North Korea Defector► U.S. James Joseph Dresnok & Sons Their names are Ted and James, and they look like the kinds of men you might bump into on the streets of Richmond, Va., where their father was born. But they’re speaking perfect North Korean and wearing badges of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the first two leaders of North Korea, over their hearts. Oh, and the younger one, James, is a captain in the North Korean army. They’re the Pyongyang-born sons of James Joseph Dresnok, the former American GI who defected to North Korea in 1962 when he was stationed in South Korea after the war. And they’ve just appeared in an extraordinary video published online by Minjok Tongshin, a pro-Pyongyang news service based in the United States that runs the kind of stories that wouldn’t look out of place in North Korea’s official media. “I want to advise the U.S. to drop its hostile policy against North Korea. They’ve done enough wrong and now it’s time for them to wake up from their delusions,” said Ted Dresnok, 36, who goes by the Korean name Hong Sun Chol. He was wearing a navy blue suit with a red Kim badge on it.
James (left) and Ted (Center) Dresnok His younger brother, James, or Hong Chol, was wearing a North Korean army uniform and said he held a rank equivalent to a captain in the U.S. Army. His comments also sounded like they came out of the propaganda department. “The American Imperialists caused the division of the Korean peninsula,” James said. This led to a bizarre situation in which Roh Kil-nam, the ethnically Korean, naturalized U.S. citizen who runs Minjok Tongshin, asked the ethnically Caucasian, North Korean citizen brothers if they considered him among such ilk. “No, I mean the very top leaders of the U.S.,” James clarified. Ted and James are the sons of Dresnok, known as Joe, and a Romanian woman, Doina Bumbea, who was reportedly abducted by North Korea. Charles Jenkins, another U.S. serviceman who defected to North Korea but was allowed to leave in 2004, described Bumbea as a Romanian abductee in his memoirs and said she died of cancer in 1997.
James Joseph Dresnok Dresnok is then thought to have married the daughter of a North Korean woman and a Togolese diplomat, and they are said to have had a son, Tony. (North Korea is big on blood purity and generally won't allow foreigners to marry Koreans, meaning that the foreigners get matched up among themselves.) Ted and James said that Tony was at school at the time they did the interview, which was apparently carried out in Pyongyang after the much-hyped congress of the Korean Workers’ Party this month. All three sons, along with Dresnok’s third wife, appeared in "Crossing the Line," a 90 minute British documentary [https://youtu.be/0GwBVMgPUH4] about the former American and his life in North Korea. That film showed the older boys speaking English with a Korean accent.
Dresnok came from a difficult background and was going through a difficult period — his wife had left him and he was in trouble with his superiors — when he decided to cross the demilitarized zone into North Korea in 1962. He was 21. He taught English and appeared in television shows and movies — always playing the “evil American.” Like their father, the two sons also have appeared as Americans in North Korean dramas. Now 75 and in poor health, Dresnok hasn’t been heard of for several years. But his sons were apparently trotted out to extol the glories of the “socialist paradise” into which they were born. Each contact with the media is highly scripted in North Korea, but it's impossible to tell whether the men were saying what they'd been told to say or if, after spending their entire lives in North Korea, they really think this. Here’s what they said:
Ted: He said he was born in Pyongyang on Dec. 13, 1980. “Under the generous care of Kim Jong ll,” he went to an elementary school and foreign language schools and then the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, majoring in English and Japanese. He said he is now working at a defense education facility, part of the Workers’ Party. He is married to 36-year-old Ri Ok, and they have a 7-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.
James: Prompted, he said he volunteered to join the military in 2014. “Thanks to the general's hospitality, we receive gifts on every national holiday. I’m very grateful for the socialism system. Due to the worsening situation on the Korean peninsula, I decided to work for the military.” He said he met his wife through workmates, and that they have a 6-year-old daughter.
On their father:
Ted: I heard a lot about his life. The more I hear, the more I think he chose the right path. Had he not come to North Korea, it wouldn’t have been possible for him to live as he does. He was much loved by the country and his small achievements were appreciated greatly. I think about the different life I would be living had my father been living in the U.S.
