It’s about Freedom, 2

The Tulip Girl posted in the comments below:

For what is currently going on in Ukraine, I recommend Dan’s recent post, A Better Kind of Normal.

The Deputy Headmistress is thrilled that Tulip Girl actually looked at something on our blog, and tickled, well, orange, with her excellent reminder. You see, the Headmistress actually found Tulip Girl’s blog from a reference on Orange Ukraine, and forgetting to mention the go-to blog on Ukraine’s march to freedom was a seriously senior moment.

So, rather late, but still worth reading, here’s the link to A Better Kind of Normal.

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Excerpts, State Dept. Report on North Korea

Note: Our previous post on North Korea is here.

The entire State Department Report is here. What follows are some excerpts. These can be rather hard to read. There are a few more gruesome specifics I didn’t mention at all, because this will be difficult enough for some of our scholars to read as it is.

“There continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and arbitrary detention, including of many persons held as political prisoners. Prison conditions were harsh and life-threatening, and torture reportedly was common…”

” …In April, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) called for the appointment of Special Rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn to examine the human rights conditions in the country, but he was not allowed to visit the country to carry out his mandate…”

” …In the past, prisoners have been sentenced to death for such ill defined “crimes” as “ideological divergence,” “opposing socialism,” and “counterrevolutionary crimes.” In some cases, notably at the height of the famine in the 1990s, executions reportedly were carried out at public meetings attended by workers, students, school children, and before assembled inmates at places of detention. Border guards reportedly had orders to shoot to kill potential defectors… “

…members of underground churches have been killed because of their religious beliefs and suspected contacts with overseas evangelical groups operating across the Chinese border (see Section 2.c.)…

…the Government has been involved in the kidnapping abroad of South Koreans, Japanese, and other foreign nationals…

…According to a report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USCHRNK), torture “is routine and severe…”

…Over the years, there have been reports from defectors alleging the testing on human subjects of a variety of chemical and biological agents…

…Past reports have described political offenses as including sitting on newspapers bearing Kim Il Sung’s picture, mentioning Kim Il Sung’s limited formal education, or defacing photographs of the Kims…

…Kim Jong Il has stated that ideological education must take precedence over academic education in the nation’s schools, and he also called for the intensification of mandatory ideological study and discussion sessions for adult workers. ..

…The cult of personality of Kim Jong Il and his father and the official “juche” ideology remained important ideological underpinnings of the regime, approaching the level of a state religion. Refusal on religious or other grounds to accept the leader as the supreme authority exemplifying the State and society’s needs is regarded as opposition to the national interest and may result in severe punishment…

“…In testimony given in the early 1990s, witnesses said that prisoners held on the basis of their religious beliefs generally were treated worse, sometimes much worse, than other inmates. One such witness, a former prison guard, testified that those believing in God were regarded as insane, since authorities taught “all religions are opiates…”

This guard told a story of a woman severely beaten because she was overheard praying for a child who was being beaten in the prison.

Now you might read the LA Times article that sparked all this interest in Korea. It’s called N. Korea, Without the Rancor

Questions to consider as you read:

Is this anonymous source really just a business man from N. Korea, or is he something more?

Why might there never have been a positive article about N. Korea? Is the above article postive or negative?

Was it fair of Condaleeza Rice to call N. Korea an ‘outpost of tryanny?’

Do you think that N. Korea’s government is primarily a cultural difference?

Tell me what you think about this:

He also said that U.S. criticism of North Korea’s record on human rights was unfair and hypocritical. In its annual human rights report on Monday, the State Department characterized North Korea’s behavior as “extremely poor.” It said 150,000 to 200,000 people were being held in detention camps for political reasons and that there continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings.

“Is there any country where there is a 100% guarantee of human rights? Certainly not the United States,” the businessman said. “There is a question of what is a political prisoner. Maybe these people are not political prisoners but social agitators.”

Or this:

Electricity is a real problem. We have only six hours a day,” said the North Korean, who lives in an apartment in a choice neighborhood of Pyongyang, the capital. “When you are watching a movie on TV, there might be a nice love scene and then suddenly the power is out. People blame the Americans. They blame Bush.”

Read this:

The most important point the North Korean said he wanted to convey in the conversation was that his nation was a place just like any other.

“There is love. There is hate. There is fighting. There is charity‚Ķ. People marry. They divorce. They make children,” he said.

“People are just trying to live a normal life.”

And explain what you think is a N. Korean’s biggest hindrance in this ‘attempt to live a normal life.’

This anonymous North Korean lives in Pyongyang. Here is something you should know about this city (from the above Human Rights Report):

The Government strictly controlled permission to reside in, or even to enter, Pyongyang, where food supplies, housing, health, and general living conditions were much better than in the rest of the country.

What does this tell you about this anonymous ‘businessman?

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Whatsits and His Love of Order

I took the two young hooligans for a walk today. It was a glorious walk. Migratory birds, a very happy Lab dog (now also a very wet and muddy Lab dog, hence half his joy) and a book to read. We have just begun reading “The Door in the Wall,” a book I remember with fondest regard, without actually remembering much of the story (a monk, a sick boy and medieval England is about as far as I remember). That must be rectified.

At any rate, Whosits & Whatsits chastised me for being such a slow walker on the way back. At one point we were lined up with Whosits in front, Whatsits in the middle and Yours Truly at the back. Whatsits declared that Whosits was Fast Poke, I was Slow Poke and he (can you guess) was Medium Poke.

