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North Korea Says It Simulated Nuclear Attacks On South Korea And Rehearsed Occupation Of Its Rival

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South Korea’s SEOUL — North Korea said Thursday that its recent missile launches mimicked “scorched earth” nuclear strikes on South Korea and that it has also been practicing occupying its rival’s territory in the case of war.

Pyongyang has already tested nuclear-capable missiles and indicated how they would be used in hypothetical conflicts with South Korea and the United States. However, according to observers, the North’s disclosure of specific war plans underlined its aggressive nuclear strategy to terrify its opponents, as it escalated its protest of the continuing South Korean-US military drills, which it sees as a huge security threat.

According to the official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s military fired two tactical ballistic missiles from the capital on Wednesday night to practice “scorched earth strikes” on major command centers and operational airfields in South Korea.

The North Korean military claimed that the missiles carried out their simulated hits via air bursts, implying that it validated the explosions of dummy warheads at a predetermined altitude.

North Korea claimed its missile tests were in response to the US flying long-range B-1B bombers over South Korea earlier Wednesday as part of the partners’ field drills.

north korea

South Korea’s SEOUL — North Korea said Thursday that its recent missile launches mimicked “scorched earth” nuclear strikes on South Korea.

“(The aerial drill) poses a serious threat to (North Korea) because it was conducted in accordance with the scenario for a preemptive nuclear strike against” North Korea, according to the Korean People’s Army general staff. “The KPA will never forget the reckless actions of US forces and (South Korean) military gangsters.”

The Wednesday missile launches were the most recent in the North’s onslaught of weapons testing since last year.

According to estimates from South Korea and Japan, the two short-range missiles flew 360-400 kilometers (225-250 miles) at a maximum height of 50 kilometers (30 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff described the launches as “a grave provocation” that endangers international peace and breaches United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korean ballistic missile launches. The US Indo-Pacific Command stated that the US commitment to South Korean and Japanese defense remained “ironclad.”

On Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese authorities reported their jets engaged in joint aerial exercises with US B-1B bombers. According to South Korea’s Defence Ministry, Wednesday’s B-1B deployment is the tenth flypast by US bombers over the Korean Peninsula this year.

North Korea is highly concerned with deploying US B-1B bombers capable of carrying many conventional bombs. The North describes the bombers as “nuclear strategic” even though they were converted to conventional weapons in the 1990s.

north korea

South Korea’s SEOUL — North Korea said Thursday that its recent missile launches mimicked “scorched earth” nuclear strikes on South Korea.

The United States and South Korea began their summer Ulchi Freedom Shield computer-simulated command post exercise on August 21. This year’s training, which is set to culminate later Thursday, has featured more than 30 field exercises, such as Wednesday’s combined aerial exercise with the B-1B aircraft.

North Korea describes significant US-led military exercises on and around the Korean Peninsula as preparation for an invasion. Officials in both Washington and Seoul argue that their exercises are defensive. The United States has approximately 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

According to KCNA, Kim visited an army base on Tuesday where his troops have been undertaking command post maneuvers in reaction to the South Korean-US military training. The drills are intended to practice procedures for “occupying the entire territory of the southern half” of the Korean Peninsula in the event of a conflict, according to the statement.

Kim emphasized the importance of “dealing a heavy blow at the enemy’s war potential and war command centre, as well as blinding their means of command communication at the initial stage of operation.” According to KNCA, Kim also specified requirements for acquiring the ability to launch “simultaneous super-intense strikes” at important enemy military objectives and other places whose destruction can bring social and economic upheaval.

According to researcher Cheong Seong-Chang of South Korea’s private Sejong Institute, the North’s study shows it has operational plans to launch full-fledged attacks on South Korea during armed hostilities between the rivals to achieve Korean unification by force. He claimed North Korea was planning nuclear and EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attacks early in the war.

north korea

South Korea’s SEOUL — North Korea said Thursday that its recent missile launches mimicked “scorched earth” nuclear strikes on South Korea.

Later Thursday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry harshly condemned North Korea for publicly declaring its intention to invade the South. It warned North Korea that if it maintains its provocations and military threats, it will face “an overwhelming response” from South Korea, the United States, and Japan.

According to the ministry, it was the first report on command post training involving the whole military since Kim took office in late 2011.

Since last year, when it passed new legislation authorizing nuclear weapons in various situations, North Korea has openly threatened to deploy its nuclear weapons first in prospective battles with South Korea and the United States.

