Ebola in Senegal While Human Trials Begin, Ukraine Crisis Deepens, E.U. Plans to Deal with ISIS, Hong Kong and Pakistan Divided After Elections and Americans Detained in North Korea Need U.S. Help

https://craftymcclever.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/31de6-6a00d8341d417153ef01b8d05dc68c970c-800wi.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.truthdig.com/images/made/images/cartoonuploads/ukraineeufight_590_422.jpghttps://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0121/60928_cartoon_main.jpg?208https://craftymcclever.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/5f37f-chinesegovernment.gif

Senegalese authorities confirmed Monday they are monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country and who has lost three family members to the disease, according to Babacar Dione, Senegal monitors contacts of first Ebola patient. So far, more than 1,500 people have died from the latest Ebola outbreak that hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal’s first case of the dreaded disease. Dione reports: “The 21-year-old left Guinea on Aug. 15, just days after his brother died of the disease, according to Guinea’s Health Ministry. It said that the brother apparently caught Ebola in Sierra Leone. The student traveled by road, crossing into Senegal despite a border closure. He arrived in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, on Aug. 20, according to the World Health Organization, and was staying with relatives on the outskirts of the city. The agency said that on Aug. 23, he went to a medical facility seeking treatment for fever, diarrhea and vomiting – all symptoms of Ebola but also many other diseases. But he concealed from doctors that he had had contact with infected people. He was treated instead for malaria and continued to stay with his relatives before turning up at a Dakar hospital on Aug. 26.” Senegal’s Health Ministry said Sunday that they are examining every person who came into contact with the student twice a day. Since the man left home, the Health Ministry in Guinea reports his mother and a sister have died from the disease, while two other brothers area being treated. The arrival of the disease in Senegal has raised fears that the disease will spread even farther, but public health experts said that shutting borders and banning flights is not the answer. During a visit to the airport in Conakry, Guinea on Monday, Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Countries might try to restrict travel in order to protect themselves, and it will do the opposite. If we cut off these countries, we will interfere with our ability to support them and stop the outbreak and that will actually increase the risk to the rest of the world.” On Monday, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered civil servants to stay home to prevent the disease from spreading for another month and schools have been closed. Caleb Hellerman reports, Human trial of experimental Ebola vaccine begins this week, the National Institutes of Health will begin this week testing an experimental Ebola vaccine as anxiety and fears increase about the spread of the disease in West Africa. After an expedited reveiw by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, researchers will begin human safety trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed. The process for testing Hellerman describes as follows: “The experimental vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and the NIAID, will first be given to three healthy human volunteers to see if they suffer any adverse effects. If deemed safe, it will then be given to another small group of volunteers, aged 18 to 50, to see if it produces a strong immune response to the virus. All will be monitored closely for side effects. The vaccine will be administered to volunteers by an injection in the deltoid muscle of their arm, first in a lower dose, then later in a higher dose after the safety of the vaccine has been determined.” Fauci said preclinical studies normally done were waived by the FDA during reviews, so “we want to take extra special care that we go slowly with the dosing.” In addition, the vaccine tested on chimpanzees worked well noting that the method being used to prompt an immune response to Ebola cannot cause a healthy person to become infected with the virus. According to NIH, the vaccine will then be tested on healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom, Gambia and Mali after details are finalized in those countries. Fauci remarked the reason trials cannot be done in the countries currently affected is due to a health care infrastructure that cannot not support it, while Gambia and Mali were chosen due to a “long-standing collaborative relationships” with researchers in those countries. However, according to the NIH, officials from the CDC are in talks with health officials from Nigeria to conduct part of the safety trial there. Funding from an international consortium will allow GlaxoSmithKline to begin manufacturing 10,000 additional doses of vaccine while clinical trials are ongoing, according to a statement from the pharmaceutical company. These doses will made available to the WHO if they decide to do emergency immunizations in high risk communities. Another vaccine, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed this month to NewLink Genetics, a company based in Iowa. According to the NIH, safety trials of that vaccine will start this fall. A third vaccine given in combination with Depovax developed by the NIH was tested on primates and found to protect them from infection. While vaccine will help to prevent the disease among health workers and other people high risk, development has also sped up for drugs to treat patients with the disease already. ZMapp, the most publicized in recent months, was formally tested on humans with five of the seven treated in the current outbreak still alive. However, experts say there is too little data to say whether it played a role in recovery of these patients including two American missionary medical workers, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly.

