North Korean leader Kim Jong Un missing ahead of mass military parade

North Korea’s capital Pyongyang is expected to hold mass military parades this week but the country’s leader Kim Jong Un hasn’t been seen in public for more than a month. 

NK News, a South Korean-based outlet, reports that Kim skipped a Politburo meeting on Sunday – the third time he’s ever done so. 

Kim’s previous prolonged disappearances have provoked speculation about his health. Per NK News, his longest-ever break from public appearances was in 2014, when he was not seen for 40 days. 

The parade, which will celebrate the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, is expected to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether Kim will emerge from hiding to make an appearance. 


Kim may use the event to showcase the latest hardware from his growing nuclear weapons and missile program that’s brewing concern for the United States and its allies in Asia.

Last week, North Korea threatened to counter U.S. military moves with the “most overwhelming nuclear force” as it condemned U.S. plans to expand its joint exercise with South Korea and deploy more advanced military assets like bombers and aircraft carriers to the region.

North Korea fired more than 70 ballistic missiles in 2022, including potential nuclear-capable weapons designed to strike targets in South Korea or reach the U.S. mainland. It also conducted a slew of launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and U.S. targets in response to the expanded U.S. military drills with South Korea, which had been downsized during the Trump administration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Economists stunned by ‘breathtaking’ job growth ‘boom’ as unemployment drops to level not seen since 1969

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The year was 1969: Congress certified the results of the election, officially declaring Richard Nixon would be the 37th President of the United States, Joe Namath led the New York Jets to win Super Bowl III, The Beatles released the soundtrack from their hit film “Yellow Submarine,” and unemployment was 3.4%. It’s been 54 years since unemployment was at 3.4%, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released January’s report Friday morning, stunning economists who expected unemployment to go up, not down. Economists projected 187,000 new jobs would be added to the U.S. economy in January. Inste…

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Blinken scraps rare Beijing trip over alleged China spy balloon

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Washington (AFP) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday scrapped a rare Beijing trip aimed at easing escalating tensions between the two global powers, after the Pentagon said that China sent a spy balloon over the United States. Moments before the decision, China issued a rare statement of regret and blamed winds for blowing over what it called a civilian airship. But President Joe Biden’s administration was not impressed and, with the rival Republican Party already on the offensive, Blinken postponed his two-day visit that would have started Sunday. “We have noted the PRC statement…

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A judge in Texas is using a recent Supreme Court ruling to allow domestic abusers to keep their gun

Taking guns from abusers saves lives.
Kameleon007 via Getty Images

April M. Zeoli, University of Michigan and Shannon Frattaroli, Johns Hopkins University

For a large part of the history of the United States, domestic abuse was tolerated under the nation’s legal system. There were few laws criminalizing domestic violence, and enforcement of the existing laws was rare.

It was only in the past few decades that laws criminalizing domestic violence came to be widespread and enforced. But now, the U.S. is in danger of backtracking on that legal framework precisely because of the nation’s historical legacy of turning a blind eye to domestic violence.

On Nov. 10, 2022, a judge in the Western District of Texas struck down the federal law that prohibits access to guns for people subject to domestic violence protection orders. He did this based on a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, NYSRPA v. Bruen, which held that, to be constitutional, a firearm restriction must be analogous to laws that were in existence when the country was founded. In other words, disarming domestic abusers violates the Second Amendment because those types of laws didn’t exist at the founding of the country.

In a separate, but related, case, the 5th U.S. Circuit of Court of Appeals on Feb 1. sided with the Texas judge, ruling that the federal ban was unconstitutional. The Justice Department has indicated that it will appeal.

We study the link between gun laws and domestic violence in the U.S. and know that backtracking on laws that prevent the perpetrators of domestic violence from getting their hands on guns will put lives at risk – the research has proved this time and time again.

Putting lives in danger

At present, federal law prohibits persons subject to final – rather than temporary – domestic violence protection orders from purchasing or possessing firearms. In addition, 39 states and the District of Columbia have similar prohibitions on their statutes, with many expanding the restrictions to include individuals under temporary, or ex parte, orders prior to a full hearing.

Ruling that these laws are unconstitutional will put mainly women and children in danger. More than 50% of women who are murdered are killed by intimate partners, and most of those homicides are committed with guns. A 2003 study found that when an abusive man has access to a gun, it increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by 400%.

Women constitute the majority of victims of intimate partner homicide, and almost one-third of children under the age of 13 who are murdered with a gun are killed in the context of domestic violence.

Moreover, 68% of mass shooters have a history of domestic violence or killed an intimate partner in the mass shooting.

Enforcement of gun restrictions is spotty, with further research needed as to how systematically they are ordered and whether restricted individuals relinquish firearms they already possess. Nonetheless, research shows that firearm restrictions on domestic violence protection orders save lives. Multiple studies conclude that these laws are associated with an 8%-10% reduction in intimate partner homicide.

