Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Is Getting Too Creepy

North Korea detains third U.S. citizen amid soaring tensions

The Japan Times  AP, Reuters, Staff Report  Apr 23, 2017 

A man holds an umbrella over flowers as people gather to pay their respects at the statues of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung (left) and late leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang on April 14. | REUTERS 

PYONGYANG – North Korea recently detained a U.S. citizen, officials said Sunday, in the latest case of an American being held in the country.

The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang said it was aware of a Korean-American citizen being detained recently, but could not comment further. The embassy looks after consular affairs for the United States in North Korea because the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing unnamed sources, reported that a Korean-American man was arrested Friday at Pyongyang’s international airport while trying to leave North Korea. It said the man, in his late 50s and identified by his surname, Kim, has been involved in aid and relief programs to North Korea and was a former professor at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China. The university has a sister school in Pyongyang.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry and its intelligence agency both said they were unable to confirm the report.

At least two other Americans are currently detained in North Korea. Last year, Otto Warmbier, then a 21-year-old University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison after he confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner. Kim Dong Chul, who was born in South Korea but is also believed to have U.S. citizenship, is serving a sentence of 10 years for espionage.

At least one other foreigner, a Canadian pastor, is also being detained in North Korea. Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian citizen in his 60s, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on charges of trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping U.S. and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.

U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 15 years hard labour for crimes against the state.

He was released two years later.

North Korea, which has been criticized for its human rights record, has in the past used detained Americans to extract high-profile visits from the United States.

Last month marked one year since Warmbier’s jailing. The U.S. State Department said at the time that it was continuing to press for his release.

“We believe his sentence of 15 years’ hard labor is unduly harsh … for the actions that Mr. Warmbier allegedly took,” spokesman Mark Toner said at the time. “And we urge North Korea to pardon him and grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds.”

The U.S. also used the anniversary to reiterate its advisory against travel by any U.S. citizens to North Korea “due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement.”

In a statement posted to its website, the State Department said: “This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens U.S. citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with ‘wartime law of the DPRK.'”

News of the latest arrest of a U.S. national comes as Washington grapples with Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

Tensions with nuclear-armed Pyongyang have soared as the isolated country prepares to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army on Tuesday.

That anniversary comes less than two weeks after the North staged a massive military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 105th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth. The North has historically marked important anniversaries with provocative events such as missile launches or nuclear tests.

There has been growing speculation that Pyongyang will conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile test soon — possibly this month — after leader Kim Jong Un used a New Year’s Day address to claim that the North was in the final stages of developing such a weapon.

Not My Attorney General

Let’s All Learn About Hawaii

Say “Aloha!” to Hawaii, the 50th state in the United States. Hawaii is a chain of dozens of islands, in the Pacific Ocean. Many of them small and uninhabited, but there are eight main islands. They are Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe.

Hawaii is famous for warm sunshine, beautiful mountains and beaches, and friendly people. Hawaii’s largest city is its capital, Honolulu, which has a population of about 350,000, within a county of about 993,000. By comparison, Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, has 212,000 people. If you ask, “Where would you like to go on your honeymoon, Honolulu or Birmingham?” many people will not understand why that is a question.

Hawaii has many military bases that keep the United States safe and strong in the world. One base, Pearl Harbor, was bombed by Japan in 1941. Hawaii was not a state then, but the United States fought to defend Hawaii anyway, because it was part of America. Many people from Hawaii served bravely in World War II, and many died. One of Hawaii’s best-known war heroes, Daniel Inouye, lost his arm in combat in Italy. He served many years in the United States Senate.

Hawaii is well-known for its long tradition of welcoming and love, called the “Aloha spirit.” Alabama used to be famous for a spirit called “Jim Crow,” a system of laws to keep people with darker skin separate from white people.

What does “Jim Crow” have to do with Hawaii? A lot!

Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959, after a long struggle. Many people in Hawaii wanted to join the union, and many people in the mainland United States supported them. But statehood failed for many years in Congress because lawmakers from the South bitterly opposed it.

They thought that Hawaii was too far away, and that it had too many people of Asian and Polynesian descent and not enough Caucasians. Mostly they thought that Hawaii’s new representatives in Congress would support civil rights and vote to end “Jim Crow.”

