Sunday, April 05, 2009


Pointing at us
Pointing at
Each other
Pointing at
Our Selves
Very pointless
This pointless historical
That has been painting us
Into a dark box of doom
For so long
That has been pointing us
In the wrong direction for so long
"What’s the point of living any more?"
"What’s going to happen?"
It’s mad
Nations are mad
I’m mad
You’re mad

I don't want to leave readers or myself stuck and despondent inside a bowl of despair.
Here is some comfort and an answer to the question "What's the point of living any more?" :

As the president stepped up to 10 Downing Street, he leant over, made eye contact, said something courteous, and shook the hand of the police officer standing guard. There’s always a police officer there; he is a tourist logo in his ridiculous helmet. He tells you that this is London, and the late 19th century. No one has ever shaken the hand of the policeman before, and like everyone else who has his palm touched by Barack Obama, he was visibly transported and briefly forgot himself. He offered the hand to Gordon Brown, the prime minister, who was scuttling behind.
It was ignored. He was left empty-handed. It isn’t that Mr. Brown snubbed the police officer; he just didn’t see him. To a British politician, a police officer is as invisible as the railings.
But the rest of us noticed. Because in this country that still feels the class system like a phantom limb, being overtly kind to servants is the very height of manners, the mark of true nobility. Being nice to the staff is second only to being nice to dogs as a pinnacle of civilization. Remember: a butler’s not just for Christmas. Apparently, the Obamas searched every cupboard and closet in Downing Street to personally thank all the servants for looking after them.
That’s classlessly classy.

Op-Ed Contributor

Larger Than Life in London

Published: April 4, 2009


Defying World, North Koreans Launch Rocket

Published: April 5, 2009

SEOUL — North Korea defied the United States, its allies and a series of U.N. resolutions by launching a rocket on Sunday that it said propelled a satellite into space but that much of the world viewed as an effort to prove it is edging toward the capability to shoot a nuclear warhead on a longer-range missile.

Lee Jae-Won/Reuters
Protesters burned a mock missile to denounce North Korea's rocket launch near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on Sunday.

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The launching drew swift international condemnation and prompted the U.N. Security Council to convene an emergency meeting on Sunday in which the United States, Japan and South Korea vowed to penalize the North.
North Korea’s Eunha-2 rocket blasted off from its Musudan-ri launching site on its east coast at 11:20 a.m. local time on Sunday and successfully placed a satellite into orbit nine minutes later, said the North’s official news agency, KCNA.
But Lee Sang-hee, the defense minister of South Korea, told a parliamentary hearing that the rocket “appears to have failed to put a satellite into orbit.” Mr. Lee said that all of the rocket’s three stages appeared to have fallen into the sea. If the launching was successful, the third stage, which thrusts the satellite into orbit, should have remained in orbit, according to rocket experts.
Still, early reports from the Japanese prime minister’s office indicated that the rocket flew longer than any the North had tested before, with the first stage falling into the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, and the second stage into the Pacific.
North Korea claimed that its Kwangmyongsong-2, or “Lodestar-2,” named after the propaganda nickname of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, was in an orbit anywhere from 490 to 1,426 kilometers, or 304 to 886 miles, from the earth, circling once every 104 minutes. KCNA said the satellite was broadcasting “immortal revolutionary songs” about Mr. Kim and his late father, President Kim Il-sung.
North Korea made a similar claim in 1998 when it launched what it called a satellite but U.S. officials considered its Taepodong-1 missile. At the time, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said it found no satellite. This time too, the command said “no object entered orbit.”
But what may have mattered most to North Korea was simply demonstrating that it had the ability to launch a multistage rocket that could travel thousands of miles. President Barack Obama said the move threatened the security of nations “near and far.” U.S. officials believe that the rocket launched Sunday was designed for the North’s longest-range ballistic missile, Taepodong-2.
“After having built nuclear weapons, North Korea has now demonstrated that it is gaining a means to deliver them for a long distance with a fair amount of accuracy, as well as its ability to proliferate such technology,” said Yoo Ho-yeol, a North Korea expert at Korea University in Seoul.
After acquiring the fuel for six or more nuclear weapons during the Bush administration, North Korea in 2007 negotiated a halt of its main nuclear reactor in return for aid. North Korea’s rocket launching is widely seen as a bid to win attention from the Obama administration and start a new round of talks with its bargaining position strengthened.
“With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint and further isolated itself from the community of nations,” President Obama said Sunday.
South Korea vowed a “stern and resolute” response to the North’s “reckless act.” Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan said called it “an extremely provocative act and one that Japan cannot let go unchallenged.”
Britain, France and the European Union presidency all criticized North Korea for raising tensions and urged it to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.
The launching provides one of the first tests of Mr. Obama’s reaction to a provocation, on the weekend that he laid out for the first time, in a speech in Prague, his strategy to counter proliferation threats.
At Japan’s request, the U.N. Security Council approved an emergency session Sunday. But China, North Korea’s only remaining major ally, and Russia are likely to veto or water down any new sanctions against the North. Pyongyang has said new sanctions would compel it to quit international talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.
A more likely option for Washington is to push for a stricter enforcement of an earlier Security Council resolution, analysts said. The document, adopted following the North’s first nuclear test in 2006, bans the North from seeking nuclear and ballistic missile technology and calls for the international community to stop trading weapons and luxury goods with Pyongyang.
Former President George W. Bush pressed for similar sanctions after the North’s nuclear test, but those sanctions had little long-term effect.
China urged countries to “stay calm and exercise restraint.” Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Beijing, also called the rocket an “experimental communications satellite,” as Pyongyang claims.