Meanwhile, at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, pro-Russian rebels said they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy reflecting Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at this new round of peace talks, the Associate Press reports, Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks. The same day, brutal fighting continued in eastern Ukraine with rebels pushing government forces from an airport near Luhansk adding to their military gains. The peace talks follow last week’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The negotiations involve former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, an envoy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and representatives of the rebels. This round of negotiations are quite different as rebels in a statement carried by Russia’s state run RIA Novosti news agency said they are willing to discuss “the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine.” However, they demand amnesty and broad local power including being able to appoint their own local law enforcement officials in eastern Ukraine as Crimea is not part of this negotiation. According to RIA Novosti, rebel negotiator Andrei Purgin said the talks lasted for several hours Monday and will continue Friday as parties will discuss a ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told students at at Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Monday: “There will be no military intervention. We call for an exclusively peaceful settlement of this severe crisis, this tragedy.” Ukrainian National Security Council spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said on Monday that “not less than four battalions and tactical groups of the Russian armed forces are active in Ukraine.” Fighting in eastern Ukraine between rebels and government forces began a month after the annexation of Crimea in mid-April killing 2,600 people so far and forced 340,000 to flee their homes, the U.N. reports. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday regarding a planned summit in Wales to discuss how to protect member nations against Russian aggression: “(This) ensures that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place at the right time. Not because NATO wants to attack anyone. But because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible. And we will do what it takes to defend our allies.”

While Ukraine deals with its own insurgency problems, Iraq and other world leaders address the issue of the Islamic State Militants that has overran large parts of Syria and Iraq. Nour al-Maliki, Iraq’s outgoing prim minister, Monday announced during an unannounced visit to Amirli that he would turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State group and praised security forces for their victory that ended the siege of a the Shiite town, according to Sameer N. Yacoub, Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants. In footage on state TV, al-Maliki ordered promotions and awards fro those who fought the battle. He vowed to root out Sunni militants from areas they control in the country. The U.S. airstrikes helped to liberate Amirli and were the first to hit areas where Iranian backed militias were fighting Sunni militants making an unlikely alliance between the U.S. and Shiite militiamen who fought American soldiers in Iraq. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted 120 airstrikes with aircraft and unmanned drones against the militants focusing on areas bordering self ruled northern Kurdish region where Kurdish forces are fighting militants. Monday, the United Nations reported 1,420 Iraqis have been killed in the violence in August which is down from the previous month. According to Yacoub: “The U.N. mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in its monthly statement that the death toll includes 1,265 civilians and 155 members of Iraq’s security forces. Another 1,370 were wounded, including 1,198 civilians. July’s death toll stood at 1,737 people. In June, 2,400 were killed as Sunni militants swept across the country, the highest figure since at least April 2005.” In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the decision to send arms to Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq by telling parliament Monday that the group poses a major security threat to Germany and Europe, Noah Barkin reports, Merkel: ISIS Poses Major Risk To Europe. In a speech to the Bundestag lower house, Merkel said, “The far-reaching destabilization of an entire region affects Germany and Europe. Ladies and gentlemen, when terrorists take control of a vast territory to give themselves and other fanatics a base for their acts of terror, then the danger rises for us, then our security interests are affected.” Recent polls show that two out of three Germans think the government should not send arms to Kurdish fighters for fears the arms could end up in the hands of jihadists or could put a target on Germany’s back. However, Merkel in her speech notes over 400 German and hundreds of Europeans have taken up arms to fight alongside Islamic State militants and could return home at any time presenting a threat to Germany. Merkel said, “We faced a choice: not to take any risks, not to deliver (arms) and to accept the spread of terror; or to support those who are desperately but courageously fighting the barbarous terror of ISIS with limited resources. We are aware of the risks of this support, of course we considered them. But we also asked ourselves about the acute risks from ISIS if we do not deliver arms.” In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron has laid out his plan to fight the threat posed by the group as returning citizens come home after fighting with the militants, but many doubt if Parliament will go for it, according to Karl Penhaul, Susannah Cullinane and Laura Smith-Spark, Cameron lays out plans to counter UK jihadi threat. Announcing his plan on Monday, Cameron said, “Dealing with this terrorist threat is not just about new powers, it is also about how we combat extremism in all its forms…Passports are not an automatic right. We will introduce specific and targeted legislation to fill this gap by providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border, during which time they will be able to investigate the individual concerned. This power will include appropriate safeguards and oversight arrangements.” While it will help to stop would be jihadists, Cameron said Britain need measures to prevent foreign fighters from returning. UK authorities estimate 500 Britons have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria with Islamist militants. However, oppositions lawmakers question whether it is legal to do so. The White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The most detailed intelligence assessment that I can offer from here is that there is no evidence or indication right now that ISIL is actively plotting to attack the United States homeland.” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson believes while ISIS is not a threat at home, they prove to be a threat to Americans overseas notably the execution of American journalist James Foley and the threats of more killings to follow. Paul Cruickshank, a CNN terrorism analyst, said, “The threat is much greater in the UK, and that’s why you are seeing a raft of new measures in the UK to try and tackle this problem. They are very, very worried that ISIS may try and retaliate in some form or way.” Meanwhile, a U.S. drone strike against senior leaders of Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia Monday highlights continuing concern about extremists around the world. Will Geddes, a security analyst and managing director of International Corporate Protection, told CNN: “You will have various groups working together, sharing resources, sharing capability, and in this particular region, it’s important to try to dismantle it where possible” adding that Somalia’s porous borders mean it presents a particular risk. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said it would be “a mistake to take our eye off the ball when it comes it al Qaeda” and warned that the rise of ISIS could aid the terror network. He added: “With ISIS’s rise, it gives al Qaeda a prime opportunity to rebrand itself as being a more rational, more moderate voice of jihadism, and as a result I think there’s a lot of risks of more money channeling into the al Qaeda network.”

