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Our Expert Voices conversation on North Korea

North Korea continues to accelerate its hostile nuclear missile program, and the US has few choices to blunt, much less end, this preeminent threat. Not enough leverage has come quickly enough from China. A naval blockade or quarantine will not produce direct results. Conventional war would be a bloodbath. And tactical nuclear strikes would not save deployed Americans and South Koreans, already skittish, from devastating retaliation.

There is another option. Cyberwar and sabotage have slowed Pyongyang's progress and foiled past launches. This effort should now add attacks on the North's strategic infrastructure, especially its electrical grid. The U.S. has signaled in the past that it has the power to severely disrupt or at least temporarily shut down Russia's grid; if that capability has not been developed yet against North Korea, federal cyberwarriors, aided by the private sector if necessary, must ready it for immediate use. Pyongyang should be informed that unless all testing and launches stop at once, the lights will go out.

Bottom line: Although many subjects are accustomed to darkness at night, as satellite photos make clear, stripping the military elite of electrical power would cripple the regime — making launches and research prohibitive, and perhaps even precipitating its collapse.

Other voices:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

4 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.