Kim has been working hard to grow and modernize his arsenal of weaponry. Its second effort to launch a spy satellite failed last week, but a third attempt is planned for October.

Foreign experts believe Kim will eventually utilize his expanded military arsenals to push the US to make concessions when negotiation restarts.

SOURCE – (AP)

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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

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SAN DIEGO — China is to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its traditional gesture of friendship with the United States after nearly all of the famed bears on loan to U.U.S.oos were returned as relations between the two countries worsened.

San Diego Zoo officials told The Associated Press that if all licences and other criteria are fulfilled, two male and female bears should arrive by the end of the summer, about five years after the zoo’s last pandas were transferred back to China.

“We’re very excited and hopeful,” said Megan Owen, VP of Wildlife Conservation Science at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “They’ve expressed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to re-initiate panda cooperation starting with the San Diego Zoo.”

pandas

China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

The China Wildlife Conservation Association announced Thursday that it has signed cooperation agreements with zoos in Madrid, Washington, D.D.C., and Vienna.

According to the organisation, the relationship will encompass illness prevention and habitat protection research, as well as contributions to the creation of China’s national panda park.

“We look forward to further expanding the research outcomes on the conservation of endangered species such as giant pandas, as well as promoting mutual understanding and friendship among peoples through the new round of international cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated in Beijing.

Fears over the future of so-called panda diplomacy grew last year when the zoos in Washington, D.C., and Memphis, Tennessee, sent their pandas to China, leaving only four pandas in the United States, all at the Atlanta Zoo. That financing agreement will expire later this year.

However, in November, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed hope that his country will resume sending pandas to the United States after he and President Joe Biden met in Northern California for their first face-to-face encounter in a year and agreed to work to ease tensions.

According to Owen, a panda behaviour expert who has worked in San Diego and China, China is considering a pair that includes a female descendant of Bai Yun and Gao Gao, two of the zoo’s past residents.

Bai Yun was born in captivity in China and spent more than 20 years at the zoo, where she gave birth to six cubs. She and her son were the last pandas at the zoo, and they returned to China in 2019.

Gao Gao was born in the wild in China and resided at the San Diego Zoo from 2003 to 2018 before being returned.

Decades of wild conservation efforts and captive research spared the giant panda species from extinction, boosting its number from less than 1,000 to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

pandas

China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

The black-and-white bears have long been associated with the relationship between the United States and China, dating back to 1972, when Beijing donated a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, D.D.C., ahead of normalising diplomatic relations. China later lent pandas to zoos to assist in breeding cubs and increasing the population.

According to 2022 research by America’s Congressional Research Service, zoos normally pay a $1 million fee yearly for two pandas, with the money going towards China’s conservation efforts.

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, the United States, Spain, and Austria were among the first countries to collaborate with China on panda conservation, with 28 pandas born in those countries.

Demands for the return of giant pandas, dubbed China’s “national treasure,” surged among the Chinese public as unverified reports of mistreatment by USU.S.oos inundated Chinese social media.

Many loan agreements were for ten years and were frequently extended much longer. However, last year’s attempts to prolong the agreements or send more pandas failed. China observers claimed that Beijing was progressively withdrawing its pandas from Western countries due to poor diplomatic relations with the United States and other nations.

Then, on November 15, 2023, a week after the National Zoo’s pandas left for China, Xi spoke at a dinner with American business executives in downtown San Francisco, hinting that more pandas would be sent. He stated that the San Diego Zoo and the people of California are “very much looking forward to welcoming pandas back.”

“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” he said.

Even after it no longer housed pandas, the San Diego Zoo continued collaborating with Chinese colleagues.

pandas

China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

According to Owen, China is particularly interested in exchanging information about the zoo’s successful captive panda breeding programme. Giant pandas are difficult to reproduce, partly because the female’s reproductive window is extremely limited, lasting only 48 to 72 hours per year.

Bai Yun’s first child, Hua Mei, was also the first panda born through artificial insemination to live to adulthood outside of China, and she went on to have 12 cubs on her own after being sent to China.

Meanwhile, Bai Yun stayed at the zoo and gave birth to two more girls and three males. Researchers followed her in her den using webcams, providing a better understanding of maternal care behaviour, according to Owen.

“We have a lot of institutional knowledge and capacity from our last cooperative agreement, which we will be able to parlay into this next chapter, as well as training the next generation of panda conservationists,” she said.

