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July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Update 3:01 p.m.:
CNN has obtained exclusive video from Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean organization, showing Kenneth Bae’s first interview from a hard labor camp where he is serving a 15-year sentence for “hostile acts” against the country. In the video, Bae speaks in Korean. CNN translated his comments as follows:
“Although my health is not good, I am being patient and coping well,” Bae said. “And I hope that with the help of the North Korean government and the United States, I will be released soon.”
Kneeling on the ground and wearing a prison uniform, a visibly thinner Bae revealed July 4 is his father’s 70th birthday.
Also, I just learned via Twitter (h/t @randallito) about this change.org petition by Jonathan Bae, who identifies himself as Kenneth Bae’s son. The petition calls on President Barack Obama to send a delegation to North Korea to secure Bae’s release.
We can’t seem to get enough of The Worm and his worldly ways. If NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman can use his celebrity to smooth relations with North Korea and secure the release of Lynnwood’s Kenneth Bae during his August trip back to the land of Kim Jung Un— then I say he deserves some serious props for diplomacy.
Of course, Rodman wants more. Have you seen him on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated?
According to this July 2 preview story by SI correspondent Ben Golliver, the former Chicago Bull says he deserves to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize after his recent foray into North Korea with a crew from Vice Media. Rodman’s visit was the subject of Vice on HBO’s season finale. (I’ve embedded a fascinating four-minute clip at the end of this post.)
From Golliver’s write-up:
Rodman plans to return to North Korea in August. “I’m just gonna chill, play some basketball and maybe go on vacation with Kim and his family,” Rodman says. “I’ve called on the Supreme Leader to do me a solid by releasing Kenneth Bae.” The Korean-American missionary was recently sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges that he tried to topple the North Korean regime. He’d organized tours into the isolated state.
“My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries,” Rodman says. “Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it’s the black guy’s [Obama's] job. But I’ll tell you this: If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong.”
It’s great to see Rodman hasn’t forgotten about Kenneth Bae.
June 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM
I admit I haven’t paid much attention to the NBA finals this year. But thanks to a USC alumni club dinner in Seattle last spring, I won a bid to have lunch with Slick Watts.
This week, I finally used that El Gaucho gift certificate and treated Slick to a steak meal. It was cool. I had to do a double-take when he gave me an autographed photo of him playing back in the day. At the age of 62 — “38 years from 100!” he says —Watts is thinner now, but his face and signature shaved head look exactly the same.
My Seattle Times colleague (and Sonics/Slick Watts superfan) Bill Kossen came with me to the lunch. Watching and listening to the two of them riff about Watts’ old teammates and training regimen made me imagine a very different Seattle. Sure, I watched Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton play in televised NBA games growing up, but I didn’t know much about the Sonics’ earlier years when they were really on top.
Watts has swagger. He also has wit and a common sense about him that intrigues me. I mean, here’s a guy who played for the love of the game (making as little as $15,000 per year; as much as $130,000), went without pay when he was injured, and stayed in Seattle long after his pro basketball days ended to teach P.E. to elementary kids in an inner-city school. Certainly doesn’t fit with the image I have of today’s mega-wealthy NBA stars. (more…)
June 5, 2013 at 7:10 AM
Depending on how one chooses to look at it, the Kings are staying in Sacramento, or the Sonics are not coming back to Seattle. Either way, the local response to the National Basketball Association’s decision seems to be a lackluster, “Meh.”
Northwest public opinion guru Stuart Elway found a combination of indifference and no opinion that totaled 55 percent in a new survey. Those who were mildly disappointed or really bummed represented one-third of the respondents. That is not much of a base on which to build a political clamor for a new arena.
The 401 King County residents polled broke out this way: 51 percent did not care, four percent had no opinion, and 12 percent were glad the NBA was not returning to Seattle. Of the remainder, 18 percent were very disappointed and 15 percent were mildly disappointed.
More than two-thirds of those asked their opinion did not give a rip, or were actually pleased the pursuit of a team failed.
Fans are crushed, and politicians have to wonder what they are getting into with the public when they step out in front of a proposal to help build a home for basketball.
May 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Sacramento Kings fans are basking in the victory of their determined mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, community leaders and a group of eager buyers. Here’s the Sacramento Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman’s take on Wednesday’s 22-8 decision by the NBA Board of Governors to have the Kings stay put in Sacramento rather than move to Seattle. Times reporter Bob Condotta detailed the decision in this story.
Thursday’s Sacramento Bee editorial notes that the Kings’ future still hinges on the proposed new arena deal. But in the meantime, its tone was celebratory.
Now is a moment to celebrate that the Kings’ 28-year run in Sacramento isn’t over, not by a long shot. If all goes right, the team’s best days are still ahead.
May 7, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Just as President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he would not make any concessions to North Korea, former NBA player Dennis Rodman called on Kim Jong Un to “do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.”
The man has a conscience. Good for him. Let’s hope the retired NBA player’s appeal makes a difference for Kenneth Bae.
My Twitter exchange with Rodman started last Friday, when I posted this Tweet with a link to our blog:
— Thanh Tan(@uscthanhtan) May 3, 2013
On Tuesday, he responded.
I’m calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him “Kim”, to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.
— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) May 7, 2013
Then added this.
— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) May 7, 2013
I don’t know what to say, except — thank you, Dennis Rodman. Turns out you have a heart big enough to match the size of that ego.
Foreign Policy just picked up the news.
Dennis Rodman calls on Kim Jong Un to do him ‘a solid’ and release American detainee atfp.co/17K0MnF
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) May 7, 2013
Rodman is the only American to have met and spent time lately with North Korea’s young leader.
Now we wait to see if and how Kim Jong Un responds.