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North Korea

UPDATE: Welcome, Hugh Hewitt readers- our blog is a family friendly blog by homeschoolers for homeschoolers and others interested in news, politics, family, and homeschooling issues.

UPDATE 2: More on N. Korea here, where we have excepts from the State Dept. Report on human rights violations
One afternoon a handful of years ago, the Deputy Headmistress sat with her stomach churning as a Japanese friend relayed some dreadful news from North Korea. She was explaining to the Headmistress the North Korean famine, and the grotesque atrocities all too often suffered by North Korean citizens. The Headmistress will not go into those details here, because children read this blog.

The famine in North Korea is a direct result of government oppression, tyranny, and cruelty, in fact, insane and evil policies of the North Korean government. So imagine how disgusting it would be if an American newspaper, staffed by Americans who never worry about where dessert is coming from, let alone their next meal, actually published an article comparing human rights violations in America to those in North Korea, and finding them roughly equivalent. Imagine how despicable it would be for an American journalist to permit herself to be used as ventriloquist’s dummy for a north Korean agent spewing his poison and lies onto the front pages of an American newspaper.

unfortunately, we do not have to imagine it. The L.A. Times has done it.

Common Room Scholars may read the good Hugh Hewitt’s reporting of this poisonous story here.

The Times article defends North Korea’s human rights violations by saying, roughly, “What country has a perfect record? Certainly not the U.S.” So Mr. Hewitt links to a U.S. report on human rights violations in North Korea in order that we better judge that comparison. This is not reading for the faint of heart, and the Deputy Headmistress believes that Scholars younger than the Head Girl will be happiest if they do not click on that link and read the report.
The Headmistress shares just two small sections of this report for the benefit of Common Room students:

There are between 5,000 and 50,000 prisoners per kwan-li-so [prison camps], totaling perhaps some 150,000 to 200,000 prisoners throughout North Korea.16 Both perceived wrongdoers and up to three generations of their extended families are arrested, or, more accurately, abducted by police authorities and deposited in the kwan-li-so, without any judicial process or legal recourse whatsoever, for lifetime sentences of extremely hard labor in mining, timber-cutting, or farming enterprises. The prisoners live under brutal conditions in permanent situations of deliberately contrived semi-starvation.

The most strikingly abnormal feature of the kwan-li-so system is the philosophy of collective responsibility, or guilt by association- yeon-jwa-je whereby the mother and father, sisters and brothers, children and sometimes grandchildren of the offending political prisoner are imprisoned in a three-generation practice. Former prisoners and guards trace this practice to a 1972 statement by Great Leader Kim Il Sung: “Factionalists or enemies of class, whoever they are, their seed must be eliminated through three generations.”

Common Room students may also click on the link to Powerline’s coverage, where we learn a little bit more about the background of the ‘reporter’ behind this story.

The Deputy Headmistress checked out a few of the other links from Hugh Hewitt’s report, but she had to stop. Some of them were just too painful to read. The above approved links are just enough to give the Pipsqueak and JennyAnyDots a grasp of this situation suitable for their years.

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What the Doctors are telling us

This week has been crammed with, well, cramming. All Ye College Students & Future College Students: Don’t schedule a CLEP exam the same week as midterms. It can be done (a fact for which I am very thankful), but there’s no telling how many years you lose off your life or how many white hairs you get during the week. I can tell you that there are many wee morning hours spent muttering random geographical, historical and mathematical facts.

That’s not what this post is about, though. In a spare few minutes snatched from studying this week, I read this column by Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reimer, discussing Dr. Mel Levine’s new book. Dr. Levine is an eminent pediatrician who has spent more than 30 years in the field. His new book is about the troubling phenomenon he’s witnessing. What is happening? These children, once grown up, are not ready for adulthood.
To quote Reimer: “Not only are these children remarkably unprepared to be grown-ups, he has concluded, but their parents and teachers have actually made it more difficult.”
and, “ The things that stood them well in high school – athleticism, good looks, the ability to do well on a multiple-choice test – mean nothing in the workplace, where there are no test scores, no report cards and where the expectations are rarely spelled out.

In addition, these children – sheltered, diverted and never given responsibility by their parents – are dismayed to find that their jobs are not “fun” and do not pay enough to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed.”

(emphasis mine)

So these children are not being well equipped for the Real World? Even with their public school experiences? Or could we say that it’s *because of* their public school experiences?

Consider Dr. Levine’s solutions (again, quoting Reimer’s column):

“Among his most interesting suggestions is that we expose our children, more often and more thoroughly, to adults: friends, neighbors and relatives, as well as shop owners and other professionals in the community.

Only that way can our children learn what it is adults do for work, and how they live.

“Each adult can serve as a short textbook chapter for a kid,” he writes. “

Funny… I’ve got a vague feeling I’ve heard this before. Maybe from the homeschooling world?

Isn’t it nice to have further validation that homeschoolers aren’t some alien life form? Dr. Levine is offering a solution that homeschoolers have been relying on for years: Children need interaction with adults so that they can be adults.

Perhaps the thing that caught my attention the most was the notion that it’s the public school children who are sheltered. After having this word bunged* at homeschoolers for years one can’t help feeling vindicated to see it used in a public school sense.

*I just looked up this word at I had a vague notion that it was British for flinging/tossing. I love it when I’m correct about silly words like that. They’re so very useful!

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