While Europe becomes increasingly concerned over the Islamic State, Pakistan and China face problems within their own government. Jack Chang and Kelvin Chan report, China: No Open Nominations For Hong Kong Leader, China’s legislature on Sunday will not allow open nominations in the inaugural vote for Hong Kong’s leader stating it would create chaos, while democracy activists in the Asian financial hub said that a long threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city will happen. The guidelines laid out by China’s communist leaders could pit Beijing against Hong Kong democracy supporters representing a large swath of society, including students, religious leaders and financial workers. Benny Tai, a leader of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace protest movement, said: “At this very moment, the path of dialogue has been exhausted.” Tai told reporters the group will launch “wave after wave of protest action” in the coming weeks “until we get to a point when we launch the all-out Occupy Central action.” Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, told a news conference in Beijing: “These rights come from laws, they don’t come from the sky. Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren’t discussing things that are appropriate. He has to be responsible to Hong Kong and to the central government. If Hong Kong’s chief executive doesn’t love the country and love the party, then that can’t work in one country.” Occupy Central said the plan to block the Central financial district was “the last resort, an action to be taken only if all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and there is no other choice.” It said that “the occupation of Central will definitely happen,” without specifying a date. Meanwhile Sunday, the incumbent leader of the nearby Chinese-controlled casino capital of Macau, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee even though 95 percent of 8,688 votes cast in a similar referendum were in favor of universal suffrage in 2019. In Pakistan, anti-government protesters stomred the building and took the state television channel off the air requiring Pakisrani soldiers and paramilitary forces to secure the headquarters Monday, Syed Raza Hassa and Maria Golovnina reports, Pakistani Protesters Clash With Police. The article reports: “Protesters led by opposition leaders Imran Khan, a hero cricket player turned politician, and firebrand Muslim cleric Tahir ul-Qadri have been on the streets for weeks trying to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Protests descended into deadly chaos over the weekend, with demonstrators clashing with police in a central area near many government buildings and embassies. Three people were killed.” Sharif, who was toppled by the army in 1999 coup came back with a big election win in May last year and refused to quite amid protest leaders rejecting his offers of talks creating deadly clashes. Army chief General Raheel Sharif met Prime Minister Sharif on Monday, but it was unclear what they discussed. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters that later on Monday another crackdown on protesters could occur warming protestors against storming government buildings : “The writ of the state must be enforced. We hope to make a decisive move sometimes later today, not in the evening but even before that. I personally feel that the next few hours will determine the course of coming events.” If the protests get out of hand, the military could step in to impose a curfew or martial law. However, if the army sides with the protestors and put pressure on Sharif to resign, then an interim government would be put into place and early parliamentary elections would be held to elect an new government. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Violence and destruction of private property and government buildings are not acceptable means of resolving political differences, however, and we strongly oppose any efforts to impose extra-constitutional change to the political system.” Some ruling party officials accuse the military of orchestrating the protests to weaken the government, while disagreements on how to handle Islamist militants and relations with India have also caused turmoil.

