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Punching Above Their Weight

October 13th, 2014 - 8:38 am

PRIZES

You might have seen Business Insider’s chart of Nobel winners since 1910 (H/T Glenn), but I found it interesting for what BI left out. If you break Israeli winners out, that tiny country’s total is 12, just behind the Netherlands’ 17 and with a population of almost 17 million. Israel has about eight million people.

And despite being a fraction of one percent of the Earth’s population, Jews of all national origins have won about 20% of all Nobel prizes — and that ain’t chopped liver.

Depressed Dems Are Depressed

October 13th, 2014 - 7:31 am

SAD

The old Hopenchange magic is gone:

A Gallup poll last week found that voters are less engaged in this year’s midterms than they were in 2010 and 2006. Only 33 percent of respondents said they were giving at least “some” thought to the upcoming midterms, compared to 46 percent in 2010 and 42 percent in 2006. Even more troubling for Democrats, Republicans held a 12-point advantage when those paying “some” attention were broken down by party.

Historically, the core Democratic constituencies of young people, minorities and single women are more likely to skip voting in midterm elections. The current projections suggest that months of effort by the Democratic Party to engage those groups on issues such as the minimum wage and women’s pay may have been in vain.



If the numbers hold, it could mean a rout for Democrats similar to the 2010 “shellacking” — President Obama’s description — that swept away their House majority.

“We cannot have 2010 turnout. If we have 2010 turnout among our key constituencies, we’re going to have 2010 all over again. It’s math,” said Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, who served as a pollster for President Obama’s election campaigns.

Math is hard.

Purple Mountains Majesty

October 13th, 2014 - 6:16 am

AUTUMN

Democrats look like they’re giving up on Colorado’s sixth congressional district:

According to a committee aide, the DCCC has pulled $1.4 million in airtime in Colorado’s 6th District, where Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is facing off against former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

The committee will partner with Romanoff in ads next week, said the aide, but the DCCC’s portion of the buy was not immediately available.

“This is still a very winnable race, and Romanoff is well-funded and in a competitive position to bring it across the finish line,” said the aide, who stressed the committee still views the race as top target.

But the really big news out of my home state might be in the tough Senate race between Democrat Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner:

This is potentially huge. Senate Majority PAC — the SuperPAC aiming to help Democrats keep their Senate majority — is cancelling $289,000 worth of broadcast-television advertising next week

Udall has run such a nasty campaign that even the Denver Post took notice in its surprise endorsement of Gardner:

Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.

Newspaper endorsements don’t mean what they used to, but that’s gotta hurt.

A Most Unserious War

October 13th, 2014 - 5:16 am

kobaniv3

Patrick Cockburn’s report could also go under the “Required Reading” banner, so here’s the lede to get you started:

America’s plans to fight Islamic State are in ruins as the militant group’s fighters come close to capturing Kobani and have inflicted a heavy defeat on the Iraqi army west of Baghdad.

The US-led air attacks launched against Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23 September in Syria have not worked. President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State has not even begun to achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its control rather than contracting.

It took weeks, not years, to destroy Saddam’s Hussein’s Army in 2003. It took days, not years, to thoroughly defeat it in 1991. And while the Iraqi Army of old couldn’t stand up to the United States and its coalition partners, it was well trained enough and well armed enough to fight the Iranians to a standstill for the best part of a decade. In other words, the Iraqi Army was a professional fighting force.

ISIL consists of 20,000 to 30,000 thugs with stolen equipment whose training consists mostly of a thuggish willingness to do whatever. President Obama said it will take years to defeat them — and judging by Cockburn’s report, even that isn’t long enough for this most unserious President waging a most unserious war.

Trifecta Extra

October 11th, 2014 - 7:45 am

EXTRA

Sim City, underwear helpers, and Bill Whittle’s AR-15 — what more could you want?

Can Microsoft Be Saved?

October 10th, 2014 - 11:26 am

MICROSOFT

That almost seems like a silly question for a company 100,000 employees, two massive cash cows with Windows and Office, and what is probably the world’s best cloud service. Nevertheless, that’s what Bethany McLean is asking in a Vanity Fair interview with former Softie CEO Bill Gates and current Softie CEO Satya Nadella:

“The way I think about success is our relevance,” says Nadella.

