POTUS v The Rocket Man: A study in Government-sponsored lunacy


I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man…

Thus goes the song Rocket Man, written by Elton John back in 1972. Itself inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story ‘The Rocket Man’, John’s ballad talks about the conflicting feelings of an astronaut traveling to Mars, as he ponders whether or not is worth to leave his family behind to fulfill his job.

Yet, this well known song was likely not in Donald Trump’s mind when he branded North Korean’s leader Kim Jong-Un a ‘little rocket man’.

The two men, and I’m using the term ‘men’ very loosely here, are engaged in regular name-calling nowadays, a sort of tit for tat routine pitting two bullies who forgot to grow up locking horns in turf wars around the schoolyard.

POTUS v Rocket Man is now a thing, a melodramatic reality with fathomless viewership prowess. It would almost be funny, were it not for the rather sinister overtones that permeate this international tug of war.

So the world watches as these two sycophant-ridden leaders take to the airwaves to pour scorn on each other. POTUS uses tweet to unload his crude verbal vitriol. Half a world away, Kim uses the more traditional approach of televised speech to retort, and his words resonate with the cheap bubble gum quality of Google-translated foreign speech: ‘I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.’

POTUS recently used a perhaps overly-generous time allocation at his maiden UN speech to proclaim that the US would ‘totally destroy North Korea’ if the latter ever dares to attack US soil, or any of the country’s allies. During the same speech, POTUS actually referred to the North Korean leader as ‘Rocket Man’. Well now. Take that, UN protocol and statesmanship.

It is hardly news that world leaders do sometimes get a little hot under the collar while speaking inside the UN chamber. Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev starred in the infamous shoe-banging incident at the UN in 1960, for instance. Krushchev started banging his shows hard against his desk, in angry response to comments uttered by the then Filipino leader Lorenzo Sumulong. And in 2006, inflammatory words spoken by President George W. Bush about Fidel Castro’s ailing health prompted the entire Cuban delegation to storm off the chamber, throwing down their ear pieces as they did so.

All those high-profile shenanigans notwithstanding, no US President had ever used any pejorative term when addressing another head of state. The words ‘rocket’ and ‘man’ had certainly never been used in such derogatory fashion at Chez UN. Say it isn’t so, Kim perhaps thought, but nonetheless took POTUS’ speech as a ‘declaration of war’.

And what’s with ‘dotard’ anyway. Is it perhaps a portmanteau or ‘doting retard’? Or maybe a poor translation of an ancient North Korean insult? Not so. Turns out that such obscure term means ‘an old person with declining mental capabilities’. In the slightly unhinged POTUS v Rocket Man theater of horrors, the dotard is king, it seems.

The latest episode in the POTUS v Rocket Man serial sees the man with the weird black bouffant brand POTUS a ‘mentally deranged megalomaniac’.

The world tunes in, Truman Show style, to watch as both world leader caricatures blast each other with rhetorical salvos.

And all the while, the unspeakable gravity of war smears the men’s cartoonish faces.


US Navy carrier group heading towards North Korean waters in response to the reclusive state’s nuclear threat


A US Navy task force, led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, has been directed to initiate operations in North Korean waters as a response to the country’s increasingly concerning missile launch tests.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has authorized the launch of up to six test missiles in the last few weeks. This perceived provocation has spooked Japan and South Korea in particular, a country that has long since been in a state of tense stand-off with its northern neighbour.

A statement released by Admiral Harry Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, confirmed the deployment of the fleet:

“Carl Vinson Strike Group, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia.”

The strike group was supposed to participate in military exercises off the coast of Australia, but has now been redirected to North Korea.

It is understood that the Trump security team is weighing a number of options to deal with the perceived threat stemming from North Korea after up to half a dozen test missiles splashed down in Japanese territorial waters. Military analysts believe that the deployment of the mighty Carl Vinson strike group in the region is designed to send a clear message to Kim Jong Un.

