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Who Will Speak for Indigenous Peoples at the UN General Assembly?

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Poverty, displacement, malnutrition.

Over the next two weeks, these three concerns will be discussed as agenda items at the United Nations’ annual gathering. And yet, indigenous peoples, who suffer at disproportionately high rates from these issues, will not be invited to participate in the meetings, nor any other general assembly sessions.

There are more than 400 million indigenous peoples globally, belonging to 5,000 distinct tribes. This accounts for five percent of the world’s population, and unjustifiably 15 percent of the world’s poorest. Despite this, indigenous peoples do not have a seat at General Assembly sessions, and are therefore unable to participate in meetings that have a massive impact on their lives.

As John B. Henriksen, international representative of the indigenous Sami parliament of Norway explained to me, only representatives from member states, like Canada, the United States, or Australia, can participate in General Assembly discussions. Indigenous peoples may only speak vicariously by arranging for member states to bring forth agenda items on their behalf. “Currently, this is the only way for indigenous peoples to participate,” said Henriksen, “there are no specific or permanent participatory arrangements for indigenous peoples in the UN General Assembly.”

This may not be the case for long. Last year, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft appointed four advisers to resolve the exclusion of indigenous peoples from the UN. Unpaid, they spent the last seven months compiling 16 pages of recommendations to be presented at the upcoming session. And yet, as an flood of diplomats arrives in preparation for this three-month event, the indigenous advisers remain in their homes, halfway across the world.

“The work is finished in regards to the compilation of recommendations,” one of the four advisers, Claire Winfield Ngamihi Charters, told me. Charters belongs to Māori indigenous groups of New Zealand and is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland. She explained: “We can’t really do anything until we are reappointed by the new president of the general assembly.” She does not expect to receive an invitation to the session until at least December.

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The advisers collected a list of recommendations during the spring of 2016, through both electronic and face-to-face consultations. At a bare minimum, they suggest enhanced participation in UN bodies that affect these populations. This includes a suggestion to create a separate category for indigenous peoples in the assembly, which would allow these groups to participate without defining themselves as member-states.

The final draft of the recommendations was published in July, and includes the stipulation that this report will form the basis for a text to be adopted by the General Assembly in the fall. Despite this, the calendar of the 71st session is noticeably void of any meetings regarding indigenous participation, or any uniquely indigenous items at all.

The advisers are not permitted to present their findings without formal invitation from the next president of the General Assembly, who is yet to be appointed. “We certainly hope that the new president will reappoint the previous’ team of advisers, in order to secure a smooth continuation of the process,” Henriksen told me.

The reappointment is not guaranteed. I spoke to Dalee Sambo Dorough, Alaska native and the previous Chairperson for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, who said of the advisers: “You know, they might not be invited at all.”

If the advisers are re-appointed, Henriksen predicts the recommendations will resurface in a few months. “I would expect that the president’s office will organise a number of informal consultation meetings in New York during the 71st session,” he said, “but nothing much will happen in this process until mid-December 2016, at the earliest.”

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While indigenous leaders like Henriksen await the potential presentation of the report in December, Dorough stresses great concern over the content of the recommendations. She said, “the report requires more time, more careful consideration. Especially to ensure that whatever is done is fair and inclusive, and representative of indigenous views and perspectives, universally.”

Charters voiced a similar sentiment. “It was all done very quickly, and I think it’s flawed as a result,” she told me. Appointed in February, Charters and the other advisers published their final draft only five months later.

Other recommendations in the report read similarly; proposing an idea but also affirming that said idea does not generate a consensus among those consulted.

The report does not provide a final answer to the question of indigenous participation. Dorough said: “I think the four advisers to the President of the General Assembly really had a difficult time trying to balance state interests and indigenous peoples; rights and interests.”

Dorough is apprehensive of the potential creation of a separate category of indigenous participation in the General Assembly. Defining which indigenous groups can participate means defining which indigenous groups can not.

