Omicron threatens global economy

  Recently, South Korea and the United States agreed on a new joint operation plan through the 53rd Security Consultative Meeting, and at the meeting determined the basic framework and content to deal with future changes in the situation in Northeast Asia. At this meeting, the defense ministers of South Korea and the United States attended the direct meeting. Therefore, the plan formulated this time is regarded as a new phased plan of the South Korea-US military alliance on the situation in East Asia. What new strategic deployment does this plan show? How will South Korea and the United States adjust the division of labor between each other?
  To understand the above issues, we first need to review the Korean-American war plans that have been publicly reported before. Since the outbreak of the Korean War, the main military problem that South Korea has faced is the threat from North Korea. Therefore, the core task of the South Korean army has always been to defend against the attack from the north. Over the past few decades, with the changes in the strength of the two sides, some new planning directions have also appeared in the South Korean and American militaries. For example, in 2017, South Korea and the United States leaked through informal channels a new operational plan for the two sides to cooperate to carry out a beheading operation against North Korea, hoping that in the face of major security threats, the air force, long-range missiles and special forces can rely on the high-level officials of the North Korean government and military. The purpose of carrying out a pre-emptive beheading operation and making this plan public is to strategically deter North Korea. Previously, the combat planning of the South Korean and American troops was mainly based on defensive counterattacks, that is, a full-scale counterattack after being attacked by North Korea, and the addition of the beheading action clause was regarded as a possible preemptive strike by South Korea and the United States. This kind of active deterrence is obviously quite confident in its own strength, otherwise it would be tantamount to suicide for a country with a small territory such as South Korea to strike first against a country that actually possesses nuclear weapons.
  Judging from the newly announced combat plan of South Korea and the United States in 2021, the United States has obviously given South Korea greater authority and combat obligations, which has never been seen in the South Korea-US military alliance in the past. First, the United States proposed in the plan to further strengthen the commitment to provide South Korea with extended deterrence, including nuclear and conventional weapons and missile defense capabilities, but will include no first use of nuclear weapons in the specific operational terms. Moreover, in this operational plan, the United States has clearly refused to implement a nuclear weapons sharing plan similar to NATO in Europe on the Korean Peninsula, that is, it does not intend to allow the South Korean Air Force to carry US tactical nuclear weapons for nuclear attacks. From this point of view, although the United States does not intend to stimulate North Korea on the issue of nuclear weapons, it maintains a nuclear deterrent posture against North Korea at the same time.
  In addition, South Korea and the United States have also begun to advance the issue of the transfer of command of the South Korean military. Since the United States intervened in the Korean War, the wartime command of the South Korean military has been vested in the U.S. Forces Korea Command, a situation that has not changed until now. Although the previous South Korean governments have negotiated with the United States on this issue, and the United States has also actively responded to the issue of returning wartime command during the Bush administration in 2005, it remains unresolved. After the Moon Jae-in government came to power, a new wartime command transfer plan was reached with the United States in 2018, but the plan was stalled in 2020 due to the epidemic. Now, the two countries have started the process of handing over wartime command again, to be completed in the next five years (date has not been set). In fact, the reason why the transfer of wartime command has been delayed for nearly two decades is that in addition to the needs of the United States to strategically control South Korea, the South Korean military has indeed always lacked the ability to operate independently. As soon as the United States announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Afghan government troops were completely defeated, it can be seen that such US-supported troops often lack independent combat capabilities, and their intelligence, command, communications, and electronic warfare systems rely heavily on US support. If the independent command and combat capability is not developed, the casual transfer of wartime command can have disastrous consequences. South Korean executives are well aware of this, so during the handover process over the past ten years, South Korea itself has repeatedly proposed suspension.

File photo of South Korean soldiers (blue headbands) and U.S. soldiers participating in a joint military exercise. Photo/Xinhua News Agency

