Senator Bob Corker Lets Us Know What He Thinks Of Donald Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker suggested Wednesday that Gens. John Kelly and James Mattis as well Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the “people that help separate our country from chaos,” a stinging criticism of President Donald Trump from a man once considered an ally in Washington.

Asked directly by a reporter whether he was referring to Trump in using the word “chaos,” Corker, who announced last month he would retire in 2018, responded: “(Mattis, Kelly and Tillerson) work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration that don’t. I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.”
Stop for a second and re-read that last paragraph. The sitting Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee is suggesting that if Tillerson was removed from office (or quit), the national security of the country would potentially be in danger. And he’s refusing to knock down — and thereby affirming — the idea that Trump is an agent of chaos who pushes policies that are not always “sound” or “coherent.”
That. Is. Stunning.
Corker also blasted Trump for undermining Tillerson — most recently with a weekend tweet suggesting that the secretary of state’s diplomatic work to solve the North Korea crisis would fail.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
Corker said that Tillerson is “in an incredibly frustrating place,” adding: “He ends up not being supported in the way I would hope a secretary of state would be supported. … He’s in a very trying situation — trying to solve many of the world’s problems without the support and help I’d like to see him have.”
Those comments land amid reports that tensions between Trump and Tillerson are worse than ever. They also come on the same day Tillerson held an impromptu press conference to dismiss that he has ever considered resigning his post, but also refused to deny that he had called the President a “moron” during a moment of pique over the summer.
This is also not the first time that Corker, who was once mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick and was on the short list for secretary of state, has been overtly and harshly critical of Trump. Corker drew national headlines in August when he suggested that Trump“has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
Trump responded back via Twitter: “Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18. Tennessee not happy!”
Trump and Corker eventually huddled at the White House to make amends and, according to reports, Trump asked Corker to run for a third term. Less than two weeks later, Corker announced he was retiring.
Corker’s comments Wednesday are rightly read as a continuation of his August remarks. Then, he openly questioned Trump’s stability and competence. Now he is making clear that if not for Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly, Trump would be leading the nation — and the world — into chaos.
There’s no question that Corker feels freer to speak his mind without the worry of angering the President and potentially stirring up a serious primary challenge. But what’s even more important/scary to contemplate: If this is Corker saying what he really thinks about Trump, what must the rest of Republicans in the Senate and House think of their President? And when will they speak out?

Breast Cancer Deaths Drop Nearly 40% In the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Breast Cancer Deaths Drop Nearly 40% In the U.S.

12:04 PM ET
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Efforts to improve screening and access to treatment for breast cancer are making a difference nationally, according to the latest figures from the American Cancer Society.

From 1989 to 2015, deaths from the disease dropped by 39%, which translates to 322,600 lives saved from breast cancer. The latest numbers continue a steady downward trend for breast cancer deaths over the past few decades.

In some states, the death rates from breast cancer among white women and black women are equalizing, suggesting that access to screening and treatments are more evenly distributed in those parts of the country.

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But the data still show that black women have the highest death rates from breast cancer nationally. Among black women, the death rate was 42% higher than among white women from 2011 to 2015. Other studies have documented that black women tend to be diagnosed with more advanced-stage cancers, which are harder to treat and have higher mortality rates. Aggressive triple negative cancers that are deadlier are also more common among this group of women.

MOREI Treated Breast Cancer for Years as a Doctor. Then I Was Diagnosed

The overall drop in mortality is a positive sign suggesting that wider mammogram screening and improved treatments for the disease are helping women survive breast cancer. Yet in the U.S., breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women and the second deadliest. During her lifetime, a woman has a one in eight chance of developing the disease. Ensuring that more states start to equalize access to screening and treatments is critical to sustaining the decline in deaths, say the authors.

Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling (Op-ed)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years.

Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was to transform its relationship with Washington and Brussels by disarming an imminent threat to the West after it had hit Russia with sanctions for the Kremlin’s “adventures in Ukraine.”

Days before the airstrikes began, Putin delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a united front against international terrorism, framing it as the modern equivalent of World War II’s coalition against Hitler.

But two years later, Russia’s hopes of winning concessions in Ukraine for its campaign against Islamic State have come to very little. Putin’s strategic alliance with the United States never materialized.

Russia, however, has met two less lofty goals. One was to rescue the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, Moscow’s longtime ally, from the inevitable defeat at the hands of an armed Sunni rebellion.

