Author Archive: Michael Totten

NORTH KOREA issues a “human rights report” about the United States. America, it says, is “a living hell as elementary rights to existence are ruthlessly violated.” New York City is reportedly stricken with famine. Pyongyang also issued a “report” about South Korea, which it says has the worst human rights record in the entire world, in part because “60% of university students cannot afford their school fees so must work.”

100 ICONIC PHOTOS that define the 21st century so far.

LEAVING UKRAINE TO ITS FATE: Leon Weiseltier in The New Republic: “Obama has concluded…that he ‘will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin,’ and so he has decided that he ‘will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin.’” Ignoring the master, of course, has the consequence of ignoring the master’s victims.

My book, Where the West Ends, is on sale for just 7.99 for two more days only. The price is going back up, so if you want one, get it now!

THANKS, GLENN, for loaning us guest bloggers the keys for a month. And thanks everybody for reading!

RESISTING THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN: Young male vigilantes in Egypt are going after young male harrassers of women: “The young activists lingered on the streets around Tahrir Square, scrutinizing the crowds of holiday revelers. Suddenly, they charged, pushing people aside and chasing down a young man. As the captive thrashed to get away, the activists pounded his shoulders, flipped him around and spray-painted a message on his back: ‘I’m a harasser.’”

There’s a great photo at the link.

GOOD GRIEF: Ron Radosh on Oliver Stone’s new Showtime documentary Untold History of the United States:Carl Marzani told this very story in We Can Be Friends. A secret member of the American Communist party who had worked during the war in the OSS, Marzani later was proved by evidence from Soviet archives and Venona decryptions to have been a KGB (then the NKVD) operative…Over and over, Stone uses the same quotations, the same arrangements of material, and the same arguments as Marzani. This is not to accuse Stone of plagiarism, only to point out that the case he now offers as new was argued in exactly the same terms by an American Communist and Soviet agent in 1952.”

MAKING IRAN PAY: “An Ontario judge has issued a restraining order against Iran’s property in Canada — including its embassy in Ottawa and a former cultural centre in Toronto — as the family of an American woman killed in a terrorist attack tries to collect a $13-million judgment by a U.S. court from a wrongful death claim against Iran’s security agency.” (Emphasis added.)

AN ELECTION NOTE FROM PORTLAND, OREGON: Nobody in Portland wants to put a Romney/Ryan sign in their yard. But, hey, I haven’t seen a single Obama/Biden sign either. One holdout in my neighborhood has an old Obama sign without Biden’s name, but that’s it.

This one, however, was just spotted in Portland.

I wonder if a sign like this might be even more effective if it just said “#Benghazi” and left it at that.

DAILY LIFE IN ISLAMIST NORTHERN MALI: The Islamists better enjoy this while it lasts, because it’s not going to:

A checkpoint set up by the Islamist police on the road to Gao marks the beginning of the region controlled by the new rulers of northern Mali. Adolescents wielding Kalashnikovs stand at the barrier with their legs apart. The oldest one keeps repeating the same instructions through a megaphone: “No cigarettes, no CDs, no radios, no cameras, no jewelry,” an endless loop of prohibitions, a list of everything that’s haram, or impure, with which this journey to the north begins. The men stand guard in the name of the Prophet Muhammad.

With arrogant gestures, they stop the few long-distance buses still coming from southern Mali. One of the men, holding his weapon at the ready, inspects the busses by walking down the aisle and checking to make sure everyone is in compliance with the Islamists’ rules: Are women and men sitting in separate areas? Are the women wearing the hijab? And are the men wearing trousers that reach to their ankles, the kind of trousers that radical Muslims believe the Prophet favored? They are now obligatory in Gao.

The driver and the passengers submit to the procedure in silence. When it’s over, the inspector jumps out of the back door, still wielding his Kalashnikov, and calls out “Salam alaikum,” the greeting commonly used in the Muslim world. The bus has now been cleared to pass through the checkpoint.

SCIENCE FICTION LAND: This might be a worthwhile Kickstarter project.

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Science Fiction Land is the latest from director Judd Ehrlich, a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker (Run for Your Life, Mayor Of The West Side, Magic Camp). [It] tells the mind-bending true story behind Ben Affleck’s Argo. Production on our film began years before the Hollywood version. We don’t have big stars or a big budget, but we have an extraordinary story to tell. After filming dozens of interviews and accumulating a bounty of archival materials, with your support, we will be able to complete this unique film and share the real-life events that are truly stranger than fiction.

They’ve raised about 75 percent of the money they need, but they only have four days left.

OBAMA IN OREGON: Elizabeth points out that President Obama is only polling at 47 percent in my home state of Oregon. (Romney is only polling at 41 percent.) I live in one of the most left-wing neighborhoods of the state’s most left-wing city. Four years ago just about everyone had an Obama sign in their yard. This year my neighborhood has a grand total of one. Romney isn’t making the sale, but there is no enthusiasm for the president here whatsoever.

UPDATE: A Portland reader adds: “My daily walks around the neighborhood often take me through the faculty parking lot of the Lewis and Clark College Law School. Four years ago about 70 to 80% of the cars in this usually near full 100-place parking lot had Obama bumper stickers. This year-to-date three is the most cars I have seen with an Obama bumper sticker. And these are 2008 stickers, no new 2012 stickers. Most of the 2008 stickers were gone within a year of the election. Also gone were the old Gore and Kerry bumper stickers left over from previous election campaigns. The Prius with a dozen or so lefty bumper stickers had an Obama sticker 4 years ago, now no Obama sticker, still has his NO W sticker though. This is my data point, there does not seem to be much enthusiasm for Obama around here either in the way of lawn signs.”

IT’S NOT JUST FRANCE ANYMORE: The United States is coordinating with Algeria for possible military action to demolish the new Al Qaeda regime in northern Mali. What’s going on there is appalling and hardly differs at all from what the Taliban were up to in Afghanistan before 9/11.

JONATHAN TOBIN on Benghazi and Obama’s unfinished business: “It is possible a Romney administration will decide to pass on further investigations of Obama’s scandals in order to avoid being accused of petty partisanship or pointless recriminations. But if Obama wins but is still, as is likely, is faced with at least one branch of Congress in the hands of the Republicans, the accounting for Libya will become a major problem for the president. At that point, fake anger won’t be enough to derail serious investigations that could prove both embarrassing and damaging. Senator John McCain’s pointed comments about Libya yesterday on CBS constitute not so much a partisan talking point as a harbinger of what the president and his team will face in the future as Congress digs into the issue.”

THE HUNT FOR OSAMA BIN LADEN: This looks promising. Zero Dark Thirty, a new film by Katherine Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker.

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