North Korea Deploys Amphibious Landing Craft as Tensions Mount in Peninsula

Mirror from Yonhap News Agency, Korea:


SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — North Korea has deployed amphibious landing crafts carrying special forces to the frontline as the country keeps up its tight combat readiness despite on-going inter-Korean talks to defuse military tension, military sources said Monday.

About 10 North Korean air-cushioned landing crafts have left their home base in Cholsan, North Pyongan Province, and come forward to a naval base, located about 60 kilometers north of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea, the sources said.

“Since North Korea declared a semi-war state, its invasion vehicles and forces have been actively moving,” one of the sources said.

Stock footage courtesy of North Korea. It has been rumored that this photo has been doctored by the DPRK. The country currently operates 130 hover and landing craft.

Stock footage courtesy of North Korea. It has been rumored that this photo has been doctored by the DPRK. The country currently operates 130 hover and landing craft.

Chinese People Liberation Army Troops Head to Korean Border as Tensions Mount

Posted originally on:

Mirrored here due to bandwidth.


PLA troops head to DPRK border as North-South tensions mount

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2015-08-23
  • 14:37 (GMT+8)
PLA tanks pass through Yanji near the China-North Korea border. (Internet photo)

PLA tanks pass through Yanji near the China-North Korea border. (Internet photo)

The People’s Liberation Army has sent troops to China’s border with North Korea as escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula have pushed North and South to the brink of possible war.

The Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily reported Saturday that internet users have been uploading photos of what appear to be PLA armored vehicles and tanks passing through the streets of Yanji, the seat of the Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in eastern Jilin province. The city, considered a key transport and trade hub between China and the DPRK, is less than 30 kilometers from the 1,400-kilometer border.

The military deployment is believed to reflect how seriously Beijing considers the the current standoff between North and South Korea. Delegates from Pyongyang and Seoul have agreed to continue talks at 3 pm Sunday local time after the first high-level dialogue between the two sides in nearly a year was adjourned following a marathon 10-hour session.

The talks began around 6:30 pm on Saturday shortly after the passing of Pyongyang’s deadline for Seoul to cease broadcasting anti-DPRK propaganda across the demilitarized zone through loudspeakers. Pyongyang had declared that its frontline troops were prepared to go to war if Seoul did not back down and an unnamed official from South Korea’s defense ministry has reportedly said that his government will only discontinue the broadcasts if there is an acceptable outcome from the talks.

The loudspeaker broadcasts began from the South after a land mine attack — for which the South has blamed the North — injured two ROK soldiers. On Thursday, the South Korean military fired dozens of artillery rounds across the border in response to North Korean artillery strikes, in turn supposedly in response to the South’s broadcasts. As usual, Pyongyang has denied being behind both the land mine attack and the artillery strikes while keeping up its standard “sea of fire” rhetoric.

The standoff also comes amid annual military exercises between the US and South Korea, which the North claims is part of a preparation for invasion.

On Aug. 21, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that China is following “the situation of the Korean peninsula very closely and is deeply concerned about what has happened recently.”

“China staunchly safeguards regional peace and stability and opposes any action that may escalate tension. We urge relevant parties to remain calm and restrained, properly deal with the current situation through contact and dialogue, and stop doing anything that may make the tension even worse,” Hua said, adding that the Chinese side is “willing to work with relevant parties to jointly ensure peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.”

China’s Global Times tabloid has tried to downplay the risk of military conflict, stating in an editorial: “The South and North are not willing to start a full-scale war, and no one is instigating a war. As a result, the new round of friction may not be explosive and can be dissolved by previous experiences. After all, escalation will do no good to either side.”

The Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s state news agency, has hit back at China’s calls for restraint, saying, “We have exercised our self-restraint for decades. Now no one’s talk about self-restraint is helpful to putting the situation under control.”

Buzz Aldrin and the First Meal on the Moon

46 years ago on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.


In the midst of the iconic “One Small Leap for Mankind” speech that Armstrong gave while walking for the first time on the moon, a different kind of record was going on inside of the lunar module. Instead of walking outside of the capsule first, Buzz Aldrin stayed inside as the Lunar Module pilot, and achieved a different kind of first: eating the first meal on the moon.

