Friday, 28 December 2012

What Makes A Halo Around The Sun Or Moon?


Photo: Moon Halo with Jupiter and Aldebaran
Location : Kampung Harmoni,Selangor Malaysia 
Date : 26 Desember 2012
Time : 22.43.49 
Camera :Samsung Galaxy Camera
By: Mohd Ezli Mashut


Moon Halo with Jupiter and Aldebaran
Location : Kampung Harmoni,Selangor Malaysia 
Date : 26 Desember 2012
Time : 22.43.49 
Camera :Samsung Galaxy Camera
By: Mohd Ezli Mashut


Halos around the moon – or sun – are a sign of thin cirrus clouds drifting high above our heads. They are a sign of nearby storms.
A ring or circle of light around the sun or moon is called a halo by scientists. We get many messages throughout each year from people who’ve just spotted a ring around the sun or moon. The night before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the U.S. mainland on October 29, 2012, for example, many throughout the U.S. saw a lunar halo. Another rash of lunar halos in the U.S. began to appear shortly before Christmas 2012. Solar and lunar haloes are pretty common, but they’re so mysterious-looking that people often express amazement upon seeing them. They want to know: what causes a halo around the sun or moon?
Moon halo, with Jupiter on the edge of the halo, seen December 23, 2012 by Danny Crocker Jensen in Wardsville, Missouri. Thanks, Danny!
EarthSky Facebook friend Randy Miller in Anderson, Indiana saw this lunar halo on the night Sandy made landfall on the U.S. mainland, October 29, 2012.
On the night Sandy made landfall, lunar halos were seen as far west in the U.S. as the state of Washington.EarthSky Facebook friend Susan Jensen in Odessa, Washington saw and photographed this delicate halo, as Sandy was carving its path of destruction along the U.S. East Coast.
There’s an old weather saying: ring around the moon means rain soon. There’s truth to this saying, because high cirrus clouds often come before a storm. Notice in these photos that the sky looks fairly clear. After all, you can see the sun or moon. And yet halos are a sign of high thin cirrus clouds drifting 20,000 feet or more above our heads.
These clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos you see are caused by bothrefraction, or splitting of light, and also by reflection, or glints of light from these ice crystals. The crystals have to be oriented and positioned just so with respect to your eye, in order for the halo to appear.
Lunar halo – with greenish northern lights on the left – as seen on the morning of October 8, 2012 by EarthSky Facebook friend Colin Chatfield in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Sun halo seen in Tucson, Arizona on September 27, 2012 by EarthSky Facebook friend Sean Parker Photography. Thank you, Sean! Click here to expand image. More from Sean here.
Sun halo seen in Washington state on May 16, 2012. Image via EarthSky Facebook friend Sean Abbasi
That’s why, like rainbows, halos around the sun – or moon – are personal. Everyone sees their own particular halo, made by their own particular ice crystals, which are different from the ice crystals making the halo of the person standing next to you.
Because moonlight isn’t very bright, lunar halos are mostly colorless, but you might notice more red on the inside and more blue on the outside of the halo. These colors are more noticeable in halos around the sun. If you do see a halo around the moon or sun, notice that the inner edge is sharp, while the outer edge is more diffuse. Also, notice that the sky surrounding the halo is darker than the rest of the sky.
Bottom line: Halos around the sun or moon happen when high, thin cirrus clouds are drifting high above your head. Tiny ice crystals in Earth’s atmosphere cause the halos. They do this by refracting and reflecting the light. Lunar halos are signs that storms are nearby.
Sun halo on May 16, 2012 via EarthSky Facebook friend Nonya Justagirl

Thursday, 27 December 2012

China to be surrounded by US stealth jets by 2017

 A US B-2 stealth jet (AFP Photo)