Moscow leveraged its ties with Iran, another regime ally, to deploy Shia militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the Syrian rebels. This allowed Moscow to send a modest ground force to Syria — artillery and some special operations forces — without a large footprint.

Russia helped Assad recast the civil war and the popular uprising against his regime as a fight against jihadi terrorists by focusing its airstrikes over the last two years on moderate Syrian rebel groups, while paying little attention to Islamic State.

This rendered the conflict black and white — a binary choice between Assad and jihadists. It allowed Moscow to sell its intervention as support for Syria’s sovereignty against anarchy and terrorism. Russia made clear that it saw the path to stability in the Middle East as helping friendly autocrats suppress popular uprisings with force.

At home, the Kremlin sold its Syrian gambit as a way of defeating terrorism before it reached Russian soil. Russia, after all, needed to prevent Russians and Central Asians who joined Islamic State from returning home to wreck havoc at home soil.

Moscow was also able to use Syria as a lab for its newest weaponry.

By workshopping newly-acquired precision cruise-missile strikes, Russia joined the United States in an exclusive arms club. Showcasing military prowess, while keeping casualties figures low — some 40 Russia servicemen died in Syria — it was able to win public support at home for the intervention.

But perhaps most importantly, the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria has reaffirmed Russia’s status as a global superpower which is capable of projecting force far from its own borders.

Andrei Luzik / Russian Navy Northern Fleet Press Office / TASS

While Moscow may have been offended by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s dismissive description of Russia as a “regional power,” it impressed Arab leaders with its unwavering support for Assad, which was important at a time when U.S. commitment to allies’ security and the stability in the region was in doubt.

Moscow’s backing of Assad ensured it had channels with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, despite their support for Syrian rebels. It was even able to convince the Gulf to wind down its support for the opposition as a Russia-led victory for the regime became inevitable.

Russia’s alliances with Jordan and Egypt proved useful in setting up direct lines to armed opposition groups to reach de-escalation agreements. And even as it fights alongside Shia Iran, Moscow has avoided being drawn into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states.

Russia’s most stunning diplomatic coup was to change Turkey’s calculus in the war from a proxy adversary into a major partner in securing the decisive victory in Aleppo. Through the Astana process, Russia alongside Turkey wound down fighting with moderate rebels.

Russia’s victory in Syria was helped by Washington’s decision not to immerse itself into Syria and a war by proxy with Russia. Instead, the U.S. focused its military operations on defeating Islamic State in eastern Syria.

Now, with de-escalation in western Syria, regime forces and Russian airpower are turned to defeating Islamic State, which has brought them into contact with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advancing from the northeast as part of their offensive to liberate Raqqa from Islamic State.

The potential for a U.S.-Russia kinetic collision in Syria with unpredictable consequences is escalating. This highlights the looming endgame in Syria and the choices Moscow and Washington will have to make moving forward.

Washington needs to decide whether it wants to stay in Syria for counterinsurgency operations to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State. It may also decide to block Iran from establishing the “Shia land bridge” from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean.

But this entails supporting the SDF and helping them control sizeable real estate northeast of the Euphrates river and blocking regime forces and Russia from advancing east.

Moscow needs to decide whether it wants to be dragged into Assad and Iran’s strategy of ensuring a complete military victory in Syria and preventing the opposition from exercising any autonomous self-rule. That could see Russia pulled into a nasty proxy fight with the Americans.

Two years after Russia intervened in Syria, the war may be winding down. But the stakes for Moscow and Washington are stacking.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

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America’s new world order is dead:—China And Russia Are The New World Order?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAPAN TIMES)

 

America’s new world order is dead

China and Russia have derailed the post-Cold War movement toward U.S.-led global integration

BY 

BLOOMBERG

American foreign policy has reached a historic inflection point, and here’s the surprise: It has very little to do with the all-consuming presidency and controversies of Donald Trump.

For roughly 25 years after the Cold War, one of the dominant themes of U.S. policy was the effort to globalize the liberal international order that had initially taken hold in the West after World War II. Washington hoped to accomplish this by integrating the system’s potential challengers — namely Russia and China — so deeply into it that they would no longer have any desire to disrupt it. The goal was, by means of economic and diplomatic inducement, to bring all the world’s major powers into a system in which they would be satisfied — and yet the United States and its values would still reign supreme.

This was a heady ambition, one that was based on the idea that Russia and China were heading irreversibly down the path of political and economic liberalization, and that they could eventually be induced to define their interests in a way compatible with America’s own.