Given that indigenous peoples worldwide belong to more than 5,000 distinct tribes, each tribe could not feasibly have their own presentation in the General Assembly, which currently consists of 193 member states. Representation would therefore need to be narrowed down. Defining who gets to have this representation, according to Dorough, could be a dangerous undertaking.

A possible option, would be to select one delegate to represent all indigenous peoples across a given geopolitical area, for example, North America. In the United States alone, however, there are more than 2.9 million Native Americans, belonging to 562 federally recognised tribes. “For indigenous peoples in all of their diversity to distill themselves down to seven geopolitical regions and one representative from each, it’s a bit unfair,” Dorough told me.

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Another potential solution, then, would be to give representation to those groups who fulfil certain requirements, for example those who inhabit a given amount of land, or those who have a clearly defined governance structure. But to do so, according to Dorough, would benefit only a select few. “To make some distinctions between those who have parliaments or governments that are recognised by other member-states, this could get onto thin ice,” she explained, “it threatens to create different classes of indigenous peoples. And I think that’s abhorrent.”

Although Dorough has reservations against the implications of the report, she still states that the question of indigenous participation needs to be resolved. “Frankly, I don’t know what the answer is, as far as a place for indigenous peoples within the General Assembly. But I really do fear a creation of different classes of indigenous peoples,” she said.

The short timeline given to create the report, combined with the varying concerns about what indigenous participation would look like, lends to a report that does not come to any firm conclusions.

Whether the recommendations are given any light at the upcoming session, remains to be seen.

What is clear however, is that there is a plea to increase indigenous peoples’ voices in UN mechanisms, especially given the overwhelming number of agenda items that intersect with indigenous issues. The case for how to enhance indigenous participation, however, is far from closed.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Via TruthOut

 

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America

Senator Calls for Investigation into Chinese Balloon in US Airspace

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Chinese Spy Balloons in US airspace

Senator Eric Schmitt of Missouri is calling for an investigation into the presence of a Chinese balloon in the United States’ airspace. The balloon is said to have hovered over critical military infrastructure and nuclear silos for over a week, raising concerns about potential espionage activities.

“I’m calling for an investigation and demanding answers from the Biden Administration on why a Chinese spy balloon was allowed to hover over critical military infrastructure in Missouri and across the interior of the US without any intervention,” Schmitt stated.

Chinese Spy Balloon Raises Concerns

The senator’s concerns about the Chinese balloon are rooted in the potential for espionage activities. The balloon hovered over nuclear silos and Air Force Bases, which raises serious questions about the United States’ ability to protect its national security.

In addition, Senator Schmitt believes that the presence of the Chinese balloon was a test for the Biden Administration’s response time and decision-making abilities. He believes that the Administration failed to address the situation in a timely and effective manner.

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Investigation Demanded

The senator is demanding a full investigation into the presence of the Chinese balloon in US airspace. He believes that the American people deserve answers about why the balloon was allowed to stay in the country for over a week without any intervention.

“The Chinese spy balloon was in US airspace for a week. It hovered over nuclear silos and Air Force Bases. In addition to intel gathering, China was testing Biden on response time, decision making & he failed miserably. Full investigation needed. The American people deserve answers,” Schmitt stated.

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The presence of the Chinese balloon in US airspace has raised serious concerns about the United States’ national security and the ability of the Biden Administration to protect it. Senator Eric Schmitt of Missouri is calling for a full investigation into the situation and demanding answers from the Administration. The American people deserve to know why the balloon was allowed to remain in the country for over a week without intervention.

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Asia

Flooding at Coal Mine in China Kills Four

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flooded coalmine

On Thursday, local press in northern China’s Shanxi province announced that at least four people had died as a result of flooding in a coal mine. The incident took place on January 27th, but Chinese authorities only confirmed the number of victims on Wednesday.

In response to the accident, coal exploration by the Jushan company, which operated the mine where the tragedy occurred, has been suspended. The suspension will allow the company to address safety problems in its projects and prevent future incidents.