In North Korea, three detained Americans told the foreign media on Monday that they were allowed to contact their families and called for Washington to negotiate their freedom, the Associated Press reports, Americans detained in North Korea call for U.S. help. Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month, but do not know what they will be charged with or what the punishment is, while Kenneth Bae, serving a 15 year term, said his heath has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day. Talking to the Associate Press in Pyongyang, they said the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal. No date has been announced for a trial, but North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed Hostile acts that violate their status as tourists. In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, “We have seen the reports of interviews with the three American citizens detained in North Korea. Securing the release of U.S. citizens is a top priority and we have followed these cases closely in the White House. We continue to do all we can to secure their earliest possible release.” Ventrell noted that the State Department has issued a travel warning recommending not to travel to North Korea. According to the Associated Press: “Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12. North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum. Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.” The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send an envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but will no success as Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy has taken responsibility for U.S. consular affairs and met with Fowle and Miller. North Korea has been pushing tourism lately to bring in foreign cash, but remains highly sensitive to any action it deems political particular anything deemed to be Christian proselytizing. In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary who was spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

North Korea Using Psychological Warfare to Bargain with U.S.

We have all witness numerous attempts by North Korea to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with from threats of war against South Korea to attacks on the United States with long range nuclear missiles, however the end result of these threats have left the North Korea with little bargaining power as the United Nations has sanctioned them for repeated offenses and South Korea grows tired of the tantrums. What is the next logical step in North Korea’s psychological warfare? North Korea now hopes to use an old trick from the past that is sure to get the United States’ attention. On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that North Korea will try an American detainee for allegedly trying to overthrow the government complicating an already tense relationship between Pyongyang and Washington. The indictment comes as North Korea has run out of ammo to use against the U.S. and South Korea in order to force bargaining between the nations. North Korea remains angry over U.N. sanctions passed in February over nuclear tests and the ongoing U.S. South Korean drills though most believe the motive behind the indictment is to force its Korean War foes to negotiate on its own terms according to the Associated Press.

The man identified above, Kenneth Bae, also known by his Korean name in North Korean state media, Pae Jun Ho, is a tour operator arrested after arriving with a tour on Nov.3 in Rason which is a special economic zone bordering China and Russia. He is the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009, however the other detainees were eventually deported or released after high profile diplomatic interventions with some involving President Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. According to the Korean Central News Agency, “The preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by American citizen Pae Jun Ho closed. In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it. His crimes were proved by evidence.” Under North Korea’s criminal code terrorist acts include murdering, kidnapping and injuring the country’s citizens can lead to a death sentence or life in jail AP reports.

The actual trial of Bae has not been set and the charges have yet to be announced by the KCNA as little information has been made public. North Korea and the United States do not have diplomatic relations due to the 1050-53 Korean War as the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represent the United States. Friends, colleagues and activist in South Korea said that Bae is a missionary based in a border town in China who made frequent trips to North Korea to feed orphans , but do not know whether he tried to evangelize while in North Korea AP reports. Officially, North Korea guarantee freedom of religion, however authorities have been known to crack down on Christians who are seen as threats to government because of the western influence. The distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services do carry a penalty of banishment to a labor camp or execution according to defectors from the country.

 

Here Comes World War III

The comparisons are numerous only this time we managed to put ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the controversy that does not directly involve the United States. Isn’t this really a matter for the United Nations to take care of? Is history really going to repeat itself? The reason for the two photos is to compare the rallies of now and the rallies of the past which seem to look rather similar. In today’s times, a little overreaction goes a long way as the world prepares for some sort of conflict whether on a large scale like World War or on a smaller scale such as the Korean War: The Remix. Let’s look at the facts and decide for yourself whether they add up to something we all should be concerned about.