Owen said Chinese experts would accompany the bears to San Diego for several months.

She stated that the bears’ return benefits San Diego and the giant panda’s recovery as a species.

“We do talk about panda diplomacy all the time,” Owen said. “Diplomacy is an essential component of conservation in a variety of circumstances…. If we can’t learn to collaborate in often tough conditions or situations beyond the control of conservationists, we won’t succeed.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

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“The Biden crime family.”

It has long been a strong storyline in right-wing media and the GOP, used to demonise President Joe Biden – but it crumbled spectacularly on Thursday.

For a long time, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media have accused Biden and his son Hunter of running an illegal $10 million bribery conspiracy to enrich themselves and sell out America. According to the tale, a representative of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid for access to then-Vice President Biden in order to improperly use his influence and aid in thwarting a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation into the business.

The evidence of the bribery plan has always been poor, with most credible news sites dismissing the charges. However, MAGA media figures such as Sean Hannity went into overdrive last year when a reportedly “highly credible” FBI informant claimed to have smoking gun evidence of the conspiracy.

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Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

The revelation of a secret FBI informant swept through right-wing media, with talking heads and sites portraying the claims as overwhelming evidence of criminal activity. It spawned scores of articles. Hundreds of FOX News segments. Republican lawmakers like James Comer and Jim Jordan, anxious for media attention, came on radio and television shows to fuel conspiracy theories and demand probes.

Hannity’s programme was the major vehicle for delivering the message to the GOP base. According to data from the progressive group Media Matters, the accusations were the basis for a startling 85 segments on his Fox News show in 2023. Hannity told his millions of weekly viewers that Biden had been “compromised,” citing informant reports to proclaim the president “very credibly accused of public corruption on a scale this country has never seen before.”

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Comer, who chairs the powerful House Oversight Committee, exploited the charges made in right-wing media to accuse the FBI of a cover-up and attempted to build a corruption case against Biden. Right-wing media then praised these activities. And the feedback circle continued.

What’s the problem? Alexander Smirnov, the informant, cooked up the entire tale, federal investigators alleged Thursday, detaining the 43-year-old at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney, special counsel David Weiss, charged Smirnov with fabricating documents and lying to the FBI. According to the accusation, Smirnov gave “false derogatory information” about Biden to the law enforcement agency. His “story to the FBI was a fabrication, an amalgam of otherwise unremarkable business meetings,” according to the report.

“In short, the Defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against [Joe Biden], the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President,Hannity after expressing bias against [Joe Biden] and his candidature,” according to the indictment.

The charges delivered a setback to the narrative that Fox News had promoted on the air and that Republicans had pressed in Congress. However, the same network that had publicised Smirnov’s charges against “the big guy,” implying that they formed the basis of a huge scandal that would eclipse Watergate in history, now showed little interest in the story.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Fox News provided very little coverage of the Weiss indictment in the hours following its announcement. Most importantly, Hannity should have attempted to inform his devoted audience that the story he had been relentlessly promoting to them had crumbled. Instead, he ignored the report, as did the rest of the right-wing network’s dishonest prime-time talk show hosts.

The spectacular downfall of the assertion is simply the most recent example of a bigger pattern from Fox News and the right-wing media ecosystem in which it works.
MAGA Media figures have repeatedly pushed false narratives and conspiracy theories to their large audiences, only to look the other way when they fall. Just last year, Fox News paid a record $787.5 million to promote electoral misinformation. It never ran a retraction on air, and executives have stated that they are happy with the network’s 2020 coverage.

It’s a record that’s played repeatedly. By the time the truth catches up with the fraudulent charges pushed by right-wing media, the narrative has already been established, and the outlets have moved on to the next alleged scandal.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

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LONDON — Yulia Navalnaya used to avoid the spotlight, remaining in the background as her husband, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, rose to become President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest adversary.

However, following his death in prison last week, she took on a podium generally designated for prominent leaders in Munich and declared that Putin and his friends would be held accountable for his killing. Later, she earnestly pledged, “I will continue Alexei Navalny’s work.”

It was a bold declaration from a woman who once told the Russian issue of Harper’s Bazaar that her “key task” was caring for the couple’s children and home.

Yulia Navalnaya’s new duty will be to guide the Russian opposition through one of its history’s darkest and most chaotic periods.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s death dealt a significant blow to the opposition, which is already fragmented. The question is whether Navalnaya can gather her husband’s troops and work with other opposition parties to launch a successful challenge to Putin, who is poised to serve another six years in the Kremlin following the March presidential election.