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Sadly, deadly flooding at mines is a common occurrence in China. The country’s mines are often plagued by poor safety conditions and inadequate infrastructure, which can lead to tragic accidents like the one that took place on January 27th.

Despite these challenges, the Chinese government and mining companies are taking steps to improve safety conditions at mines throughout the country. Measures being taken include increased inspection and enforcement of safety regulations, as well as investment in new technologies and infrastructure to make mines safer for workers.

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The flooding at the coal mine in Shanxi province is a tragedy that has claimed the lives of four people. It is a stark reminder of the dangers that miners face every day and the need for continued efforts to improve safety conditions at mines. As the Chinese government and mining companies work to make mines safer, it is important that they remain vigilant and take all necessary steps to prevent future accidents and protect the lives of miners.

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Middle East

Hebron Terror Attack, IDF Demolish 17 Palestinian Homes

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IDF begins demolition of 17 Silwan homes

Yesterday, a terror attack took place in Hebron in which an Israeli civilian was murdered and multiple people were injured. Following the attack, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers and security forces conducted a survey of the terrorist’s residence to examine the potential demolition of the house.

This morning, dozens of Israeli soldiers and 40 bulldozers arrived in the Bustan neighbourhood in Silwan to begin demolishing 17 homes. The move came after the passing of the deadline for self-demolition, which was imposed by the Israeli authorities.

The practice of demolishing the homes of suspected terrorists has been controversial and has been criticized by human rights groups for punishing the families of the suspected terrorists, including women and children, and not being an effective deterrent to terrorism. However, the Israeli authorities argue that the demolition of homes serves as a deterrent and also punishes those who aid and support terrorism.

The demolition of homes in Silwan has sparked international reactions, with many human rights organizations condemning the practice. They argue that the demolition of homes constitutes a form of collective punishment and violates international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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On the other hand, some countries and organizations support the actions of the Israeli authorities. They argue that Israel has the right to defend its citizens against terrorism and that the demolition of homes is a legitimate measure to combat terrorism.

The situation in Hebron and Silwan remains tense, as the demolition of homes continues. The impact of this action on the local population and the potential for further conflict is yet to be seen. The international community remains divided on the issue, with some supporting the actions of the Israeli authorities and others condemning the demolition of homes as a violation of international law. Regardless of one’s position, it is clear that the situation in the region requires a peaceful and negotiated solution to end the cycle of violence.

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Middle East

Blinken addresses rising violence in Palestine

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Blinken meets Abbas in Ramallah

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday to meet with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Anadolu News Agency. The visit is the final leg of Blinken’s regional tour, which also included stops in Israel and Egypt.

Entourage of American Officials

Blinken is accompanied by a number of American officials during his visit, including George Noll, head of the Palestinian Affairs Unit at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs, Hady Amr, Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs, and US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.

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Pre-Meeting with Intelligence Officials

Before Blinken’s arrival, the Palestinian news agency, Wafa, published images of Abbas while meeting with Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Abbas Kamel, and Jordanian Intelligence Director, Ahmad Hatuqai. However, no details were provided about the content of Abbas’ meeting with the intelligence officials.

Call for Calm amid Rising Tensions

On Monday, Blinken called for both Israel and the Palestinian side to “take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them.” The call for calm comes amidst rising violence in the Palestinian territories, following an Israeli military operation in Jenin city that left at least 10 Palestinians dead on Thursday. In the wake of the operation, two shootings in Jerusalem claimed the lives of seven Israelis.

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The Visit’s Timing

Blinken’s visit to the West Bank comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region, as both sides attempt to find a way to de-escalate the conflict and bring about peace. The talks with Abbas are expected to be crucial in addressing the current crisis and finding a path forward for the region.

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Conflicts

Wagner Group linked to African prisoner recruitment

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The US has warned African countries against working with the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary outfit, due to its role in recruiting prisoners, including Africans, to fight in Ukraine. Last week, the US sanctioned people and entities linked to the Wagner Group for their involvement in this recruitment.

