12 September 2016   Leave a comment

North Korea has suffered serious flooding which has left thousands of people homeless and facing food shortages.  The crisis comes just as the North Korean government faces sharp criticism for its fifth nuclear test.  The situation raises a profound ethical question.  Clearly the people of North Korea are not responsible for the decisions of their government, so should they suffer for those decisions?  Or should aid be withheld from the people in order to coerce the government to change its policies?

China and Russia have started an eight-day naval exercise in the South China Sea that includes a drill to seize an island.  Joint training exercises are not unusual but there is no mistaking the political statement being made.  The question is whether the desire to demonstrate the capability to seize an island in any reflects an intention to do so.   An international tribunal at the Hague ruled earlier this year that Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea are null and void, but the strategic interests of China in controlling the Sea are obvious.  Interestingly, the suit against China was brought by the Philippines, but the election of a new President, Duterte, has changed the stance of the Philippines vis-a-vis the US.

Map of China's nine-dash line showing the Spratly and Paracel islands and Scarborough Shoal

Last August tied the record books for the hottest month ever recorded (the records only go back to the 1880s).  August was the 11th straight record-setting month (we had suspected that the streak would have been broken since July is typically the hottest month of the year).  So far, 2016 is 1.31° C warmer than the average of 1881-1910, perilously close to the 1.5° C target agreed upon in Paris earlier this year.  The world is running out of time to meet that target.

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Posted September 12, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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