Yet that project has now unmistakably reached a dead end. The new goal of U.S. strategy won’t be to integrate rival great powers into a truly global world order, but to defend the existing international system — successful yet incomplete as it is — against their depredations.

This conclusion may be difficult to accept, because it flies in the face of the enormous optimism that characterized the post-Cold War era. As the superpower contest ended, democracy and free markets were spreading like wildfire, walls were falling and geopolitical divisions were disappearing.

Even Russia and China — America’s longtime geopolitical rival and the next great power looming on the horizon — were showing interest in greater cooperation and integration with the U.S.-led international community. It seemed possible that the world was moving toward a single model of political and economic organization, and a single global system under American leadership.

Encouraging this outcome became a chief preoccupation of American policy. The U.S. sought to deepen diplomatic ties with Boris Yeltsin’s Russia and to encourage democratic and free-market reforms there, even as it hedged against potential Russian revanchism and European instability by expanding NATO to include the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.

Similarly, Washington pursued “comprehensive engagement” toward China, focused on integrating Beijing into the global economy and encouraging it to take a more active role in regional and international diplomacy. The theory of the case was that a richer China would eventually become a more democratic China, as the growth of the middle class produced pressures for political reform. America’s integration policy would simultaneously give Beijing an equity stake in the existing, U.S.-led liberal order and thereby deprive Chinese leaders of reasons for challenging it.

As President Bill Clinton’s administration described it, this approach was one of “seizing on the desire of both countries to participate in the global economy and global institutions, insisting that both accept the obligations as well as the benefits of integration.”

This strategy, which was summed up by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in 2005 as the “responsible stakeholder” model, reflected an admirable aspiration to permanently leave behind the intense geopolitical and ideological competition of the 20th century. Yet, as has become increasingly clear over the last decade — first in Russia, and now in China — that approach was based on two assumptions that have not withstood the test of reality.

The first was that China and Russia were indeed moving inexorably toward Western-style economic and political liberalism. Russian reform ground to a halt in the late 1990s, amid economic crisis and political chaos. Over the next 15 years, Vladimir Putin gradually re-established a governing model of increasingly undisguised political authoritarianism and ever-closer collusion between the state and major business interests.

In China, economic growth and integration into the global economy did not lead inevitably to political liberalization. The ruling Communist Party instead used dizzying economic growth rates as a way of purchasing legitimacy and buying off dissent. In recent years, the Chinese political system has actually become more authoritarian, as the government has assiduously repressed human rights advocacy and independent political activism, and centralized power to a degree not seen in decades.

The second assumption was that these powers could be induced to define their own interests the way the U.S. wanted them to. The trouble here was that Russia and China were never willing fully to embrace the U.S.-led liberal order, which emphasized liberal ideas that were bound to seem threatening to dictatorial regimes — not to mention the expansion of NATO into Moscow’s former sphere of influence and the persistence of U.S. alliances and military forces all along China’s East Asia periphery. And so, as Beijing and Moscow obtained, or regained, the power to contest that order, they increasingly did so.

Russia has, over the past decade, sought to revise the post-Cold War settlement in Europe by force and intimidation, most notably through the invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Putin’s government has also worked to undermine key institutions of the liberal order such as NATO and the European Union, and it has aggressively meddled in the elections and domestic political affairs of Western states.

China, for its part, has been happy to reap the benefits of inclusion in the global economy, even as it has increasingly sought to dominate its maritime periphery, coerce and intimidate neighbors from Vietnam to Japan, and weaken U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

American officials hoped that Moscow and Beijing might eventually become satisfied, status quo powers. Instead, as Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution has written, they are behaving in classic revisionist fashion.

The age of integration is thus over, in the sense that there is no realistic, near-term prospect of bringing either Russia or China into an American-led system. This does not mean, however, that America is destined for war with Russia and China, or even that it should seek fully to isolate either power.

For better or worse, U.S.-China trade remains vital to American prosperity and the health of the global economy; cooperation between Washington and Beijing — and even Washington and Moscow — is important to addressing international diplomatic challenges such as nuclear proliferation and climate change.

What this does mean, however, is that the U.S. needs to become both tougher and less ambitious in its approach to great-power relations and the international system. Less ambitious in the sense that it needs to set aside the notion that the liberal order will become truly global or encompass all the major powers anytime soon. And tougher in the sense of understanding that more strenuous efforts will be required to defend the existing order against the challenge that revisionist power represent.