In response, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, sent a letter to US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen proposing to open a branch in the US. Despite the letter’s apparent trolling, the US is determined to continue its sanctions in order to “degrade Moscow’s capacity to wage war against Ukraine”.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has designated three individuals, as heads of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, under E.O. 14024, for their role in facilitating the recruitment of Russian prisoners into the Wagner Group. One such case was that of Zambian student Lemekhani Nyirenda, who died in battle in Ukraine in September. Russian officials only informed Zambian authorities about his death in November. A Tanzanian student, Nemes Tarimo, was also buried in Dar es Salaam recently. Tarimo was reportedly recruited from prison with the promise of payment and commuting his seven-year term for an undisclosed offense.

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Although some African countries have not directly condemned Russia for recruiting their nationals to fight in Ukraine, only Tanzania has officially warned its citizens against fighting in foreign wars. Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign affairs minister, Sergey Lavrov, has visited several African nations, including South Africa, Angola, and Eritrea, in an effort to secure support for Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

At a White House briefing on Friday, Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, warned that African countries that work with the Wagner Group are compromising regional peace and security. He stated that countries that partner closely with Prigozhin and the Wagner Group “find themselves susceptible to deeply destabilizing activities” that can harm not only their own country but also the wider region.

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The US sanctions against the Wagner Group also include five entities that form part of the group’s key infrastructure, including an aviation firm, a propaganda organization, and front companies based in the Central African Republic, China, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates.

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America

Derek Chauvin appeals murder conviction in George Floyd trial

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erek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd and sparked nationwide protests in 2020, is trying to overturn his murder conviction in an appeal trial.

Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd and sparked nationwide protests in 2020, is trying to overturn his murder conviction in an appeal trial. Chauvin, 46, was convicted by a Minnesota state court in 2021 and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. He argues that his rights to a fair trial were violated, and that the trial should have been moved due to “threats of violence.”

chauvin will remain in prison, regardless of the outcome of the appeal, as he pleaded guilty to “civil rights violations” of George Floyd before a federal judge and received a final sentence of 21 years in prison in 2022.

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On May 25, 2020, Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly ten minutes, ignoring his groans and the pleas of bystanders. The incident, which was captured on video and posted online, sparked widespread protests against racism and police brutality.

During the trial, chauvin’s lawyer argued that Floyd died of an overdose and that the use of force was justified. The defense is now trying to invalidate the trial, citing threats against the jury, fear of riots if chauvin was acquitted, and media coverage that “idealized” Floyd and “demonized” chauvin.

Three other police officers who were present during Floyd’s death received sentences of 2.5 to 3.5 years in prison.

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The prosecution argues that the trial was fair and transparent, that jury selection lasted two weeks, and that the verdict should be upheld. They also denied the defense’s claims that the jury was influenced by the compensation paid to Floyd’s family, and that the trial should have been moved to a different location.

The appeals trial is expected to last several days, and the outcome is uncertain. However, even if the conviction is overturned, it is unlikely that Chauvin will be released from prison, given the federal conviction and sentence.

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The death of George Floyd and the subsequent trial of Derek Chauvin have had a significant impact on the United States, and continue to be a topic of national conversation and debate. The trial has also sparked a renewed focus on issues of police brutality and racial inequality in the criminal justice system.

No matter the outcome of the appeal trial, the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests have already had a profound effect on the country and it is likely that the issues it brought to the surface will continue to be addressed in the years to come.

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Europe

Cows Got Angry With Irish Farmer And Crush Him To Death

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Irish farmer crushed to death by cows

A farmer who was attacked by a herd of cows on his farm in Ireland died due to ‘crush’ injuries, an inquest has heard.

Michael Walsh, 65, died in hospital in Dublin on April 21 following the incident at his farm in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.

He was in hospital for over two weeks after tragedy struck at the Kilkenny farm on April 6.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Walsh and his brother had been tending to cows that had recently calved when the incident occurred.

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Health and Safety (HSA) officers attended the scene and conducted a full investigation into the incident, the inquest was told.