A US B-2 stealth jet (AFP Photo)
The United States’ presence in the Asia-Pacific is about to be much more impressive: by 2017, the US is expected to have all but surrounded China, its number one economic rival, with fleets of the most advanced stealth warplanes in the world.
According to recent reports from some of the Pentagon’s top-brass, Uncle Sam will be essentially surrounding the United States’ top competitor in only five years’ time. By 2017, the Air Force’s F-22s and B-2s, as well as a fleet of the Marine Corps’ F-35, will all be deployed east.
News of the long-term plan stems from a report by Wired’s David Axe this week, who notes that several recent interviews with Defense Department officials suggest that the Obama administration’s “strategic pivot” plan in Asia announced earlier this year hasn’t been ignored just yet.
In June, the Pentagon revealed plans to restructure the US military so that 60 percent of its warships would be in the Asia-Pacific by 2020. At the time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the decision was not meant to intimidate China, but was rather a common sense response to make sure America’s resources were divvied out where they might be most needed.
“Some view the increased emphasis by the United States on Asia-Pacific as a challenge to China, I reject that view entirely,” Panetta said this summer.
As recently as November, the secretary said of Asia, “We’re going to continue to invest in the region,” but that “It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of focus.” Now only weeks later, the pieces are already being put in place.
Speaking of the B-2 bombers last month, 8th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson told Air Force Magazine that fleets “will rotate to forward operating locations all over the world in small numbers for a few weeks at a time,” with those operations “beginning with a short Pacific deployment” in early 2013.
That news takes on a whole new light following an address from Sec. Panetta at the National Press Club in Washington last week, where he announced “new deployments of F-22s … to Japan” and confirmed that the Pentagon is “laying the groundwork” for F-35s to be in Japan by 2017.
“[W]e still have to maintain our global leadership and presence by building innovative partnerships and partner capacity across the globe and using these innovative rotational deployments as a way to do exercises and training with other countries, developing their capabilities so that they can help provide for their own security,” Panetta said.
Writing for Wired’s Danger Room, Axe says, “When the deployments are complete in 2017, Air Force F-22s and B-2s and Marine Corps F-35s could all be within striking range of America’s biggest economic rival at the same time.”
“With Beijing now testing its own radar-evading jet fighters — two different models, to be exact — the clock is counting down to a stealth warplane showdown over the Western Pacific,” he says.
When the Pentagon first discussed its “strategic pivot” earlier this year, Sen. Joe Lieberman, (I-Connecticut) dismissed rumors of an eventual skirmish, saying, "China and the US are so tied together economically and another Cold War is not in the interest of either that ultimately common sense will prevail."
Regardless, the Obama administration’s current plan will position more than half of the United States Navy to the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the decade.
“Increased US involvement in this region will benefit China as it advances our shared security and prosperity for the future,” claimed Panetta.

F-35: Still on Asia’s Radar?




