Tag Archives: Washington

North Korea will face ‘overwhelming response’ if it uses nuclear weapons, warns US defence chief James Mattis

Kim Jong-un had warned in January that Pyongyang would carry out a long-range missile test in the near future.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned North Korea on Friday (3 February) that Pyongyang would face an “effective and overwhelming” response if it used its nuclear weapons.

Continue reading North Korea will face ‘overwhelming response’ if it uses nuclear weapons, warns US defence chief James Mattis

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Trial Held in North Korea for American Who Violated Tourist Status

North-korea-detained-americans

North Korea put detained American Matthew Miller on trial Sunday, according to reports.

Details of the charges that he faced or of possible punishments were not announced before the trial, according to the Associated Press

Continue reading Trial Held in North Korea for American Who Violated Tourist Status

Drug War Debate Divides Latin America, U.S. at OAS Summit

Latin American governments traditionally allied with the U.S. on anti-drug efforts are increasingly divided as countries from Costa Rica to Colombia seek a debate over legalization at a regional summit.

Officials from the 35 members of the Organization of American States are meeting in Guatemala City today in a special session called a year ago to address counter-narcotics policies.

Continue reading Drug War Debate Divides Latin America, U.S. at OAS Summit

It Took The Secret Service 5 Days To Realize A Gunman Had Shot At The White House

Secret Service fence jumper

The Secret Service is coming under renewed scrutiny after a man scaled the White House fence and made it all the way through the front door before he was apprehended.

An in-depth report from The Washington Post details how the Secret Service reportedly failed to identify and respond to a 2011 shooting attack on the White House.

The elite law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the president didn’t realize that bullets had hit the White House until five days after a gunman shot at the upstairs residence that houses the first family, according to the Post.

It wasn’t until a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor that the Secret Service realized what had happened. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were out of town the night of the attack, but their youngest daughter Sasha was home.

At least seven bullets hit the White House that night.

From the Post:

Secret Service officers initially rushed to respond. One, stationed directly under the second-floor terrace where the bullets struck, drew her .357 handgun and prepared to crack open an emergency rifle box. Snipers on the roof, standing just 20 feet from where one bullet struck, scanned the South Lawn through their rifle scopes for signs of an attack. With little camera surveillance on the White House perimeter, it was up to the Secret Service officers on duty to figure out what was going on.

Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. “No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down,” a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle.

The the gunman, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez, was eventually arrested, but the lack of initial response to the serious threat is concerning.

The Post also reports that it was “sheer luck” that Ortega-Hernandez was identified at all. He crashed his car seven blocks from the White House and left his gun inside.

This report comes a little over a week after an intruder armed with a knife managed to scale a White House fence and run into the building. Despite the incident, Obama said he has “full confidence” in the Secret Service.

A former Secret Service agent wrote in The Washington Post this week that the agency is “in over its head protecting the White House” and “isn’t prepared to hold back a coordinated attack … by multiple invaders.”

Secret Service morale has reportedly been declining during the past few years.

Dramatic Photos of Sweeping Landscapes Inspire Wanderlust

Seattle, WA-based photographer Griffin Lamb inspires serious wanderlust with his breathtaking shots of sweeping landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.

Influenced by the gorgeous scenery of Washington, Lamb travels to places like the North Cascades to capture dramatic images that showcase the splendor of our world.

Magnificent mountains, ice-blue lakes, and towering trees are rendered in subdued tones and vivid pops of color in Lamb’s stunning photos.

The images, nearly devoid of human presence save for the occasional tiny figure soaking in the raw beauty around him, serve as a reminder of just how small we are in the face of the awe-inspiring, expansive nature surrounding us.

Great-power politics – The new game

A CONTINENT separates the blood-soaked battlefields of Syria from the reefs and shoals that litter the South China Sea. In their different ways, however, both places are witnessing the most significant shift in great-power relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In Syria, for the first time since the cold war, Russia has deployed its forces far from home to quell a revolution and support a client regime. In the waters between Vietnam and the Philippines,

America will soon signal that it does not recognise China’s territorial claims over a host of outcrops and reefs by exercising its right to sail within the 12-mile maritime limit that a sovereign state controls.

For the past 25 years America has utterly dominated great-power politics. Increasingly, it lives in a contested world. The new game with Russia and China that is unfolding in Syria and the South China Sea is a taste of the struggle ahead.

Facts on the ground

As ever, that struggle is being fought partly in terms of raw power. Vladimir Putin has intervened in Syria to tamp down jihadism and to bolster his own standing at home. But he also means to show that, unlike America, Russia can be trusted to get things done in the Middle East and win friends by, for example, offering Iraq an alternative to the United States (see article).

Lest anyone presume with John McCain, an American senator, that Russia is just “a gas station masquerading as a country”, Mr Putin intends to prove that Russia possesses resolve, as well as crack troops and cruise missiles.

The struggle is also over legitimacy. Mr Putin wants to discredit America’s stewardship of the international order. America argues that popular discontent and the Syrian regime’s abuses of human rights disqualify the president, Bashar al-Assad, from power. Mr Putin wants to play down human rights, which he sees as a licence for the West to interfere in sovereign countries—including, if he ever had to impose a brutal crackdown, in Russia itself.

Power and legitimacy are no less at play in the South China Sea, a thoroughfare for much of the world’s seaborne trade. Many of its islands, reefs and sandbanks are subject to overlapping claims. Yet China insists that its case should prevail, and is imposing its own claim by using landfill and by putting down airstrips and garrisons.

