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[VIDEO] HISTORY: Feb. 6, 1959: Titan Launches; Cold War Heats Up 

(1) Titan launch test from Cape Canaveral, only first stage engine tested, 2nd stage only a dummy, engine with 300,000 lbs thrust successful (2) News In Brief – Berlin mayor Willy Brandt arrives in U.S., speaks in English (3) “Virginia” – Fort Meyer VA funeral of 6 bodies returned by Russia, crew of plane shot done by Russia, no word of other 11 crew missing (partial newsreel).

1959: The United States successfully test-fires its first Titan I intercontinental ballistic missile. The threat of global nuclear holocaust moves from the plausible to the likely.

Tony Long The Titan I was not the first ICBM: Both the United States and Soviet Union had already deployed ICBMs earlier in the 1950s (the Atlas A by the Americans, the R-7 by the Russians). But the Titan represented a new generation, a liquid-fueled rocket with greater range and a more powerful payload that upped the ante in the Cold War.

The Titan that the U.S. Air Force successfully launched from Cape Canaveral featured a two-stage titan_1_icbmliquid rocket capable of delivering a 4-megaton warhead to targets 8,000 miles away. A 4-megaton detonation, puny by today’s standards, nevertheless dwarfed the destructive power of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Read the full story here, at WIRED]

The Titan’s range meant that, firing from its home turf, the United States was now capable of hitting targets in Eastern Europe, the western Soviet Union and the Soviet Far East.

The first squadron of Titan I’s was declared operational in April 1962. By the mid-’60s, five squadrons were deployed in the western United States.

The missiles were stored in protective underground silos, but had to be brought to the surface for firing. The Titan II, which began appearing in large numbers during the mid-’60s and eventually supplanted the Titan I, would be the first ICBM that could be launched directly from its silo.

Today, ICBMs can be launched from silos, from mobile launchers and, most effectively, from submarines. Read the rest of this entry »

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China Tests Missile With 10 Warheads

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Multi-warhead weapon tested amid growing tensions with the United States.

The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out earlier this month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. The test of the inert warheads was monitored closely by U.S. intelligence agencies, said two officials familiar with reports of the missile test.df-5launch-1

The missile was fired from the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in central China and flew to an impact range in the western Chinese desert.

[DF-5 launch]

No other details about the test could be learned. Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross suggested in a statement the test was monitored.

“The [Defense Department] routinely monitors Chinese military developments and accounts for PLA capabilities in our defense plans,” Ross told the Washington Free Beacon.

The test of a missile with 10 warheads is significant because it indicates the secretive Chinese military is increasing the number of warheads in its arsenal.

Estimates of China’s nuclear arsenal for decades put the number of strategic warheads at the relatively low level of around 250 warheads.

U.S. intelligence agencies in February reportedthat China had begun adding warheads to older DF-5 missiles, in a move that has raised concerns for strategic war planners.

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Uploading Chinese missiles from single or triple warhead configurations to up to 10 warheads means the number of warheads stockpiled is orders of magnitude larger than the 250 estimate.

Currently, U.S. nuclear forces—land-based and sea-based nuclear missiles and bombers—have been configured to deter Russia’s growing nuclear forces and the smaller Chinese nuclear force.

Under the 2010 U.S.-Russian arms treaty, the United States is slated to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed warheads.

[Read the full story here, at freebeacon.com]

A boost in the Chinese nuclear arsenal to 800 or 1,000 warheads likely would prompt the Pentagon to increase the U.S. nuclear warhead arsenal by taking weapons out of storage.

The new commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, stated during a Senate confirmation hearing in September that he is concerned about China’s growing nuclear arsenal.

“I am fully aware that China continues to modernize its nuclear missile force and is striving for a secure second-strike capability,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Although it continues to profess a ‘no first use’ doctrine, China is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads and continues to develop and test hyper-glide vehicle technologies,” Hyten added. Read the rest of this entry »


A Presidential Scandal Transfixes South Korea 

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Park Geun-hye faces calls for impeachment after a friend was indicted and the president was accused of giving her access to government documents.

Now, one friendship Ms. Park does have has imperiled her presidency.

The friend, the daughter of a cult leader who once claimed to speak with Ms. Park’s murdered mother, sought to enrich herself through ties to the presidential office, South Korean prosecutors have alleged in an extortion indictment. The friend also received access to classified presidential policy documents, they say.

The snowballing political drama is paralyzing the government of South Korea, a close U.S. ally, at a time when the Obama administration considers North Korea and its increasingly aggressive nuclear strategy to be the top national security priority for the next administration.

