ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, June 3

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 Sec. of Defense James Mattis calls North Korea “a clear and present danger,” not just to America but to the world (AP via Washington Post)

Significantly, Mattis made the speech in Asia.

More bad news: On Friday, China blocked US-supported sanctions against North Korea at the UN Security Council.

North Korea is accelerating its push to acquire a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States and other nations, and the U.S. regards this as a “clear and present danger,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday.

Speaking at an international security conference in Singapore, Mattis said the Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to working with the U.S. and others to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons. He also said he thinks China, which is North Korea’s closest ally, ultimately will see it as a liability. –Washington Post

Mattis gave mixed reviews to US relations with China:

“We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo” in the South China Sea, he said.

Overall, Mattis’ speech struck a positive, hopeful tone for cooperation and peace in the Asia-Pacific region, where he and his predecessors have made it a priority to nurture and strengthen alliances and partnerships.

“While competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable,” he said. “Our two countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. We will pledge to work closely with China where we share common cause.”

He was, however, unrelentingly critical of North Korea, a politically and economically isolated nation whose leaders have long viewed the United States as a military threat, in part because of periodic U.S. military exercises with South Korea, which the North sees as preparations for attacks aimed at destroying its ruling elite. –Washington Post

Comment: The US is turning up the temperature on both China and North Korea.

 Comey’s upcoming testimony

Comment: The ABC story is reported by Captain Obvious

 Early Trump administration was preparing to ease Russia sanctions, but was blocked by US diplomats who went to Congress  That’s what NBC is reporting, with retired diplomats going on the record.

 Three former top execs at Penn State given jail time for failing to act on reports of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky (ESPN)

Comment: By failing to do their jobs, they put more children in danger. 

 Kathy Griffin has decided that she’s the victim. “Trump broke me” (CBS)

Comment: She’s disgusting.

 LA Times covers for her. Their Headline: She’s “tearful but resilient”

Comment: They’re disgusting

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ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, May 31

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 US anti-missile success over Pacific is a huge technological achievement. 

The tasks now: keep improving the technology, keep testing, and start producing them for deployment

These anti-missile systems are not designed to deal with a massive attack, such as one China or Russia could launch.

They are meant to deal with rogue nations or, conceivably, an accidental launch.

Snarky Comment about those who fought hard to stop these systems: I don’t agree with those who say that the West Coast and Hawaii should not be protected since their Senators and Congressman–and their voters–have opposed missile defense every step of the way for 35 years. True, if they had succeeded, their cities would be the first ones at risk. But leaving them defenseless, as they actually wished to be, would be very ungenerous. 

Still, it will be interesting to see if their Senators and House members will vote for these systems even now. After all, they might end up voting for a defense bill.

And while the folks on Nob Hill and Pacific Palisades look down their noses at the rest of America, they might want to pause and remember who worked so hard to save their sorry butts from their ill-considered judgments.

 Illinois, which models its finances on Greece and Puerto Rico, enters the last day of the legislative session without a budget. This is getting to be a habit.  (Chicago Tribune story here.)

Comment: You can guess the story. Who controls the legislature? Mike Madigan and the Democrats. Who is the governor? A republican. Who wants few cuts, big tax increases, and no reforms to a system that has been running on fumes for years? Oh, go ahead, guess.

Odd, isn’t it, how the low-tax states now have public services as least as good as the high-tax states? What that means is that you don’t get more potholes fixed if you pay higher taxes. You just get the same number fixed but pay higher wages and benefits to public-sector unions and to a paving contractor who knows a guy.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana have put their financial houses in order. Indiana is especially well run and has been for years.

 “Kathy Griffin apologizes for severed Donald Trump head photo after backlash  (Washington Post)

Would she have apologized if Hollywood applauded (as they may well have done, privately)?

In fact, everybody condemns it, as they should. It is disgusting. And it shows how low our public mudslinging has gotten.

Even CNN is “rethinking” Ms. Griffin’s participation in their cash-cow show on New Year’s Eve.

Comment: But I was more struck by how CNN presented the episode on its main web page. It illustrates what corporate fecklessness truly is.

Here is the ONLY thing CNN has to say about Kathy Griffin there (early morning 5/31/17). She’s just “political.” Gosh. And we learn that she begs forgiveness (from whom, I wonder?).

A reputable news organization would have headlined the vile act, not the apology, and they would not have worked so hard to protect their asset by spinning it as “political.” But then again, they are CNN.

Kudos to Anderson Cooper, who did the right thing. Griffin’s co-host on New Year’s Eve publicly tweeted that he found it disgusting and unacceptable. Exactly right.

Btw, ask yourself what would have happened if she had done this with the head of Pres. Obama. I can tell you. She would never work another day in her life. And she would never attend another dinner party or reception. For Trump’s head, she will suffer some, especially on TV, where advertisers will shy away. But she won’t miss a single cocktail party in Hollywood and, after a month of apologies, she’ll be working again and telling funny stories about how “shocked” people were but were privately giving her high-fives.

 Opioid Epidemic spurs race to find safer painkillers  (ScienceNews.org)

The need for new pain medicines is “urgent,” says Nora Volkow [director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse].

Scientists have been searching for effective alternatives for years without success. But a better understanding of the way the brain sends and receives specific chemical messages may finally boost progress.

Scientists are designing new, more targeted molecules that might kill pain as well as today’s opioids do — with fewer side effects. Others are exploring the potential of tweaking existing opioid molecules to skip the negative effects. And some researchers are steering clear of opioids entirely, testing molecules in marijuana to ease chronic pain.

Comment: Lots of research but no breakthroughs, so far. US prescriptions for opioids have fallen a bit since 2012 but are still around 250 million annually and have been since 2006.

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