Bloggingheads: North Korea's black box of bluster

Since North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday, Feb. 12, it's published several incendiary propaganda videos -- including one featuring President Barack Obama bursting literally into flame. For this installment of Bloggingheads, I spoke with North Korea analyst Chris Green about what we know about North Korean propaganda, how to get information from the world's most closed society, and challenges with reporting on the country.

Watch the entire episode here; or see below for a clip on some of the choice rhetoric North Korea employs.



Iranian Ayatollahs issue fatwa against 3G

Iranian mobile operator Rightel is providing the country's mobile users with their first 3G Internet services, but the company's video-calling feature has drawn the ire of the country's clerical establishment. 

Al-Monitor reports:

Four grand ayatollahs — Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, Hossein Nouri Hamedani , Jafar Sohbhani and Seyyed Sajjad Alavi Gorgani — have issued fatwas banning Rightel.

"The decadence and corruption associated with [Rightel’s] use outweighs its benefits,” decreed Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi. “It will cause new deviances in our society, which is unfortunately already plagued with deviances.” Ayatollah Alavi Gorghani said that the video-call service would “jeopardize the public chastity” and “inflicts numerous damages” on Iran’s religion and political system.

An anti-Rightel website called "Rightel mirage" has been set up by Iran’s hard-liners. “Providing everyone with opium and then advising them to use it wisely,” reads an op-ed on the site, cautioning against the risks video calls pose to family life.

Some activists also suspect the attack on Rightel may be part of a move to limit communications during this summer's presidential election.