Prosecution documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal say that foundations set up by the president’s friend, a 60-year-old woman named Choi Soon-sil, allegedly used her presidential ties to wrest millions of dollars in donations from Korean conglomerates. Prosecutors have raided most of South Korea’s biggest business groupsseeking evidence. Some of the money, prosecutors believe, went to pay for Ms. Choi’s affluent lifestyle and her daughter’s equestrian aspirations.

Ms. Park, second from left, in 1975 with Choi Tae-min, right, a religious leader and mystic who claimed to commune with Ms. Park’s assassinated mother.

Ms. Park, second from left, in 1975 with Choi Tae-min, right, a religious leader and mystic who claimed to commune with Ms. Park’s assassinated mother. Photo: Yonhap

A political scandal linking South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye to a charismatic cult leader and his daughter has prompted hundreds of thousands to demonstrate in the streets. The Wall Street Journal looks at how she got there. Photo: AP

Both Ms. Park and Ms. Choi deny the accusations. The president, in a tearful televised statement this month, disputed colorful reports in the Korean press that include shamanistic rituals supposedly held in the presidential office. Such claims are a “house of fantasy,” Ms. Park’s lawyer said.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The denials haven’t stemmed a clamor for her resignation. Five mass rallies in five weeks have demanded the president’s ouster, with organizers estimating over a million protesters gathered in Seoul on Saturday. In surveys, Ms. Park’s approval rating has sunk to 4%. One poll showed that 80% of South Koreans favor impeaching her.

Choi Soon-sil, left, who is at the heart of a political scandal engulfing Ms. Park, was arrested in Seoul this month.

Choi Soon-sil, left, who is at the heart of a political scandal engulfing Ms. Park, was arrested in Seoul this month. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Opposition parties say they will push for an impeachment vote by early December if Ms. Park doesn’t step down. She has given no indication she will, though she has offered to share power with a new prime minister suggested by the opposition.

Even if she survives the tumult, Ms. Park’s diminished political authority presents risks for the U.S. and an early foreign-policy challenge for President-elect Donald Trump. The U.S. relies on close ties with Seoul to manage dangers presented by a bellicose North Korea. The U.S. has around 28,500 troops based in South Korea.

South Korean protesters calling for the resignation of Ms. Park held candles during a rally in Seoul on Nov. 19.

South Korean protesters calling for the resignation of Ms. Park held candles during a rally in Seoul on Nov. 19. Photo: AP

Ms. Park wants to deploy a sophisticated U.S. missile system next year to defend against North Korea’s advancing nuclear-weapons program. Opposition leaders, by contrast, put priority on closer ties with China, which strongly disapproves of the missile-shield idea, at a time when other Asian countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia are tilting toward Beijing. Ms. Park’s domestic opponents also seek to break with Washington by rolling back the sanctions pressure on Pyongyang. Read the rest of this entry »


Meanwhile, in South Korea: Hundreds of Thousands Rally to Demand Park’s Ouster 

Protesters march toward presidential house after a rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded Seoul's streets on Saturday demanding the resignation of Park amid an explosive political scandal, in what may be South Korea's largest protest since it shook off dictatorship three decades ago. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Hundreds of thousands of people flooded Seoul’s streets on Saturday demanding the resignation of Park amid an explosive political scandal, in what may be South Korea’s largest protest in three decades. 

SEOUL (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people flooded Seoul’s streets on Saturday demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-hye amid an explosive political scandal, in what may be South Korea’s largest protest since it shook off dictatorship three decades ago.

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“Park’s presidency has been shaken by suspicion that she let a shadowy longtime confidante manipulate power from behind the scenes. Protest organizers estimated the crowd at 1 million.”

Police said about 260,000 people turned out for the latest mass rally against Park, whose presidency has been shaken by suspicion that she let a shadowy longtime confidante manipulate power from behind the scenes. Protest organizers estimated the crowd at 1 million.

“People said it was a bad idea to bring my kids here, but I want them to remember today…and learn that democracies are built on participation.”

Waving banners and signs, a sea of demonstrators jammed streets stretching about a kilometer from City Hall to a large square in front of an old palace gate for several hours, roaring and applauding to speeches calling for Park’s ouster.

“In addition to allegedly manipulating power, the president’s confidante, Choi Soon Sil, is also suspected of exploiting her presidential ties to bully companies into donating tens of millions of dollars to foundations she controlled.”

Protesters also marched on a road in front of the palace gate and near the Blue House, the mountainside presidential office and residence, carrying candles, blowing horns and banging drums, while shouting “Park Geun-hye, resign!”

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

Bae Dong San, a 45-year-old man, said Park’s government has “worsened the living conditions of workers, completely messed up state governance and monopolized state affairs with her secret inner circle.”

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“It feels much better to shout together with many other people.”