Several Asian countries are interested in the American F-35 JSF. But Canada’s U-turn on buying the jet won’t encourage Asian partners to sign up any time soon. Will the program survive?
feature
For a stealth plane, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) certainly attracts a lot of criticism.
It was the future weapon system that promised so much — enough for the United States and its allies to draw up wide-eyed plans for over 3,100 JSFs while the plane was still little more than an idea. The JSF was going to guarantee air superiority for the U.S. and its partners well into the middle of this century. But ever since rising costs, technical complexities, and missed deadlines have badly hurt the machine’s credibility, to the point where some critics advocatefreighting the F-35 straight to the museum before it ever enters active service.
Of all the program’s setbacks, this month’s announcement that Canada was hitting the “reset” button on its procurement of 65 aircraft is probably the most serious. Ottawa, one of eightinternational partners working with the U.S. on the program, had been staunchly pro-JSF until an independent audit found that the fleet would cost $45.8bn over its 42-year life span — almost double initial government estimates. The reset doesn’t mean that Canada has dumped the F-35 entirely, but it would now look politically clumsy for the government to do another 180 degree turn and buy the jet after all. At any rate, Ottawa is examining cheaper alternatives.
Other partner nations are also wavering, but the biggest threat to the program could be in the U.S. itself, where up to $500 billion may need to be shed from the defense budget over the coming decade, in addition to cuts already agreed too. As the Pentagon’s most expensive program — currently pegged at $396bn for basic procurement and $1.45 trillion for total through-life costs — it is hard to see how the JSF could emerge unscathed, and for the U.S. to buy the 2,400 models the military desires, if huge savings from the defense budget must be found.
Despite all these uncertainties, a number of Asian customers and potential customers are still keenly tracking the JSF’s progress in the hope that it will eventually live up to its original promise. Australia and Japan have already ordered F-35s, though, like Canada, both have expressed misgivings about rising costs. South Korea is in the process of selecting a new fighter jet, with the F-35 one of three main contenders. Singapore is currently evaluating the aircraft. And India has been tapped by Washington as a future customer, in particular for the JSF’s naval variant.
Flight check
Lockheed Martin, the JSF program’s main contractor, is naturally more interested in trumpeting the aircraft’s progress, rather than dwelling on its missteps. And the program is undeniably moving forward. “The F-35 is making very substantial progress in its test program,” explains Dave Scott, the director of F-35 International Customer Engagement at Lockheed. With 16 aircraft now undergoing flight tests, Lockheed has “a high degree of confidence that [the testing program] will complete in 2016,” Scott says. Production aircraft are now rolling out of the factory. The DoD and Lockheed reached an agreement in November — after testy and prolonged negotiations — on the cost of the latest batch of 32 aircraft. The U.S. Air Force is preparing to begin pilot training in January. And down the line, the Marine Corps is planning to deploy F-35s to Japan in 2017.
This forward momentum strongly suggests that the F-35 program will endure, not least because the U.S. has hundreds of ageing aircraft that it needs to retire and nothing else to replace them with. It would also be unthinkable for the U.S. to dump its stealth fighter as China and Russia forge ahead with their own. But is the original goal of building over 3,100 aircraft still realistic? “Absolutely, that target is achievable,” Scott insists.
If Lockheed is to have any hope of building that many F-35s, it needs to encourage partners in Asia and elsewhere to keep faith with the project. But cost is the Catch-22: Lockheed needs more buyers to drive down the price, but concern over cost is what’s keeping those would-be buyers at arm’s length.
Locating the actual cost of an F-35 is perhaps trickier than spotting one on radar. The latest batch may be costing the Pentagon over $200m per copy, according to some estimates, though once in full production the unit cost could fall to under $100m. The information on price in the public domain may be ambiguous, but Scott says that potential customers are fully briefed on costs and receive assurances that they will not pay more than the U.S. itself. Costs are steadily falling, he adds, expressing Lockheed’s continuing “confidence that this will be a very affordable airplane along the lines of an F-16 or an F-18”. He admits, however, that the unit cost will partly depend on the number of aircraft being built.
Asian outlook
As the F-35’s principal cheerleader, Lockheed of course subscribes to the most optimistic of the program’s many possible fates. Not everyone follows suit. “In my opinion only the foolhardy or clairvoyant would risk saying anything definitive about a program like the F-35, as there are too many unknowns still to play out,” argues Simon Michell, the editor of RUSI Defense Systems at the Royal United Services Institute. But while cautioning against over-optimism, Michell agrees that, “if you are a nation that can afford it and is willing to wait, the F-35 is the best aircraft”. For Asian customers, “buying F-35 is also a political statement [as] it ties them closely to the U.S.,” he adds. “The looming presence of China is focusing minds on future strategic alliances.”