On Wednesday North Korea ratified, according to Reuters, the following:

“We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea) and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified,” a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by the English language service of the state news agency KCNA. (Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

If these are empty threats as most of the U.S. government even South Korea believes then why are we taking precautions? According to the Agence France Presse, the United States has set up THAAD missile defense battery to defend its bases on the Pacific island of Guam following threats from North Korea on Wednesday said the Pentagon. The news came after two Aegis anti-missile destroyers were sent to the western Pacific to intercept any North Korean strikes against the U.S. or allied targets. Guam is a U.S. territory 2100 miles southeast of North Korea in the Pacific Ocean which is home to 6,000 American military personnel, including Marines, submarine and bomber crews (hello, Pearl Harbor).

Does the United States actually know what technology North Korea has or doesn’t have? Short answer would be no. North Korea reports the Associated Press moved a missile with considerable range to the east coast on Thursday according to South Korea’s defense minister but said there was no sign of the North preparing for full scale conflict. The report came hours after he statement release to authorize the attack on the U.S. see above. It is believed that the North at this time does not have the technology to miniaturize nuclear bombs in order to mount them on long range missiles. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin has dismissed reports in the Japanese media that the missile could be a KN-08 which does have the capabilities to hit the United States if operable. He believes the missile does not have enough range to hit the U.S. mainland and could be the missile know to the North Koreans as Musudan with a range of 1800 miles which could make South Korea, Japan and U.S. bases in both countries targets even though he doubts the accuracy of the missile.

Analysts and experts see the threats of strikes and a potential war as North Korea’s way to provoke softer policy with South Korea, to win diplomatic talks with Washington and to show the strength of their leader Kim Jong Un. As Kim has said the North is not preparing for a full scale conflict as they have shown no signs of mobilization of troops, but does worry about a small scale provocation against the South as in 2010 with the shelling of a South Korean island where four people were killed. The N0rth has become increasingly agitated by the joint U.S. South Korean military exercises taking place in the South as well as the U.N. sanctions for its February nuclear test.

With all the rhetoric it makes hard to believe that full scale war will break out, but some of North Korea’s actions do have some cause for concern. On Tuesday, North Korean announced the restarting of their plutonium reactor and the construction need to restart has already begun according to the U.S. research institute. For the second day on Thursday, the Northern border authorities denied entry to South Korea who manage jointly run factories in Kaesong in North Korea, but allowed South Koreans to return home. The South has already come up with a plan if the North takes workers hostage in Kaesong according to Defense Minister Kim. North Korea has started working to rebuild their nuclear arms program especially working toward an atomic bomb small enough to mount on a long range missile as Kim Jung Un has made it a priority for the North to build their nuclear arsenal along with rebuilding their economy. The U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies looked at recent commercial satellite imagery of Nyongbyon nuclear facility which was shutdown in 2007 under the disarmament agreement discovered that one cooling tower for the reactor was destroyed in 2008. As the Associated Press reports the analysis published on Wednesday to the institute’s website, 38 North, says the tower will take six months to rebuild but a recent March 27 photo shows the building may have already started for an alternative cooling system that could be operational in weeks even though experts believe it could take three months to year to restart the reactor.

Korean War Part II: The Remix

Ban Kimoon North KoreaYongbyon Nuclear Plant

As North Korea has already made public the cutting of communication with South Korea and the ignoring of the armistice that ended the Korean War, the fear of war breaking out in the region is very real as the worldwide community waits with bated breath to see what North Korea will do next. The United Nation chief has already chimed in with fears North Korea is on a collision course with other nations that could lead to war. With recent sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program and threats of potential strikes on the United States, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believe the isolated nation appears to be “on a collision course with the international community” amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula reports the Associated Press. Ban (pictures above), a former South Korean Foreign Minister, said Tuesday in Andorra that the crisis has gone too far because of increasing threats of war by North Korea against the United States and South Korea. He said international negotiations are needed now even though he believes no one intends on attacking North Korea.

