Despite massive international pressure, North Korea has been moving ahead with its long-range missile and nuclear ambitions, launching a rocket in December and conducting a nuclear test in February. International sanctions tightened in response, and even China, a longtime ally, stepped up inspections of North Korea-bound freight. Responding to the crackdown, North Korea’s government has been issuing new threats of war nearly every day over the past month, cutting ties to South Korea and ordering military units to prepare for attack at any moment. Over the past month, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea’s official media division, has been issuing a stream of images of military exercises, soldiers in training, and, of course, supreme leader Kim Jong Un inspecting and inspiring the troops. (At least one of these images appears to be digitally manipulated). Gathered here are recent KCNA photographs of North Korea’s war machine, as the country wishes the world to see it. The photos were distributed by Reuters, AFP, and AP as a service, and cannot be independently verified or authenticated.
Mar 27, 1912: The First Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees Are Planted in the U.S.
On this day in 1912, the first two Japanese cherry blossom trees were successfully planted by First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda on the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Japanese Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave the U.S. over 3000 trees to demonstrate the growing relationship between the U.S. and Japan.
Every spring, Washington D.C. commemorates the initial planting through the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
The FBI has announced it will investigate the murder of openly gay mayoral candidate Marco McMillian as a possible hate crime. Now, the question is whether there’s enough evidence to prove hate (like racism or homophobia, or both) was a motivating factor in the man’s homicide:
Mississippi has a hate-crime law that covers race, religion and gender but doesn’t extend to sexual orientation. However, local and state agencies can seek assistance to pursue a federal hate crime under the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which does cover homosexuality. …
McMillian was one of the first openly gay candidates to run for office in Mississippi, according to the Victory Fund, a national organization that supports homosexual candidates.
On Feb. 27, his body was found naked, bruised, swollen and burned near the Mississippi River just west of here. The next day, the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department charged 22-year-old Lawrence Reed with murder.
This USA Today article includes a surprising amount of information about how hate crimes are investigated. If you have questions, might be worth a look. Regardless, this is a necessary development. For his family’s sake, I hope we find some answers.
The United States has offered to give the Syrian opposition $60 million in new aid, including “non-lethal” supplies such as food and medicine for the first time.
Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement at a Friends of Syria meeting in Rome, where several Western governments have promised to ramp up assistance to the Syrian opposition.
“America is planning and bluffing the world with statements many know they will not adhere to it,” said one activist from Ariha who asked not to be named. “When has America committed to its promises?”
The university student, who studied in Aleppo before the revolution suspended has education, said little of the money received through the Syrian National Council, based outside of the country, reaches the fighters on the ground.
“Strange is the revolution in Syria,” he said. “Fighters suffer a shortage of weapons and gear while the Syrian National Coalition receives support and funds from Western capitals.”
Khalid Soliman, an FSA fighter from Hama said he also held doubts regarding how much support the US would give the Syrian opposition.
“I want you to realize, no one wants to help Syrians,” he said. “Only Syrians help Syria. This we have learned very well.”
In a historic move Thursday night, the Obama administration made a statement that the Supreme Court should rule California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional and recognize the right to marriage equality.
The administration argued that denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause, and that any ban on same-sex marriage should be subjected to a test known as “heightened scrutiny” – a test that the law would be likely to fail. That argument is similar to the one made in the administration’s brief in a second case before the Supreme Court concerning the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which the administration has also asked the court to declare unconstitutional.
Our president, friends. How proud I am to have voted for this man.
Nearly two years after the start of Syria’s popular uprising, the conflict has evolved into a slow-moving, brutal civil war with many players and no clear end in sight. Multiple rebel groups across the country continue to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, using any weapons they can get their hands on. While the rebels are using many modern weapons, they’ve also come up with their own makeshift solutions. In these weapons workshops, anti-aircraft guns are welded to pickup trucks and armor shields are attached to machine guns and cars. Mortar shell nose cones are turned on lathes and explosives are mixed by hand. Homemade grenades are launched by jury-rigged shotguns or giant slingshots in the urban battlefields of Aleppo and Damascus. Gathered here are a few examples of the hand-built munitions of the Syrian rebels.
My favorite article in a while: Tony Schwartz explains in the NYT how taking breaks, sleeping, and other kinds of not working make us so much better at our work. Ninety-minute increments is the way to go apparently…