Specifically, there are statistically significant reductions in intimate partner homicide when the firearm restriction covers both dating partners and those subjected to temporary orders. This decrease is seen in total intimate partner homicide, not just intimate partner homicide committed with guns, nullifying the argument that abusers will use other weapons to kill.

Moreover, these laws have broad support across the country – more than 80% of respondents to two national polls in 2017 and 2019 said they favor them.

Americans – whether male or female, gun owner or non-gun owner – tend to agree that domestic abusers should not be able to purchase or possess firearms while they are subject to a domestic violence protection order. Most seem to realize that such reasonable restrictions serve the greater good of keeping families and communities safe.

A disregard for data

The ruling in Texas was based on an originalist legal argument rather than the data. Under the judge’s interpretation of the Bruen decision, because colonial law – written before a time when women could vote, let alone be protected in law from violent spouses – didn’t restrict domestic abusers’ gun rights, then it simply isn’t constitutional to do so now. In effect, the ruling, should it stand, would mean the U.S. is unable to escape the nation’s historic legal disregard for domestic violence.

It also disregards the harm that allowing domestic abusers to keep hold of guns does. Multiple studies demonstrate that domestic violence firearm restriction laws are effective and save lives.

That research shows that, should the Texas ruling stand, people who suffer abuse at the hands of an intimate partner are at greater risk of that abuse being deadly.

Lisa Geller, director of state affairs at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, contributed to this article.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Feb. 3, 2022 to include the ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.The Conversation

April M. Zeoli, Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Michigan and Shannon Frattaroli, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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How fitting it is that just days after Groundhog Day, Americans have awoken to discover yet again that House Republicans are doing anew what they’ve long done over and over.

Republicans are spewing the usual right-wing rhetoric – only to have it collide with the reality of actual governance.

As you probably know, they’re currently threatening to make it impossible for Uncle Sam to pay his bills (by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, a move that would crash the economy). Paying those bills is an obligatory requirement under federal law, but House Republicans insist they won’t play ball… unless President Biden first agrees to slash future spending on a wide range of federal programs.

Never mind the fact Republicans voted three times (along with Democrats) to raise the debt ceiling during the Trump presidency, seven times during the George W. Bush era, and 18 times during Ronald Reagan’s reign. Now, with Joe Biden in the White House, they’re suddenly concerned about red ink.

While they’re talking a grand game about the urgent need to cut and slash Big Guv’mint, in truth they have no idea what to cut and slash. Their nutcase extremists want to target Social Security and Medicare, but House leaders have already ruled that out for the obvious reason that cutting those programs would wreck real people’s lives. And they certainly don’t want to slash the defense budget, because that would undercut their shtick about how Biden is “weak.”

To fully appreciate how lost they are in the halls of governance, check out the following exchange. On CNN earlier this week, host Jim Sciutto asked a back-bench House Republican named Dusty Johnson to specifically list the federal programs that Biden should cut. He asked Johnson three times to identify the president’s “reckless” spending. It did not go well.

Sciutto: “What specific programs are you putting on the table to cut?”

Johnson: “Well, that’s not how a negotiation works.”

Sciutto: “A negotiation, as you know, involves two sides presenting their positions. Can you name a single program that Republicans would be willing to cut money from to make a deal?”

Johnson: “But see, I think that’s ridiculously unfair.”

Sciutto: “Please, go ahead. Is there a program that you can name that you personally would be willing to see money cut from?”

Johnson: “Well, yes, there are lots of programs. But that – but the point is, I’m not going to negotiate against the Republican Party on CNN…Your goal is to try to get Republicans to negotiate against themselves and to try to identify programs.”

Sciutto: “No, my goal is to find out what your positions are…Can you name a defense program you’d be willing to cut from?”

Johnson: We will not “bring forth all of these admittedly difficult-to-discuss cuts.”

It’s clear why Republicans fear specifics. Whenever they’ve pulled that stunt in the past, they’ve gotten burned.

In 1995, Newt Gingrich’s House conservatives threatened to hold the debt ceiling hostage unless President Clinton surrendered on Medicare and Medicaid spending. A year later, Clinton won re-election with ease. In 2011, the House GOP again threatened not to raise the debt ceiling as a way to hamper President Obama; a year later, Obama won re-election with ease.

Marc Thiessen, a commentator based at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, warned that Republicans are nuts to threaten (yet again!) making it impossible for the government to pay its bills: “If the United States reaches the brink of insolvency, myriad problems could follow. The stock market could plummet, interest rates could skyrocket, our national credit rating could be downgraded, millions of jobs could be lost and inflation could climb even further. And Republicans would assume ownership of the economic debacle…If Republicans want to all but guarantee a second Biden term, picking a debt ceiling fight is a great way to do it.”

But those ideologues wake up every morning with the same old tune. They just never learn.

Copyright 2023 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at

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