Relevance, however, is exactly what Microsoft doesn’t have, according to its critics. “The Irrelevance of Microsoft” is actually the title of a blog post by an analyst named Benedict Evans, who works at the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. On his blog, Evans pointed out that Microsoft’s share of all computing devices that we use to connect to the Internet, including P.C.’s, phones, and tablets, has plunged from 90 percent in 2009 to just around 20 percent today. This staggering drop occurred not because Microsoft lost ground in personal computers, on which its software still dominates, but rather because it has failed to adapt its products to smartphones, where all the growth is, and tablets. Even Microsoft’s new chairman of the board, a former IBM executive named John Thompson, told Fortune last winter that “there are some attributes to Microsoft today that do look vaguely like IBM circa 1990.”

During its ’80s and ’90s heyday, Microsoft wasn’t so much relevant as it was necessary. During the ’80s, the personal computer market was so fractured that individual companies made product lines which weren’t even compatible with their own other product lines. Commodore went from the PET to the VIC-20 to the C64 to the Plus 4 (remember that stinker?) to the C128, and only a awkward emulation mode allowed the C128 to run C64 software. The other computers might have well have come from different planets. Apple? Same story with the Apple II, Apple III (another stinker), Lisa, and Mac. By the early ’90s, Apple couldn’t even keep Mac OS fully modern.

But there was Microsoft, producing one OS and boatloads of good enough software for most anything running on a x86 chip. Then along came the internet, allowing anything to share data with anything, and Microsoft (after a late entry into the Browser Wars) was there to take advantage. The resulting network effects turned computers from little boxes people worked or played on by themselves, into a massive global productivity machine.

Whatever you think of Microsoft’s products then or now, somebody had to get done what Redmond got done, and we’re all better off for it. But Microsoft missed the boat repeatedly in mobile and tablets, and the company’s necessary job has been complete now for 15 years.

I don’t doubt Microsoft will be making a lot of money for a long time to come, but it will likely never be what it once was.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 10th, 2014 - 10:17 am

Obama Makes Statement On Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

We could be facing a perfect storm of total suckitude next spring:

Obamacare has only gotten passing attention this election season, but it is likely to return as a hot topic early next year. That is because during the 2015 tax filing season, millions of low- to moderate-income taxpayers will likely first learn that they exceeded the income eligibility levels for the Obamacare subsidy they received in 2014 and will need to repay the government. This repayment could result in a sufficiently abrupt and targeted reduction in consumer spending that could delay the Federal Reserve from starting to raise short-term interest rates, which the consensus view expects to occur in March, coincidentally contemporaneous with when this looming “consumer cliff” hits.

Based on a simple regression analysis, we expect the average tax refund next year to be $2,550. And based on conservative estimates, we project the average subsidy repayment to be $1,000. But the real concern is the extent to which we believe this issue will be relevant for the segment of the population that relies most heavily on their annual tax refund – between 1.1 million and 3.3 million subsidy recipients are likely to have to repay at least a portion of their subsidy. Thus, low- to moderate-income people in the aggregate will be hit with a $1.1 billion to $3.3 billion reduction in consumer spending power next spring.

That Means It’s Working™

What Gender Are You?

October 10th, 2014 - 9:06 am

Another public service from Andrew Klavan.

A Most Unserious War

October 10th, 2014 - 8:48 am

KOBANE

Krauthammer:

As designed, the outer limit of its objective is to roll back the Islamic State in Iraq and contain it in Syria. It is doing neither. Despite State Department happy talk about advances in Iraq, our side is suffering serious reverses near Baghdad and throughout Anbar province, which is reportedly near collapse. Baghdad itself is ripe for infiltration for a Tet-like offensive aimed at demoralizing both Iraq and the United States.

As for Syria, what is Obama doing? First, he gives the enemy 12 days of warning about impending air attacks. We end up hitting empty buildings and evacuated training camps.

