By GI Korea
December 11th, 2013 at at 8:54 am
Here are some further changes going on in North Korea:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be weeding out his father’s generation of loyalists, a South Korean intelligence official said, forcibly retiring military officials aged 65 years old or above.
The move follows the unusually public purging of his uncle and former political protector, Jang Song-thaek, who is married to the sister of former leader Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father.
“Under Kim Jong-un’s rule, North Korea replaced several high-ranking officials, a signal of a generational shift,” the official exclusively told the JoongAng Ilbo. “North Korea has set up a regulation to send soldiers aged 65 or older home.”
Usually, a military position was considered to be a lifelong job that people could hold on to until they were incapacitated.
“Since the death of Kim Jong-il, several senior military officials such as the minister of the People’s Armed Forces or the chief of the General Staff of the Army, were replaced almost every six months,” the official said. “Ahead of a full-fledge reshuffle, the regime is giving decent positions to officials in their 70s as a sort of gift before they are forcibly retired soon.”
Intelligence sources said the North has replaced more than 44 percent of its generals who have three or more stars. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link but the Joong Ang Ilbo is calling this a purge of the old military loyalists. I call this more of a needed military reform because it is good to have mandatory retirement ages just like the US military has so promotions do not become stagnant for lower ranking soldiers. This announcement leads me to believe that lower ranking senior military leaders eager to move up in authority must be the ones siding with Kim Jong-un for these reforms. The question will be years from now if these military leaders will voluntarily retire at 65 or will they decide to stay on well into their old age like these generals forcibly retired did?
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December 11th, 2013 at at 8:45 am
If local law enforcement is anything like it is in this country, they’re probably unhappy with this outcome. One less drug to fight means less funding for them.
Lawmakers in the small South American nation of Uruguay voted Tuesday to legalize and regulate marijuana, going further than any other country in the world toward decriminalizing the plant and lifting the stigma from its use.
With the move, Uruguay leaps to the forefront of nations that have sought alternatives to criminal anti-narcotics enforcement, frustrated with the human and economic costs of fighting a drug war that rarely shows signs of progress.
The Uruguayan government will have 120 days to implement its plans for a sprawling reefer bureaucracy — the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis — to manage the country’s new marijuana marketplace.
Under the law, marijuana users will be allowed to buy a maximum of 40 grams (1.4 ounces) each month from government-regulated outlets, provided that they are at least 18 years old and registered in a database to monitor their cumulative purchases.
Growers will be allowed to cultivate up to six plants in their homes each year, not to exceed 480 grams. Aficionados will also be able to join forces and establish smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members with the ability to produce 99 plants a year. The green stuff won’t be allowed over the borders.
Nor will foreign tourists will be eligible to buy Uruguay’s legalized weed, making it improbable that Montevideo, the capital, will turn into a southern Amsterdam besieged by a flood of global stoners.-Washington Post
Of course the foreign tourists could receive help from the locals in order to get marijuana. I wouldn’t be surprised if a local entrepreneur set up a business to provide just such a service.
Hat tip- Dr. Taylor at OTB
December 11th, 2013 at at 7:23 am
A truly bizarre story.
The missing heart of a dead Marine from Chester County, Pa., is at the center of an international mystery that threatens to entangle two governments in a Philadelphia court battle.
On Monday, the family of Sgt. Brian LaLoup, a 21-year-old embassy security officer who killed himself last year while stationed in Athens, Greece, accused officials there of removing his heart during an illegal autopsy. Later, they said, Greek officials tried to pass off another heart as their son’s.
And while U.S. military officials knew LaLoup’s remains were incomplete, they let his body be buried anyway and lied to his parents about it, a lawyer for his family contends.
“At almost every point along the way, there are serious questions about how this was handled,” lawyer Aaron Freiwald said.
Last week, the parents, of Coatesville, sued the Defense Department and the Navy in federal court here, alleging negligence and mistreatment of their son’s remains.
In four years as a Marine, LaLoup served at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, guarding dignitaries http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/the-agitator/such as Michelle Obama, and was assigned to Athens three months before his death.
On Aug. 12, 2012, after a night of drinking, he shot himself in the head with a service weapon procured from an unlocked storage room in the embassy compound. Earlier that night, he had told other officers of suicidal thoughts and was overheard saying, “I don’t have anyone who loves me,” the suit alleges.
The events that followed that night were baffling, the LaLoups’ lawyer said.
A Greek government-run hospital in Athens performed an autopsy. Only after LaLoup’s body reached the U.S. military mortuary in Dover, Del., and a second autopsy was done did American officials notice the heart’s absence, Freiwald said.-Stripes
There’s more at the link. A screw up took place in Greece but I think that there is more than a fair chance that the LaLoup family is probably upset because of losing their loved one rather than because of unintentional medical mistakes. Grief can cause one to lose perspective.
By GI Korea
December 11th, 2013 at at 5:47 am
The USFK relocation plan to move 2ID to Camp Humphreys is something that officials in Uijongbu and Dongducheon have long planned for so I can understand why they are upset with the proposed plan to leave 2ID in place now:
Dongducheon residents and members of the Dongucheon City Council protest the possible long-term presence of U.S. soldiers in their city Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in front of the Ministry of National Defense headquarters in Seoul. U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said last week that the U.S. and South Korea are discussing the possibility of establishing a combined division and leaving “residual” U.S. forces in Area I after the relocation of most U.S. troops to installations south of the capital.
Lim Sang-O/Special to Stars and Stripes
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti also told a Nov. 25 news conference that a combined U.S.-South Korean division near the border was a “strong possibility” as “a strong additive to our alliance.” He said both issues were under consideration, but no decisions had been made.
“It is a sensitive issue, but we will work our way through it and do what is best for Korea and what is best for the defense of Korea,” he said.
