Wednesday, February 25, 2009

North Korea Fund Seeks $50 Million After Terror Label Removed

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. businessman is seeking to raise $50 million to invest in North Korea, reviving a 2005 plan after the U.S. government removed the communist regime from its list of countries that support terrorism.

ChosunFund Pte. Ltd. will join with North Korean partners for mining and energy projects, Colin McAskill, founder of the Singapore-incorporated fund, said in an interview.

“The country holds huge natural resources but is capital starved and lacks the technology and management skills with which to develop them,” McAskill said.

(I was lead to the article by North Korea Economy Watch:

The ChosunFund website has an interesting investor presentation:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Policymaker's Guide to Central Asia (in PDF)

Central Asia Resources for Policymakers

Biological Machines

Scientists have created a living machine whose flight can be wirelessly controlled.

Also, see more of the 10 emerging technologies of 2009:

A Guide to Central Asia Resources for Policymakers

Online Resources & RSS Feeds
Foreign Policy Association
Jamestown Eurasia Daily Monitor
Uzbekistan Daily

Online Reports
CRS Reports
U. S. Congress Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Allison, Roy. Central Asian Security.
Olcott, Martha Brill. Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise.
Mayhew, Bradley. Lonely Planet's Guide to Central Asia.
Tsygankov, Andrei. Russia's Foreign Policy.

Academic Centers
Central Asia-Caucus Institute (CACI) at Johns Hopkins
Center for Languages of Central Asia at Indiana University
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard

Top Experts
Lubin, Nancy
Olcott, Martha Brill
Starr, S. Frederick.

China's Dollar Dilemma

Basically the Chinese are pissed that the government is wasting their money, i.e. investing in dollars...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mongolia and the Mad Man

"James Palmer’s “Bloody White Baron,” his life of Baron Roman Nikolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg, is the story of “a loser — albeit an upper-class one” — who turned himself into a visionary psychopath in the Russian far east. Uncomfortable but fascinating reading, it weaves together the weird alliances, murderous dreams and improbable careers that emerged in the aftermath of World War I and the fall of czarist Russia."

This guy sounds like a mix of Conrad's Kurtz and Wallenstein.

Things get worse in South Asia ...


"With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government."

US & Pakistan Government vs. Pakistani Insurgents &
Pakistan Government vs. Indian Government [see previous post].
However, US and India have had good relations, since the end of Soviet times. India is the most friendly of the BRIC countries and therefore an indispensable ally.

How is this going to shake out?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading Thoughts with Brain Imaging

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) looks more and more like a window into the mind. In a study published online today in Nature, researchers at Vanderbilt University report that from fMRI data alone, they could distinguish which of two images subjects were holding in their memory--even several seconds after the images were removed. The study also pinpointed, for the first time, where in the brain visual working memory is maintained.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This Could Get Ugly: Ricks Predicts South Asian War

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Smell of Weakness


Obama might be "the new JFK" ( (,-says-Kennedy-aide.html) but that is not necessarily all good.

Khruschev thought JFK was young and inexperienced; Obama has even less experience.
This is not necessarily a weakness of Obama (in fact, some liked the idea of a president who is not a Beltway insider), however it can lead to dangerous situations.

Obama might be a lot of things, but he is not likely to take Russian pushing idly. Foreign leaders might be tempted to play a dangerous game of chicken with our young president. That is how wars happen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Two Conclusions on Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk:

I) The Amazon Mechanical Turk is related to traditional work and part-time jobs, just like micro finance is related to private equity and venture capital. The time commitment, value of the projects, and returns on the project are lower, however on the whole, it will make things more efficient. In the past, there was no market for these sort of internet odd jobs (e.g., a website needs content, so it offers $0.40 for someone to write a Top 10 list); now there is.

II) This site is of little (no) value in a liberal western country (i.e., a country where there is minimum wage, amply opportunities for part time jobs). Most of the jobs are under a dollar in value. The highest paying job (as of now) is $5 (but I have seen as high as ~$7). However, the US minimum wage is $6.55.

An American would have to be very efficient in order to make more than $6.55 in an hour using the Amazon Mechanical Turk (and most likely, the most efficient Americans have proper jobs).

However, the opportunities for the Third World to do this work is very promising; although it is limited by their access to the internet and their use for's currency.
"Not by strength, by guile."