Next, we impose rules of engagement so rigid that we can’t make tactical adjustments. Our most reliable, friendly, battle-hardened “boots on the ground” in the region are the Kurds. So what have we done to relieve Kobane? About 20 airstrikes in a little more than 10 days, says Centcom.

It’s OK. We didn’t have much credibility left to squander anyway.

So buckle up and hunker down — we’ve got two more years of this.

Sign “O” the Times

October 10th, 2014 - 7:35 am

Our Hollywood president has become box office poison.

Required Reading

October 10th, 2014 - 6:10 am

Stephen Hayes calls it “the disintegration” of the Obama Administration:

As we approach the sixth anniversary of his election, the Obama presidency is in tatters. Obama’s policies, foreign and domestic, are widely seen as failed or failing. His approval rating is near its lowest point. Obama’s base of support is loyal and fierce and shrinking. Much of the country sees him as incompetent or untrustworthy, and government, far from being “cool,” is a joke on good days and a threat on bad ones.

Barack Obama came to office with hugely ambitious goals for transforming the country, changing its trajectory, and putting America on a fundamentally different path. He advertised his audacity and boasted of his boldness. He told audiences he was compelled to run for president by what Martin Luther King Jr. had called “the fierce urgency of now.” He launched his campaign in Springfield, Illinois, and invited flattering comparisons to that other president from Springfield, Abraham Lincoln.

Obama sought to portray himself as a new kind of politician​—​a “post-partisan,” pragmatic problem-solver, not so much a centrist as someone who couldn’t be pinpointed on the left-right ideological spectrum because he floated above it. Traditional labels were anachronistic constructs that didn’t apply to such a transcendent political figure.

Journalists not only swallowed this legend, many of them promoted it. Obama didn’t appear ideological to influential political reporters because they shared his views. He wasn’t liberal, he was right.

And yet Obama didn’t attempt to conceal his embrace of big government. In nearly every stump speech, he touted government as the answer to virtually every problem facing the country.

How’s that working out for us? At the moment we face three crises. One, in the Middle East, is the direct result of Obama’s indifference towards Iraq and his hostility to “anything Bush.” The second is the ebola crisis, where the Administration’s response has been so slow, bordering on nonexistence, that even the most basic quarantine actions have yet to be taken. The third is the disintegration of our southern border, which seems to be the kind of political conspiracy for the consolidation of political power you usually only see in movies.

The idea that both our border should be open to anyone and that our airports should welcome flights from West Africa at the same time a new Caliphate promises us destruction and an infectious hemorrhagic fever spreads from overseas…

…I don’t know whether to call it incompetence, contempt, conspiracy, or all three.

If after all this Americans are still clamoring for more and more big government, we’ll deserve whatever it is that we get.

News You Can Use

October 10th, 2014 - 5:09 am

New Hampshire seems like a more exciting place than its reputation would suggest:

A naked man being chased through a parking lot — by a pit bull and another man — led to the arrest of two people accused of using an online ad to lure in someone to rob, according to police.

Vincent Evelyn, 32, of Dorchester, Mass., and Ryanne McCann, 27, of Rollinsford, were ordered held on robbery and assault-related charges following their arraignments Monday in 10th Circuit Court, Salem Division.

Police were called to the Red Roof Inn at 2:20 a.m. on Sunday by witnesses who saw the naked man being tackled and beaten with brass knuckles in the parking lot. Investigators determined the victim answered an ad on Backpage.com, but found himself in a room being ordered to strip down and give up his money.

Real work has got to be easier than all that.

Sign “O” the Times

October 9th, 2014 - 2:04 pm

NOBAMA

Alison Grimes campaign to out-of-state volunteers: Don’t let Kentucky locals see you wearing Obama t-shirts.

Kim Jong-un Still Numero Un-o!

October 9th, 2014 - 1:22 pm

UN-O

That’s the word on the streets of Pyongyang:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in firm control of his government but has hurt his leg, a source with access to the secretive North’s leadership said on Thursday, playing down speculation over the 31-year-old’s health and grip on power.