North Korea said Tuesday it will escalate production of nuclear weapons materials including restarting the plutonium reactor which leads many outsiders to believe that Pyongyang is trying to extract concessions from the United States by fear of war. As the Associated Press reports, the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy announced their scientist will begin readjusting and restarting uranium enrichment that could make a bomb’s worth of plutonium each year as experts consider the announcement a public declaration that the highly enriched uranium could be used for bomb fuel. The declaration has Washington and its allies concerned that North Korea’s timetable for a nuclear tipped missile aimed at the United States may happen sooner than later even though it is believed to be years away from that technology. The recent weeks are seen as an effort by Pyongyang to force disarmament for aid talks with Washington and to boost domestic loyalty to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by portraying him as a powerful leader according to Hwang Jihwan, a North Korean expert at the University of Seoul reports the Associated Press. The Korean Central News Agency stated that the North Korean atomic spokesman said the measure is meant to address the country’s electricity shortahe but also to “bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity.” The Uranium enrichment program worries outsiders due to the fact that the technology can be hidden much easier than huge plutonium facilities and highly enriched uranium can be used for nuclear weapons. Kim Jin Moo, a North Korean expert at the Korean Insitute for Defense Analysis in South KOrea, believes the announcement of highly enriched uranium through adjustments is North Korea’s way of “blackmailing the international community by suggesting that it will now produce weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium.” China, Pyongyang’s only major economic and diplomatic supporter, expressed disapproval as Chinese Poreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated: “We noticed North Korea’s statement, which we think is regrettable.”

Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in February prompting new U.N, sanctions that caused North Korea to declare that the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 is void shutting down communication with Seoul, threatening to launch strikes against the U.S. and its allies, and recently declaring at a high level government assembly to make nuclear arms and a stronger economy as the top priority. The Korean Peninsula is in a state of war a the truce not peace treaty ended the Korean War and the United States stationed 28, 500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent to the North. Washington has taken all of the North’s threat seriously even though the White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that the U.S. has not detected any military mobilization or reposition from Pyongyang. As the North raises the stakes, the United States took it a step further by flying nuclear capable bombers and stealth jets at the annual South Korean U.S. military drills. The latest atomic test from the North in February led to the sanctions against the Asian nations as it could not be determined whether highly enriched uranium or plutonium stockpiles were used since other countries including South Korea failed to detect radioactive elements that may have been leaked from the test.

 

 

 

The Ongoing Korean War

 

On Wednesday, North Korea announced it was cutting the last line of communication with South Korea as war could break out any moment warning the United States and South Korea of nuclear attack a few days earlier. The threat comes in line with the latest from North Korea in response to new U.N. sanctions imposed after the third nuclear test in February and to hostile military drills under way in South Korea with the United States according to Reuters. The North stopped communicating with the U.S. military that supervises the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the Red Cross line that both sides use. As the North’s KCNA news agency reports, a military spokesman stated that, “Under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications which were laid between the militaries of both sides. There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the north and the south.”

However, few believe North Korea, formally known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), will start a full scale war as North and South Korea are still at war after the 1950-1953 civil conflict ended with an armistice not a treaty which the North will not honor anymore, Reuters reports. The “dialogue channel” used everyday is to process South Koreans who work in the Kaesong industrial project which is comprised of 123 South Korean firms who employ 50,000 North Koreans to make household goods and on average 120 South Koreans are stationed here at any one time. It is the last remaining project the two Koreas share as South Korea cut off aid and trade in response to the shooting of South Korean tourist in Pyongyang and the sinking of a naval vessel. As a last resort, Pyongyang would close Kaesong which is one of the last currency earners for North Korea doing $2 billion a year in trade with the South. The South said it would take steps to protect the workers at Kaesong but would not elaborate according to Reuters.

Where has all the hope gone?

History seems doomed to repeat itself as is evident in the news everyday with stories of suicide bombers, protests, and government failing to do right by its people. Reading these stories everyday makes a person wonder if hope has ever existed due to history’s lack of viable reasons to say otherwise. Every war and protest seems to follow the same patterns of behaviors and missteps taken by those in authority who believe they are doing right by their people without consulting their people. Even as a kid we are all told when we get older we will understand but as an adult I understand less now than I did as a child. What purpose does war serve and violence for that matter? Reading through the new and deciding what to write today was a challenge as I grow tired of the hopeless and sad stories I read about North Korea, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and so many more. Today, I look to history to guide me and the music to inspire me.

