The World Today for July 05, 2016

July 5, 2016

NEED TO KNOW

North Korea: How Bad Is It?


North Korea appears to have achieved a worrying capability following its recent successful launch of a Musudan medium-range missile after numerous flops.

Pyongyang's Musudan traveled nearly 250 miles, more than half the distance toward Japan's main Honshu Island. Given the Hermit Kingdom’s recent successful nuclear tests, Japan is understandably concerned.

The Hermit Kingdom’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un boasted of the “great event,” calling it evidence of North Korea's “sure capability” to also hit US targets in the Pacific – American military bases in Guam or Okinawa for example, reported the Guardian.

NATO has derided the tests as “provocative actions” and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani warned that the “threat to Japan is intensifying.”

But how close is North Korea to achieving this and its other nuclear goals?

Unfortunately, analysts concur with the reclusive dictator.

“If we do nothing, they will move on to a missile, using the same technology, that can reach the US,” Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons control expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in Northern California, told the Wall Street Journal after the launch.

Stratfor, a Texas-based political intelligence firm, concurred: Its analysts argued that North Korea is making a final push this year because, “Pyongyang may feel it has a window to finalize its nuclear arms program while the United States is preoccupied with domestic politics.”

Experts diverge on the best way to proceed, however.

Lewis believes the US should reach a missile test moratorium with North Korea – the country has offered to suspend its programs if the US and South Korea do the same with their joint military drills.

Stratfor, on the other hands, recommends the US weighs offensive options very carefully and quickly, noting that “once (Pyongyang) has a viable nuclear weapon, it is too late for Washington to intervene.”

But Washington and Seoul have rebuffed Pyongyang's advances and called for it to roll back its entire nuclear program first, before reaching a moratorium.

Instead, the US, Japan and South Korea have embarked on trilateral defense missions known as Pacific Dragon that included missile defense system tests.

Others argue that the best way to handle the threat of North Korea is not with more weapons or militarism, but with economics.

New sanctions, in particular, could deter smaller Chinese banks from doing business in North Korea, cutting off one of Pyongyang's only economic ties to the outside world, argued the Washington Post last month in an editorial.

That might be the most sensible, weapon-less option. But world leaders better act fast. The clock is ticking until North Korea pushes that test button again.

WANT TO KNOW

Deadly End to Holy Month


At least four people were killed and five more injured by a suicide bomber in the Saudi city of Medina last night – one of the holiest sites in Islam – as Muslims around the world prepare to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The bomber detonated his explosives after he was stopped outside the Prophet's Mosque – the burial place of the Prophet Muhammed.

Suicide bomber struck two other Saudi cities on Monday night: the eastern city of Qatif, home to the country's Shiite Muslim minority, and Jeddah, near the Red Sea, where a suicide bomber wounded two near a US diplomatic mission.

The attack is likely to leave Muslims around the world aghast, writes BBC.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, suspicion is likely to fall on Islamic State, which has criticized the ruling Saudi family in the past as heretics and for betraying Islam by aligning itself with the West.

Anarchy in the UK?


British politics continues to be in a state of disarray nearly two weeks after the UK opted to leave the European Union – the so-called Brexit – in its June 23 referendum.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, one of the most prominent faces of the Leave campaign, announced yesterday that he will withdraw from British politics now that the referendum is over.

His decision follows Boris Johnson's announcement that he will not seek leadership of the Conservative Party, despite also having heavily campaigned for Brexit.

Leadership candidates for Prime Minister from the ruling Conservative Party began outlining their plans to negotiate Britain's withdrawal from the EU, as Tory MPs vote among five candidates today in the first step in selecting a successor to David Cameron.

Front runners currently include Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, who has been endorsed by Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said he wants to build a “super competitive economy” with low corporate taxes and a global focus – a sign that Osborne is keen to hold onto his job under the new Prime Minister, writes Reuters.

Netanyahu's Friendship Offensive


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Uganda on Monday as part of a four-nation tour to strengthen Israel's diplomatic and commercial ties across the African continent.

Netanyahu will also meet with leaders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda during his visit, which he plans to use to bolster support for Israel in international forums, including the UN, in the face of mounting criticism from Western countries over Israel-Palestinian relations.

Israel is also looking to sell advanced military equipment and other technologies to countries facing growing insurgencies from al-Qaeda affiliates like al-Shabaab in East Africa.

Israel's relations with many African nations have historically been fraught due to African support for the Palestinian cause.

But the country hopes to secure an observer seat at the African Union with this visit – part of a wider effort to strengthen African support at the UN, where Israeli officials say Arab nations frequently band together to vote on resolutions affecting Israel.

DISCOVERIES

Safety in Pins


A spate of xenophobic incidents in the United Kingdom after the Brexit vote has prompted folks to wear safety pins to tell others that they’re friendly and accepting of others.

They're a safe place.

The June 23 vote for Britain to leave the European Union has triggered an outpouring of nationalism that has unfortunately translated into harassment and vandalism against Poles, South Asians and others who have poured into the country in recent decades, often to fill positions in industries that were suffering from a shortage of workers.

An American woman living in London with her British husband felt she should do something to counter the hateful trend, reported by BuzzFeed. She came up with safety pins. The idea is that foreigners or immigrants know they’ve got a friend if they see a neighbor, coworker or fellow public transit passenger wearing them.

It’s not the first time Brits have turned to safety pins during hard times. In the late 1970s, when the country was suffering from economic doldrums, punk rockers donned safety pins as a sign of rebellion against buttoned-up British culture.

Former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten was against Brexit, by the way.

jbhatti
Tue, 07/05/2016 – 06:11

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