- New York wants less salt in food – New York Times
- Now N. Korea wants peace treaty to keep talking - New York Times
- Blagojevich says ‘I’m blacker than Barack Obama … ‘ – Chicago Tribune
- Illinois’ unpaid bills reach $5 billion – Chicago Tribune
- Flare up of violence in Tijuana – L.A. Times
- A complaint in China could land you in a ‘black jail’ – L.A. Times
- AP Analysis: Stimulus has had no effect on employment – Associated Press (via The Plain Dealer)
- Heineken bids for FEMSA – MarketWatch
- Goldman Sachs Execs May be Forced to Give to Charity – CNBC
- China now world’s largest auto market – Bloomberg
Sen. Harry Reid
- Reid Apologizes for ‘Negro’ remarks – New York Times
- Op-Ed – Sandy Banks: It’s Not Reid Who Should Apologize – L.A. Times
- Dems launch offensive to save Reid – Politico
- GOP claim Lott-Reid Double Standard – Politico
North Korea fired two additional short-range missiles Monday in an apparent move to threaten U.S. spy planes monitoring a site where the regime is believed to have conducted its second nuclear test, a South Korean official said.
“The launches took place at around 5:03 p.m.,” the official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. North Korea had earlier launched a surface-to-air missile around noon, hours after it said it detonated a nuclear device in an underground bunker.
- Scale of N. Korean Test Unclear – New York Times
- N. Korea conducts ‘successful’ nuclear test – Washington Post
- World leaders condemn North Korea, Urge Action – Reuters
- In Quotes: World Leaders React – BBC
- China “resolutely opposes” N. Korean test – Xinhua
“The Korean Central News Agency released the following report on Monday in connection with one more successful underground nuclear test in the DPRK.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way as requested by its scientists and technicians.
“The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology.
“The successful nuclear test is greatly inspiring the army and people of the DPRK all out in the 150-day campaign, intensifying the drive for effecting a new revolutionary surge to open the gate to a thriving nation.
“The test will contribute to defending the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism and ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the region around it with the might of (the military first policy) Songun.”
“Today, North Korea said that it has conducted a nuclear test in violation of international law. It appears to also have attempted a short range missile launch.
These actions, while not a surprise given its statements and actions to date, are a matter of grave concern to all nations.
North Korea’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons, as well as its ballistic missile program, constitute a threat to international peace and security.
By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community.
North Korea’s behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia. Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea’s isolation. It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community. We have been and will continue working with our allies and partners in the Six-Party Talks as well as other members of the U.N. Security Council in the days ahead.”
Ostensibly on Fox News Sunday to talk about re-branding the Republican Party, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich let the world know today that he’s still just as faux-intellectually nutty as ever.
You see, Gingrich would have just blown that pesky North Korean rocket off the launch pad two or three days ago. From a transcript of the show:
WALLACE: … Mr. Gingrich, before today’s launch, you said the North Koreans should not be allowed to fire a missile and that the U.S., quote, “should take whatever preemptive actions are necessary.” Are you saying that “President Gingrich” would have taken out that missile on the launch pad?
GINGRICH: Yes, I’m saying if you look at the new book by my co- author Bill Fortune called “One Second After,” and you look at electromagnetic pulse capabilities, which can take out — one weapon could take out a third of the electric generating capacity of the United States.
We do not appreciate the scale of threat that is evolving on the planet, and North Korea is a totally irresponsible dictatorship run by a person who is clearly out of touch with reality, and I think to say, you know, we’re now going to have another meeting at the U.N. to have another paper resolution that has meaningless effect is very dangerous.
I think both with Iran and with North Korea, you have countries which could decide at any morning to try to actually use their weapons.
WALLACE: So you’re saying that “President Gingrich” would have taken out that…
GINGRICH: There are — there are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities, to say we’re not going to tolerate a North Korean missile launch, period.
I mean, the world’s either got to decide that North Korea is utterly dangerous — and again, I’d recommend — look at electromagnetic pulse, which changes — which we’ve known about since 1958. It changes every equation about how risky these weapons are.
Ahh, Newt. That same smug, all-knowing air is still all about him. Just like 1994, only this time he’s expounding on actions that could put us at odds with China and see North Korea’s million-man army pouring into downtown Seoul.
According to the North Koreans, of course it was:
Changchun, China — Chosun (North Korea) Central No. 3 Broadcast claimed at 1 P.M. today that this morning’s launch successfully put a satellite into orbit.
A source from North Hamkyung Province said in a telephone interview with Daily NK, “At 1 this afternoon, the No. 3 Broadcast announced, ‘Kwangmyungsung-2, which is a declaration of the achievements of a strong and prosperous state to the whole world, entered its orbit successfully.”
The broadcast said that the time of the launch was 11 A.M.
According to the South Koreans and the U.S. – Epic Fail:
The rocket launched by nuclear-armed North Korea on Sunday appears to have fizzled in the Pacific Ocean, but positioned a defiant Kim Jong Il to make demands from an international community worried that it indicates the capacity to fire a long-range missile.
