Punishment Without Pain, Backfilling With Impunity

What looks like Japan’s principled stance against the Iranian nuclear program turns out tobe rather lame.

Japan’s new sanctions include a freeze on the assets of scores of groups and individuals linked to the country’s nuclear programme.

They ban the provision of insurance or reinsurance services to Iran and bar Japanese financial institutions from buying bonds issued by Iran’s central bank.

The new ban on financial activity with 15 designated Iranian banks that could contribute to nuclear activities could affect some Japanese banks, analysts said.

Toyota Motor Corp has suspended motor vehicle exports to the country indefinitely since June.


The Weak Link in the Taiwan-US Alliance

Laurence Eyton’s portrait of an insecure Taiwan is a fascinating sociological study.

A navy petty officer, Liu Yueh-lun, was arrested on June 5, though the arrest was only made public a week later, for leaking military secrets. What Liu appears to have done is to pass a highly secret book of navy communication codes to China. While the case is still under investigation, it appears that Liu, who served on a destroyer in Taiwan’s navy and had access to code information, passed the material to his father, who did business in China and was being blackmailed by Chinese authorities.

The Dear Leader’s Far-Sighted, Nostalgic Voyage that Kim Jong-il has returned from the PRC’s northeastern provinces, and former US President, Jimmy Carter has negotiated for the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, what is clear is, that the DPRK doesn’t want to denuclearize, even if it might return to Six-Party Talks.

Red Links, 8-26-10

Teaching English?The topic of resource wars has become a continuing fascination for me in my grad studies. The topic combines war and three of my favorite things, food, water, and cheap electricity. So, KNOC looking for oil gets my attention. But, so does Brazil and America’s ebbing power. The Economist has taken a principled stance, that neither Democrat nor Republican knows much about the state of the world economy. Finally, how much military force do advanced states need?

August Links Dump

Teaser: the hypocrisy of praising sex, Noynoy’s follies, the entertaining Koreas, nuclear Japan, and Tyler Cowen defending Bruce Cumings

The Dear Leader Imitates a Company Boss (Video)

The Dear Leader disses a former American president, like any good flag officer or manager avoiding a meeting. Reports of Kim Jong-il and his son’s trip are rife. But, is it a bad turn, even if rude? I have to agree with Jacob Heilbrunn.

My take: It’s good to see that filial piety is still a priority in North Korea.

Kim may specialize in nabbing American hostages–he used to focus on kidnapping young Japanese female film stars for his seraglio–but he is adhering to Confucian traditions in upholding family values. He wants to make sure that Kim Jong-un gets his.

Ozawa Unplugged

One aspect of Confucian culture that can make me cringe is how it allows both elderly curmudgeons and comedians to really express themselves in their dotage after lifetimes of slavish thrall to convention. Ozawa Ichiro has finally revealed his inner comedian. It’s time to put him out to pasture.

“I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular,” the former Democratic Party leader said. “When I talk with Americans, I often wonder why they are so simple-minded.”

Ozawa didn’t elaborate on what aspect of Americans made him compare them monocellular organisms, a term also used to mean shortsighted or dumb.


Oil-Devouring Bugs Have Their Own Agenda

It seems to be a boon for science.

Data collected in May and June showed populations of carbon-eating bacteria were increasing in parts of a plume of oil drifting in deep water in the gulf, said lead author Terry Hazen, head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s ecology department.

Only, it’s not certain the specially-engineered oil-devouring beasties are eating all the oil. And, having exhausted whatever supply of that oil, the bugs seemed to have turned on each other. The law of unintended consequences has come to a mutant breed of bacteria which owes its good fortune to hapless humans desperate for a miracle cure.

How Science Is Done in America

I’ve always regretted not taking more biology and chemistry classes in college. But, now, this lowly Poli Sci major knows better how scientific fact is made in America.

…[P]rior to the May 2009 study, the National Cancer Institute had also performed a preliminary study that linked formaldehyde to leukemia, but members of Congress including Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and David Vitter, R-La., managed to delay the EPA from officially designating the chemical as a “known carcinogen.”

(The EPA in June, however, released a draft assessment [3] of formaldehyde that supports that designation, but it’s not yet official.)

Our Monkey Cousins Join the Pox Wars

I want to cheer the news, that U.S. military brings scientists closer to Ebola cure.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and a private firm, AVI BioPharma, published the results of studies that show that their treatment does have a helpful effect in monkeys. That’s a huge leap, particularly since the researchers were given clearance to start limited human testing. The partnership won a Defense Department grant of up to $291 million last month for that phase.

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