Day: July 4, 2006

Look, up there in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… four North Korean missiles?!

UPDATE: news reports now suggest North Korea launched at least seven missiles. Why so many? The Glittering Eye is taking suggestions.

Top story on Reuters:

TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea launched up to four missiles on Wednesday, including a long-range Taepodong 2 that appeared to fail in flight, a U.S. official and media reports said.

A Pentagon official in Washington told Reuters two of the missiles launched by Stalinist and secretive North Korea appeared to have been small Scud-type models.

Experts say the Taepodong 2 is a multi-stage missile with a possible range of 3,500 km to 4,300 km, which could put parts of Alaska in range — the cause of U.S. concerns.

A State Department official in Washington told Reuters a long-range missile, believed to be a Taepodong 2, failed 40 seconds after it was launched.

The fact that the Taepodong 2 apparently failed is good news — not only for the obvious reasons, but because it preserves uncertainty about whether the US ABM system might actually work.

But here’s the problem: The US and Japan have made all sorts of dark threats about punitive action if North Korea went ahead with the launch. Now we have to step up to the plate or risk having had our bluff called.

Last week, Bush echoed earlier U.S. threats of a harsh response if North Korea went ahead with such a launch. Koizumi said Japan would “apply various pressures” but declined to give details.

[…..]

U.S. officials said earlier an air force complex protecting the nerve center of U.S. homeland defense at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado had been put on heightened alert amid persistent reports North Korea might test-fire a long-range missile.

On Monday, Pyongyang vowed to respond with an “annihilating” nuclear strike if attacked pre-emptively by the United States.

AP story here. BBC coverage here. The AFP’s headline deadpans the symbolism of the launch date: “North Korea launches at least three missiles on US holiday.”

Hope everyone is otherwise enjoying their holiday. I’m at home with strep throat. It does seem to be a week of developing crisis, doesn’t it? Mexico, Israel, Germany’s loss against Italy….

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One nation under (someone’s) God

In honor of Independence Day, a little game of “spot the performative contradiction.”

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Courtesy of the Washington Post, the VA’s response to Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart’s widow’s request that a brass plaque bearing the symbol of his Wiccan faith — a pentacle — be installed in the Veteran’s memorial Cemetary in Fernley, Nevada:

. . . applications from Wiccan groups and individuals to VA for use of the pentacle on grave markers have been pending for nine years, during which time the symbols of 11 other faiths have been approved.

Also:

The department has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths; about half of are versions of the Christian cross. It also allows the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and something that looks like an atomic symbol for atheists.

230 years later and we’re still trying to figure out what the disestablishment clause means. Happy Birthday, USA.

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Insurance

Because I worry that Haloscan may implode before blogger does, I feel compelled to preserve SteveG‘s comment on Patrick’s ode to his HDTV for digital posterity:

It may be a non-standard interpretation, but there are some scholars who consider “alienation from oneself as a species being” to be a mistranslation of “not getting decent reception on channel sechs oder acht.” Of course, Marx was writing back in the times when they had rabbit ears…

Happy independence day!

(I watched the fireworks via rabbit-ear powered NTSC)

(For five minutes)

(Then I played Katamari Damarcy)

(A Japanese game)

(About rolling everything in sight into a ball)

(There’s an ironic metaphor in their somewhere….)

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