This will require taking difficult but necessary steps, such as making the military investments needed to shore up U.S. power and deterrence in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific, and developing capabilities needed to oppose Chinese coercion and Russian political subversion of their neighbors. It will require rallying old and new partners against the threat posed by Russian and Chinese expansionism. Above all, it will mean accepting that great-power relations are entering a period of greater danger and tension, and that a willingness to accept greater costs and risks will be the price of meeting the revisionist challenge and preserving American interests.

In short, the goal of achieving a fully integrated world is no longer achievable today. Successfully defending the existing international order that the U.S. has successfully constructed and led over the years will be challenge — and accomplishment — enough.

Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

FBI Chief: Agency Has 1,000 Open Domestic Terrorism Investigations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)

 

FBI Chief: Agency Has 1,000 Open Domestic Terrorism Investigations

8:40 AM ET

The FBI has about 1,000 active investigations into potential domestic terrorists, which includes people linked to white nationalism, extremist white supremacy and environmental movements, the agency’s Director Christopher Wray told Congress during his first testimony as the agency’s chief.

Speaking to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Wray said domestic terrorism is a “very serious” issue that the agency spends “a lot of our time focused on,” ABC reports. “We have about 1,000 open domestic-terrorism investigations as we speak,” he said, a figure that is in addition to about the same number of probes into “homegrown violent extremists,” like those inspired by ISIS.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said attacks by white supremacists and anti-government are “almost triple” those carried out by people inspired or tied to international terrorist organizations.

“[Americans] would assume that the threat from ISIS influence is much greater, and the reality and the facts don’t support that,” she said, ABC reports.

There are a large “number of agents who are working very, very hard” against the threat of domestic terrorism, Wray said.

El Capitan rockfall kills one, injures another at Yosemite

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

El Capitan rockfall kills one, injures another at Yosemite National Park

Tour guide Jon Kameen captured the moment of a fatal rock fall on Yosemite's El Capitan.

Story highlights

  • Fatal rock slide was an “undetermined size”
  • Fall took place during climbing season on popular route

(CNN)At least one person was killed and another injured after a rockfall on El Capitan, the most prominent granite cliff in Yosemite National Park, according to a statement from the National Parks Service.

The fatal rock slide, which was of “undetermined size,” according to a press release from the NPS, appears to have started near the Waterfall Route, a “popular climbing route” on the east buttress of the famous, nearly 3,000-foot granite wall.
“Park Rangers are working to transport the injured person to receive medical care outside of the park,” the statement reads. The rockfall comes during climbing season, and there are “many climbers” on the rock formation and other climbing routes in Yosemite.
The statement adds that the Yosemite remains open and visitor services unaffected.
Tour guide John DeGrazio was giving a tour of the park when he captured the moment of the rockfall.
“We saw a huge plume of smoke from the summit of Half Dome and later found out it was a fatal rockfall,” he told CNN.
“I am a guide on a tour right now. We were on the summit of Half Dome when we saw this.”
El Capitan is one of the world’s most famous climbs, known for its near vertical cliffs. It was believed to be impossible to climb until 1957, when American rock climbing pioneer Warren Harding made it to the top with two aides.
In June, climber Alex Honnold became the first person to free-solo climb the mountain.

TEEN IS REJECTED PRIOR TO HOMECOMING DANCE, BUT WHEN A STRANGER PULLS UP…

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLAD WIRE)

 

TEEN IS REJECTED PRIOR TO HOMECOMING DANCE, BUT WHEN A STRANGER PULLS UP, HIS MOM LOSES IT

Most people look forward to a high school dance. Some people, like myself, appreciate the ask more than the actual dance. Knowing someone actually said yes to you does wonders for your self-esteem.

But for 17-year-old Daniel, he didn’t get that yes he was hoping to receive. In fact, he was turned down by several girls. The reason? He has Down syndrome.

But just as he began to give up hope, 10th grader Kylie asked Daniel for the honor of taking him to the dance. Kylie sees Daniel as Daniel and nothing less. “I don’t think of kids that have a disability… I don’t think of them as being different,” She said. “I hope I can make his night fun.”

Kylie’s actions left Daniel’s mom, Tonya, jaw dropped. Asking Daniel out of sympathy is one thing, but Kylie is actually encouraging and joyful about the whole event. “It’s not about that Daniel has a disability. Its Kylie didn’t see any disability. That is what your heart wants as a mom.”

