Sunday, April 23, 2017

French Presidential Election Results Unpredictable

French Presidential Election Results Unpredicatable

by Stephen Lendman

No matter who becomes France’s next president, dirty business as usual will likely triumph - like in all US elections, other Western ones and most others elsewhere. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

Last November, choice for Americans was between death by hanging or firing squad. French voters face the same dilemma.

On election eve, over one-fourth of the electorate was undecided, more concerned about jobs and the economy (pocketbook issues) than terrorism.

Many believe presidential aspirants are largely the same each time elections are held, no matter what they say campaigning.

Large numbers may vote with their feet and stay home, or go places other than to polling stations.

Hyperbole about Sunday’s election being one of the most consequential in recent times was way overblown. Calling the outcome unpredictable is right. Polls show it’s too close to call. 

Anyone of four aspirants could win - Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron likely to be finalists in the May 7 runoff. Yet a surprise April 23 outcome is possible.

One voter said “France is divided in four. Whatever the result, three-fourths of the people will not be happy.”

Political/opinion research firm director Edouard Lecerf believes “(t)he mistrust of politicians is stronger than it has ever been.”

Given how deplorably ordinary people are treated no matter who holds top political posts, it’s clear voting is a waste of time accomplishing nothing - privileged interests served exclusively at the expense of most others.

Neocon/CIA-connected Washington Post editors support dirty business as usual in all elections - in America and abroad, saying:

“The mere possibility that…far-rightist Marine Le Pen and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon…will be the country’s choice in the second round ought to be heart-stopping for anyone who hopes the West’s core liberal values (sic) will survive the wave of popular discontent that already has driven Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, as well as the election of Donald Trump.”

WaPo supports Macron, Francois Hollande’s deplorable economy, industry and digital affairs minister, an establishment favorite, a wealthy globalist supporting dirty business as usual.

What’s good for business is bad for the masses, so you know what he favors, hardline anti-democratic rule - WaPo’s favorite, calling him France’s “best choice” for president.

Its editors blasted Le Pen and Melenchon, saying they’re “anti-American and soft on Russia’s Vladimir Putin…likely to destroy the European Union…”

It’s in crisis, a sinking ship, self-destructing - troubled Greece the future of other EU states, notably Italy, Portugal and Spain, maybe France and others to follow.

Expect continuity no matter who succeeds Francois Hollande. Longtime French foreign policy analyst Alain Gresh believes France under any leader has “limited impact…on the management of Middle East foreign policy today” - unlike decades earlier.

He calls Le Pen slightly more pro-Israel” than other candidates. She’s concerned about radical Islamic militants and politicians, not Jews, so it’s unclear “how things would unfold” if she’s elected.

Her views are similar but not identical to Francois Fillon on Islamism. Melenchon calls for resolving Middle East conflicts diplomatically. He supports Palestinian rights.

Le Pen is conciliatory toward Assad, calling him a protector of secular rights, including Syria’s Christian minority.

Whoever’s elected would have to focus on “big economic interests,” Gresh stressed - linking France with America, other European countries and Arab Gulf ones.

He’s unsure who’ll emerge as May 7 runoff aspirants. At the end of the day, things could change but stay largely the same - the way most elections turn out.

Radical change like Bolivarianism’s triumph in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez is the rare exception, not the rule.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Nightmarish Conditions in Yemen

Nightmarish Conditions in Yemen

by Stephen Lendman

A report titled “Every Day Things Are Getting Worse” discusses “the impact on children of attacks on health care in Yemen.”

US-backed Saudi aggression on Yemen caused the near collapse of healthcare in the country. Most medical facilities aren’t operating. 

Ones still functioning face severe shortages of everything - doctors, nurses, other medical personnel, medicines and equipment.

Over 80% of Yemenis need humanitarian aid. Around 60% lack access to proper healthcare.

US-supported Saudi terror-bombing bears full responsibility - attacking hospitals and other medical facilities scores of times. 

America, Britain and other countries selling its regime weapons are complicit in high crimes of war and against humanity.

US/Saudi-enforced blockade severely restricts enough food, medicines and other humanitarian aid from entering the country.

