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October 6, 2013

Wikinews interviews specialists on South Korea military parade

Wikinews interviews specialists on South Korea military parade

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

File photo of South Korean military troops.
Image: US Military.

On Tuesday, South Korea staged a huge military parade to mark its armed forces’ 65th anniversary in a display of long-range missiles considered a direct threat to North Korea. 11,000 troops and 190 different weapons systems were on display in the parade. Wikinews interviewed several specialists about the parade’s possible significance.

Interviewees

Wikinews interviewed:

  • Robert Kelly, Associate Professor of International Relations Pusan National University (PNU) in South Korea
  • Margaret Kosal, Assistant Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Gari Ledyard, Professor Emeritus of Korean Studies at Columbia University, New York
  • Sue Mi Terry, Senior Research Scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University in New York
  • Young-hae Chi, Instructor in Korean at the University of Oxford, England
  • Seungkwon You, Associate Teaching Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Missouri

Wikinews Q&A

File:Robert Kelly File Photo.JPG

File photo of interviewee Robert Kelly.
Image: Robert Kelly.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your job role?

Kelly: I am a Professor of International Relations at PNU.
Kosal: I am an Assistant Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, more commonly known as “Georgia Tech.” I also direct the Emerging Technology and Security Program and the Biological and Chemical Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Program.
Ledyard: I retired from my professorship at Columbia thirteen years ago; since then I’ve had no role. When I was active there since 1964, I taught Korean history and culture, emphasizing the traditional periods of Korea’s earlier history. In those years I wrote a few articles on contemporary political issues but my research has been almost all in Korea’s past.
Terry: I am a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute.
Chi: I have been teaching Korean studies at Oxford University. I am specialized in international relations of the Far East and particularly North Korean human rights and refugee issues. I worked as an analyst of security issues at the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul between 1983 and 1988 authoring a number of policy papers for the South Korean Government.
You: Associate Teaching Professor of Korean Studies teaching Korean Unification, Korean film, Korean society [at the University of Missouri].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is the display of cruise missiles and other weapons in a military parade by South Korea in direct response to repeated similar North Korean parades?

Kelly: Yes. I don’t actually think these sorts of demonstrations are proper in a democracy. Liberal states should not really be flashing their hardware in a strutting, provocative way like this. This is the sort of thing Putin would do. But SK’s [South Korea’s] case is rather exceptional. NK [North Korea] tries pretty regularly to bully SK, and as its nuclear and missile programs advance, SK deterrence become ever more important. So parades like this are a way of SK saying ‘don’t mess with us even though you have nukes.’

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye with United States President Barack Obama.
Image: White House.

Kosal: The “display” was multi-functional. It shows the modern, indigenous conventional military capabilities of the South Korean forces. It was also to credibly communicate — literally show to the North — possession of an adequate deterrent force, a force that is both capable and credible. The underlying capacity supports the newly announced bilateral tailored deterrence strategy between South Korea and the United States. The military parade served to transparently show, in a largely passive/non-offensive/non-reactionary way, the capacity to follow through on that strategy that is directed at North Korea’s offensive nuclear weapons, offensive chemical weapons, and offensive biological weapons programs rather than a more general deterrence strategy. There is much more to a tailored deterrence strategy, but that is one part of it. The specific declaratory policy highlights South Korea’s responsibility to “continue to build reliable inter-operable response capabilities and to develop the Korean Air and Missile Defense system.” These are largely passive defense measures to minimize the effects of a North Korean offensive attack and to reduce vulnerability of South Korean forces and civilians. It’s part of the overall strategic defense posture.
While not commonly observed in the US, parades like this are not atypical for East Asia, particularly in conjunction with significant anniversaries. In this case, the parade also marked the 65th anniversary of the Republic of Korea [South Korea] Armed Forces. In addition to the international visibility, it also serves South Korean domestic politics and advances South Korean President Park Geun-hye‘s own strong national security policies.
Ledyard: It could very well be, but I have no knowledge regarding it. It has long been routine for both Koreas to compete in the headlines.
Terry: President Park is trying to make it clear to the North that this time, under her watch, Seoul is now serious about responding to future provocations by the North. South Korea’s display of its missiles is meant to deter the North, to show the North that any provocation in the future would be met with strong retaliation.
Chi: The institution of the military parade has been a regular feature of the Armed Forces’ Day celebration in South Korea. Yet the display of the cruise missiles in the recent parade is designed to achieve specific purposes. One is obviously targeting at the North Korean regime as a warning for possible pre-emptive strikes on their conventional and nuclear missile sites. The other target is South Korean citizens who have been increasingly agitated about the possession of WMDs by its Northern counterpart and want to see some guarantee from their own government. Hence the parade is not only for displaying its military capabilities to its enemies but it is also playing a psychological game with its own people. Yet, Hyunmoo-3c, one of the cruise missiles displayed in the event, signals that the South Korean government’s perspective is no longer limited to the Korean peninsula. Hyunmoo-3c’s range of 1,500 km indicates that the Korean military oversees the entire Northeast Asian region as its strategic theatre. Such a wide strategic thinking is also behind the planned construction of the naval base in Jeju Island.
You: Not direct response. However, this parade has not been done for many years and resumed this year indicating [the] Park government would not tolerate any hostile action by North Korea.

File photo of interviewee Young-hae Chi.
Image: Young-hae Chi.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png South Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, has warned of a “very grave” threat posed by North Korea. Would a military parade like this be more likely to encourage hostile behaviour?

Kelly: Not really, because NK already engages in so much hostile behavior it is hard to know how much more restraint SK show. My own sense is that SK demonstrates remarkable forbearance in the face of NK threats. If one thinks of how, e.g., the US or Israel would respond to such threats, SK looks downright gentle. So SK needs to signal both that it does not seek escalation, but also that it cannot be bullied. It’s a tough balancing act, and this parade is to send that second message.
Kosal: Not necessarily. North Korean behavior is difficult to predict with any fidelity. The military parade, while it shows potential capacity, is a fundamentally passive (rather than active or reactive) form of behavior. Reinforces a consistent posture by the South Koreans and the US.
Ledyard: There is a sixty-year history of such back-and-forth with an impressive absence of active military conflict. It’s tit for tat, and both sides either maintain the balance or one or the other loses face. It would take much more than a parade for actual conflict to erupt.
Terry: No, not in the long run although this kind of a military parade might provoke temporary, short-term hostile behavior by the North. The North has never been ideological or suicidal. Its chief goal always has been regime survival. It knows if a war were to break out, it will definitively lose to South Korea.
Chi: The South Korean government has been implementing military parades since 1956, and as such it is unlikely to encourage or discourage hostile behaviour.
You: Could be. North Korea already criticized [the] Park government about the recent parade and very bold move by the Park Government in negotiating family reunion and resuming of Diamond Mountains. However, I do not believe that North Korea will take any hostile action since the US Secretary of State, Kerry, is proposing North Korea a peaceful dialogue.

File photo of interviewee Margaret Kosal.
Image: Margaret Kosal.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Does the presence of US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to this military parade show a further strengthening in the US–South Korea alliance?

Kelly: It does, but the Secretary’s presence is more for the optics than substance. The US–Korean alliance was substantially strengthened about 4 years ago by the previous SK president. This is just a refresher that looks good on TV.
Kosal: Secretary of Defense Hagel’s presence, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, shows the commitment of the United States to support its ally. The United States remains committed to the transfer of operational control (OPCON) to the South Koreans for general defense of South Korea. The US is also strongly committed to limiting proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Their presence reinforces that to the North Koreans as well as to the international community.
Ledyard: It is simple routine in the USA–ROK alliance. South Koreans depend on it and the US takes care to show support.
Terry: Yes, it further showcases the depth of Washington‘s support for South Korea against any provocation from Pyongyang.
Chi: Certainly he is there to add symbolic strength to the alliance which tended to be weakened until recently. Behind his presence is the recent agreement to reconsider the planed transfer of the war-time operation control from the UN/US to the Korean army.
You: US–South Korea alliance is strong but it is a bit more complicated since [the] US is supporting Japan in arming in naval forces to check China, which is a great concern for South Korea and [the] South Korean people. This might cause some issues in US–South Korea alliance.

