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Korean missile crisis, 2017

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America likely hasn’t been this close to an actual nuclear war–barring some hair-trigger escapes and error chains–since October 1962. And even then, we had an understanding with the Russians that whoever shoots first, loses.

This thing between President Trump and Kim Jong-un has a different quality to it. It’s not geopolitical saber-rattling here, it’s a genuine game of nuclear chicken, and it’s dangerous as all hell.

On our side, we have the fact that China voted with the UN Security Council to impose harsher sanctions on North Korea for their missile and warhead development. If the Norks have any beef at all, it’s with their sponsor state, not America. But the complex relationship between North Korea and China don’t really allow us a whole lot of clarity.

On North Korea’s side, there’s China. The PRC would never allow a unified Korea with an American-friendly south in control on its border. So either there’ll be two Koreas, or there’ll be one Korea ruled from the north. That puts American interests directly in conflict with China’s.

So why did China vote for the sanctions when they had veto power?

Likely, it was some combination of believing Trump was just crazy enough to take action against the north, which would create chaos for China; and sending a message to Kim Jong-un to work out some acceptable compromise. Ideally, we want to see Kim drop all nuclear and ICBM development, but that’s not going to happen.

Possibly, he might be persuaded to allow, behind the scenes and under some light “join the world” protocol, China to be the nuclear button control for his arsenal. Some kind of Iran deal for Pyongyang that lets China and Kim save face while giving the US some assurances that Kim is under adult supervision.

But all that is speculation.

We do know that we’re in a very dangerous situation. We know that Kim could rig up a warhead on a missile and send it off to Guam, like he has threatened. But unlike the Cuban missile crisis, here whoever shoots first, may not lose. If the U.S. strikes first (not nuclear), we might be able to set the Norks back on their heels enough to buy time. Or the North might come down hell-bent-for-leather and take out Seoul (again, not nuclear).

Nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is unthinkable, not just to Koreans, but to the Chinese and Japanese. And Americans. Goading Kim into possibly striking U.S. interests outside of Korea is extremely dangerous.

I previously advocated some kind of limited strike against the North’s nuclear and missile facilities. But now I think the window on that option is closing too fast.

We can only hope and pray Trump, or someone in the White House and DoD, know what they’re doing.

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1 Comment

  1. Kendall Smith

    August 8, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    This is much of what I’ve been thinking all day watching these headlines and statements come out. We’re in an extremely dangerous situation that has no good options remaining and people are going to die. The only question is how many and will it be a conventional strike, or heaven forbid, a combination of conventional and nuclear. I just hope that nobody has itchy fingers or sweaty palms.

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Guns and Crime

Border Patrol arrests 32 at San Diego demonstration

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Border Patrol arrests 32 at San Diego demonstration

SAN DIEGO (AP) — U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers.

A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.

Border Patrol spokesman Theron Francisco said 31 people were arrested for trespassing and one was arrested for assaulting an officer.

More than 300 people, many the leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, participated in the demonstration at San Diego’s Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico.

The rally held on a beach divided by the border wall was the second confrontation for Border Patrol agents since a caravan of more than 6,000 migrants, predominantly Hondurans, reached Tijuana last month. A confrontation with rock-throwers from Mexico led to U.S. agents firing tear gas into Mexico on Nov. 25 and a five-hour closure of the nation’s busiest border crossing.

Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in Tijuana after undertaking a grueling journey from Central America to the U.S. border. Many face waiting weeks or months in Mexico while they apply for asylum. The U.S. is processing up to about 100 claims a day at the San Diego crossing, which is creating a backlog.

The demonstration Monday was meant to launch a national week of action called “Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice,” which falls between Human Rights Day on Monday, and International Migrants’ Day on Dec. 18, the group said.

“Showing up to welcome and bless children, mothers and fathers seeking asylum from very difficult and dehumanizing circumstances is the right and humane thing to do,” said Bishop Minerva G. Carcano, from the San Francisco Area United Methodist Church. “How we act in these moments determines who we will become as a nation.”

The group also is calling on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

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Entertainment and Sports

Latest Godzilla: King of Monsters trailer may mean it’s actually getting released next year

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Latest Godzilla King of Monsters trailer may mean its actually getting released next year

One of next year’s early blockbusters will be Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It is scheduled for May 31 after being pushed repeatedly to position it against the competition. This newest release date will give Marvel’s Avengers: End Game plenty of time to eat up audience dollars before passing the baton.

Originally slated for this year, executives kept looking for the best window for their second installment of what they hope to be a franchise similar to the successful Planet of the Apes reboot. The first installment of Godzilla in 2014 was widely seen as the first legitimate blockbuster featuring the Japanese monster after a handful of clunky attempts. It did well with a strong cast (including Bryan Cranston) and chalked up over $500 million at the worldwide box office against 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This installment features Millie Bobby Brown who has experience fighting demonic beasts in Netflix Stranger Things.

My only concern is that they seem to be putting out all the major bad monsters in this one – Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. It lends to the notion that this will be limited to a trilogy with the climax being Godzilla vs. Kong, crossing over the giant ape’s own franchise.

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Healthcare

Brett Kavanaugh punts on Planned Parenthood cases, leaving conservatives baffled

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Brett Kavanaugh punts on Planned Parenthood cases leaving conservatives baffled

Conservatives were cheering when Justice Brett Kavanaugh was finally confirmed after a tumultuous process that polarized the nation. Leftists argued that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be the end for women’s rights to make choices about abortions, among other things, even before the confirmation turned into a high school sexual assault circus.

Instead of hearing arguments in his first major abortion-related case since taking the bench, Kavanaugh sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and the four left-leaning Supreme Court Justices to decline to review it. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch all wanted to hear the case, but it takes four.

According to Thomas, the move was political.

Kavanaugh, Roberts, side with liberal judges on Planned Parenthood case

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/10/supreme-court-planned-parenthood-defunding-case-845056?lIn February, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that Kansas was wrong to to end Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding, writing that states can’t cut off funding for reasons “unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides.” Four other appeals courts have ruled that Medicaid patients have the right to access the provider of their choice.

But the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that states do have the right to terminate a provider’s Medicaid contract and that residents cannot challenge that decision.

The Supreme Court’s action Monday allows the split decisions to stand in different federal circuits. Thomas, in his dissent, wrote that the Supreme Court should have taken the cases to resolve conflicting findings from lower courts.

“Because of this Court’s inaction, patients in different States — even patients with the same providers — have different rights to challenge their State’s provider decisions,” Thomas wrote.

My Take

Thomas is right. This is the type of case that is ideal for the Supreme Court to resolve the rights of individuals, who are currently bound by different laws in different states. The majority of the time, this isn’t a bad thing. States can and should act differently from one another. However, when it comes to a person’s right to challenge a federal funding, which Medicaid is in part, there needs to be clear direction from the Supreme Court.

As Thomas noted, the reasons for punting on this issue were clear.

“So what explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.’ That makes the Court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion,” Thomas wrote.

This case had nothing to do with abortion, at least not directly. It was about the rights of the people to challenge how their tax dollars were spent, a fundamental right that drills down to the core of our republic. The mere mention of Planned Parenthood, even outside of the abortion issue, was enough to spook Justice Kavanaugh. He joins Chief Justice Roberts and Republicans on Capitol Hill who are so terrified of Planned Parenthood, they refuse to address the issue even at its most basic level.

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