— Bae Dong San, a 45-year-old protester

“It feels much better to shout together with many other people,” he said.

Despite rising public anger, opposition parties have yet to seriously push for Park’s resignation or impeachment over fears of triggering a backlash from conservative voters and negatively impacting next year’s presidential election. However, they have threatened to campaign for Park’s resignation if she doesn’t distance herself from state affairs.

“I have never been interested in politics and I don’t even have a TV at home…but unbelievable things have been happening and I came out today because I didn’t want to feel defeated as a South Korean citizen.”

— Cho Jong-gyu, who took a five-hour bus ride to participate in the rally

The protest on Saturday was the largest in the capital since June 10, 2008, when police said 80,000 people took part in a candlelight vigil denouncing the government’s decision to resume U.S. beef imports amid mad cow fears. Organizers estimated that crowd at 700,000. In the summer of 1987, millions rallied in Seoul and other cities for weeks before the then-military government caved in to demands for free presidential elections.

Train and express bus tickets to Seoul were difficult to get from some areas Friday evening and Saturday morning, with the protest reportedly drawing tens of thousands of people from other cities.

“I have never been interested in politics and I don’t even have a TV at home … but unbelievable things have been happening and I came out today because I didn’t want to feel defeated as a South Korean citizen,” said Cho Jong-gyu, who took a five-hour bus ride from the small southern island of Geoje to participate in the rally, where he quietly held a cardboard sign calling for Park to resign. Read the rest of this entry »


Protests in South Korea: Prosecutors to Question President Park

Seoul prosecutors are set to question South Korean President Park Geun-hye early this week for her role in the political corruption scandal involving an informal adviser.

It follows a second weekend of mass protests that saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators cram city streets demanding her resignation.

Park has admitted sharing classified documents with close friend and informal adviser Choi Soon-sil. Read the rest of this entry »


Kim Jong Un’s Defense Chief Hyon Yong-chol Publicly Executed with Anti-Aircraft Fire

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North Korea’s Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol executed for showing disloyalty to leader Kim Jong-un

MPs were told Mr Hyon was killed on 30 April by anti-aircraft fire in front of an audience of hundreds, the Yonhap news agency reports.

“It said the ‘most plausible explanation’ for the image was a ‘gruesome public execution’ by anti-aircraft fire.”

It said Mr Hyon had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had not carried out instructions.

Hyong-Yong-chol

“Mr. Hyon had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had ‘not carried out instructions’.”

South Korea said a senior military officer was also killed. The news comes weeks after the reported panic-bettyexecution of 15 senior officials.

Among them were two vice-ministers who had challenged Mr Kim over his policies and members of an orchestra, the South’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS) said at the time.

Analysts told the BBC that while reshuffles of officials were commonplace in North Korea, the execution of a figure as close to Mr Kim as Mr Hyon was surprising and could give cause for concern about the country’s stability.

Of the seven pallbearers at former leader Kim Jong-il's 2011 funeral, apart from Kim Jong-un, all have either been executed, have lost their jobs or have not been seen in some time

Of the seven pallbearers at former leader Kim Jong-il‘s 2011 funeral, apart from Kim Jong-un, all have either been executed, have lost their jobs or have not been seen in some time

Hyon Yong-chol, as defence minister, was as close to Kim Jong-un as it is possible to get.

“Such a public and brutal method of execution as obliteration by anti-aircraft gun would emphasize the cost of disloyalty.”

Intelligence reports always have to be treated with skepticism but, in this case, the claims of the South Korean spy agency will be easy to verify. If they are not true, the defense minister would appear again in public.

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Earlier, the South Korean agency said that senior officials were being executed at the rate of one a week. It all adds up to a picture of a leader in Pyongyang who feels very insecure and who is dangerous in his insecurity.

“‘This is indicative of Kim Jong-un’s impulsive decision-making’ and a sign of a leader who is ‘not feeling secure’…’entirely a demonstration of power and authority.'”

— Mike Madden of North Korea Leadership Watch

Mr Hyon is believed to have been a general since 2010, though little is known about him. He served on the committee for late leader Kim Jong-il’s funeral in December 2011, an indication of his growing influence.

Kim Jong-un has conducted a series of purges of officials since coming to power

Kim Jong-un has conducted a series of purges of officials since coming to power

He was appointed defence minister last year. NK News said he last appeared in state media a day before the alleged execution date. Read the rest of this entry »


US Ambassador Attacked in South Korea

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The U.S Ambassador to South Korea has been attacked in the country’s capital, according to local reports.

Mark Lippert

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Photos from South Korea’s official news agency show Ambassador Mark Lippert with blood on his hand and holding his face after he was attacked by what the Yonhap news agency says was “an armed man.”

Developing…

 ABC News