In August 2016, commercial flights in and out of Sanaa were suspended. Yemenis seeking help can’t travel abroad to get it. Treatment for chronic diseases is almost nonexistent, human suffering extreme.

OCHA calls Yemen the world’s severest humanitarian crisis. Famine conditions affect millions - children, the elderly and infirm most affected.

According to UNICEF, a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from starvation, acute malnutrition, diarrhea, or respiratory tract infections.

US-supported Saudi aggression targets the ability of millions of Yemenis to survive.

Watchlist said its report is based on eyewitness testimonies, interviews with medical professionals, and information from UN and other organizations’ reports - “related to the attacks, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid and public health.”

Many attacks on nonmilitary targets struck hospitals and other medical facilities, preventing ill and injured Yemenis from getting proper treatment - war crimes by any standard.

Genocide stalks the country in plain sight. Western and regional nations, along with media scoundrels ignore it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Palestinian Day of Rage Announced

Palestinian Day of Rage Announced

by Stephen Lendman

Sustained resistance is the only way to end occupation harshness. Nothing else can work.

Peace talks are dead-on-arrival each time initiated. Achieving it diplomatically with a rogue state is impossible.

Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands Palestinian submission, unconditional surrender - offering nothing in return but broken promises.

Fatah called for an April 28 “day of rage” protest in solidarity with hunger strikers, continuing to refuse food for the seventh day.

On Sunday, Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said no prisoners ended their action, others joined them - despite harsh reprisals by prison authorities.

Joint (Arab) List MK Osama al-Saadi said Arab lawmakers demanded a special Knesset session to discuss the hunger-striking action, calling mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners a “top priority.”

According to Addameer, prisoner demands include the following:

1 - The installation of a public telephone for Palestinian prisoners in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families.

2 - Visits

1 - Re-instate the second monthly visit which was stopped by the Red Cross.
2 - Regularity of visits every two weeks and not disabling them from any side.
3 - No relative of the first and second degree shall be prevented from visiting the prisoner.
4 - Increasing the duration of the visit from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
5 - Allowing the prisoner to take photographs with the parents every three months.
6 - The humane treatment of family visitors at the prison
7 - Allowing children and grandchildren under the age of 16 in each visit.

3 - Medical file.

1 - Closing the so-called "Ramla Prison Hospital" for failing to provide the necessary treatment.
2 - Ending the policy of medical negligence.
3 - Conduct medical examinations periodically.
4 - Performing surgeries quickly and exceptionally.
5 - Allowing the entrance of specialized international doctors.
6 - Release of sick prisoners, especially those with disabilities and chronic diseases.
7 - Not to charge the prisoner the cost of treatment.

4 - Responding to the needs and demands of Palestinian women prisoners, both private transport and direct meeting without a barrier during the visit.

5- Al Bosta:

1 - Provide humane treatment to prisoners during their journeys by bus.
2 - Return prisoners to prisons from clinics and courts and not to keep them at the crossings.
3 - Preparing the crossings for human use and providing meals.
6 - Add satellite channels suitable for the needs of prisoners.
7 - Install air conditioning in prisons, especially in the prisons of Megiddo and Gilboa.
8 - The return of kitchens to all prisons and placed under the supervision of Palestinian prisoners.
9 - The introduction of books, newspapers, clothing, food and special purposes of the prisoner on visits.
10 - Ending the policy of solitary confinement.
11 - Ending the policy of administrative detention.
12 - Re-allowing education through the Hebrew Open University.
13 - Allowing the prisoners to submit the Tawjihi examinations in a formal and agreed manner.

Solidarity demonstrations continue across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Palestinian National Security Forces’ Issam Bakir urged increased activism, saying:

“The higher the participation the better, so we can more effectively deliver the prisoners’ message to the world, and exert more pressure on the (Israeli) occupation government to meet their demands.”

Hunger strikers are risking their lives by ingesting nothing but water and salt, if available.

On Friday, undercover Prison Service thugs assaulted hunger strikers in Nitzan prison during violent searches, including unleashing dogs on them.

Israeli soldiers attacked nonviolent protesters, marching in solidarity with hunger strikers in Rafat village north of East Jerusalem.