File photo of interviewee Gari Ledyard.
Image: Gari Ledyard.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png North Korea’s rhetoric vows the repeated bolstering of its nuclear arsenal to what it calls US military threats. Do you think a military parade of this type backed by the US is likely to influence further hostility?

Kelly: No, because NK must be permanently hostile toward the US and SK anyway. NK has no reason to exist as a separate, poorer Korean state, just as the GDR [East Germany] had no post-cold war reason to exist, unless SK and the US can be regularly described as the enemy. So NK doesn’t want a war, but they certainly don’t want a warm peace, as then NK then loses its raison d’etre.
Kosal: No, North Korea and its leadership are responsible for its choices, which are the primary source of instability on the Korean peninsula with potential regional effects.
Ledyard: The “military threats” are more a reflection of North Korea’s fears than any concrete threats. They are more for internal DPRK [North Korea] efforts to keep its own population in tune with government policies.
Terry: No. I think it’s important to remember Pyongyang’s periodic provocations and its pursuit of nuclear arsenal are not reactions or self-defense measures against a threatening Seoul or Washington. Incapable of competing with economically flourishing South Korea, the North relies on bolstering its nuclear arsenal and on military and political brinkmanship to make up ground.
Chi: The two Koreas do the military parade almost routinely. South Korea will have a similar parade again when there is a new government in five years. It is unlikely the kind of parade to influence further hostility.
You: No, this is just symbolic. As a matter of fact, North Korea is very anxious to escape from the current gridlock and [the] US and South Korea do not give them plenty of reasons to go to the negotiating table.

File photo of interviewee Sue Mi Terry.
Image: Sue Mi Terry.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think it is likely that North and South Korea may at some point in the near future be engaged in direct military action with each other?

Kelly: Minor skirmishes are possible, indeed likely, given the border confusion in the Yellow Sea. But a major conflict is highly unlikely, no matter what bluster comes from NK. The NKs would lose such a war, decisively in fact, and the NK elite would face the hangman in the South afterward. NK is much too far behind to win. So full-scale conflict is very unlikely.
Kosal: I hope not.
Ledyard: No. A year or two ago there was a naval incident that occurred in the West Sea, but both sides separated quickly, although the North shelled an island claimed by both the DPRK and the ROK. Neither side has anything to gain from any such incident.
Terry: The North’s latest tactic — to return to diplomacy after provoking Seoul and Washington earlier this year — does not mean that the North has abandoned its timeworn brinkmanship strategy nor that it has shifted its nuclear policy. The North is likely to pursue more aggressive action down the road, attempting to ratchet up another sense of crisis, if it determines that its current peace ploy is not getting the concessions it seeks from Seoul. But while the North may provoke Seoul again with border skirmishes, or another missile or nuclear test, I think it will avoid direct military action with Seoul that will escalate to an all-out conflict. Again, Pyongyang will not risk outright hostilities that will lead to an all-out war.
Chi: You can never exclude possible exchanges of military actions within a limited range. At the time of North Korean attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November 2011, the South Korean Government made an official pledge to retaliate against any future military actions by North Korea. The government will face grave political consequences if it fails to live up to its own words. There is always a possibility of direct military actions but they will be more or less contained to a local level.
You: No, I would not think so. North Korea is more desperate to engage in a dialogue with South Korea and [the] US but they look for justification to go to the table. However, [the] Park government and US would not be simply welcoming them to the negotiating table. When they negotiate, they would be not generous or lenient to take all the North Korean offers.

A KPAF Ilyushin Il-76MD strategic airlifter in the mid-2000s, in Air Koryo markings.
Image: Regis Sibille.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png This parade has been described as an Anti-North deterrence, do you think this will act as such?

Kelly: Yes. NK is moving more rapidly toward nuclearization and missilization than many had expected. NK pretty clearly has no intention of de-nuclearizing. That is simply not going to happen no matter how many SK and US political figures demand it. So now, SK must show that it can keep up and match, if not outrace, the NKs. This is why there is so much focus now on SK missile and BMD capabilities.
Kosal: Yes.
Ledyard: Again, nearly sixty years of history supports the view that neither side has any interest in actual military conflict.
Terry: To some degree, yes. It’s good to remind the North of Seoul’s capabilities, although as I said before, Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather before him, already knows any all-out conflict would result in the destruction of his regime.
Chi: South Korea’s possession of cruise missiles and other advanced technology such as drones had been an open secret. There is nothing new about this parade, hence little deterrence effect added to the existing military posture.
You: No, it would not act as such. Rather, it has domestic purpose to draw [the] South Korean public to concern more about South Korean military and national security in general. For the past decade, [the] South Korean public have been very critical of the role of military in society. Certainly, the Park government wants to rectify it.



Sources

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April 15, 2013

Nuclear weapons protest at Faslane leads to 47 arrests

Nuclear weapons protest at Faslane leads to 47 arrests

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Monday, April 15, 2013

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250 protesters gathered today at the Faslane Naval base in Scotland to call for the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons programme to be scrapped. A number of protestors chained themselves to the gates of the base and were cut free by Police Scotland officers. Around 47 people were arrested including the Green Party Edinburgh councillor Chas Booth.

HMS Vanguard at HMNB Clyde, Faslane
Image: Tam McDonald.

The protest was organised by the Scrap Trident Coalition, which is campaigning to persuade the UK Government to scrap the Trident programme. The Scrap Trident Coalition claims that the estimated £100 billion (US$152.8 billion) to be spent over the next 50 years should be diverted to fund what the coalition defines as human needs including welfare, pensions, disability benefits, and green jobs. The protest was attended by a number of different organisations including Scottish Green Party MSP Patrick Harvie, and the Chair of the UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Dave Webb, as well as activists from the Stop the War Coalition.

This follows a demonstration by around 2000 people on Saturday at George Square in Glasgow, and comes during three days of protests organised by Scrap Trident in Scotland. The action is also associated with as many as 100 other protests around the world as part of a “Global Day of Action on Military Spending”.

Faslane in Scotland is the home of Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde which provides support to the British Navy fleet of nuclear submarines which carry the Trident nuclear missile system. The UK Government is due to make a decision on the renewal of the UK Trident programme in 2016.



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December 12, 2012

North Korea successfully launches long range rocket

North Korea successfully launches long range rocket

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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  • 6 October 2013: Wikinews interviews specialists on South Korea military parade
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North Korea has successfully launched a long range rocket. The launch occurred at 9:51 a.m. local time according to South Korea‘s Yonhap news agency, two days after the country said it might delay the launch until as late as December 29 to repair a “technical deficiency” in the rocket.

“The rocket stages fell on areas in line with its earlier announcement and the launch appears to be successful,” said a South Korean military official as quoted by Yonhap. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also confirmed the successful launch in a statement saying, “Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea. Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.” Pieces of the rocket stages reportedly fell into the sea near the coast of the Philippines.

North Korea says the Unha-3 rocket carried a Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 weather satellite which was successfully placed into orbit. “The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday. The satellite entered its preset orbit,” said the North Korean government in a statement via the Korean Central News Agency.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a Republican congresswoman representing Florida, condemned the launch saying it’s an example that North Korea is “moving ever closer towards its ultimate goal of producing a nuclear ballistic missile”.

This is the second long range rocket North Korea fired this year. In April, the country failed at an attempt to launch a multistage rocket into orbit in honor of the anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday. The government publicly acknowledged its rocket broke up in flight over ocean waters before ever making it into orbit.



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May 20, 2012

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

John Wolfe.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Wolfe, an attorney based out of Chattanooga, announced his intentions last year to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. So far, he has appeared on the primary ballots in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Louisiana. In Louisiana, he had his strongest showing, winning 12 percent overall with over 15 percent in some congressional districts, qualifying him for Democratic National Convention delegates. However, because certain paperwork had not been filed, the party stripped Wolfe of the delegates. Wolfe says he will sue the party to receive them.

