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Current Topic: Current Events

Reuters | N.Korea nuke test relatively small: scientists
Topic: Current Events 10:11 am EDT, Oct  9, 2006

North Korea's nuclear test on Monday might have been a "mini-nuke" explosion possibly as low as one kiloton, comparable to some small tests by India and Pakistan in 1998, scientists said on Monday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it had detected a 4.2 magnitude quake in North Korea at 10:35 local time (0135 GMT) on Monday, confirming a similar report from South Korea.

Gary Gibson, senior seismologist at Australia's Seismology Research Center, said a 4.2 magnitude quake would be the result of a one kiloton explosion.

"It depends on how the thing is set off. There is not a perfect correlation between magnitude and the yield and depends to some extent on the rock type they set it off in," he said.

"It is a relatively small nuclear test."

A U.S. intelligence source agreed that a preliminary examination of the data did not indicate a large blast or a series of explosions. But the source stressed that analysts were still working toward a definitive evaluation.

Nuclear analyst Andrew Davies, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said if the North Korean test yield was only a kiloton, Pyongyang may be disappointed.

"A kiloton is a very low yield and would tend to suggest, I would have thought, that the device was not all they hoped it would be," Davies told Reuters.

"If a nuclear, plutonium bomb fizzles, you can still get one or two kilotons quite easily. You still get a significant energy release. But an efficient device will give you more like 20 (kilotons)."

A source in Beijing who is close to the North Korean regime said Pyongyang had detonated a neutron bomb, designed to release larger amounts of deadly radiation than other nuclear weapons. There was no immediate confirmation of the claim.

Neutron bomb? That doesn't sound right...

Reuters | N.Korea nuke test relatively small: scientists

Xinhua - China resolutely opposes DPRK's nuclear test
Topic: Current Events 9:17 am EDT, Oct  9, 2006

The Chinese government is resolutely opposed to the nuclear test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

"The DPRK ignored universal opposition of the international community and flagrantly conducted the nuclear test on Oct. 9. The Chinese government is resolutely opposed to it," the statement said.

It said China strongly demands the DPRK live up to its commitment to non-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, stop any activity that may worsen the situation and return to the six-party talks.

It has been the firm, unshakable and consistent stance of the Chinese government to realize non-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and oppose proliferation of nuclear weapons, the statement said.

The Chinese government calls for calm response from all parties concerned and urges them to stick to peaceful resolution of the issue through consultations and dialogues, the statement said.

It said that maintaining peace and stability in the Northeast Asia region conforms to the common interests of all parties concerned, and China will continue to make unremitting efforts to this end.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talked over telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday afternoon, exchanging views on the latest development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The entire North Korean situation is dependent on China. They are the DPRK's last lifeline. If they cut off aid, the regime will begin to collapse. There is little else that can be done.

If all aid from China is cut off, the PLA enforces the northern border, and a US naval blockade put in place, then it's game over for the DPRK regime. This should come with a very strong line, that unless Kim is ousted and the "military-first" doctrine is dropped, the trade/aid blockade will continue.

Of course, that's the point where all the shit would hit the fan. This would be a good time to read the Kaplan article I posted recently. There are no "good" options for how to handle North Korea. There is only a bad problem rapidly growing worse.

Xinhua - China resolutely opposes DPRK's nuclear test

A few quotes from the Israeli media...
Topic: Current Events 8:51 am EDT, Oct  9, 2006

These quotes via Haaretz:

Senior Labor lawmaker and former IDF brigadier general Ephraim Sneh said Monday that North Korea's test of an atomic weapon reflected the weakness of the international community and "its inability to address pariah states," in a direct reference to the Western world's response to the Iranian nuclear threat.

"Perhaps this case, that of North Korea, will teach them a lesson regarding the Iran issue," Sneh told Israel Radio, referring to the West. "Israeli policy should take advantage of what happened, in order to explain and persuade the international community, saying to it, 'Do something, before it's too late.'"

Nuclear powers Pakistan and India also condemned the test, while Iran, facing sanctions for its own nuclear program, condemned the test, said that the world should be "clean of nuclear weapons."

Tehran said it hoped that the issue could be resolved through negotiations.

These quotes via The Jerusalem Post:

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror, former head of the IDF Intelligence Assessment Division, said on Monday that North Korea's nuclear devolvement encouraged Iran and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to continue with their pursuit of nuclear power.