What makes this piece of history interesting is not only that we, in fact, know what the first meal taken by humankind on another planetary body is, but what was actually consumed.

Rather than feed himself a standard zero-gravity meal, or something more akin to the fare afforded to Earthlings inside a gravity well, he opted for something hugely contrasting: he took communion. 

Despite the feelings of some opting to pit religion against science, Mr. Aldrin chose to combine man’s most incredible feat – landing on the moon – with one of man’s most ancient rituals.

As per Buzz Aldrin:

In a little while after our scheduled meal period, Neil would give the signal to step down the ladder onto the powdery surface of the moon. Now was the moment for communion.

So I unstowed the elements in their flight packets. I put them and the scripture reading on the little table in front of the abort guidance system computer.

Then I called back to Houston.

“Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to invite each person listening, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”

In the radio blackout I opened the little plastic packages which contained bread and wine.

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.


Theologically, there has been great debate about what Buzz did in space. Some Christians believe that communion is something that only priests can perform, while others believe that it is very important for the act to be done in the presence of others – much like when Jesus broke bread with the disciples in the Gospels.

Picture: Buzz Aldrin's hand-written notes on the event, and a passage from the Gospel of John

Picture: Buzz Aldrin’s hand-written notes on the event, and a passage from the Gospel of John

What makes the argument interesting is that Buzz Aldrin happened to be a Presbyterian Elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas. Therefore, he was allowed (as per Presbyterian policy) to perform the communion. Additionally, since he was technically the only person in the Lunar Module, he could have been considered a “Shut In”, which is the only given example of when it is theologically applicable to perform communion by ones’ self.

Regardless of your religious leanings, what Buzz did is an interesting achievement:  bringing religion to space. But it begs some further questions on Christianity in space: Who actually leads Christianity in the heavens?

Muslims only answered the question in 2014 by issuing a fatwa concerning prayer towards Mecca. But for Catholics, the answer was already known before any man or even animal entered space. In fact, the Catholic Church already had discussed which Bishop would preside over the moon in the early 1900’s.

Currently, the Bishop of Orlando is the reigning “Moon Priest”, or space pope if you will. The decree was established many years prior defining that any vessel traveling from a port of call would be under the authority of the Bishop of the said port of call. In the case of NASA and Cape Canaveral, it would be the aforementioned Bishop of Orlando. One wonders, though, how that will change and evolve as more and more people go into space, and one day, live there as well. Will Christianity or religion survive in space? Its impossible to know, but for Mr. Aldrin, the very foundations of lunar exploration by humanity were rooted in appreciation towards God and religion.


College Football Playoffs: Poll Results & Analysis – Page 1

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A few weeks ago, I asked College Football fans about the first inaugural playoffs in the FBS division of college football. A lot of answers were given, and quite a few people requested that the results are posted, so I thought some data and analysis would be useful. So without further ado:


Total Number of Users Submitting Answers: 3,133 as of February 20th, 2015

Total Number of False/Errant Votes: 443

Total Number of Legitimate Votes: 2,690

Link to the original poll with un-filtered results

Unfortunately, one user, a fan who felt Baylor was robbed of their rightful place in the playoffs decided to vote 460 times for their team, which heavily skewed the results, as they took a contrarian viewpoint on most issues surrounding the playoffs. Therefore, their votes (sans the original one) were removed.


Question 1: How much did you enjoy the College Football Playoffs? (Scale of 1-5 with 5 being Most Enjoyable)

  • 1, – 65 (2.4%)
  • 2. – 52 (1.9%)
  • 3. – 137 (5.1%)
  • 4. – 809 (30.1%)
  • 5. – 1627 (60.5%)

CFP #1


As you can see, the data was overwhelmingly in agreement that the CFP was incredibly good, with an average score of 4.49 among all respondents. Only a scant 117 users thought it was bad, or terrible.

But who felt it was bad? Mostly TCU and Baylor fans, as expected. Approximately 61.1% of those that scored the CFP as a 1 or 2 on enjoyment felt that a team got robbed (Question #4), whereas just 19.3% of all respondents felt that someone was robbed overall.