Wolfe will compete for additional delegates at the May 22 Arkansas primary and the May 29 Texas primary. He is the only challenger to Obama in Arkansas, where a May 10 Hendrix College poll of Democrats shows him with 38 percent support, just short of the 45 percent for Obama. Such an outing would top the margin of Texas prison inmate Keith Russell Judd, who finished 18 percent behind Obama with 41 percent in the West Virginia Democratic primary; the strongest showing yet against the incumbent president. Despite these prospects, the Democratic Party of Arkansas has already announced that if Wolfe wins any delegates in their primary, again, due to paperwork, the delegates will not be awarded. Wolfe will appear on the Texas ballot alongside Obama, activist Bob Ely, and historian Darcy Richardson, who ended his campaign last month.

Wolfe has previously run for U.S. Congress as the Democratic Party’s nominee. On his campaign website, he cites the influence “of the Pentagon, Wall Street, and corporations” on the Obama administration as a reason for his challenge, believing these negatively affect “loyal Americans, taxpayers and small businesses.” Wolfe calls for the usage of anti-trust laws to break up large banks, higher taxes on Wall Street, the creation of an “alternative federal reserve” to assist community banks, and the implementation of a single-payer health care system.

With Wikinews, Wolfe discusses his campaign, the presidency of Barack Obama, corporations, energy, the federal budget, immigration, and the nuclear situation in Iran among other issues.

Campaign

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is the status of your lawsuit concerning Louisiana delegates?

John Wolfe: Yeah. We’re still going to file it. I mean the convention is not until September. Now it’s May. So we got what, four months until the convention starts? And all we’re going to ask for relief is to get awarded the delegates.
So yeah we’re getting it ready. We have other campaigning to do. And I’m a lawyer so I’ll be able to do the suit right. But it does take time and energy. It will be filed. I hope to file it Monday [May 14].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat court will it be filed in?

Wolfe: It’s going to be filed in Baton Rouge federal court. That’s where the jurisdiction is.

Louisiana Democratic primary by parish. President Obama won the parishes in black while Wolfe won the parishes in red.
Image: William S. Saturn.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf you qualify for delegates in Arkansas and Texas, in light of what happened in Louisiana, what will you do to avoid having those delegates stripped?

Wolfe: Well, I don’t think we’ll have the same problems in those states. The Louisiana people basically are perpetrating a fraud on the vote. The Democratic Party put me up there. It was a primary. They didn’t have to have a primary. There was a new law saying the Democratic primary was mandatory. It’s a party function. They put me on their ballot. They accepted my money. And then, after that, what they did was have an election, and 17 percent of the people, and this was the Democratic Primary, this wasn’t an open primary, this was just among registered Democratic voters, and I still got 11 or 12 percent. The other guys, there were two other people, together got ten percent: Mr. Ely and Mr. Richardson.
And then despite all that, despite Obama only taking three quarters, the Democratic Party decided to avert, quite flagrantly, the will of the people and assign all the delegates to Mr. Obama, even though their bylaws, the rules themselves say that the results of the primary are binding. Preferential presidential primary results are binding. They forsook their own law in order to make it look like there was unanimous support for Obama. They want a coronation for him instead of just a nomination. They’re treating him again like a king. Who does he think he is? I mean this is ridiculous.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou mentioned open primaries, and Texas and Arkansas have open primaries.

Wolfe: Yeah pretty much open primaries. Arkansas definitely and Texas is unless you’re part of the GOP leadership, then you can’t vote in a Democratic primary. But it’s pretty much open and I think that we’ll do fine in both states.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngSo how do you feel about Republican voters that have no interest in their own primary and so vote for you in the Democratic primary to embarrass Obama?

Wolfe: Well there’s been no proof yet that that’s happened. People say it will happen. But I mean, Republicans have their own races. And so if they were to vote in the Democratic primary, they would forego the right to vote for local and not only just federal candidates that are Republican, but also local people, because your local primaries in Arkansas are held the same time as the congressional. So they would have to basically decide to not vote for anyone they know or like and switch over, just for the purpose of voting against Obama. Now whether that’s going to happen or not, I don’t know. We can talk about that after the primary to see if it did happen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell that might have happened in West Virginia, where there was more voters that participated in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary. So what is your reaction to the showing of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd in that primary?

Cquote1.svg [The American people] may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that [President Obama’s] not on their side. And they’re right. Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well it shows that Obama’s left a void. His lack of leadership has left a void and people are upset. He should be out there with the people. He should be in those coal mines. He should be in those towns, where those factories have left, and he ought to be out there with the homeowners who’ve been foreclosed on by his campaign contributors. People know this man is nothing but a Wall Street creature. They know that his advisers in the White House are all failed executives of failed banks that have been bailed out: people like Emil [Michael], people like [Jacob] Lew, [William] Daley, they’re all from the big six: the big corporations we had to bail out. Yes. What did they get for their failures? Promoted to the White House. People know that. Most of the guys who are raising his campaign money. They’re sick of it. And that’s why people in West Virginia, and lot of the blue collar people don’t like Obama. It’s his own fault because he is not of the people. He is of Wall Street. People are finally starting to see that.
John Wolfe isn’t [of Wall Street]. John Wolfe worked his way up through. I’ve worked in factories. I’ve worked in grocery stores. I almost cut my thumb off doing agricultural work. When I went to college, I didn’t have any transportation. I had to hitchhike up and down I75 to get an education. So I know what it’s like to work in the real world. I know what it’s like to have to strive hard to get ahead. But Obama doesn’t relate to those people. He’s too professorial. He’s too detached. He is of Wall Street. Those are the people he pals around with: Bob Wolf that Swiss banker is his favorite guy. The guy that loves speculation on Wall Street. He gets paid billions and billions of dollars for failed banks to get back up. Him and Obama are like twins. I mean you see Bob Wolf, you see Obama. I mean, this is the sort of thing people sense. They may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that he’s not on their side. And they’re right.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you feel about the support you received from the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard?

Wolfe: Well, Mr. Kristol can publish whatever he wants to. It sure surprised me. But Mr. Kristol is a very keen observer. I don’t always agree with him on what he writes, but he is one of the most articulate spokesmen in American politics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn the interview you had with The Weekly Standard, you said that you are the only Democratic challenger to Obama that is actively campaigning. What kind of activities do you take part in for the campaign?

Wolfe: Well, what we do is we call people. We make sure we get our message out. We’re on the radio every now and then and we haven’t bought any TV or radio ads yet; they’re a little bit too expensive, but we’re going to try to, here toward the end, to get on the radio to get our message out in a more conventional way. And we have recently bought some inserts, things like that, for the newspaper. And gotten our message out to some of the people in Arkansas. It’s a very expensive thing.
This campaign has been something I’ve wanted to do, but I’ve had to make a lot of personal sacrifices to do it.

Challenging the incumbent

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI mentioned that interview you had with The Weekly Standard. During that interview, you said that you opposed same-sex marriage even though you backed the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. Might this hurt you with Democrats looking for a progressive alternative to Barack Obama?

Wolfe: Yeah my record on so much of the issue, on gay rights, I mean I have a good record on it. In 1979 in Memphis when I was part of the student government, I was the adviser and also the so-called attorney general, I mean, there were issues that came up on the campus where they wanted to ban gay meetings. This was back in ’79. I stood up there in 1979 and told the people they were wrong for doing it. In 2010, before the most conservative audience ever in Cleveland, Tennessee, this is on video tape, I said, no, let’s get rid of don’t ask, don’t tell, it’s not right. If someone wants to serve their country, they should. You only want heterosexuals to spill blood for the country? Don’t you think the sacrifice ought to be equally borne? I came out against don’t ask, don’t tell before anybody else around this section of the country. I don’t think it was right then, and I don’t think it’s right now.

Wolfe speaks at a Congressional candidates forum in 2010.
Image: millermz.

