NorK Spork

Like a spork, North Korea (Nork) has more than one function on the world stage. But is it a tined spoon, or a bowled fork? Either way, it’s not the steak knife everybody is portraying it to be.

Ever since the Clinton presidency, NorK has been getting more than its fair share of the news cycle. The reasons given for this are not the same as the reality of the situation would indicate. Some introductory points to consider about the nation:

  1. NorK poses no threat to the USA.
  2. NorK nuclear capabilities are greatly exaggerated.
  3. Nork missile technology is unreliable.
  4. NorK is a successful socialist state as was Libya under Gadaffi.
  5. NorK does not have a central bank in the western tradition.
  6. Nork lies between Russia and China and trades mostly with China.
  7. Nork has up to 10x the mineral wealth of Afghanistan, up to $10T USD worth.
  8. Most of this wealth is in minerals which China now holds a near monopoly over.
  9. War with NorK could do wonders for Trump’s image.
  10. NorK is still technically at war with South Korea (SKor.)
  11. SKor holds veto power over any military actions by its allies against NorK

NorK’s nuclear capabilities are near zero. This article goes into more detail on the subject. Even if they did choose to divert their limited resources to bomb-making, it would result in so few warheads that the threat they possess would not be worth having. The bluff achieved by setting off nuclear tests (comperable to 1940’s technology) has a far greater impact. If they do have an arsenal of nuclear tipped short-range missiles, it would only be a handful of stategic type nukes, enough to devastate small neighbouring countries or a group of ships, but easily shot out of the sky by allied defenses.

NorK’s record as far as missile tests go is abysmal. Their tests almost always fail, and their targeting is equally shoddy. Many industry analysts doubt they could hit a ship off their own coastline. This article summarizes the situation nicely. The missiles they regularly display in parades are not functional. The ones which are functional crash. NorK has never once put a functional warhead on a functioning missile.

If it weren’t for the USA, NorK would not even have nuclear technology. Much like the Iran deal, the US has created a problem which they now choose to deal with. But why is the US worried about NorK’s nukes when Russia and China, NorK’s immediate neighbours, are not? It isn’t so much worry as it is strategy.

As in Afghanistan, when mineralogical surveys showed a tremendous amount of wealth under the ground, the US suddenly showed great interest in waging war in order to introduce American interests to the region. As well as being geo-strategically important, NorK has been found to possess an enormous wealth of rare-earth minerals which China currently holds a near-monopoly over. Inserting American (SKor) companies would turn an enormous profit, but would also prevent Eurasian competitors from gaining access. Now that the middle-east is lost for the US, and the petro-dollar is teetering on the brink, America needs new sources of income and influence in Asia.

If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” it said. -Global Times

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the Global Times, which is widely read but does not represent government policy, said in an editorial.

“Only the Republic of Korea can make the decision for military action on the Korean Peninsula,”[President Moon Jae-in] said, using the country’s formal name.

The story of North Korea, to paraphrase Skaespeare, is in many ways a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The US will either find an excuse or fabricate an excuse to take over the country; the question is not about Kim Jong-un’s response, but rather the world’s.

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ZIKARIO is not a Brazilian Footballer

Is it snobbery, is it paranoia, is it legitimate fear, or is it all nonsense?

Seventeen athletes have, so far, declined the invitation to got o the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil citing the danger of zika. Even the USOC has said it ‘would understand’.

The United States Olympic Committee told U.S. sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.

A few athletes from Britain have chosen to remain at home, as well. Greg Rutherford froze some sperm before leaving.

Australian athletes have been issued thicker, coated, zika-proof condoms, and will attend. (It’s Rio, after all; who’s kidding whom?)*

The Koreans have developed a zika-proof uniform. (Presumably, a larger version of the Australian solution.)

The Chinese athletes got some health advice.

Some have  gone very far out of their way to find a necessarily convoluted reason to slip the word ‘zika’ into their article, obviously trying to capitalize on the click-bait nature of the modern wwweb. It goes to show to what lengths some will go to in order to hype a story. Stories that are broadly good for the media raise all their boats and so see the most attention. It has precious little to do with what’s really going on. Besides, the press are not under any obligation to tell you everything. They don’t have the resources to cover everything, after all. The following article is a good example of click-bait.

Rio 2016 Olympics: Zika threat bugging Chinese shuttler Wang Yihan

“The threat of Zika at the Rio Olympics is on the mind of many athletes but few more so than China’s former badminton world champion Wang Yihan, who was attacked mercilessly by insects while competing in Indonesia last week.”

“They’re itchy,” she told Reuters…

Itchy?!? Is that all? That seems pretty weak. So what?

“I’m really not sure what kind of bugs they were. I don’t think they were mosquitoes. Maybe it was on the bed that I was sleeping on.”

Oh, bedbugs. Indonesian bedbugs, no less.

“I bought some cream for them, but they’re still itchy.”

Great setup for the zika scare story. By the way, ‘Zika’ is always capitalized.

When asked about zika:

“Yes, I think everyone’s been thinking about (Zika),” Wang said. “But obviously we’ve been told about how to be safe, wearing repellent and staying indoors and so on.”

She doesn’t seem too concerned, does she?

What’s with all the hype?

Thankfully there is some truth out there, if you read Portuguese.

“I don’t know where it comes from this information that children up to seven years would be the most susceptible, but it is not so,” he says. -trans. (Yandex)

There is a lot of evidence (and common sense) which indicate that zika should not be a significant threat, not to mention the fact that many tourists would be going to Rio, Olympics or no Olympics.

Anyhow, as Vox reports, August isn’t mosquito season in Rio.

“It’s going to be winter [during the Olympics], so the risk is going to be low in terms of mosquito transmission,” said Duane Gubler, a leading researcher on mosquito-borne diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School.

But if you like your fear even more ‘porny’, here’s a scary story from China, which rebuts the ‘winter’ claim. It hasn’t deterred Chinese athletes from attending, though. I suppose, when one grows up with dragons, a little mosquito isn’t really  that bad.

*There’s also a more disturbing plot affot. Remember those Australian condoms? Reuter’s, CNN, RT, the Guardian (and several other British papers) have all pushed the story, but it turns out to have been a marketing gimmick. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Here’s the thing: all condoms protect against Zika infection when used correctly.

So is this a case of snobbery? Do certain athletes from certain countries not want to participate because of Brazil’s third-world status? It didn’t keep them out of the world cup, did it? Or is this a political move aimed at the scandalous behaviour of the government? Maybe it’s just good old-fashion fear-mongering. Should we all be afraid all the time? Or is this something else?

Are mosquitos (humanity’s natural vaccinators – they hold disease in check by exposing everyone’s immune system to very small doses of it) to be the new ‘boogey-man’? Whatever could be the reason? Is a vaccine in the works? You bet!

The discovery “could lead to the development of a universal vaccine” against both diseases, they hoped.

Much of South America suffers from pollution, economic strife (which causes shortages in medicine,) and food shortages, and  and the CDC states that microcephaly is caused primarily by toxins, infections, and malnutrition. Is it any wonder Brazil is a ‘hot-spot’ for zika, mosquitos or not?

A bit of advice for those going to Brazil: Don’t lose your pretty little heads over it.

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*Update*

Q: “Who Owns the Zika Virus?

A: “Of significance, the Zika virus is a commodity which can be purchased online from the ATCC-LGC for 599 euros, with royalties accruing to the Rockefeller Foundation.”