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The North Korea conundrum: a taste of Armageddon

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Last night I watched an episode of Star Trek called “A Taste of Armageddon” (Season 1, Ep. 23). In it, two planets have been at war for 500 years, but they no longer send weapons to destroy each others’ cities. Instead, a linked computer system models the attacks and determines casualties. These casualties then have 24 hours to report to a “disintegrator” to be killed. It’s clean, neat war, without the carnage.

This episode reminded me of our conundrum with North Korea. The two Koreas have been at war for 23,356 days since the Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953–just a few weeks shy of 64 years. And while nobody reports to a death chamber, there have been casualties along the way, which continue to this day.

In Star Trek, Kirk destroys the computers that simulate war and calculate casualties. This, in the treaty which preserves the state of war between the two planets, would result in “automatic escalation” to real weapons. In doing this, he forces the two sides to negotiate in order to avoid Armageddon.

If you read the rhetoric about North Korea and America’s options, this sounds mighty familiar. Any attack, no matter how surgical, seems to bring the argument that the North will respond with Armageddon. Eleven million residents of Seoul will die, we will face “catastrophic” war (as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has repeatedly said).

Charles Krauthammer wrote “we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road.” Examining the evidence, he concluded that we must accept a nuclear, ICBM-armed North Korea. We must accept them the same way we accepted a nuclear-armed China, or a nuclear-armed Russia.

North Korea is within China’s sphere of influence, like Mexico is within America’s. Just like America wouldn’t want Chinese troops, missiles and nuclear launchers in Mexico, to China, having American troops, or a close American ally sitting on its border is a non-starter. So China is caught between a rock and Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions.

So we sit and wait for this to unfold, in a stasis where nobody really wins, but the war continues.

I might suggest that someone needs to be Captain Kirk here and destroy the calculus computers. We need to face facts that the status quo is unsustainable, and in fact immoral. One day, North Korea will attack the South, after winning concession after concession due to its nuclear hegemony. And then, we will be faced with real Armageddon, or surrendering the south to the Juche-inspired north.

A war, in any capacity, in the Korean peninsula, is going to be bloody and awful. Liberals and doves in South Korea whine that President Trump has made their country less safe, as if sitting within range of 4,000 chemical-round-capable artillery and rocket batteries is or has ever been safe. We’ve spent 64 years calculating casualties, but nobody has reported for disintegration.

The reckoning will come. I don’t believe all Kim wants is to be left alone. I believe he wants the long game, to rule the Korean peninsula–all of it. If he doesn’t attain the goal, his successor will, or the next one after that. The Kims are very well trained to maintain ideological discipline (which is one reason Kim Jong Nam was assassinated), without regard to blood, friendship, or mercy.

Giving up and accepting a nuclear, ICBM-armed north is tantamount to surrender for the south. They are trapped in their nice, clean war right now, like the leaders in the Star Trek episode, so they don’t see the problem.

We haven’t dealt with North Korea because (a) until the 1990’s it wasn’t really a global security threat, (b) if there was a resumption of a large-scale shooting war, we would certainly win, and (c) we had bigger fish to fry. None of those things is true anymore. A nuclear north changes everything.

America must deal with North Korea, and I’m afraid our only option is to risk all-out war to do it. Obviously, Trump won’t telegraph his intentions, so we won’t see an announcement. But the north is watching very closely. I believe if Trump, Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson have come to the same conclusions I (and others) have, a strike is imminent.

It’s very possible all this talk about “catastrophic” war, negotiations with China, and more sanctions is simply preparation for a military option. Or it could be preparation for acquiescence. As much as I respect Charles Krauthammer, he’s dead wrong. Acquiescence is indeed unthinkable, because it will inevitably lead to war–a war that will pull America in the way Pearl Harbor pulled us in to World War II.

We have to face facts and realize that to avoid war, we might need to risk triggering the “automatic escalation” and end the phony war we’ve had for more than six decades. We’re at day 23,356 and counting. Tick tock.

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Media

Our YouTube channel has launched and it’s so much fun

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Our YouTube channel has launched and its so much fun

Everyone discovers something amazing later than they probably should have. I had a friend who was in his late 30s before he tried an In ‘n Out burger despite living in southern California his whole life. He probably never would have tried it until he hired a former manager at the restaurant chain who said he still eats there weekly despite working there for years. This made my friend curious and he kicked himself for passing up on trying the delicious burgers for decades.

When we first launched NOQ Report last year, one of the guys advising me about it recommended accompanying the articles with videos. He thought if we put together a proper YouTube channel and possibly even a podcast, we could add a totally different dimension and reach a separate audience. I declined for over a year because I was worried it would take too much time.

I was right, but it doesn’t matter. After putting out four videos in three days, I’m hooked.

There’s a completely different mentality when researching a topic for video. I’m forced to be more precise with my words because I can’t simply link out to other references as I can with articles. I have to explain it all, and while I thought it would be an announce, it turns out that it actually makes things easier. I can explain the details of something much more easily by speaking about it than trying to write it or reference others. That’s the beauty of video. It’s more of a direct recording of thoughts when speaking into a microphone instead of typing on a keyboard.