Putin has stepped up his crackdown on free speech and dissent in Russia, imprisoning opponents and critics alike.

Navalnaya has previously confronted Putin. She and Navalny had been married for over 20 years, and she stood by his side while he helped lead the largest rallies in Russia since the Soviet Union’s demise and during subsequent jail stints.

She has accused Putin of murdering her husband, a claim that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “unfounded” and “insolent.”

The risk to Navalny’s life had been “discussed extensively” with his wife and close team before his 2021 return to Russia from Germany, where he received treatment for nerve agent poisoning, according to Vladimir Ashurkov, a longtime friend of the Navalnys and co-founder of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Nonetheless, “it was a big decision” for Navalnaya to continue her husband’s profession, he explained.

In their marriage, she was “the rock” on which Navalny relied. Ashurkov stated that they “had an understanding” that Navalnaya would refrain from political activity and keep out of the spotlight.

Analysts believe Navalny returned to Russia from Germany because he realised he would struggle to be seen as a legitimate opposition leader abroad.

His widow is unlikely to travel to Russia due to security concerns, and she now has a similar difficulty in determining how to run her husband’s organisation from exile.

On Friday, immediately after Navalny’s death was announced, she met Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Tsikhanouskaya took over the political baton from her husband, Belarusian opposition leader Syarhei Tsikhanouski, who was imprisoned before Belarus’ presidential election 2020.

She launched a successful campaign but fled Belarus after long-term President Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the victor of an election generally seen as fraudulent in the West.

“We understood each other without any words,” Tsikhanouskaya said of Navalnaya. Tsikhanouskaya stated that she had no idea about her husband’s condition or if he was dead or alive.

“It’s so difficult when you’re in so much pain, but you have to… give interviews to encourage the democratic world to take decisive action,” Tsikhanouskaya told the Associated Press.

Tsikhanouskaya, who has been operating from overseas for nearly four years, described living in political exile as tough. It is “very important not to lose connection with the people inside the country,” she said.

That won’t be easy, particularly in Russia, where most people still obtain news from Kremlin-controlled official media.

Despite being Russia’s most recognised opposition leader — charming and cracking jokes even while serving a 19-year prison sentence — Navalny was rarely shown on state television, and his death was barely briefly mentioned.

The Kremlin is expected to take the same tactic with Navalnaya, essentially isolating her from the Russian people through a state-sponsored information blockade.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine, the space for criticism in Russia has shrunk even more. Russian authorities have increased speech restrictions and imprisoned opponents, many of whom are ordinary citizens, frequently for decades. Hundreds of people who lay flowers in Navalny’s memory have been imprisoned, and convincing Russians to take a collective public stand against Putin will be nearly difficult.

While Navalnaya has dominated headlines since her husband’s death, Graeme Robertson, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of a book about Putin and contemporary Russian politics, believes her challenge will be “to stay relevant” when interest fades.

Robertson proposed that she could accomplish this by supporting Navalny’s volunteers and political networks in Russia, keeping them “underground but alive,” and deciding on a short-term aim.

When Navalnaya walked into a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, she lost little time explaining what that objective — and her leadership of Navalny’s organisation — would look like.

Sitting next to the EU’s foreign policy chief, she urged Western leaders not to recognise the results of March’s presidential election, to sanction more members of Putin’s entourage, and to do more to assist Russians who have fled abroad.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has made headlines in Western and independent Russian media recently with sleek movies that converted ordinarily uninteresting corruption probes into online blockbusters.

However, the organisation needed to gain widespread support from the Russian populace, to effect political change, or to develop a governance model.

Tsikhanouskaya, widely regarded as Belarus’ democratic leader, stated that she prioritised the development of democratic institutions and the representation of Belarusians within Belarus.

This includes a transitional cabinet and platforms where “all the parties, all the forces are represented,” she stated, seemingly pushing Navalnaya to follow suit.

Ashurkov stated that Navalnaya could be the person to bring together Russia’s opposition, which is notorious for its “disagreements and squabbles.”

“She has a very high reputation,” he remarked.

The duties ahead of her are formidable, and she will face them while grieving for her husband and battling for his body’s return.

“By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and half of my soul,” she went on to say. “But I still have the other half, and it tells me that I have no right to give up.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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