© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
By Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, ratcheting up regional tensions just days after testing a cruise missile https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/nkorea-test-fires-long-range-cruise-missile-kcna-2021-09-12 with possible nuclear capabilities.
Pyongyang has been steadily developing its weapons programme amid a standoff over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for U.S. sanctions relief.
The negotiations, initiated between former U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, have stalled since 2019.
“North Korea fired two unidentified ballistic missiles from its central inland region toward the east coast, and intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting detailed analysis for further information,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
South Korea’s military has raised its level of surveillance, and is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States, the JCS added.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the missile launch “outrageous”, and strongly condemned the action as a threat to peace and security of the region.
Japan’s Coast Guard said the missiles landed outside its exclusive economic zone.
Both Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in would convene sessions of their national security councils to discuss the launches, according to their offices.
FLURRY OF DIPLOMACY
The ballistic missile tests are North Korea’s first since March https://tmsnrt.rs/2PFT4eW this year and a further breach of U.N. sanctions.
“Despite its self-imposed pandemic lockdown, North Korea continues to prioritise military modernisation,” said Leif-Eric Easley, international studies professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
The latest launch came as foreign ministers of South Korea and China held talks in Seoul amid concerns over North Korea’s recent cruise missile test and the stalled denuclearisation negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
North Korea said it successfully tested a new long-range cruise missile last weekend, calling it “a strategic weapon of great significance.” Analysts say that weapon could be the country’s first cruise missile with a nuclear capability.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when asked about the earlier cruise missile tests, said all parties should work to promote peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
“Not only North Korea but other countries are carrying out military activity,” he told reporters. “All of us should make efforts in a way that helps resume dialogue.”
In a meeting with Wang on Wednesday, Moon asked for China’s support to restart dialogue, saying North Korea has not been responding to offers from South Korea and the United States for talks or engagement such as humanitarian aid, Moon’s spokesperson said.
The nuclear envoys of South Korea, Japan, and the United States were meeting in Tokyo this week as well.
U.S. envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, said on Tuesday the United States has no hostile intent towards Pyongyang and hopes it responds positively to offers for talks on its weapons programmes.
Kim was due to meet with his Japanese counterpart for a bilateral meeting on Wednesday.
Elon Musk mocks President Biden after SpaceX completes first all-civilian mission
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk poses with the crew before launch on September 15, 2021.
John Kraus / Inspiration4
After SpaceX completed a historic, private spaceflight on Saturday, CEO Elon Musk took a pot shot at President Joe Biden who had yet to remark on the company’s and the civilian flight crew’s accomplishments.
One of Musk’s 60 million followers on the social networking platform Twitter asked him, “The President of the United States has refused to even acknowledge the 4 newest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude. What’s your theory on why that is?”
Musk replied, “He’s still sleeping.”
As CNBC previously reported, SpaceX safely returned its Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit yesterday. The capsule carried the four members of the Inspiration4 mission back to Earth after three days in space.
One major goal of the Inspiration4 mission was to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It had raised $160.2 million by Saturday. Celebrating after Inspiration4 splashed down, Musk pledged to contribute $50 million personally — pushing the campaign’s total raised to $210 million.
The White House and SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Top NASA officials have congratulated Musk and SpaceX on the Inspiration4 mission. SpaceX competitors acknowledged it too, with accolades from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin and Musk’s peer and rival Jeff Bezos shared on social media.
This marked the first private SpaceX spaceflight, with a non-professional crew. Additionally, the mission involved the first Black woman to serve as a spacecraft pilot, the youngest American to become an astronaut to date, and the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis.
Although Musk recently stated that he “would prefer to stay out of politics,” his quip on Sunday indicated a willingness to needle the Democratic president and repeat a right-wing taunt about Biden.
During his 2020 campaign, former President Donald Trump frequently insulted then-candidate Biden by calling him “Sleepy Joe.”
More recently, Trump sent Biden sarcastic well-wishes ahead of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. He said in an e-mailed statement at the time, “Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin— don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!”
SpaceX generally enjoys a good relationship with the federal government. For example, it won a $2.89 billion contract to build NASA’s next crewed lunar lander, beating out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Leidos subsidiary Dynetics, and SpaceX has flown 10 astronauts to the ISS for NASA to date.
However, SpaceX is also under investigation by the Department of Justice after accusations that it discriminated against job applicants based on citizenship status — a probe that began during the Trump administration.
In addition to his responsibilities at SpaceX, Musk is concurrently the CEO of electric vehicle makers Tesla. (Tesla is also a supplier to SpaceX.)
In that capacity, he recently bemoaned a Biden administration proposal that would allocate an extra $4,500 in incentives to buyers of certain, new electric light-duty passenger vehicles. One stipulation of the proposal is that electric vehicles should be union-made, domestically.
