I happened across both of these stories today out of Everybody’s Favorite Saber-Rattling Gulag State and America’s Bestest Frenemy, and I don’t even… obviously, “palate cleanser” is not the right term here. Whatever the antonym of “palate cleanser” is, this is that.
Until now, everyone in North Korea had to choose their haircuts from a list of state-approved styles. But now, all men in the hermit kingdom will be required to sport the same hairstyle as supreme leader Kim Jong Un, the BBC reports.
Pyongyang introduced the new law two weeks ago but is now rolling it out across the country. Unfortunately, some North Koreans may not be thrilled about the new look. According to a former Pyongyang resident now living in China, the Kim Jong Un cut is unpopular because it apparently resembles the style of Chinese smugglers. “Until the mid-2000s, we called it the ‘Chinese smuggler haircut,” the source told the Korea Times.
Women, however, will still be able to choose from a small variety of state-sanctioned hairstyles. So, there’s that. You’re welcome?
And over in Russia, via Charles Recknagel:
If you could turn back the hands of time, what would you wish for? For Russian President Vladimir Putin, it seems to be to return to the days of mass physical fitness. Not just of physical-education training in schools—which already exists in Russia—but of mass calisthenics in stadiums, mass parades of athletes through Moscow’s Red Square, and fluttering banners with slogans urging ‘Everyone to the Starting Line!’
On March 24, Putin, a well-known fitness buff, signed an executive order to bring it all back. He ordered the revival of a Stalin-era fitness program from the 1930s called “Ready for Labor and Defense,” or “GTO” by its Russian initials. The state-sponsored program, which mixed fitness, health, and patriotism, had been moribund since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it fell victim to Russians’ suddenly greater freedoms of choice. …
In signing his decree, Putin did not specify why he wanted to bring back the GTO in its Soviet-era form, complete with the pomp and parades. He only said his government had been considering “how to attract the vast majority of our citizens to take part in regular physical training” and that “reviving the GTO would “pay homage to our national historical traditions.”
No word yet on what exactly the program will look like or just how mandatory it will be in its modern form, but whatever it is, it’s set to begin anew this September — so get excited to get fighting fit, comrade!
And, just to top off the list of things the world’s varying degrees of central planners did today, here’s the latest out of Cuba, which has now decided that it would like to try its hand at luring foreign businesses and investment, the better to integrate Cuba into the global economy. Why companies and investors haven’t shown much interest in doing business with the communist country before now, I simply can’t imagine.
Cuba is proposing a new Cuban foreign investment law that would cut the profits tax in half to 15 percent and exempt most investors from paying it for at least eight years, official media said on Wednesday. …
Cuba is promising legal protection for foreign investors, who have generally been averse to risking capital in the Soviet-style economy, and new incentives such as dramatically lowered tax. The National Assembly is expected to approve the draft of the law with little, or no changes.
However, foreign ventures that mine natural resources, including oil, can be subject to a higher profits tax of up to 22.5 percent, depending on how those ventures are negotiated with the state, according to details published in the official Juventud Rebelde newspaper.