  Judging from this South Korea-US negotiation, I am afraid that the transfer of wartime command power is real. First of all, the South Korean army has continuously updated its weapons and equipment in recent years, especially the development of long-range missiles has entered the fast lane. In 2021, the South Korean army will test-fire 4 long-range missile weapons, including the submarine-launched Xuanwu submarine-launched missile and a new type of land-based intermediate missile. and air-launched long-range cruise missiles. These newly tested missiles are determined to be equipped with the South Korean army, navy and air force, and form a long-range precision missile strike circle with a radius of 1,500 kilometers. This capability was not possessed by the South Korean military in the past, and even the current Japanese Self-Defense Forces are far behind. The rapid development of South Korea’s long-range strike capability is of course thanks to the support of the United States, and the United States’ love for South Korea is obviously not only a desire to confront North Korea. The new joint operation plan established by South Korea and the United States includes a plan to stabilize the situation in East Asia. From the perspective of the United States, the rise of China is the biggest challenge to the situation in East Asia dominated by the United States in the past. Therefore, the so-called stabilization of East Asia is synonymous with dealing with China.
  With the addition of the idea of ​​stabilizing East Asia, this transfer of wartime command may proceed smoothly. As the saying goes, with great capability comes great responsibility. As a die-hard ally of the United States, South Korea has grown to this day under the wing of the U.S. military, and it is time to take on the obligations of an ally. In recent years, out of the need to confront China, the United States has not only strengthened its deployment in East Asia, but also fully supported its neighboring allies. With the support of the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia have all started a new round of armament upgrade plans, and the upgrade of arms sales to Taiwan is also an important part of the United States’ strategic deployment. Historically, when the United States and Britain faced powerful adversaries, they tended to conduct indirect confrontation by strengthening the power of their allies. For example, Britain’s support for Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, and the United States’ support for Britain in the two world wars are all such tactics. During and after the Cold War, the United States often went into battle shirtless to deal with non-traditional security threats. Now, returning to the routine of great power competition, it is obviously returning to the gameplay of World War I and World War II.

  On November 24, the coronavirus variant Omicron was first publicly discovered in South Africa, and it may bypass the defense system established after vaccination, which means the arrival of a new wave of epidemics. Faced with the prospect of more lockdowns and border closures, investors have reacted by selling shares in airlines and hotel chains, oil prices have also fallen by around $10, and the global economy has again been clouded. After news of the variant’s emergence, countries scrambled to block travelers from southern Africa, Israel and Japan have closed their borders completely, the UK has imposed new quarantine requirements, Italy has shut out most of the unvaccinated, Portugal Requiring a negative test even for vaccinated people to enter bars, while Austria is in full lockdown, the long-awaited recovery of the developed country’s sprawling service industry from hotels to conferences has been delayed. You might think that Omicron would dampen economic activity and thus lower inflation. In fact, the opposite may be true, with this variant exacerbating already high inflation. Because it could cause more lockdowns at key manufacturing nodes such as Vietnam and Malaysia, exacerbating the supply chain crisis. Workers may also delay their return to the labor market, pushing up wages.
Life and death – triage: a brutal dilemma for doctors

  The brutal challenge of the new crown to Germany has entered its second winter. This time around, it’s not just its medical performance — measured by the number of beds and ventilators, but also the Germans’ ability to endure pain — measured by the overtime hours of doctors and paramedics. In a second winter, even one of the best health systems in the world may not be enough to put every patient in need on a ventilator. Figures show that only about 0.8% of infected people end up in intensive care. The ward was overcrowded, and other patients had to continue to wait. In German intensive care units, doctors have to make the toughest decisions: who can be saved and who no longer has a bed. Doctors and paramedics had to watch the “scheduled” death come. Two years into the new crown epidemic, they have to fight not only fatigue, but also their own conscience, because sometimes they have to give up some patients. The state of the pandemic depends on many factors, such as how much vaccination coverage can increase and how many patients can be transferred to other federal states or abroad. These will have an impact on the status quo, so some experts believe that there will be no rigid triage. But Boden Dijk, head of the Saxon Medical Association, has spoken out about triage and said he’s preparing for the worst, which could come in the next few days. Lyle of Saarbrücken University has been working with a team since March 2020 to predict the future curve of the pandemic, and he even thinks some hospitals are already doing triage. Based on his observations over the past two or three weeks, fewer Covid-19 patients have entered the intensive care unit than expected.
last abortion clinic

  Sharon Brewer, director of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, known as the Pink House for its bubblegum-colored exterior, is at the center of the fight for abortion rights in Mississippi and the nation. Over the past two decades, she has witnessed incidents of bomb intimidation and stalking, as well as fights between protesters and her staff. She kept the phone number of an FBI contact in a stack of post-it notes by her desk, just in case. But this year, everything seems more tense and dangerous. In normal times, there are always scattered protesters outside the Pink House, but recently, there have been more and more frequent protests. On Dec. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court opened a case involving a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If the Supreme Court allows the law to remain in effect, the ruling would effectively hollow out the landmark 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to an abortion before a fetus is alive. In the past year, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed a record 106 abortion bans, and the three conservative Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump have guaranteed their validity.