HSA Inspector Eddie Wall told Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane that their investigation into Mr Walsh’s death has now concluded.

“There will be no further action at this time,” he said.

Mr Walsh’s sister Marie O’Carroll formally identified him to Gardaí following his passing at St James’ Hospital on April 21.

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A post-mortem autopsy found the cause of Mr Walsh’s death to be multi-organ failure caused by crush injuries.

A date was set for a full hearing into the farm tragedy now all investigations have come to an end.

The circumstances surrounding Mr Walsh’s death will be heard in full at Dublin Coroner’s Court on January 11, 2018.

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A total of 18 have occurred on Irish farms so far in 2017 after a farmer in his 60s died in a quad bike accident in Ballyheane, Co. Mayo just yesterday.

Also this week, champion ploughman Martin Kehoe Jr, 33, became this year’s 17th fatality following an incident on the family farm at Foulksmills, Co. Wexford.

Via Irish Post!

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Asia

Breaking – Nigeria In Fresh Trouble As North Korea Warns Nigerians To Stop Mocking Supreme Leader Kim Jung-Un

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North korea warns nigerians

The DPRK News Service of North Korea has warned Nigerians to stop insulting it’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un or face the consequences of their unwarranted insults. In a tweet by North Korea’s leading Media DPRK News Service. Nigerian were warned against any form of mockery against the Supreme leader of North Korea. This was made public through a tweet from the twitter handle of the North Korean News Outlet.

In recent times Nigeria has been attracting the wrath of powerful nations. Most people believe that what is happening to Nigeria is spiritual chastisement. Since the inception of Mohammadu Buhari led administration, everything about Nigeria has been going south.

Nigeria incurred the wrath of Israel and Morocco through misguided utterances and they have been paying a heavy price ever since the incidents took place.

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Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari was rumored to have sponsored the failed coup d’état to oust the incumbent president of Turkey, thereby inheriting the full wrath of Turkish government.

“Impudent peoples of Nigeria are warned against mockery of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, lest they pay a heavy price.”

The latest of these strange happenings, is the warning by North Korea to Nigerians just a few moments after successfully testing their earth-quaking Hydrogen Bomb. “Impudent peoples of Nigeria are warned against mockery of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, lest they pay a heavy price,” DPRK News Service tweeted.

On the other hand, Nigerians in their usual manner took to twitter, bombing North Korea with their tweets and making all sorts of mockery against the Leader North Koreans Revered so much. Below is some of the tweets, retweets and replies.

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Asia

The North Korean threat beyond Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles

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north korea missiles via japan

From the moment that President Barack Obama told President-elect Donald Trump during the transition about the impending threat of North Korean nuclear-tipped ICBMs, Trump’s basic stance has been: not on my watch. From his tweet of January 2 (“won’t happen!”) to his August statements that the US military is “locked and loaded” to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it threatens America, Trump has sought to draw a red line that makes it clear he will do whatever is necessary to halt North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs—before they can target the continental United States.

This, of course, would pose a huge, possibly intolerable threat. Once North Korea achieved the ability to strike San Francisco or Los Angeles, it would undoubtedly continue extending its reach to the rest of the United States. At that point, Americans would have to try to live with a formidable nuclear power that, like Russia or China, could kill tens of millions in the event of all-out war. And while the United States would build up missile defenses in the hope of limiting damage and bolster its nuclear deterrent, allowing such a regime to acquire such a capability will strike most Americans as unacceptable—if there is any other realistic alternative.

But to properly assess the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Americans must first recognize the danger that its current arsenal of up to 60 nuclear weapons already poses to the United States and its allies. Kim Jong Un can already deliver a nuclear warhead against South Korea, where nearly 28,500 US servicemen are based and nearly 200,000 US citizens live; it can already hit Japan with a nuclear warhead, where close to 90,000 Americans live, including 39,000 US troops. On Monday, alarm bells sounded in Japan when a North Korean missile overflew its northern provinces.