I am for equality. I just have a little bit of a hard time with accepting gay marriage. I got to look into it a little bit more and see what the ramifications of it are. But I think that the idea of hate crimes and longer sentences for hate crimes is a good idea because people do commit those. They don’t just commit it against the individual. They will tend to be recidivist because they don’t just hate an individual, they hate the whole group. And when they do that, of course you have longer sentences because that means their rate of doing it again is going to be higher than somebody that just commits an individual crime against an individual. They’re going against the whole race. The same thing would be true for somebody that wanted to beat up Jewish people, or they wanted to assault Catholics, or whoever. Sure there should be more time. There should be a special classification for hate crimes. I think the idea of no discrimination by the federal government in hiring based on sexual orientation is the right kind of law to make. I think there should be equality.
If you look at what Obama said, it wasn’t even progressive. All he said was this is my personal statement. He didn’t say that North Carolina was wrong [for passing a ban on same-sex marriage]. You have to read the tealeaves when this guy talks. All the guy said was I think that gay marriage is fine with me personally. He didn’t say that we’re going to make a federal law that makes it incumbent upon the states not to outlaw it. He didn’t do that. He’s fine with those kind of laws. He’s not going to go out there and do any more than say what he said. So he didn’t give us an agenda like: are you going to go ahead and have it where you’re going to have a situation, are you going to allow homosexual or same-sex couples to go ahead and have tax deductions? Are you going to allow them to have the same kind of income tax return as a traditional family? He didn’t go through all that. He just made a general statement. Now he’s off the floor as some kind of Caesar; someone vindicating the rights of gay people. His statement was very vague. It’s just very Obama-like. He didn’t really commit to anything. He just said that was his personal opinion.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell, personally, do you believe it is a federal or state issue?

Wolfe: I think it’s a state issue. But I think it’s something that I need to study more because I’m a person really that tries to get beyond identity politics. I’m interested mostly in three things. My interests are: number one, the economy. You get people back to work, then we can quite fighting each other on these social issues. Some of these social issues are accented because there’s a lot of unrest with the economy. We need to worry about three things I think: getting the economy back right, getting out of these commitments like Afghanistan and dictators abroad, we need to get out of that, then we need to protect our civil liberties at home. Those are the three main things that John Wolfe has on his agenda. So I think those are the most important.
The economy is the most important. And I think the economy can’t be reformed until you reform the bank. You noticed yesterday [May 11], JP Morgan lost two billion dollars because they’re pouring billions of dollars into all this speculation, and some of the credit default swaps and derivatives. Well guess what? We’re underwriting that. That’s casino capitalism. I’ve been talking about this all last year and all this year about how bad that’s getting. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. That’s just JP Morgan. We don’t know what the next bank is going to report. We got to underwrite all that. See, Obama’s never made an effort really to separate that out because he’s so ensconced in Wall Street money, and so persuaded by Wall Street advisers right there in the oval office. He won’t even go back to traditional banking to make these people separate casino capitalism from traditional banking. He hasn’t done it. As long as he doesn’t, we’re going to have to underwrite these things. We’re going to have to keep bailing them out, bailing them out, bailing them out. We shouldn’t have to do that. Obama ought to do something about that. People want that done, but he can’t do. He’s handcuffed because he’s afraid of Wall Street.
I would go in there and do just the opposite. I would make sure that was separated. People set their own index. Make it open. Right now these things are traded secretly. Put it out there just like any other stock exchange, and make sure that when people bet money that they got the resources to cover it one way or the other. I mean, you don’t let people go to Las Vegas with two dollars and make a ten dollar bet. We shouldn’t let these people do it either, especially when where we’re guaranteeing it. But Obama is and the man is weakening for Wall Street.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngDo you believe Obama has done any good things as president?

Cquote1.svg If [Obama] would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well, I think it was good doing away with don’t ask, don’t tell. I think the stimulus was a good start but it wasn’t very effective because it wasn’t enough. He’s been too cautious about a lot of things. He tried to increase the taxes on the very well-to-do. The top one fifth own 94 percent of financial wealth in this country. They were saved by the bailouts. They made money when the stock market went down to six thousand so they could invest low… People like that who were saved and benefited by these trillion dollar bailouts should be the ones paying higher tax rates now, but Obama hasn’t emphasized that point. He has not instructed people. He isn’t going out there and telling people the stuff I’m telling you. If he would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view. People get back to work and people make money and people are empowered then businesses make more money too.
It’s not like we want to nationalize resources and take away private capital. We just want to work with feet. The end of the economy is the betterment of the people and not just the accumulation of capital and casino capitalism. It’s not that. You know it’s the betterment of people. Capitalism is a means to an end. It’s not the ends itself. Human needs are not cyclical. Economic cycles of the economy can be cyclical, but that’s why you have to have fair taxes, an interventionist government to make sure that society works for the people and Obama’s not doing that. The man has failed.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWill you support him during the November election or somebody else?

Wolfe: Well, if he says he’ll support me if I win, then I might reciprocate. I think we’ll just have to look at it and see how far and wide he appeals. But I certainly would expect to. I certainly would like to. Sure.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngBut if it was a choice between him and [Mitt] Romney, who would you favor?

Wolfe: Well if it came down to those two, I would just have to see where they are. I expect to support the president, but to me, there’s not a lot of difference between him and Romney on the economy and there’s not that much difference between him and Romney on foreign affairs. There’s not that much difference between him and Romney on civil liberties. The differences are a lot narrower than people think and they mostly arise in areas again of identity politics. It seems to me like Romney is wanting to repeal abortion rights. He even wants to cut back on birth control. It seems to me that he wants us to get involved in even more wars. He wants to actually to increase military spending by 20 percent. His foreign policy advisers are interventionists. They’re neo-cons. They’re dangerous people, who don’t even see Iraq as a mistake, who would like to get us involved even more deeply in areas like Syria and North Korea, places like that. Romney alarms me a lot more than Obama does in that area. I think Romney would probably give too many tax cuts to the well-to-do, the ones that are already very wealthy. I think that Obama would at least put an end to that. I don’t think he pushed quite that hard for a tax increase, but I don’t think he’d even fight for tax reductions either.

Corporate taxes as a proportion of GDP has decreased since the 1950s.
Image: Guest2625.

Corporations and things are very powerful. The one message Obama has failed to get out is that the corporate tax rate in this country may be 35 percent on paper, see the effective tax rate that these corporations pay, if you just look at the average of what the Fortune 500 pay it’s only 16 percent. So that’s the way it really works because you got lobbyists in Washington that write the accounting rules, that write the tax rules and everything, so the 35 percent thing is just a mirage. All it’s done is whip up … to make people think we’re non-competitive because we have a higher rater on paper than people like Japan or Germany or maybe some like Mexico or some third world country. Right now if you look at the corporate tax collective, they make up the lowest percentage of GDP than ever. I think we’ve paid $200 billion on a $15 trillion economy. So you’re talking about maybe one and a half percent. Under [President Dwight] Eisenhower, the federal tax was collected and corporations made up about 25 percent of the budget receipts. Now they make up maybe nine percent, and corporations now are 15 times as big and powerful as they were under Eisenhower. So the corporation is … they want to make people look like they’re victims. I mean it’s just pathetic.
And the misinformation gets out there. It gets out there because of Fox News, but it also gets out there because Obama doesn’t educate the people and if people knew that, he could change public opinion if he would just educate them to that. But he doesn’t do it because he’s too timid. His whole life has been one where he reaches consensus until he gets along. He goes along and gets along. He’s never had to take a hard stance or anything like that. And that may be why he got elected. It could be that the American people would have rejected him if he’d been an assertive African American man who took hard stances on hard issues, and was very dogmatic. And I think that’s unfortunate because some of a lot America might react that way.

Policy

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s get into policy a little more. How can high energy costs be reduced?