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China urged countries to “stay calm and exercise restraint.” Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Beijing, also called the rocket an “experimental communications satellite,” as Pyongyang claims.
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Digitalglobe, via Associated Press
The satellite image above shows what Washington believed was a Taepodong-2 missile at a launching pad on North Korea’s northeastern coast.

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Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan of South Korea expressed disappointment in the launching, saying that the money spent to launch the rocket was enough to ease the North’s chronic food shortages, which have caused the deaths of thousands of North Koreans.
In Japan, where the buildup to the launching had caused intense national anxiety, the actual event was greeted almost with a sigh of relief.
While Washington signaled calm in the days leading to the launching, the Japanese response was unusually strong. To the embarrassment of the Japanese military, the country falsely reported twice that the missile had been launched.
Japan’s military had deployed interceptor missiles, including in central Tokyo. But after the missile seemed to sail harmlessly over the northern tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, the government issued only a verbal condemnation of the launching.
“This was the best-case scenario in this situation,” said Koji Murata, a professor of international relations at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
“Fortunately, there was no need for Japan or the United States to try to intercept the missile.”
The launching may also increase the rare calls here for Japan to develop its own nuclear arsenal, which would lessen its traditional dependence on Washington for defense.
“This missile will only feed the public’s frustration with North Korea,” Dr. Murata said.
South Korea had deployed a navy ship with missile-tracking radar near North Korea. The launching compels its military to strengthen its missile-defense capabilities, said Brig. Gen. Kim Jong-bae in a news briefing.
Stephen W. Bosworth, Mr. Obama’s special envoy on North Korea, said that while the United States would seek to punish the North for the test, it was also prepared to resume six-nation talks with North Korea to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons program.
“We must deal with North Korea as we find it, not as we would like it to be,” Mr. Bosworth said. “What is required is patience and perseverance.”
Western aerospace experts said the new North Korean rocket appeared to be fairly large, much bigger than the one Iran fired in February to launch a small satellite, and about the same size as China launched in 1970 in its space debut.
David C. Wright, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the North Korean rocket might be able to lift a small satellite of 100 kilograms, of 220 pounds, into an orbit some 400 kilometers high. If used as a ballistic missile, he added, the rocket might throw a warhead of 1,000 kilograms to a distance of some 6,000 kilometers, far enough to hit parts of Alaska.
Western analysts agree that North Korea’s missile launching is a military endeavor, despite its payload of an experimental communications satellite and its cocoon of North Korean propaganda. Starting with Sputnik in 1957, most of the world’s intercontinental ballistic missiles began life as satellite launchers.
Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, told reporters in March that “North Korea is attempting to demonstrate an ICBM capability through a space launch.”
While many analysts have looked at the launching through a military lens, some say another perspective involves political rivalries on the Korean Peninsula. For years, South Korea has been gearing up to fire a satellite into orbit and join the space club. Its spaceport of Oinarodo is nearly ready, but a launching scheduled for this month was delayed, giving North Korea an opening.
“They’re racing to beat the South Koreans,” said Tim Brown, a senior fellow at, a private group in Alexandria, Virginia.
Choe Sang-hun reported from Seoul, and David E. Sanger from London. William J. Broad contributed reporting from New York, and Martin Fackler from Tokyo.

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