Civil rights include the right to vote, to go to decent schools, and not be hanged by mobs. The Southern lawmakers who opposed civil rights were Democrats then, though they later changed parties to become Republicans. They were also known as Dixiecrats. Today we call them racists.

Congress, the president and the courts eventually all agreed that “Jim Crow” violated the Constitution, the basic rules of our government, including the one that all people are equal and must be treated that way.

But even though “Jim Crow” was defeated, the battle for civil rights continues, because not everybody in America understands or fully accepts the Constitution. People are still struggling to be able to vote, and to go to decent schools, but also to have clean water to drink and not to be killed by police officers.

Another of the Constitution’s most basic rules is that the government consists of equal parts — the executive, legislative and judicial branches. None is supposed to have power over the other, so that a tyrant cannot take control, and make the laws himself. The Constitution applies in every state, even Hawaii, and if there is disagreement over what the Constitution says, judges get to decide.

This is a very simple idea. But one famous Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said recently that he was “amazed” that a judge in Hawaii, which he called “an island in the Pacific,” could issue a decision that stopped President Trump from doing what he wanted. Mr. Trump issued an order to ban Muslim people from entering the country, but the judge blocked it, because it may have violated the Constitution. That is how the Constitution works. Mr. Sessions is the attorney general, the top law-enforcement officer in the United States, so why was he amazed at that?

You will have to ask him. But he is not the first Southerner to have this problem.

Chess Spock Would Love

from: makezine  Photography and media by Ben Meyers

“I think I can do it better.” Having this thought is a moment that every maker knows and loves. It is exactly what came to mind when Ben Meyers saw a picture of a spherical chess set online. The version he had come across used jacket snaps to connect the pieces to the board. He immediately thought this looked inconvenient and challenging to play with. So he set out to make his own.

The board took about five weeks to complete from start to finish. Making the set out of wood was an obvious choice for Meyers who grew up around his father’s woodworking. He remembers learning to use a lathe and making a small wooden pot when he was only seven years old.

It is obvious when looking at the beautiful final product that each piece was artfully crafted with exceptional attention to detail. Meyers began by working on the sphere itself. He reports that it turned out to be the most challenging part of the process. He says “it took a lot of math to figure out each angle of each piece to all fit together.” Once he had the math worked out, he cut square pieces out of Soft Maple for the lighter squares and Walnut for the darker squares. He made small holes in the back of the pieces and inserted magnets. The pieces were then glued into two octagonal halves. Then came the most nerve-racking part of the process: using the lathe to smooth out the edges while being very careful not to break through to the holes that were holding the magnets.

From here, the base was turned on the lathe and a router was used to make the curved arm. They were assembled and the globe was attached by using a metal rod as an axel and a spring loaded mechanism to keep it from spinning freely.

Finally, the spacer and knob used to turn the board were made on the lathe. They were both modeled after the most powerful chess piece: the queen.

Meyers has had some difficulty getting people to play with him as the spherical chessboard can be a little bit intimidating. However, he has played about seven games on the board to date. He has yet to lose to anyone, including his father who taught him how to play chess when he was a boy.

Meyers says he was surprised by how some aspects of gameplay changed on the spherical board. “While making it, I was thinking that the rooks would be more powerful because a spherical board lacked vertical edges. I was proven wrong very quickly. Without the side edges of the board, the bishops became very deadly. They have the capability to spiral around the board both directions, which can be difficult to see.”

The board is certainly going to be well loved, and Meyers is looking forward to many games in the future. His suggestion to anyone with a similar project in mind is that they should just go for it! “Just as I was inspired by someone else to make this globe chess board, I hope I can also inspire someone to create something of their own.”

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Balloon Dog Anatomy Models! They're Back!

I got one of these last year.  They quickly sold out, and many were left balloon dog-less.  Get yours now!  Only $45.00 plus shipping.  Amaze your friends.  Hours of fun! Don't miss out!

"Funny anatomy plastic model, easy to assemble and highly detailed finishing!" Manufactured by 4D Master and designed by Jason Freeny, the Balloon Dog anatomy feature 26 separate pieces including an easy-to-assemble skeletal system and detachable organs. No balloon dogs were harmed in the process.


Here's where you get 'em... Mighty Jaxx 

Don't worry about all those pieces... I put mine together in about half an hour.  And the tolerances are so good you don't have to keep sticking things back on.  And you don't need glue!  Snap, snap - all done!  Wheeeee!