The Real Racist
May 8, 2014

A North Korean state-run news agency earlier this month launched an ugly, racist diatribe against President Obama, calling the U.S.'s first black head of state a "crossbreed with unclear blood." The agency also said that Obama "still has the figure of monkey while the human race has evolved through millions of years," and that "it would be perfect for Obama to live with a group of monkeys in the world’s largest African natural zoo and lick the bread crumbs thrown by spectators."

The screed was recently brought to light by Josh Stanton, who blogs frequently about North Korea.

The issue of race has special resonance in North Korea, where the Stalinist regime has gone to great lengths to instill a sense of racial purity in its citizens. Some background from The Washington Post:

[W]hen North Korea talks about race, it's almost always important — and telling about the state ideology.

Some academics — most notably B.R. Myers — argue that North Koreans fundamentally have a "race-based" worldview, showing more similarity to fascist Japan during World War II than Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. Myers condenses North Korea's state orthodoxy into a sentence: "The Korean people are too pure blooded, and therefore too virtuous, to survive in this evil world without a great parental leader." [The Washington Post] Ryu Spaeth

Capital Punishment
3:12 a.m. ET

On Tuesday night, Texas executed its 11th inmate this year, killing 35-year-old Juan Garcia through lethal injection. Garcia admitted to killing Mexican immigrant Hugh Solano in Houston during a botched robbery in 1998, when Garcia was 18, but insisted it was an accident during a fight for the gun. Prosecutors say Garcia got just $8 from Solano. Despite Garcia's long rap sheet, Solano's widow asked the judge not to sentence him to death, saying she forgave him for the murder. She and her daughter were at the execution, weeping, NBC News reports, and Garcia apologized to them in Spanish before he died, saying: "The harm that I did to your dad and husband — I hope this brings you closure.... I never wanted to hurt any of you all."

Garcia was the third inmate put to death in the past week, following executions in Virginia and Georgia. Peter Weber

2:19 a.m. ET

Earlier this week on Facebook, Republican presidential candidate answered some questions from regular people. He told Michael, for example that he drives an electric Tesla sedan ("I am sure some left-wing environmentalists' heads are exploding"), and Anne that he lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dan asked if Carson's views on the Second Amendment have changed since last week's mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Carson replied that he has cousins who were killed by gun violence in Detroit, and that "as a doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies." Then he added:

There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking — but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away. Serious people seek serious solutions. [Carson, Facebook]

Carson followed up Monday night's comments with an interview Tuesday morning on Fox News, where he suggested, as The New York Times puts it, that the students at Umpqua Community College "were overly passive." If an assailant pointed a gun at him, Carson told Fox and Friends, "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say: 'Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'"

Carson also said Tuesday that President Obama is wrong to visit the families of the victims in Oregon this week. If he were president, he said, "I mean, I would probably have so many things on my agenda that I would go to the next one." But hey, at least he didn't mention Hilter. Peter Weber

hard work pays off
2:06 a.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The debate team from New York's Eastern Correctional Facility has major bragging rights, after beating the national debate championship team from Harvard.

In September, the inmates invited the Harvard team to the Napanoch prison for a friendly match. The Eastern Correctional Facility team was formed two years ago, and the men take debate classes taught by faculty at Bard College; about 15 percent of the inmates are enrolled in different courses through the Bard Prison Initiative. "Students in the prison are held to the exact same standards, levels of rigor, and expectation as students on Bard's main campus," Max Kenner, executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative, told The Associated Press. "Those students are serious. They are not condescended to by their faculty."

During the battle against Harvard, the inmates had to argue that public schools should have the right to turn away students whose parents came to the United States without documents. It was a stance the inmates didn't agree with, but they were able to come up with points Harvard wasn't expecting, AP reports, and a neutral panel of judges declared them the winners. The inmates have defeated teams from West Point and the University of Vermont, and the Harvard team appears happy to join their ranks, posting on Facebook: "There are few teams we are prouder of having lost a debate to than the phenomenally intelligent and articulate team we faced this weekend." Catherine Garcia

1:38 a.m. ET

Danish researchers have found that ovarian transplants could restore a woman's fertility after chemotherapy and radiation.

Women who undergo cancer treatment typically have a less than 5 percent chance of getting pregnant afterward, NPR reports. "Obviously the thing that interests them the most is to survive cancer," said Claus Yding Andersen, a reproductive physiologist who helped conduct the study. "But immediately after that they would say they are really interested in maintaining their fertility."