Japan ordered 42 F-35s back in December 2011. It remains contractually committed only to the first four aircraft, but it seems unlikely in the context of rising tensions with China that Tokyo would choose to back out, despite some alarm over the aircraft’s price tag. The Japanese are developing their own stealth aircraft, but its future is even less certain than the F-35’s. Lockheed’s Scott says that the company is on track to deliver Japan’s first four JSFs in 2016, adding that work is currently underway to set up an assembly line in Japan so that deliveries of the remaining 38 aircraft can begin in 2017.
Neighborhood rivalry means that South Korea is more likely to procure F-35s in light of the Japanese program. Seoul is currently evaluating three aircraft — the F-35, the Boeing F-15SE, and the Eurofighter Typhoon — with a view to ordering 60 of the winning design, probably in 2013 (Scott says that Lockheed is unaware of when a decision might come). With a potential need to engage targets in North Korea, Seoul arguably also has more of a need for the JSF’s stealthy strike capabilities than most, although the F-15, which South Korea already operates, would be a safe fallback option if Seoul feels that too many “ifs” and “buts” still surround the JSF program.
Australia is the Asia-Pacific market where the JSF program could be in the most trouble. Having originally outlined plans to procure 100 JSFs, Canberra has only placed a firm order for two planes so far, and a serious internal debate is underway ahead of the publication of a new defense White Paper as to whether Australia should emulate Canada’s decision. An ongoing round of defense spending cuts certainly makes the JSF vulnerable. “There are two major areas where the government can cut defense funding,” explains James Brown, a military fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute. “The JSF and submarines are theobvious targets.” While the Australian military continues to make its case for the F-35, “the arguments for saying that we need 100 are looking a bit spurious,” Brown reasons.
With funding in short supply, “the most likely option now is a small additional order of [Boeing F/A-18] Super Hornets,” Brown continues. A reduced F-35 procurement could then follow later in the decade, allowing Australia to save money in the medium term and remain on the sidelines while the JSF program matures.
Singapore, another potential buyer, could be arriving at a similar conclusion, with little news on JSF procurement emerging from the Ministry of Defense. “The key from Singapore’s point of view is the need to maintain a technological edge over its adversaries, and that’s what makes the F-35 attractive,” explains Tim Huxley, executive director of the Singapore-based International Institute for Strategic Studies – Asia. “Having said that, the decision from Canada and perhaps also Australia [to back out] suggests that MINDEF will be looking at this very closely indeed,” Huxley continues. “Rumors of 100 F-35 certainly seem to be unrealistic. They will buy, but they’ll be looking at a smallish buy, perhaps 20 aircraft.” As with the Australian option of acquiring more F/A-18s as a stopgap measure, Singapore could add to its F-15 fleet in the medium term, and buy itself more time to evaluate the JSF program as it gathers pace. “There’s no reason for Singapore to rush into a decision,” Huxley adds.
Lockheed Martin’s Scott also acknowledges some potential partners may want to soft-pedal. “In all my conversations [with potential customers] there’s a growing recognition that the F-35 is the plane that will provide security and stability,” he says. “The question now is, when is the right time to buy?”
India, the other likely Asian buyer, also has the luxury of time. New Delhi is still in the process of procuring the Dassault Rafale, and will only then begin to think about what might come next. That being said, there is already speculation that India is reducing its participation in Russia’s stealth fighter program with a view to instead joining the F-35 camp later in the decade.
Endgame
For all Lockheed’s boundless optimism that it can still break the 3,000 aircraft threshold, there is a real risk that if too many partners reduce the size of their orders and defer their procurements, the JSF program will never reach that critical mass — the point where the unit cost becomes truly affordable. The window of opportunity in which the F-35 can succeed would then be narrow indeed.
Procuring the most advanced 4th generation aircraft, armed with the latest weaponry, could be a viable near-term alternative for many countries, argues RUSI’s Michell, while stealthy unmanned platforms may be capable of fulfilling most or all of the F-35’s anticipated roles sometime in the 2020s. “Their time is coming,” Michell believes, though even then he expects a mix of manned and unmanned platforms to be retained by most air forces.
The attractiveness of the unmanned option will also be a cultural issue for the country in question. “Stealthy UCAVs are at least a decade away, but given the timescale for inducting the F-35s it would make sense to look at substituting UCAVs for the later phases of the F-35 program,” says Huxley. “Singapore has a particular affinity with unmanned platforms of all types, and they will be acutely aware of that option.” Australia, on the other hand, is more likely to see the manned F-35 as the long-term answer to its future air power needs. The Lowy’s Brown points out, “Our approach to air combat is very conservative; our air force is opposed to the widespread use of unmanned technology. And there’s now enough momentum in the F-35 program to give you the sense that it will get through to its conclusion.”
There is little doubt that as Western partners scale back their ambitions for the F-35, the U.S. is looking to new Asian partners to pick up the slack. With their participation, the F-35 program can still succeed. However, the program cannot afford any more stumbles if it hopes to convince Asian buyers that the F-35 is worth the money — and the risk — before newer, and perhaps cheaper, technologies take its place in the skies. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