"We cannot deal towards them (Iran and North Korea) in the same manner as before," said Amidror.

"Ahmadinejad has chosen to be there. He wants to be under the umbrella of nuclear capability."

Bush will make a statement soon. I wonder how much Iran redirection will be taking place...

Intelligence in the blog-o-sphere about DPRK nuke test was accurate
Topic: Current Events 1:30 am EDT, Oct  9, 2006

Check out the linked picture made with Google Earth. I had made the place marks several weeks ago using information from blogs like ArmsControlWonk and DefenseTech. The mark with the long/lat coordinates is the location reported a few hours ago by the USGS. In particular, ArmsControlWonk posted information about the suspected test area that has turned out to be dead on.

Intelligence in the blog-o-sphere about DPRK nuke test was accurate

Reuters | North Korea says will conduct nuclear test
Topic: Current Events 11:10 am EDT, Oct  3, 2006

An increasingly isolated North Korea said on Tuesday it would conduct its first-ever nuclear test, blaming a U.S. "threat of nuclear war and sanctions" for forcing its hand.

The statement by North Korea's foreign ministry, carried on the official KCNA news agency, was condemned by neighboring Japan as "unacceptable" and caused South Korea to increase its security alert.

The announcement confirms weeks of rumors the communist state was planning a test and came amid increasingly sour relations with the outside world after it test-fired missiles in July.

"The U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure compel the DPRK (North Korea) to conduct a nuclear test, an essential process for bolstering nuclear deterrent, as a corresponding measure for defense," the statement said.

But it added that North Korea would never use nuclear weapons first and would "do its utmost to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and give impetus to the world-wide nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons."

"Pyongyang has been increasingly controlled by hardliners in the past months and its policies and words have become more and more extreme. The situation is really dangerous," said Shi Yinhong, professor of International Relations at Renmin University in Beijing

"North Korea thinks it has no other option but to press the United States to have bilateral negotiations with them. North Korea has nothing to lose by conducting a nuclear test," Chang Myung-soon, an expert on North Korea's military, said.

Other coverage at CNN and New York Times.

Reuters | North Korea says will conduct nuclear test

The Blotter (ABC) | The Sexually Explicit Internet Messages That Led to Fla. Rep. Foley's Resignation
Topic: Current Events 11:32 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2006

Florida Rep. Mark Foley's resignation came just hours after ABC News questioned the congressman about a series of sexually explicit instant messages involving congressional pages, high school students who are under 18 years of age.

In Congress, Rep. Foley (R-FL) was part of the Republican leadership and the chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children.


The Blotter (ABC) | The Sexually Explicit Internet Messages That Led to Fla. Rep. Foley's Resignation

Lebanon Throng Hails Hezbollah Chief, Who Calls Militia Stronger
Topic: Current Events 7:38 pm EDT, Sep 24, 2006

Check out the photos of the crowd.

Hundreds of thousands of people stood Friday and chanted "God, God, protect Nasrallah." It was the moment they had waited for: Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in person, declaring that his militia was stronger than ever and that no army in the world could force it to disarm.

The crowd was mammoth, packing every corner of the 37-acre square in the southern suburbs of Beirut. There was a plastic chair for nearly everyone, and a baseball cap for protection from the sun. Hezbollah’s martial choir belted out chest thumping music.

"Hello, is this Partyland? Yes, I'd like to see about renting some plastic chairs for an event this weekend ..."

"We came to show the American administration, the British administration, the French administration, that the resistance population is increasing, not decreasing."

You can see the plastic chairs being set up.

Pro-Western Lebanese politicians have watched with dismay as Iranian influence has spread across the region, largely with the help, they say, of American foreign policy. Iran extended its reach into western Afghanistan and has secured a deep hold in Iraq.

Even if the current government remains in power, its influence has suffered severely.

Sheik Nasrallah has emerged as a hero of defiance against American influence and Israeli might for many people across the Middle East.

The group has made much of an incident in the southern town of Merj ’Uyun where the Israeli Army occupied a Lebanese Army barracks and detained the soldiers inside without resistance. Lebanese television aired a videotape of the Lebanese general in charge having tea with Israeli Army officers.