North Korea’s state media, which usually chronicles Kim’s whereabouts in great detail, has not made any mention of his activities since he attended a concert with his wife on Sept. 3.

The source said that Kim hurt his leg while inspecting military exercises.

“He ordered all the generals to take part in drills and he took part too. They were crawling and running and rolling around, and he pulled a tendon,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

All kinds of accidents can happen to a busy leader on the move.

Harry Reid’s bodyguard attacks “Crapitalism” author Jason Mattera.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 9th, 2014 - 11:02 am

Another open enrollment period, another massive wave of policy cancellations:

It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks,” said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.

In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires.

Virginia will be hardest hit, with 250,000 policies expected to be canceled.

If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.

Message Discipline

October 9th, 2014 - 10:00 am

The Democrats have it — does the GOP need it?

Your Trifecta gang is on a bunch of different pages on this one.

Alone Again (Naturally)

October 9th, 2014 - 9:08 am

ALONE AGAIN

It’s lonely at the top — or bottom, or wherever President Obama is when he isn’t at a fundraiser:

The disenchantment with Obama is in part a reflection of inevitable fatigue with a president entering his final years in office. But some Democrats say it is also a consequence of the president’s insular approach to governing and his preference for relying on a small cadre of White House advisers, leaving him with few loyal allies on Capitol Hill or elsewhere.

“This president is supremely independent,” said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to President Bill Clinton. “In many ways that is a very good thing. He probably came to the presidency owing less to other people than any president in memory. The risk is that independence can morph into isolation.”

Here’s a fun game you can play right there at home or in your office. Name a longtime, non-political friend of Obama’s. I’ll give you a minute.

It’s OK. I couldn’t think of any either.

Now name a longtime friend of Obama’s who holds elective office in Washington.

Give up? Me, too.

He has his Chicago cadre, but even that has shrunk over the last couple of years. And his relations with Capitol Hill, such as they are and have ever been, leave him with few shoulders to lean on and little sage advice to be whispered in his ear.

I’ve written on several occasions (as recently as last week regarding Stevie Wonder) about rock stars who reach that pinnacle of success where no one — not their bands, not their managers, not their producers — can tell them No anymore and make it stick. And then the music starts to suck and the record sales decline. The fans, at least, get to say no.

But instead of an unlistenable album by an aging rock god, we get ebola and ISIL and a disintegrating southern border. Honestly, I’d rather listen to Stevie Wonder’s In Square Circle on autorepeat until the cows die of boredom.

Speaking of listening, or of not listening, here’s Ed Morrissey:

When George Bush asked for Rumsfeld’s resignation, it was because Bush had followed Rumsfeld’s advice, for better and worse, and knew a new direction was needed. Reagan asked chief of staff Donald Regan to resign during the Iran-Contra scandal because Reagan needed a new hatchet man to handle the crisis. A fresh team won’t have the same value in this case. As Panetta, Clinton, and Gates make clear in their memoirs, Obama wasn’t taking their advice anyway. It’s likely that he’s not listening to his current team any more than his previous team, except to the extent that they tell Obama what he wants to hear.

Do you get the idea that Obama reached the Aging Rock Star phase around the time he published his first memoir shortly before his 33rd birthday?

Required Reading

October 9th, 2014 - 7:11 am

0

Ron Fournier, back on the warpath:

A senator. A House member. A former presidential campaign manager. An adviser to President Obama. All Democrats, these officials have made it a habit to call or email me almost every week of Obama’s second term to share their concerns about the course of his presidency.

They ask only that I don’t identify them. Some fear retribution; others don’t want to compromise their financial or political standing inside their party. These Democrats speak admirably about the president’s intellect, integrity, and intentions, but they question his leadership—an admittedly squishy term that can be unfairly deployed against people with the guts to lead. But their critiques are specific, consistent and credible—and they comport with what many other Democrats are telling other journalists, almost always, privately.

Leon Panetta speaks for them now.

Read the whole thing. For what it’s worth, Fournier just convinced me to buy Panetta’s book.

The Next Debt Crisis

October 9th, 2014 - 6:08 am

Jeff Cox wonders aloud…

Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.

As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.

