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The Tally Ho

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sunday Morning Roundup

I am currently listening to On The Media while enjoying tea. Its a pretty good program. You can hear all the segments or read the transcripts from the OTM Website.

Blast Mushroom Cloud Reported in N. Korea
The Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified diplomatic source in Seoul, said the explosion happened at 11 a.m. local time Thursday in Yanggang province near the border with China. The blast in Kim Hyong Jik county left a crater big enough to be noticed by a satellite, the source said.

"We understand that a mushroom-shaped cloud about 2.2 miles to 2.5 miles in diameter was monitored during the explosion," the source said. Yonhap described the source as "reliable."

Thursday was the anniversary of the 1948 foundation of the communist regime. Leader Kim Jong Il uses the occasion to stage performances and other events to bolster loyalty among the impoverished North Korean population.

Experts have speculated that North Korea might use a major anniversary to conduct a nuclear-related test, though there was no immediate indication that the reported explosion on Thursday was linked to Pyongyang's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

"It remains unclear whether it was a deliberately planned nuclear test or it was just an accident," the source in Seoul told Yonhap. "But it doesn't seem to be an ordinary explosion."
According to this NY Times article the likelihood of a test has been rising the last few weeks based on a series of indicators:
The activities included the movement of materials around several suspected test sites, including one near a location where intelligence agencies reported last year that conventional explosives were being tested that could compress a plutonium core and set off a nuclear blast. But officials have not seen the classic indicators of preparations at a test site, in which cables are laid to measure an explosion in a deep test pit.

"I'm not sure you would see that in a country that has tunnels everywhere," said one senior official who has reviewed the data. Officials said if North Korea proceeded with a test, it would probably be with a plutonium bomb, perhaps one fabricated from the 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods that the North has boasted in the past few months have been reprocessed into bomb fuel.

A senior intelligence official noted Saturday that even if "they are doing something, it doesn't mean they will" conduct a test, noting that preparations that the North knew could be detected by the United States might be a scare tactic or negotiating tactic by the North Korean government.

5 Die as Explosions Rock Baghdad (48 Injured)
Rocket and mortar fire erupted. Several rounds landed in the Green Zone, raising clouds of black smoke and triggering warning sirens.

The rattle of heavy machine gun fire and loud explosions echoed through Haifa Street, located on the western side of the Tigris river near the Green Zone and a "no go" area for international forces.

A Bradley fighting vehicle caught fire and children climbed on top, cheering and dancing beside the flames after the Americans left.

US soldiers fired from positions behind walls and trees along Haifa Street while several hundred residents milled about to watch the battle.

Update: According to Reuters the death is at 22.

Venezuela Objects to American Sanctions
CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's information minister on Saturday criticized a U.S. plan to withdraw support for $250 million in loan requests by his country because of its alleged role in the international trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation...

...Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who defeated an Aug. 15 recall referendum on his presidency, has accused the United States of backing opposition groups he says are plotting against him.
So is it human rights or political?

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