Wolfe: Well, the only way to do that is you’re going to have to try to find alternate sources of energy. You’ve got to make cars that are more fuel efficient. You have to have homes that heat better, that are better insulated. You have to get people to do the things that [President] Jimmy Carter told us to do 35 years ago. If people started doing that more, it would be a lot better. Now we’ve already cut down on some of our energy consumption, but we definitely need to do it more. I think that it’s a shame that gasoline costs as much as it does and it’s a shame that the oil companies have as much power as they do. It’s a shame that Exxon made like 10 billion dollars in one quarter. That’s just really pathetic, and they have all the power, all the tax breaks, all the lobbyists, all the political pull. They’re growing bigger and bigger at our expense.

President Jimmy Carter, pictured in 1980, remarked during a 1977 speech on energy policy that “we must prepare quickly for…strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.” He listed ten principles for a “national energy plan”.
Image: Marion S. Trikosko.

One way to do it too would be to cut down. I think there needs to be some sort of, on the energy futures and things like that, they need to really be careful that people aren’t allowed to run up the price of oil through speculation like they did during 2008. There just wasn’t that much going on in the economy at that time. We were sort of having the onset of a recession and the energy demand worldwide was falling in 2008, yet the price of a barrel of oil went in March of 2008 to $48.00 to about $147.00 at the end of July. So that sort of thing needs to be investigated and any sort of speculative activities that gives rise to that needs to be regulated. I mean, there was no reason for it to triple like that.
And I think also what we need to do is is that we need to ask the oil companies why it is that they’re always a little bit short. It could be that they don’t refine things like they should. They always make it to where the demand is a little bit more than supply just to keep that extra pressure on oil. That needs to be investigated too. That needs to be more tightly regulated because energy is like money. The banks are the same way, energy’s no different. One’s the veins of the economy and one’s the arteries of the economy. And both those things need more federal oversight. They make plenty of profit, no one’s talking about taking them over. But they need to be regulated. And these artificial shortages and things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. You can’t do that. What they got is basically a monopoly. All this would be doing is just like regulating phone companies. There can only be a few people who do it. There’s not going to be that much competition. We know that. So they actually, when a sector of the economy basically is in oligopolistic or monopolistic hands, that the government’s got a right to step in and regulate on behalf of the people, because the more money that goes into energy unnecessarily, just like interest at the bank and things like that, then that hurts other parts of the economy. That means people have less money to spend at Wal-Mart. They have less money to buy furniture. They have less money to buy other goods.
Same with healthcare, that’s why you have to regulate that. It’s somewhat of a monopoly as well considering that the health care industry, the insurance companies don’t have to compete. By law, they’ve been exempt from competition for about 50 or 60 years, which really hasn’t worked out too well. I mean what we have to pay equals six or eight percent of GDP, which is twice what they have to pay in Germany in relation to their GDP. You know Germany out-exports the United States, a country of 70 million, because they don’t have to factor all these health care costs for their products. Health care should be something that is individual and not related to the work. It should be paid for through the taxes. People should be afforded so much health care costs, so many health care costs, like take for instance in Germany, exports go up, prices on exports get more competitive, trade deficit narrows and people have more work because you have more exports.
The United States is hurt. We’re the only one of our competitors that doesn’t have some form of a single payer that controls costs and gives people a choice of doctors. As a result, that has to be built in to the cost of the product and that makes us less competitive, makes the trade balance larger. Germany, again, a nation of 70 million, actual gross dollars, not per capita, gross dollars or Euros, out-exports the United States of America, which has four and a half times the people of Germany, and that’s pathetic.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngOn your campaign website, you propose a reinstatement of the Glass–Steagall Act and creation of an alternative Federal Reserve. These require cooperation with Congress. How can a president work with a hostile congress to accomplish these goals?

Wolfe: Well, we still have money left. The president has a lot of authority. He has an army and things like that. He has the federal reserve and things like he’s been giving to European banks, distributed to other countries. We were told. We didn’t find out about until I guess six or seven months ago just how broad the money was and the way the Federal Reserve chose to prioritize and things like that. So, why not give some of that to the community? If you’re gonna give Bank of America that uses this money to speculate an interest rate of one third of one percent, then why aren’t these community banks down here working with people to do real things, why aren’t they getting money instead? They should be.
Cquote1.svg I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country Cquote2.svg
And that’s why I’m talking about there needs to be an alternative, when I say alternative federal reserve, a better way of putting would be the federal reserve needs to reform. That’s the alternative that I would push for. Because we have a lot of people here that don’t work. These small towns have really been hurt by NAFTA. A lot of factories have closed. A lot of people don’t have anything to do. A lot of people have turned to drugs. I mean you got a lot of crystal meth problems in the school. I’m for enforcing the law and everything and the individual responsibility, however, we didn’t have those sorts of problems at the scale we have now, when we had people in factories where people could work, and we had employment opportunities for those with just a high school education. Now we don’t have so much of that anymore. The economy basically has changed. It’s now financial. Forty percent of the profits in this country now are made by the financial sector. It used to be different. Factories used to make more. Service industries used to make more of the national profits. But now it’s the finance. The finance doesn’t require so many people to do it. That’s why the finance is basically based on computer trade, automated means, so human beings are superfluous. Especially because its machines in factories and things that are so efficient. So a lot of things are run by robots.
So we need to have work for people and to do that we have to keep capital in the community and we can’t do that if we’re going to continue to underwrite the speculation. If we’re going to use what capital we have to underwrite the speculation right at big banks. I’m talking about JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. I’m talking about Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Everyone of those require billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, maybe even more. They got some bailouts from Federal Reserve money … and what do they do, they hurt the economy. To cover their own losses and stupidity, they take that money at one third of one percent, and turn around and sponsor credit cards, usually with 16 to 24 percent interest rates. I mean, that’s backed up by the government, we’re actually paying the banks to give us. I mean it’s crazy and I don’t understand why we’re doing that. And we need a president, again this is not Rocket Science, you can spell this out with a chart. I mean, I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country. We’d have a whole new atmosphere. And that’s what I’d do if elected. I’d make people see what’s going on, open their eyes a little bit. The president doesn’t lead people. Without presidential leadership, the people will flounder.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngAt this point, do you believe that the federal budget can be balanced?

Wolfe: No I don’t think it can right now. I think that if you cut spending marginally right now, all you’d do is send the economy into a recession. You eventually got to work toward a balance, but that has to be based on economic growth and not just taking away people’s entitlements. People have paid for their Social Security. People have paid for their Medicare. That’s not welfare. It’s not even an entitlement. What it is is a repayment. People who’ve paid into Social Security, their money goes and they buy bonds, just like foreign creditors buying treasury bonds. They get paid back on principle and interest over time the government guarantees it. It’s no different for Social Security recipients. So they’re just like any other debtor or any other creditor. They’re paid money that they’re dued. We bought our Social Security, it’s not welfare, it’s not even an entitlement, it’s a repayment.

Wolfe sifts through his papers during the December 2011 Lesser-known candidates forum.
Image: Marc Nozell.

So people that try to classify that as some sort of welfare that’s exploding the budget is just disingenuous, especially when you figure the fact that Social Security surplus is just on book. It’s on budget, so therefore, the surplus works to actually reduce the deficit and therefore brings borrowing costs for the government down. So, Social Security has had a very good impact all the way around, and it’s something that’s actually worked to keep people out of poverty. Now, I mean ten percent of the people are in poverty, if we didn’t have social security, 40 percent of the older people would be in poverty. But the Republicans want to undo what works well. Not just the Republicans necessarily, but Blue Dog Democrats and the business class, the elite want to undo what works well for the people, which is Social Security, and they want to keep a failed healthcare system that’s uncompetitive in the world economy. I mean it’s amazing the upside perspective these people have.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your views on immigration?

