It all boiled down to miscommunication and a cascade of blunders:
The plan was to truncate a secretive exercise with the Australians near Indonesia, to cancel Vinson’s visit to Perth and then head the direction of the Korean Peninsula — meaning Vinson would be off North Korea by the end of the month.
Changing an aircraft carrier’s schedule is not a small muscle movement. Host nations expecting a visit from the mighty U.S. big decks have to do a fair amount of leg work to prepare for the visit. Furthermore, a good number of sailors had family flying out to Australia to meet their sailors. An Australia port visit is the holy grail for sailors on a Western Pacific deployment.
The easiest thing to do, PACOM officials decided, would be send out a press release announcing the canceled port visit — making it easier for families to get their money back from airlines and letting all parties know why the Vinson wouldn’t be visiting the Land Down Under.
So that was the plan, and a press release went out from the U.S. 3rd Fleet on April 8. Unfortunately, two hours before that went out, Reuters news agency published a story that said the Vinson Strike Group, which was visiting Singapore at the time, would proceed from there to the waters off North Korea to send a message to the rogue Korean regime, which is poised to detonate the country’s sixth nuclear bomb test.
As the media feeds upon itself, the Reuters story set off a frenzy as other media set up for going to war. The New York Times reported that president Trump was re-routing the naval armada as his latest show of force - despite the fact that it was a PACOM decision that he had nothing to do with. Yet panic set in across a number of countries even as the Vinson group was heading south, not north. All the Vinson group was doing was skipping a port of call at Perth, but everyone was freaking; and two days later, Ferret-top really lit things up:
"We are sending an armada, very powerful," he said. "We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than an aircraft carrier, that I can tell you." The confirmation of the misleading narrative from the commander in chief — as well as the allusion to nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines — sent the crisis into overdrive.
Countries immediately went on high alert, as the NorKs added fuel by promising thermonuclear war. While all of this was going on, it apparently didn't occur to anybody to check the actual location of the strike force until Defense News noticed that it was crossing Sunda Strait in Indonesia on April 17 - 3500 miles away from the Korean peninsula.
It looks as though there were blunders throughout the U.S. chain of command, exacerbated by media more eager to be first than factual.
So the NorKs threaten, presumably differing to some degree from the super-weak pissy strike. Those folks are such cards! They're always going to strike mercilessly (usually against the ocean).
"Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary.
The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a "gross animal" and said a strike on it would be "an actual example to show our military's force".
The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.
The timing is impeccable, as I just stumbled across this image today: The artwork, by Sabo, is entitled "North Korean BBQ". Little Kim really doesn't like it when people disrespect him. But as he is in fact a pig....
The power of rumor is sometimes remarkable, as this tale from Thailand illustrates:
Following the recent trend of locals in the southernmost Narathiwat province drinking water from a “sacred pond” that they believed cured illness, health officials tested the water and found out the pond is actually contaminated with feces.
According to rumors, drinking the black water cured a man of blindness and bestowed many other health benefits. Health officials there hope to convince locals to avoid their pond and drink sanitary water instead.
That seems to be Li'l Kim's approach to the only ally the NorKs have: China. It's a really smart move to warn them of "catastrophic consequences" if China increases economic sanctions in response to Kim's belligerent behavior.
I suspect that Kim's days are numbered; even his own people despise him. And threatening the country's only trading partner and their sole ally? Yeah, he's nuts. Ideally, the Chinese will cut off his supply of doughnuts, sending him into a diabetic coma.
A rather decent survey of over 2,000 people in the U.K. has revealed that 20% of them don't know how to change a lightbulb or, for that matter, how to boil an egg. And a third of participants confessed to being unable to cook a meal without a recipe. A little over a third of respondents claimed to be able to change out a flat tire.
The Russian Supreme Court formally banned Jehovah's Witnesses on Thursday, labeling the group an extremist organization. The religious group in Russia will now be forced to dissolve.
The decision equates Russia's 175,000 Jehovah's Witnesses to terrorist groups like the Islamic State, and makes it illegal for congregations to meet or distribute literature.
The Daesh (sometimes referred to as the Islamic State), al-Qaeda, and Jehovah's Witnesses are are now all banned in Russia. Although I'm unaware of any bombings, shootings, or stabbings carried out by the diabolical members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, they can be annoying as they knock on doors and try to convert people to their faith. I wouldn't call them extremists; merely zealous.
It appears that Kim is increasingly unpopular among his North Korean peeps. Anti-Kim graffiti has been found in one town, while in another, leaflets advocating his overthrow prompted house-to-house searches and handwriting analysis in an effort to locate the perpetrators. Significantly, even members of his own military have got into the act:
April 14 (UPI) -- North Korean officers and soldiers suspected of slandering Kim Jong Un are under investigation.
Members of North Korea's second army corps have been placed under arrest for mocking the North Korean dictator, a source in the country's South Hwanghae Province told Radio Free Asia.
Jokes comparing Kim to a kindergartener and a mental patient began circulating through the military, together with a derisive reference to him as "Kim squared". Retribution is certain to be "merciless".
But it seems entirely possible that Pudge is finding resistance from within, which might explain why the Chinese have recently moved 150,000 troops to the border.
In a move that's almost certain to irk both Russia and the Europeans, the USAF is deploying F-35A "Lightning" aircraft to Europe this weekend.
As if they didn't have enough to deal with over there, what with the "refugee" crises and increasing tensions with Russia, they'll now have to contend with aircraft parts falling from the skies.
A Minnesota judge invalidated a warrant that the FBI obtained in the Playpen child pornography case, pointing out that the warrant was invalid from the moment it was requested because of both jurisdictional and particularity issues.
Even in cases as evil as kiddie porn, the FBI has certain constraints, which in this case they violated by injecting their Network Investigative Technique (NIT). It's a form of malware that ultimately targeted some 8,000 computers across 120 countries. Thus, the jurisdiction issue comes into play.
"T]he Government claims legal authority from this single warrant, issued in the Eastern District of Virginia, to hack thousands of computers in 120 countries and to install malicious software for the purpose of investigating and searching the private property of uncounted individuals whose identities and crimes were unknown to the Government before launching this massive worldwide search,” said judge Franklin Noel.
The agent who requested the initial warrant tried to claim that he didn't realize NIT would spread to systems far removed from the scope of the warrant, which was specific only to Virginia - an argument that the judge rejected out of hand because the Agency's forensic specialists knew full well that such would be the case. Moreover, he went on to note, a valid warrant requires particularity, meaning that the target of the investigation must be named in the warrant.
This is probably great news for traffickers, if not for the kids.
Much to the anger of the Afghan government, Pakistan's building a 2,600 km.fencealong their border, as they seem to understand that uncontrolled entry by foreign nationals isn't necessarily a good thing. Here in the USA, ICE reportedly plans to to repatriate 4,000 Somalis back to their homeland. The agency has bumped up its apprehension rate by 250% over the past couple of weeks. As promised, their main targets are those with criminalhistories, including gang membership, armed robbery, and other offenses. The state of New York plans to provide lawyers for any illegal aliens detained in the state.