5 Ways to Easily Increase Your Internet Security




In this age of technology nothing is private. In fact, NSA whistleblower William Binney recently stated that literally every email sent in the US is recorded by the FBI.

For those living in reality, it has been know that since the 90′s under President Clinton, programs such as Echelon monitored nearly every phone call, fax, and email in the United States.

Sites like Facebook have been known to record users web history even when they are logged outGoogle has had to pay out millions for its privacy violations such as disabling privacy settings on Internet browsers to allow them to track you. 

Google Street View cars used to take pictures for Google Earth were caught stealing passwords and information from home computers it drove past. The list of privacy violations by U.S. intelligence groups and their corporate front groups are too many to list.

Good Internet security is not about “having something to hide.” It is simply about protecting your personal information from groups who wish to use it for reasons you may not want. What good are passwords if your information is not truly private? Here are 5 easy steps everyone can take to increase their privacy.

1. CHANGE YOUR SEARCH ENGINE!
Use StartpageStartpage removes all identifying information from your query and submits it anonymously to Google so you get Google search results without having your information mined. Your IP address is never recorded, your visit is not logged, and no tracking cookies are placed on your browser.

2. DELETE FLASH COOKIES REGULARLY.
Most people are familiar with cookies, small pieces of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while a user is browsing a website. Many are unaware that Flash also leaves cookies on your computer. Bookmarkhttp://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/sett… to view and delete Flash cookies regularly.

3. USE A NEW BROWSER.
Two preferable browsers for everyday use would be Mozilla Firefox and Opera. Add-ons or Extensions can be added to these browsers to increase privacy such as Ghostery, to block web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages, and Facebook Blocker, which blocks Facebook from viewing your browsing history.

4. USE CRYPTOCAT TO CHAT!
Encourage you friends to add Cryptocat to their browser. Cryptocat instant messaging platform lets you easily have private conversations with friends without it being viewed by any third party.

5. PEERBLOCK!
PeerBlock lets you control who your computer “talks to” on the Internet. By selecting appropriate lists of “known bad” computers, you can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring your p2p activities, computers which have been “hacked”, even entire countries! Edit the settings to allow your favorite sites and block others!

No one can be totally private on the Internet but with these beginner steps, you can start to stop your information from being sold to the highest bidder.

For more advanced and secure systems make sure to check out The Tor Project. The Tor Browser is one of the best tools used by everyone from media to law enforcement to massively increase privacy when browsing the Internet.

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

In Photos, Chinese Farmer Builds Apocalypse-Proof ‘Noah’s Ark’ Pods

Liu Qiyuan poses with his pods in Hebei Province in China on Dec. 11, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images


Liu Qiyuan, a Chinese farmer from the village of Qiantun in northern Hebei Province, located just south of Beijing, has built what he describes as “Noah’s Ark” survival pods in case of a cataclysmic event.
Liu was inspired by the blockbuster film “2012” and the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Indonesia and Thailand in 2004 and killed hundreds of thousands, reported AFP.
He hopes that his circular pods are adopted by government agencies and international organizations in the event of earthquakes and tsunamis.
His seven pods, which are airtight, are made out of a fiberglass shell wrapped around a steel frame. They are able to float on water. Some of them even have their own propulsion device installed.
They also come complete with oxygen tanks and can hold as many as 14 people. 
The Dec. 21, 2012, Mayan prophecy, which some people have interpreted as the end of the world, struck a nerve with ordinary Chinese after the “2012” film gained popularity there in 2009.
Last month, it was reported that Lu Zhenghai, a man from Xinjiang, spent some $150,000 dollars to build his own “Noah’s Ark”-like vessel. According to the Daily Mail tabloid, he spend his entire life savings on constructing the ship.
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A worker stands beside a survival pod. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker stands beside a survival pod. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu Qiyuan sits inside one of seven survival pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu Qiyuan sits inside one of seven survival pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Incomplete survival pods sit in Liu's workshop. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Incomplete survival pods sit in Liu's workshop. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers reposition one of the pods . (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers reposition one of the pods . (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu secures a hatch inside one his pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu secures a hatch inside one his pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu poses among his survival pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu poses among his survival pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu Qiyuan and his daughter sit inside one of his pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu Qiyuan and his daughter sit inside one of his pods. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu looks out from inside. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Liu looks out from inside. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
(Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
(Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea Sends Rocket Into Space



SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea defied the likelihood of more sanctions by the United Nations Security Council to launch a rocket on Wednesday, demonstrating that the government of its new leader,Kim Jong-un, was pressing ahead to master the technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead on intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Geoeye
The Sohae rocket launching facility in Cholsan County in North Pyongan Province, North Korea.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un  defied the likelihood of more sanctions by the United Nations Security Council to launch a rocket Wednesday.
The Unha-3, or Galaxy-3, rocket blasted off from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri on North Korea’s western coast near China on Wednesday morning, a spokesman for South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.
“That’s all we can confirm right now,” the spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity until his government made an official announcement.
It was not immediately known whether the rocket has succeeded in fulfilling North Korea’s stated goal of putting a satellite into orbit.
North Korea has said its three-stage rocket would carry an earth-observation satellite named Kwangmyongsong-3, or Shining Star-3, and that it was exercising its right to peaceful activity in space.
But Washington and its allies have said they think that North Korea’s rocket program has less to do with putting a satellite into orbit than with developing a delivery vehicle for a nuclear warhead and trying to turn the country into a more urgent threat that Washington must deal with by offering diplomatic and economic concessions.
While North Korea may still have other technological thresholds to cross, like the miniaturizing of its nuclear weapons, a successful launching of a satellite into orbit would suggest that the country had overcome a major hurdle in its efforts to demonstrate its potential of mating its growing nuclear weapons program with intercontinental ballistic missile capability.
A failure would be an embarrassment for the young Mr. Kim, who has been struggling to establish himself a new North Korean leader hailed at home and feared abroad. Whether the launching was successful or not, Mr. Kim, by attempting a second rocket launching in the first year of his rule despite international condemnations, was dashing hopes among some analysts that he might soften North Korea’s confrontational stance.

 Instead, he was seen as intent on bolstering his father’s main legacy of nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs to justify his own hereditary rule.
Only Monday, it told the rest of the world that it had found a technical glitch with its rocket and needed until Dec. 29 to fix the problem and carry out the launch. . Outside analysts have been speculating what might be going on behind the dark cover North Korean engineers had put up around the launching pad to prevent United States spy satellites from watching.
“A successful test would raise as a top-line national security issue for the Obama administration the specter of a direct North Korean threat to the U.S. homeland,” Victor D. Cha and Ellen Kim wrote in a recent analysis posted on the Web site of the Center For Strategic and International Studies.
Mr. Kim hardly needed another failure. The North’s first rocket launched since he took over following the death of his father a year ago broke apart shortly after blast-off in April, forcing his regime to admit to the failure in front of the foreign journalists it had invited to watch the test.

This time, North Korea did not invite foreign journalists. Nor did the government announce the launching plan to its domestic audience. South Korean officials said this suggested that the regime intended to cover it up if the satellite launching failed or declare the launching a success regardless of the outcome, as it had before.
The missile capabilities of a country as opaque as North Korea are notoriously hard to assess. United States and South Korean officials have said that all of the North’s four multiple-stage rockets previously launched have exploded in mid-air or failed in their stated goal of thrusting a satellite into orbit.

Still, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in early 2011 that North Korea was within five years of being able to strike the continental United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Wednesday’s unusual winter-time rocket launching came five days before the one-year anniversary of the death of the Mr. Kim’s father, Kim, Jong-il, on Dec. 17, which his son tried to mark with a fanfare aimed at showcasing his dynasty’s achievement in empowering the small and impoverished nation.
It also came a week before its rival, South Korea, was scheduled to elect its new president on Dec. 19.
PHOTO: This satellite image of the Sohae Launch Facility, Nov. 26, 2012, shows a marked increase in activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station.


Mr. Kim needed to redeem his April humiliation not only among his country’s enemies, who he feared would not take him as a worthy foe, but also among his people who have grown increasingly disenchanted with his government’s inability to resolve the prolonged economic crisis, South Korean officials and analysts said.