This is partly an assertion of rapidly growing naval might: China is creating islands because it can. Occupying them fits into its strategy of dominating the seas well beyond its coast. Twenty years ago American warships sailed there with impunity; today they find themselves in potentially hostile waters (see article).

But a principle is at stake, too. America does not take a view on who owns the islands, but it does insist that China should establish its claims through negotiation or international arbitration. China is asserting that in its region, for the island disputes as in other things, it now sets the rules.

Nobody should wonder that America’s pre-eminence is being contested. After the Soviet collapse the absolute global supremacy of the United States sometimes began to seem normal. In fact, its dominance reached such heights only because Russia was reeling and China was still emerging from the chaos and depredations that had so diminished it in the 20th century.

Even today, America remains the only country able to project power right across the globe. (As we have recently argued, its sway over the financial system is still growing.)

There is nevertheless reason to worry. The reassertion of Russian power spells trouble. It has already led to the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine—both breaches of the very same international law that Mr Putin says he upholds in Syria (seearticle).

Barack Obama, America’s president, takes comfort from Russia’s weak economy and the emigration of some of its best people. But a declining nuclear-armed former superpower can cause a lot of harm.

Relations between China and America are more important—and even harder to manage. For the sake of peace and prosperity, the two must be able to work together.

And yet their dealings are inevitably plagued by rivalry and mistrust. Because every transaction risks becoming a test of which one calls the shots, antagonism is never far below the surface.

American foreign policy has not yet adjusted to this contested world. For the past three presidents, policy has chiefly involved the export of American values—although, to the countries on the receiving end, that sometimes felt like an imposition.

The idea was that countries would inevitably gravitate towards democracy, markets and human rights. Optimists thought that even China was heading in that direction.

Still worth it

That notion has suffered, first in Iraq and Afghanistan and now the wider Middle East. Liberation has not brought stability. Democracy has not taken root.

Mr Obama has seemed to conclude that America should pull back. In Libya he led from behind; in Syria he has held off. As a result, he has ceded Russia the initiative in the Middle East for the first time since the 1970s.

All those, like this newspaper, who still see democracy and markets as the route to peace and prosperity hope that America will be more willing to lead.

Mr Obama’s wish that other countries should share responsibility for the system of international law and human rights will work only if his country sets the agenda and takes the initiative—as it did with Iran’s nuclear programme. The new game will involve tough diplomacy and the occasional judicious application of force.

America still has resources other powers lack. Foremost is its web of alliances, including NATO. Whereas Mr Obama sometimes behaves as if alliances are transactional, they need solid foundations. America’s military power is unmatched, but it is hindered by pork-barrel politics and automatic cuts mandated by Congress.

These spring from the biggest brake on American leadership: dysfunctional politics in Washington. That is not just a poor advertisement for democracy; it also stymies America’s interest. In the new game it is something that the United States—and the world—can ill afford.

Little Rooms: Tiny Houses Offer A Unique Hotel Experiencea

Many a visitor to the big city has had the same experience: tiny, sterile hotel rooms that make your bedroom at home look like a mansion.

If you had the choice to stay in cozy accommodations, why not pick somewhere that offers a one-of-a-kind experience? Enter the tiny house hotel.

Tiny houses have become the rage in home building in recent years. These compact abodes are economical, have all the necessary accoutrements and offer their owners a way to reduce their carbon footprint.

Now, that phenomenon has continued into lodging. Instead of staying in cramped hotel rooms with little to no character, try these tiny houses that have all the comforts of home.

Warwickshire house

Warwickshire Tiny Wood Houses, Warwickshire, England

Situated in central England on a working farm, these two dog-friendly homes–constructed of Douglas Fir and steel–are compact but maximize their use of space. One home has two floors, with a living room boasting a wood-burning fireplace.

A veranda provides a perfect place to BBQ in the summer. The second home has a hot tub on the ground floor and sleeping accommodations on the top floor. Both have central heat for those cold fall nights and are less than two miles from the nearest town, should you need to hit the local pub.

Bayside Bungalow

The Bayside Bungalow, Olympia, Washington

On the banks of the Puget Sound lies The Bayside Bungalow, a 160-square-foot home handcrafted by local, Brittany Yunker. Situated on a hill amidst fruit trees and Douglas Firs, the Bayside Bungalow boasts modern amenities, just on a smaller scale.

A small fridge, cooktop and french press coffee maker makes one think of home. As you nestle in the cozy sleeping loft and gaze at the night sky through the skylight, you’ll keep warm via the gas fireplace. Two fire pits near the property are perfect for roasting marshmallows on a cold night.

Caravan Portland

Caravan Tiny House Hotel, Portland, Oregon

The only tiny house hotel in the world can be found in Portland, Oregon, natch. Located in the artsy Alberta District in NE Portland, Caravan doesn’t just offer one house but six, ranging in size from 100 to 200 square feet. The bespoke abodes cater to adventurous travelers who are looking for a unique experience without the fuss of a normal hotel.

Each wooden home boasts stained glass and recycled artwork, electric heat, full kitchens and flush toilets. One home has a sloping wagon roof while another looks like a train caboose while another has an expansive shed roof. Guests of the complex share a BBQ, fire pit and hammock. This being Portland, you’re never far from the action. Take a walk three blocks and you’re in the heart of one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods.

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