Kim Jong Un Smiles for Grandpa

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In today's tour of propaganda, Kim Jong Un gives a winning smile, Chinese media does damage control, and Anders Breivik sobs after watching his own propaganda film. We begin in Pyongyang... 

A Toothy Grin for Grandpa's 100th Birthday

In North Korea, state-sanctioned images of Kim Jong Un rarely convey anything but strength and seriousness. But Sunday marked the 100th birthday of the country's first leader Kim Il Sung so the Korean Central News Agency let its Cult of Personality guard down and issued some happy pics of the "Outstanding Leader" on his grandfather's birthday. What was he gazing so warmly at? Oh, nothing much:

Either way, we applaud KCNA for showcasing the softer side of the 20-something leader. It's a nice change from his standard portraiture which really needed some warming up: 

[KCNA via Reuters]

China State Media Calls the Bo Xilai Scandal a "Great Fortune" for China

It may be the "biggest political  scandal" to hit China in years but the country's state media doesn't have a problem putting a sugary glaze on it. Today, China's tightly-controlled media is spinning the ouster of Bo Xilai, a charismatic and influential star of the Communist  Party who was ousted from the powerful Politburo after his wife was suspected in the murder of Briton Neil Heywoodreports AFP. Here's some of that choice spin:

Recently, the central government decided to start an investigation into serious disciplinary violations by Comrade Bo Xilai," the state-run Chongqing Daily said in a commentary.

"This is a great fortune for the party, for the country and for Chongqing, deeply suits the party's wishes and the people's wishes," it added, referring also to the probe into Heywood's death last November in the southwestern city.

"The great cadres and people (of Chongqing) know that the... decision was wise and correct, and trust in the central government under the leadership of Comrade Hu Jintao has greatly increased," it said.

The commentary was just one example, says AFP, of a widespread effort to do damage control, which included censorship of rumors on the Internet. The Los Angeles Times' Barbara Demick caught similar wiffs of propaganda in her review of state media here. And, for a succinct briefing on the whole scandal, check out The Atlantic's Jim Fallows discussing the case with NPR's Guy Raz.

Breivik Cries After Viewing His Own Propaganda Film

In the gut-wrenching trial of Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik, the prosecution presented his video in court today, which elicited sobs from Breivik. It was the first display of emotion from the man who says he killed 77 people last July. As The Guardian reports:

[Breivik] had told investigators he was a resistance fighter in a far-right militant group modelled after the Knights Templar, a western Christian order that fought during the crusades. He claimed he joined the group after connecting with "militant nationalists over the internet" who eventually invited him to a meeting in London in 2002. But police have found no trace of any organisation and say he acted alone.


Breivik's atrocious beliefs have been summed up in this 12-minute video. As The Sydney Morning Herald explains, "Breivik told police the video was intended to be an abridged version of his 1500-page political manifesto, in which he railed against Muslim immigration and the spread of Islam of Europe." There seems to be little more to add here other than this is clearly a grotesquely disturbed human being.


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