Now that we’re producing videos, we need subscribers. Please head over to our YouTube channel, hit subscribe, and be sure to hit the little bell to receive alerts at well.

Here are the four videos we’ve made so far. Please leave us feedback on how to improve as well as topics you’d like us to cover in the future.

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Immigration

Little if any progress as partial government shutdown looms

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Little if any progress as partial government shutdown looms

WASHINGTON (AP) — The fight over President Donald Trump’s $5 billion wall funds has deepened, threatening a partial government shutdown in a standoff that has become increasingly common in Washington.

It wasn’t always like this, with Congress and the White House at a crisis over government funding. The House and Senate used to pass annual appropriation bills, and the president signed them into law. But in recent years the shutdown scenario has become so routine that it raises the question: Have shutdowns as a negotiating tool lost their punch?

Monday brought few signs of progress. A partial shutdown that could occur at midnight Friday risks disrupting government operations and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed or working without pay over the holiday season. Costs would be likely in the billions of dollars.

Trump was meeting with his team and getting regular updates, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump was also tweeting Monday to keep up the pressure.

Exiting a Senate Republican leadership meeting late Monday, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said, “It looks like it probably is going to have to build for a few days here before there’s a solution.”

The president is insisting on $5 billion for the wall along the southern border with Mexico, but he does not have the votes from the Republican-led Congress to support it. Democrats are offering to continue funding at current levels, $1.3 billion, not for the wall but for fencing and other border security.

It’s unclear how many House Republicans, with just a few weeks left in the majority before relinquishing power to House Democrats, will even show up midweek for possible votes. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office had no update. Many Republicans say it’s up to Trump and Democrats to cut a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump talk most days, but the senator’s spokesman would not confirm if they spoke Monday about a plan. McConnell opened the chamber hoping for a “bipartisan collaborative spirit” that would enable Congress to finish its work.

“We need to make a substantial investment in the integrity of our border,” McConnell said. “And we need to close out the year’s appropriation process.”

Meanwhile more than 800,000 government workers are preparing for the uncertainty ahead.

The dispute could affect nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

About half the workers would be forced to continue working without immediate pay. Others would be sent home. Congress often approves their pay retroactively, even if they were ordered to stay home.

“Our members are asking how they are supposed to pay for rent, food, and gas if they are required to work without a paycheck,” said a statement from J. David Cox, Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the large federal worker union. “The holiday season makes these inquiries especially heart-wrenching.”

Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are already funded for the year and will continue to operate as usual, regardless of whether Congress and the president reach agreement this week.

Congress already approved funding this year for about 75 percent of the government’s discretionary account for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, wouldn’t be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.

Trump said last week he would be “proud” to have a shutdown to get Congress to approve a $5 billion down payment to fulfill his campaign promise to build a border wall.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused.

Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, in a meeting last week at the White House, suggested keeping funding at its current level, $1.3 billion, for improved fencing. Trump had neither accepted nor rejected the Democrats’ offer, telling them he would take a look.

Schumer said Monday he had yet to hear from Trump. Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer warned that “going along with the Trump shutdown is a futile act” because House Democrats would quickly approve government funding in January.

“President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to keep the government open,” Schumer said Monday. “No treat or temper tantrum will get the president his wall.”

One option for lawmakers would be to provide stopgap funding for a few weeks, until the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, when Pelosi is poised to become House speaker.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who is in line to become the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, suggested a stopgap bill could be one way to resolve the issue or a longer-term bill that includes money for border security.

GOP leaders, though, were frustrated as the clock ticked away. Leaving the weekly leadership meeting, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said any planning was a “very closely held thing. That’s why we should never let this happen. We should pass the bills the way we’re supposed to pass them.”

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Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

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Entertainment and Sports

Missouri poacher ordered to repeatedly watch ‘Bambi’

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Missouri poacher ordered to repeatedly watch Bambi

OZARKS, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri poacher has been ordered to repeatedly watch the movie “Bambi” as part of his sentence in a scheme to illegally kill hundreds of deer.

David Berry Jr. was ordered to watch the Disney classic at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence in what conservation agents have called one of the largest deer poaching cases in state history, the Springfield News-Leader reports .

“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” said Don Trotter, the prosecuting attorney in Lawrence County.

Berry, his father, two brothers and another man who helped them had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked temporarily or permanently. The men have paid a combined $51,000 in fines and court costs — but the judge ordered a special addition to Berry’s sentence for illegally taking wildlife.

Court records show he was ordered by Lawrence County Judge Robert George to “view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter” while at the county jail.

Berry was also sentenced to 120 days in jail in nearby Barton County for a firearms probation violation.

His father, David Berry Sr., and his brother, Kyle Berry, were arrested in August after a nearly nine-month investigation that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation said information from the investigation led to 14 Missouri residents facing more than 230 charges in 11 counties.

Investigators say David Berry Sr.’s other son, Eric Berry, was later caught with another person spotlighting deer, where poachers use light at night to make deer pause and easier to hunt.

The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015, when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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