Eight Palestinian protesters, a journalist and an Israeli peace activists were attacked and injured by soldiers in Kufur Qaddoum village, near Qalqilia.

Homes were invaded and ransacked in multiple Palestinian communities, numerous arrests made. An East Jerusalem Palestinian woman was critically injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet, blinding her left eye, fracturing her skull.

According to B’Tselem, “fir(ing) potentially lethal rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians…has led to the deaths of dozens of Palestinians.” 

“Viewing rubber-coated steel bullets as ‘less lethal’ than live ammunition leads one to possess a light trigger-finger.” 

“This phenomenon is only supported by the view of State Attorney’s Office that these deaths are ‘unavoidable mistakes.’ “

State-sponsored viciousness reflects daily life in Occupied Palestine - an entire population held hostage to Israeli apartheid lawlessness.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

France Votes

France Votes

by Stephen Lendman

A state of emergency exists, declared by outgoing President Hollande in November 2015 after the Paris Charlie Hebdo/kosher market false flag attacks.

At the time, Hollande called what happened “an act of war,” suspending constitutional rule, followed by lawmakers enacting France’s version of America’s Patriot Act.

He and parliamentarians exploited the incidents to crack down hard on civil liberties, human rights, and other democratic principles.

Fear-mongering propaganda persists, convincing people to believe sacrificing fundamental freedoms protects their security.

On election day, France resembles an armed camp, following the violent Champs Elysees incident by an alleged ISIS sympathizer, creating unwarranted hysteria.

Over 50,000 soldiers and police are deployed at polling stations and elsewhere in Paris and other cities.

The election is too close to call - four leading candidates vying to be two finalists, facing off against each other in May 7 runoff voting:

  • Prime Minister Francois Fillon;

  • former economy, industry and digital affairs minister Emmanuel Macron;

  • Left Party’s Jean-Luc Melenchon; and

  • National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

On June 11 and 18, National Assembly elections will be held. On April 24 - 26, the Constitutional Council will verify first round presidential results, the same procedure following the May 7 runoff.

France’s new president is expected to be inaugurated on May 14, possibly sooner. Fillon and Macron represent dirty business as usual.

Melenchon’s campaign featured anti-capitalist rhetoric. His popularity surged in its closing days. He favors taxing the rich, renegotiating international trade deals and France’s EU role, ending nuclear power, treating refugees humanely, and more greatly empowering parliament.

He rejects succumbing to fear and panic, saying “(o)ur duty as citizens is to stay away from the polemics our enemies are dreaming of, and, on the opposite, to stay together.”

In March, Le Pen announced her “144 presidential commitments,” including:

Banking and monetary system
  • Scrap the 1973 law that secures independence of the Bank of France
  • Restore a national currency to face “unfair competition”
  • Allow the Bank of France to directly fund the Treasury
  • Restore “monetary, legislative, territorial and economic sovereignty”
  • Cut interest rates on loans and banking overdrafts for companies and households
  • Scrap EU regulation that freezes or bans the withdrawal of deposits (life insurance and savings) in case of a financial crisis or bank run

  • Organize a referendum on France’s European Union membership
  • Pull out of the Schengen accord that guarantees freedom of movement
  • Recreate a 6,000-strong border-control police unit
  • Ban posted workers from EU countries to work in France
  • Replace EU’s agricultural pact with a French agricultural deal

  • Promote “smart protectionism”
  • Ban foreign companies with optimization tax-scheme from having access to public markets
  • Support French companies in face of “unfair international competition”
  • Ban imports of all type of goods that don’t respect French norms
  • Create a “patriotic economy” by rescinding EU laws that ban national preference for public orders
  • Ban foreign investors from strategic and “important” French industries
  • Create a sovereign fund to protect French companies from “vulture” funds and takeovers
  • “Refuse trade agreements” such as CETA,TAFTA, accords with Australia and New Zealand

  • Cut regulated natural gas and electricity prices by 5 percent “immediately”
  • Maintain state control on EDF, start a major multibillion euros re-fit plan of the country’s nuclear plants, keep Fessenheim nuclear plant open
  • Ban shale-gas exploration “until environment, security and health conditions are satisfactory"
  • Set a moratorium on windmills for power generation
  • Ban genetically modified organisms
  • Plan to re-industrialize the country with state backing
  • Keep innovation in France by banning a company that received state subsidies or tax cuts from being acquired by a foreign investor
  • Support small and mid size companies by alleviating administrative rules, taxes and labor regulations