No one, Kemosabe? I’ve been warning for years that absent the Fed, there’s not enough market demand to soak up our new debt and to refi our old debt.

Thought for the Day

October 9th, 2014 - 5:28 am

News You Can Use

October 8th, 2014 - 3:23 pm

TURKEY

I hate it when that happens.

Rats, Foiled Again

October 8th, 2014 - 2:12 pm

RATS

What do you do with a Department of Agriculture employee who failed to notice a rat infestation at a pasta factory? Overturn his punishment and reward him with back pay, of course:

Now, a federal labor board has directed an arbitrator to consider whether taxpayers also should reimburse the $67,589-a-year federal worker for legal costs–which his union already covered–even though the food inspector didn’t notice rat feces in a storage room where a bag of flour was ripped open.

Critics of government inefficiency call the sequence of events a cautionary tale about the difficulty of punishing, much less firing, federal employees for poor work — even when it endangers public health.

Irvin Boesen is now also suing to recover his legal fees.

NBC Pressing the Panic Button?

October 8th, 2014 - 1:14 pm

Sure looks that way if this report turns out to be true:

NBC is holding crisis meetings over the future of “Nightly News With Brian Williams” after rival ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” scored a historic ratings win, the New York Post reports.

For the week of Sept. 29, ABC’s newscast scored an across-the-board win in total viewers — 8.4 million — as well as the golden demos, adults 25 to 54 and adults aged 18 to 49. NBC’s “Nightly News” trailed with 8.2 million viewers.

Sources tell The Post that after the release of the figures Tuesday, “the NBC News morning call was very somber. A meeting was held with the ‘Nightly News’ executive producer to try to motivate the staff. There will be further crisis meetings.”

I wrote about NBC’s declining fortunes almost exactly five years ago. Here’s the crux of what I said then:

By the turn of the century, the anchor programs of NBC’s Thursday nights (Friends, W&G, E/R) had all gone stale, and NBC had lost its nerve to take the risks necessary to develop and nurture fresh replacement shows. “Hill Street” was still going pretty strong at the end. “Cheers” went out on a high note. But “E/R” had been barely watchable for four or five entire seasons before NBC finally, mercifully pulled the plug.

NBC first forgot its brand, then it forgot how to compete. Now it’s losing to F/X, which I wasn’t even sure was a real network until just now.

That’s NBC’s entertainment division, but the NBC News division seems to be in just as much trouble. The entertainment side stopped taking risks on quality new shows, and the news division forgot how to develop new talent with appeal outside of MS/NBC’s core audience of lefties.

The time to panic was when Tim Russert passed away and there was nobody with even half his stature waiting in the wings as his replacement.

That was six years ago.

Samsung Sings the Blues

October 8th, 2014 - 12:12 pm

samsung-galaxy-alpha.png

Another disappointing quarter for the South Korean electronics giant:

The company said it would report an operating profit of $3.8 billion for the quarter ending in September — a decline of nearly 60 percent from the same time a year earlier. Sales fell to $44 billion, off 20 percent from a year ago.

The preliminary guidance, which Samsung issued ahead of its quarterly report, due later this month, failed to meet the $5.2 billion average profit estimate of 43 analysts pulled by Thomson Reuters.

The South Korean electronics giant said that while smartphone shipments increased, its operating margins fell because of higher marketing costs, fewer shipments of high-end phones and a lower average selling price for the devices.

The company said it is responding with a new smartphone lineup that will include new midrange and low-end devices, which would make Samsung’s products more competitive in markets such as China.

Scrambling for low-margin sales against even lower-margin competitors in a low-margin market doesn’t seem like the best way to increase margins.

Tone Deaf Administration Is Tone Deaf

October 8th, 2014 - 11:18 am

KOBANI FALLS

I’ve just coined a new phrase. “Cold-blooded insouciance.” Here’s why:

The key Syrian border city of Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, but that’s not a major U.S. concern, several senior U.S. administration officials said.

If Kobani falls, ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey — a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

The U.S. officials said the primary goals are not to save Syrian cities and towns, but to go after ISIS’ senior leadership, oil refineries and other infrastructure that would curb the terror group’s ability to operate — particularly in Iraq.