James: He was an orphan, but his misery wasn’t due to his or his family’s fault, rather it was due to American society. It’s due to policies made by the privileged in the U.S.
On their dreams:
Ted: My precious dream is to become a Workers’ Party member and pay back my gratitude to my general [Kim Jong Un]. I want to stand in a unified country by my general.
James: My lifelong dream is similar to my brother’s. I want to serve my mother country with my life and bring about the unification of the Koreas so the world will see the superiority of Kim’s Korea.
On North Korea-U.S. relations:
Ted: As Kim Jong Un said at the congress, the U.S. should sign a peace treaty with North Korea and withdraw its forces and nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula. It’s the quickest way to solve the current issue.
James: The U.S. keeps talking about the North Korean threat, but it seems that's the only way they can justify their East Asian strategy. When two kids fight, and one kid hits the other with a wooden stick, the other kid picks up a wooden stick too. When the enemy makes nuclear weapons and threatens us with them, we make nuclear weapons to defend ourselves.
Suggestions for the United States:
Ted: The U.S. wants to make a big deal out of North Korean human rights issues. We are enjoying very equal and free lives here. But look at the U.S. A white police officer shoots a black citizen in clear daylight, treating black people's lives as if they were as worthless as flies. I want to tell Americans to break away from their leaders’ mindsets and begin peace negotiations with us. That’s the only way to save yourselves.
[Source: The Washington Post | Anna Fifield | May 25, 2016 ++]
Marijuana Update 01 ► Reclassification Under Consideration Marijuana users, researchers and investors are eager to hear whether federal officials will remove pot from the same drug classification as heroin, LSD and bath salts. Federal drug officials say they are considering removing marijuana from what’s known as Schedule 1 classification, with a decision expected this summer. The current classification makes it illegal to prescribe and declares that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical treatment use," although 24 states permit some form of medical marijuana use. Reclassifying marijuana would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant, which is currently subject to strict limitations and officially can be acquired only from a single government garden. Schedule 2 drugs include morphine, methamphetamine and oxycodone.
“I think it’s just common sense to allow good science to be done,” said congressman Jared Polis, who supports the change. Polis, a Colorado Democrat, has repeatedly pushed President Obama’s administration to loosen restrictions and enforcement around cannabis use. The Drug Enforcement Administration routinely reconsiders drug classifications, and has several times declined to change marijuana’s categorization since it was added to the list in 1970. DEA officials this week declined to discuss the rescheduling process, although agency leaders earlier this year announced they were again considering the change in a letter sent to Congress. They didn't specify a date by which they'd reach a decision. “No one is asking to make it legal overnight. We’re saying, let’s start doing some research on it. It’s common sense,” said David Cunic, the CEO of Pazoo, which runs marijuana testing labs in California, Colorado and Washington. "People are looking for alternatives.”
Cunic, who is also a physical therapist, said he believes marijuana could serve as a safer alternative to prescription opiate painkillers. He said medical professionals are ethically obligated to empower patients with knowledge, and many doctors are concerned about the risks associated with highly addictive and potentially deadly opiates. Not every doctor is rushing to embrace marijuana, however. Scott Krakower, an addiction disorder specialist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., says he’s reluctant to recommend pot to his patients because there is so little research. Unlike prescription medications, marijuana comes in a wide variety of strains and strengths, and despite centuries of use, scientists don’t know exactly how it works, especially for the range of ailments its boosters say it can aid. "Many patients are unaware that using marijuana can have devastating consequences, including higher risk of developing a mood and psychotic disorder, increased rates of other substance use and potentially dependence to the agent itself,” Krakower said in an email. "In addition, there are concerns with lack of regulation of these products and false advertising of what they contain.”
