Nuclear standoff and that appalling United flight incident

At times, it may seem as if the world is a farce, what with all the crazy political developments and societal mishaps. Except the problem is that this has long stopped being funny and people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.

The latest crisis in Asia is the ongoing standoff between North Korea and the US that hopefully will remain just that, without breaking out into nuclear war. While I really don’t believe that could happen, despite North Korea’s warning of “thermonuclear war” and a U.S. fleet deployed in nearby waters, it is still possible violent conflict can break out. Especially as the two key actors are a callous buffonish tycoon who leads the world’s most powerful country going up against a rotund tyrant whose cartoonish appearance masks the fact he heads one of the world’s most despicable regimes.

Meanwhile, I know it is kind of old (last week) news but I’m still trying to get over the shocking scene from of an Asian-American doctor being dragged off a United Airlines plane bloodied and unconscious. When I first saw the news and hadn’t read all the details, I thought maybe it was a case of excessive force being used on a passenger who had done something violent. Instead, it turned out he did nothing wrong  but had merely been chosen at random to get off because the airline had messed up and needed to squeeze four of its crew onto the flight. Because he refused, he earned the right to be forced from his seat, pulled violently towards the ground, thus knocking himself unconscious after his head hit a seat armrest, and dragged like a corpse through the aisle.

What made it worse was that despite the clear video footage and multiple witnesses, the United CEO came out and made some boldfaced lies about the customer having been “disruptive” and “belligerent.” It took growing outrage from the public before the CEO was able to admit anything, in what were his third and fourth statements after the incident.
Frankly, this is one situation where everyone involved from the security personnel who forced the victim out of his seat and pulled him out violently, rendering him unconscious in the process, to the airline crew to the CEO was wrong. You have to wonder what was going through the minds of those security men, who seem to have escaped blame given all the attention on the airline, when they did all that. “Just doing their job” isn’t a good-enough excuse.

I don’t know, there’s an enormous lack of decency in society today in how we treat each other and what is scary is how much it permeates all levels, from top to bottom.


This week, a large batch of classified U.S. diplomatic documents were released by WikiLeaks, providing a fascinating and amusing glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes on the international arena concerning the U.S. and the entire world. Among the juicy revelations are China secretly backs South Korean rule over an increasingly erratic and unpredictable North Korean regime; the U.S. playing a global version of “Let’s make a deal” by coercing or enticing other nations to take in Guantanamo detainees, Afghanistan’s vice president was found with US$52 million in cash when he went to the UAE and the monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, referring to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari as rotten. The NY Times article is a good read and there are quite a lot of articles on the releases. Even now the repercussions are still to be fully felt. I’m especially interested in how China reacts to the revelation in the Guardian article linked above on its alleged changing stance with North Korea. For a long time, China has had a steadfast relationship with North Korea mainly because of a desire to have a buffer, and friendly state, between it and U.S. ally South Korea and U.S. forces.