North Korea’s nukes are coupons to be redeemed for groceries. But the North Koreans pocketed U.S. concessions after face-to-face talks in 1994 and continued pursuing nukes because ... they wanted nukes. Bush’s strategy has been, first, to declare that advances in North Korea’s nuclear program are “unacceptable” and then do nothing, and second, to insist that the U.S. can’t accomplish anything because our “partners” won’t cooperate.
The North Korea dilemma — much like the threat of Islamic fanaticism – is Aesopian. The frog in Aesop’s fable did not wish to be stung by the scorpion. The scorpion’s position? Wishing’s got nothing to do with it. Americans tend to think — and Europeans consider it gospel — that all differences can be negotiated. The truth is that only negotiable problems can be negotiated. Just ask Hamas if everything can be bargained for around a table. Their one non-negotiable principle is that Israel must cease to exist. Beyond that, they’re open to all sorts of creative proposals. [Emphasis added]
...food and fuel supplies sent to North Korea [from China] have been halted, not to force North Korea to stop missile tests or participate in peace talks, but to return the Chinese trains the aid was carried in on. In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program. It's no secret that North Korean railroad stock is falling apart, after decades of poor maintenance and not much new equipment.
The Chinese have tried to talk the North Koreans out of [their unworkable economic policies], and for their trouble they have their trains stolen. [Emphasis added]
Twenty-one members of North Korean cheering squads who traveled to South Korea for international sports events are being held in a prison camp for talking about what they saw in the South, a news report said yesterday.
...the female cheering squad apparently violated a pledge not to speak about what they saw in South Korea, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
Citing another unnamed defector, the newspaper said the cheerleaders had pledged before going to South Korea that they would treat the country as "enemy territory" and never speak about what they saw there, accepting punishment if they broke the promise.
A Chinese Christian church, that is. Not one of the underground churches (that is to say, a REAL church), but a state-registered "patriotic" one. Still, it was a nice show of support for religious freedom in a country that desperately needs more of it.
One story I read had this to say:
"I think we're at a turning point. In years past, (underground) family churches were mostly in the countryside, but more and more intellectuals are turning to Christianity...We also believe that the churches will play a role in China's democratization."
(From the Nov 21st ed of The Taipei Times, Bush's visit shows plight of underground churches. Sorry, no link.)
This is markedly different from the West, where it seems that the intelligensia bears open hostility towards Christianity. Another story I read some time back talked about China's intellectual "Christian sympathizers" - intellectuals who are not Christian but nontheless look favorably upon Christian thinking on morality. There are currently 40-80 million Christians in China, and it's entirely possible that they could help to reform the country in positive ways.
That is, if the Butchers of Beijing don't come down on them like a ton of bricks, like the North Koreans:
...five (Christian leaders), accused of being "Protestant spies" and who refused to abandon their religious beliefs, were bound hand and foot and made to lie down before being crushed by a huge steam roller...
Some of their fellow parishioners assembled to watch the execution "cried, screamed out or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound as they were crushed beneath the steam roller."