  • Create an additional tax on foreign workers “to promote priority to French nationals”
  • Maintain the ISF wealth tax
  • Lower income taxes for the three lowest income brackets
  • Create a tax on companies doing business in France but evading the tax system on profits

Immigration, Foreigners, National Identity
  • Cut legal immigration to 10,000 a year
  • Ban “automatic naturalization” for spouses
  • Automatic deportation of any foreign criminal offender
  • Scratch the right of birthplace
  • Make citizenship a “privilege” and insure a “national priority” for French citizens in the constitution
  • Put French flags on all public buildings
  • “Defend the French language” by restricting the use of foreign languages in schools and by reserving half the teaching time in primary schools to French language
  • Make uniforms mandatory in schools

  • Pull out of NATO military command
  • Increase defense spending to 3 percent of GDP by 2022
  • Hire 15,000 police and security forces
  • Build a new aircraft carrier (to be named Richelieu)
  • Plan to disarm “5,000 gang leaders” in French suburbs
  • Rebuild a local intelligence service
  • Scratch state family subsidies if underage child is found guilty of repeated offenses
  • Creation of a sentence of life without parole
  • Creation of 40,000 new prison cells

  • Ban all radical Islam groups
  • Close all extremists mosques

Labor Laws and Retirement
  • National plan for equal pay for women
  • Lower retirement age to 60 with 40 years of contributions for a full pension
  • Scrap the latest labor regulation (Loi El Khomri)
  • Maintain 35-hour workweek
  • Increase public workers’ wages

  • National data protection plan: personal data storage and servers must be in France
  • Ban surrogacy and restrict medically supported procreation to people with sterility problems
  • Scrap the 2014 law allowing same-sex marriage and replace it with civil union (without retroactivity)
  • Put the state on the supervisory board of the television and radio regulator

Electoral System
  • Change the voting system to proportional for every election (legislative, senatorial, presidential)
  • Cut the number of lawmakers at the National Assembly to 300 from 577 and Senate to 200 from 348
  • Cut local administration and shrink the levels of local types of governments by half
  • Make citizen-initiated referendums easier to organize

Le Pen will likely advance to second round voting, a long shot at best to become France’s next president.

How would she govern if elected? Politicians nearly always say one thing and do another.

Trump straightaway reneged on key campaign pledges - especially on interventionism, NATO, replacing Obamacare with something better, letting Goldman Sachs run economic policy, putting generals in charge of geopolitical policies, and promising to represent ordinary Americans.

If elected, will Le Pen go the same way? Will she continue dirty business as usual, abandon notions of pulling out of the EU and NATO, and forget about restoring French sovereignty?

Will she continue establishment policies overall? Like America, France’s deep state intends doing whatever it takes to retain its power and privilege.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

East Asia Nuclear Roulette

East Asia Nuclear Roulette

by Stephen Lendman

The UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) warned about possible nuclear war, by design or accident, calling the risk highest since the end of the Cold War.

Nine nations have nukes: America, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Given heightened world tensions, especially in East Asia, the Middle East, and US hostility toward multiple countries, possible nuclear war may be inevitable, perhaps just a matter of time.

In 1982 testimony before Congress, founder of America’s nuclear navy Admiral Hyman Rickover said “(t)he lesson of history is when a war starts, every nation will ultimately use whatever weapon(s) it has available.”

“I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible (nuclear) force and try to eliminate it.” His warning went unheeded.

Einstein and Bertrand Russell warned about the same thing, Russell saying “(s)hall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war.” The risk is eventual annihilation. 

Historian Arnold Toynbee and HG Wells warned about either ending wars or they’ll end us.

America intends spending over a trillion dollars upgrading its nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years - instead of responsibly eliminating it along with other nations to end the threat of mass annihilation.

A new Pentagon Nuclear Posture Review being prepared is expected to stress adversarial relations with Russia, North Korea, Iran and other nations, heightening the threat of nuclear confrontation.