His comments have sparked a backlash from city officials in Dongducheon and Uijeongbu, home to installations that include Camp Casey and Camp Red Cloud. They fear USFK may not vacate the bases and return them to South Korean control when the bulk of U.S. forces north of Seoul relocate to regional hubs south of the capital.
On Tuesday, members of the Dongducheon City Council delivered a letter to the U.S. Embassy that asks the U.S. to move the 2nd Infantry Division to Pyeongtaek, home to the future USFK flagship installation, Camp Humphreys, as planned.
The letter, addressed to President Barack Obama, said that although Dongducheon has had a closer relationship with U.S. soldiers than anywhere else in the peninsula, keeping American forces there will disrupt plans to develop land now occupied by U.S. bases. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read more at the link.
By GI Korea
December 10th, 2013 at at 8:55 pm
Going to North Korea and being a propaganda tool for the Kim regime must be a lucrative business for ex-NBA player Dennis Rodman:
Seems like Dennis Rodman can’t get enough of North Korea.
The retired basketball star is headed to the reclusive country for the third time on December 18. He’ll spend several days helping train the North Korean basketball team, which will play at least one exhibition game against former NBA players in January, according to Paddy Power, the UK-based online betting company sponsoring Rodman’s trip.
The heavily pierced and tattooed icon will be traveling with a documentary crew, Paddy Power spokesman Rory Scott said. [CNN]
You can read more at the link.
By GI Korea
December 10th, 2013 at at 1:31 pm
Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na salutes the national flag during an awards ceremony at the Golden Spin of Zagreb at Dom Sportova arena in the Croatian capital on Dec. 7, 2013. She won the event, her season debut, with a total of 204.49 points. (Yonhap)
By GI Korea
December 10th, 2013 at at 9:01 am
I do find it interesting that the special interests do not seem to care too much about the fact that police are not pressing charges against Heisman front runner Jameis Winston. In fact many in the media have called the woman an “accuser” instead of a “victim” that is the term usually used by the media in sexual assault cases involving the military. In fact there are reportedly many people upset with an ESPN sideline reporter for even asking Winston questions about the sexual assault after winning the ACC Championship game this weekend:
ESPN reporter Heather Cox took a lot of heat over the weekend after she asked Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston about the sexual assault investigation following the ACC title game.
Several fans, mostly from Florida State, felt that Cox ambushed Winston. His attorney, Tim Jansen, took to Twitter expressing his disgust and demanding an apology. [Yahoo News]
Authorities said that they decided to not press charges because there were too many gaps in the accuser’s story. I find that interesting because the special interests do not think that should be an issue to prosecute members of the military facing similar accusations. In fact they want to change the US military legal system to include having special prosecutors to bring even more of these type of cases to a court martial. I do not know what the truth of the Winston case is, but like many sexual assault cases in the military it involved drunken sex with the accuser having murky memories afterwards. In the US military servicemembers have been convicted with far less evidence than what the Winston case has. Readers may remember the Wilkerson case where he was convicted of sexual assault with no physical evidence and the murky memory of a woman who had been drinking despite his wife saying he was in bed with her all night.
If Winston was in the military he would have likely faced a sexual assault charge and demonization from special interests and the media like we saw in the Krusinski case despite him being found not guilty and arguably he was a victim of a crime. In the college football world what happened is called needing “to mature” and on to the Heisman trophy and National Championship Game with little to no special interests launching protests, political advocacy campaigns, or demanding special courts to try college football players in. In fact I went over to the website for RAINN the largest sexual assault advocacy group in the nation and noticed they had nothing on the Winston case on their website, but they do have a feature on military sexual assault. Heck they even have a military sexual assault app you can download.
Like I said before I do not know what happened in the Winston case, but what I do know is that people accused of sexual assault should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Clearly with the Jameis Winston case most people considered him innocent until proven guilty, why can’t US military servicemembers have the same expectation?
By GI Korea
December 10th, 2013 at at 4:58 am
These are some pretty strong words from South Korean President Park Geun-hye in response to the purge of Jang Song-taek:
North Korea is engaged in a purge amounting to a “reign of terror” that has claimed the scalp of the country’s second most powerful man and risks further damaging relations with the South, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.
Park took office in Seoul earlier this year as North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, enraging world public opinion, and threatened to engulf its southern neighbour and its ally, the United States, in a war. The isolated state shelled a South Korean island in 2010 and is widely believed to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel in the same year.
“North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong Un’s power,” Park told a cabinet meeting, part of which was broadcast on television.
“From now on, South-North Korea relations may become more unstable.” [Reuters]
You can read more at the link, but President Park’s statement I think could mean that she felt Jang Song-taek was probably a reasonable person to deal with while now she will have to likely deal with military hardliners who will be more interested in provocations then the cooperation she has been trying to advance.
By GI Korea
December 9th, 2013 at at 8:57 pm
Vice President Joe Biden has had a lot of gaffes over the years, but I think this one is hard to call a gaffe without knowing the context on which it was said:
Washington is blaming an interpreter’s error after reports here that gaffe-prone U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told President Park Geun-hye in Seoul on Friday that betting against the U.S. is a bad bet, or words to that effect.
The U.S. has spent the last two days trying to explain the gaffe, attesting to how sensitive the matter is for both sides.
Biden’s exact words were, “It’s never been a good bet to bet against America” and America would continue to place its bets on Korea.
The comment, distributed to the press, came across as a warning not to side with those who are opposed to America.
But when asked whether the comments were a veiled threat to Korea against siding with China, both Seoul and Washington frantically tried to quell the controversy by blaming the hapless interpreter. [Chosun Ilbo]
You can read more at the link.
By GI Korea
December 9th, 2013 at at 4:23 pm