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ICBMs, of course, have one fatal flaw: They leave an unambiguous return address. Kim Jong Un knows that within minutes of any launch of an ICBM against the US, he and his regime will be toast. As Colin Powell once put it, the US response would turn that country into a “charcoal briquette.”

However, there is another, even more likely way that a North Korean nuclear weapon could explode in a US city: Kim could sell one to terrorists. Are the terrorists the United States is fighting today interested in nuclear weapons? Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, has been seeking nuclear weapons for more than a decade. Moreover, in 2016, an ISIS-related group was discovered actively pursuing nuclear materials at a Belgian nuclear power plant. Does Kim imagine he could get away with selling a nuclear weapon, or the material to make one, to a terrorist group? One would think not—and the United States must do everything possible to make him believe that.

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But no one can erase the fact that Pyongyang has already crossed that line without suffering serious consequences. Beginning in 2001, North Korea sold materials, designs, and expertise to Syria that helped it build a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor. By now, that reactor would have produced enough plutonium for several nuclear bombs—had it not been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in 2007.

What price did North Korea pay? Pyongyang got its money; Syria was bombed; and the US was soon back at the negotiating table in the six-party talks trying, unsuccessfully, to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. North Korea is known in intelligence circles as “Missiles ‘R’ Us,” having sold and delivered missiles to Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and others. As former secretary of defense Robert Gates said, the North Koreans will “sell anything they have to anybody who has the cash to buy it.” Perversely, as the United States pushes for tighter enforcement of UN sanctions on North Korea, the cash-strapped regime has greater incentives to turn back to the nuclear black market.

To address the ICBM threat in the narrow window before Kim develops an operational capability, the Trump administration has expressed a readiness to negotiate on the condition that North Korea freezes nuclear and missile tests. Such a freeze would be a significant improvement over North Korea’s relentless nuclear advance. But even if the Trump administration succeeds in stopping Kim at this point, the United States will then be left with all the dangers posed by Kim’s existing nuclear stockpile. In addition, North Korea has facilities currently producing both plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which experts estimate can produce enough fissile material for 12 additional weapons per year. So the United States should also seek a freeze of North Korea’s production of fissile materials.

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In addition to the current effort, Trump needs to send Kim a clear message, with an identical copy delivered to China’s president Xi Jinping: If any nuclear bomb of North Korean origin were to explode on American soil or that of an American ally, the US will respond as though North Korea itself had hit the United States with a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

The recent “war of words” between Trump and Kim has awakened many Americans to the North Korean nuclear threat. While Americans can hope that the current confrontation will succeed in stopping further ICBM and nuclear tests, even if this succeeds, the US will be left trying to live with the clear and present danger posed by a nuclear North Korea.

Via Manila Times!

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America

Again A Biafran, Nkechi Chidi-Ogbolu Becomes Youngest Graduate From US University, Set For PhD

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18-year old Nkechinyere Chidi-Ogbolu has made history as the youngest person to graduate from Howard University this year and this also makes her one of the youngest in Howard’s history.

Nkechinyere just graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a degree in chemical engineering and she’s starting her Ph.D. program at the University of California-Davis after summer.

She will be studying biomedical engineering with a focus on creating and discovering new medicines.

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Nkechinyere told USA Today that she has always been the youngest person in her classes as she finished high school at 14, skipped 5th grade and attended an accelerated high school.

She left Nigeria for America after high school, and enrolled full-time at Howard University.

Nkechinyere credited her family’s support for her ability to cope with her new surroundings.

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“I spoke to my mom almost every day on the phone — for over an hour almost every time. My dad and I talked really often too. Talking to them definitely helped sometimes when things were overwhelming. My support system was a very big part of why I was able to stay very grounded during the whole journey.”

Many of her extended family members live in U.S, including an aunt who lived not far from her dorm, and other family members in Texas and Alabama.

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Advising teens like her, she said: “Don’t limit yourself because you think you can’t do it or because no one you know had done it. You can always be the exception to the rule and end up being exceptional.”

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