On Sunday, joint US/Japanese naval exercises began, a Pentagon statement saying they’re “starting on April 23. The exercises are held in the western part of the Pacific Ocean.”

“The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and other” US warships are involved, along with two Japanese destroyers.

On April 14, Trump warned about possible military confrontation with North Korea if it conducted more nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests.

On Saturday, China’s Xinhua news agency said Pyongyang rejects dialogue with Washington as long as it’s hostile to its government.

It quoted a DPRK Korean Workers’ Party commentary, saying Washington “openly reveal(ed) its intention not to rule out the use of military force including unilateral preemptive attack, to say nothing of multilateral military and diplomatic pressure and high-intensity economic sanctions and redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.”

US policymakers ruled out “dialogue with the DPRK. Meanwhile, the US is pressurizing countries around the DPRK to join it in putting diplomatic pressure and high-intensity economic sanctions on the DPRK.” 

“It even threatens that it would seek out an independent way of preventing the DPRK from bolstering nuclear deterrence.”

On April 25, senior US, Japanese and South Korean diplomats will discuss heightened Korean peninsula tensions in Tokyo - focused on containing Pyongyang

War on the Korean peninsula would be disastrous. Anything is possible with neocon generals in charge of US geopolitical policies.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Israel's War on Syria

Israel’s War on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

Israel partners with America’s war on Syria, aiming for maximum slaughter, destruction, chaos, human suffering and regime change.

Netanyahu supports ISIS and other terrorist groups, supplying them with weapons, other aid, and medical care for their wounded fighters in Israeli hospitals.

The IDF terror-bombs Syria at its discretion, another incident on Friday. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said:

A military source announced on Friday evening that the Israeli enemy’s warplanes fired two missiles at 18:45 from within occupied territory at a military position in the surroundings of Khan Arnabeh in Quneitra countryside, causing material damage.”

“The source said that this aggression came after an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate military positions in Quneitra countryside was foiled and the terrorists suffered heavy losses, which proves that Israel provides direct support to terrorist organizations.”

“The source affirmed that such desperate attempts will not dissuade the Army and Armed Forces from continuing to crush the terrorist groups that act as Israel’s proxy in the area.”

Haaretz reported a Sunday “Israeli strike on a pro-regime militia in Syria,” three soldiers killed, others wounded. With rare exceptions, the IDF doesn’t comment on its premeditated aggressive incidents. They continue with disturbing regularity.

Israel invents pretexts to justify the unjustifiable, vowing to strike Syria at its discretion. Claiming it’s to protect national security is a bald-faced lie. No threats exist except invented ones.

On Friday, US Defense Secretary Mattis left Israel after meeting with his counterpart and Netanyahu.

He lied about an Iranian threat. None exists. He lied about Syria’s responsibility for the April 4 Khan Sheikhoun CW attack. He lied claiming Damascus retains undisclosed amounts of CWs. He lied suggesting what doesn’t exist will be used again.

Separately, Syrian ground forces continue liberating areas held by US-supported terrorists.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said 228 settlements were liberated since January, adding the “total number of inhabited areas, the leaders of which have signed reconciliation agreements, has reached 1,468.”

Still, endless war rages because Washington and Israel reject peace.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Racist Israelis Taunt Palestinian Hunger Strikers

Racist Israelis Taunt Palestinian Hunger Strikers 

by Stephen Lendman

On day six of mass hunger striking, more Palestinian political prisoners joined their comrades in resisting Israeli viciousness.

Their action is open-ended for justice. National hero Marwan Barghouti, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leaders, others from Fatah and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) were placed in brutalizing solitary confinement.

All strikers are being collectively punished, violating international laws, norms and standards. Israel’s Prison Service said it aims to break their will and prevent resistance from growing.

Hunger strikers want brutal practices ended - cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including torture, denial of family and legal visitations, terrorizing night raids, hostile strip searches, solitary confinement, medical negligence, and denial of education, among other abuses and indignities.

On Thursday, sadistic Zionist zealots held a barbecue in front of Ofer prison, taunting Palestinian hunger strikers, wanting their suffering increased by the aroma of cooking wafting through their cells.