An ovarian transplant involves surgically removing all or part of one ovary, freezing it, then transplanting it back once cancer treatment is finished. Andersen and his team focused on 32 Danish women who had completed cancer treatment, had an ovarian transplant between 2003 to 2014, and wanted to become pregnant; 10 women had a total of 14 babies, with six conceived through in vitro fertilization. Andersen said the tissue can function for five to 10 more years, and there was no evidence that an ovarian transplant increases the risk of a recurrence of a woman's cancer. The study was published Tuesday in the journal Human Reproduction. Catherine Garcia

12:42 a.m. ET

In Moldova, criminal networks have made at least four attempts over the past five years to sell radioactive material, including bomb-grade uranium, The Associated Press reports.

During its investigation, AP found that while many middlemen have been arrested, their bosses have all escaped. A small group of Moldovan investigators trained by the U.S. government to break up the nuclear black market worked on the cases, including Constantin Malic. Malic told AP that in 2010, authorities were able to get a sawed-off piece of a depleted uranium cylinder that they believe may have been from Chernobyl (it ended up not being highly toxic). "We can expect more of these cases," he said. "As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without being caught, they will keep doing it."

In one case, a former KGB informant named Teodor Chetrus called one of Malic's sources, and said he was looking for a Middle Eastern buyer to purchase uranium. He was a middleman who hated the West, Malic said, and proclaimed "multiple times that this substance must have a real buyer from the Islamic states to make a dirty bomb." The informant made a deal to sell the bomb-grade uranium to a "buyer in the Middle East," AP says, but Chetrus wanted to ensure he was not an undercover agent. His boss was a man named Alexandr Agheenco, who lived in the Moldovan breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. Agheenco decided not to sell the uranium all at once, instead dispensing 10-gram samples for €320,000 ($360,000) a pop. Agheenco gave his wife, Galina, the job of arranging a handoff of the uranium to Chetrus in Moldova. Police were waiting, and arrested Chetrus and Galina Agheenco after Chetrus took the uranium package she left in her Lexus; a Trans-Dniester police officer who smuggled the uranium to Galina Agheenco escaped and along with Agheenco, was untouchable in Trans-Dniester.

Tests found that the uranium was high-grade material that could be used in a nuclear bomb, and when Malic searched Chetrus' house, he found plans for a dirty bomb and evidence that Chetrus was working on a separate deal with an actual buyer (this deal with a Sudanese doctor was later broken up by a sting operation). Galina Agheenco received a sentence of three years in prison because she had a young son, and Chetrus was sentenced to five years; Galina Agheenco's sentence is up, and Chetrus was released early in December 2014. Catherine Garcia

Late Night Tackles 2016
12:35 a.m. ET

Jay Leno is back on the air with a new show about cars, but does he miss telling jokes every weeknight, especially in this bumper crop of a presidential campaign? He didn't say on Tuesday's Tonight Show, but he seemed to enjoy himself when he tagged in during Jimmy Fallon's monologue. If you've missed Leno, he's still Leno: One of his jokes was about the GOP contest coming down to Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, "like a race between the tortoise and the bad hair." He really got into the moment when he started a series of old-timey "the economy is so bad..." jokes — and his enthusiasm was apparently infectious, because Fallon jumped in, too. Watch below. Peter Weber

Coffee or Bust
12:10 a.m. ET
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

The overlap between fans of Peet's Coffee & Tea, the Berkeley coffee stalwart known for its dark-roast blends, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the Portland upstart that made lightly roasted single-origin beans fashionable, is probably not huge (though larger than the overlap between Peet's and Dunkin Donuts partisans, surely). Starbucks, the Seattle coffee juggernaut, reacted to Stumptown and its light-roast peers by developing a "blonde roast" line. On Tuesday, Peet's announced it is simply buying Stumptown, for an undisclosed amount.

Stumptown and Peet's both say customers won't really notice any difference — you won't find Stumptown beans in Peet's stores or vice versa. But if Stumptown fans are concerned that their favorite roaster is selling out to a corporate giant like Peet's, well, that's only partly true: Peet's is majority owned by a secretive German family and its investment company in Luxembourg, JAB Holdings Co., that also has a majority stake in Caribou Coffee. The upside for Stumptown drinkers is that the coffee — and especially its bottled cold brew, which is what drew Peet's attention — will probably become available in more markets. The downside: If you want to drink local, well, that Starbucks on the corner at least sends its money to Seattle. Peter Weber

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