Aug 9, 2017

North Korea's scary milestones keep speeding up

Shizuo Kambayashi

The North Korean nuclear threat, which had been unfolding over years and even over presidencies, now hits ominous milestones by the week.

  • In what Kim Jong-un had taunted was an Independence Day "gift," the regime on July 4 launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach Alaska.
  • By the end of the month, he was gloating about a test that could reach California (per the N.Y. Times), or even Denver or Chicago (per the Wall Street Journal).
  • Then came yesterday's WashPost scoop that North Korea has "produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power."

It's the big idea of Tom Friedman's book last year about the "age of accelerations": that Moore's Law, about the rate of doubling in computer power, now applies to basically everything.

Shortly after the Post's huge story, Trump poured on accelerant with remarks that were a quick coda to a statement on the opioid crisis that he delivered at his Summer White House at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J..

A reporter asked if he had any comment on the reports about North Korea's nuclear capabilities. He sure did:

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before."

Be smart: Of all the dumb things North Korea says, the idea of threatening Guam is one of the dumber.

An all-around wise man points out: "Makes no sense. Attacking anywhere is a suicide mission for the regime. U.S. retaliation would be devastating and complete. Most Korea experts would tell you that if they are going to take their one shot, it will be at a more populated and emotionally connected target."

Go deeper

Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and is facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,225,360 — Total deaths: 66,542 — Total recoveries: 252,615Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 312,249 — Total deaths: 8,503 — Total recoveries: 15,021Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August." Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: The Louisiana governor warned that his state is set to run out of ventilators in four days. Illinois governor claims Trump doesn't understand the word "federal."
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Work update: Employees still going to work are often facing temperature checks, distanced work stations, protective devices and mass absences.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Illinois governor: "The president does not understand the word 'federal'"

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump's comments about the federal government's stockpile of medical equipment suggest he "does not understand the word 'federal.'"

Why it matters: White House adviser Jared Kushner argued at a press briefing last week that the "notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use."