One of my favorite songs, “Where have all the flowers gone?” by Pete Seeger came to mind while reading the news today. One particular line struck me over and over…when will they ever learn? That is a question I am afraid will never be answered as humanity is already on the path to calamity as tensions rise around the world and through violence more has been accomplished than through peace or so it seems. Even looking at everyday occurrences, it doesn’t take much to see that the world has headed down a dark path not just with war and protests on a large scale, but look at everyday life with children killing children, the increase in suicides, violence against women, and the threat to a happy life for all. How as humans do we process and accept such a bleak reality?…by looking at the past of course.

When will the pattern of behavior change or when did it become okay to threaten violence in order to get the point across? It seems largely ignored when something good comes out of something so horrible because the story is not in the good but in a bad. Do we reinforce bad behavior as good? Maybe. How do we as a society end the cycle that history has found so hard to break? Do we unilaterally lay down arms or do we find peace through strength? I think I have more questions now than I did as a child.

Peace anthems seem to be a thing of the past but to me will ring true as long as people walk the earth and long after the song writers dies. It is there message to the world. I read something interesting on YouTube about Pete Seeger from a user called Thespadecaller:

On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.
In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quie Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.

Headlines full of accusations, disapproval, propaganda, violence, fear seem to outweigh human rights, human survival, and hope. Why does it take human tragedy to inspire a small change and why can’t we look to the past to inspire us to be a better version of the past? Pete Seeger a single man sparked a change in his time and his government saw him as a threat…a single man not a million. The song with a melancholy melody and repetitious lyrics lends to the haunting reality of the words that history continues to repeat itself, but with everyday that passes I hope that people begin to understand how to change not only themselves but the world.

Iraq War Missing

 

 

North Korea Attack History Shows Pattern In Strikes Against South Korea

North Korea Attack History Shows Pattern In Strikes Against South Korea.

If history tells us anything, which history always repeats itself it seems, then we may have another Korean War on our hands. The unsettling truth as recent Korean history has taught the world that it is only a matter of time before North Korea launches a sudden and deadly attack on South Korea only this time Seoul, South Korea vowed it will respond with a stronger blow as recently as recently as Tuesday which could turn into a larger war. According to the Associated Press, a single statment lost in the headline about nuclear strikes on Washington is one statement made by North Korean army Supreme Command on March 5 saying that North Korea “will make a strike of justice at any target anytime as it pleases without limit.” The attacks of three years ago over naval clashes with the South, which killed 50 South Koreans in 2010, are a chilling reminder of North Korea’s capabilities and intentions according to Bruce Klinger, a former U.S. intelligence official now at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. The newly inaugurated President Park Geun-hye, a conservative, says she will try to build trust with North Korea and explore renewed dialogue and aid shipments even though she has made similar comments. On Tuesday, the South Korean Defense Ministry repeated its promise to respond harshly to future attacks by the North and Spokesman Kim Min-seok reiterated that there is no signs of an attack anytime soon however if it did come to defending the South from the North that the North would suffer more powerful damage. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told his artillery troops near disputed waters with the South Korea Monday to be on maximum alert because war could break out anytime according to Pyongyang’s official media.

If war did break out, then the U.S. would assume control of the military due to a decades old alliance but South Korean has made it clear it will do what it has to respond to future North Korean attacks. Even though North Korea is furious over the annual U.S. South Korean military drills that end in April, Pyongyang will not attack as too much U.S. firepower is assembled says analyst and may wait til the drills end. As Chon Hyun-joon, an analyst at the Korean Institute for National Unification in Seoul, explains: “They are quiet when tension is high and state-of-the-art (U.S.) weapons are brought to South Korea for the drills. North Korea may take month to follow through on threats and warning, but when it does take action it happens quickly. North Korea has attempted military provocations within weeks of every South Korean Presidential inauguration dating back to 1992, according to Victor Cha, a former Asia advisor to President George W. Bush, and Ellen Kim at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. South Korea just inaugurated a new president on Feb. 25 leading Cha and Kin to write Thursday to “expect a North Korean provocation in the coming weeks.”