Concerns such as those raised by Krakower are precisely the reason congressman Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, wants to see marijuana rescheduled. If doctors have concerns, he said, scientists should be allowed to answer them. “Maintaining the fiction of Schedule 1 categorization just destroys their credibility,” Blumenauer said of federal regulators. The House of Representatives on 19 MAY overwhelmingly passed a Blumenauer-sponsored amendment that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana to veterans, the way a regular doctor can in 24 states. The Senate has passed a similar proposal, but the two versions must still be reconciled. The proposal doesn’t change marijuana’s classification but allows VA doctors to take advantage of existing state medical marijuana programs. Blumenauer said the fact that both branches of Congress think veterans should have access to medical marijuana should prompt regulators to think seriously about rescheduling it. “I think this moment is cresting,” he said. “The movement, the momentum, is palpable."
John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, isn’t so sure. He said it’s unlikely the DEA and Food and Drug Administration's doctors will reschedule marijuana this year. “Doctors are even more risk-averse than Congress is, and the DEA is staffed almost entirely by drug warriors,” he said. Hudak called on the next president to convene a summit on marijuana across America, arguing that the federal government needs to provide more clarity on the issue. “Pretty soon it’s going to be a liability to oppose reform,” he added. "We’re not there yet, but marijuana is going in that direction.”
Marijuana is rapidly becoming a big, semi-legal business across the country, with $5.7 billion in sales last year and tens of thousands of people working and paying taxes as they cultivate, package and sell cannabis. Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C. have all legalized adult recreational use, and 23 states and the District of Columbia permit some form of medical use. That’s despite the fact that marijuana remains an illegal drug and Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level. Across the country, thousands of people are rushing into the industry, struggling to work within a conflicting patchwork of state laws and local regulations, all the while operating largely without accounts at banks, which are fearful of running afoul of federal drug-trafficking laws. Legal marijuana sales are forecast to hit $23B in the next 4 years. [Source: USA TODAY | Trevor Hughes | May 21, 2016 ++]
Military Service Cross Stamps ► New Forever Stamps
The United States Postal Service will issue four new stamps to honor those who have received one of the four Service Cross medals. The Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross and the Coast Guard Cross stamps will be dedicated on Memorial Day at the World Stamp Show in New York City, which is held once every 10 years. The Postal Service printed more than 20 million Service Cross stamps that will be available at post offices nationwide, online at www.usps.com or through 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724). Cost is $5.64 per sheet of 12. Being Forever stamps, they will always be good for the current First Class Mail 1 ounce rate. Bill Gicker, creative director of stamp development at the Postal Service said, “The United States Postal Service has a long history of honoring our military. The medals are just so beautiful, and the people who receive them are obviously just so worthy. The thought was to honor them by issuing the stamps of the medals so that it represents them all as a whole.” [Source: Military Times | Charlsy Panzino | Retiree StatesMay 26, 2016 ++]
Election Betting ► Illegal With Two Exceptions For the most part, it’s illegal for U.S. citizens to bet on elections. There are, however, two exceptions.
PredictIt. PredictIt at https://www.predictit.org is a betting platform operated by, oddly enough, Victoria University in New Zealand. Here you can bet up to $850 on wagers ranging from which party will win the White House to whether North Korea will test a hydrogen bomb by year’s end. Despite the ban on American political betting, PredictIt is legal. It got an exemption from the feds because it’s operated as a research tool. Researchers like to study betting sites to see if they’re better predictors of the future than polls. They often are, which makes sense, since expressing an opinion isn’t the same thing as backing that opinion with real money. Bettors tend to use less emotion and more facts.
If you go to https://www.predictit.org/Market/1296/Which-party-will-win-the-2016-US-Presidential-election it will show you what the White House odds were in mid-May. As you will see, the odds of a Democrat winning the White House were 63 percent, and the odds of a Republican winning were 37 percent. To place a bet, you’d pay 63 cents for one Democratic share. If a Democrat wins, your bet will pay $1, which means you’ll make 37 cents on your 63 cent bet. That translates to a 60 percent return. One fly in the ointment, however: You won’t really win 37 cents because PredictIt takes a 10 percent cut of any profitable trade.
