International

Attack On South Korean Naval Ship Leads To Propaganda War, Threats

Good morning.

The Korean peninsula continues to be the focus of international attention. South Korea has accused its communist neighbor of firing torpedoes at a naval ship, killing 46 people. A tense standoff there continues.

On Morning Edition, NPR's Anthony Kuhn, reporting on the situation from Beijing, said that South Korea has begun anew a propaganda blitz the likes of which have not been seen in years.

"They are doing propaganda broadcasts across the border, they're dropping leaflets, they're using electronic billboards to show the North Koreans how good life is in the South, and what they're missing," Kuhn told NPR's David Greene earlier today. "And they're trying to entice North Korean soldiers to defect to the South."

As Greene and Kuhn pointed out, the situation in South Korea is being closely monitored by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, currently traveling in China. In The New York Times,
David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker detail how the United Nations and the Department of Defense have, and may, respond:

The United States and its allies put new pressure on North Korea on Monday, announcing naval exercises next month to detect submarines of the kind suspected of sinking a South Korean warship, and winning the support of the secretary general of the United Nations for Security Council action.

Some other stories making headlines this morning:

Many major newspapers lead with stories about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, focusing on the relationship between the government and BP.

The Wall Street Journal—"U.S. Turns Up Heat on BP": Reporters Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey Ball say "political leaders traded barbs over the response to the spill by BP and the government, amid a rising tide of criticism from left and right." The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources holds hearings today on liability and financial responsibility issues related to offshore oil.

The Washington Post—"Obama administration conflicted about relying on BP to stop gulf oil spill": The newspaper says that "the tenuous alliance among the Obama administration, the oil firm BP and Gulf Coast officials was visibly fraying on Monday, with exasperation on all sides mounting."

As NPR's David Schaper noted on Morning Edition today, the federal government and BP have gone back and forth about the use of Corexit, a chemical dispersant. "There are questions about the long-term impact of the chemical on marine wildlife and human health," Schaper said.

The Washington Post—"Obama backs 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise that could pave way for repeal": The White House says that the president has endorsed a compromise on "don't ask, don't tell," which, according to The Post, "may sidestep a key obstacle to repealing the military's policy banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces."

The New York Times—"When Passengers Spit, Bus Drivers Take Months Off": In New York City, 51 bus operators took paid leave last year for being spat upon, The Times reports, citing statistics from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. And how much paid leave did they get? On average, 64 days off work — "the equivalent of three months with pay."

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