The entire ordeal exploded when FOX5 Surprise Squad caught wind of Kylie’s act of kindness. Just before the dance, Fox5 showed up with a night FULL of surprises, most of which left Tonya in happy tears. The night began with the couple being driven in a beautiful Rolls Royce and went out to be majestic.

Check out the video below to see all the other incredible things they were able to do and please SHARE this uplifting story with your friends and family!

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Has Said That President Trump Has Declared War On His Country

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused US President Donald Trump of declaring war on his country by tweeting over the weekend that North Korea “won’t be around much longer.”

“Last weekend Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn’t be around much longer and declared a war on our country,” Ri said, according to an official translation of his remarks to reporters in New York.
“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive counter measures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country,” Ri said.
A White House spokesman said Monday the Trump administration had no reaction to the comments.
The ongoing war of words between the two nations saw several new fiery salvos on Saturday, a day on which the US military, in a show of force, flew bombers in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.
Speaking at the UN on Saturday, Ri said that Trump had made a missile attack on the US mainland inevitable by insulting the dignity of North Korea.
“None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission,” Ri said in a speech at the UN General Assembly. “In case innocent lives of the US are harmed because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible.”
Trump took on Twitter Saturday night to respond to Ri’s remarks.
“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump wrote.

It Is Time For China To Remove Kim Jong Un From Power In North Korea

 

I read a lot of newspapers, news articles and blogs from all over the world everyday. I am just like most everyone in that I take this presumed knowledge, add it to my own moral and spiritual knowledge and come up with what I believe. I then write it down here in this Blog for you to consider. As most of you know the newspapers in China and in North Korea are highly controlled by their governments. When you read these ‘State’ newspapers and you come across articles where State policy concerning their economy, military or security is concerned you can believe that the article is sanctioned by the government itself. When you read opinions of the country’s leaders you know darn well that the one doing the typing didn’t dare to just make things up.

 

In the past couple of months China has made it very plain to the U.S. and our Allies that if we strike North Korea first that they will back North Korea with their own military. Yet what is the ‘free world’ suppose to do, sit on their hands until the “little rocket boy” decides to nuke us? Kim Jong Un has made it very plain that his intentions is to create one Korea, with himself as the Supreme Ruler. He has also been threatening to nuke Japan out of existence as well as to nuke the U.S.. No sane person would ever let those words ever slip from their lips, then again is China or the world dealing with someone who is sane in North Korea or for that matter, in the Oval Office? The people of the United States do not have any issue with the citizens of North Korea nor with the citizens of China.

 

China has also made it very clear that they will never tolerate a U.S. friendly government to be put into place where North Korea is now located. So, what are the options for China right now? If the U.S. and it’s Allies strike at North Korea I hope that the strike is surgical in that it takes out North Korea’s missiles, especially their nukes, and that the strike kills the ‘crazy little fat boy’. I personally do not want to see another Iraq where the citizens end up suffering from our actions. I do not want to see a U.S. ‘occupation force’ ever put in place there either. Yet some of these things are going to happen and they are going to happen soon, unless China steps in and removes this little crazy boy with the bad haircut, very soon. If China does not want a non-communist government located on their eastern doorstep then President Xi Jinping is going to have to grow some balls and do what has to be done and that is to replace Kim Jong Un by any means they feel is necessary. Once the North Korean idiot live fires at the U.S. or any of our Allies, China’s chance to not have a war on their doorstep is over, their window of opportunity will be closed forever.

China watches in frustration as North Korea crisis enters dangerous spiral

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST AND FROM THE GOOGLE+ BLOG OF ANDY TAI)

 

China watches in frustration as North Korea crisis enters dangerous spiral


An Air Force B-1B Lancer refuels near the East China Sea last week. U.S. bombers accompanied by fighter jets flew off the east coast of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force designed to project American military power in the face of Pyongyang’s weapons programs, the Pentagon said. (Peter Reft/AFP/Getty Images)
 September 24 at 8:08 AM
 The view from China could hardly be much worse: the leaders of North Korea and the United States threatening to rain down total destruction on each other, while U.S. bombers and fighters stage a show of military might close to China’s shores.In public, China’s foreign ministry has calmly advocated restraint and warned Pyongyang and Washington not add to fuel to the fire. But behind closed doors, experts said Sunday, it is as frustrated with North Korea, and with the situation, as it has ever been.

As North Korea’s dominant trading partner, China is widely seen as the key to solving the crisis, yet experts say its influence over Pyongyang has never been lower.