Election Betting Iowa Graph The University of Iowa at http://tippie.uiowa.edu/iem also offers a legal betting platform, and for the same reason as PredictIt: research. This platform has a maximum account size of $500. To participate, you first have to print out an online form, then snail-mail it with a check to the university. A week or so later, you’re notified by email that you’re ready to play. Shortly before I started this article, I bet about $500 on a Democratic White House win. At that time, the price to buy shares, called the ask price, was 62 cents. The price of shares being sold, known as the bid price, was 60 cents. I put in an order between these two prices, at 61 cents. When you specify a price, that’s known as a limit order. Within a few hours, my limit order was filled. I now own 800 shares. If I choose to wait until the election and a Democrat wins the presidency, each of my shares will be worth $1, so I’ll get $800. If I decide to sell my shares before then, I’ll get whatever the bid, or selling, price is at that time. Unlike PredictIt, the University of Iowa market doesn’t take 10 percent of any winnings. That’s why I used them.
The Iowa Electronic Markets.
ElectionBettingOdds. One site to look at often that combines the results of both polls and betting sites, and is exceedingly simple to use, is www.ElectionBettingOdds.com . Here’s a current picture of it:
Sites like this will keep you in the know. More important, they’ll save you countless hours of trying to figure out who’s ahead by reading articles and listening to the endless drivel on cable TV.
Place your bets! Betting on elections is like any other kind of betting: It’s something you only do if you’re using money you’re willing and able to lose. Unlike other types of gambling, however, these sites are fascinating even if you never bet. Because they’ve historically been more accurate than polls and pundits, they’re a sound way to stay on top of what’s likely to happen.
[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Stacy Johnson | May 20, 2016 ++]
Hurricane Preparedness Update 01 ► Protection Myths Hurricane season 2016 is here. It starts in mid-May in the Eastern North Pacific Ocean, begins in early June in the Atlantic Ocean, and ends in both regions in late November. People from hurricane country — including the U.S. Eastern Atlantic and Gulf Coast region — know a lot about protecting lives and property ahead of a big storm. And yet, a few dangerous myths about storm preparation live on. Here are four, and the truths they obscure:
Myth No. 1: Taping windows prevents breakage -Windows and glass doors crisscrossed with electrical tape or duct tape are a familiar sight when a hurricane is coming. But tape doesn’t protect glass. “The problem of taping windows is that instead of little pieces you get big shards of glass,” says Tommy Patterson. He is a technical expert who trains glass repairers at Glass Doctor franchises across the United States. People sometimes use tape because it’s what they can afford. But if you work ahead you can buy or scrounge cheap 5/8-inch plywood for the job, doing one window at a time. Boarding up windows only works, though, if your board is attached to the window frame. Otherwise, a boarded window can fall out. “Look at storm shutters,” Patterson says. “They are designed to be attached to the frame of the window, not just the glass.” A better plan:
Prepare boards in advance because, in an emergency, supplies are scarce or overpriced and you’re under pressure. Follow directions in this Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel guide for hurricane protection for windows.
Measure windows separately and accurately, recording measurements.
Next, cut 5/8-inch plywood into coverings that protect the window and overlap at least part of the window frame.
Store the coverings in an easy-to-reach, clean, dry spot with the tools and supplies you’ll need for quick installation.
Replacing windows with hurricane-proof glass is another option. Cost: $35-$50 per square foot (includes new window frames and layered hurricane glass).
Myth No. 2: Crack a window so glass won’t implode -Another popular myth advises opening a window or two just a crack when a storm is coming, to equalize inside and outside air pressure and prevent windows from imploding. It’s true that air pressure can be low in a hurricane. “The atmospheric pressure is so low that it can suck the windows into the house,” Patterson says. Still, cracking a window won’t prevent that. He explains: “The wind is going to be 100 miles an hour. Think about something 100 miles per hour going into your house. Cracking a window is not going to make a hill of beans difference.” A better plan: If you have the funds, install steel or aluminum storm shutters on the exterior of your home’s windows. Cost: $7-$8 per square foot and up, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Myth No. 3: Leaning against glass prevents breaking –A really dumb idea. But just in case: Low pressure could blow broken glass into the home, and high winds turn ordinary objects into flying weapons that can penetrate a window, injuring you. A better plan: Another window protection uses panels of super-tough, translucent fabrics like Kevlar. Grommets in the textile attach to fastenings or tracks on the house. The Sun Sentinel says one brand, Armor Screen, costs about $15 a square foot. See photos of installed screens on the website of AstroGuard, another hurricane fabric company at https://www.hurricanefabric.com.