I warned a month ago that the President’s war strategery would force ISIL into the cities, from which we’d have an nearly impossible time weeding them out, and even retired General John Allen has warned that “Expectations need to be managed” in a campaign which “could take years.”

The people of Kobani will have their expectations managed quite brutally.

Almost Time for a White House Shakeup?

October 8th, 2014 - 10:35 am

David Ignatius:

Presidents often need new energy and talent to refurbish their second terms. George W. Bush opted for such a shake-up in 2006 and it arguably saved his presidency. Barack Obama is now facing a similar moment, and there are signs he’s looking to make some personnel changes after the November congressional elections.

The benefits that can come from new blood can be seen in Bush’s second term. In 2006, the Iraq War was going badly; the country was bitterly divided; policy decisions were not always being implemented. Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, told the president he needed someone new running the White House.

Bush recruited Josh Bolten as chief of staff for his last two-and-a-half years, and it proved an inspired choice. Out went Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, John Snow at Treasury and Porter Goss at the CIA. In came Gates, Henry Paulson and Michael Hayden — three of Bush’s best Cabinet appointments.

Ignatius missed one political angle, and for that we need to go back to just after the 2006 election.

The GOP lost, as I’m sure you remember, and lost big. Bush got the message, finally fired Don Rumsfeld and announced the Iraq Surge. But the rank & file Republicans on Capitol Hill were absolutely furious — why didn’t he do these things before the election, when they might have done the GOP some political good? Instead, Bush waited until after the November Massacre, and the party has yet to fully recover these eight years later.

Obama is in a similar fix. If he makes big moves now, it looks like panic. If the Democrats get shellacked next month, Obama wins himself no friends. (Although unlike most presidents, having friends on Capitol Hill was never one of Obama’s priorities.) The time to move was last spring; anything else looks reactionary and weak, even if the personal changes do end up leading to better policies and a more smoothly-functioning White House.

That said, I don’t at this late date expect to see much improvement in this Administration, even if the President does announce big personnel changes for his last two years — unless one of those changes involves sending Valerie Jarrett back to Chicago on a full-time and permanent basis.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 8th, 2014 - 9:19 am

ObamaCare Bend Over

If you like your full-time job, you can keep your full-time job:

The ACA’s overall impact on employment, however, will arguably be larger than that of any single piece of legislation since World War II.

• The ACA’s employment taxes create strong incentives to work less. The health subsidies’ structure will put millions in a position in which working part time (29 hours or fewer, as defined by the ACA) will yield more disposable income than working their normal full-time schedule.

• The reduction in weekly employment due to these ACA disincentives is estimated to be about 3 percent, or about 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers. This is the aggregate result of the law’s employment disincentives, and is nearly double the impact most recently estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

• Nearly half of American workers will be affected by at least one of the ACA’s employment taxes—and this does not account for the indirect effect on others as the labor market adjusts.

• The ACA will push more women than men into part-time work. Because a greater percentage of women work just above 30 hours per week, it is women who will be more likely to drop to part-time work as defined by the ACA.

War on women, indeed.

I’d just add one other thing. This is Obama’s part-time nation, we just work in it — if we’re lucky.

Thought for the Day

October 8th, 2014 - 8:08 am

Warning Shots

October 8th, 2014 - 7:39 am

First, Kim Jung-un went missing, presumed fed. Now this:

A South Korean naval ship fired warning shots on Tuesday after a North Korean patrol boat crossed a disputed sea border off the peninsula’s west coast and fired shots back before retreating, a South Korean defense official said.

There were no casualties on the South Korean side and none of the shots by either side was aimed at the other’s vessel, he told Reuters.

It was the latest in a series of similar altercations near Yeonpyeong island, which was bombed by the North in 2010 killing four people, including two civilians.

It would be easy to ascribe too much to this incident, given all the uncertainty about North Korea’s leadership. But as that last graf indicates, these things happen all the time around the DMZ and Korea’s coastal waters.

On the other hand, Norks be crazy.