As Beijing announces plans to relax the one-child policy, photographs from the Chinese countryside reveal how the government uses billboards, murals, and signs to promote population control.
Read more. [Image: Adam Century]
Whenever I write about homophobia in Russia, several readers invariably leave comments defending the country’s approach to gay rights:
"Why is everybody here talking about homophobia? We don’t have phobia (an irrational and unjustified fear) to homos in Russia. It is just a natural disgust to perversion and desire to protect our children against it," one wrote.
Oh, I see. You don’t fear gay people, you just think they’re gross. Guess it’s time to run a big ol’ retraction.
Elsewhere, like when my articles about opposition figures are translated and posted on Russian news sites, the comments get downright personal and anti-Semitic.
I don’t get too worked up—Internet haters gonna hate, as we all know—but given the outlandishness of their responses (even their fellow angry commenters often try to take them down a notch), it leaves me wondering, “Who are these people?”
Now, it seems, we have an answer to where some of this acrimony originates. It’s of course impossible to tell whose vitriol is genuine and whose is being bankrolled, but at least some anti-Western comments appear to come from staffers the Russian government pays to sit in a room, surf the Internet, and leave sometimes hundreds of postings a day that criticize the country’s opposition and promote Kremlin-backed policymakers.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
North Korea’s official propaganda outlet, the Korean Central News Agency, recently declared the state’s appreciation for all those young school kids who “helped” manufacture rocket-shooting tanks for the People’s Army. The announcement, which coincided with a military parade in the country’s second-largest city to show off the vehicles, also thanked the “Democratic Women’s Union”:Multiple-launch rocket systems “Sonyon-ho” and “Nyomaeng-ho” manufactured with the assistance of school youth and children and members of the Democratic Women’s Union of Korea (DWUK) across the country were presented to units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) with due ceremony at Hamhung Square in South Hamgyong Province on Thursday to mark the 80th anniversary of the KPA.
Those rockets are associated with their will to remain true to the Party’s Songun revolutionary leadership generation after generation and their patriotic desire to make contributions to bolstering the nation’s defence capability.
Multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS, in military parlance) are serious pieces of equipment, meant to fire guided or unguided explosives over dozens or miles. That they were apparently built in part by school-aged kids is a reminder that North Korean society is so militarized — and so exploited — that even children are skilled and practiced at constructing sophisticated mechanical and electronic weaponry. That the state would actually boast its use of child labor for building tanks is a reminder of the extent to which military nationalism has twisted North Korean society.
Read more. [Image: KNCA/Reuters]