Myth No. 4: High winds are the biggest danger -Storm-force winds seem scariest and most-dramatic. The fact is, though, that water — storm surges and inland flooding — are responsible for more deaths in hurricanes than the wind, says the National Weather Service. Either is a bad way to die, though. Hurricanes are seriously dangerous. Only fools ignore evacuation warnings. A better plan: No amount of home preparation will save you if you don’t leave when you should. Patterson, whose uncle died in Hurricane Katrina, says: “His neighbors, everybody, they did all the normal stuff they’re supposed to do to protect their property and their homes but they neglected to protect their lives.He lived there for 40 years and he’d been through so many hurricane seasons and he thought, ‘Oh, I can wait it out.” Looking for more hurricane planning tips? You’ll find them here:
The 4 Essentials for Surviving a Hurricane http://www.moneytalksnews.com/the-4-essentials-for-surviving-a-hurricane-%E2%80%8B
6 Ways to Ready Your Home for Hurricane Season http://www.moneytalksnews.com/how-ready-your-home-for-hurricane-season
3 Steps to Prepare Your Family for a Disaster http://www.moneytalksnews.com/3-steps-prepare-your-family-for-disaster/?all=1
[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Marilyn Lewis | May 19, 2016 ++]
Baby Oil ► 33 Alternate Uses Need to unstick, untangle, soften, de-scum, smooth out, depilate, shine-up or de-squeak something? Two words: baby oil. This familiar nursery emollient is often found in homes without babies. Probably it’s left over from the childbearing era, but not necessarily. That’s because this scented mineral oil is good for dozens of applications that have nothing to do with babies. Such as:
1. Bath oil. I’ve poured it into the tub to soften my winter-weary skin. Adding a little bubble bath makes the experience even more pleasant, according to a blog called Fidgety Fingers. Note: You must use some cleanser on the tub afterward lest the oily residue cause the next bather to slip and fall.
2. Bath gel enhancer. A post on the Fidgety Fingers blog suggests adding ¼ to ½ cup baby oil to half a bottle of shower gel – again, to soften your skin.
3. After-bath moisturizer. Don’t feel like scrubbing an oily tub every time you bathe? Towel-dry yourself a little and then smooth a little baby oil on your still-damp skin to lock in moisture.
4. As a substitute for shave gel. Use a thin layer of baby oil on your legs instead of gel (or soap).
5. A replacement for after-shave moisturizers. Rub a little more baby oil on your newly shorn legs for a smooth finish.
6. Use itaprès-wax. If you’re waxing brows, legs or, uh, other parts of the body, use a little baby oil first to remove any lingering wax and then to soothe your startled skin.
7. Remove eye makeup. A cotton ball dampened with baby oil takes care of eye shadow and eyeliner without irritating delicate skin.
8. Remove temporary tattoos. Did Junior come home from a birthday party festooned with garish superhero tats? Rub them off with a little baby oil.
9. Frame your nail polish. When you paint your nails, does the polish sometimes seep into the cuticles? Use a cotton swab to saturate the perimeter with baby oil. After you’re done painting, use a cotton ball or tissue to remove the oil (and any polish) carefully. And speaking of cuticles…
10. Baby oil = cuticle oil. Sushmita Munda of the Makeup and Beauty blog uses it on her hands when she gives herself a manicure. Sure, there’s a product called “cuticle oil,” but she never buys it.
11. Fix your lips. Munda also makes a lip scrub with 1 teaspoon of baby oil, ½ teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. Every night before bed she rubs it lightly on her lips to remove dead skin.
