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7 Things I learned reading North Korea's newspaper

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The Japanese are reporting that Kim il Jong has been dead since 2003. The UN thinks North Korea is slipping into a "serious food shortage"¦that is causing millions of people to go hungry." But what does North Korea think? I spent a week (July 21-Aug. 1) monitoring the Korean Central News Agency, which offers readers the world from the vantage point of the North Korean government. Here's what I learned:

1. Kim Jong Il is loved around the world (and has the gift baskets to prove it)

Picture 18.pngThe KCNA is quick to point out the many bouquets and floral baskets Dear Leader receives.  "General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a floral basket and a congratulatory letter by the military attaches corps here on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War," KCNA reported. "They were handed to an official concerned by Miguel Angel Gala Valiente, military attache of the Cuban embassy here."
On July 31, "General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a floral basket by the delegation of Japan-Korea Friendship Linking with Juche on a visit to the DPRK."

Also, "A bouquet from the Russian Embassy was laid at the Monument to Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War" on July 25. KCNA did not report what other bouquets arrived for Kim Jong Il in the week. The paper is limited by space to choose the highlights.

2. Korea is under attack from Japan

Since the end of World War II, Japan has followed a pacifist constitution. They've also had a steadily shrinking population of young people who are largely engrossed in video games and manga. But according to the North Korean media, that's just what Japan wants the world to believe.

In reality, KCNA reveals, "Japan is making desperate efforts to seize other countries' territories with an aim to reinvade not only Korea but other countries around it"¦Â  It is the unchanged wild ambition of the Japanese militarists to reinvade Asia and dominate the world."

Picture 20.pngKCNA finds the "pretext for reinvading Asia" in a planned change in Japanese textbooks: Since 1954, the South Korean coast guard has occupied two rocky islets about 200-square meters in area. Referred to as Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima by Japan, its sovereignty is currently in dispute. Asiaenews has reported, recently that, "the Japanese government decided to include its sovereignty claim over Dokdo"¦in the curriculum handbook to be used at junior high schools beginning 2012."

Of course, this hasn't gone unnoticed by the KCNA. "This clearly proves that the moves of Japan to grab Tok Islet [Dokdo], part of inviolable territory of Korea, have reached the phase of its implementation," KCNA reported, quoting "a public statement" made by "a spokesman for the History Society of the DPRK."

3. North Korea cares deeply about South Korea

KCNA is unstinting in its coverage of South Korea and its President Lee Myung-bak. From the people to their labor unions, to their political parties, the KCNA refers to South Koreans as "the Lee Myung-bak group," or occasionally, "the group of traitors."

The paper doesn't exactly maintain an objective voice. When President Lee lifted a ban on American beef, an unpopular move that led to massive demonstrations and candle-lit vigils in Seoul, KCNA offered this analysis:

"The deplorable situation created by the opening of south Korean market to American beef is a product of the U.S. arrogant and high-handed acts to force unconditional servility and submission upon the south Koreans and, at the same time, a natural outcome of the Lee group's treacherous policy." KCNA continued, "This time the U.S. forced south Korea to open its markets to American beef by using its colonial stooges who have neither elementary national conscience nor an iota of self-esteem. It is as clear as noonday that it will bring bigger misfortune and sufferings to them in the days ahead."

4. The U.S. regularly forgets our anniversary

Did you make special plans on July 27? North Korea did. It was, after all, the 55th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War. But if history gives North Korea lemons, it makes lemonade.

"The 55th anniversary of the victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War was significantly celebrated across the country," KCNA wrote. "Amid the playing of songs such as "˜Our General Is Best' and "˜General Employs the Art of Compressing Space' the participants in the parties enthusiastically danced with the feelings of gratitude to General Secretary Kim Jong Il, the peerlessly illustrious commander who has wisely led the anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. confrontation struggle with the great Songun politics."

"When the war broke out, the world community worried whether the nearly two-year-old DPRK would withstand the aggression of the U.S. imperialists who had been proud of "˜having won' more than 110 wars. But it witnessed marvels from the first days of the war," KCNA's coverage continued. "The KPA made a brilliant achievement of liberating Seoul, the bulwark of the enemy, within three days following the start of the war. [Kim Jong Il's] strategies and tactics were all unique, that could not be conceived with existing military knowledge and formula.

5. North Korea has Impeccable Manners

Picture 21.pngYou might get the wrong impression about North Korea if I don't point out that most of the news the week I monitored KCNA consisted of greetings that Kim Yong Nam sent to various people around the world: "to the president of Benin on the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the independence of his country"; "to the President of the Swiss Confederation, on the occasion of its national day"; "to the President of the Republic of Peru, on Monday on the occasion of the independence day," among others.

Meanwhile, "the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea sent a message of greetings to the National Executive Committee of the People's Democratic Party of Nigeria on the occasion of its 10th founding anniversary."Â  And "Kim Yong Il, premier of the Cabinet of the DPRK, on July 24 sent a congratulatory message to Tillman Thomas upon his assumption of office as Prime Minister of Grenada."

6. North Koreans enjoyed the lazy days of summer

No less committed to penetrating local coverage than in its unrelenting bashing of South Korea, Japan and the United States, KCNA revealed that "folk sports and amusement games" were held at the Taesongsan Pleasure Ground on July 30 "on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of promulgation of the Law on Sex Equality."

The following day, the world learned, via KCNA, that "the Okryu Restaurant on the bank of River Taedong flowing through Pyongyang has been updated to suit the modern aesthetic sense while preserving its original looks."