Surgical strikes against North Korea have not been ruled out, as observers are increasingly convinced that the regime is close to producing a long-range missile with nuclear capabilities, able to reach US soil.

While US top brass may favor a targeted strike against North Korea’s nuclear sites, China is instead pushing for a diplomatic solution to the impasse.

If the US were to launch an unilateral attack, however, this may trigger the invasion of South Korea by the north’s army of over a million men. Seoul is within striking distance of the north’s long range artillery, for instance.

In this scenario, a region-wide conflict may ensue, with China likely to support its interests in North Korea, lending military aid to Kim Jong Un.

The development follows the decision of the Trump administration to use a Tomahawk missile barrage to obliterate Sharyat Airfield in Syria, after the country’s president Bashar al-Assad authorized the use of chemical weapons on civilians last Tuesday.

VX nerve agent identified as the toxin used in the killing of Kim Jong-Nam in Malaysia


Forensic tests have identified VX as the killing vector used in Kim Jong-Nam’s assassination.

VX (S-2 Diisoprophylaminoethyl methylphosphonothiolate) is a lethal nerve agent only used in chemical warfare. The compound was first synthetized as a pesticide and briefly commercialized, though it was soon withdrawn due to its extreme toxicity. The toxin was banned in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, though significantly, North Korea is not a signatory of such treaty.

VX is one of the most lethal substances known to man. It is amber-colored, tasteless, and odorless, with the consistency of motor oil. It’s this viscosity that makes VX simultaneously useful as an area denial weapon and dangerous, as it remains on the ground for some time after being deployed.

Once the substance enters the body, VX inhibits the function of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, causing uncontrolled muscle contractions first, followed by paralysis and death by asphyxiation. Unless immediately treated with atropine or other antidote, death occurs within 15-20mins after initial contact.

The assassination of Kim Jong-Nam in the middle of a packed airport lounge inside Kuala Lumpur developed in spy novel fashion. CCTV footage shows that two women approached him while he was waiting to board a flight to Macau. One of the women is then seen grabbing him from behind before walking away.

The victim said he had been sprayed with a liquid in the face, and that he felt dizzy. He was taken to the airport’s clinic but soon displayed more severe symptoms. Nam had a seizure and died on the way to hospital.

Blame was soon pointed at operators working on behalf of the North Korean government. Kim Jong-Nam was Kim-Jong Un’s half-brother -and more importantly, his eldest- and might have been perceived as a threat to Jong Un’s autocratic rule.

Under North Korea’s tradition, the eldest son would be first in line for succession. However, it is thought Nam was seen as an embarrassment for his father, Kim Jong-Il, and had thus fallen out of favor after an incident at Narita Airport in Japan back in 2001, when Nam was intercepted attempting to enter the country under a fake passport.

Nam had been living in exile for some time, and is said to have lived under more ‘traditional’ Western values.

The drama surrounding Nam’s death was compounded further after North Korean diplomats turned up at the hospital where the corpse was taken to, and demanded the body before an autopsy could be carried out. This was denied. It is thought that someone attempted to break into the mortuary the following day.

The fact that a highly lethal substance like VX has been used inside a civilian facility is likely to raise the high stakes game of international intrigue to another level.

North Korea, a country which did not sign up to any international treaty in relation to the stockpiling of chemical warfare agents, is thought to have weaponized toxins in its arsenal.

Questions will now be asked as to how VX entered Malaysia. The substance is very hard detect in small amounts, and it would have taken a couple of drops to kill Nam.

Malaysian authorities have said that they will implement decontamination procedures at the airport, as VX may remain active for a time after deployment.

VX entered popular culture after 1996′ film The Rock, starring Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, and Ed Harris. In the movie, a disgruntled general commanding a group of rebellious marines loads a rocket battery with VX pellets and threatens to fire them into San Francisco, unless demands for financial restitution for war veterans are met.