12. Give (or get) a massage. Baby oil is an inexpensive alternative to massage unguents.
13. Fight earwax buildup. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can remove excess buildup with baby oil (as long as you don’t have tubes in your ears or a hole in your eardrum). Apply a few drops of oil twice a day; after a day or two, use a rubber-bulb syringe to (gently!) squirt warm water into the ear canal. Let the water drain out, then dry your outer ear with a soft towel or a hair dryer. Note: If the situation doesn’t improve after a few such treatments, see a doctor.
14. Fix scaly feet. Do your feet look positively saurian in the winter? Rub some baby oil on at bedtime, then don plain white socks. While you sleep, your feet will soften right up.
15. Remove a stuck ring. Hands swell up because of pregnancy or air travel? Trickle a little baby oil on the puffy digit and gradually ease off the ring.
16. Untangle a necklace chain. If the pendant you inherited from Grandma is on a knotted chain, rub just a drop of oil onto the tangle, then pick it apart with a straight pin.
17. De-paint yourself. Got latex paint on your hands or arms after painting a room? It might rub right off, or it might embed itself in your knuckles and other skin folds. A post on the Instructables website recommends rubbing paint spatters with baby oil “in concentric circles from the outside in without applying too much pressure.” Wash the oil off with soap and water.
18. De-grease your hands. Working on your car or doing some other greasy job? Baby oil is kinder to your hands than grainy soaps.
19. Shine things up. Use a little oil on a soft cloth on stainless steel or chrome, and it will shine like a good deed.
20. Dust and shine. Put a small amount of oil on your cloth and dust will stick to it. Give the wood a gentle rub with a second (dry) cloth until it gleams.
21. Lubricate squeaky hinges. A drop or two should do it – and baby oil smells a lot better than WD-40.
22. Prevent soap scum. Coat shower curtains and doors with a small amount of baby oil, being careful to wipe up any drips.
23. Get rid of soap scum. Shower curtain/door already nasty? Rub off the soap scum with a little baby oil. (Again: This stuff is slippery, so wipe up any spatters.)
24. Remove adhesive bandages. Time to change the Band-Aid on your kid’s knee? Saturate it with oil and wait a while; the adhesive should lift right off.
25. Remove price stickers. If a sticker resists removal from a glass, china or plastic item, rub in some oil and wait a bit. It sticker should peel off much more easily. (Note: Don’t do this on cloth or paper items, as the oil will stain.)
26. Polish golf clubs. Depending on which golf fan you listen to, you can protect and shine up clubs with gun oil, WD-40, special golf-club polishes, petroleum jelly, a silicone gun cloth or, yes, baby oil.
27. Improve the dashboard. A post on eHow.com notes that scratches can develop on the plastic lenses covering the odometer and other dashboard items. Rub them with a bit of baby oil to improve the look.
28. Fix a balky zipper. Apply oil with a cotton ball or swab until the zip returns to a zipper. Be careful not to get it on the main fabric of the garment, to avoid staining.
29. Oil your leather. Rub a little baby oil onto leather shoes or bags to keep them from looking dry.
30. Keep shreddin’. If you have a document shredder – and you should – keep things running smoothly with an occasional oiling. Put a couple of pieces of paper in a baking sheet and squirt on some baby oil. Once the paper has absorbed the oil, run it through the shredder.
31. Relieve cradle cap. A kind of dermatitis that causes scaly patches on the infant scalp, cradle cap is common but can be distressing to parents. Rub a small amount of baby oil onto the child’s head and let it soak in for a few minutes before shampooing.
32. DIY baby wipes. The Livewell Network offers a simple recipe that uses water, a little baby wash solution and some baby oil plus a roll of paper towels cut in half. Or use flannel or cotton fabric cut into squares; these can be laundered along with diapers and reused.
33. Bubble gum remover. Kids end up with gum on skin or in hair? Rub a small amount of oil into the mess to soften it, then gradually work it out with a comb. Also, keep gum away from them until they know to keep it in their mouths, and definitely make sure they’re not chewing when they go in for naps.
[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Donna Freedman | March 25, 2015 ++]