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Since he took power a year ago, Mr. Kim has tried to cement his authority by implementing what analysts described as halfhearted economic reforms among some farms and factories, highlighting the perceived threats from the country’s external enemies, and most recently, raising the specter of a reign of terror through talks of “squashing rebellious elements” at home. A series of top military generals have been fired or demoted in recent months.
“North Korea believes that a successful launching of the rocket would give more force to its claim that it is a nuclear weapons power,” South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a recent analysis.
Although the launching was driven in part by domestic considerations, analysts said it carried far-reaching foreign relations implications, coming at a time when the new leaderships chosen or in the process of being elected in Washington, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul were trying to form a new way of coping with North Korea after two decades of largely fruitless attempts to end its nuclear and missile ambitions.
North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities cut both ways for the government. They strengthen its leverage in negotiations with Washington and gives its government and people a sense of self-empowerment with a true nuclear deterrent. But they further isolate the country, which can hardly feed its own people without outside help.
The United Nations Security Council considered the rocket launching a violation of its resolutions, which barred North Korea from nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. It had imposed a growing list of trade restrictions and financial sanctions against the North for its previous rocket tests.

But doubts remained over how effective those penalties were on North Korea, which has survived decades of economic sanctions and found in China a patient patron whose desire to shore up its client regime with trade and aid appeared not to have been hurt by Pyongyang’s repeated flouting of its entreaties for restraint.
The latest rocket launching came amid signs that American officials have tried in vain to dissuade North Korea from launching rockets.

 In a statement in October, North Korea’s National Defense Commission said that when “midranking policy makers from the United States. National Security Council and C.I.A. recently met with us in official and unofficial settings,” they tried to assure the North Koreans that Washington had no “hostile” intent against Pyongyang.

“But the reality clearly showed that the messages we received from the United States were lies,” it said, citing the United States’ agreement to let South Korea nearly triple the reach of its ballistic missiles, putting all of the North within their range.
The Washington-Seoul missile deal was to help South Korea better deter North Korea’s expanding missile capabilities. But North Korea called the deal a hostile move and said it now felt freer to test “long-range missiles for military purposes.” North Korea has tried hard to force Washington to accept it as a nuclear power, a status that it hoped would give it more leverage in its talks with the United States and its allies.

North Korea aimed to use those negotiations to win a peace treaty and normalized ties with Washington, as well as massive economic aid.



N Korean rocket passes over Okinawa; no interception launched


N Korean rocket passes over Okinawa; no interception launchedNorth Korea rocket planAFP

TOKYO —
Japan did not try to shoot down a North Korean rocket as it passed over its southern island chain of Okinawa, the government said Wednesday, strongly condemning the launch.
Tokyo confirmed the launch had taken place and that said it believed parts of the rocket had fallen into the sea off the Korean peninsula, with another part dropping into the ocean near the Philippines.
“Launch time was around 9:49 a.m. The missile that North Korea calls a satellite passed over Okinawa around 10:01. We launched no interception,” a government statement said.
Japan had been on high alert since the 13-day lift-off window opened, despite a suggestion from Pyongyang that it could delay the much-criticized blast-off.
Tokyo deployed missile defense systems to intercept and destroy the rocket if it looked set to fall on its territory, with missile batteries in and around Tokyo and in the Okinawan archipelago.
Japan reacted quickly to the launch on Wednesday, with national media informed by government-run alert system.
“It is extremely regrettable that North Korea went through with the launch despite our calls to exercise restraint,” chief government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said. “We cannot tolerate this. We strongly protest to North Korea.”
The impoverished but nuclear-armed nation insists the long-range rocket launch—its second this year after a much-hyped but botched mission in April—is for peaceful scientific purposes.
But the United States, and allies South Korea and Japan, say Pyongyang’s launch was a disguised ballistic missile test that violates U.N. resolutions triggered by its two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
In Seoul, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying the launch appears to have been a success, with all three stages performing as planned. “The rocket stages fell on areas in line with its earlier announcement and the launch appears to be successful,” the agency quoted the officials as saying.