And on a lighter note, KCNA reported that "water sporting activities are brisk in the DPRK in the July-August months for water sports. The sea bathing resorts, swimming pools and wading places across the country including the recently facelifted Majon Recreation Ground and newly built Sariwon Open-air Swimming Pool are crowded with working people and school youth and children these days."

7. They've kept a dying language alive

With one of the estimated 7,000 world languages disappearing every two weeks, you have to be impressed by a people that manages to keep one of them, not only alive, but flourishing. I don't mean the Korean language. I mean the particular dialect introduced by V.I. Lenin and which is now used only by North Korea's leaders and a handful of others around the world:

"Shortly ago, the puppet minister of Defence of south Korea at a session of the "˜National Assembly' openly let loose malignant and reckless remarks labeling the DPRK "˜biggest principal enemy'"¦

"The puppet defence minister's recent balderdash cannot be construed otherwise than an undisguised treachery of going against the desire of the nation for reconciliation, unity and reunification and the trend of the times as it revealed once again the true colors of the Lee Myung Bak group"¦"

It's wild stuff. But after a week of monitoring the Korean Central News Agency, I realized this is far tamer than most of what I find on the internet.

David Holzel doesn't speak Korean, but he does know a smattering of Marxist-Leninist. You can read more of his writing here.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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Get This Weekend's Best Amazon Deals Now
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, October 21.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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LED String Lights 33 ft with 100 LEDs, TaoTronics Waterproof Decorative Lights for Bedroom, Patio, Parties ( Copper Wire Lights, Warm White ) for $14.49 (list price $29.99)

Whitmor Supreme Wide Stacking Shelf, Chrome for $15.35 (list price $32.02)

Hoover FH50251PC Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner for $169.99 (list price $189.00)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

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Apple Cider Vinegar - Pills for Weight Loss - Includes: Vitamin B6, Spirulina, Lecithin & Kelp - Helps Support Detox, Digestion & Circulation, 350 mg, 90 Capsules for $18.92 (list price $28.59)

B.I.G. Natural Pre Shave Oil, 60 ml for $12.95 (list price $25.00)

Pure Body Naturals Essential Oils Gift Set, Lavender/Tea Tree/Eucalyptus/Lemongrass/Orange/Peppermint, 6 count - 10 ml for $14.95 (list price $17.95)

Colgate Max Fresh Wisp Disposable Travel Toothbrush, Peppermint - 24 Count for $4.99 (list price $7.99)

Nano Towel Makeup Remover Face Cloth. Remove Cosmetics FAST and Chemical Free. Wipes Away Facial Dirt and Oil Like An Eraser. Great for Sensitive Skin, Acne, Exfoliating, Mascara, etc. 7 x 16" for $14.97 (list price $29.99)

CCS Blackhead Remover Pimple Extractor with Instructions for Acne Comedone Whitehead Blemish Zit Removal Tool Kit for $6.97 (list price $49.97)

Oneleaf 2PCS Professional Pedicure Rasp Foot File Cracked Skin Corns Callus Remover for Extra Smooth and Beauty Foot for $9.99 (list price $19.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Wilson Championship Extra Duty Tennis Ball (4-Pack), Yellow for $15.16 (list price $20.18)

Anker Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight with 1300 Lumens, Rechargeable(26650 Battery Included), IP67 Water-Resistant, Bolder LC130 LED with 5 Light Modes For Camping, Security, Emergency Use for $45.99 (list price $112.00)

Enkeeo Foldable Fishing Net Triangular Landing Net with Aluminum Pole and Nylon Mesh, 14.6" Wide for $19.99 (list price $39.99)

G4Free 12x25 Compact Binoculars(BAK4,Green Lens),Large Eyepiece Super High-Powered Field Surveillance Binoculars for $24.99 (list price $39.99)

Stansport Canteen, 4-Quart for $7.97 (list price $10.49)

HEIMDALL Safety Whistle with lanyard (2 pack) for Boating Camping Hiking Hunting Emergency Survival Rescue Signaling for $8.95 (list price $10.99)

Veegul Stylish Doctor Style Canvas School Backpack Functional Travel Bag for Men Women Semizipper Pocket x Black VG for $39.99 (list price $74.50)

Enkeeo Foam Roller 13” × 6” EVA with Grid Design Muscle Rollers for Deep Tissue Myofascial Release, Sports Massage and Recovery, Trigger Point Therapy, Pilates & Yoga, Black for $16.99 (list price $29.99)

TOOLS

Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover #TBR-6 for $9.15 (list price $14.33)

Gorilla 7700104 Super Glue Gel, 20g for $5.97 (list price $14.89)

Worthington 336737 WT2301 Trigger Start Propane Torch for $16.97 (list price $19.99)

Bosch T4021 Screwdriver Bit Set, Blue, 21-Piece for $8.17 (list price $14.99)

DEWALT DW1361 Titanium Pilot Point Drill Bit Set, 21-Piece for $19.99 (list price $25.99)

Tire Inflator, 3-in-1 Inflation Gun, with Gun, Locking Chuck and 2-inch Gauge, ¼” NPT and Flexible Hose (Campbell Hausfeld MP600000AV) for $9.94 (list price $13.49)

Stanley 84-056 3-Piece Bi-Material Pliers Set for $13.18 (list price $18.29)

Stanley 55-525 15-inch Super Wonder Bar Pry Bar for $9.89 (list price $13.29)

Picture Hanging Kit Asst for $9.99 (list price $12.99)

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