Question 2: Overall, is the College Football Playoffs (CFP) superior to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS)?

  • Yes: 2,557 (95.1%)
  • No: 113 (4.9%)

CFP #2

An overwhelming number of people felt that the CFP was superior to the BCS system. Of those that did not enjoy the CFP, we find a heavy bias against it due to them feeling a team got robbed (question 4), as approximately 52% of “No” votes were from those that felt TCU/Baylor were robbed.


Additionally, when we asked users about what fanbase they would consider themselves a part of, we find a heavy bias of “No” votes among Baylor fans (37% did not like the play0ffs), as well as Florida State Seminole fans (16%). This is in stark contrast to fans that were not a fan of a CFP playoff team, or team within the “Bubble”, as they voted “No” just 4.3% of the time. As expected, Ohio State fans loved the playoffs, with a scant 1.7% stating they did not like the playoffs. Oregon fans, too, were quite happy with the playoffs, with just 2.8% disliking the format.


Question 3: How many games did you watch of the College Football Playoffs?

  • 1 Game – 1.9%
  • 2 Games – 12.0%
  • All 3 Games – 85.7%
  • Did not watch any games – 0.5%

CFP #3

I am unfamiliar with the likelihood of cross-pollination of bowl games, but I am of the opinion that nearly 86% of respondents watching all 3 games is exceedingly good. Given that all three games are now cemented as the most-watched cable TV shows of all time, ESPN must be happy with the results. Of those that were one-and-done with games, the results are somewhat expected, as Florida State fans were twice as likely to watch only one game as opposed to two or more. Alternatively, TCU fans were the least likely to watch all three games, as only 32 out of 44 voters said they watched all three (72.7%).


 Question 4: Do you feel like the 4 teams selected were appropriate for the playoffs?

  • Yes, the College Football Playoff Committee made the right choice(s) – 2,161 (80.3%)
  • No, someone got robbed (19.7%)

CFP #4

A sizable majority of voters felt that the committee made the right choice. However, as expected, a decent number of voters felt that a team got robbed by the committee. Of course, the BCS era was not without its number of controversies, most notably the 2011 championship which may have helped lead to the playoffs finally being adopted for college football. In the follow-up question, we asked who got robbed. We would note that there is a strong affinity towards voters that felt TCU got robbed, and their likelihood of stating that someone was robbed in the playoffs, as nearly 80% of people that voted for someone being robbed answered the next question with the belief that TCU was the team short-changed.


Question 5: If you voted no, who should have been included in the 4th slot instead of The Ohio State University?

  • Baylor University – 143 (16.9%)
  • Other Team – 63 (7.4%)
  • Texas Christian University 641 (75.7%)

CFP #5

As expected, a huge majority of voters felt that TCU was short-changed in the playoffs, with 75.7% (or about 23.8% of all voters) feeling that way. There were a few comments about the nature of this question, assuming that Ohio State should have been the team that was to be replaced. The reason that Ohio State was selected was that they only made the official CFB Playoff committee rankings for one week – the final week that selected teams for the playoffs. Therefore, we went with the team that generated the most argument against them being included in the playoffs.



Question #6:  Based on this one year of the CFP, do you believe the playoffs should expand?

  • No, 4 teams is fine for now – 998 (37.1%)
  • Yes, expand to 12+ teams (2.8%)
  • Yes, expand to 6 teams (24.1%)
  • Yes, expand to 8 teams (36.0%)

CFP #6

The response from this question closely mirrors an EPSN poll conducted in November among college coaches. In the poll, only 29% felt that 4 teams was appropriate, with the majority wishing for a 8 team playoff. Unfortunately for those wishing for expansion, the 4-team playoff has a 10-year contract in place, so the earliest we will see an expanded field is 2024, assuming the date does not change via extension or aggravation with the format.

Digging into the numbers behind this question, we found that voters that felt like a team was robbed were 150% more likely to believe that expansion needed to occur, as per this chart, as a staggering 90% of users voted against keeping the playoffs at 4 teams if they felt someone was robbed. However, some would argue that this is to be expected – everyone wants their team to get into the playoffs.



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