"Nothing better defines Kim than how little we actually know about him. When asked, even the most respected outside experts on North Korea in the United States and in South Korea—not to mention inside the White House—invariably provide details that turn out to be traceable to Dennis Rodman or to a Japanese sushi chef named Kenji Fujimoto, who was employed by the ruling family from 1988 to 2001, and who now peddles trivial details about them (such as how Kim II once sent him to Beijing to pick up some food at McDonald’s)."
The lawyer who defended Klaus Barbie, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic, among others has died. [more inside]
Inside the private jets of African dictators and other heads of state. (Slideshow of photographs by Nick Gleis.)
Playing with Dictators - an editorial on the New York Philharmonic's decision to play a concert in North Korea. One musician's account of the performance.
Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict? U.S. Military Aid and Arms Transfers Since September 11--from the World Policy Institute, a report on whether we put our money where our mouth is. Statements like "Freedom will be the future of every nation and every people on Earth" might sound nice and even inspiring, but why is our own government funding overwhelmingly anti-democratic and abusive governments? ... When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003 -- a full 80% -- were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses. ...
Mysterious Mr. Moto. Severo Moto Nsa, Equatorial Guinea's exiled opposition leader reappeared in Madrid yesterday, after a strange episode in which he first was presumed abducted (or worse), and then, from an undisclosed location in Croatia, had accused the Spanish government of trying to kill him. He already made international headlines last year, with the most bizarre, incompetent coup attempt in a while. Not that the dictator he's trying to topple is a nice character (even if his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, was even worse). And, of course, there's oil involved. Lots of it.
The Dictators. Even in this age of crate-digger archaeology, especially when it comes to the roots of punk rock, this band of Bronx miscreants is little known except to cognoscenti. The stream of punk most identified with The Ramones (unapologetically crude three-minute pop singles, pop culture obsessed, based around fun, what Tom Carson called "deadly serious kidding") began with these guys first three albums and lives on in the work of The Muffs, Nashville Pussy, The Supersuckers and countless others. A rock and roll treasure often overlooked.
The world's ten worst dictators -- this year anyway. Saddam, who was No. 3 Worst last year, has dropped off the list. Charles Taylor of Liberia (No. 4), also out of power and gone. Moammar Gadhafi (previously No. 8) and Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko (No. 10) also miss the new A list not because, according to the compilers, "they have improved but because other dictators have gotten worse."
More or Less is an interesting mini-encyclopedia of several of the great heroes & great villains of the 20th Century, with background information on each individual, the situation they were in, the scope of their impact on humanity, etc. It makes an interesting contrast, as well as a good thinking point on what one human life can achieve, for better or worse.
The Dictators Contest "Back by popular demand is the Original Dictators Contest. 16 of the last century's most fearsome autocrats have been selected and pitted randomly against one another to compete for the title Dictator of Dictators". If you don't see your favorite Dictator, try The Second Dictators Contest. Agree with their results? Did they forget anyone?
Despot or Sexpot? Are these the moustaches of historical dictators or famous porn stars?
How did they die, and why is it important? The Death of the Father is an exhibit tracing the deaths of some modern political villains [Stalin, Ceausescu, Tito, etc.] and exploring the political importance of death-as-closure in the ending of tyrannical regimes. A bit pomo at times, but you get to see Hitler's teeth! Just one of the many fascinating sites from the Cornell Institute for Digital Collections.
FindLaw Forum: Could terrorism result in a constitutional dictator? Rather odd that so early into the "game" this sort of speculation by professionals is being considered. Heading for a change in the way we govern or are governed, or just a bump in the road that need not jar us?
Royal Madness From Domitian of Rome (51-96) "the Emperor who tortured flies" to Maria I of Portugal (1734-1816) "the Queen who thought she was already in hell", from Erzsébet of Transylvania (±1561-1614) "the countess who bit her servants" to "Mad" Ibrahim I of Turkey (1615-1648) " the Sultan who drowned his entire harem." Here's to a saner future for up-and-comers King Zahir Shah in Afghanistan and King Simeon in Bulgaria, and all other reigning monarchs.