Wolfe: Well I think we need a guest worker program and let’s do it. I mean right now we got crops ripening in the field and in Alabama and Georgia, people not there to harvest. Let the Mexicans come in, or the people from down below, the southern, Latin American folks who want to come to the United States. Let them come in and work under a guest worker program just like [former] President [George W.] Bush, [Senator John] McCain, and Obama always wanted to do. Then when the harvest is over they can go back home with their money and help their families. That’s the way it should work.
We do need agricultural workers, and I think we need workers in the domestic area, and there’s other places where the illegal immigrants are needed as well in restaurant work, hotel work, and some type of domestic work, because they’ve done a lot of the work that Americans wouldn’t do. But we do have to keep tabs on it and the guest worker program is the best way to do it. And I think if you are worried about the factories, and the construction jobs that may be going to illegals, then the easiest way to remedy that and the parties won’t do it because they’re both too deep in the Chamber of Commerce money, but all you have to do is to give the businesses that play by the rules the right to sue the ones that don’t under the series of unfair uncompetitive practices under the FTC rules. If you would just give the affected businesses, standing to sue, which I don’t think they have right now, then the whole thing would end. But they won’t do that. It would be the surest way to solve the problem.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI have one final question. It’s on foreign policy. How can the president deal with the nuclear situation in Iran?

Wolfe: Well, the best thing to do is not to panic. We have a lot of nuclear superiority. Iran is at a stage right now where I think they’ve only enriched up to the level of 20. There’s no proof that they have a nuclear weapon. There’s no proof even according to our generals that they have a nuclear weapons program right now or the intent to build one. You just listen to what people say, the generals and stuff, and even the Israeli generals, the ones that have retired from the Israeli intelligence, some of their retired military persons don’t think a strike would be good. I don’t think it would be either. I mean you’d just radicalize a country of 70 million people. We should have diplomatic relations with Iran. We need to restore those. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have an ambassador here.
We need to open a dialogue with Iran. We did that with Russia. We did it with China. When Russia was a nuclear power, the Soviet Union, we had a hotline between [U.S. President John] Kennedy and [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev and then between every American president and Soviet premier after that. No reason we shouldn’t do it here with Iran. They have 79 million people. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have their ambassador in Washington. We need to keep the lines of communication open. Just talking doesn’t calibrate anyone’s philosophy but it does us give an opportunity to see what’s going on. It opens things up a little bit and maybe we can learn more by having a channel than just turning the whole CV on them.
Cquote1.svg A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Cquote2.svg
There’s a lot of things about Iran I don’t like. Some of the rantings and things about the Holocaust, that it didn’t happen and that sort of thing, if that’s actually what he said, we don’t know if the translations are always right. But anybody that would have a conference to deny that, you know, that’s not good. I don’t like that. But we have to deal with them as they are and not necessarily what they might be with some of these ridiculous historical interpretations they might make. Despite all that, they’re still a power that has to be reckoned with. They represent a lot of people. Iran has 79 million people. No reason we can’t talk to them.
A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Now I don’t think that they’re much of a threat at this time. I mean Israel’s got a lot more power. We have sea power all around Iran. We have one submarine that can annihilate the whole country probably in about 20 minutes. You know, submarines are outposts. Israel’s got 300 nuclear weapons, maybe more. Some of Israel’s weapons are neutron bombs. Mordechai Vanunu, the fellow who spent some time in Israeli prison, a Christian who spent time in Israeli prison on account of the fact he told the world the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
What we need basically is a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. We can’t expect the Arab countries to denuclearize if Israel doesn’t. Israel has our protection now. Israel shouldn’t unconditionally denuclearize, but if we give, we don’t have a defense treaty with Israel, we need a formal defense treaty, then we should expect them to denuclearize. We never have signed that and we should.



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April 14, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: April 14, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: April 14, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: April 14, 2012

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Yemen al-Qaeda attack leaves twelve dead

Twelve people were killed in an al-Qaeda militant attack on a security checkpoint yesterday in Aden, Yemen, according to the country’s Defense Ministry. Four Yemeni security force members and eight al-Qaeda militants are among the dead. Four additional people were wounded, including two al-Qaeda fighters and two members of the security force.

Al-Qaeda has been present in Yemen for several years, but gained traction last year when movements across the country called for the ouster of leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. Officials, who were unauthorized to speak to the press, spoke of the attack on the condition of anonymity.

Sources


Iran nuclear negotiations continue

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and six other nations continued yesterday and have made progress, according to diplomats. The meeting is the first time Iran has met with world powers in over a year. When the meeting broke for lunch, a diplomat warned of premature optimism, however. The diplomat also mentioned the possibility of reaching common ground in the future.

Iran continues to insist that the development of a nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a preemptive strike, saying that his country would be threatened by Iran achieving nuclear capability. Although U.S. President Barack Obama has not eliminated the possibility of using military force against Iran, he has expressed desire for a diplomatic solution instead.

Sources


US Secret Service agents relieved in light of alleged misconduct

Approximately twelve members of the United States Secret Service, including agents, were relieved from their duties after allegations of misconduct, reportedly involving prostitution. The agents were serving in Colombia preceding a visit by President Barack Obama. Despite the incident, however, the agency claims that security for the President was never compromised.

All questions directed to the White House pertaining to the matter have been redirected to the Secret Service. President Obama is visiting Colombia to participate in the Summit of the Americas, where he plans to discuss issues including trade policy.

Sources


Severe ‘life-threatening’ weather forecast for Midwestern US

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Storm Prediction Center issued a high risk warning on Friday for parts of several U.S. states, with Oklahoma and Kansas expected to be the most impacted by severe weather. Accuweather meteorologist Paul Walker told ABC News that the weekend “should be particularly dangerous” and that the issuance of a warning two days prior to severe weather is unusual.

Officials in Kansas and Oklahoma are urging residents to watch the situation and make emergency plans with their families.

Sources


Antarctic emperor penguin population approximated from space

Scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia used satellite imagery to approximate the Antarctic population of emperor penguins at approximately 600,000, nearly double that of previous estimates. The scientists used high resolution imagery to ensure the ability to distinguish between shadows, excrement and the penguins themselves. They also found approximately 238,000 breeding pairs of penguins in Antarctica. Two-decade-old studies estimated this number to be between 135,000 and 175,000.

Although the population estimate is higher than before, their numbers may decline in the coming years if current climate trends continue, according to researchers. Researcher Phil Trathan said “Current research suggests that emperor penguin colonies will be seriously affected by climate change.” The species, which only occupies Antarctica, is currently listed as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Sources




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March 3, 2012

On the campaign trail, February 2012

On the campaign trail, February 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, February 2012

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

The following is the fourth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, the Libertarian Party holds a primary in Missouri, Wikinews interviews a lesser-known Republican candidate focused on the nuclear situation in Iran, and a Democratic candidate disputes a “one-dimensional” label.

Summary

In February 2012, three well-known figures announced third party runs. Comedienne Roseanne Barr announced she would seek the Green Party‘s presidential nomination. Former Congressman Virgil Goode opened a Constitution Party campaign. And former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer proclaimed he would seek the Reform Party presidential nomination in addition to Americans Elect.

Santorum bows his head to pray during a February fundraiser in Arizona.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Mitt Romney won the endorsement of businessman Donald Trump, and was victorious in the February 4 Nevada caucus. Three days later, Rick Santorum gained momentum with a sweep of three non-binding contests in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. Though Romney gained a victory in the Maine caucus, Santorum’s momentum pushed him ahead. He led the polls in Romney’s former homestate of Michigan, shot to first place in national opinion polls, and won the endorsement of former Senator and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who retracted his support for Romney. Talk increased of someone else entering the GOP race if Romney lost Michigan.

Santorum’s rise and the Obama administration’s new contraceptive mandate brought social issues to the forefront of the GOP race. The role of church and state gained prominence as Santorum remarked that hearing President John F. Kennedy‘s 1960 speech on separation of two, “makes him throw up”. After a poor performance in the month’s final GOP debate, Santorum began to fall in the Michigan polls. However, members of the Democratic Party planned to vote for Santorum in the open primary, and Santorum ran robo-calls to Democrats asking for their support. In the end, Romney won in both Michigan and Arizona.

Newt Gingrich, who largely skipped Michigan and Arizona, focused early on the Super Tuesday states, which hold their primaries in the first week of March. Ron Paul continued his run as well following a close second place finish in Maine. At the end of the month, rumors spread of a Paul-Romney alliance after an analysis of previous debates showed that Paul never attacked Romney directly, and after Paul’s son Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said “it would be an honor to be considered” as Romney’s running mate. A spokesman for Ron Paul’s campaign denied the rumors.