While the company operates a battery factory in Nevada, and a vehicle assembly plant in California already, with another under construction outside of Austin, Texas, Tesla is the only major U.S. automaker whose production is not unionized here.
Musk said, on Twitter on September 12, of the proposal: “This is written by Ford/UAW lobbyists, as they make their electric car in Mexico. Not obvious how this serves American taxpayers.”
In Cars.com’s annual American Made Index for 2021, Tesla’s popular Model 3 electric sedan topped the rankings, and its crossover Model Y landed in third place.
AEW Is Outselling WWE In New York Market Ticket Sales
As AEW and WWE continue to promote big shows in the New York market during the month of September, upstart AEW is outperforming New York-based WWE.
AEW and WWE ran successful shows in the New York/New Jersey area this past week. Wednesday’s AEW Dynamite in Newark, N.J. nearly sold out with almost 12,000 ticket sales, while WWE SmackDown’s Sept. 10 broadcast in Madison Square Garden had an announced attendance of 14,425—enough for SmackDown’s biggest gate ever. Both AEW and WWE will run Long Island’s UBS Arena for the first time, within ten days of one another, starting with WWE Raw on November 29.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported “The WWE show sold about 750 on the pre-sale while AEW sold about 4,000 on the pre-sale.” Per WrestleTix (h/t Wrestling Inc), WWE Raw’s debut in the UBS Arena has sold 2,365 tickets while AEW has sold 6,1,67 tickets. With the Summer of Cena now officially over following his loss to Roman Reigns at SummerSlam, WWE’s drawing power has suffered. WWE’s full-time roster—which, for over a decade, has been promoted as second-fiddle to stars of the past like Cena and Brock Lesnar—is predictably struggling to attract fans.
In addition to outselling WWE in its home base, AEW is also enjoying a two-week winning streak over WWE Raw in the 18-49 demographic. AEW Dynamite beat WWE Raw this past week despite Raw featuring two WWE Championship matches and Big E’s Money in the Bank cash-in. Raw’s September 13 broadcast, however, went head-to-head with Week 1 of NFL’s Monday Night Football, which will continue to hobble WWE in viewership throughout the fall.
AEW is now poised to defeat WWE for a third-straight week ahead of its biggest Dynamite ever in the nearly-sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium. As of this writing, AEW Grand Slam has sold well ver 18,000 tickets for AEW Grand Slam. WWE will return to its emergency glass case Monday on Raw as Roman Reigns and The Usos will take on The New Day. Raw will once again face tough sledding against Monday Night Football, featuring one of the NFL’s biggest stars Aaron Rodgers and public team the Green Bay Packers.
The story of AEW catching up to WWE is not a story of the wrestling business exploding as it did when WCW toppled WWE in the mid-’90s. This is a story of the overall wrestling audience shrinking, and AEW doing a better job of connecting with pro wrestling’s niche base of mostly hardcore wrestling fans. Both WWE Raw and AEW Dynamite were down double digits this week, with AEW Dynamite falling 11% in overall viewership and 15% in the 18-49 demo. AEW’s precipitous drop in the 18-49 demo (from 681,000 to 574,000) was still good enough to best WWE Raw’s own decline as Raw fell 10% in overall viewership (down 17% in 18-49 viewership).
This is far from the Monday Night Wars. AEW and WWE’s battle for viewership supremacy is closer to a Monday Night Thumb Wars, and a much smaller, male-dominated pro wrestling audience continues to gravitate toward AEW in key business metrics.
Similar to Monday Nitro, AEW has been effective in rejuvenating and marketing former WWE stars. Free agent signings Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson and CM Punk have all made instant impacts in AEW’s main event picture. All three will be featured on AEW Grand Slam, which is trending towards AEW Dynamite’s biggest television gate in history.
As AEW continues to struggle attracting women, WWE can counter by building its own, much larger, women’s audience. WWE is in position to do just that, currently featuring Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch in a top storyline on SmackDown, while Naomi continues her own racially charged storyline opposite Sonya Deville and “Karen.” AEW, meanwhile, is looking to build a female following with the forthcoming “Rhodes to the Top” reality show featuring Cody and Brandi Rhodes.
France cancels defence meeting with UK over submarine row, sources say By Reuters
PARIS (Reuters) – France has cancelled a meeting between Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart planned for this week after Australia scrapped a submarine order with Paris in favour of a deal with Washington and London, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Parly personally took the decision to drop the bilateral meeting with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, the sources said.
The French defence ministry could not be immediately reached. The British defence ministry declined comment.
The sources confirmed an earlier report in the Guardian newspaper that the meeting had been cancelled.
The scrapping of the multi-billion-dollar submarine contract, struck in 2016, has triggered a diplomatic crisis, with Paris recalling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra.
France claims not to have been consulted by its allies, while Australia says it had made clear to Paris for months its concerns over the contract.
French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden will speak by telephone in the coming days to discuss the crisis, the French government’s spokesman said on Sunday.
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