Lebanon Throng Hails Hezbollah Chief, Who Calls Militia Stronger

Tom Malinowski - Call Cruelty What It Is -
Topic: Current Events 1:41 pm EDT, Sep 18, 2006

President Bush is urging Congress to let the CIA keep using "alternative" interrogation procedures -- which include, according to published accounts, forcing prisoners to stand for 40 hours, depriving them of sleep and use of the "cold cell," in which the prisoner is left naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees and doused with cold water.

He might begin with Robert Conquest's classic work on Stalin, "The Great Terror." Conquest wrote: "When there was time, the basic [Soviet Secret police] method for obtaining confessions and breaking the accused man was the 'conveyor' -- continual interrogation by relays of police for hours and days on end. As with many phenomena of the Stalin period, it has the advantage that it could not easily be condemned by any simple principle. Clearly, it amounted to unfair pressure after a certain time and to actual physical torture later still, but when? . . . At any rate, after even twelve hours, it is extremely uncomfortable. After a day, it becomes very hard. And after two or three days, the victim is actually physically poisoned by fatigue. It was as painful as any torture."

Conquest stated: "Interrogation usually took place at night and with the accused just roused -- often only fifteen minutes after going to sleep. The glaring lights at the interrogation had a disorientating effect." He quoted a Czech prisoner, Evzen Loebl, who described "having to be on his feet eighteen hours a day, sixteen of which were devoted to interrogation. During the six-hour sleep period, the warder pounded on the door every ten minutes. . . . If the banging did not wake him, a kick from the warder would. After two or three weeks, his feet were swollen and every inch of his body ached at the slightest touch; even washing became a torture."

Conquest quoted a Polish prisoner, Z. Stypulkowski, from 1945: "Cold, hunger, the bright light and especially sleeplessness. The cold is not terrific. But when the victim is weakened by hunger and sleeplessness, then the six or seven degrees above the freezing point make him tremble all the time. . . . After fifty or sixty interrogations with cold and hunger and almost no sleep, a man becomes like an automaton -- his eyes are bright, his legs swollen, his hands trembling. In this state, he is often convinced he is guilty."

Tom Malinowski - Call Cruelty What It Is - - Tennessee set to execute prisoner in electric chair - Sep 17, 2006
Topic: Current Events 3:41 am EDT, Sep 18, 2006

If confessed murderer Daryl Keith Holton gets his way, on Tuesday he will become the first prisoner to die in Tennessee's electric chair in 46 years.

Holton, who confessed to shooting to death his three young sons and his ex-wife's daughter with a semiautomatic assault rifle, is scheduled to be executed because he quit appealing his death sentence. He also chose the electric chair over the state's preferred method of lethal injection.

Under Tennessee law, death row inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection if their crimes were committed before 1999.

"It's disfiguring. The family will end up with the body and frequently find burns on the scalp, leg and neck," Webster said. For witnesses "it's unpleasant to see someone shocked and responding to a shock. The odor and the air smells of burning pork."

His lawyers maintain Holton has a long history of mental illness and may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from his military service in the 1991 Gulf War.

"Hardcore" - Tennessee set to execute prisoner in electric chair - Sep 17, 2006

World -- Ship with N. Korean weapons seized enroute to Syria
Topic: Current Events 3:43 pm EDT, Sep 12, 2006

The Republic of Cyprus has stopped a ship full of North Korean weapons systems bound for Syria.

Officials said Greek Cypriot authorities responded to an alert by Interpol to capture a ship bound for Syria from North Korea. They said security agents found a mobile air defense system and components of a missile launcher.

The ship, named the Panamanian-flagged Grigorio-1, reported a consignment of weather-observation equipment, officials said. But Interpol asserted that the freighter contained North Korean weapons systems and asked Nicosia to detain the ship for inspection.

Officials did not identify the North Korean air defense system. But they reported 18 truck-mounted mobile radar systems and three command vehicles.

Officials said Damascus had asked Nicosia to release the seized shipment. They said the ship's manifest does not identify Syria as the consignee.

The Grigorio-1 was tracked by Interpol for several months, officials said. They said the ship was seized on Sept. 5 when it sailed near Larnaca for refueling.

Officials said Grigorio-1 left North Korea for the Middle East and stopped at several ports. They said the last leg of the journey began from Egypt's Port Said toward the Syrian port of Latakia.

World -- Ship with N. Korean weapons seized enroute to Syria

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