Unwilling to completely pull the plug, it has nevertheless agreed to a stiff package of sanctions at the United Nations and implemented them with unprecedented determination, experts say.

So far, all that has achieved is to alienate its neighbor and erstwhile friend.

 Play Video 1:13
Trump praises China for economic measures against North Korea
While meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sept. 21, President Trump thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for ordering Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea. (The Washington Post)

“The North Koreans have figured out that the Chinese are genuinely in a bind,” said Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. “Having cried wolf for so long about having limited influence, the Chinese genuinely do have limited influence in North Korea right now. It’s not just weasel words.”

The key step that China hesitates to take is to cut off crude oil exports to North Korea. On Saturday, it announced that it would limit exports of refined petroleum products and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas to comply with the latest U.N. sanctions. It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.

But it is not prepared to do anything that might bring down the regime, potentially bringing refugees streaming across its border and unifying the peninsula under an American-friendly government.

North Korea’s leaders, experts in brinkmanship, know that full well, and this knowledge has allowed them to call China’s bluff repeatedly.

But just in case, they are also thought to have stockpiled between six and nine months of oil supplies — enough to keep the military and key industries going for some considerable time, Graham said.

On Saturday, North Korea’s foreign minister warned that a strike against the U.S. mainland is “inevitable” because President Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the nickname “little rocket man.”

In response to Ri Yong Ho’s threats at the United Nations, Trump tweeted: “If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

U.S. bombers, escorted by fighter jets, flew off the North Korean coast in a show of force on Saturday, while in Pyongyang, tens of thousands of people staged a mass rally to express support for “final victory” over the United States and call for the annihilation of the enemy, the state Korean Central News Agency reported.

“This is a disaster for all parties, and for China for sure,” said Lu Chao, a Korean Peninsula expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences in Shenyang. “Although there is no imminent sign of an outbreak of war, partial conflicts, especially between the South and North Korea on the sea where boundaries are not set, are very likely to occur.”

Next month, China’s Communist Party leadership meets for a key congress in which President Xi Jinping is due to be confirmed for another five-year term as Communist Party general secretary.

At home and abroad, there has been a big effort to project confidence and control, and to ensure calmness and stability, in the run-up to this meeting. That effort has been felt in every arm and at every level of government here. But Pyongyang simply isn’t listening.

Its sixth and most recent nuclear test was staged earlier this month at a time when Xi was hosting leaders from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations at a key summit — an insult the face-conscious Chinese would have felt deeply.

Xi has never met Kim, and the two men are believed to hold each other in contempt. China’s attempts to send an envoy to Pyongyang to calm the situation have been rebuffed.

Some experts say Beijing has only itself to blame, for helping North Korea in the past and allegedly enabling the regime to develop its missile program. Yet there is no doubt it is now paying a price.

China has watched in alarm and anger this year as South Korea installed an American missile defense system that it fears could be used to spy on Chinese territory. It will also not have welcomed U.S. warplanes flying close to its shores this weekend.

South Korea’s presidential office said Seoul and Washington had coordinated closely over the deployment of the U.S. bombers, calling it one of the most effective countermeasures against the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, South Korean media reported.

While Seoul co-operates with Washington, Pyongyang is freezing out Beijing.

On Saturday, KCNA issued a list of diplomatic missions that had held celebrations earlier this month to mark the 69th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. The list included 17 nations — but pointedly not China.

The deterioration in relations between Beijing and Pyongyang erupted much more forcefully into the open Friday when KCNA angrily rebuked its Chinese state media counterparts for threatening, insulting and undermining their country. In a piece entitled “Rude Deed of Shameless Media,” it took aim at the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, for arguing in favor of sanctions.

“The party organ of the socialist country bragging long history denounced socialist Korea so maliciously in collusion with the imperialists,” KCNA wrote.

In China, experts said North Korea has resolved to continue development of its nuclear and missile program — at least until it can put a nuclear warhead on a missile capable of reaching the United States — despite whatever external pressure is applied.

“Sanctions, in my view, will not reverse North Korea’s resolute determination,” said Shen Dingli, deputy dean of Fudan University’s Institute of International Studies in Shanghai.

But Lu at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences insisted sanctions would work — at least by encouraging North Korea to one day return to talks.

“The sanctions that have been imposed will have a significant impact on North Korea’s economy, making them reconsider benefits and losses, and choose between being an enemy of the international community or sitting back at the negotiating table,” he said.

“I believe that one day North Korea will be at the table. ”

Shirley Feng contributed to this report.

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