An area Palestinian called their action “stupid and ridiculous,” stressing it won’t break the will of political prisoners resisting for justice. Their resolve will strengthen, not weaken.

West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Israeli Palestinians continue daily protests in solidarity with their imprisoned comrades.

Security forces confronted them harshly. Palestinian legislative council member Majed Abu Shammaleh called on them to support hunger strikers with their own empty stomachs.

He urged international Palestinian and Arab societies to extend support, including pressure on embassies and ambassadors to back the strike.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) called for “escalating BDS campaigns to isolate Israel’s regime of oppression and to pressure corporations that are deeply involved in Israel’s violations of our prisoners’ human rights…”

Fifty years of brutal occupation are too many. Liberation is unattainable unless Israel’s Kafkaesque matrix of control ends. 

Collective struggle continues toward achieving it. Breaking the back of Israeli viciousness is a Palestinian goal, supported by activists worldwide.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Is Another North Korea Nuclear Test Imminent?

Is Another North Korea Nuclear Test Imminent?

by Stephen Lendman

How will Washington respond if another test is conducted? Is US aggression a real or saber-rattling option?

Last month, Secretary of State Tillerson said “(l)et me be very clear. The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”

“(I)f (North Korea) elevate(s) the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then, (the option of war is) on the table. (A) comprehensive set of capabilities” is being developed.

Last week in Seoul, South Korea, Vice President Pence repeated Tillerson’s warning, adding Pyongyang “would do well not to test (Trump’s) resolve.”

Any DPRK use of nuclear weapons would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response,” he blustered. Trump said US “patience…in this region has run out and we want to see change.”

“We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”

“(E)ither China will deal with this problem or the United States and our allies will?”

Things are fast coming to a head on the Korean peninsula. The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group is expected to arrive in the Sea of Japan next week.

On April 25, the DPRK will commemorate the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Will it conduct a sixth nuclear test on this date? If so, how will Washington and China respond?

On April 18, a Beijing-linked Global Times commentary said China “will cooperate with Washington and stick to its own principles” - aiming to restrain “Pyongyang’s development of nuclear and ballistic missiles.”

“However, cooperative efforts by China and the US will under no circumstance evolve into any kind of military action against North Korea.” 

“Beijing will never support or cooperate with Washington when it comes to implementing solutions that involve using military force against Pyongyang. Nor will Beijing support increasing measures from Washington that involve the direct overthrow of the Pyongyang regime.”

If Trump attacks North Korea, “the Chinese people will not allow their government to remain passive when the armies of the US and South Korea start a war and try to take down the Pyongyang regime.”

38 North provides “analysis of events in and around the DPRK.” It’s a Johns Hopkins University Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies US-Korea Institute program - managed by former State Department official Joel Wit and USKI assistant director Jenny Town.  

On April 21, it said “(c)ommercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 19 indicates probable trailers near the North Portal, the tunnel that North Korea appears to have been preparing for a nuclear test.” 

“While no recent dumping is observed, there are at least five mining carts along the tracks leading to the spoil pile and one probable small equipment trailer adjacent to the support building. A net canopy remains in place, presumably concealing equipment…”

It’s unclear if site activity is a “tactical pause” ahead of another nuclear test. Satellite imagery “indicate(s) that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site appears able to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time once the order is received from Pyongyang.”

Key is what happens if it occurs. Attacking North Korea would be madness, risking possible nuclear war no one can win.

On April 19, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “(t)he situation (on the Korean peninsula) is fraught with unpredictable tensions, and we are concerned about that.”

“We stand for continuing political and diplomatic efforts aimed at solving the North Korea issue, particularly using international formats that have already proved to be effective.” Sanctions do not, “an unsuccessful approach,” said Peskov.

On Friday, an amended Security Council statement “strongly condemn(ed)” Pyongyang’s April 15 missile test. It expressed “utmost concern (over its) highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council.”

It stressed “the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in North-East Asia at large.”

It express a commitment by Security Council members to “a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation.”

It urged efforts “to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue."

The original US draft omitted mention of “dialogue” in the text. Russia insisted it be included. 

Its amended version was adopted. Whether it’s enough to prevent conflict on the Korean peninsula remains to be seen. Tensions remain high.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.