North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Friday, March 18, 2011

Multi-issues as St Patrick's day becomes a memory

Multiple events with serious implications have created non-stop media coverage this week, though much seems driven by ratings, embellishment, and borderline hysteria fueled by bias.


Japanese in the devastated Northeast have had to deal with cold and snow in the week since the quake and tsunami

Japan's crisis continues. Media coverage is obsessing over the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant and numerous radiation doomsday scenarios. In Japan, there are no doubt concerns, but 5000 miles away a fairly significant number of nervous US West Coast citizens have had to be told that buying Potassium Iodide is probably much less effective than spending their money on solid emergency kits to deal with fire, floods and earthquakes.

From one website normally read by excitable people, "Phone calls to local Whole Foods in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, revealed that the stores had been emptied out for days and that supply would not be able to meet demand. Similar reports come from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay area, and self-aware areas further north.

Humboldt County resident Steve Timmons got the last bottle of kelp at Eureka Natural Foods in Eureka, Calif.

The radiation and meltdown coverage, where not one person has yet been diagnosed with illness much less death, seems to have overshadowed the real disaster with over 6000 confirmed deaths and over 9000 still missing. Even in Japan, there has been criticism over the movement of older folks from hospitals within the 20 kilometer radius of the nuclear plant that has resulted in some actual fatalities due to the trauma of moving and interrupted medical monitoring, all in the name of protecting them from the possibility of radioactive exposure.

Wherever news is broadcast around the world, people are getting to know what the crippled Fukushima nuclear powerplant looks like

On the other hand, there is the positive story of the "Fukushima 50," where workers (more than 50) have volunteered to fight against fuel rod meltdowns by exposing themselves to more radiation than considered safe. Their immediate goal is to reconnect electrical power to water pumps that could then re-cover the nuclear fuel with additional coolant. And the sparse but needed "miracle" stories emerge here and there: an elderly woman found alive, a man 10 miles out to sea still clinging to debris, or this rescued little baby shown here, providing a lift in spirits to a uniformed rescue worker.


After two weeks of debate and posturing, the UN Security Council ordered an "immediate cease fire" resolution that authorized member states to protect Libyans with all necessary means from Gadaffi's army and agents. It came about too late to save citizens in several cities briefly held (or emancipated) by the rebels, but such is the timetable of negotiations. Within hours of the resolution, Gadaffi countered by announcing a cease fire of his own, though on the ground reports say his forces are continuing their assaults as before. Perhaps the quote of the day is from the Colonel himself. Referring to the UN decision to challenge him, he declared, "The world is crazy, so we will be crazy too."

France's Zarkozy and UK's Cameron soberly take the lead on imposing a cease fire in Libya

The burden of imposing a cease fire - which would include bombing Libyan airfields and defense assets, and possibly striking tanks and heavy weaponry - seems to have fallen on the French and UK military with base and logistics support from Italy, as well as low-key shipments of ammunition and weapons from neighboring Egypt. Where is the US in this one?

French and British warplanes are repositioning themselves at Italian airbases near Libya

Bahrain's religious smoldering

The crisis in Bahrain deepened with larger protests by the Shiite majority against their Sunni rulers, with fatalities. Saudi Arabia took a very unusual step of sending 1000 of its own troops to bolster the Bahrain king in controlling the unrest.

Shiite women confront Bahrainian military

Iran (the major Shiite population though Persian, not Arab) immediately turned up the rhetorical heat, calling on Shiites everywhere to stand up for freedom and their brethren. And thus, one can understand that the US may be saying to its Western Allies that it needs to keep a free hand to potentially help out in this particular pressure cooker.

Bahrain's rulers are Sunni noted by their traditional keffiyeh headgear. This is Bahrain's King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa

Nearly an aside: Yemen - 45 dead in protest shootings by government snipers; 3 killed in Syrian protests.

What is being overshadowed

Ivory Coast's two headed government

Cote d'ivoire now has over 400,000 refugees - most are internally displaced while about 75,000 moving mostly into neighboring Liberia. Over 25 were killed in protests in the past day or two, and the standoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara becomes more entrenched.

Street protests and battles continue between the country's two factions

Sudan's fragile walk towards independence

Similar to Ivory Coast, sporadic flareups of conflict along the proposed border between South and North Sudan continue. Over 90 were killed in just the past few days, as official armed forces and shadowy militias jockeyed around their own agendas.

Southern Sudanese soldiers on patrol

And so, spring returns to the Northern Hemisphere ...


Sarah said...

Thank you for the jump back to Ivory Coast and Sudan... So many things to watch over and wonder why...

Just finished reading another memoir about Zimbabwe. I'm depressed.

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