Missouri Libertarian Party primary results

In Missouri, the Libertarian Party held its first primary of the 2012 election cycle. Parliamentary advocate James Ogle, the only candidate listed on the ballot, edged “uncommitted” 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent to win the majority of votes. This was something a Libertarian candidate could not accomplish during the 2008 primary, when “uncommitted” won a plurality.

██ James Ogle

██ Uncommitted

Image: William S. Saturn.

Ogle has operated and promoted a fantasy government project based on the Sainte-Laguë method of voting since 1993. It is known as the USA Parliament. Ogle believes his username for the project — Joogle, a combination of his surname and first and middle initials — served as a basis for the name of the search engine Google; for his campaign, he uses the slogan “Go Ogle”.

To appear on the Missouri ballot, Ogle paid a filing fee of $1000. He was the only Libertarian candidate to do so. Ogle thinks this happened because he is “accessible” in comparison to his opponents, “perhaps the other candidates couldn’t be reached, and since there was about a 48 hour deadline to file the papers, they either didn’t want to spend the $30 on overnight postage, they simply didn’t know or else they didn’t want to file.” Other candidates for the Libertarian Party nomination, who missed the ballot, include former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, former air traffic controller RJ Harris, and activist R. Lee Wrights.

Just before the primary, an article in the Missourian newspaper chronicled Ogle’s campaign. He believes this contributed to his victory. In the story, he “was able to explain about ranked choice voting, the Libertarian’s philosophy of the non initiation of force, smaller government and more liberty.” In addition, the report mentioned Ogle’s desire to be the running mate of Green Party presidential candidate Roseanne Barr.

According to Ogle: “the combination of all these events, somehow could have prompted more to ask for the Libertarian ballot when they went to the voting booth.”

The non-binding primary is the only contest the Libertarian Party will hold before its nominating convention in May. California is also to hold a primary, but it is scheduled after the nomination. Ogle is to appear on the California ballot.

Republican focuses on Iran

Republican presidential candidate Hugh Cort, a psychiatrist and President of the non-profit American Foundation for Counter-Terrorism Policy and Research, describes his campaign’s status as “wait-and-see”. In December, he participated in the Republican Party’s lesser-known candidates forum, and was included on the New Hampshire Republican primary ballot. He received a total of three votes.

Nevertheless, Cort’s main area of concern is the nuclear situation in Iran, which garnered significant press in February. Iran, which claims it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, blocked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from monitoring a site suspected of containing nuclear weapons research. Increasing western sanctions against the country have resulted in threats from the government that it will cut off oil exports to Europe and/or close the strategic Strait of Hormuz. This talk has affected the price of crude oil. Commentators have suggested that war is looming.

Republican Hugh Cort
Image: Marc Nozell.

Cort, who has written a book entitled The American Hiroshima: Iran’s Plan for a Nuclear Attack on the United States, which he gave to Mitt Romney, believes Iran already has a nuclear weapon and that an attack on the United States is “very likely to happen in the very near future.” He tells Wikinews that if “Iran does detonate some nuclear bombs in American cities, I would consider continuing my run for President, under the assumption that perhaps America would like to elect someone who knows something about counter-terrorism.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow should the president address the nuclear situation in Iran?

Hugh Cort: The President should say that America will help Israel to take out Iran’s nuclear sites. He should also prepare America for the possibility that Iran may have nuclear bombs already here, giving instructions on how to cope if a nuclear bomb should go off. Although some would say not to take out Iran’s nuclear sites for fear of retaliation from Iran, if we let Iran get nuclear weapons, they will then make much more devastating nuclear bombs, such as plutonium bombs with a 5 Megaton yield (350 times the size of a Hiroshima blast). With the bombs that Iran may already have now, they could damage America, but America would survive. If they are allowed to make the bigger bombs (for example 100 Megaton bombs) they would destroy America. Remember, Iran’s leaders have a suicide bomber’s mentality—they do not fear death. In fact, Ahmadinejad has said the role of Iran is to be a martyr, in order to bring about the destruction of America and Israel which will usher in the coming of his messiah, the “12th Imam”, or “Mahdi“. The leaders of Iran are religious fanatics who will not listen to reason.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow did Mitt Romney react when you handed him your book?

Hugh Cort: I did not personally give my book to Mitt Romney—a friend of mine in Florida did. She said he took it seriously, as have two Governors of Alabama, several Senators, and many others. When I met in the Eisenhower Office Building in the White House compound with the Senior Director for Counter-Terrorism of the National Security Council, Nick Rasmussen, he took our research very seriously.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhich of the presidential candidates is best equipped to handle the Iran situation?

Hugh Cort: I believe the Presidential candidate best able to handle the Iran situation, other than myself, is Newt Gingrich, closely followed by Rick Santorum, closely followed by Mitt Romney. All three would do a much better job than Obama. Ron Paul, unfortunately, although he is good on the economy, is a dismal failure in foreign policy and is totally naïve on the very grave threat of the Iran situation.

More than one-dimensional?

Democratic presidential candidate Randall Terry is best known as an anti-abortion advocate. However, he says he is not the “one-dimensional” character portrayed in the press. He tells Wikinews that in addition to his activism, he has experience in theology, foreign policy, and music.

Randall Terry
Image: Marc Nozell.

Terry finished second in the Missouri Democratic primary in February and ranks above all primary challengers to President Barack Obama. He received some media attention this month for attempting to run Super Bowl advertisements in Chicago that showed aborted fetuses. A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling prevented him from showing the ads since he is not on the Illinois Democratic primary ballot. However, after the Super Bowl, Terry was able to target the ads in Oklahoma. He will be on that state’s March 6 primary ballot, and federal law requires stations to show paid advertisements for “legally qualified candidates”.

After this and a February 22 Daily Caller report that conservative icon Ann Coulter planned to speak at a Terry fundraiser, Wikinews caught up with Terry.

“I have obtained a one-dimensional personality in the news”, says Terry, “I have a Masters in Diplomacy and International Terrorism from Norwich University…I have a BA in Theology. A BA in Communications from the SUNY [State University of New York]. A daily TV show seen in 44 markets. [And] I have lectured at the Vatican.”

He mentions that he authored two papers on Islamic terrorism, which are accessible from his campaign website. These are titled, “How do the words and deeds of Islamic terrorists, or Muslims who call for acts of terror and violence, emulate the words and deeds of Muhammad?” and “Is Islamic Shaira [sic] Law Incompatible With International Laws of Human Rights for Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion and Expression?”

Terry adds, “I used to be an accomplished musician.” His songs “I’m Cryin for you Baby”, “I Do”, “Te Deum”, “United We Stand”, and “Let Those Cookies Burn” can be heard on his website.



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February 20, 2012

UK politician foresees nuclear Iran triggering new Middle Eastern cold war

UK politician foresees nuclear Iran triggering new Middle Eastern cold war

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Monday, February 20, 2012

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague has described a possibility of a new cold war in the Middle East due to the Iranian nuclear programme. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggests negotiating with Iran by asking it to disprove the allegations of developing nuclear weapons.

The comments were made by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, pictured here in 2010.

“If [the Iranians] obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons,” Hague said. “The most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun.” Ex-UK diplomat Sir Richard Dalton rules out the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Ki-moon dismissed US and Israeli suggestions of attacking Iran, saying that “all these issues should be resolved peacefully through negotiations, through dialogue.” He said so after attending anniversary ceremonies of an agency to detect secret nuclear weapon tests, called the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation. Hague has also urged Israel not to strike. He said, “All options must remain on the table but a military attack would have enormous downsides.” He insisted on giving sanctions to Iran instead.

However, some US officials extrapolated that Iran is determined about the nuclear programme as the nation threatened to disrupt oil supply to six European nations earlier this week. A number of US officials now believe that attacking Iran is the only way out.

