Passport

North Korea Joins Chorus of Trolls Slamming U.S. Over Ferguson

North Korea is arguably one of the world's most racist societies, so it's with no small measure of irony that the country's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday bashed the United States for the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri, which has been gripped by unrest following the death of a black teenager at the hands of a white police officer.

According to North Korea, Michael Brown's murder and the police's response reveal "a country wantonly violating the human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their races and they are seized with such horror that they do not know when they are shot to death." In his parting shot, the Foreign Ministry spokesman called the United States "a graveyard of human rights."

North Korea, of course, is one of the world's worst human rights violators. The country sends entire families to labor camps, brooks no political dissent or pluralism, and regularly tortures and executes citizens to keep them in line. Somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 North Koreans reside in government gulags, calling the country's nonexistent "credibility" on human rights into laughable question.

In addition to that dark irony, the communist nation is also built on a deeply racist ideology. One tenet justifies the Kim dynasty's continuation with the notion that Koreans are members of the world's most pure, innocent race. As such, they require a strong, paternal leader to shelter them from a chaotic world. North Korean propagandists bolster this belief by pointing toward Korea's long history of foreign invasions and the Kim dynasty's track record of repelling its enemies.

That same line of thinking has also cultivated an enormously racist society. When in 1965 the Cuban ambassador to the country, who was black, was showing some visitors around Pyongyang, "locals surrounded their car, pounding it and shouting racial epithets," B.R. Myers writes in his book The Cleanest Race. Police had to beat back the crowd. When Dennis Rodman and a group of basketball players visited the country in January, the website Daily NK reported that many North Koreans were asking one another, "Where did they find that group of goblins?"

But in its official propaganda, North Korea would have you believe that it remains committed to ideals of socialist equality. "The protests in Ferguson City and other parts of the U.S. are an eruption of the pent-up discontent and resistance of the people against racial discrimination and inequality deeply rooted in the American society," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman's statement ends not with a plea for racial tolerance but with a castigation of the United States to stop lecturing other countries on their human rights records when it doesn't have its own house in order. North Korea, the statement implies, would really just like to be left alone. "The U.S. should know that it is bound to get itself into a big trouble unless it behaves with discretion, not knowing where it stands," the spokesman said.

That too is a lie. The Kim regime needs a turbulent world and the existence of persistent enemies in order to justify its continued existence.

Feng Li/Getty Images

Passport

Gaza Cease-Fire Deal Was Prefaced by a New Kind of Destruction

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a long-term cease-fire that will halt 50 days of intense violence. But in the lead-up, Israeli forces rained destruction on Gaza as they leveled a series of high-rise buildings. It is unclear to what extent, if at all, this new tactic of bringing down large buildings contributed to the deal announced Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Early reports indicate that some restrictions on trade and travel in Gaza will be lifted and that Palestinians will be able to import large amounts of cement and other construction materials to begin a mammoth rebuilding effort. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed during the Israeli air and ground campaign. If the cease-fire holds, negotiators will reconvene next month to tackle thornier issues, such as construction of an airport in Gaza and the demilitarization of Hamas.

With widespread relief at the cessation of fighting -- the streets of Gaza erupted in celebration upon news of the agreement -- the recent shift in Israeli tactics is likely to be overlooked. Israel previously struck large, high-rise apartment complexes with precision munitions that left buildings standing. During the seven weeks of fighting, Gaza's more upscale apartment and office towers were mostly spared. Their recent destruction was captured in a series of terrifying videos.

Here is the razing of Al Zafer Tower 4 in Gaza.

In a series of early-morning strikes Tuesday, Israel targeted a pair of larger towers. The video below shows the moment the 15-story Basha Tower was struck, which collapsed the building.

Here, a huge trail of debris:

The so-called Italian Complex, an upscale apartment building that was one of the nicer places to live in Gaza, was severely damaged in a separate strike.

Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images