President Barack Obama and other national leaders immediately criticized the Korean leader for threatening peace and stability of nations “near and far.” The U.N. Security Council approved an emergency session for Sunday afternoon in New York, following a request from Japan just minutes after liftoff.
“North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles,” Obama said in Prague. “It creates instability in their region, around the world. This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon in the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.”
Pyongyang claims it launched an experimental communications satellite into orbit Sunday and that it’s transmitting data and patriotic songs. U.S. and South Korean officials claim the entire rocket, including whatever payload it was carrying, ended up in the ocean.
If you thought that merely replacing one American president who spent eight years trying to bend the world to his will with one talking the good game of peace and cooperation would get foreign leaders to stop acting crazy you were wrong.
Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-Il, Ayatollah Khamenei, Vladmir Putin — they’re all still idiots who hate America because we’re America. It doesn’t matter that the American people sent a message to the world with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. That message could be divined around the world as “Hey, we’re really sorry about the whole Bush-Cheney thing. But check this new guy out, you can work with this new guy …” Instead, we get Putin’s Russia testing the Monroe Doctrine, North Korea taking U.S. journalists hostage, Chavez calling Obama and “ignoramus,” and Iran’s Supreme Leader greeting Obama’s extended hand with the back of his own.
Two of these instances occurred just this weekend. Yesterday, in response to Obama’s conciliatory YouTube message directed at the Iranian People, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had this to say, according to the LA Times:
“We do not have any record of the new U.S. president,” he said in a live television broadcast. “We are observing, watching and judging. If you change, we will also change our behavior. If you do not change, we will be the same nation as 30 years ago.”
The crowd chanted, “God is great! Khamenei is the leader!”
As he spoke, Khamenei glanced cursorily at his notes, suggesting that his words were carefully considered. His remarks were the most detailed and authoritative response by any Iranian leader to several attempts by the Obama administration to reach out to the Islamic Republic.
The White House issued a 3 1/2 -minute video message from Obama early Friday morning greeting the Iranian people and officials on the occasion of the important holiday, acknowledging three decades of strained relations with America and offering a new beginning.
Iranian officials quickly responded by welcoming the address but voicing skepticism about its sincerity. On Saturday, Khamenei recited a list of grievances against the U.S. over the last three decades, including the 1988 downing of an Iranian civilian plane by a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf, the freezing of Iranian assets, and strong support for Israel and armed Iranian opposition groups.
“They are talking of extending a hand to Iran on the occasion of the New Year and they are congratulating the Iranian people,” he said. “At the same time, they are accusing [Iran] of terrorism and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.”
And then there’s Chavez. If you want to witness a real hoot, check out The Hugo Chavez Show, a PBS Frontline Documentary. Chavez is this era’s stereotypical Central/South American meglomaniacal, self-absorbed dictator. Today, Chavez unloaded on an American president and it wasn’t GW Bush – from Reuters:
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama was at best an “ignoramus” for saying the socialist leader exported terrorism and obstructed progress in Latin America.
“He goes and accuses me of exporting terrorism: the least I can say is that he’s a poor ignoramus; he should read and study a little to understand reality,” said Chavez, who heads a group of left-wing Latin American leaders opposed to the U.S. influence in the region.
Chavez said Obama’s comments had made him change his mind about sending a new ambassador to Washington, after he withdrew the previous envoy in a dispute last year with the Bush administration in which he also expelled the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela.
“When I saw Obama saying what he said, I put the decision back in the drawer; let’s wait and see,” Chavez said on his weekly television show, adding he had wanted to send a new ambassador to improve relations with the United States after the departure of George W. Bush as president.
In a January interview with Spanish-language U.S. network Univision, Obama said Chavez had hindered progress in Latin America, accusing him of exporting terrorist activities and supporting Colombian guerrillas.
“My, what ignorance; the real obstacle to development in Latin America has been the empire that you today preside over,” said Chavez, who is a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy.
In both cases – Iran and Venezuela – you have leaders who are faced with difficult and structural economic problems and who rely on the price of oil being in the $75 per barrel range to make their countries’s economic engines run. Both fancy themselves the leaders of “revolutions.” What they’re most worried about is the next revolution that may sweep them from power. There is also, however, an element of truth in what both leaders say. U.S. meddling in Iranian internal politics in the 1950s led to nearly 30 years of repression under the American-friendly Shah Reza Pahlavi. U.S. government and corporate meddling in the internal state affairs of countries large and small in Central and South America has a storied history. Chavez, largely due to the largess of Venezuela’s oil wealth and his big mouth, is now seen throughout the region as the newest Fidel or Che.
From the time of Jimmy Carter on, the United States has had the chance to set things straight with the developing world, once our covert operations playground. Old habits have been hard to break, though. Just when we put together a good string of time without getting ourselves caught trying to kill some foreign leader or destabilize a country, we do get caught. We won’t – meaning Barack Obama won’t – live this down until U.S. foreign policy delivers on the promise of the extended hand over the long run.
And, oh, by the way. There will be some leaders we won’t be able to deal with because they’re idiots. Chavez and some others fall into this category. Their own power comes before anything else and they’ll lubricate their masses with American hate rhetoric as long as it takes the target off of them.