The World Today for October 11, 2022
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Pushing and Pulling
North Korea recently fired an intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan, one of five such launches in the region over a week-long period despite the crippling sanctions against the autocratic Asian country. The missile fell harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean, the Japan Times reported. But Japanese leaders issued a rare alert instructing people to take cover for the first time since 2017.
The American, South Korean and Japanese navies were conducting anti-submarine warfare and the Chinese and Russian navies were conducting maneuvers around Japan when the missiles were launched, according to a US Naval Institute news piece. They also came as US Vice President Kamala Harris was visiting South Korea, Axios added.
These missile tests raised concerns because they came on the heels of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un declaring that his country would always be a nuclear state and codifying North Korea’s sovereign right to launch preemptive nuclear strikes, the Washington Post wrote.
“The utmost significance of legislating (this) nuclear weapons policy is to draw an irretrievable line so that there can be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons,” said Kim in an address to the Supreme People’s Assembly.
Analysts say Kim’s announcement has painted his regime into a corner. By ruling out denuclearization, he was unilaterally removing one of his best sources of leverage over the international community, reported Voice of America.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol denounced the move, saying North Korea would face a devastating response if Kim ever dropped an atomic bomb on a neighbor, CNN added. He called on Kim to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula so that the two countries could live in harmony.
But Kim might have unveiled the new stance in response to South Korea’s so-called “decapitation strategy,” a plan to preemptively eliminate Kim, other key North Korean leaders and the state’s vital military sites before the Hermit Kingdom has a chance to release a nuclear strike, Reuters explained. The new North Korean policy authorizes top officials to launch a strike in the event that Kim has been killed or incapacitated.
The belligerent policy might also have been designed to frighten American and other officials into considering concessions in potential negotiations over sanctions and other issues, Kyung Hee University United Nations studies professor Oh Joon said in an interview with Channel News Asia.
North Korea’s economy, normally reeling from sanctions, is also still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, when traffic between the country and China temporarily shut down, wrote Al Jazeera. Ninety percent of North Korean trade is with China.
It’s hard to tell whether Kim is crying for help or pushing it away.
THE WORLD, BRIEFLY
Moscow launched a barrage of missiles on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on Monday, strikes that came just days after the Kremlin blamed Ukrainian forces for an explosion on a key bridge linking Russia with the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, CBS News reported.
Ukrainian officials said at least 19 people were killed in the missile strikes that hit a number of major cities, including the western city of Lviv, which has been a refuge for many fleeing the fighting in the country’s east.
The capital Kyiv also sustained attacks, the first bombardment in months.
The Ukrainian government and many of its foreign allies condemned the bombardment, with the European Union saying it amounted to “a war crime.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strikes were in retaliation for what appeared to be a Ukrainian “terrorist act” on the 12-mile Kerch Bridge over the weekend.
At least three people were killed in an explosion on the bridge.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the Kerch Bridge has served as a critical supply link between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula.
While the blast inspired celebrations among Ukrainians, the country’s government has not claimed responsibility for the weekend attack.
Still, analysts believe the explosion will have a significant impact if Moscow decides to transfer hard-pressed troops fighting in other regions to Crimea – or if civilians rush to evacuate.
Countries around the globe agreed this week to significantly lower emissions from airplanes by 2050, a landmark deal aimed at curbing the effects of climate change, the New York Times reported.
The agreement follows nearly a decade of climate talks among member countries in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The United Nations agency finalized the deal following a Friday meeting among its members.
Under the pact, nations agreed to reach a target of “net zero” emissions, a point at which air travel is no longer pumping additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The ambitious goal means that the aviation industry would need to drastically alter its practices and step up its climate efforts. It would also require governments and companies to invest billions in creating efficient aircraft and cleaner fuels to sharply reduce emissions from air travel itself.
The deal would particularly impact richer nations, which account for the bulk of global air travel: The International Council on Clean Transportation, a think tank, estimates that the richest 20 percent of people worldwide take 80 percent of the flights. Meanwhile, the top two percent of frequent fliers take about 40 percent of the flights.
Still, the new agreement does not come with any authority to initiate policies and leaves the tasks of setting targets to ICAO members.
The aviation industry has been slow to address its emission goals, which are not covered under the 2015 Paris Climate Accords.
Worldwide commercial aviation accounted for around three percent of global emissions in 2019, having increased by more than 30 percent over the preceding decade before the coronavirus outbreak which caused air traffic to fall.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Thousands of people protested in northern Bosnia this week, accusing a pro-Russian Bosnian Serb leader of rigging the ballot during the Balkan country’s general elections earlier this month, Euronews reported Monday.
Sunday’s demonstrations were the second in a week to take place in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the Oct. 2 elections. The polls were held for all levels of government in both the Serb-dominated and Bosniak-Croat parts of the country, as well as for the joint central institutions.
Although the final results have yet to be announced, leading Bosnian Serb politician Milorad Dodik claimed victory in the election for the post of the presidency of the Republika Srpska – the country’s Serb entity.
But Bosnian Serb opposition politicians and their supporters countered that their candidate, Jelena Trivic, won. They allege that Dodik rigged the vote and called for a recount, as well as an investigation into vote rigging.
Meanwhile, the country’s central election authorities have ordered the unsealing of ballot boxes and recounts at approximately 1,000 polling locations across Bosnia and Herzegovina, citing reports of irregularities.
Dodik denied the accusations of rigging the elections.
The powerful Bosnian Serb leader has ruled in the Republika Srpska for years, despite being sanctioned by the West for advocating the separation of the Serb entity from the rest of Bosnia.
Russia has backed Dodik, raising fears in the West that Moscow may try to create more unrest in volatile Bosnia in order to divert attention away from the conflict in Ukraine.
The Balkan nation remains plagued by corruption and ethnic tensions nearly three decades after the end of the Bosnian war in 1995 which killed more than 100,000 people.
The Smell of Stress
Dogs can sniff out many things, from hidden narcotics to individuals infected with the coronavirus.
In a new study, a research team wrote that stress can cause physiological changes to an individual’s sweat and breath, changing the odor. Dogs can detect these changes.
For their experiments, they collected breath and sweat samples from human participants before and after they completed a “stress-inducing” task. The team then trained the canines to distinguish between a “stress” sample and a “baseline” sample.
Unsurprisingly, the animals correctly determined the stress sample in 675 out of 720 trials –about 94 percent of the time.
Researchers explained that the dogs can smell volatile organic compounds and the findings suggest that they can identify that those changes have been induced by acute negative stress.
They added that more research is needed to understand how untrained dogs might communicate or interpret these changes in such compounds in humans.
The discovery may contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between service dogs and owners suffering from anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
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