Seattle “Ecoterrorist” Arrested in Dali, Yunnan

As the New York Times reports, Justin Franchi Solondz has been on the run since trying to burn down some horticulture buildings at Seattle’s University of Washington campus in 2001.  It seems he has been holed up in Dali, Yunnan, impersonating a Canadian and keeping busy by burying 30 pounds of marijuana in his backyard.

He is an alumnus of Evergreen State College, an institution in beautiful Olympia, Washington, just down the road from where I’m presently blogging.  (In fact, I spent a very pleasurable two hours this past Tuesday night screaming my lungs out in opposition to the Evergreen basketball team, who arrived at my university to steal a win on the road.)

Although it’s unlikely that President Obama had any interaction with this matter personally, the timing of his trial is interesting; he was arrested in March 2009 and has been keeping someone very busy in the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu (which has responsibility for Americans in Kunming) as well as the giant new Embassy in Beijing.  The U.S. and China have no extradition treaty, but the Seattle FBI is getting excited about this.  If only moving the Uighurs out of Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay were so simple.

I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground for reaction to this story in Seattle, at Evergreen, and at the University of Washington.  Solondz’s story manages to bind together any number of ambient themes — environmental protection, radicalism, legal systems and cooperation, and illegal commerce — that seem to be moving from the edges to the center of the U.S.-China relationship these days.

Marijuana in Dali, Yunnan -- via Alexandra Moss flickr (click image for link)


Le Figaro Photos of Pyongyang

Arnaud de la Grange has posted about a dozen quality photos of his recent trip to Pyongyang.  While most are of the standard landscapes, he has an eye for disruption, and captions are interesting (Pyonyang as Minsk in the 1950s).

Perhaps the most intriguing:

On the 24-hour train from Pyongyang to Peking; "Le retour à Pékin se fait en train. Un voyage de 24h auquel participe également un militaire nord-coréen." Photo A. de la Grange, via Le Figaro

I have not had the pleasure of chatting with Korean Peoples’ Army brass on the train to Beijing, but DPRK diplomats?  Certainly.