Wednesday, July 26, 2017

North Korea has its own elite, and does business with Qatar


The Washington Post and other sources report that North Korea has sent weapons through Qatar to terrorists for cash, and apparently supplies slave laborers also, story by Adam Taylor here. Does DPRK have similar contact with Iran and with terror groups? 

The Post also reports on the Internet access by North Korean elites, here (Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima).

This is all significant.  Communist countries have always had a ruling party elite, although this was more pronounced with the Soviet Union than Red China.  Soviet chess masters were in the elite, as the Soviets viewed chess the way the US viewed pro football. 


The possibility of an elite means that North Korea can get young men to be trained in cyberwar, and in designing and testing missiles and nuclear weapons, even satellite-based EMP. 

The New York Times is a little skeptical of Washington Post reports on DIA studies saying North Korea could be able to reach the continental US with a nuke in early 2018, but says that US missile defenses are way behind and the Pentagon is running out of time.  
  
Wikipedia attribution link for Qatar picture by Stellar under CCSA 4.0. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

North Korea said to be capable of hitting US with nuke on ICBM in 2018, much sooner than previously expected


Ellen Nakashima, Anna Fifield, and Joby Warrick produced a Washington Post story this afternoon that raises alarms that North Korea is making progress toward an ICBM that could reach most of the continental US much faster than expected.


The major link is here.  The Washington Post treated this as breaking news right before Trump's press conference today. 

The story implies that North Korea may well be capable of striking continental US with a nuclear weapon from an ICBM before the end of 2018, less than two years into Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s rather frightening to imagine the blackmail schemes Kim Jong Un could come up with, not to mention giving stuff to Iran or even rogue terror groups.   

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trump applies "Atlanta" to asylum seekers around the country; hosting of LGBTQ aslyees seems to pick up in some cities


A couple of big news stories that can affect refugees and asylum seekers today.
  
First, SCOTUS apparently let the Trump refugee ban stand for now but slightly expanded family exceptions on the country-based travel ban.


Jason Dzubow wrote an article in the Asylumist noting that Trump had placed judges from Atlanta, which has a very low asylum seeker approval rate, in higher positions in the immigration system. “We’re all in Atlanta now” he writes, here. 

And Slate has a long article by Oscar Lopez, “For LGBTQ refugees in the United States, visibility is still a two-edged sword”, link .
  
The article notes a few asylum seekers who were hosted privately from homeless shelters, and also says that undocumented LGTBQ people are not told they could try to apply for asylum when put into detention (in practice, parole is very difficult).  Being “out” could be seen as challenging the immutability aspect of the “particular social group” rule, an idea I don’t’ remember reading before.  There is a lot to study here. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Local DC pastor slams travel bans, and the automatic coupling of Islam with political motives


Today Amanda Taylor gave a sermon at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC centered on religious freedom.

The emphasis was on recognizing faith for what it is, and always separating faith from political precepts.

She talked about freedom as requiring more than just toleration, and pluralism as a much more inclusive concept than simple diversity.

She also was critical of both versions of Trump’s travel bans toward the end of the sermon, but recognized that the Supreme Court will rule on them this fall.

Also today, on the TV blog, I mentioned Fareed Zakaria’s covering of the idea that Putin wanted Trump to be elected in order to undo the Magnitsky Act, which could threaten Putin’s hold on power.  It would be a good question as to whether some of the human rights abuses in question are related to the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law.  Putin has banned American couples from adopting Russian children in retaliation, although Putin is also concerned about a Russian population bust. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Former CIA director James Woolsey reiterates North Korea's EMP threat from a current satellite, making the ICBM launch moot


On CNN’s Don Lemon show tonight, former CIA director James Woolsey reiterated a statement he had made in March, that North Korea can launch an EMP attack against the US from an orbiting satellite at any time.

He had said this in March.

That would presume that DPRK can place a nuclear warhead on the satellite and detonate it when it passes over the US.

Woolsey says that DPRK has had this capability for four years, since about mid 2013.  Ironically, that’s when I made my visit to Oak Ridge, TN.

Woolsey says that this threat makes the targeting of current or future ICBM’s a side show.  He said Trump is uninformed on this matter.

Here is Woolsey's original WSJ article.

The cable stalled a moment tonight, making me wonder if the EMP had happened.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

North Korea apparently has launched a "primitive" ICBM; a game-changer with Trump in office?


The very latest scuttlebutt today is that North Korea’s claimed ICBM missile test probably was a two-stage ICBM.  Some accounts claim that were the trajectory made less of an uppercut and more like a line drive, it could have reached parts of Alaska.  It seems to have landed just barely within the DPRK’s claimed international waters.



The latest CNN story and analysis is here.  The Washington Post has more recent analysis, and it's grim, here. Vox's Alex Ward writes that is is a test for Trump, and that China has little motivation to help destabilized the regime because it doesn't want a refugee crisis (ironic).

The Wall Street Journal has a gif warning about the possible range of North Korea’s missiles “launch pattern” here.

It is unclear how close North Korea is to putting an operable nuclear warhead on an ICBM and having it re-enter.  But the most dire threat of all could be an EMP blast, now over South Korea or Japan, and later over western US / Alaska/ Canada. The projected range of DPRK’s missiles keeps increasing.



Update: July 5

Most news analysts believe that Un is insisted on becoming a nuclear power (comparable to Russia and China) to protect himself from having the same fate as Saddam Hussein and Qadaffi.  But the US already is unwilling to let Iran become a nuclear state.

Fox calls North Korea "the Mob State" that, like a crime family, will do anything to the bloodline. But Un especially has shown a willingness to go beyond mere self preservation.  Consider the unusual ugliness of the Warmbier death, which might have been a set-up  (how did anyone get to the 5th Floor, anyway, in the first place?)  The extreme Left has been capable of horrific personalized crimes in the past -- consider Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974.  North Korea seems to be behind some of the recent malware attacks, and consider what happened to a private company, Sony Pictures, over a movie that portrayed Un unfavorably?  (He expects to be worshiped by his people when he looks like the antithesis of binary cis  manhood.) Could Un out of a temper tantrum, threaten to use nukes in the future over a public insult from an American company or even a private citizen online?

CNN has a video on why North Korea hates the US, even personally. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

"Countercultural hospitality"


Today, at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, youth pastor Alyssa Aldape gave a sermon “Countercultural hospitality”. 

The acoustics of the church made it a little hard to follow, but the sermon seemed to argue the need for openness among Americans to be of personal assistance to some immigrants, such as potential refugees and asylum seekers, beyond the observance of the law.  This might have been applicable to the recent law proposed attacking sanctuary cities, and might have defended some people who, out of commitment of faith, are willing to house some undocumented people, especially in the border states, as has been in the news sometimes.

 The scripture was Matthew 10:40-42