Dalton stated, “There are many signs, as reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, that some research and development relevant to the development of nuclear weapons may still be going on. But it is wrong to say that Iran is rushing towards having a nuclear weapon.”

Iran organised a ceremony which revealed its nuclear programme on Wednesday. It stated that the programme is only about generating nuclear power. Iran also loaded its first domestically created fuel into the reactor last week.



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October 23, 2011

US, North Korea form agreement to search for war dead

US, North Korea form agreement to search for war dead

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

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A repatriation ceremony being held for soldiers who died in the Korean War.
Image: UNC – CFC – USFK.

The US and North Korea have come to an agreement to recommence the search for remains of US servicemen, after six years, that had been unaccounted for after the Korean War. The search will continue next year around 100km away from Pyongyang.

They had started work on the recovery of war remains in 1996 but it was brought to an end by Donald Rumsfeld under the Bush Administration in 2005 because of the safety of the search teams after the ambitions for nuclear weapons.

The US has been adamant that this is a “humanitarian matter” so thus their relations should not affect it. This comes as part of an effort to improve relations. They have also agreed to “ensure the effectiveness and safety” for the teams going into the country.



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August 13, 2011

Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary

Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

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Fukushima I nuclear plant after the accident.
Image: Digital Globe.

Anti-nuclear protest in April, following the accidents at Fukushima-Daiichi.
Image: Steve Herman.

Devastation in Haramachi-ku, Minamisōma, following the Fukushima accident.
Image: Jun Teramoto.

US Navy sailors clearing debris from a harbor in Oshima.
Image: Eva-Marie Ramsaran.

As Japan last weekend marked the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, concern continues to mount about new revelations of elevated radiation readings following the March 11 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Evidence of unsafe levels of radiation within the food supply chain continues to emerge, with Japanese media reporting on Wednesday that a Greenpeace study has found radioactivity exceeding government-mandated levels in four out of eight fish samples taken from the Fukushima Prefecture.

The news comes as media reports of recent weeks have highlighted spikes in radiation readings at the crippled plant. On August 3, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported potentially deadly levels of radiation in the damaged reactors, including one reading of 10 sieverts per hour. Such levels are enough to kill a person “within a few weeks”, according to the World Nuclear Association, and are 250 times the readings recorded immediately after the disaster.

The radiation findings have further called into question the response of government and industry to the crisis, with renewed allegations of incompetence and dishonesty being levelled against Japanese authorities over the transparency of information released in the months following the disaster. TEPCO only conceded that “partial meltdowns” had occurred in up to three of the Fukushima site’s reactors last month.

In testimony to Japanese parliament in late July, Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Centre at the University of Tokyo, condemned the government’s response to the catastrophe. His criticism centered on inadequate radiation measurement methods and the failure to properly protect communities potentially affected by radioactivity from the stricken plant, citing the example of school bus routes passing through areas, such as Iitate-Mura, with unsafe levels of radiation.

Kodama says the “uranium equivalent” of the radiation from Fukushima amounts to “20 Hiroshima bombs”, while the natural decrease in radioactivity caused by the disaster is far slower than that caused by an atomic bomb: one-tenth against one-thousandth of original levels after a year.

“We should recognize from the start that just like Chernobyl, Fukushima I Nuclear Plant has released radioactive materials equivalent in the amount to tens of nuclear bombs,” he said during his parliamentary testimony. “The resulting contamination is far worse than the contamination by a nuclear bomb.”

Further criticism was levelled against authorities this week when The New York Times revealed that shortly after the initial disaster Tokyo bureaucrats had failed to warn evacuees in the Tsushima district that wind patterns were blowing radiation spewing from the Fukushima site towards them.

Despite the recent revelations, the ongoing fallout from the catastrophe has largely slipped from the mainstream international news agenda. Australian online publication Crikey! last week denounced the poor airing of contamination and accountability issues in the Japanese press, claiming it has been left to bloggers and social media to accurately portray the still-unfolding crisis.

It is in this context that unofficial citizen groups have begun conducting their own measurements of radiation levels at various sites around Japan. Yesterday, Al-Jazeera reported on one such group, called Safecast, whose US and Japanese investigators have discovered disturbing readings not identified by official government agencies. For instance, on August 7 the group uncovered ground readings of 20,000 counts per minute 28 kilometres from the stricken plant, well outside the government’s 20-kilometre mandatory evacuation zone.

“Getting into this has showed us there is a lack of data everywhere,” says Sean Bonner, the group’s director.

The Al-Jazeera report also quotes Jyunichi Tokuyama, a specialist with the Iwate Prefecture Agricultural and Fisheries Department, who said he was shocked to find radioactive hotspots up to 300 kilometres from Fukushima.

“The biggest cause of this contamination is the rice straw being fed to the cows, which was highly radioactive,” Tokuyama told Al Jazeera, reflecting fears about the effects of the disaster in terms of contaminated food supplies.

In the wake of the ongoing crisis, the Japanese government has pledged to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power, reflecting widespread public concern.



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May 20, 2011

Obama supports Middle East protesters in speech

Obama supports Middle East protesters in speech

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Friday, May 20, 2011

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Cquote1.svg Strategies of repression and diversion won’t work anymore. Cquote2.svg

—Barack Obama

U.S. president Barack Obama has put the support of his administration behind protesters demanding democracy in the Middle East and North Africa, demanded Syrian president Bashar al-Assad embrace reforms or resign, and warned a failure to address the uprisings in the region could lead to deep division between the U.S. and Muslim nations.

In a speech in Washington, D.C., Obama said it was a “historic opportunity” for his government to “promote reform, and to support transitions to democracy” in the region. Warning of “a deepening spiral of division between the United States and Muslim communities,” he pledged to invest in a democratic future for Tunisia and Egypt, where protesters have overthrown dictators in the past few months. “Strategies of repression and diversion won’t work anymore,” he said, announcing a “new chapter” in Washington diplomacy.

He also criticized the government of Bahrain for attacking peaceful protesters and conducting mass arrests. A crackdown on protesters, he said, “will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.” Obama defended his decision to launch military action in Libya, saying “thousands would have been killed,” and accused Muammar Gaddafi of launching “a war against his people, promising to hunt them down like rats.” Gaddafi, he said, will “inevitably” leave or be forced from power.

After imposing sanctions on Syria this week as military forces in the country clamp down on demonstrators in the capital, Damascus, Obama again condemned violence against peaceful protesters. He demanded the administration of president Assad stop shooting protesters and allow peaceful demonstrations, release political prisoners, and pass democratic reforms. “The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy,” he said. Assad, he added, could either lead the transition or “get out of the way.”

Speaking at the U.S. State Department, Obama said he would react to the uprising in the region “in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.” He pledged to broaden the approach of his government beyond counterterrorism and ceasing the spread of nuclear weapons, to crack down on oppressive dictatorships which would harm U.S. interests. Unveiling a series of new economic initiatives intended to force out dictators, Obama pledged aid for Tunisia and Egypt to help them transform into democratic states.

The speech is being seen by analysts as an attempt by Obama to reach out to Muslim communities abroad amid U.S. unpopularity. The president is also trying to convince his U.S. audience that the outcome of the Arab Spring will have an impact on the future of the U.S. and is worth spending money on during tumultuous economic times in Washington.

File:Syria Damascus Douma Protests 2011 – 22.jpg

Protesters in Damascus, Syria, demanding democratic reform.
Image: syriana2011.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The push for democracy began in January, as protesters in Tunisia overthrew president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January. A month later, Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign from the Egyptian presidency. In Libya, demonstrators continue to try to topple Gaddafi, but have faced heavy bombardment from government forces.

Obama also signaled that al-Qaeda is “losing its struggle for relevance” amid the uprising in the region, and said Osama bin Laden was rapidly losing followers before his death earlier this month. As the uprising spread, the agenda of the terrorist organization responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001, was at a “dead end,” he said. “Through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.”

He called on Israel and Palestine to begin talks based on the 1967 borders as the conflict stalls. “No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away,” Obama said. “A lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples.” But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu tonight rejected the suggestion because it would endanger Israeli security.



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