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The costs of Kim Jong-nam’s death are mounting for North Korea

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People watch a TV screen broadcasting a news report on the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a railway station in Seoul

North Korea doesn’t have many friends, and it’s alienating a few important ones this week. China announced the suspension of coal imports from North Korea starting Feb. 19, crimping the isolated state’s most valuable trade route.

China says it’s merely complying with United Nations sanctions adopted in November. If that’s true, the timing is remarkable. The suspension, imposed through the end of 2017, comes shortly after a North Korean missile launch and the audacious alleged assassination of Kim Jong-nam, a half-brother of North Korea’s ruler, in Kuala Lumpur. The Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times duly ran an editorial decrying “speculation” that the coal stoppage was a way for Beijing to express irritation at Pyongyang’s belligerence.

North Korea’s exports to China accounted for over 85% of its total exports in 2015, according to the UN. Of this, more than half, or $1.1 billion, was comprised of anthracite, a variety of coal. These exports have boomed in recent years, adding billions to North Korea’s coffers. The Chinese ban will hurt.

The Kim Jong-nam episode has also soured Pyongyang’s relationship with Malaysia, which recalled its envoy from North Korea today and gave the North Korean ambassador in Malaysia a scolding. The North Koreans accused the Malaysians of conspiring with shadowy outside forces—a veiled reference to South Korea—in their investigation of Kim’s death.

Further revelations in the case in Kuala Lumpur—including autopsy results that may be published as early as Wednesday, according to Malaysia’s health minister—may make life uncomfortable for North Korea. China’s coal ban, however, will prove the most painful for Kim Jong-un’s regime.



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zipcube
22 hours ago
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Cop filmed telling motorist he wanted to beat him, sic dog on him

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A days-old viral Facebook video shows an angry New Jersey cop yelling at a young motorist. The police officer says he wants to knock the motorist "the fuck out" and sic his 90-pound police dog on him—in what appears to be retribution for the man filming the officer. Because of the video, taken by one of the two motorists pulled over in Atlantic City, the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Following the publication of the 80-second video, which has more than 400,000 views, Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White called for an internal affairs investigation. The men involved in the traffic stop have been neither identified nor arrested. The incident is being investigated solely because it was recorded. This is another example of how the YouTube society—in which people are constantly filming each other and their surroundings with mobile phones—is altering the criminal justice system.

"Take that phone and stick it out of my face. I'm not gonna tell you again," the officer tells one of the motorists who is filming him. The officer then becomes enraged.

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New Zealand appeals court upholds Kim Dotcom extradition ruling

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Enlarge / Kim Dotcom speaks to the media following a bail hearing at Auckland District Court on December 1, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (credit: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

An appellate court in New Zealand has upheld a lower court’s 2015 decision that Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants should be extradited to the United States to face criminal copyright-related charges involving his former website, Megaupload.

In a ruling issued Monday afternoon local time (late Sunday night, Eastern Standard Time), Justice Murray Gilbert of the High Court of New Zealand ruled that while he agreed with one of Dotcom’s attorneys’ primary arguments—"that online communication of copyright protected works to the public is not a criminal offence in New Zealand"—the judge noted that nevertheless, Dotcom and his co-defendants remain eligible for extradition based on other elements in the case.

"Wilful infringement of copyright can properly be characterised as a dishonest act," Justice Gilbert wrote. "Such infringement deprives the copyright holder of something to which it may be entitled."

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zipcube
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fxer
1 day ago
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MegaBummer
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An Ohio Town Made Millions From Speed Cameras But Now It Has To Pay It All Back

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New Miami, a tiny town in Ohio with a population under 2,500, has been absolutely raking in the cash with its traffic cameras, citing over 45,000 people in just 15 months for a total of $3 million according to local news channel WLWT5. But after a recent class action lawsuit, the money from those citations is going…

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zipcube
2 days ago
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NASA’s Juno spacecraft will stay in its long orbit for the remainder of its mission

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On Friday, NASA announced that it Juno spacecraft would remain in its current 53-day orbit of Jupiter for the duration of its mission. The decision is a new setback for the spacecraft, which was scheduled to shift to a shorter, 14 day orbital schedule.

This isn’s the first time that Juno has run into issues orbiting Jupiter. In October, NASA delayed an orbit around the planet due to a pair of helium check valves not working properly. While the spacecraft has since completed two additional orbits — the latest was on February 2nd — the mission’s planners were concerned that “another main engine burn could result in a less-than-desirable orbit,” explained Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Juno’s 53-day orbit is highly elliptical, taking the spacecraft within 2,600 miles of the atmosphere to five million miles away, which helps the spacecraft minimize its exposure to the planet’s radiation belts. In a shorter orbit, the spacecraft would have completed 33 orbits. The decision to keep Juno in its present orbit will help reduce the chances of something going wrong, but it also means that Juno will be able to conduct fewer orbits. The next flyby is scheduled to take place on March 27th.

Despite the change, NASA noted that it will be able to do some additional work that wasn’t originally planned, such as exploring the planet’s magnetosphere. The decision to keep Juno in its current orbit will also limit its exposure to Jupiter’s radiation. “This is significant,” Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio explained, “because radiation has been the main life-limiting factor for Juno.”

Currently, Juno is scheduled to fly through July 2018 for 12 additional orbits, and mission planners will evaluate extending its life. Once the mission is over, the spacecraft will be de-orbited and will burn up in Jupiter’s atmosphere to avoid any potential contamination of the Jovian moons.

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Echoing Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, Trump declares western media the “enemy of the people”

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Trump's tweeting tool of choice.

US president Donald Trump continued his war against news outlets that don’t write flattering stories about his administration on Friday, declaring nearly all of the country’s major television news outlets enemies of the American people.

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The tweet was the second with nearly identical wording that Trump published in rapid succession. The first tweet was apparently deleted so Trump could remove the interjection “SICK!” and use the freed-up space to add ABC and CBS to his list. Together, ABC, CBS, and NBC, the US’s major television networks, draw over 20 million viewers a week to their news broadcasts.

China’s dictator Mao Zedong, who created the Great Famine that killed an estimated 36 million Chinese, famously embraced the concept of calling individuals or associations critical of his policies or Communist diktats “enemies of the people.” Identifying and punishing these “enemies” was central to Mao era-political indoctrination that began in primary school, explains Zhengyuan Fu, in “Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics.”

Members of society are divided into two major categories: the “people” and the “class enemy.” People describes the in-group, within which are workers, poor and lower-middle-class peasants, soldiers and cadres. The “class enemies of the people” refers to the out group…a highly arbitrarily assigned group whose members are defined by the party state.

While the “people” are described in terms of “warmth, friendliness, candor, courage, and everything that is good,” the class enemies are depicted as “cruel, cunning, morally degrading, always scheming, and evil,” Fu writes. In the enemies camp were landlords, teachers, intellectuals, artists, and scholars, who often were imprisoned.

Mao was not the first dictator to use the phrase “enemies of the people,” of course. Nazi German leaders applied it to the Jewish people decades before, including Goebbels, who declared them “a sworn enemy of the German people.” Hitler’s writing, thinking, and perhaps actions may have been inspired by an Ibsen play of the same name, some scholars believe.





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